Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Fausto Foods

Isn't it a great idea to have freshly smoked fish delivered to your office by bicycle?!

There are a couple of people in wellington who have a business doing just that - Fausto Foods.

I was lucky enough to try some of their products last Friday afternoon. The cold smoked salmon was great, I don't think I have had such fresh smoked salmon before, having only had it from a shrink wrapped packet probably put in there several weeks previously. The smoked mackerel was delicious, possibly the best tasting and textured smoked mackerel I have ever had.

They have a great system (which I imagine has to be very well organised since they are both public servants too) of an email sent on Thursday detailing the fish that is available for delivery the next day. Of course, it all depends on what is caught that week.

All the information you need to try them yourself can be found at their website - http://www.faustofoods.co.nz/.

Don't forget it is a long weekend this weekend and don't you need some good nibbles on hand to have with that glass of wine when your friends pop in?!

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Organic Fuel

From xkcd.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Worm Farm

I have been on holiday for a month (lucky me!) and now I am back I have finally got a worm farm.

I couldn't be happier to get worms!

I have been struggling to make myself take the vegetable scraps to the compost bin which is up the garden steps behind the garage ; a bit of a hike, especially in winter. My solution has been to purchase a small worm farm that can live out the kitchen door next to the rubbish bin. Isn't that great!?

I purchased my Can-o-Worms and the worms crucial to the process from Pottsbury farm - so easy : a quick email, an easy transfer of money by internet banking and before I knew it I was a proud owner of a fully functional, convenient and rather attractive composting solution!

Go on, you know you want worms too . . . !

Friday, 24 August 2007

Is that "Spring" I smell approaching?

With only days until the official start of Spring... it's time, if you haven't already, to start thinking about what delicious vegetables you'll be growing for Summer.
Whether you only have a small pad or several acres, there is always room for a few herbs, tomatoes and/or lettuces, even if they're just in pots on the deck.
A great place to start your planning is with Kings Seeds, you can order online or get them to send you a catalogue!

Friday, 17 August 2007

Country of Origin Food Labelling

Green MP Sue Kedgley is calling for mandatory country of origin labelling on all meat, seafood, fruit, vegetables and other single component, single product foods.
Do you care where your food originates? Do you read the labels looking for "Kiwi Made" or does brand and price rule what you put in your trolley?
Were you aware as a nation we are importing 1.5 million tonnes of food a year, including 149,462 tonnes of fruit, 32,207 tonnes of meat, and 39,996 tonnes of vegetables?
For more on this subject visit...

Chemical BPA in Baby Bottles

If you needed another reason on why breastfeeding is preferable...

Monday, 13 August 2007

Cuisine's Top 33

Cuisine Magazine has just published their 33 Best NZ Restaurants of the year.
How many have you dined at?
What/where would be your picks?

Monday, 30 July 2007

Carlo Petrini

The New Zealand Herald has a story about Carlo Petrini, the founder of the Slow Food movement, something which is close to the Nihowera heart. It is a great read!

Thanks to Mel for the tip!

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

New Zealand Wagyu Beef

It recently came to my attention that New Zealand is producing Wagyu Beef. This is exciting! Firstlight is the company distributing New Zealand Wagyu beef.

When I lived in Japan for a few months I often saw this fatty looking beef for sale, however I was never tempted to buy the highly marbled , and expensive, cuts. Fast forward ten years, and I am excited to see such meat at the butcher. I usually trim all visible fat from my steak before cooking, not being a fan of the taste, prefering all sides of the meat to wear a beautiful seared edge.

You can buy New Zealand Wagyu beef at Meat on Tory in Wellington.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Punjabi Spell

For those of you in Wellington interested in Indian food there is to be a demonstration of Punjabi Cuisine at Little India on Monday 23rd July, Tuesday 24th July and Wednesday 25th July at 7pm :

Chef Jugnu Gill, who is also a very successful entrepreneur will demonstrate and prepare a special three course Punjabi meal for the attendees.
Details here.

Mid-winter Christmas Feast Menu

Bron and I are so pleased to present the following menu for the Mid-winter Christmas Feast of 2007 :

Gravlax - from lemonpi, a delicious and gorgeous way to start a feast.

Traditional Roast Chicken - from Homemades, a fragrant and celebratory main course.

