I know that I’m usually banging on about seasonal food and so it will seem a little strange to be writing about a fruit that won’t be out till November but bear with me there is a link. Having just returned to the frosty mornings of Gods own from the riots of the UK, got me thinking about the humble Gooseberry. You see the Gooseberry plant needs to have a good frost over the winter in order to produce good fruit in early summer. In the Bay we are lucky to still have a grower in the form of Mamaku Blue across near Rotorua. They are more well known for growing Blueberries and can be found at most of our farmers markets, however they still grow Gooseberries at the moment even if demand isn’t too high. To me this is such a shame as the fruit is so versatile for cooking, as happy with savory as it is with sweet (in France they are traditionally served with oily fish)
In the middle Ages, the acidic juice of wild gooseberries was highly regarded for its medicinal properties in cooling fevers and the old English name, Fea-berry still survives in some provincial dialects. Although the Oxford English Dictionary associates the fruit’s name with the goose with which it was once served as an accompanying sauce. The phrase ‘to play gooseberry’ comes from the days when the fruit was a euphemism for the devil.
The popularity of the fruit in England led to improved, larger and sweeter varieties being bred, some for eating raw as a dessert fruit (usually red or yellow) and others (usually green), which are sour but have a superior flavour when cooked. Gooseberry shows were once popular all over the North of England, but there are now only two left, the most famous of which is the Egton Bridge Show in North Yorkshire, where official records go back to 1800. In 2009 a world record-breaking ‘Woodpecker’ berry was produced, weighing in at 62 grams. As luck would have it our trip coincided with the Egton Show, so I had to go along for a look-see. I wasn’t expecting much from a little village hall in a tiny village in North Yorkshire, so you can imagine my surprise when we arrived to find two television stations and a radio station already there eagerly awaiting the announcement of the grand champion. It’s a serious business this gooseberry growing.
So now to the technical bits, they are available November to January, an average portion of gooseberries contains about a quarter of the daily Vitamin C requirement and fairly good levels of vitamins A, B, fibre, potassium, copper & manganese. Rich in pectin when slightly unripe, they are ideal for sauces, jams, preserves, pickles & jellies and they make an excellent tart sauce for oily fish such as mackerel, poultry or meat. They also make a good filling for crumble, tarts, pies or suet pudding.
I love the sense of history and tradition that goes with food – the small village of Egton Bridge, near where I grew up in North Yorkshire, still holds an annual Gooseberry Show which dates back to 1800! Tansies are a type of sweet omelette, originally named after the herb, tansy, which was used in this dish in the 15th century.
25g unsalted butter
200g gooseberries, topped and tailed
Freshly grated zest of 1 orange
3 tbsp sugar
3 eggs, separated
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp apricot liqueur
1. Melt the butter in a frying pan and when foaming add the gooseberries and orange zest. Cook gently over a low heat until the fruit begins to soften (about 10 minutes) then add the sugar, mixing well, and cook until the sugar melts and the mixture becomes syrupy.
2. Add just enough breadcrumbs to soak up the syrup and stir.
3. Meanwhile add the egg whites to a clean bowl and whisk into soft peaks.
4. In a separate bowl beat together the egg yolks, cream, nutmeg and liqueur. Slowly add the egg yolk mixture into the gooseberry mixture, stirring slowly.
5. Fold-in the egg whites and continue cooking on very low heat until the mixture sets.
6. If necessary, place the tansy under a low grill or use a blow torch to set the top.
7. Dust with icing sugar, decorate with a few sprigs of mint and serve.
Lets stay local this week and how about a cheeky little number from Mills Reef, Light and refreshing (titillating and tantalizing). Chill down and chill out with a ‘Little Sweetie’.
For all those wonderfull people that came to see me on the Fisher & Paykel stand at the Auckland Home Show on Friday, here are the recipes as promised (although a day later than promised) plus a few more to whet your appetite.
Warm Quail Salad with Tangelo Sauce
Once you get used to taking the breast and legs off a bird so small, there’s something really cool about eating a whole bird as an entrée.
4 quail, breasts and legs removed and bones set aside
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
a selection of salad leaves
500 ml beef stock
200ml red wine
1 fresh tangelo
- Pan-fry the breasts and legs, skin side down, in oil until coloured – for about 2 minutes. Set aside on an oven tray.
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Heat a saucepan on high and add the juice of the tangelo and red wine. Reduce by three quarters.
