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

    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