Christmas pudding - from Laws of the Kitchen, a great example of Christmas pudding.
Dark Chocolate and Orange Muffins - from Milk and Cookies, beautiful muffins with such Christmas flavour.
Paime - from TriniGourmet, a fantastic dessert to add a delicious and exotic note to your Christmas feast.
Jellies - from so so simple food, a clever and light dessert perhaps to refresh your palate.
Aren't we lucky to be able travel around the world with such talented cooks for the Mid-winter Christmas Feast of 2007? Thank you to everyone who sent us recipes for the Nihowera Mid-winter Christmas Feast.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

The Price of Milk

Milk in New Zealand increased in price this week. This price increase has been attributed to increased commodity demand from China, the ongoing drought in Australia and more land in America being used to grow corn for ethanol instead of farming dairy cows.

So milk is even more expensive, more per litre than petrol. I wonder how this affects people, will people have to cut down or ration something so good, perhaps choosing to drink, or give their children, cheap softdrinks?

Sunday, 15 July 2007

6 of My Favourite Culinary Podcasts

As I walk to and from work I listen to a podcast, generally one of a culinary nature. Listening to a broadcast on a topic in which you are interested is a fabulous way to learn. Here are 6 of my current favourites :

  1. Deconstructing Dinner
  3. KCRW Good Food
  4. Eat Feed
  5. Hunrgy Magazine
  6. Off the Broiler

Thursday, 12 July 2007

How I gave up glad wrap

Reducing your packaging is good not only for your wallet - less disposable things to buy - but also the environment. Here is an example - how I gave up glad wrap.

Every time you tear off a piece of glad wrap to cover a bowl or plate of left overs it is more than likely that you will only use that piece of plastic once and throw it away. There are also concerns about the impacts to your health of the plasticizers in the plastic leaching into your food.

These are some substitutes for plastic wrap that I now use :

  • When leaving bread dough to rise cover with a damp tea towel.
  • Put a plate over a bowl of left overs in the fridge.
  • Buy small stainless steel containers to carry snacks to work.
  • Reuse glass jars to keep halves of lemon or other small items.
  • Wrap things in a tea towel to store or transport.
I have not actually missed glad wrap since that last sticker telling me I had almost run out rolled off the tube.

There is much debate regarding the environmental impacts of manufacturing plastic versus the washing of an alternative. But it seems to me that washing with a biodegradable washing powder is a much better option.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Reducing your packing usage

Do you find yourself getting annoyed with how much packaging you throw away? I did and I decided to do a few things about it. Here are some ideas :

  • I bought a couple of reusable shopping bags and tried to remember to take them with me when I went shopping. This is made much easier if you get a nifty fold up one that will fit in your handbag. My mother used to have a lovely orange and brown one, mine is a little less dated in chic black and white.
  • If you shop somewhere like Commonsense Organics choose to use the recycled bags at the counter that other like minded people have returned to the shop.
  • Take your own containers to refill with things such as dish washing liquid and shampoo.
  • Choose to use permanent stainless steel, glass or ceramic rather than throw away plastic containers to store things at home or to take your lunch to work.
  • Use fabric napkins instead of paper. I now take a fabric napkin to work to use for my lunches during the week.
Look out for some more posts around this theme and of course your tips are always welcome!

Monday, 9 July 2007

If you would like even more inspiration for your Mid-Winter Christmas Feast then pick up a copy of Tamasin's Kitchen Bible by Tamasin Day-Lewis.
Christmas is covered in a dedicated chapter with recipes and a timetable. From the planning a month or so out and the making of the pudding to the count down to the Big Meal itself, you are in very good hands.
Of course there is much, much more to this book than just how to have a low stress Christmas.
Actually, unsurprisingly with its biblical title, pretty much most aspects of cookery are covered : simple things that children can make, basic skills, classic dishes and more.
I reach for this book most weeks at some point whether it is for inspiration, a recipe or for something to read with a cup of tea.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

A Mid-Winter Christmas Feast

I enjoyed a Mid-Winter Christmas Feast with some good friends yesterday, would you like to see our menu?

Turkey, brined and roasted according to this recipe
Potatoes roasted in goose fat
Roast pumpkin and kumara
Brussels sprouts with toasted almonds
Cranberry sauce
Bread sauce
Sausages and prunes wrapped in bacon
Sausages wrapped in bacon, baked on bread stuffing

Mince Pies
Cheese, dates and port
Mulled wine
As you might imagine there were many of our favourite Christmas foods included in the menu, from more than two families. It was just great to see and share what other people must have for Christmas - luckily we all pretty much agreed. But as you can see we had to have the two lots of sausages - but damn they are good cold the next day!

Remember to send us your favourite Christmas dishes for our Mid-Winter Christmas Feast - the details are here. I can't wait!

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Bottled Water

Take a look at this article and see what it takes to bring you bottled water. Interesting. Scary. Wrong?

