Staying at Home and Eating Well

As we prepare to spend a bit more time at home, many of us will be planning our meals and how to cater from the fridge, pantry, freezer and perhaps a few things in the garden.
I have just planted broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and beetroot and also have plenty of mint, rosemary, parsley and coriander.
The reality is that we are very likely to have no issue with food purchasing but perhaps there might be some times when we are less inclined to go out, that’s when being oraganised comes in handy.

Here are some of my thoughts but would love to see yours as well.
Helen :)


If there is an egg in the house, you have a meal.  These nutrient dense ovals are great to boil, poach, fry or scramble, use in carbonara, frittatas, quiche and tarts.  Eggs usually have a generous shelf life so are easy to keep on hand.
*Tip: crack eggs into silicone muffin trays, freeze and then pop the eggs out into a plastic container.  Seal and store in the freezer to use as needed.
Bacon, Leek and Potato Tart


Arborio Rice in the Pantry
Risotto is a glorious comfort food and easily made with a few staple ingredients.
Smoked Chicken, Spinach and Lemon Oven. Baked Risotto

Barley in the Pantry
This humble grain is not only great to add bulk to soups but it is also fabulous in risottos and salads.
Mushroom and Prosciutto Barley Risotto

Dried Pasta and Noodles
It goes without saying that dried noodles and  pasta are great to have one hand, particularly in families with kids to feed. For a number of years Spaghetti Bolognese was my kids favourite meal.
Hot Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad
Family Chicken Noodle Salad
Quick and Easy Soba Noodle Salad
Easy Pad Thai

Cross-Cut Blade Steak in the freezer
My favourite cut of the stewing steaks. A few packs of this in the freezer means that a casserole or stew is easy to achieve.  These are easily extended and leftovers make for tasty lunches.
Beef Stew with Crunchy Topping
Greek Beef Stew
Asian Beef Stew

Bacon in the fridge/freezer
Essential for Pasta Carbonara, breakfast bacon & eggs or adding some flavour interest for vegetable based soups
Pasta Carbonara

Chicken in the Freezer
Our freezer space is generous so we always have a whole chicken on hand plus some thighs and possibly breast meat.
Chicken Marbella
Kung Pao Chicken
Easy Chicken in a Curry
Food Court Butter Chicken
Chicken with Cannelini Beans
4 1/2 Cup Chicken

Highgrade Flour and Yeast
Useful for bread and pizzas
Pizza dough

Curry Pastes in the Fridge or Pantry
Our family favourite is Thai yellow curry, we always have a tub of it in the fridge and of course coconut cream in the pantry.
Thai Yellow Chicken and Kumara Curry
Pumpkin, Spinach and Chickpea Curry

Chickpeas, Dried or Canned
I would like to say that I soak my chickpeas overnight but reality is that I flick open a can.
Chickpeas are always in my pantry, either for hummus or adding to a salad or curry.
Pumpkin, Spinach and Chickpea Curry
Creamy Hummus
Moroccan Chicken with Chickpeas

Canned Tuna
It pretty much goes without saying how useful having a few cans of tuna is.  It is a great source or protein and blends well into many meals.
Brown Rice and Tuna Salad
Tuna Melt
Tuna Pasta Salad

Whether they are in soups or curries, lentils are a great staple. Dahl is one of those simple understated dishes that is positively delicious and very easy to make.

Sweet Treats
Sometimes a spoonful of sugar makes life a bit more cheerful!
Chocolate Caramel Weetbix Slice
No bake Caramel Slice
Chocolate Afgan Biscuits
Chocolate Mint Slice
Chocolate Weetbix Slice
Belgium Biscuits

What is in your meal plan?

Liven up Summer with Sauerkraut and Kimchi

Summertime is a great time to catch up with friends and family, the days are warm and long and it is ideal for entertaining.

Over this time I try and keep the fridge, pantry and freezer stocked with things that I know can easily be put together to form a meal that is a bit more interesting than the standard family fare.

Along with cheeses and dips, a jar of kimchi and sauerkraut can literally bring life to many dishes, adding a great zing of flavour, texture and also visually adding interest.

Here are some of our favourite ways over summer with sauerkraut and kimchi.

This feature is brought to you by Living Goodness, New Zealand-based creators of fermented, raw sauerkraut and kimchi.

At Living Goodness, we pride ourselves on making premium quality and tasty fermented

1. Finger food e.g canapés can be easily put together with a few essential ingredients on hand.  Brush sliced baguette with olive oil and then grill to make bruschetta.  Top this with your favourite cured meats e.g. prosciutto or salami or smoked salmon and a dollop of sauerkraut.

2. Hot Smoked Salmon Canapes 
on blinis are also made even tastier with a sprinkle of sauerkraut.  We like Living Goodness Hearbeet for this one, beetroot and salmon are a great combination. The sour flavour of the kraut balances the richness of the salmon beautifully.

3. Pig in Blankets are always a party favourite.  Try wrapping (sausage roll style) chunks of cooked German style sausage such as bratwurst in butter puff pastry with some wholegrain mustard and a drop of sauerkraut.  Brush the outside with egg and sprinkle with a few caraway seeds.  Bake at 200 C until puffed and golden.

4. Bite sized Pinwheel sandwiches are another canapé idea, made with thinly sliced cured deli meats, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and a little chopped gherkin.  Secure with a toothpick if necessary.

