We have been blessed with another long weekend in New Zealand – Waitangi Day falling on Monday creating this welcome three day break from work 🙂
Now for those of you reading from outside of New Zealand, Waitangi Day is a significant day in our history. On the 6th February 1840, representatives of the British Crown and over 500 Māori chiefs signed what is often considered to be New Zealand’s founding document. The day was first officially commemorated in 1934, and it has been a public holiday since 1974.
For some people, Waitangi Day is a holiday; for many, and especially for Māori, it is the occasion for reflecting on the Treaty. Since the 1970s the style and mood of the commemorations on Waitangi Day have been influenced by the increasingly heated debate surrounding the place of the Treaty in modern New Zealand.
Waitangi Day is recognised as New Zealand’s national day, and the date is an important marker in the country’s history. Recognition of the significance of the Treaty of Waitangi as the nation’s founding document will continue to encourage leaders, communities and individuals to mark the day in new ways.
So that’s my history lesson for today!
But back to the kitchen where our long weekend began with a late start and a weekend brunch of spicy Spanish eggs. I wish you could smell the aroma of the lovely chorizo sausage as it sizzled quietly in the pan ahead of the other ingredients. It certainly got the ‘Chief Taster’ moving through the shower quickly!
Spanish Spanish chorizo is made from coarsely chopped pork and pork fat, seasoned with pimentón – a smoked paprika – and salt. For this recipe you need very little of the spicy sausage as a little goes a long way.
- 100-150g chorizo sausage, chopped
- 1 small red onion, finely sliced
- 2 eggs (I use Otaika Valley Organic eggs)
- Handful of chopped fresh spinach
- 2-3 fresh tomatoes (or use canned)
- 1 red capsicum, sliced or chopped
- 1 tbsp Chipotle sauce or to taste
- Cracked pepper
- 1 tsp olive oil
Heat the oil gently in the pan and add the chopped chorizo – sizzle gently for a few minutes before adding the sliced onion, red capiscum and chopped tomato.
Next comes the chipotle sauce – and salt & pepper to taste. Let the pan bubble along for a few minutes then taste it before seasoning.
Add the chopped spinach and stir through the tomato base.
Make a small indent with the back of a soup spoon for the eggs – and crack each one gently into the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and let simmer gently for 3 minutes.
Today we had cumin & coriander pita breads toasted on the side – any fresh crusty bread is good to soak up the yummy juices to be honest 🙂
ps…if you are on a low carb diet, ditch the pita bread and substitute in a slice of your favourite keto-friendly bread.
Happy ‘brunching’ xx
A weekend on the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
Labour Weekend 2016
We decided to be tourist’s today and headed up the coast to Hahei – home of Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach and the Hahei Marine Reserve.
From Tirau it was a short drive of 20 minutes along a slightly windy road – we did make one stop on the way at the Colenso Café which was a recommendation from my friend Michelle.
Definitely worth a stop with good quality seasonal food, freshly made with ingredients from local growers; Colenso is one of the Coromandel Peninsula’s best known establishments with its shop, garden and mandarin orchard. Take a wander around the grounds and you will not only see that pigs do fly! But the fresh garnishes on the delicious food served comes from the café’s own gardens.
Hahei is known for the many fun activities you can do that are water-based like scenic adventure boats trips, sea kayaking, scuba diving and snorkelling. The beaches are just gorgeous with soft white sand and clear clean water – you could be forgiven for thinking you were on an island from some Hollywood movie scene!
We had picked up a brochure about the ‘Hahei Explorer’ at our rented holiday house – you can find more information on this at the website: Hahei Explorer
The tour is an hour-long and takes you along the volcanic coastline including the world-famous Cathedral Cove; having never done something like this before we decided it looked like fun! The ‘chief tester’ has missed his JetSki which was stolen a couple of summers ago and not replaced. This boat trip was a real treat for him and he only mentioned how great it would be to do this if he had his JetSki maybe 3 or 4 times?