Summed up very well in this article on Boing Boing focusing of Fiji Water, topical here in New Zealand now :

"Fiji Water produces more than a million bottles a day, while more than half the people in Fiji do not have reliable drinking water."

Monday, 2 July 2007

Mid-Winter Christmas Appeal

Please bare with me, I have a few questions for you all tonight!

  • How much do you spend on food every week?

  • Do you believe you create a healthy diet every week?

  • How many adults, adolescents, children are you feeding with your weekly groceries?

  • A recent Otago University Study estimated the cost of a basic healthy weekly diet as being NZ$50 for an adult male; $48 for an adult female; $64 for an adolescent male; $53 for an adolescent female; and $41 for a 10 year old child.
    How then do minimum wage hard working families or pensioners survive, or have the least bit of a chance achieving a healthy diet?

    The government recently launched a $67 million campaign to combat obesity, to encourage New Zealanders to eat well and eat less, but where's the programme for those who don't get enough to eat?

    My City Mission newsletter arrived in the weekend, and the Missoner shares a story about an elderly woman who recently lost her husband, I'd like to share the story with you.

    Together they were on a pre-tax pension of $277 a week. She and her husband were lead to believe by previous government that they would be able to live on the pension. But then her husband died and her rent increased and now she has to manage on $97 a week!
    Of course she ought to move into a flat, but she has lived in the same small house for the past 27 years and her garden still provides most of her food. But when winter comes and the garden stops producing and her house needs heating; that's when she comes to the Mission to get a little help from her friends.

    Now the Mission does amazingly well from caring generous folk donating at Christmas in December when the weather is balmy and the vegetables in her garden are growing strong and granting her an ample supply. Thankfully the Mission is really good at budgeting too, however they still don't have enough to go around and therefore unfortunately they can't help everyone. They have to pick and choose who's most needy. More and more pensioners are no longer able to cope on New Zealand Superannuation. They need help from the mission and they need this help most during these cold winter months, a time when traditionally donations are at their lowest.

    Please help me with my Mid-Winter Christmas Appeal and donate as much as you traditionally donate in December or more! and make Winter 2007 a Mid-Winter Christmas for all New Zealanders!

    Delia Smith's Christmas

    Delia Smith's Christmas begins "If there's one person in the world who probably needs this book more than anyone else it's me. For years now my own Christmas preparations have been to say the least, fragmented and fraught: recipes here, notes there..."

    Well I think that this is true for any foodie! So many ideas, so little time! Christmas is certainly a major highlight in the foodie's year, so why not indulge in it twice and hold a Mid-Winter Feast!

    Delia Smith's Christmas offers absolutely divine recipes for all the classic Winter Christmas Northern Hemisphere dishes including variants on Baked and Glazed Hams, Roast Loin of Pork, Roast Sirloin of Beef, Turkey, Duck, Pheasant together with delicious recipes for the traditional accompaniments, vegetables and sides. There's also a large section dedicated to a Vegetarian Christmas, Cocktail Canapé, Pickles and Chutneys, Classic Christmas Baking, Cakes, Gifts and Desserts.
    Over 130 recipes in whole!

    However what makes this book truly unique is Delia's sensible shopping lists and planning guides to get all the ingredients and all preparations done in time and with the least amount of fuss and standing in supermarket queues! Perhaps not such a problem in July, however useful all the same!
    It even includes an hour by hour guide for the "Last 36 Hours" to ensure your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day go without a hitch.
    Oh and what to do with all those leftovers? Never fear Delia has a totally delectable answer to each and every one of them too!

    Sunday, 1 July 2007

    How to Hangi

    Nigel from Curious Kai has put together this definitive guide on Hangi, "a traditional Maori way of cooking food done in a pit using heated stones and/or pieces of iron, with water or leafy vegetation thrown on to to produce steam." hanging-out-for-hangi.html is a fantastic account with loads of photos and a flickr slide show to boot! A must see!

    Saturday, 30 June 2007

    A Trifle Mad!

    There are as many trifle recipes as there are bowls to serve it in!
    Trifle was always traditionally served for Christmas pudding by my Father's mother, my Grandmother. Her method was very simple, or Simply the Best!, as it contained no canned fruit or jelly and hence was my absolute favourite. Ma used homemade sponge, homemade from homegrown raspberry jam, custard, whipped cream and finished with chocolate chips, not forgetting the all important sweet Sherry, although often she would use a gorgeous Port which gave the sponge layers a beautiful colour.
    Below I've rounded up a few more ways with Trifle from some of my favourite blogs to remind you of our Great Mid-Winter Christmas Feast, remember to send your entries to us by the 15th of July.

