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

The staff of life - Bread!

Bread is one of the oldest known prepared foods, a definite daily staple for most cultures around the world, even today. There are a large variety of types and favours, most are prepared by baking, steaming, or frying dough.

One thing all breads have in common however is that they all start out as flour and water; salt is present in most cases. The first breads produced were probably cooked versions of simple grain pastes. Pastes made from various ground cereal grains and water. These may have been developed by accidental cooking or deliberate experimentation with water and grains. Variations of these first experiments and early breads are still commonly made worldwide with different grains, for example... Mexican tortillas, Indian and Pakistani chapatis, rotis and naans, Scottish oatcakes, North American Johnnycakes, Middle Eastern Pita bread (Kmaj in Arabic and Pitot in Hebrew) and the Ethiopian injera. These basic flat breads formed a staple in the diet of many early civilizations.

Bread in more modern times has often included a leavening agent such as yeast or a fermented starter. This development of leavened bread can however probably also be traced back to prehistoric times as yeast spores occur everywhere, including on the surface of cereal grains. If any dough or grain paste is left to rest it will become naturally leavened. Archaeological evidence has detected yeast cells in some ancient Egyptian loaves.
Leaven breads today can have added amounts of sugar, butter and eggs for enrichment and flavours from spices, fruits or vegetables, nuts and or seeds are also common.

All breads are prized for their freshness and fresh homemade bread has taste and texture like no other!

Friday, 25 May 2007

42 Below Feijoa Vodka

42 Below is New Zealand vodka ; 42 Below Feijoa vodka is the meridian.

This vodka really does have a distinctive feijoa flavour ; lending itself to mixing in cocktails - both long and short.

My favourite way to drink feijoa vodka is in a long cocktail with elderflower cordial and soda water. Not too sweet and not too strong.

Go make yourself a drink, then come back and amuse yourself with some 42 Below adverts.

Their PR strategy has to be admired.


How often do you find yourself tossing away food packaging, plastic wrap, plastic bags, containers? Even if you pack your own lunchbox, are you using plastic wraps and plastic ziplock bags, containers and other packaging, generally finding yourself creating more and more plastic waste than you might like to . . .?

A Tiffin pot is a great investment and replacement for a plastic lunchbox.
Most Tiffin pots are stainless steel and therefore highly resilient, they're very easy to wash or pop through the dishwasher over and over again. The stainless steel also won't leach toxins into you food like so many plastics can, a tiffin is not only better for our environment, it's also better for you!
Tiffin pots are comprised of several, 2, 3, 4 and even 5 units which stack together on top of each other with a carry handle, they come in loads of different sizes.

Originally from India, catering services or wives would place hot naan in one compartment, rice in another, dahl in the next, another curry in the last to send off to working men for lunch. Tiffins therefore are great for both hot and cold foods, the separate units allow you to keep your side dish from running into your main course. The units seal tightly so are ideal for keeping sandwiches or salads fresh without the need for plastic wrap. You can also pop one compartment into the fridge overnight to set jellies or custard for carry away dessert.

You can carry a tiffin almost everywhere with you or even just use it for storage in your own kitchen, for storing spices in the pantry to leftovers in the fridge. Wherever you perhaps previously would have used disposible plastic packaging. To the office, to school, while camping or picnicking and why not even take it to your favorite Indian or Chinese takeaway and ask them to fill it with fried rice rather than the normal plastic disposable container?

Look out for Tiffin pots in Asian stores throughout the country.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

The Food Show Wellington

The Food Show is on in Wellington this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
There will be exhibitors of food, wine and food products, as well as demonstrations by chefs and food writers.

I am particularly looking forward to Rex Morgan of of Citron Restaurant's presentation Cured, Carpaccio and Tartars. I love his food, and I am sure it will be a great insight to how he works.

The Food Show Wellington
25-27 May 2007, 10am - 6pm daily
Westpac Stadium,
Waterloo Quay,

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Feijoa Auction

This afternoon I bought 4.5kg of feijoas in a TradeMe auction. I was just about to buy some feijoas from the supermarket, when my friend Henry suggested that I looked on TradeMe. I thought he was being funny, but it turned out that there is loads of food for sale by online auction. Click the TradeMe logo for a link to feijoa auctions.