Anyway we met the boat at the south end of Hahei Beach and boarded the flexi-haul vessel which could take up to 10 people. We were given life-jackets and introduced to the skipper as we climbed aboard. Today was our lucky day as there was just the two of us with the skipper!
Within minutes we came across a little blue penguin and were able to get quite close to it before we headed around the coast to Champagne Bay which was just stunning. We ventured through a sea cave underground into a huge rock cylinder 80 feet high – an amazing blowhole!
The skipper had a great knowledge of the local area and its history of Maori encampments and sacred burial grounds of the chiefs of the Iwi. He chatted throughout the trip pointing out areas of interest and explaining the volcanic nature of the coast.
Across the bay to Whale Cave and then to Cathedral Cove which despite it being week day was populated with holiday-makers taking in the beautiful scenery – some even swimming!
The trip took an hour and was just great. At different times of the year you would see whales and dolphins – today we took in schools of snapper swimming around the boat – tempting for any fisherman 🙂 Labour Weekend is the beginning of the summer weather and not as busy as later in the year; even so we did have to book ahead so if you are keen on a boat tour make sure you call up and book early.
The ‘chief tester’ and I headed back to Tairua a little windswept and slightly sun-kissed – and reflected on how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful country.
Life Lesson from today? – take the time to visit your own backyard before heading off overseas – there is much to see and do in New Zealand!
Happy travels xx
Creamy Bacon & Kumara Pasta Bake
An early lesson in my life as a young married mum with 3 children and a mortgage was learning to cook a nutritious meal on a budget.
This is a recipe I have used and adapted over the years – especially great after football practice in the winter months when the teenage boy came home wet, dirty and very hungry! I either had this prepared to heat up and eat straight away – or could have it ready to tuck into as quick as a teenage boy can shower after practice! Well okay maybe that’s an exaggeration. Dinner is usually ready before the teenager is out of the bathroom 🙂
- 500g pasta shells
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 rashers rindless bacon, finely sliced
- 1 leek, white part only, finely sliced
- 600g kumara, peel and cubed
- 150g baby spinach (or a handful)
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 3/4 c tasty cheese, grated
- 60g butter
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 2 tsp thyme leaves
- 3 cups milk
- 3/4 cup tasty cheese, grated
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Preheat the oven to a hot 200°c.
In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until soft. Rinse under cold water and drain well.
In a large frying pan, heat oil and cook bacon for 2-3 minutes until golden. Add the leek and pumara and cook for abut 3-4 minutes
In a saucepan, melt the butter and add flour & thyme and cook, stirring for around 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth. Pop back onto the heat and cook, stirring constantly until them mixture thickens. Simmer for 1-2 minutes and then stir in the cheese and mustard. Season with salt & pepper. (You just made a white sauce!)
At this point I usually put all of the ingredients into a large bowl to mix together well. So pasta first, then vegetables and sauce. Add the spinach in last – (this does not need to be pre-cooked). Mix all the ingredients well.
Tip the lot into a large baking dish and sprinkle with combined breadcrumbs and grated cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top turns golden and crunchy!
Freezing this pasta dish is another great option for the busy mum – cool it down and then wrap well in glad wrap and foil. It can be in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Now you can make this dish with store bought fresh pasta which is very good, and a jar of ready made pasta sauce. Both of these items are handy and whilst they may save you a few minutes, the cost is not worth it.
I have used pumpkin instead of the kumara (and at the moment that’s a great option – I bought a whole pumpkin for $2.00 last week), and instead of bacon, a couple of pork sausages cooked up and sliced. The younger kids liked this option 🙂
So if you are watching your budget, and have a family to feed, give this recipe a go. Either way it’s a good dish to have up your sleeve with most of the ingredients ‘pantry staples’ making it easy to put together for those last minute dinner guests.
Happy cooking xx