The Fearless Kitchen https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz Corporate cooking with a conscience Tue, 12 Feb 2019 03:24:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.9 https://i0.wp.com/www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/VB_Podcast_200x200_1-e1530693755739.jpg?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 The Fearless Kitchen https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz 32 32 83502621 Party Platter Preparation https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/party-platter/ https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/party-platter/#respond Tue, 12 Feb 2019 03:24:51 +0000 https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/?p=7187 Feel fearful of preparing a party platter? It can be daunting to take a look at some of the foodie photos on social media where lusciously laden platters take over entire tables as alternatives to a meal. Don’t despair. They can be a simple and effective solution for easy entertaining, leaving the host to grab … Continue reading Party Platter Preparation

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Feel fearful of preparing a party platter?

It can be daunting to take a look at some of the foodie photos on social media where lusciously laden platters take over entire tables as alternatives to a meal.

Don’t despair.

They can be a simple and effective solution for easy entertaining, leaving the host to grab a drink and also enjoy their friends for a relaxed get together.

Here are some tips to help you get started.

The Four T’s for Triumph

When you create a platter at home here are 4 top tips for success……..

  • Theme is important because it will help you to keep “like” ingredients together. Think Asian, Mediterranean, Vegetarian, Meat Lovers etc. This way you will focus on flavours that already naturally fit together. One of the biggest issues with the modern ‘grazing’ food is that people are messing with putting too many ideas onto one space and it just doesn’t work.
  • Texture is vital. Ideally you can create interest with a variety of soft, crunchy, hard and smooth. For example, with a smooth dip, have some crusty grissini; pair a soft cheese with crusty bread or cracker; hard cheese with slivers of ripe pear.
  • Taste is undeniably the key ingredient. The way to ensure you get this right is to buy ‘in-season’ fresh produce. In hotter months try to create a platter of fresh fruits and vegetables with nuts and other wholesome snack style foods. (NB. you don’t want foods that sweat such as sliced meats and cheeses in hotter weather.)
  • Temptation is about feasting with the eyes. Start creating the platter by positioning your larger items first. Fill in the spaces with smaller ingredients. Use mini bowls and dishes to hold items and separate flavours. Add flowers or herbs to decorate.

For further ideas check out our recipes for Pesto, Pepita Dip and Energy Balls

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Pesto https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/pesto/ https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/pesto/#respond Sun, 10 Feb 2019 23:43:53 +0000 https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/?p=7177   Pesto In Italy at a cooking course in Siena we made pesto in a pestle and mortar, with freshly plucked basil and the most divine olive oil from the region.  It was all about the ‘pestare’ – crushing and mashing – and using that pestle!  So now I feel super bad if I throw … Continue reading Pesto

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Pesto

In Italy at a cooking course in Siena we made pesto in a pestle and mortar, with freshly plucked basil and the most divine olive oil from the region.  It was all about the ‘pestare’ – crushing and mashing – and using that pestle!  So now I feel super bad if I throw it together in a food processor (even though it is way quicker!). So if you have time and have some friends hanging about willing to help – do yourself a favour and make this for real, from scratch with some muscly helpers.

  • 2 garlic cloves (preferably local, fresh and plump)
  • 4 bunches of fresh young basil leaves
  • 30 g pine nuts
  • 10 g sea salt
  • 80 g parmesan (freshly grated (or a mix of pecorino and parmesan))
  • 70 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  1. Grind up the garlic in the base of the mortar.  

  2. Add in the leaves – a few at a time and grind them around the edges of your mortar. When you have the leaves all broken up you can add in the pine nuts and salt and work these into a paste with the fresh herbs. 

  3. Finely tip in the grated cheese. Scrape all the mixture into a bowl and drizzle in the oil, stirring to combine.

For another idea for your platter, click here to find a recipe for Pepita Seed Pate or Dip

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Energy Balls https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/energy-balls/ https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/energy-balls/#respond Sun, 10 Feb 2019 23:39:03 +0000 https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/?p=7173 Energy Balls 1 cup dates (soaked for 30 minutes) 1 cup cashews (soaked for 30 minutes) 1 cup raisins or cranberries 1 cup coconut 2 Tbs cacao or dark cocoa ¼ cup dark chocolate roughly chopped ¼ cup coconut oil (as needed) Chop all the ingredients and mix together in a large bowl. Add enough … Continue reading Energy Balls

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Energy Balls

  • 1 cup dates (soaked for 30 minutes)
  • 1 cup cashews (soaked for 30 minutes)
  • 1 cup raisins or cranberries
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 2 Tbs cacao or dark cocoa
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (as needed)
  1. Chop all the ingredients and mix together in a large bowl. Add enough coconut oil to bind the ingredients together. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour to chill.
  2. Take scoop fulls of mixture and roll into balls. Add a little blackberry powder (or favourite berry powder) or cocoa/coconut for rolling on the outside of the balls.
  3. Chill to serve.
  4. Keep indefinitely in the freezer and for weeks in the fridge.