I am intending to make chutney - and eat lots just as they are - so check back for a very special recipe.

What a great way to buy seasonally, when there is a glut from which people want to be free!

Feijoa and Pear Crumble

Winos and Foodies

If these cold evenings of Autumn weren't enough to get your mind, body and soul craving hot fruit crumbles and sweet creamy crème anglaise, then Barbara's Winos and Foodies blog makes it even harder to resist whipping up Feijoa and Pear Crumble. The classic crumbly toasted oats topping on soft sweet and glistening Autumn fruits are comforting and warming simply to view, on the palate I'm in no doubt they are an absolutely gorgeous combination of textures and taste. And her photo, well surely it speaks for itself... superb!

Monday, 21 May 2007

How to Eat

When I moved into my first flat as a student in Dunedin mum gave me a cookbook. That book was How to Eat by Nigella Lawson. I have to admit that for whole time as a fee paying flatting student I did not even open it. But as soon as I started working and living in flats where we actually had dinner as apposed to "It is your turn to cook" I could not put it down.

Unequivocally, now, it is the favourite, most treasured and used cook book on my shelf.

There are sections covering basics, cooking in advance, one & two, fast food, weekend lunch, dinner, low fat, feeding babies and young children. Maybe it was the last that scared me as an eighteen year old - Mum?

I have given this book for presents : wedding, engagement and birthday, but only once the food becomes more important than the drink for entertaining. I think you need it.

Nihowera highlights Feijoa

Feijoa (Feijoa sellowiana, synonym Acca sellowiana) are also known as Pineapple Guava or Guavasteen, they are the Autumn fruits from an evergreen shrub.
They originated from the highlands of southern Brazil and parts of Colombia, Uruguay and northern Argentina.
However they have become a very popular plant here in New Zealand since their introduction in the 1920's, with many backyards and baches having heavy laden fruit bearing bushes. New Zealand, especially the North Island has an ideal climate to produce many large fruit and as an added bonus few pests harm the Feijoa, subsequently most New Zealand Feijoa are grown organically, chemical and spray free!

The Feijoa is commonly eaten by cutting it in half, then scooping out the pulp with a spoon, making it ideal for the lunchbox. The fruits have a juicy sweet seed pulp with slightly gritty flesh nearer the skin. They can be eaten whole, skin and all, however this is less common as the skin can be bitter.
I personally would describe the feijoa as tropical combination of strawberry/pineapple/apple and pear flavours, a combination which is often loved or loathed!

Feijoas are often added to smoothies, desserts or made into chutney and jam. It is also possible to buy Feijoa yoghurt, Feijoa Wine, Vodka and other non-alcoholic fruit drinks.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Thick and lovely

An elegantly thin soup is wonderful to start a meal, but if you are hankering for the warming comfort of a lovely thick soup, you might like to know a few options to thicken your soup :

  • A purée of a vegetable included in the soup.
  • Lentils, which will break down and thicken the soup.
  • A slurry of cornflour slackened with a little of the soup before stirring in.
  • A roux making the base of the soup.
  • Rice.
  • Breadcrumbs.
  • Egg yolks.
  • Yoghurt.
  • Ground nuts.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Another "Pearfect" Cake for Pudding

One of our favourite food bloggers, Béa, from La Tartine Gourmande makes and photographs some pretty special looking cakes, although she prefers to call them "Gâteau." This is Bea's "Gâteau au gingembre frais et aux poires - Pear Cake with Fresh Ginger" I believe this would be the perfect cake for making ahead of a simple Autumn dinner with friends, wouldn't you agree?! I love the sound of the pear and ginger combination and it looks so crumbly, moist and delicious! As a nation we Kiwis are fairly fond of ginger, it would seem we adore baking with ginger anyway. With pears also being so abundant and at definitely at their best right now. Who needs anymore convincing?!

Cake for Pudding

Ah, baking day. A Saturday might be a day which gives you the time to do some baking.

A Saturday might also be the day on which you have some friends coming for dinner.

So why not make a cake for pudding?!

Making the pudding ahead of time is a good way to reduce the last minute stresses of having some friends round for dinner.

