Every salad needs a good dressing, and personally I like a variety of dressings on hand to spice up a plate.

This dressing makes use of the seasonal blueberry, and is really delicious. A small disclaimer that it does have a bit of a kick so the kids may not love it – reduce the quantity of dijon mustard if you prefer less kick yourself. Food is made to enjoy so taste and adjust to suit your palette.

Blueberry Balsamic Dressing

  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt ( I use pink Himalayan)
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil (but use olive oil if you don’t have this)

In a food processor or blender, combine all dressing ingredients except for the oil. Blend until the blueberries are completely pureed, then drizzle in the oil with the blender still going. Once the dressing is emulsified you’re done!

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Happy dressing xx

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Blueberry Balsamic Dressing

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Now I know that Christmas is all but over; except I’m on a well-deserved break from work and felt like baking some tarts!

To be honest, I had bought a packet of shop-made tarts before Christmas and thought to myself as I helped myself to one, I really should have made these; let’s face it, they are so jolly easy to put together and home-made always tastes better than baking from the supermarket.

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And since the bought tarts were gone,  I headed to the kitchen to make a batch!

I grabbed a packet of sweet short crust pastry from the freezer, and while that defrosted, hunted in the refrigerator for my mincemeat. I usually have jars of all sorts of ‘fixings’ such as home-made raspberry sauce, chocolate sauce and a range of dressings. I knew there was a jar of this good stuff in there somewhere 🙂

Dust your bench lightly with flour and roll out a sheet of pastry so it is a little thinner than it started out like. Use a pastry cutter so the pastry just fits into the pan nicely – top a tablespoon of mincemeat in the pastry and top with a smaller circle of pastry. I cut-out hearts in mine just for fun.

Bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Dust with icing sugar and let cool long enough that you don’t burn your mouth with the hot filling!

Happy baking xx

Christmas Mincemeat Tarts


Summertime, and the livin’ is easy – and so is the wonderful summer fruit at this time of year. Apologies to my friends overseas who are slogging it out in the snow and cold of winter; something to look forward to for you when the season changes?

I make this Raspberry & Almond Slice often and with a punnet of fresh raspberries begging to be eaten, it was time to roll out this old favourite this week.

Super easy, and quick to put together, especially when you have a pack of ready-rolled pastry in the freezer – my recipe for making your own sweet shortcrust pastry below if you don’t.

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet sweet short pastry, thawed
  • 75grams
  • 1/4 cup castor sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries (works well with frozen too)

Use pastry to line a 34 x 10cm flan tin. Blind bake in a pre-heated oven (180°C fan forced/200°C conventional oven) for 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and remove dry filling. Bake a further 5 minutes and them remove from the oven.

Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C/190°C.

Cream butter and sugar until light in colour. Stir in the almonds flour and egg, is until smooth.

Spread mixture into the prepared flan tin. Place raspberries into the mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes or until set and golden in colour.

Allow to cool in the tin before removing to cut and serve dusted with icing sugar.

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Blind Baking

Baking blind (sometimes called pre-baking) is the process of baking a pie crust or other pastry without the filling. Blind baking a pie crust is necessary when it will be filled with an unbaked filling (such as with pudding or cream pies), in which case the crust must be fully baked.

Line a lightly greased pan with the pastry, trimming the excess the pastry. Place a sheet of baking paper onto the pastry case, and 2/3 fill with dry rice. I have baking beans that are made of clay – rice or beans will do the job for you though so you don’t have to buy these special ones

Bake for 10 minutes, remove baking paper and whatever you have used to weight the paper – be careful the filling will be very hot! Bake a further 5-10 minutes, then you are ready to fill the case.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

2 cups standard flour; 150g soft butter; 1/2 cup sugar; 2 egg yolks; 1 tablespoon water

  1. Sift the flour into mixing bowl, and drop in the softened butter cut into small pieces.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir in the sugar followed by the egg yolks – add the water if the mix seems too dry.
  4. Mix quickly to a stiff dough, using a table knife, knead lightly until smooth and then shape into a rectangular block. Wrap well and chill for an hour before using.