5. Kimchi Dip is ridiculously simple and perfect for summer holidays.  Mix 250g cream cheese, sour cream or mayo with about 1/3 cup Living Goodness kimchi (more or less to taste).  Mix well or pop in the blender for a quick whizz, taste and add a dash of fish sauce if you want to.  Rip open a bag of chips or crackers and you are there!

6. Devilled eggs are great for picnics and also parties.  Scoop yolks from halved boiled eggs, mash with Kewpie mayonnaise (Japanese) and then stir through chopped kimchi.  Stuff this mixture back into the whites and arrange on a platter with a small pinch of kimchi on top of each.

7. A healthy and nutritious summer dinner is easily made by combining cooked quinoa, flaked meat/fish (or slices of tempeh), salad leaves, kimchi, sliced radish and some toasted seeds to garnish.

8. New potatoes and summer go hand in hand and with that we all love a good potato salad.  Add some flavour, colour and texture interest to your next potato salad with a couple of spoonfuls of sauerkraut mixed through. You can of course give your potato salad a pretty pink hue by using Kimchi instead.

9. Sauerkraut is actually great in so many salads, pep up your coleslaw with some sauerkraut or chopped kimchi and a simple salad of baby spinach leaves with toasted sesame seeds, sauerkraut and soy dressing is just delicious.

10. Fish tacos are popular all year round but even more so in summer when the days are hot and hopefully we have access to freshly caught fish.  With a jar of Living Goodness kimchi in the fridge your tacos will be even more flavoursome.


11. Kimchi juice from the jar is great for adding to a dressing such as this one with seared tuna.

12. Along with aioli, mayo, hummus etc… pop a jar or bowl of sauerkraut or kimchi out onto the table as a condiment at your next barbecue.

13. Simple Sausage Sizzles can be made extra tasty by serving beef sausages in a warm long white roll with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and sliced gherkin.  Finish off with mayo mixed with a little chopped dill (can be dried).   A Reuben sausage!

14. A Cheese Board with farmhouse cheeses and bread is made even better with the addition of sauerkraut.  Sauerkraut is so often interchangeable with other pickles and sits so well on top of open sandwiches.

15. Grazing Platters are still in vogue this summer and adding some bowls of sauerkraut and kimchi amongst the cheese, meats, bread, crackers etc… all makes perfect sense.

16 green smoothie is a great place for some sauerkraut.  Pop it in with everything else and taste the flavour difference.

17 Lettuce cups are a perfect way to serve Asian style slow cooked pork and kimchi. High in flavour and low in carbs.

18.  Asian style Chicken Kebabs with Kimchi is fantastic.  Marinate the meat in soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, fish sauce, chilli etc… barbecue or pan fry, serve with rice on the side and a dollop of kimchi.

19.  Lucky enough to get your hands on some scallops this summer?  Flash them through a hot pan with a dash of oil and serve with a good pinch of kimchi on each – YUM!

20. So we all know that the best way to avoid a Hangover is not to drink in the first place.  However if that has already happened then you could follow the advice of many Russians and eat some sauerkraut.  At the very least the water and salts do help to hydrate.

Living Goodness Fermented Foods are sold around New Zealand.  Check out their stockist list to find your nearest retailer.

The Best Chicken Pies

Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken pie is really the ultimate of winter comfort food.
With crisp golden pastry encasing tender chunks of meat in a flavoursome gravy, a good chicken pie is a firm family favourite.

While there are of course exceptions to every generalisation, on the whole a homemade chicken pie is going to taste better than a commercial pie. You can pack your homemade pie with quality meat and vegetables and also know that you have used really good pastry.

You can of course use leftover roast chicken but we prefer chicken that has been gently cooked in water with a few flavours (carrot, onion, celery, parsley etc…), as this ensures the meat remains moist and tender.
Once the meat has been picked from the bones, the remaining carcass can then be simmered and reduced in the cooking liquid to make a rich, flavoursome stock.

Vegetables not only bulk out the meat but they add interesting flavour and texture.  Onion, garlic, celery and carrot are the base to a classic pie although leek with chicken is also a perfect marriage.
Whatever your vegetable base is, make sure that you cook them long and slow to ensure they are well and truly tender before going into the pie.

A traditional pie is usually made with a butter puff pastry.  Making your own puff pastry does take time and for that reason most of us buy it, just make sure you read the labels and look for pastry that uses butter, I think the taste is better than the vegetable shortening alternatives.  On days where time is available then do try making your own puff pastry or for a quicker result try sour cream rough puff, made famous by Australian cook Maggie Beer.

The gravy/sauce is vital for being thick enough not to run everywhere but not gluggy..  Homemade or fresh purchased stocks (e.g. Federation pouches) will always taste better than stocks out of a packet.

Chicken Pie Making Tips:
1.  Ceramic, glass and Pyrex dishes are all good for achieving crisp pastry.
2. Cooking meat on the bone first ie cooking a whole chicken, will give a richer flavour and better texture to the pie.
3. Slowly sweat your base vegetables and ensure they are thoroughly cooked before going into the pie.
4. Try and leave enough time to chill your filling before making the pie, pastry is at its best if kept as cold as possible until it goes into the oven.
5.  Pastry should be kept as cold as possible until it gets into the oven.  This will assist pastry becoming crisp, light and puffed..
6. Brush the pie with egg wash (egg yolk mixed with a little water) to give a lovely golden hue, if eggs are a problem then you can use milk.
7. Cook pies on fan bake and in the lower part of the oven.
8. The quicker the pastry heats the crisper and lighter the pastry will be.  Heating an oven tray in the oven and then sitting your pie dish on this can be a good way to get a good crisp pastry base.