    Lavender cake and Grand Marnier Trifle

    Nigel Slater's Delightful Blackberry Trifle

    English Trifle

    A trifle...
    Drunken Berry Trifle

    Persimmon Cranberry Trifle

    Image courtesy of Christine from My Plate or Yours?

    Friday, 29 June 2007

    Happy Apple Pie Shots

    While trying to think of a little treat for our Friday Happy Hour that matched our Pumpkin theme I thought something which honoured a Pumpkin Pie and the spices normally included within would be ideal, however I drew a blank. But then I remembered
    these little beauties from Brownie Points honouring another classic American dessert Mom's Apple Pie!
    Now ain't they just the cutest little shots you've ever seen?!

    Monday, 25 June 2007

    The Prawn Cocktail Years

    The Prawn Cocktail Years by Simon Hopkinson and Lindsey Bareham. What a fabulous book, and I do not even have the nostalgia on which to draw! I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys what we could call proper cooking. By this I mean Black Forest Gâteau, Chilli con Carne, Kedgeree, Fish Pie ; all things we can, and may well, make at home, but presented by a celebrated chef.

    There are 8 chapters : The Great British Meal Out, The Fifties Hotel Dining Room, The Gentleman's Club, The Continental Restaurant, Expresso Bongo, The Sixties Bistro, The Trat-era and Chez Gourmet. Something for everyone indeed!

    The first thing I tried was the garnishes for Wiener Schnitzel : a skinless slice of lemon, with an anchovy wrapped olive set on top and surrounded by a circle of capers. We were so impressed with how well this went with the schnitzel. Do try it!

    Sunday, 24 June 2007

    How to Sneak Pumpkin into Your Food

    Pumpkin is very versatile and can be used for more than just its pumpkin-ness. And if there is someone you cook for who professes not to like pumpkin, there are ways to sneak it in to the foods you prepare.
    You may like to sneak pumpkin into your food because you have some leftover from baking, or maybe you need a boost of antioxidants from the the fleshy orange goodness, perhaps you smoke, or have done in your past and could do with some extra carotenoids to help escape lung cancer, it could be that it is winter and you need some carotene to boost your immunity.
    Add cubed pumpkin flesh to the early stages of a stew, chilli or curry and it will breakdown, beautifully thickening the sauce. The only evidence of its presence is that you will feel so good after.

    Saturday, 23 June 2007

    Baking with Pumpkin Round-up

    There are so many wonderful recipes for baking with pumpkin, that we have just had to choose a few :

    Fresh Pumpkin Cupcakes with White Chocolate Chunks and Cream Cheese Frosting

    Cornmeal Crackers with Pumpkin Seeds
    Macrina Bakery Squash Harvest Loaf
    Pumpkin Fruit Cake
    Pumpkin Bread with Hazelnuts and Golden Raisins
    Pumpkin Pie
    Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Molasses Glaze

    Picture of Cornmeal Crackers with Pumpkin Seeds courtesy running with tweezers.

    Baking with Pumpkin

    Pumpkins are naturally sweet and lend themselves very well to baked goods. They help produce a moist end product, and the cooked pulp can be used to substitute some of the fat in a recipe.

    Classic pumpkin baking, for me, has to be pumpkin pie, but I know a lot of people who recoil at the very idea. I think it is because they have not tried my mother's pumpkin pie.

    Other ideas for baking with pumpkin include cakes, muffins, cupcakes, biscuits, pancakes.

    We will be back later on this baking Saturday with a round up from the blogs of baking recipes using pumpkin.

    Friday, 22 June 2007

    Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

    If you want something to nibble on with a drink, something that isn't too heavy, or fatty, something that is even good for you, try roasted pumpkin seeds.
    I always feel bad about throwing away the seeds of pumpkins when preparing the flesh for a dish. The first few times I tried to roast them I made a hideous mess of a previously clean oven ; the popping was quite exciting, the cleaning less so. I have since learned the trick for keeping the seeds whole is a low temperature.
    Pumpkin seeds are a good source of essential fatty acids and minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
    To roast the seeds : heat the oven to 140°c, clean the fibers from the seeds then toss with the flavouring of your choice. Perhaps Tabasco and a bit of salt or garam masala or Worcester sauce.


    Biman golden lager from the Invercargill Brewery has been brewed especially to accompany curry. Isn't it good to find a beer that has been specifically crafted to be drunk with food?

    The Invercargill Brewery is New Zealand's southernmost brewery, does this also mean it is the world's most southern brewery too? Nice to think so! Like several New Zealand boutique brewers, the Invercargill Brewery grew from a hobby and a passion.