Some cakes are better completed ahead of time, and some are best served as soon as they are finished. The latter are obviously not quite as appropriate for doing ahead, and include cakes such as a Victoria sponge deliciously filled with cream. It is also perhaps better not to serve a richly iced and decorated cake after a meal ; why not save those masterpieces as the focus in their own right.

Some ideas of cakes to serve for pudding :

Amazon Cake
Plum Cake
Marzipan Cake
Lemon Cake

Friday, 18 May 2007

Founders Fair Maiden Ale

Founders is a brewery we had a great time visiting when we recently went to Nelson.

They occupy a site in the historic Founders Park in Nelson, complete with a cafe serving great food and a brilliant outdoor area.

A good way to spend sometime in Nelson is to visit the Founders, take a tour of the brewery, sample the range then relax with your favourite brew and a spot of lunch.

There is quite a range of beer, all certified by BIO-GRO NZ, making founders the first 100% certified organic brewery in New Zealand ; G.E. free, sugar free, contain no animal products or by products and certified organic. Note : the bottles are made from recycled glass.

The beer is even brewed according to Bavarian purity law (Reinheitsgebot), using only four ingredients: hops, malt, yeast and water.

Is there any reason not to enjoy a Founder's beer?

The Fair Maiden Ale pictured to the right is a new brew. It can be described as full flavoured, malty, exceptionally hoppy, in the style of an American pale ale. If you like your beer with flavour then this is the beer for you.

Fair Maiden Ale can be bought at many outlets around New Zealand, but also online here, very convenient!

Thank God it's Friday - Time for Drinkies

Yay! I love Fridays!
As I'm sure most of us do! No?!
Friday is a time to relax, a time for parties, food, drinks and entertaining.

Another reason I love Friday afternoons is because it's Nihowera's Happy Hour an afternoon and evening focusing on Drinks, Cocktails, New Zealand Wines and Beers!

Paul Marquardt is the New Zealand Food Blog Community's resident Mixologist. Paul blogs over at EatNZ.com
Today's first feature cocktail is his Vanilla Cosmopolitan, I wanted to get the party started with some feminine flare and "Sex in the City" as Nihowera was born this week with the efforts of two like-minded, fun and food loving females.

Head over to Paul's blog for the recipe and more cocktail making tips!

Pitango Organic Soups

Here's a product I've recently become quite attached to made by a New Zealand based company Pitango. Producing a nice range of Organic soups and Hummus that really do taste homemade. The soups are made locally in New Zealand with fresh New Zealand organic vegetables. They are cooked in small batches to be sure no taste or quality is lost. They also contain lower salt/sodium levels than most other "convenient" soup products on the market.


Pitango's soups come in a wide range of hearty flavours including but not limited to:
Pumpkin & ginger soup,
Tomato & thyme soup,
Carrot, chilli & coriander soup (my personal favourite so far!)
Indian vegetable soup,
Leek & kumara soup,
Cajun seafood gumbo,
Moroccan chicken soup,
Spring lamb soup.

The soups are ideal to keep in the fridge for a quick warming meal, or to pick up for a last minute meal when you're in a hurry. Far better tasting and for you than resorting to takeaways or a frozen pizza!
The soups come in 600gram chilled pouches which is more than enough for two adults, in fact I comfortably stretch one 600gram pouch with a little added water between 2 adults and 2 children, along with a few slices of toast.

Pitango's products are available in the refrigerated section of most good food retailers throughout New Zealand.

Do you dream of Roquefort?

From July you may not need to dream any more. New Zealand is finally allowing raw, unpasteurised, soft cheeses to be imported.

Good news indeed. Soon we will be able to enjoy full flavoured brie, camembert, Roquefort, Gouda and Edam without having to pay for that ticket to the other side of the world. We will also be able to buy New Zealand crafted raw milk cheeses, possibly as soon as next year.

It will be wonderful to savour the full taste of the cheeses ; all the complexities given by the cheese's flavour-giving bacteria, which is destroyed by heating and pasteurising milk. The contraction of listeria from unpasteurised milk products appears to only be a threat to elderly, pregnant or immunodeficient people. Outbreaks of Listeria have also been linked to raw vegetables, poultry, fish and deli meats - and we don't worry about eating those things, do we?