Our Favourite Chicken Pies

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie is a fabulous pie for weeknights when timing is a bit tight.  Cook your chicken the night before and then you can quickly make the filling, pop on the lid and bake.
Chicken Pot Pie





Feed a Crowd Smoked Chicken Pie
This pie is a real show stopper, I have been stopped on the street by people who love this pie and we understand why!
Smoked Chicken Pie





Chicken, Mushroom and Bacon Pie
This filling is rich, hearty and honest.
A great winter pie.
Chicken, mushroom and bacon pie Helen Jackson Foodlovers





Moroccan Chicken Pie
With aromatic spices, chunks of pumpkin and red onion, this chicken pie is a feast for the senses.
Morrocan Chicken Pie





Butter Chicken Party Pies
Pies and parties go hand in hand and these little bites of
flavoursome butter chicken are just perfect to serve with drinks or make them into bigger pies for dinner!
Butter Chicken mini pies





Smoked Chicken and Kumara Filo Parcels
Easy for week night dinner, these parcels rely on pantry/fridge staples and are great reheated for lunch the next day.
Filo Chicken and Kumara Pie





Chicken Empanadas
With chopped green olives, herbs and spices, these empanadas are very moreish.
Great for lunches, dinner or make tiny parcels to serve with drinks.
Chicken Empanadas Foodlovers Helen Jackson





Chicken and Mustard Pie
This was my go to chicken pie for many years and always served with a rocket salad and balsamic dressing…




What is your favourite chicken pie?

The Best Cauliflower Recipes


Cauliflower base pumpkin and feta tarts

Cauliflower is enjoying some time in the limelight and not before time too.

This often maligned and traditionally mishandled vegetable must be the most versatile vegetable, it is full of flavour and of course t it is good for you with vitamins such as A and C.

Those trying to eschew refined carbohydrates love it due to the ease in which cauliflower can be blitzed into cous cous like grains that can also emulate rice.
The perfect side dish for casseroles and other saucy dishes.

Cauliflower is also great for gluten free crusts for tarts and pizzas.

There are so many things going for it, whats not to love?

Our Favourite Cauliflower Recipes include;

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Dressing
This replaces the boiled cauli and cheese sauce with so much flavour and style that once tried you will never go back!

cauliflower with tahini dressing Helen Jackson foodloversnz

Cauliflower Couscous

Whether you call it couscous or cauliflower rice, it is essentially one in the same.
Scatter nuts, seeds and herbs through it or keep it simple and serve as a side dish.
Cauliflower couscous

Roasted Cauliflower with Brussels Sprouts and Red Onions

Roasted vegetables are of course delicious and these are particularly tasty.
Roasted vege



 Roast Pumpkin and Feta Tarts with Cauliflower Crust
Not just for those who are grain or gluten free, cauliflower crust adds and interesting flavour and texture to tarts.
Cauliflower base pumpkin and feta tarts



Roasted Vegetable, Goats’ Cheese and Pesto Pizza with a Cauliflower Base

Cauliflower base pizza

Pan Fried Fish with Cauliflower Agrodolce

A classic flavour combination in Italy, the savoury sweet flavours work so well with both the fish and the cauliflower.

fish with cauliflower agrodolce
Onion and Cauliflower Bhaji

One of our favourite Indian appetisers with cauliflower as well as the usual onion.

Onion and cauliflower bhaji

Creamy Cauliflower Soup


National Lamb Day 2016

NZ Beef + Lamb, mEat Magazine #10, 2013

February 15 is officially NZ National Lamb Day, marking the date that the first shipment of mutton set sail from Port Chalmers in Otago on the ship called Dunedin, bound for London. This venture was the first important step in establishing the sheep and beef export industry that now contributes $8.5 billion a year to the New Zealand economy.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is encouraging Kiwis to celebrate National Lamb Day by enjoying lamb with friends and family.

In our house a roast leg of lamb is a regular meal,  while there are varying opinions on cooking methods, my personal favourite is to cook it first at 180 C for 45 minutes and then drop the temperature to about 130 C and leave it to slowly cook for around 4 hours.  The result is meltingly tender lamb, just how I like it.

Regardless of your preferred method of cooking lamb we have a fabulous selection of recipes that are sure to inspire!

NZ Beef + Lamb, mEat Magazine #10, 2013Balsamic Glazed Lamb Salad, is as pretty as it is delicious, while asparagus may not be available at this time of year, instead use fresh green beans.




Lamb-Rump-with-tomato-and-fetaChar-grilled lamb rump with tomato & feta salad uses the best of summer produce with fresh vine ripened tomatoes and basil leaves.  So tasty and so very easy.




Lamb-Cutlets-with-Quinoa-crustLamb cutlets with quinoa crust have loads and flavour and also some crunch with the quinoa and crumb coating.  Basil pesto and lamb are of course a match made in heaven!




Lamb LegMarinated roast lamb with fresh mint topping is a lovely fresh take on the traditional. This spin on roast lamb is perfect for summer entertaining.