    The Biman lager is but one of a range of beers and cider produced by this southern brewery. The name Biman comes from an Indian word meaning “strong hearted”, a good name for a beer suited to curry, especially one that is a little higher in alcohol than most beers at 5.2%.

    The taste is fairly bitter from the hops, and with a lovely aroma that complements the richness also present in this lager. We enjoyed this beer with a lamb saag - a pretty good match.

    Biman golden lager can be bought throughout New Zealand.

    What the World Eats

    This is a photo essay from Time which I just thought was fascinating - What's on family dinner tables in fifteen different homes around the globe?

    Thursday, 21 June 2007

    Mid-Winter Christmas Feast 2007

    Today is the Southern Hemisphere's Winter Solstice,(Northern Hemisphere's Summer Solstice!) the shortest (or longest!) day of the year and traditionally the time of year when we Downunder hold a Mid-Winter Christmas Feast.

    However we are running late with our preparations here at Nihowera and we desperately need your help to make this our 2007 Feast; a feast we can remember!
    We need you to share and submit your favourite Christmas dishes for our Mid-Winter Christmas Feast; the week beginning July 16th.

    Traditional Northern Hemisphere Christmas dishes are perfect for our Mid-Winter and our Downunder Summer Christmas dishes for the Northern Hemisphere's Mid-Summer!
    You can choose to create something new or share a past experience or post from your blog to be included in our week of Mid-Winter (Mid-Summer!) Feasting.

    If you wish to, you may also like to add this logo to your Christmas post.

    Send your entries to with the heading Mid-Winter Christmas 2007! to us by midnight on July the 15th

    Please remember to include...

  • your name

  • your approximate location

  • your blog's name

  • your Mid-Winter Christmas post's name

  • your Mid-Winter Christmas post's url / permalink

  • Thanks heaps, we look forward to celebrating with you!

    Pumpkin Varietals

    When choosing a pumpkin it is important to look for a firm example, one that has undamaged skin and feels heavy for it's size. Also try and select a pumpkin which is fully mature. A mature pumpkin is normally shiny and smooth, whilst an immature one will be slightly sticky to the touch. Another indication is brown flecks (or corking) on the stem; the more flecks a pumpkin has the more mature it is. The most common varieties of pumpkin in New Zealand are:

    namely Kurijiman, Ebisu and Delica with dark rich green speckled and striped skins.

    with a creamy beige skin and an elongated cylindrical / pear like shape

    namely Whangaparoa with it's hard blue / grey skin.

    namely Red Warren, with a bright orange hard and knobbly skin.

    originally called kamo kamo by Maori and considered particularly good for hangi.

    where the baked flesh turns into spaghetti noodle like strands

    with names like sun drop, orange minikin, red hub, sunset squash, sweet mischief, and white acorn. Mini squash vary in flavour and are more commonly used for decorative purposes.

    For more information on these varieties, choosing and storing pumpkins visit vegetables.co.nz

    Tuesday, 19 June 2007

    5-second rule?

    You know the 5-Second rule? Well it seems that you can now make that the 30-second rule. Now that is good news!

    Monday, 18 June 2007

    The Cranks Bible

    The Cranks Bible by Nadine Abensur is a fantastic vegetarian cookbook. There are no meat substitutes, no suspicion that the recipes would be so much better with a little ham, just a wonderful celebration of vegetables for their own sake.

    Ingredients are discussed throughout the book, making it a reference for things such as buckwheat, chickpeas or mushrooms.

    The recipes all seem to work and are not too fiddly or time consuming. My favourite, that I keep coming back to, is Moussaka. This version, with aubergines, potatoes, tomato sauce and Béchamel , is so much better than any lamb filled version I have tasted.

    And why did I choose this book this evening? Because of the colour of the cover, of course. Goes beautifully with pumpkins!

    Pick a Pumpkin, Pumpkin

    Pumpkins are wonder food, what I would call a hero food, being full of fibre, Vitamin A (Beta Carotene) and Vitamin C. Besides all this, pumpkins are cheap as chips and there is so much you can do with them. Some say "if there's an egg in the house, there's a meal in the house". I say if there's a pumpkin in the house, there's not just any meal in the house, but a divinely comforting meal! Be it soups, salads, roasts, baked and stuffed, added to stews, pizza or risotto. Not forgetting baking and desserts, pumpkin pie!
    It's no wonder then that we at Nihowera are devoting a whole week to this big beauty among the squash!

