Pumpkin and Sage Arancini

I like to double the recipe, serve the risotto for dinner and then refrigerate the rest to make arancini the next day.
These live in my freezer, crumbed and ready to cook.
On the day I need them I fry them and then chill in the fridge and oven heat to serve.  That way I am not frying when my guests are here.
Some arancini have a small ball of mozzarella in the centre which I sometimes do but actually do like them like this, very cheesy parmesan flavour which goes so well with the honey.

Cavolo Nero, Prosciutto and Parmesan Crouton Salad

This recipe is delicious and is great for a light yet interesting meal.
The ingredient quantities are loose as exact measurements are not needed.
Cavolo Nero provides such a great texture and has a fairly mild flavour.  It is a relation of both cabbage and kale yet is so much nicer than both.  if not available then I would recommend a mixture of very finely shredded cabbage and spinach.

Caramel Pear, Rhubarb and Walnut Cake

You can mix the fruit in this lovely dessert cake to include apple, poached quince, feijoa etc…  The rhubarb for another tart fruit is good for giving balance to the sweet cake.
Thank you to Jocelyn Wright from Otakaieke School House (Waitaki Valley) for sharing this recipe.  I have made a couple of small modifications but just tweaks; reduced the sugar in the cake, increased topping quantities and took out walnuts in the cake but added more onto the top.  I also added some ginger into the cake.
If you are wondering about sugar quantity then remember the cake does make 12 portions.
Serve it as dessert or afternoon tea with cream, yoghurt or ice cream.



Taste of the Bay Cycle Tour


A Taste of the Bay Cycle with Helen Jackson
May 6-10 2021
Sold Out – email me for interest in next tour.
Join us for a delicious 5 day/ 4 night exploration of Hawkes Bay.
Much of this will be done on e-bikes which are extremely simple to ride and make
everything just that much easier – we are on a Tour de Food not Tour de France!
When not cycling we will travel by comfort in a shuttle.
From when you arrive at Napier we will take care of your meals through until Monday
afternoon (most drinks are at your own cost).
We have selected comfortable accommodation throughout.
Price is $2327 p/p  twin share.
Single supplement available on request
Price includes;
*All meals
*Some wine tasting
*Shuttle support and airport transfers
*Full back up support while on trails
*e-bike hire

Thursday May 6, Day 1 (25km cycle)
11am Meet and greet at Napier Airport
We start our tour with an easy cycle south through the Ahuriri Estuary, view the
variety of protected birdlife in this Department of Conservation Wildlife Sanctuary.
Arriving in Taradale we will visit New Zealand’s oldest winery, Mission Estate, and
also Church Road winery – they are within 200m of each other.
After lunch we follow the scenic bike path along the Tutaekuri River where we can
visit the historic Otātara Maori Pa site. There will be time for a drink at the Puketapu
Hotel a classic rural pub before being picked up and take back to our
Platter Lunch at Church Road Winery
Dinner: Milk and Honey Ahuriri
Accommodation: Crown Hotel Ahuriri

Friday May 7, Day 2 (46km cycle)
A day of diversity!  From the Art Deco glamour of the Napier CBD to the moody
coastline of Marine Parade and the mouths of the regions three rivers the scene is
ever-changing. We will cycle out to Cape Kidnapers and visit Clearview Estate for a
relaxed delicious seasonal lunch.
We will then cycle the scenic Tukituki river trail past Akarangi Winery, we will stop to
taste a myriad of honey and learn to identify queen bees at the iconic Arataki Honey
(NZ’s biggest manuka honey producer), before cycling onto our accommodation in
Havelock North.
Lunch: Clearview Estate
Dinner: Deliciosa
Accommodation:  Harvest Lodge