TurkishLambPizzadetailTurkish lamb pizza, who needs ham and cheese on a pizza when you can pile it with spiced lamb and herbs.  I would be inclined to add some dollops of hummus as well, what about you?




Summer recipes by Kathy Patherson

Summer recipes by Kathy Patherson

Pulled pomegranate and mint lamb is a crowd favourite.  Slowly cooked leg of lamb is so very tender and delicious when cooked with pomegranate molasses and mint.






lamb koftasLamb Koftas take meatballs to another flavour dimension.  Quick and easy to make they are sure to be a family favourite.





What are some of your favourite lamb recipes?

Simply Delicious Summer Chicken Recipes

Crispy chicken legs
The sun is shining and with the rush of Christmas over we can now relax and enjoy easy entertaining with friends and family.
Rangitikei-LogoWhen it comes to dinner, chicken is often the meat of choice and we have put together some of our favourite chicken recipes using Rangitikei Corn-Fed Free Range Chicken.






Crispy chicken legsBuffalo Chicken Drumsticks – Take 10 Rangitikei free range chicken drumsticks and place them in a ceramic dish.  Drizzle over 1/3 cup (80ml) hot pepper sauce.  Turn to coat the drumsticks and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, longer if you can.
Heat the oven to 180 C (350 F).  Place the chicken in a plastic bag with 1/3 cup flour seasoned with salt.  Shake until the chicken has a light coating of flour.  Drizzle 3 tablespoons oil into a roasting dish and arrange the chicken in a single layer.  Bake for 45 minutes, turning at times until golden, crisp and cooked through.
While chicken is cooking finely dice 1 large stalk celery and finely chop 1 tablespoon parsley Serve chicken drizzled with extra hot pepper sauce and sprinkle with celery and parsley.
Sensibly this should serve 4 but the flavour is so good you will find you munch through way more than you ever thought possible!
PS – serving these with a creamy blue cheese dip is extra delicious.



Butterflied chicken_01Piri Piri Chicken – Butterfly a size 16 Rangitikei chicken by placing the chicken breast side down on a chopping board and then using strong kitchen scissors or a chef’s knife, cut down either side of the back bone.  Discarding the bone.  Turn the chicken over and gently press to flatten. In the bowl of a food processor place 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped, 2 red chillies, roughly chopped, 2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice, 1/4 cup parsley leaves, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon sea salt.  Pulse until a paste.
Massage the paste into the chicken, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but preferably 8 hours.  Heat the oven to 200 C or a barbecue hot plate.  Cook the chicken in the oven for 50 minutes or until golden, crisp and juices run clear when pierced with a skewer.  For barbecue cooking, place the chicken, skin side up on an oiled hotplate at medium heat.  Cook for 30 minutes before turning, increase the heat to ensure crisp skin and cook until juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a skewer.
Serve with roasted potatoes, kumara and a crisp green salad.



Chicken salad with TahiniMiddle Eastern Chicken Salad – Barbecue or grill 1 eggplant until charred and tender.  Allow to cool enough to handle and then scoop out flesh and chop into small pieces approximately 1.5cm in diameter.  Arrange 2 large handfuls of rocket leaves on a large platter and cover with 2 cups cooked shredded chicken from a roasted Rangitikei Free Range Chicken, sprinkle over 1 heaped cup chopped cucumber, 2 radishes, finely sliced, 1/2 cup toasted almonds, seeds from 1/2 pomegranate, 1/2 red onion, finely sliced and a small handful cherry tomatoes, halved.  Drizzle with tahini yoghurt dressing.




Butterflied Chicken_02Za’atar Grilled Chicken – Butterfly a size 16 Rangitikei chicken by placing the chicken breast side down on a chopping board and then using strong kitchen scissors or a chef’s knife, cut down either side of the back bone. Discarding the bones. Turn the chicken over and gently press to flatten.  Combine 2 cloves crushed and finely chopped garlic in a bowl along with 2 tablespoons za’atar (from your supermarket spice section), 2 teaspoons sweet paprika, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest.  Rub 1 tablespoon olive oil into the chicken skin and then sprinkle over the spice mixture and pat to cover.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but preferably for 8 hours.
Preheat the oven to 200 C or heat a barbecue hot plate. For oven cooking, place sliced lemon and red onion wedges in a roasting dish and sit the chicken breast side up on top.  Cook for 50 minutes until thigh juices run clear when pierced with a skewer.  Alternatively place the chicken skin side up on a barbecue hot plate set at a medium temperature.  Cook for 30 minutes before turning and cooking skin until crisp and golden.  Test by piercing with a skewer to see if the chicken is cooked.  Juices need to run clear.

pomegranate-chicken-piecesDo yourself a favour and make our delicious Pomegranate Glazed Chicken sometime quick while supermarkets and greengrocers still have fresh pomegranates for sale.







What are some of your favourite summer chicken recipes?