- Add beef stock and reduce by half.
- Cook the quail in the oven for 4 to 6 minutes, depending on the size.
- Arrange salad leaves on a plate, place quail on top and drizzle with tangelo reduction.
Nashi Pear, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad
What a revelation!! I’ve always loved the combination of walnuts and blue cheese, but the addition of the nashi pears, makes this recipe a total winner. This recipe has already been stolen by many friends….you know who you are!
1 ripe Nashi pear
3 tablespoons walnut oil
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
2 handfuls of mixed salad leaves
2 tbsp walnut pieces, toasted
100g blue cheese, e.g. Whitestone Windsor Blue
2 slices sourdough bread
1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley
- Heat oven to 180°C. Toss walnut halves in 1/2 tablespoon walnut oil and toast on a baking tray until golden and crunchy. Allow to cool.
- Peel and halve pear, removing core. Slice thickly into a bowl with 2 tablespoons walnut oil and vinegar. Grind over black pepper and leave for half an hour to marinate.
- Wash and dry salad leaves.
- Using a hot knife, cut cheese into cubes and leave to soften slightly.
- Brush bread with remaining walnut oil and toast under a hot grill.
- Gently toss salad leaves, walnuts, cheese and parsley with pear and juices. Serve on plates with warm toast.
Thai Scented Green-lipped Mussels with soda bread
This is the Pacific version of the classic ‘Moules Mariniere’ recipe. Unlike their smaller Atlantic cousins, Greenshell mussels will not be overpowered by the strong Thai flavours.
3–4 chopped shallots
1 clove crushed garlic
1/2 lemongrass stalk, crushed and finely chopped
1 green chilli, de-seeded and chopped finely
I teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
100ml dry white wine
1.8kg mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
1 can coconut cream
finely chopped coriander, basil, kaffir lime leaves and red chilli, to garnish
- Boil garlic, shallot, lemongrass, chilli, ginger and in a large saucepan with the wine for 8 minutes.
- Add mussels and steam for 3–5 minutes, shaking saucepan occasionally. Discarding any mussels that don’t open, spoon into a deep bowl.
- Carefully pour the liquid into a different pan, leaving the sandy residue behind.
- Bring this liquid to the boil and add coconut cream. Reduce a little and pour over the mussels.
- Season and garnish with the classic Thai flavours of coriander, basil, kaffir lime leaves and red chilli. Serve immediately.
Makes 10 servings
900g plain flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons salt
Mix the flour, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Mix to a soft dough with the buttermilk. Pat into a flattish round loaf and place on a greased baking tray. Mark the top into quarters with a knife. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180˚C for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Eat fairly quickly, while nice and warm.
Grilled Guinea Fowl with Braised Chestnuts
This dish came from when I worked at Gidleigh Park in Devon, with the wonderful Michelin-starred chef, Shaun Hill. The legs are braised while the breast is pan-fried, a brilliant way of dealing with the tough leg meat.
2 x 900g guinea fowl
8 peeled chestnuts
12 small onions, peeled
12 small carrots, peeled
2 rashers streaky bacon
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
salt and freshly ground black pepper
50ml sieved tomato (passata)
50ml red wine
sprig fresh thyme
- Divide the guinea fowl into breast fillets and legs. Chop the carcase in two.
- Remove skin from breasts and lightly bat them out between sheets of Glad Wrap until they are of even thickness so that they will cook evenly.
- Brush with oil and refrigerate until later.
- Heat a heavy casserole and fry guinea fowl carcasses and legs, onions, carrots, and bacon in 2 tablespoons groundnut oil until they start to colour.
- Add mace, salt and pepper and stir in passata and red wine. Pour in 200ml cold water and bring to the boil.
- Cut the chestnuts into quarters and add, with the thyme. Cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for about half an hour.
- Remove chestnuts, vegetables and any tender, cooked leg meat and put into a clean saucepan, straining the cooking liquor over them.
- Season the oiled breasts and cook under a grill or barbeque for 7–8 minutes.
- Serve the grilled breast with the braised chestnuts and vegetables.
Fresh Tagliatelle with Herb-Crusted Blue Cod with Champagne and Chive Sauce
Blue cod from Southland is better than blue cod from anywhere else, because the cold waters produce the best flavour.