Come July, look at for imported unpasteurised cheese at Truffle in Wellington and Canterbury Cheesemongers in Christchurch.

Thursday, 17 May 2007


I really believe that good proper stock can make all the difference to soup, which as we know is good for us ; good for our health and good for our soul.

  • A fish carcass can be simmered with some vegetables to really give depth to a fish soup.
  • Beef or lamb bones can be roasted then cooked for a long time to extract their goodness and flavour, adding untold benefits to a meaty soup.
  • Chicken stock only requires the left over bones from your Sunday roast, or if you want to make a little more effort, a chicken frame and some wings. This has to be the most versatile of stocks, especially when frozen in small quantities, able to be added to many a dish requiring a bit of stock.
  • A vegetable stock can be as simple as the left over water from cooking chickpeas, potatoes or any vegetable you have steamed or boiled. Or a more complex stock could be made with a selection of aromatic vegetables.
The basic technique could be described as :
  1. Good strong bones (optional for a vegetable stock of course!).
  2. Aromatic vegetables.
  3. Water.
  4. Simmered, from as little as twenty minutes for fish stock (to avoid the bitterness that can occur) to many hours for a good strong meaty stock.
The resulting magic broth can then be reduced, frozen, used as is or added to a multitude of dishes, to add that little something extra.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

I see Yellow, I see Yellow, I see Yellow!

Barbara from WinosandFoodies is the host of A Taste Of Yellow!
A food blog event in which she asked bloggers to create or blog about any Yellow Food in support of Lance Armstrong's Foundation and LIVESTRONG Day - a day created to raise awareness and support those who live with or are affected by cancer in the United States of America.

You may well ask why then, am I telling you about this as Nihowera is a Kiwi based blog. Well I can't argue with that, but I can say that I know very few people who haven't been affected and touched by cancer in some way or other, including here in Aotearoa. Unfortunately cancer knows no boundaries and has no borders!

Please swing by Barbara's roundup to take in all 144 of the Yellow delights submitted from around the globe.

Also keep an eye out for our Emma's Buttery Brioche and my Citrus Custards with Passionfruit Tuiles. Yes, it's true we aren't ashamed to give ourselves a plug or two here at Nihowera!

Lastly the beautiful Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Caramel Sauce you see above is from another NZ blogger Arfi Binstead @ Homemades

Seasonal Soups - Some Benefits

With these cooler days and the nights drawing in earlier we tend to change our eating habits, more frequently reaching out for something comforting to warm our souls. Soups, stews and steamed puddings all come to mind as "comfort food" and Soups particularly so.

Not only are soups comforting however, they also have a great range of other benefits. They generally are very economical, surprisingly small amounts of initially quite uninspiring produce, such as a stick of celery, 1/2 an onion, a couple of potatoes, a limp leek and carrot can be used to create a highly scrumptious soup by the imaginative home cook, a soup which in turn can against these odds even become a family favourite.

Soup comes in many varied and wonderful forms from thick stew like bowls of hearty goodness as with a Hungarian Goulash to the thin, clear, broth like bowls for of warming freshness as popular in Asian cultures with the addition of noodles or with Miso.
Lets not forget the rich and creamy delights like the often admired French Lobster Bisque, or Coconut Cream Laksa although these are the ultimate in comfort they should ideally be treated with some respect as the tend to be a lot higher in calories and fats.

However even with all these delicious soups to choose from I think it would be fair to say the soups preferred by most at home cooks generally tend to be very simple to make. Puréed soups in particular are common place being as they require little effort or great chopping skills. In it's most basic form, the purée starts with vegetables being peeled, roughly chopped and simmered together with some beautifully good homemade stock until perfectly tender. Finally it is seasoned and whizzed to a smooth nourishing pot of gorgeousness with a blender.

But perhaps the most beneficial trait of almost all soup, no matter what style of soup, is that it can be packed full of nutrients and is served in a deliciously easy to digest liquid form. It's not surprising then that almost every country in the world has their own unique take on soup.

The Seasonal Soup pictured is Thai Inspired Pumpkin Soup with Lime and Coriander Pesto from bronmarshall.com

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Nihowera highlights Soups for Autumn!