Hunting for Truffle in New Zealand

truffle limestone hills

Brillat-Savarin called truffles “the diamond of the kitchen” and not too many years ago the chance for New Zealanders to taste fresh truffle was essentially reserved for international travellers with fat wallets.
While the fat wallet is still needed if you plan to bathe yourself in truffles, the fact is that NZ now boasts at least 30 of its own truffière (truffle growing properties) and it is getting easier by the day to buy some for yourself.
It is at Limestone Hills (owned by Gareth and Camille Renowden) just outside of Waipara, that I experience my first truffle hunt, as a component of the inaugural Canterbury truffle festival.
As truffles are on the whole buried underground (some pop above the surface), the easiest way to find them is to sniff them out and both pigs and dogs can be trained to do this.  Most find it more suitable to have a dog as a companion, they are easier to restrain when they find a truffle and less inclined to eat the lot (although they may try to).
Rosie the beagle is the truffle hunter at Limestone Hills, she is known for her marvellous nose and if there is a truffle to be found then Rosie will get it.
From sniff to table though is quite a precarious operation, you need to be careful to avoid undue soil disturbance and once unearthed then an unripe truffle is only useful as compost – devastating when they can fetch up to $3000 kg.  Likewise an over ripe truffle has little value.
gareth and rosie 1


Truffles are essentially a type of mushroom that grows beneath the surface of the ground near specific trees.  In New Zealand our truffles come from trees that have been artificially inoculated with truffles and with an estimated five year wait that holds no guarantees, it is very much a labour of love.
Limestone Hills truffles are in a mixture of oaks and hazelnuts with a few pinus pinea (pine nut bearing pines) in the mix as well. Limestone Hills in unique in that it produces three of the major truffle varieties, being Périgord black truffle, the Bianchetto white truffle, and the Burgundy truffle.  These truffles all come with their own unique look, aroma and flavour profile (see more on styles).  While the varieties of truffle have certain attributes, the flavour can vary from truffière and also from within the truffière itself.
It is a slightly misty chilly morning that we follow Rosie and Gareth across the lawn down to the designated trees and within a few sniffs and digging (from Rosie) Gareth is gently lifting earthy, aromatic truffles from the soil.  Truffles are at their strongest when picked and to inhale the aroma of a freshly dug truffle is magnificent. It isn’t long before Gareth fills a bag with a mixture of Bianchetto and Burgundy truffles.
While we are all of course itching to try said truffles, we first put our senses to the test at a wine/truffle masterclass at Muddy Water winery with some of the area’s top winemakers. The talent and passion around that one table is extraordinary and we listen avidly to the stories of their terroir and vintages. The pairing of truffles and wine seems crazy but actually it really does work.  We rely on the truffle aroma while we imbibe some seriously good wine, listening to passionate and talented growers and winemakers.
winte truffle
The lunch, just along the road at family run Black Estate is a food lovers dream!
Seven courses of truffle delights matched with Black Estate wine while looking out through the vines and then paddocks to the snowy peaks of the Southern Alps is a luxurious way to spend an afternoon.
Every mouthful is a taste sensation, starting with bread from local artisan baker Rachel Scott topped with truffle butter, to local fish with truffle, meltingly tender beef with foraged greens and the best ever truffle mash. Over the Moon Brie layered with truffle has everyone swooning and it is apt we finish with Rachel’s chocolate truffles, while soaking up the view in the warmth of the late afternoon sun.

black estate

The taste of truffle is very much linked to the aroma as a total experience, it has a pungent earthiness that is difficult to describe in words – you might just have to try one!

Fact File

While truffles are available all year round they are generally associated with autumn/winter and it is arguably then that they are at their best.
For order inquiries contact Gareth Renowden [email protected]
Limestone Hills has cottage accommodation and you can also book truffle hunts.

Black Estate is the place to stop en-route from Christchurch to Picton, or as a destination from Christchurch.  The food is fabulous, the view stunning and the organic wine is sure to please.

Truffles are at their best when fresh and eaten raw or lightly cooked.  Excessive heat will destroy flavour and aroma.
Storing truffle in a sealed container with eggs will give truffle infused eggs plus you still get to use the truffle.

While truffles can fetch around $3000 kg, they do need specific growing conditions and can be unreliable at production.
For more information go to NZ Truffle


12 Delicious Pumpkin Recipes

Roast Pumpkin Salad Foodlovers Helen Jackson

Autumn and pumpkin recipes go hand in hand.  The weather is cooling and our desire for meals with a little more substance increases.
There can be some confusion around the word pumpkin vs squash and they are pretty much interchangeable. says that pumpkins are generally describes winter squash that have a hard skin and hard flesh.
Crown or grey pumpkins are the most common available here in New Zealand with Whangaparoa being the most popular variety.  The very hard skin on these pumpkins means that they store well and therefore are available year round.
Butternutswith their long neck and bulb like base are also popular, the flesh is sweet and they and have a thinner skin than the crown pumpkin making them easier to peel.
For more on pumpkin and squash varieties check out

When growing pumpkins it is best to leave them on the vine for as long as you can, be sure that they are still growing though.   Once they mature then chop them off where the stem meets the vine.  Wash and dry and then store in a cool dark spot with good ventilation.
Once cut then wrap pieces of pumpkin in plastic clingfilm and store in the refrigerator.

With its silky smooth texture, pumpkins can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes but aside from the odd pumpkin pie or cake we like to use them as the hero of autumn meals.