A great post school snack for kids or a pick-me-up for mid afternoon blues.

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Pepita Dip https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/pepita-dip/ https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/pepita-dip/#respond Sun, 10 Feb 2019 23:36:18 +0000 https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/?p=7169   Pumpkin Seed (pepita) Pate 1 1/2 cups raw pepitas 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 1/2 cup olive oil 1 lemon juiced salt and pepper to taste Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a baking tray. Place pepitas on the tray along with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, salt and … Continue reading Pepita Dip

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Pumpkin Seed (pepita) Pate

  • 1 1/2 cups raw pepitas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a baking tray.
  2. Place pepitas on the tray along with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Toss well with you hands. Roast for about 15-25 minutes or until seeds are cooked and begin to lightly brown. Stir the seeds every 5 minutes as they cook.
  3. Add the seeds to a food processor and process until a smooth paste forms, scraping down the sides as needed. This may take 5 minutes.
  4. Add the turmeric and pulse whilst drizzling in the olive oil to form a consistency you like.

If you have a thermomix just pile everything in and whizz until it is the consistency you like.

Click here for the energy ball recipe as seen in the photo

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Be fearless with fish https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/be-fearless-with-fish/ https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/be-fearless-with-fish/#respond Mon, 28 Jan 2019 19:38:03 +0000 https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/?p=7162 Be Fearless with Fish Some of you have let me know that you have a fear around cooking fish. I decided to tackle this head on with some tips and ideas for you to help you become more fearless with fish in the home kitchen. Is it sustainable? We know there is ongoing conversation … Continue reading Be fearless with fish

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Be Fearless with Fish

Some of you have let me know that you have a fear around cooking fish. I decided to tackle this head on with some tips and ideas for you to help you become more fearless with fish in the home kitchen.

Is it sustainable?

We know there is ongoing conversation around sustainability of all our food sources. Without a doubt, our seas have not escaped the over-reaping of our resources. If we can control our fishing and look for sustainability in purchasing fish to ensure there is enough left at sea, then it is an invaluable source of protein and a wonderful meal option.

Each fish is unique

Importantly in the kitchen, it is essential to understand that every type of fish is unique and each specific fish or fillet will cook at different speeds. So, when you cook fish, you will need to keep an eye on it. But, the good news is there are several techniques you can use to test for doneness. Don’t forget that fish will finish cooking through even once you remove it from the heat. So, removing your pan a little bit early is better than a little bit late!

Quick and Easy

The great benefit of cooking fish is that once you feel confident with it, you have a quick and easy meal option. It is a great choice for solo diners and equally for when you have a crowd. I believe that when you cook fish, less mucking about is needed. I had the pleasure of a Master Class with Simon Gault whilst a contestant on MasterChef back in 2013. He was adamant that a fillet of fish could be lightly cooked in a gorgeous golden pool of bubbling butter and olive oil and finished with a squeeze of lemon. Perfection!

But how?

In spite of the apparent ease of serving a perfectly cooked fish though, it does put the fear of dread into some, otherwise quite seasoned home chefs. It also has a long list of options open up when typed into google, with people searching for how to cook fish – in the oven; in foil; without frying; steamed and more.

Jono Beattie’s tips

Texture Catering
Texture Catering Fish

So, to help I called out to Jono Beattie who is the private Chef behind Texture Catering here in Auckland. I was rather chuffed that his tips were in line with my own thoughts, but I did love the way he expressed them for you.

  • Cook the fish on one side for 90% of the time so you can see the sides of the fish are becoming white. Then flip it over to kiss the pan for 10-15 seconds to finish the other side.
  • Don’t forget it will continue to cook out of the pan – COC (carry over cooking)
  • For larger fillets you can use a cake skewer and if there is resistance in the middle, then it needs longer. If it goes in without resistance then it is cooked through.