    Saturday, 16 June 2007

    Muffin Roundup

    Muffins can be a vehicle for almost anything. And it is that anything that you choose to use that can decide the nature of the muffin. Savoury or sweet? Conservative or decadent? You choose! Here are some wonderful muffin recipes from around the Blogs, one is bound to be exactly what you want :


    My Gran used to make bran muffins. They were small, brown, dense and felt good for you. They had a certain charm and every now and then I hanker for one. Gran's muffins were very different than the cupcake wannabes that proliferate cafés the world over.

    I would take a muffin like Gran's over the cake like versions, but I think the perfect muffin lies somewhere in between. Today, for Saturday baking on Nihowera we will bring you a plethora of muffin-mania.

    The thing with muffins is that they are by nature quick to make, the worst thing you can do to a muffin is to take too long mixing them up. all they need is a bit of a stir, just to combine the wet and the dry ingredients. A great way to kill some time on a wet and cold winter's day.

    Friday, 15 June 2007

    2 Ginger Cordials

    Our friend and yet another favourite food blogger Haalo from across the ditch has shared two gorgeous refreshing Ginger Cordials. I believe both would be a grand way to keep your fluids up this winter, often we tend to dehydrate in winter as we don't feel the need to drink like we do in the heat of summer. No doubt these would also be beneficial if you find yourself fighting a few bugs this winter!

    Ginger and Lemongrass Cordial

    Ginger and Lemon Barley Water

    This cracking image is also courtesy of Haalo

    A Favourite Ginger Tipple

    Something I discovered while living in Essen, Germany as an exchange student and what has become a favourite ever since is...

    a mix 50/50 of Southern Comfort and Ginger Ale

    It reminds me of a "grown up's" apple juice - a little sweet, fruity and spicy - a bit like me really!

    Image courtesy of Wikipedia

    Thursday, 14 June 2007

    Savoury Ginger Roundup

    We have covered Ginger in Baking and as an After Dinner Sweet, yet we should not forget the marvelous main meals and savoury delights Ginger can also inspire, here are a few that tickled my taste buds:

    Gingered Carrots with Cumin and Basil
    Kimchi with Ginger
    Ginger Pork
    Risotto with Ginger Wine
    Ginger Salmon Tartare

    And as pictured Arfi Binstead's Lamb Burger with Ginger Coy Sum Noodle Salad

    Grating Fresh Ginger

    A quick and effective way to grate fresh ginger is with a porcelain sharp toothed plane or grater, such as this one from the Epicurean cook shop. It makes light work of mincing the fresh ginger root, grating it with no need to even peel the skin, leaving the skin and any fibres behind in the teeth. Best of all with no holes for the fibres to catch in, the plane only needs a quick rinse to clean.

    Wednesday, 13 June 2007

    The Health Benefits of Ginger

    Ginger has many health benefits and has been used for centuries to treat :

    • nausea (morning sickness, motion sickness)
    • vomiting
    • headache
    • congestion
    • colds
    • indigestion
    • flatulence
    • diarrhea
    • stomach ache
    • rheumatism
    • arthritis
    • circulation
    • migraine
    • depression
    This winter, if you are feeling under the weather, try a hot ginger, lemon and honey drink, you are bound to feel better.

    Tuesday, 12 June 2007

    Ginger to snack on

    I love to snack on a piece of crystallised ginger, together with a few almonds I think it's a great sweet and spicy little treat anytime of the day.
    However Ginger is particularly good as a replacement for After Dinner Mints after a large meal. As it will settle the stomach, and prevent any embarrassing belching, burping and yes...farting!

    So for your next dinner party or Mid-Winter Christmas function perhaps you could offer some gorgeously dark chocolate dipped ginger instead of the more traditional mint!

    Monday, 11 June 2007

    Nose to Tail Eating

    I longed for this book ever since I saw the episode of A Cook's Tour when Anthony Bourdain goes to St. John Restaurant.

    Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson is just wonderful : it looks good, feels good and contains some fantastic recipes and philosophies. It is a small hard cover book with something attached I wish more books had - a ribbon bookmark.

    I love the photos within, especially the front and back inside covers. The front has the ears and the back the heart, as shown in the pictures to the left.

    Anthony Bourdain has written the introduction, which explains the cult aspect of this restaurant and the cookbook.

    The philosophies fit so well with what we believe here at Nihowera, and can be explained with a quote from the first page :

    "'Nose to Tail Eating' means it would be disingenuous to the animal not to make the most of the whole beast ; there is a set of delights, textural and flavoursome, which lie beyond the fillet."

    Sunday, 10 June 2007


    This week on Nihowera we are highlighting ginger, kicked off in fabulous fashion with a focus on baking with ginger.