12 Top Pumpkin Recipes.

Individual Pumpkin Tarts

Pumpkin, Spinach and Chickpea Curry

Sweet Pumpkin Pie with Maple Walnuts

Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Warm Salad of Pumpkin and Quinoa

Maple Pumpkin, Kale and Feta Salad

Pizza of Roasted Pumpkin with Feta and Olives

Roast Pumpkin, Capscium, Basil and Feta Salad

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Pasties

Pumpkin Hummus

PuPumpkin Piempkin and Ginger Scones
Roast Pumpkin Pastries Foodlovers Helen Jackson





Pumpkin and chickpea Curry

Perfect Roast Chicken Dinner

Roast Chicken, Easter Dinner


Autumn is an ideal time to get together with friends or family and enjoy the luxury of a roast chicken dinner.  The weather is starting to cool a little and it is time to dust off the roasting dish and settle in for a good long lunch (or dinner).
We have your whole meal covered, the roasted bird, vegetables and a delicious quince tart for dessert!   If you lucky you could not only win your chicken but also a gorgeous new roasting pan and carving set, just enter into our prize draw below.

Selecting your bird
Running out of food is every cook’s nightmare so we suggest being generous with your quantities, who doesn’t love leftovers?
A size 16 chicken serves around 5 people, a size 18 around 7.
For a large group you can either cook two chickens side by side.

To prepare your chicken

Take the chicken out of the fridge at the same time as you turn the oven on to 180°C (bake setting).  Remove the chicken from its bag (this is best done over the sink), pat it dry with paper towels and then place the chicken breast side up in a roasting dish and rub all over with olive oil.  Stuff the chicken with the prepared stuffing (see our recipe for prosciutto, thyme and lemon stuffing) or alternatively pop a wedge of lemon and a few cloves of sliced garlic into the cavity. Season the chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To cook your chicken

When the oven is heated, sit the roasting dish (with chicken) onto the middle shelf or slightly lower and cook for 1 ½ hours (for a size 16, adjust time according to size) or until juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.
Once the chicken has been in the oven for 45 minutes, peel and chop potatoes, rinse them and pat dry. Place the potatoes around the chicken and continue to cook.
Peel and chop the kumara and chop pumpkin into wedges. Halve or quarter onions, chop garlic bulbs in half and de-seed and slice some red pepper.
Give the potatoes 15 minutes head start before adding the rest of the vegetables to the pan as well.  Make sure the vegetables are in a single layer and turn them a couple of times during cooking.  If your pan is over crowded then you may want to cook vegetables on a different shelf or even bring out the electric frying pan!

To rest your chicken

Once the chicken is cooked, transfer it to a serving plate cover loosely with foil and allow to sit for 10 minutes before carving.  Let the roasting vegetables continue to cook or if they are already tender then transfer them to an oven proof dish, turn the oven off and let the vegetables sit in the oven for a few minutes until you are ready (pop the dinner plates into the oven at the same time to warm them).


Vegetables and Gravy

Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and cook beans or any other greens for a few minutes until almost tender, drain vegetable cooking water into a jug.

Pour the juices from the roasting pan into a heat proof jug (pyrex is ideal for this).  Scoop fat off as it rises and discard (adding an ice cube to the liquid can help to quickly solidify the fat and remove).

Place the pan on the stove top on low heat and pour in the skimmed pan juices along with 2 tablespoons of flour per cup of gravy required.  Using a metal spoon stir until the mixture thickens and then slowly pour in vegetable cooking water (1 cup per 2 tablespoons of flour) while continuously stirring to avoid lumps, until the gravy boils and thickens.  Taste gravy and season as needed, pour into a jug to serve.


Slice the breast meat from the chicken and carve off the legs and wings.  Serve meat with a spoonful of stuffing, a selection of vegetables and a generous drizzle of gravy.

Quince Tart
In recent years this beautifully fragrant fruit has truly become the fruit of autumn.  The fluffy yellow orbs hang off trees looking nothing like the ruby red fruit that long slow cooking develops.  This tart is easy to make and while lusciously creamy it is not too rich allowing room for the possible chocolate egg….
Quince Ricotta Tart
Qunice Tart, Easter version


Our Favourite Finger Food Recipes


Party season is almost here and be it 15 or 50, chances are you will need to host drinks for friends and families some time over the next few months.

With that in mind we have grouped some of our favourite finger food recipes here in one place with tips on what to buy and what to make.

While not the star of the canapé world, people do like a good sandwich and they are well worth adding into your menu.
Some favourites of ours include;
chicken and celery
 chicken, pistachio and avocado
smoked salmon, cream cheese and lemon
smoked salmon, cucumber and dill


While smoked salmon is the classic topping for a blini with a dollop of caviar or creme fraiche and dill, they can have plenty of other toppings as well.

Prawn, Asparagus and Dill is a perfect topping for this time of year as is;
* Pesto with prosciutto, parmesan cheese, cherry tomato and basil
* Chicken coated in hoisin sauce and topped with slivers of spring onion.

What are you favourite toppings for blinis?



As well as platters of canapés to hand around, it is also worth having some nibbles strategically placed around your room.  Bowls of homemade spicy nut mixes and dips such as guacomole or hummus are popular and ideal to leave for people to help themselves to.

A cheeseboard with a couple of large wedges of cheese can look spectacular, pile sliced baguette or gourmet crackers alongside with some walnuts and perhaps a chunk of quince paste.

Oat biscuits, blue cheese and quince paste is a favourite combination and can be presented as an easy canapé.