Saturday May 8, Day 3  (35km cycle) 
Starting off with a delicious breakfast and coffee, we will then head to Te Mata figs
where will hopefully see both fresh figs and figs that they have converted into
wonderful treats.
At Craggy Range we mount our e-bikes and will explore both sides of the Tukituki
valley today. The ride starts along quiet country roads before dropping into the river
trail and heading out to Cape Kidnappers then follow the Tukituki Rive back on the
other side, through orchards and vineyards, to Black Barn Winery.
Lunch today is at the home of cheese expert Juliet Harbert. Juliet is Master of
Cheese, judge of the Britch Cheese awards and author of The World Cheese Book.
Expect to learn different aspects of cheese (and wine) tasting before cycling back to
our accommodation in Havelock North and a little relaxed time before dinner.
Lunch Juliet Harbert
Dinner: Alessandros – to confirm
Accommodation: Harvest Lodge

Sunday May 9th, Day 4 (35km cycle) 
In the morning the shuttle will pick us up and take us to the Hawkes Bay Farmers
Market. Here we will have a meet and greet with the market manager and then
explore the market.
We will then take our shuttle to Bridge Pa. We start our cycle on the banks of the
Ngaruroro River where we will explore the river trail before reaching the Bridge Pa
Triangle.   Enjoy the ambience of the many cellar doors offering tastings and winery
style food. There’s much to enjoy as you visit the cellar doors of some of the regions
finest wineries including Sileni Estates, Oak Estate, Trinity Hill and Villa Maria. We
will then shuttle to our accommodation in Napier
Lunch: Oak Estate
Dinner: Bistronomy
Accommodation:  Masonic Boutique Hotel

Monday May 10th, Day 5: (23 Km cycle)
Breakfast today will be at the infamous local cafe Mr D.
From there we have a guided Art Deco walking tour of the Napier CBD area.
Early lunch and then a cycle of the Baview Loop.
Cycle up the coast from Napier City, through Ahuriri, passing the popular surf beach of Westshore and out to Bayview. Cycle through the lagoon farmland and Ahuriri estuary back to Ahuriri Village. As you cycle through this unique wildlife sanctuary, reflect on the fact that before the big earthquake of 1931 all this area was a vast tidal inlet encompassing thousands of hectares of wetland, marshes and mud banks.
After our cycle we will be returned back to the airport around 3.30pm to make our
way home.
Breakfast Mr Dr
Lunch TBC

For enquiries and bookings please contact me [email protected]


Choosing Your Cake Mixer


My daughter Daisy is a keen baker and when it comes to decorating cakes her skills outweigh mine considerably.  She makes cakes for friends on a regular basis and one of her worries about heading into her University flat this year was not having access to baking equipment.
My trusty KitchenAid cake mixer is close to her age (19).  It doesn’t look at good as when I first bought it but with a one off visit for a service some years ago, it is still going strong.  Much to her disappointment it isn’t heading to Christchurch with her as it remains one of my favourite pieces of equipment.
They are an investment and my thought is that the kids will get one (should they wish) as a 21st birthday gift from us.  For now she has to rely on a hand held mixer which sure is better than the wooden spoon I was brought up with.
Lucky for Daisy her fairy godmother provided the cake tins, measuring cups and scrapers for her birthday – all KitchenAid brand, I look on with envy.

Choosing your cake mixer

Assuming you had the ability to buy any cake mixer on the market, what would it be?
Much of it depends on what your uses are but then again just because you don’t make sausages at the moment, who knows if you will be inspired to give them a go in 5 years time.  You do need to think of all the possibilities ahead.


  • Visual.  In many/most homes a cake mixer sits on the bench as an aesthetic accessory.  Therefore colour and style choices are important that they fit with you.  You may also want your cake mixer to match with your toaster and/or kettle.  KitchenAid do have great colour match choices with this.
  • Attachments.  If you do decide you want the option to make sausages, pasta, mince or ice cream then are the attachments available?
  • Size/Capacity. What do you think your will be making in your mixer and in what sort off quantity.  When I bought my cake mixer I knew that I would be using it regularly but little did I know that 19 years later I would have a daughter churning out birthday cakes so I am pleased I went for one with a generous capacity.
  • Bowls. Does your cake mixer have the option of different bowl sizes or even glass bowls as an option?  Glass bowls are useful for seeing into and also are microwave friendly if you need to melt ingredients e.g. butter.  The downside is that they don’t like being dropped on tiled floors.
  • Mixing. Many modern cake mixers incorporate all of the ingredients without requiring you to lift the beater and manually scrape down the sides  I would be checking this out before you purchase as it really does make a difference.
  • Speed options. Make sure you have a few to cope with the different tasks you will be expecting from your mixer.
  • Weight. The heavier the cake mixer the more stable and the less risk of it travelling along the bench while kneading dough and other onerous tasks.
  • Cost.  Cake mixers can come with hefty price tag but the reality is that if you buy well then you should only need to buy once.