Here are my top cooking options for you

Shallow pan fry

Heat a little oil in a heavy based frypan. Add in a knob of butter and allow it to melt and bubble gently (but not colour too much). Lay your fillets into this bubbling and as per above, cook until virtually fully opaque before flipping briefly to finish the other side. (In my mind, it is rather like the pancake or crepe, where you need to wait until those bubbles appear on the surface before you flip, finish quickly and serve!)

Oven Bake (oily fish or whole sides of fish)

Oven Baked Fish
Oven baking Fish

Heat your oven to 200C. Place your fillets onto a baking tray. Drizzle with a little oil, add some delicate seasonings (garlic, herbs), dust with salt and pepper. Pop into the oven and cook until tested with a skewer. Aim for about 8 minutes per 200g – or about 10 minutes per 2.5cm thickness. These are guides though. Don’t forget you need to check yourself around these timings to be sure.

I have a neat vietnamese inspired recipe for a whole fragrant fish in my cookbook, The Fearless Kitchen, available here.

BBQ (firm fleshy fillets)

Oil your BBQ and place the fillets over the heat. Cook until done – around 8 minutes per 2.5cm of thickness – but again follow Jono’s advice, plus the moment a flakiness occurs you can remove from the heat.

Wrapped in banana leaf or baking paper

Salmon steamed in banana leaf
Oven baking salmon

Now this is really a trick way to steam your fish – wrapped up in the oven. It is simple and a great way when you need to feed a lot of people. It is a fabulously delicate way to treat the fish, which will emerge with a lovely clean flavour and fragrance. A full recipe for cooking fish in banana leaf is available in The Fearless Kitchen Cookbook.  There is also this one you can follow online 

 

Conclusion

Now as an aside, I have been teaching a young Asperger’s man to cook. His favourite and best dish to date is fish. It is simple and quick and he loves the flavour. We crumb it (without egg because he is allergic) and he gently fries it in butter. No disrespect to him at all because he is perfectly capable – but hey, if he can do this, with a fear of heat, you can too!

 

P.S.

Let me know your favourite way to cook fish and what you find works for you and what is tricky. It’s great to be able to share these tips as it gives others the confidence to try alternatives they may not have considered.

 

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Pancake Recipe – American style https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/pancake-recipe/ https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/pancake-recipe/#respond Wed, 09 Jan 2019 20:03:49 +0000 https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/?p=7145 Try this pancake recipe for a perfect result every time. Even the kids can create these – and maybe even present them to you! Pancakes are a staple for breakfast, kids afternoon teas or a fill the gap whenever needed. Whilst the traditional American pancake tends to use sugar in the recipe, I do not. … Continue reading Pancake Recipe – American style

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Try this pancake recipe for a perfect result every time. Even the kids can create these – and maybe even present them to you!

Pancakes are a staple for breakfast, kids afternoon teas or a fill the gap whenever needed.

Whilst the traditional American pancake tends to use sugar in the recipe, I do not. I will utilise the toppings to create the flavours I want to impart. Whilst we have gorgeous Canadian maple syrup on hand at home, it’s funny to see that we don’t use a lot of it. Just a drizzle will do along with a load of fresh seasonal fruit!

For the photo to match this recipe I did utilise a snow fall of icing sugar. And to be fair afterwards I ate the pancakes with the strawberries, the icing sugar that had fallen and a touch of maple syrup – and I have to admit it was rather delicious.

Pancakes are not difficult to make and of course utilise basic ingredients you are likely to have about the home. They do not constitute as an everyday food, but if you master the pancake recipe, you have a fall back for those moments when someone screams down the corridor, “is there any food?”

If you want a book full of simple recipes like these then don’t forget to check out the stunning collection of 80+ recipes in The Fearless Kitchen. Buy online and have it delivered to your door 🙂

American-Style Pancakes

Gorgeous fluffy American style cafe pancakes 

  • 300 g milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 30 g sugar (optional)
  • 200 g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder ((15 g))
  • 50 g butter (unsalted, melted)
  1. Measure out all the ingredients and pile into a blender or Thermomix. Blend at a high speed to combine.

OR

  1. Tip Flour and baking powder and sugar into a bowl and use a whisk to combine the ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. Drizzle in the melted butter and whisk to combine.
  2. Create a well ( a fist to create a small dip in the middle of the flour mixture) and add your wet mixture into the well, 1/2 cup full at a time and whisk to combine with the dry ingredients. Try to whisk from the centre out to incorporate the ingredients without creating lumps of flour.