Puff pastry makes a great base for a variety of toppings – if you cut the pastry into squares then you won’t have any waste.
Suggested toppings include:
*caramelised onion, goats’ cheese and chopped rosemary
*pesto, prosciutto or ham and cherry tomato
*caramelised onion, blue cheese and rosemary
*caramelised onion, olive, thyme and anchovy

While toasted bread – crostini, also makes a good base for toppings, just be careful they are not so brittle so as to snap in half at a bite. Mini poppadoms can be found at Indian spice shops and sometimes in supermarkets and are ideal as a base for toppings such as this one for hoisin pork, coriander and sprouts.


Wontons also make a great base for toppings such as this one with prawns, lime and chili.


 * Sandwiches are quick to make and while not the most glamourous of offerings, they are popular and they do fill a gap.

Some suggested fillings are:

chicken and celery
 chicken, pistachio and avocado
smoked salmon, cream cheese and lemon
smoked salmon, cucumber and dill


Balls such as meatballs are great as they can generally be cooked ahead of time and reheated in the oven prior to serving.
I really like these chicken, ginger and coriander balls but you can make regular beef meatballs with beef mince, breadcrumbs, finely chopped onion, fresh chopped herbs and an egg to bind.
These prawn and coconut balls are absolutely gorgeous and a real party hit.

Prawns are often a party highlight,  these coconut prawns with mango and chilli salsa.


Regal Smoked Salmon with Strawberries and Corn FrittersSmoked salmon is an obvious choice for finger food, it is luxurious and is able to be used in varied ways.  Aside from the obvious smoked salmon blinis check out these Indonesian style fish cakes and corn fritters with goats cheese, smoked salmon and strawberries.


GreekCheesePies_270612_2427We all love party pies, these can be made well ahead of time and frozen or just made a couple of days in advance.
Any of your favourite pie fillings can be used for mini pies, we happen to really like these little pies of Beef with kumara topping and chopped macadamia nuts
And for a vegetarian option these little Greek style cheese pies are also delicious.  Quiche and tarts are also great vegetarian hot options with gruyere cheese and leek a timeless popular filling.

560x375_SausageRolls2Never dismiss sausage rolls as I can almost guarantee they will be eaten, as long as they are homemade and preferably with a homemade tomato sauce or chutney alongside then you are definitely in business.




por slidersEvenings often evolve to a glazed ham or fillet of beef accompanied with condiments and rolls.  Having something substantial later in the evening will definitely keep your guests happy.
Another option is sliders.  These have been hugely popular over the past year or so and are a great idea parties.  Pulled pork can be cooked earlier in the day and then presented with a bowl of coleslaw or lettuce leaves and a mountain of buns for self assembly.

However you party evolves just make sure you have time to enjoy it as you should.
There is a lot to be said for hiring a few key staff members to do the work once guests arrive!


What are some of your favourite finger food ideas?



Finger Food for Parties

Party season is here and be it 15 or 50, chances are you will need to host drinks for friends and families some time over the next few months.

With that in mind we have grouped some of our favourite finger food recipes here in one place with tips on what to buy and what to make.

Some blini topping suggestions include
Prawn, Asparagus and Dill
* Smoked salmon, creme fraiche, dill and lemon
* Chicken tossed in hoisin sauce and topped with slivers of spring onion

People at parties like eating food and generally the more the better.  While it also needs to be stylish there are some great options for making it easy on yourself.
Caterers of course are the easiest option but come with a price tag that can make a party price prohibitive.

Food Lovers, Helen Jackson, recipes, food, website, Guacamole, Photos by Carolyn RobertsonInstead, I suggest you minimise your varieties and stick to 4-5 different options.  Start off with something that looks fabulous but is completely easy to make and then gradually progress in both portion size and quantity so people really feel genuinely satiated.  Bowls of spicy nut mixes or
and dips such as guacomole or hummus are popular and can be placed strategically around the room.
A cheeseboard with a couple of large wedges of cheese can look spectacular, pile sliced baguette or gourmet crackers alongside with some walnuts and perhaps a chunk of quince paste.

Oat biscuits, blue cheese and quince paste is a favourite combination and can be presented as an easy canape.

Evenings generally evolve to the obligatory glazed ham or beef with rolls but you can also crank up the barbecue and get some interesting burger combinations rolling.
por slidersSliders have been hugely popular over the past year or so and are great for parties.  Pulled pork can be cooked earlier in the day and then presented with a bowl of coleslaw or lettuce leaves and a mountain of buns for self assembly.



There are loads of great finger food recipes on foodlovers but here are some of my absolute favourites as well as some good party tips.

* Allow 3 glasses per person (of actual glasses not liquid) – this means you shouldn’t have to start washing glasses half way through the evening.

* Ensure you have a refreshing non alcoholic drink available.  My all time favourite is pineapple juice with l&p and lots of mint – it sounds ho hum but I assure you it is delicious and not too sweet.

* When menu planning try not to have too many of the same protein – eg if you have chicken sandwiches then don’t do chicken pies or chicken kebabs.

Foodlovers website, Helen Jackson. Recipes. caramelised onion pastry puffs. Photos by Carolyn Robertson* Puff pastry makes a great base for a variety of toppings – if you cut the pastry into squares then you won’t have any waste.
Suggested toppings include:
caramelised onion, goats cheese and chopped rosemary
pesto, prosciutto or ham and cherry tomato
caramelised onion, blue cheese and rosemary
caramelised onion, olive, thyme and anchovy

* While toasted bread – crostini, also makes a good base for toppings, just be careful they are not so brittle so as to snap in half at a bite. Mini poppadoms can be found at Indian spice shops and sometimes in supermarkets and are ideal as a base for toppings such as this one for hoisin pork, coriander and sprouts.