What cake mixer do you have and do you like it?

This feature was written with the potential of affiliate marketing with KitchenAid.


Two Worlds Paella raise funds for The Wellington City Mission

Paella is an aromatic Spanish dish of rice, saffron and vegetables, often with a ‘hero’ ingredient like seafood, beef or chicken. It’s traditionally cooked and served in a large shallow pan, known as a Paella. Nourishing, vibrant and without pretension, paella has held a place of honour in Spanish homes for centuries and is one of Spain’s most famous cultural exports, enjoyed by foodies all around the world.

All profits made from the sale of Two Worlds Paella helps The Wellington City Mission support more people and families in need across the region. We can guarantee, giving has never tasted so good.

Each Paella meal is being produced and manufactured locally at a kitchen in Petone, Wellington and there are five Paella favours: Chicken, Beef, Vegetarian, Lamb and Seafood. The product’s packaging is biodegradable.

We’ve called ours Two Worlds Paella, because it brings together a delicious, traditional old-world recipe and our wonderful new world, premium fresh produce.

The first Paella were cooked at the beginning of September 2019 and sold from New World Chaffers (City) on Wakefield Street Wellington. They’re now available at selected supermarkets and service stations throughout New Zealand.

Background: The Wellington City Mission, 19 Gordon Place, Newtown Wellington provides transitional housing, rest-home and hospital level residential care. They welcome you into their community lounge where you can enjoy the company and community of others. The Wellington City Mission provides food parcels, budget advice, and financial mentoring, one to one support and advocacy. They will walk alongside you, advocate on your behalf and support you to achieve empowerment, transformation and a fuller, richer life. 23,657 meals were served throughout the Mission (Annual review 2018-2019)

All the profits from the sales nationwide of Two World’s Paella go to fund this wide range of services. The Two World’s Paella range of ‘Ready Meals’ is available nationwide from participating New World Pak N Save and Four-Square supermarkets & participating gas stations nationwide. Available as a single-serve 400g ready meal, just heat in the microwave. For the best outcome, we recommend heating the Paella in a fry pan on medium heat with a little olive oil for around fifteen minutes, RRP $7.49. For more information please visit www.twoworldspaella.com


NZ Pork is setting out to help consumers feel more confident about cooking pork steaks and chops by introducing a new gold-standard cooking method which will produce perfect pork, every time.

The 6+2+2 method is incredibly simple, easy to remember, and never fails to create succulent, juicy pork. It’s so quick – you’ll have them on the table in 10 minutes!

Over a medium-high heat, fry your New Zealand pork steaks or chops for six minutes on one side. Flip them over and cook for two minutes on the other side. Then remove from the pan and rest them for two minutes.

The method can also be done on the barbecue to make the most of warm summer evenings and the long weekends ahead.

NZ Pork is challenging consumers to try something new and give the 6+2+2 method a go. Pick up a pack of New Zealand pork steaks or loin chops and see how easy it is!

“When cooked right, pork steaks and chops are incredibly tasty and juicy. Unfortunately, we are aware that people can be put off purchasing and cooking pork because they’ve had bad experiences with it being overcooked and dry”, says NZ Pork CEO David Baines.

We’re spreading the word about the 6+2+2 method so that people feel confident cooking perfect pork, every time.”

Contrary to what many have been taught, the best way to eat pork is a little bit pink in the middle, much like beef or lamb. The 6+2+2 method will produce delicious blushing pink meat for a steak or chop which is 2cm thick, so will be tender and full of flavour.