To Cook:

  1. Heat a crepe pan or flat frypan and dot with butter. When the butter is melted and bubbling, tip in your first ladle full of batter and rock the handle of the pan to allow the batter to run to the edges of the pan. Cook until you see small bubbles forming on the top of the batter. When the top is covered in bubbles, use a wide spatula to slide under the pancake and flip to cook the other side. Cook for 1 minute on the other side to colour and cook the pancake through.
  2. Repeat until all your mixture is used.

Tip: You do not need the sugar in this recipe as you can add sweetness with toppings as desired.

Tip: You can replace the plain flour and baking powder with Self Raising Flour if available.

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5 Office Christmas Party ideas that won’t have your team cringing https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/5-office-christmas-party-ideas-that-wont-have-your-team-cringing/ https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/5-office-christmas-party-ideas-that-wont-have-your-team-cringing/#respond Tue, 09 Oct 2018 03:46:55 +0000 https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/?p=7021 Are you tired of searching for a unique office Christmas party idea? Do people roll their eyes and wish they could take the day off instead of attending a work do?   It’s time to think outside the norm and book a spectacular office Christmas party which will engage the team, encourage participation and be … Continue reading 5 Office Christmas Party ideas that won’t have your team cringing

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Are you tired of searching for a unique office Christmas party idea?

Do people roll their eyes and wish they could take the day off instead of attending a work do?

 

It’s time to think outside the norm and book a spectacular office Christmas party which will engage the team, encourage participation and be the most talked about event for the season. If you book with us then you will be giving to others too.

 

Here are our top 5 picks for your office Christmas party theme ideas in 2018.

Cook with a Conscience

Book to create your own canapes or even the whole Christmas lunch as an engaging team build this year. Have your staff divided into teams and provided with achievable recipes and ingredients. Let them get creative together and empower them to present luscious morsels of food to share with the whole group. Create canapes and top up with the mains and desserts, or have different groups working on alternative courses to produce the whole meal. Whilst there are often initial grumbles, this is one of the most popular events and always receives extraordinary feedback. Find out more about the options here.

Floral Shirts Summer Fun

Create a theme that is simple for party goers to engage with. A floral shirt theme is fun because there are options for those who wish to be elegant alongside those who may wish to play a little with the theme and head for an op-shop. The Fearless Kitchen can create a menu to tie in with the floral theme, with delicious island inspired celebration dishes and cocktails or mocktails to match. You could have your guests create their own drink or decorate the canapes for prizes if you want to get really hands on. Give us a call to discuss.

The Long Lunch

We love to set up a long extended beautifully decorated lunch table in a unique setting for our clients. This can be simple yet elegant. Your staff will feel special and cared for as they enjoy their Christmas lunch with their peers in a glorious setting. You can keep the event simple by providing platters of food, buffet style. Alternatively, you can go all out and treat everyone to a 3 course meal. If the weather behaves itself then an outdoor setting is a glorious option. Ready to chat?

The Food Truck Fiesta

Food trucks are a hit and have exploded into Auckland with gusto this year. We love getting vendors together to create a feast for private groups. Choose complementary or diverse cuisines plus a dessert truck option and let your staff relax within a funky set up. Pick a cuisine theme or go for around the world. Get the trucks to create short choice options to avoid queues and fill the space with long tables to get folk connecting whilst they choose, chat and relax. Need help co-ordinating this? Call us and we can sort for you

 

Media Madness

For some teams the chance to get dressed up and looking their best is beyond their imagination. Set up a media style Christmas celebration and bring in the hair and make-up pros and a photographer too. As folk arrive they can head for a touch up and magical ‘up-do’ before letting themselves relax into the Christmas spirit. Invite whole families or partners to really create an extraordinary event with photos for memories. Invite your giveback community group if you want and let them join the fun together. Kids would have a blast being made up and photographed with grown ups.

 

Let us do the work for you:

The Fearless Kitchen is all about creating bespoke events that are tailored for you. We love to get creative and give you extraordinary options. Our favourite part is supporting others through our conscience giving program. For every event booked we give an event on your behalf. You can send employees to join us as volunteers or receive fabulous feedback from those you have touched with kindness.

 

Contact us today if you are ready to book an office Chistmas party with a difference this year.

 

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Beetroot Granola https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/beet-granola/ https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/beet-granola/#respond Thu, 06 Sep 2018 20:58:42 +0000 https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/?p=6942 Do you make your own granola? Why not? I can promise you, you will love the aroma of these grains and nuts as they caramelise in your oven. Follow our Fearless Kitchen recipe below and you will be hooked. Beetroot Granola Creating your own granola or toasted muesli is simple and far more economical than … Continue reading Beetroot Granola

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Do you make your own granola?