    When we talk about ginger, we often speak of ginger root, but really we mean the ginger rhizome (underground stem). A rhizome is not so different from a root, but it is nice to know the proper word isn't it?

    Ginger is a brilliant thing to have on hand. When I buy fresh ginger, I scrape of the papery brown skin with a teaspoon - it seems to waste a minimum of the flesh - and put it straight in the freezer in a container. When I need some ginger I just grate it straight into the dish from frozen.

    Ginger is such a versatile flavour, found in sweet and savory dishes as well as drinks. Check back on Nihowera this week for more fun with ginger!

    Saturday, 9 June 2007

    Ginger Baking Roundup

    Here are some ideas for baking with ginger, gathered from some of our favourite blogs :

    Ginger Gems or Ginger Gems
    Ginger Crunch or Ginger Crunch
    Apple and Feijoa Cake
    Ginger Madeleines
    Chocolate Gingerbread

    Baking with Ginger

    Ginger has long been a favourite baking flavour for New Zealanders. The Edmonds Cookery Book lists eight baked gingery items in the index, and there are so many more to be found.

    Ginger can be included in baking in many forms :

    • Fresh
    • Preserved
    • dried
    • ground
    • crystallised
    Each state giving a slightly different flavour, texture and style. Fresh ginger is sharper, but not as strong as the dried, nor as persistent after baking. Preserved stem ginger not only gives lovely chewy nuggets of fiery ginger flavour, but also a syrup brimming with ginger that is great used when sugar is called for and a ginger flavour would be nice. Ground ginger is a convenient form of the dried root, pungent and persistent. Crystallised ginger will always have a place in my kitchen, reminding me of my granddad, who snacked on the sparkly lumps like sweeties.

    To kick off this week's Nihowera highlight on Ginger we will be baking today, Ginger Gems anyone!?

    Friday, 8 June 2007

    Tuatara Pale Ale

    And for today's happy hour drinking pleasure Nihowera presents Tuatara Pale Ale.

    Described by connoisseurs as hoppy, malty, fruity, quaffable, an English style pale ale and good.

    Tuatara is brewed in Wellington and has close connections with local bars Bodega and The Malthouse, which make them great places to get it on tap! Here is an interesting article about how the Tuatara brewery got started. And another from Real Beer.

    I particularly like the packaging : six bottles handily put together in a smart brown box.

    Go and get some!

    Tuesday, 5 June 2007

    Salt Alternatives

    Crunchy, white salt is not the only way to season your foods with salty goodness. There are many other vehicles for saltiness that often bring other good things along for the ride :

    • Fish Sauce - this is a magic ingredient. Don't just relegate fish sauce to the Thai Curries, a dash can add just the right amount of fullness to many a dish like a stew, chilli or soup.
    • Worcester Sauce - a wonderful all round seasoning. If you find your savoury dish is missing a certain something, a splash or two of Worcester sauce can work magic.
    • Anchovies - a fillet mashed into a meaty dish does not turn the dish fishy, but just adds depth, perhaps another dimension of flavour.
    • Soy Sauce - a great vegetarian salt alternative. Adds interest to many a dish. Add to the water in which you cook your rice, or use to season a soup.
    Although these alternatives are not perhaps low in sodium, and therefore practical salt alternatives salt for those who are trying to reduce their salt intake, they are useful if you run out of salt!

    Saturday, 2 June 2007

    Celery Salt

    Celery salt is a wonderful seasoning agent ; bringing much more than just saltiness to a dish. It seems to add a certain savoury quality - flattering the other ingredients in a really honest way.

    I make celery salt with celeriac, the swollen root of a celery relative. The only important thing being, when dealing with a knobbly vegetable like celeriac, to remove the skin and hairy bits from the root perhaps sacrificing some of the good insides. The result will be much nicer if you do.

    The formula is simple :

    Equal weights of peeled, grated celeriac and rock sea salt mixed together (see picture left) . . .
    . . . left in the fridge for two or three days, stirred or shaken each day . . .
    . . . dried out in a low oven for a couple of hours . . .
    . . . and finally ground up in a food processor.

    The celery salt will last for ages in a sealed jar in the cupboard and will be ever so useful to have to hand, and not just because it goes particularly well with boiled eggs!

    Friday, 1 June 2007

    Margarita with her Salty Edge

    The Margarita is the most favoured tequila based cocktail and rightly so, in my opinion! Margaritas are made together with tequila and either Triple Sec or Cointreau or another orange-flavored liqueur, lime or lemon juice and served in a salt rimmed cocktail glass.
    Naturally there are many different variations, however here's my favourite ratio:

    Margarita Recipe

    * 5 or 6 ice cubes crushed
    * 30ml ice cold water
    * 40ml freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
    * 10ml Tequila
    * 5ml Cointreau (triple sec)

    Rim one cocktail glass with salt. Shake the remaining ingredients together, pour into the rimmed glass and serve.