Wontons also make a great base for toppings such as this one with prawns, lime and chili.

Foodlovers website, Helen Jackson. Recipes. Chicken and pistachio sandwiches. Photos by Carolyn Robertson * Sandwiches are quick to make and while not the most glamourous of offerings, they are popular and they do fill a gap.

Some suggested fillings are:
chicken and celery
 chicken, pistachio and avocado
smoked salmon, cream cheese and lemon
smoked salmon, cucumber and dill



Foodlovers website recipes, Helen Jackson, Christmas baking and summer food. Coconut prawns with mango salsa. Photos by Carolyn Robertson* Balls such as meatballs are great as they can generally be cooked ahead of time and reheated in the oven prior to serving.
I really like these chicken, ginger and coriander balls but you can make regular beef meatballs with beef mince, breadcrumbs, finely chopped onion, fresh chopped herbs and an egg to bind.
These prawn and coconut balls are absolutely gorgeous and a real party hit.
Another prawn favourite is these coconut prawns with mango and chilli salsa.

Smoked salmon is an obvious choice for finger food, it is luxurious and is able to be used in varied ways.  Aside from the obvious smoked salmon blinis check out these Indonesian style fish cakes and corn fritters with goats cheese, smoked salmon and strawberries.

We all love party pies and once again they can be chilled and then heated to serve.

Food Lovers, Helen Jackson, recipes, food, website, Mini beef pies, Photos by Carolyn RobertsonBeef, guinness and mushroom makes a delicious filling as does chicken and leek, these beer braised beef pies with kumara topping from Dawson’s catering are amazine.
You can make and freeze them ahead of time, mini muffin tins work well.


Shortcrust pastry is an ideal base with puff on the top.
leek-and-gruyere-wAlso quiche and little freeze well and are popular – these gruyere and leek tarts are delicious.
When making quiche the ratio of 1 egg to 100ml of cream is good to work on and then add other ingredients such as bacon, pesto, tomato, mushroom, to suit your taste.



Whatever you decide to make do ensure that you have time to enjoy your own party and often hiring some staff to do the “dirty work” will ensure that you can catch up with your guests as you should!

What are some of your favourite finger food ideas?



Spring in the Kitchen

f&p kitchen 4Over the last month I had the opportunity to cook (in front of a camera) in the most fabulous kitchen that has now left me with serious kitchen envy.  We were shooting some new videos for foodlovers tv – watch this space, they will be popping up over the next few months with the first one being this standing rib roast of beef.

The kitchen has enough bench space to host a party and the appliances are all the latest releases from the F&P stable.

The double door French style fridge that makes, water, ice, instantly chills wine etc… has been on my wish list for some years but now the New Generation 2 oven has joined it.  Cooking functions include removing steam from the oven (great for pavs and meringues) and also a roast function, where steam is added, ensuring beautiful moist meat.

There are many more functions of course such as self clean and the fact that they are black sleek glass that aesthetically blends in with the rest of the F&P family.

Onto cooking, spring is here and it is so exciting to see asparagus appearing in stores and my broad beans going from strength to strength in the garden.
My strawberries are all in fruit (despite the fact that I broke the rules and didn’t pull them up at the end of last season).
Mint_FoodOpera (2)The mint that takes over in summer and disappears in winter is adding a lovely burst of freshness to many dishes and gradually the rest of the herb garden is waking up.
This spring my recipes are using a lot more mint, it is one of those herbs that is easy to look over yet it is indispensible in raw energy salad, courgete fritters,

The whitebait season has opened and I look forward to fat puffy patties sandwiched in Artisan white bread with a spread of good butter and a squeeze of lemon.

asparagus and goat's cheese pizzaThe highlight though of spring must belong to asparagus, I am sure I am not alone in my pacing of the greengrocer store, waiting for the price to become realistic so we can start throwing asparagus into just about everything.  This pizza of asparagus, lemon, courgette and goats’ cheese is probably a month away from being the right price but I made it anyway – in the name of photography and recipe testing!

farro risottoAnother new favourite for this spring is asparagus, broad bean and farro risotto.  Farro is such an interesting grain that gives great texture and flavour to risottos, salads and soups.  The broad beans are not quite out of my garden yet but in a month or so I will be feeling very virtuous with lovely pods of spray free fresh beans,


Asparagus, bacon and hollandaiseAnd for something a little more decadent then asparagus with bacon and hollandaise sauce is a delicious brunch treat.





Of course it is not all just about vegetables and this spring for me is going to be more fabulously well slow roasted legs of lamb and of the standing rib roast of beef.  Arm yourself with meat thermometer for the beef, follow our video instructions and make sure your cook your lamb long and slow. It always surprises me how complicated some people can try and make a roasted leg of lamb,  I don’t brown or do anything special yet it comes out perfect time after time.



560x375_lemontartWhile the strawberries are not yet in huge supply, lemons are everywhere, so for now my dessert pick is an elegant slice of lemon tart.




I leave you now to go and measure up my kitchen to check the possibility of housing a F&P refrigerator drawer that has settings for everything.  It can chill enough to keep frozen solid, look after meat or be mild enough to keep those summer strawberries looking perfect – love it!

See our exciting new prize on offer from F&P here – anyone need a new fridge?