Why not?

I can promise you, you will love the aroma of these grains and nuts as they caramelise in your oven.

Follow our Fearless Kitchen recipe below and you will be hooked.

Beetroot Granola

Creating your own granola or toasted muesli is simple and far more economical than purchasing extravagant pre-made versions. This one uses beetroot for colour and sweetness.  You can add extra coconut oil if you prefer a chunkier version. You can easily eliminate the maple syrup as the dates add extra sweetness. Play with your own favourite flavours and enjoy the process along with the delicious crunchy outcome.

  • 250 g cooked beetroots (buy vacuum sealed or roast/boil/steam your own)
  • 200 g medjool dates (halved or quartered)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • ⅓ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • ½ cup coconut shreds
  • 140 g coconut oil (minimum)
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C.
  2. Place the cooked beets into a blender and process until you have a puree. Set aside.
  3. Mix together your dates, oats, pistachios, almonds, pepitas and coconuts shreds.
  4. In a small saucepan, gently heat the coconut oil and maple syrup until warm and combined. Add the puree to the oil and syrup and stir to combine.
  5. Add the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon and then your hands to fully combine.
  6. Scatter mixture onto your largest baking tray, lined with baking paper or a silicon mat.
  7. Cook until dry and toasted. This may take up to 45 minutes depending on the size of your tray. You must open the oven and gently toss and turn the mixture every 5 minutes to ensure you are cooking it evenly.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before transferring to an airtight jar.

Serve with heaped scoops of thick natural yoghurt.

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Nigella https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/nigella/ https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/nigella/#comments Wed, 07 Feb 2018 21:22:50 +0000 http://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/?p=5581 An unfortunate childhood, just quite simply because it didn’t fit her, lead Nigella to retreat to books.  She didn’t want to run around.  She hated being told what it was she needed to learn.  Instead she curled up quietly and read.  She read the Brontes, but she equally read Enid Blighton.  Why should you be … Continue reading Nigella

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An unfortunate childhood, just quite simply because it didn’t fit her, lead Nigella to retreat to books.  She didn’t want to run around.  She hated being told what it was she needed to learn.  Instead she curled up quietly and read.  She read the Brontes, but she equally read Enid Blighton.  Why should you be superior about what you read?  Just read what you like.

Nigella spoke quietly and calmly once she settled into her comfy chair on stage at the Aotea Centre in Auckland.  She stunningly held presence from the moment she appeared, ravishing in a vivid voluminous red dress.  At 58 she is what many women would aspire to be, comfortable, beautiful, composed and thoughtful.

What caught me as she spoke was her consideration for the audience.  She entertained but with clarity of thought.  She is intelligent and reflective of her experiences and how they have shaped her life and herself as a person. Everything she discussed she did from the angle of positivity. Yet, she didn’t preach or sell us on how to be so ourselves.  She spoke of doing a little that frightens or scares you, but not so much that you can’t get out of bed in the morning due to that fear.  Yet, if you don’t do this then you are likely to be bored and that is equally as powerful at keeping you from wanting to face your day.

In regards to appearances on shows such as MasterChef, her response was around the emotion and atmosphere of the Australian show.  She loves it because she respects that those who go on the show are so keen to learn.  The Judges in Australia are equally as taken with trying to teach and help.  She’s honoured to be a part of that process. With so many commentators who don’t consider these reality shows from the angle of those who choose to be a part of them, it was lovely to hear her describe it in this way.

Appearance on other global shows were not necessarily as positive an experience.  Yet, there was no negativity or moaning from Nigella.  (I wonder if she even knows how to be negative after this evening.) She explains some of these life opportunities as those that she didn’t feel she was put on earth to partake in.  That they were accidental and not something she would repeat.  Then again, when she speaks of Anthony Bourdain and speaks of “Tony and I”, I feel a little pang of jealousy that she had the chance to work alongside such a remarkable man and so closely that he is known as Tony.

In spite of such stories she is still surprised when others define her as being in the food industry.  She ‘writes’ and she has happened to write books about food and with recipes.  She loves to cook and she loves to eat.  She doesn’t feel there should be a hierarchical perception around this though.  Why should someone who loves to cook be an authority over those who don’t?  Cook because you enjoy it.