8 fillets of blue cod, skin off
1 glass white wine (optional)
Soft Herb Crust
175g fresh white breadcrumbs (preferably brioche)
80g gruyere cheese, grated
50g chopped fresh parsley
5g chopped fresh thyme
125g unsalted butter, softened
400g pasta ‘00’ flour
4 eggs or 8 egg yolks
Champagne and Chive Sauce
3 shallots, finely chopped
1/4 leek, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
300ml champagne (or white wine)
300ml fish stock (or chicken stock)
3 tablespoons chives, chopped
300ml double cream
Lemon juice to taste
- Place all the ingredients into a food processor and whiz until thoroughly mixed. Spread out onto a greaseproof lined tray and open freeze.
- To make pasta, sieve flour into a bowl.
- Add whole egg and combine mixture with finger tips.
- Turn out onto a floured work surface, knead into a dough and rest in refrigerator until needed.
- Meanwhile, make sauce by sautéing shallots, leek and garlic in the olive oil. Add stock and champagne to the pan and reduce to quarter of original volume.
- In a second pan, reduce cream to half the original volume.
- Add stock mix to cream and hand whisk. Add lemon juice, chopped chives and seasoning to taste. Set to one side in a warm place.
- Cut herb crust into portions and place one on top of each seasoned fillet of blue cod. Place on baking tray, pour wine onto baking tray (optional) and bake at 180˚C for 10–12 minutes or until topping is slightly golden and fish is firm to the touch and opaque.
- If you have a pasta machine, roll pasta dough through three times, the final time at the second thinnest setting. Otherwise use a rolling pin which will do the job as well except that it might not be so neat!
- Boil a pan with plenty of salted water, and then drop in the circles. They cook almost immediately, certainly within a minute.
- Drain and lay pasta on a damp cloth or oiled tray side by side and keep warm until serving.
- Serve with champagne and chive sauce.
Peaches and Cream
To be done at the meal time
6 Peaches, whole or halved if you don’t want to deal with the stones on the plate
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon white Balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 220˚c. Place peacheswhole or cut side up in an oven dish and spiinkle with the sugar and vinegar. Bake for 15 minutes, until they are softand the juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.
To be done the day before
1 vanilla pod
rind of 1/2 lemon, thinly pared
2 leaves gelatine
5 tablespoons cold milk
75g icing sugar
60ml grappa or other clear spirit, e.g. vodka, gin, schnapps (optional)
75g caster sugar or vanilla sugar
50 ml water
- Pour 450ml cream into a pan, add vanilla pod and lemon zest and reduce by a third.
- Meanwhile, soak gelatine in milk for 15 minutes until soft.
- Remove zest from reduced cream and set aside.
- Remove vanilla pod and scrape the insides back into the cream.
- Remove gelatine, squeezing out excess milk.
- Heat milk until boiling, then return the gelatine and stir until dissolved. Add to the hot cream and leave to cool.
- Whip remaining cream with icing sugar and fold into cooled cooked cream and then add Grappa.
- Place a piece of cooked lemon rind in each of 6 dariole moulds, pour in cream mixture and allow to set for 2 hours.
- Clean and destalk fruit. Heat 250g fruit in a pan with the sugar and water and a splash of alcohol if you like, over a low heat for 30 minutes.
- Blitz in a food processor or blender and sieve out seeds. Add remaining 250g strawberries to soften and chill until ready to serve.
Avocado Chocolates – Good for the Soul and for your Health!
Real chocolate is good for you…that is, chocolate with a high cocoa solids content of at least 70%! It is nutritious, easily digestible and full of vitamins, minerals and a 93% useable form of iron as well as a natural antidepressant with a low glycaemic index, helping keep blood glucose levels steady. Cocoa butter has been proven to lower blood cholesterol levels and chocolate is rich in cancer-preventing antioxidants.
“And if you combine good quality chocolate with avocados instead of the usual butter, you have a much healthier product with a lower cholesterol level – healthy and delicious…the perfect combination!” says award-winning Bay of Plenty chef Peter Blakeway, who has almost twenty years’ experience in the hospitality industry, working in the kitchens of Michelin-starred Gidleigh Park in Devon and Airds Hotel, Port Appin, as well as running the Good Hotel Guide’s Hotel of the Year, Kilcamb Lodge, with wife Anne in the Scottish Highlands.