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Happy ‘tarting?’xx

Raspberry and Almond Slice


‘Quark?’ I hear you say – what on earth is that? Quark means ‘curd’ in German and is thought to have originated in Central Europe–in fact it has been made since the Iron Age!

Quark is a fresh, white cheese, very similar to Ricotta. It can be used in baking for both savoury and sweet pies, mousse and cheesecakes. It is also a good low-fat replacement for butter in scrambled eggs. The flavour is mild and milky; not surprising when you learn that it is made from pasteurised milk which has a starter culture added to it then some rennet to form the curd. It is then hung in cheesecloth to drain some of the whey off.

I discovered Quark last weekend at my favourite food store Farro Fresh on the North Shore here in Auckland. I love Farro because the store showcases the very best and finest of New Zealand food, which means you can always find something new and delicious to try. IMG_0203.png

I chatted to the maker of this Quark who was in the store demonstrating the product.

The Cheese Barn can be found on the Hauraki Plains of New Zealand in a little town called Matatoki. They specialise in certified organic cheeses and yoghurt’s that are gluten-free, have no artificial additives, antibiotics, growth hormones and no chemical sprays.

The ‘chief tester’ and I tried a little piece of this No-Bake Lemon Quark Cheesecake in the store and we loved it! I bought several tubs of the Quark and could not wait for the long weekend to make one for dessert 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 80-100g plain biscuits
  • 50g melted butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 200g soft cream cheese
  • 500g quark
  • Zest of 2 lemons & juice of 3 lemons
  • 3-3 1/2 tsp gelatin
  1. Crush the biscuits, mix in the butter and the press not a 20cm spring form tin.
  2. Whisk the cream cheese, quark and icing sugar in a large bowl, and then fold in  the zest.
  3. Soak the gelatine in the lemon juice, then melt on a low heat.
  4. Beat into the cheese mix – until smooth. Spoon in to the biscuit base.
  5. Chill until set (approximately 3-4 hours) in the refrigerator.
  6. Serve with chopped pistachio’s, and a dollop of cream

Now if you can’t source Quark, you can use Ricotta for this recipe however I do recommend that you hunt the stuff down – it  has a smoother texture and a brighter flavour than ricotta.

I’m sold and will be restocking to ensure I can whip this cheesecake up again, and feel slightly guilt-free for eating dessert 🙂

Happy ‘Quark’ day xx

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No-Bake Lemon Quark Cheesecake


What on earth is ‘Confetti  Couscous” I hear you say! What it is not is small pieces of coloured paper tossed in couscous!

This is a fabulously quick & easy side dish for any protein; fish, beef, lamb or chicken. I whip this up when I am feeling too lazy to wash and peel potatoes (or it is carb-free night and I’m cheating!)

Couscous is so easy to cook.

1/2 cup of boiling water to 1/2 cup of dry couscous. In a bowl combine couscous, boiling water, 1 tbsp butter and a pinch salt. Cover and leave tis and for 5-10 minutes. Use a fork to fluff up the grains.

While the couscous is ‘cooking’ heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan

Chop 1 small red onion and add to the pan and cook until soft. Next add chopped capsicum, courgettes…and literally whatever else you have in the vegetable drawer that is quick to cook.

I had a fresh sweetcorn that I sliced the kernels off and added to this cook.

Season well with fresh cracked pepper and salt. Add cooked couscous to the pan and mix  to combine. A handful of chopped parsley adds colour, texture and flavour if you have it on hand.

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When I have more time, I roast orange kumara (sweet potato) or pumpkin that I have chopped into 2cm chunks; use runny honey or even maple syrup drizzled over the vegetables and season. Roast for about 20 minutes until the kumara/pumpkin is soft.

Dried cranberries are also a great addition – bottom line is this is a side dish that  you can make your own with your favourite vegetables.

Happy confetti tossing? xx

Confetti Couscous