Her care and consideration on stage is testament to her desire for order and perfection in what she produces.  Whilst she is not interested in a tray of cookies all looking the same, she does wish to produce books and shows that reflect quality.  Her own shows are recorded 5 times to create one episode.  Each of these focuses on a different aspect such as sound, closeup, side view and from above.  She attributes quirky and fun names to each take and the crew have been with her from the start.  She is known as Deputy sound because she loves to bring as much of the cooking sounds into the show to make up for the omission of aroma via a screen.  Her Producer cringes whenever she needs to use a knife because she is clumsy.  Can you imagine?  She bumps into things, cuts herself and is constantly grating her own fingers.

I felt such an affinity with so much of what she shared.  No more than when she spoke of wishing she was Italian.  “You are either are Italian or you wish you were”  (that is my quote!) Yet, I went to Italy and learned Italian and cooking.  She went to Florence and worked as a Chamber Maid, trying on ladies coats and spraying herself with their fragrances as she cleaned their rooms.

Some current lifestyle gurus advise us to’ just do want you want and don’t try to do all that you can’. There is a feeling that you will be happier if you simplify your life.  However, Nigella believes in doing all that you can do.  Take risks and don’t be frightened of failure.  Failures lead to success.  Her advise to a Mum in the audience for youth today is the same as the advise to her own children, “Do it now”

I came home content. I loved her. I wasn’t sure what it would be like to simply listen to Nigella and not see her cook.  It was fabulous.

She reminded us about the power of being ourselves.
She reminded us to laugh at ourselves.
She reminded us to be comfortable with who we are and acknowledge it.
She reminded us to be fearless.

 

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Cooking with Plums https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/cooking-with-plums/ https://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/cooking-with-plums/#respond Wed, 10 Jan 2018 06:44:49 +0000 http://www.vanessabaxter.co.nz/?p=5539   Last week, I had a missed call from a teacher at my sons’ school.  It was just after the New Year break and I was still hanging about on my deck at a Bach in the Coromandel.  I honestly thought, good grief, how could the boys be in trouble already when school is still … Continue reading Cooking with Plums

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Last week, I had a missed call from a teacher at my sons’ school.  It was just after the New Year break and I was still hanging about on my deck at a Bach in the Coromandel.  I honestly thought, good grief, how could the boys be in trouble already when school is still out!

So, it was with much relief to discover that it was actually kilos of fresh plums on offer and a query as to who may appreciate them being gifted.  After a massive washing basket full were delivered to the City Mission here in Auckland, I figured I could do some justice to some too. I arrived presumptuously to the door, with silver pail in hand, and was met with the aroma of bubbling plum jam.  Intoxicated by the perfume of fresh stone fruit, it was with excitement that I came home to determine how to best utilise this beautiful gift.

Never one to just do a single recipe (Master Chef memories flooding in) I came up with the plan for roasting some and serving immediately with a coconut rice pudding for those of us at home.

I recreated the almond and pear tart from my own cookbook (The Fearless Kitchen) into a plum and almond cake, which was totally delicious.

The rest became sauces and chutneys.  I say chutneys in the plural because I did one batch with tomatoes and one with apples, and a typical Kiwi plum sauce – which I must admit is addictive.
I have Kirsten Day’s book “In a Pickle” to thank for the plum chutney and sauce recipe.  Super simple and straightforward and I had pots bubbling in no time.

The plum and tomato chutney was inspired by another Kiwi cookbook author and blogger, Nicola Galloway and you can check her out here  www.homegrown-kitchen.co.nz – her recipe is for a sauce, but I decided to peel and core the apples and create a chunky chutney.  I noticed another reader had attempted to do the same – great to have a recipe that can result in two outcomes!

So, I figured that it would be a lovely share to write out my recipe for the cake.  It is moist, decadent and full of the flavour of Summer.  I just know you are going to love it as much as my son and I have done.  I have even managed to squirrel some away into the freezer for that first week back to school when the boring blues set in for us all!

Plum Cake

A deliciously moist Summery dessert, laden with fresh plums and a hint of almond and dark chocolate.

  • 175 g butter
  • 600 g plums
  • 175 g brown sugar
  • 175 g self-raising flour
  • 175 g ground almonds
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50 g dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp almonds
  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C. Butter and line the base of a round 20cm cake tin. Roughly chop the plums.

    Put the sugar, butter, in an electric mixer and mix until smooth.

    Add self raising flour, ground almonds, eggs and baking powder and mix again for 1-2 mins, until smooth and light. Stir in the chopped plums and chocolate, then tip into the prepared cake tin and smooth the top.

    Scatter over chopped almonds. Bake for 40-50 mins until the top is golden and the cake feels firm to the touch. Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then turn out, remove the paper and cool on a wire rack.

 

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