Peter and Anne emigrated from the UK to New Zealand with their young family in 2004 and opened the Deli on Devonport & Plenti Cookschool, where ‘foodies’ of all ages can learn anything from the basics of cooking, right through to how to produce a gourmet meal at their own dinner party.
“I see a huge opportunity to enthuse people with a love of growing, preparing, cooking and eating real food….and living in the Bay of Plenty we have no excuse! New Zealand has access to an amazing range of high quality fresh produce and raw material. Because of this, Kiwis have grown up with a fantastic understanding and respect for flavour, yet also embrace foods from other countries and cultures – they are not trapped by tradition. So what better place to start? We feel that we have arrived in the middle of a ‘food revolution’ and it is great to be part of the adventure!”
“The avocado chocolates are a great example of this”, says Peter. At first they were a bit of an experiment, brought about by the live cooking demos at the Tauranga Home Show, where Peter had to come up with a five course banquet, with each course using avocados or avocado oil. As a final course, Peter came up with the Avocado Chocolate Truffles, using an avocado butter made from ripe, mashed avocados. “It sounds like a strange combination, but everyone is surprised at how wonderful they taste,” says Peter. “They have a fresh, almost nutty taste and a fantastic velvety texture that just melts in the mouth, without that cloying, sickly-sweet after-taste that you are sometimes left with after eating other chocolates. The combination of avocado and good quality chocolate produces a winning – and healthy – combination!”
Avocado Chocolate Truffles
Makes approx. 25
275g real dark chocolate
75g fresh avocado butter (fresh avocado & ‘Grove’ avocado oil)
Good quality cocoa powder or tempered chocolate for enrobing
Chop the chocolate into chunks or break into squares. Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and microwave on HIGH until barely melted.
Scald the cream in a pan – allow it to boil and rise up (be careful it doesn’t boil over.) Pour about a tablespoon onto the chocolate and mix well. Keep adding the cream, a spoonful at a time, mixing thoroughly to form an ‘emulsion’.
When all the cream has been mixed in, add the avocado butter. The mixture should still be warm enough to absorb it, although it will take a few minutes to beat it in, so there are no lumps left. When it has set to the consistency of butter icing, it is ready to be piped or spooned into truffle-sized pieces.
If piping, put the mixture into a piping bag and pipe blobs of mixture about the size of a large cherry onto a tray covered with greaseproof paper or cling film. Leave to cool for at least 2 hours, preferably 24.
To finish, drop into a tray of cocoa powder, roll briefly, shaking off excess and leave to set. Alternatively, the chocolates can be enrobed with tempered chocolate and drizzled with melted white chocolate or topped with a pistachio or blanched almond.
Avocado Chocolate Tart
It sounds like a strange combination, but everyone is surprised at how wonderful it tastes. The tarts have a fresh, almost nutty taste and a fantastic velvety texture that just melts in the mouth, without that cloying, sickly-sweet after-taste that you are sometimes left with after eating other chocolate dishes. The combination of avocado and good quality chocolate produces a winning – and healthy – combination!
1 Sweet Chocolate Pastry case
125g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
40g icing sugar
75g softened unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1– 2 tbsp water or milk
seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod and grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 quantity of chocolate ganache
550g real dark chocolate (min 72% cocoa solids)
100g fresh avocado, beaten
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 tablespoon Kahlua, Brandy, Cointreau or fruit liqueur (optional)
- Place all ingredients for pastry in the bowl of a food processor and process until it forms a firm dough. Then turn out and knead lightly before placing in a polythene bag and leaving in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
- Preheat oven to 200˚C and place a solid baking sheet inside as well to preheat.
- Roll out pastry as thinly as possible and carefully line the flan tin. Prick the base with a fork (or use baking beans) and brush all over with beaten egg white.
- Bake on the baking sheet on the middle shelf for 20 minutes.
- Once cooled, the pastry case can be brushed with melted chocolate to stop it going soggy from the filling.
- Beat avocado and oil together and chill.
- For the ganache, chop chocolate into chunks. In a food processor, chop chocolate further until it is a fine powder. Put into a heatproof bowl.
- Scald the cream in a pan – allow it to boil and rise up without boiling over. Pour about a tablespoon onto chocolate and mix well. Keep adding cream, a spoonful at a time, mixing thoroughly.
- Beat in avocado mix until there are no lumps left. Add alcohol at this stage if desired.
Fill pastry case with chocolate ganache and chill for at least one hour