Each week here at Nihowera we hope to highlight and focus on a different seasonal dish. Share our views on a the chosen dish, share recipes, links and introduce you to any local products we find and like along the way.
For this first week we have chosen the ever comforting Autumnal Soups as our theme.

We would like to encourage you to share your views on Soup too, so please don't be shy in sharing your thoughts, links to recipes and your favourites in our comments.

The Seasonal Soup pictured here is Game Soup from The Laughing Gastronome

Monday, 14 May 2007

Edmonds Cookery Book

The Edmonds Cookery Book. A New Zealand institution. I would hazard a guess that almost all New Zealand homes have a copy somewhere near the kitchen.
The Edmonds of the title was Thomas J. Edmonds a baking powder entrepreneur from Canterbury, who shaped not only our way of cooking, but also our way of working. The Edmonds factory was the first to introduce a 40 hour, five day week during the Depression.
If you want a recipe for pavlova, ANZAC or Afghan biscuits, meat loaf, quiche or cauliflower cheese, then the Edmonds Cookery Book is the place to go.
A lot of people were given their copy when they first left home, to try their hand at flatting, or when they got married. In fact, when the book was first published in 1907, couples would receive a free copy when they announced their engagement.
The first edition was a 50 page book of 'economical everyday recipes and cooking hints'. My edition has 252 pages of 'economical everyday recipes and cooking hints'! My mum gave it to me, of course!

Saturday, 12 May 2007

ANZAC Biscuits

ANZAC biscuits are a more modern version of an older "Soldiers' Biscuits" recipe, ANZAC Biscuits were first made by Australian and New Zealand women for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) soldiers during World War I.
The women waiting at home for news of their loved ones were able to send care packages or small food parcels to their men at war, these parcels often contained the original "Soldier Biscuits" renamed "ANZAC Biscuits" after the Gallipoli landing.
They contained no eggs or coconut and had limited amounts of sugar back then, as these ingredients were scarce and expensive during wartime the result therefore was more like a rockcake than the crispy and thin ANZAC biscuit recipe below, that we know today.

Anzac Biscuits

100 grams / 4 oz of butter
1 dessertspoon of golden syrup
½ cup of white sugar
1 cup of flour
¾ cup of rolled oats
¾ cup of desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon of water
75 grams of melted chocolate to decorate, optional

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas mark 4.
In a large saucepan melt the butter and golden syrup, then remove from the heat and cool.
Add the white sugar, flour, rolled oats and coconut and mix thoroughly.
Dissolve the baking soda in 1 tablespoon of water and add to the mixture.
Line a baking tray with cooking paper.
Roll small rounds of the mixture and place on the baking tray, remembering to allow room for the biscuits to spread.
Flatten with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.
When cool drizzle with melted chocolate if desired.
Makes 24

Afghan Biscuits

A quintessential New Zealand biscuit. It seems as though not many other countries know of the deliciousness of cornflakes and chocolate crowned with more chocolate and half a walnut.

It also seems as though no one, including New Zealanders, know why it is called an Afghan biscuit.

Is it because of the walnut half pressed into the chocolate coating that is reminiscent of an Afghani hat? Is it because these biscuits were invented by one of our Great-Grandmothers to send to her Beau posted to Afghanistan in the First or Second World Wars? Or was it that a handsome Afghani gentleman made his way to our far shores and made such an impression on baking day that a biscuit was created in his honour. I suppose we will never know.

Afghan biscuits

175g of butter
1/2 cup of caster sugar
3 tablespoons of cocoa
1 1/4 cups of flour
2 cups of cornflakes
Dark chocolate
Walnut halves

Melt the butter, sugar and cocoa in a saucepan large enough to hold all the ingredients.
Stir in the flour and cornflakes, mixing well, but crushing the cornflakes as little as possible.
Form into biscuit shapes, pressing the mixture together as you go.
Bake at 180°c for 10 minutes or until they are set.
When the biscuits are cool, spread with melted chocolate and press a walnut half onto each one.

Friday, 11 May 2007


In the Maori language,

nihowera means :

  1. [verb] be extravagant with food.
  2. [noun] generous host.
marau means :
  1. [noun] subject of talk, subject.
mātakitaki means :
  1. [verb] to gaze, watch, inspect, examine, observe.
  2. [noun] inspection, observation.