    (Serves 1)

    Image from Wikipedia

    Tuesday, 29 May 2007

    Iodised Salt

    New Zealand soil is low in iodine, therefore foods grown in our soil are also low in iodine. Iodine is necessary to a healthy diet in order to support thyroid function - thyroid problems can lead to illnesses such as goiter.

    In New Zealand, iodine consumption has been increased through the use of iodised salt. New Zealand bakers used to use iodised salt in the commercially produced bread, which we all used to eat in much greater quantities than we do now, once again requiring us to look to other ways to include iodine in our diets.

    I use Marlborough salt at home. It is as good, if not better, than the imported Maldon salt that is so celebrated by chefs around the world. It certainly has not traveled as far and is also organic. It has a wonderful light flakes and is produced from the clean waters at the top of the east coast of the South Island. I was very happy to find that there is now an iodised version, which tastes great, not at all metallic like the fairly unpleasant traditional iodised salt.

    Monday, 28 May 2007

    Frugal Food

    Delia, you have to love her. I think this is one of her best. Published in 1976, my copy is frugal by name and by nature, bearing the inscription, from my mother :

    Frugal Cooking recycled for Em,
    from Ma.
    March 2003
    The byline reads "Tempting recipes for careful cooks". The book is a small paperback with chapters such as :
    • The Cheap Charter
    • Chickens Lib
    • Forequarter Front
    • Offal - But I like you
    • Go with the Grain
    • Quickening Pulses
    Along with the many, good and still applicable recipes, there is an education to be found within the pages. It is interesting to realise that rabbit used to be such a cheap meat ; the portions I find here in Wellington, are priced as a premium meat rather than a cheap as chips option.

    This is the kind of book that, should you find it languishing on the shelf of a second hand bookshop, you should snap up before someone else does.


    Salt. NaCl (well, mainly).

    Salt is so cruicial to our well being. Both for the chemical processes it facilitates in our bodies, but also for what it does for food, making it taste good. A little salt can bring out subtle flavour nuances that might otherwise be lost. Too much salt can render a dish unpalatable and too much salt as a regular part of our diet can be downright dangerous.

    Salt is mainly composed of Sodium Chloride, with sodium being one of the three primary electrolytes, along with potassium, and calcium, required in the body for normal function. I say mainly because there are countless other compounds present in the product we call salt and sprinkle on our food, as a matter of habit, to create a flavour we desire, and need.

    Salt is one of the basic tastes we can detect on the tongue. Each of these, salt, sweet, bitter, sour and umami, seem to have a evolutionary reason for detection by humans. We need salt, so we need to be able to detect salt in food to provide the electrolytes we biologically crave.

    For the cook, there are many ways to add salt to food, and as we highlight salt this week on Nihowera we will explore some of the options.

    Sunday, 27 May 2007

    Feijoa Chutney

    This is a great time of year to make chutney. There are so many fruits and vegetables that are at the end of their season, that you may not want to eat fresh. Perhaps you are sick of them having had a glut in garden, or maybe you have so many on hand that you need to do something with them before they go bad, maybe you have bought a whole lot especially to make chutney.

    Feijoas make a great chutney ; they are aromatic and I think their flavour still manages to shine though in the finished product.

    Chutney making is almost a fool proof technique. All you need to remember is to cook the mixture until it is thick and to seal the finished product in sterilized jars. The vinegar, sugar and spices all help to preserve the contents, but you don't want to disadvantage the chutney by confining it to a less than sterile jar.

    Aside from the most wonderful cheese and chutney sandwiches, you could try serving the chutney, as I have done in the picture above, on thin toasts with a crumble of feta on top for an easy, quick and delicious nibble to serve with drinks.

    You can find a recipe for feijoa chutney here.

    Saturday, 26 May 2007

    A collection of bread recipes

    Here's a collection of gorgeous bread recipes and all from Kiwi Food Blogs, to get you started and baking some of your own fresh bread.
    It's not a complete list mind, this is only a very small selection from our Kiwi blogs. Between us all we've made and baked a lot of bread, so have a good hunt around each blog for more doughy goodness!

    Baguette (French Stick)
    Buckwheat and Corn Tortillas
    English Muffins
    Gluten Free Bread
    Hot Cross Buns
    Indian Naan
    Maori Rewena Bread
    Walnut and Rye Loaf

    Image courtesy of Nigel @ Curious Kai