NZ Pork has worked with supermarkets and butchers to ensure that this 2cm thickness will be consistent across New Zealand pork steaks and loin chops. This is the industry standard to ensure that the 6+2+2 method works without fail.

Renowned chef Brenton Low has created six innovative new recipes using the 6+2+2 method. These recipes are packed full of interesting flavours and range from family-friendly soy caramel pork steaks to something for the more adventurous cook – cure your own pork pastrami!

These recipes and more information about the 6+2+2 method can be found on www.pork.co.nz

Remember, when purchasing pork, be sure to look out for “NZ Pork” on the label, or the 100% New Zealand or PigCare Born & Raised labels so you know that you’re supporting local farmers.

Family Favourite Rocky Road

For a minute I thought about commercialising rocky road, being so disappointed with what I see in stores.  Auckland summer and humidity is certainly not easy for setting chocolate and while the ingredients are not exotic, like many things it was hard to make enough margin without compromising on ingredients.
So instead the recipe is here for you!
It does make a big slab so scale it to suit.

It’s All about the Christmas Ham

A glazed ham at Christmas is essential for many of us and a treat we really look forward to.  Warm from the oven and served with new potatoes and steamed greens, it is an annual favourite.
The left overs can be pan fried for Boxing Day breakfast with eggs and stuffed into rolls and sandwiches for quite a few days to follow.

The type of ham you buy will depend totally on your family requirements and also personal preference.

For smaller numbers you are probably best buying a half ham but if you like the aesthetics of the shank then you will need to get in early or at least pre-order.

A champagne ham has had most of the bone removed so therefore you are not paying for the excess bone but often there will be gluten or another additive to help the meat stick back together from where the bone has been removed.  A champagne ham, if cared for, should last longer than a traditional ham on the bone as meat on the bone will sour first.

Traditional hams have a bone running all the way through them and are trickier to carve.  The benefit is hopefully that they haven’t had any extra “glue” to hold the meat in shape.
In New Zealand much of our ham is imported from Canada, China etc…  If this is an issue for you then check the origin of your ham.
Free range hams are also available but these are in smaller quantities – the most authentic free range are from farms such as Havoc in South Canterbury.
(available from both Havoc and Gourmet Direct).
My family like the flavour of Freedom Farms free farmed hams.

*A large amount of ham is uses imported pork. NZ pork should have a sticker that identifies itself as being so but if in doubt read the packaging carefully.  Words such as “manuka smoked” do not mean that the pork is from NZ.

* Ham flavour is often a personal preference but if you are buying an unknown ham then look at the ingredient list and pay attention to water content.  Water is always added to ham as this is how the salt and flavour get into the meat.  This is generally done by injecting the liquid in during the curing process. How much liquid goes in will depend on the company and sometimes you will find cheaper hams have more added liquid.

* Ham when purchased is generally cooked and only needs to be heated for the glaze to caramelise and for taste preference – warm ham is much nicer than fridge cold.

* Glazes are generally high in sugar from either fruit juice, jam, maple syrup or brown sugar – this then caramellises and you get lovely flavour and also an attractive ham.

*Hams can be studded with cloves, covered in pineapple slices and cherries or simply scored and glazed.

Below are some of our favourite glazes and a simple method for preparing your ham. Please do post your favourite glaze combinations as well.

Apricot Mustard Glaze

1 cup apricot jam (I use Anatoth brand)
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard

Marmalade and Bourbon Glaze

1 cup fine-cut home made marmalade
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Bourbon

Apricot Glaze
420g can apricots
1/2 cup brown sugar
(puree together)

Pineapple Glaze
3/4 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard

Maple Glaze
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard

Kate King from Gourmet Direct Glaze
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup soft brown sugar
finely grated zest of 1 orange
cloves to stud

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Remove the ham from all packaging and using a sharp knife make a zig zag pattern in the ham skin where the shank (narrow end) joins the ham leg. Be careful not to cut into the white fat, the aim is just to cut through the skin.

With the shank towards you, lean over the ham and gently use your thumbs to loosen the skin of the ham away from the fat layer across the rounded end of the ham, (ie the opposite end to the shank) carefully ease the skin off, trying not to disturb the layer of fat.
Once the skin is removed then score the fat by marking lines with a sharp fine blade knife, horizontally and vertically across the ham to make diamond patterns. Take care not to cut below the fat layer and into the meat.
Sit the ham in a large roasting dish,  stud with cloves if using or cover with pineapple slices.  Spread your glaze of choice evenly over the ham. Any excess can be used to baste during cooking.

* Pour 1 cup of water into the pan to prevent the glaze from burning as it drips off.

Cook for 30-45 minutes until the ham is a rich golden colour, basting with extra glaze several times during this time. You may need to turn the ham around during cooking if one side colours too quickly.

Serve the ham warm or at room temperature.

* Left over ham can be covered with a clean, damp tea towel or in a ham bag and stored in the fridge for 1 week. Change the tea towel daily or wash the bag.

* Ham can be sliced and frozen and used later in soups and quiche.  It will lose texture once thawed so not ideal for sandwiches.

What is your favourite glaze combination and any interesting ideas for using up left overs?


Cooking the Christmas Turkey

If there is one part of Christmas dinner that is going to cause stress it is likely to be cooking the turkey.  How many times I have heard stories of dry overcooked turkeys or even worse under cooked turkeys? I think the worst story has to be from my radio co-host Tony Murrell who put the turkey into the oven on “auto clean” by mistake and completely cremated it!
Another friend was so proud of her achievement of cooking a perfect bird but while the meat was resting the friendly labrador had Christmas dinner first!
In our family growing up we had roast lamb and a ham and maybe some chicken but never a turkey.  Aside from reading about them in books it was something I don”t think I had even tasted until my mid 20’s or later.    Nowadays I do generally cook a turkey and we also have a glazed ham.

Turkey’s do need a little care to ensure that they are cooked just right but it is definitely achievable.
Many people opt for brining their turkey overnight in a salt solution with flavourings such as apple juice and spices.  This will definitely give moisture to the meat and is a method that is highly recommended for producing tender succulent turkey.
Another option is steaming and then browning it at the end.

Turkey portions are also available and you can buy breast on it’s own or the very affordable turkey drumsticks.  These are generally from Tegel turkeys.

Croziers free range turkeys are available at good food stores around NZ and are genuinely free range.

If you are roasting your turkey without brining then here is a simple method worth following.

1. Remove the turkey from the fridge at least 3 hours before cooking. To calculate the cooking time, remove the giblets, and reserve. Weigh the turkey. The turkey will need about 20 minutes per 450g plus an extra 25 minutes at the end of calculated time

2. Prepare stuffing mixes.

3.  Preheat the oven to 220°C.  Rinse the turkey inside and out and pat thoroughly wipe dry with absorbent kitchen paper. Lift into a roasting tin.

4. Stuff the main cavity and neck end of the turkey with stuffing, pushing the stuffing up between the flesh and the breast (not too tightly, as it will expand during cooking).

5. Pulling the skin back over and tucking underneath the bird to keep the stuffing in. Shape any remaining stuffing into balls. Wrap each one in half a bacon rasher and secure with a cocktail stick. Sew up the neck skin or secure it with a skewer, then truss the turkey to give it a good shape.
Place the bird breast side up on a wire rack in a roasting pan and cover loosely with foil. Do not wrap tightly or the bird will steam rather than roast in the oven.

Brush with  oil and season well. Roast for calculated cooking time which in this case would be 3 hours and 5 minutes.

6. Place the pan in the oven. After 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 180°C and continue cooking for a further 2 ½ hours, basting the turkey with the fat and pan juices every 20 to 25 minutes.

7. Remove the foil, baste the turkey again and increase the oven temperature to 200°C. Continue cooking the bird to brown the skin for a further 30 minutes, or until the meat is well cooked.To check the bird in cooked, insert a skewer into the thickest part of the turkey thigh. The juices that run out should be clear and show no traces of pink. If are still a bit pink, continue cooking. Leave to stand for 20 minutes before carving.

Any turkey tales from you?
How do you cook your turkey and what flavours do you put in your stuffing?