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Butter chicken (healthy)

Butter chicken (healthy)

We all love ourselves a good ol’ butter chicken, and as you will see by my other butter chicken post it can also be pretty indulgent. However not with this recipe. This recipe is surprisingly light without compromising any of the rich flavours that butter chicken offers – after all, it’s all in the spices. The vegetables add some extra nutrients, and the fact they are grated means they are barely noticeable. Serve with the turmeric rice to brighten up the dish, and the crunchy fresh cucumber to provide some contrasting textures.

Collect for the turmeric pea rice

  • 1.5 c basmati rice
  • 2.25 c water
  • 1/2 t ground turmeric
  • 2 c frozen peas
  • 1 T butter

Collect for the butter chicken

  • 650 g chicken thigh, boneless, skinless and chopped into 2 – 3 cm pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 T each of garam masala, ground cumin, smoked paprika
  • 1 t ground coriander, ground turmeric
  • 0.5 t ground chilli
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 t ginger
  • 1/2 lemon zest
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 c grated pumpkin
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 c coconut cream

Cucumber mint salad

  • cucumber, match sticks
  • 2 T chopped mint leaves
  • 2 T chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/2 lemon zest, juice of whole lemon
  • splash of olive oil

Create

  1. Combine rice, water, turmeric and some salt into a medium-sized pot and bring to the boil. Cook rice for approximately 15 minutes, remove from heat but leave the lid on for a further 15 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, combine the chicken with onion, spices, garlic,ginger, lemon zest and salt. Cook for about 10 minutes in a medium pan. Don’t worry if the chicken isn’t yet cooked, there is still plenty of time for it to finish.
  3. Stir in the grated pumpkin, carrot, tomatoes, tomato paste and cream. Simmer for 5 – 10 minutes or until sauce is reduced slightly and chicken is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Combine all the cucumber mint salad ingredients together and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Fluff up turmeric rice with a fork, and combine with butter and peas.
  6. Garnish with coriander.

 

 

Whistler, Canada

Whistler, Canada

“Walking in a winter wonderland” is the phrase that jumped to mind at the time, and it still aptly summarises my memory of the place. I ventured up to Whistler from Vancouver – on a (supposedly) 1 hour bus that went through Squamish (a place I remember all too well – a 10 minute toilet stop turned into a six hour layover as the road north was closed following a pile-up). I had been highly recommended the HI-Whistler Backpackers; home to winter Olympics athletes back in 2010.  It was gorgeous accommodation; modern, clean and cosy, and neatly balancing the social dimension with an adequate amount of privacy. It was about a 30 minute walk to the main village, but buses were much quicker than that and tended to be the more appealing option in the snow.

Whistler itself is definitely affordable on a budget, but with some very lush options if you have money to play with. There are lots of resorts, boutique shops and spas. Unfortunately I was at the other end of the spectrum, mostly window shopping and scoping out the cheap eats, with three of my favourite options being as follows:

1. El Furniture Warehouse

With everything on the menu being only $4.95, it would almost be rude not to! A decently extensive menu (with your classic range of salads, burgers, meat dishes and bar snacks), it is understandable why Furny’s is extremely popular, especially with those on a budget. Be prepared to queue if you go after about 6pm (outside unfortunately) but if you wrap up, it’s totally worth the wait. The food is good and the vibe of the place is really fun.

2. Naked Sprout 

I became a bit of a local here, as my hostel didn’t have a free breakfast and I wanted to make sure I had a decent feed before heading up the mountain. Super healthy (but still delicious) food options, there were so many tasty smoothies and juices, salad bowls and treats to grab on the go. They also had a limited seating area with good wifi if you wanted to eat in.

3. The Green Moustache

Another healthy go-to, this place offered slightly more complex options. I had a mouth-watering soup with a delicious cracker/bread for dipping. It has big open tables (quite well suited for sharing, especially if you’re there by yourself), with a super cute gift shop attached so it is extremely easy to spend a bit of time here.

 

 

Pad Thai (Chicken)

Pad Thai (Chicken)

When I went to South East Asia I think Pad Thai was probably the food I ate most often. It’s so incredibly delicious, and so conceptually simple – just noodles with a few delicious flavours. The Thai people have a way of cooking this noodle dish that is fresh, light and super tasty – something that can be harder to come by in New Zealand. However, over time I have managed to pinpoint some of the better places around Wellington that do serve up a tasty Pad Thai. I have also found a recipe that I love, and have made it often enough that in my eyes it is now my ideal Pad Thai – hopefully when I go back to Asia their Pad Thai lives up to mine!

Collect

  • Pad Thai noodles
  • 1 large chicken breast, sliced into strips
  • Spring onion, chopped finely
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • Coriander, fresh
  • 1 chilli
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 3 garlic, crushed
  • 3 T fish sauce
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 6 T peanuts
  • mung bean sprouts
  • 1/2 c peanut butter

Create

  1. Cook the noodles.
  2. Cook the beaten eggs 75% of the way through, chop and set aside.
  3. Cook the chicken, garlic, spring onion.
  4. Add the noodles, fish sauce, soy sauce, peanut butter, lemon juice, sugar, chilli.
  5. Lastly add the sprouts, peanuts, omelette and coriander.

Canggu

Canggu

Canggu was our destination number one in Bali. An up and coming hipster’s paradise it was only appropriate that there were foodie spots to follow suit. We didn’t have long in Canggu, but being our first stop, we were more than ready to fill our bellies.

First up was Canteen. We arrived on scooters and based on the number of scooters already in the car park we predicted a wait for a table. We weren’t wrong, the place was absolutely packed and we were warned there would be a 20 minute wait. We agreed to this; we had heard so much about the place we were hardly about to leave. Fortunately for us, the turnover was incredibly quick (we shouldn’t have expected any different with the incredible service that seems to be the norm) and we were seated in no time. My first morning on a tropical island meant there was no way I could look past the chia fruit bowl. I love the exciting fruit that comes with being in warmer climates – think pineapple, mango, dragonfruit and coconut to name a few. All of the breakfasts that were served to us were extremely tasty, and sadly we were out of there in no time.

They say you can’t visit Canggu without a visit to Old Man’s, and I have to admit, I think whoever ‘they’ are, they know exactly what they are talking about. This iconic beach bar is perched so close to the ocean, separated only by the car-park that it overlooks. It seems to be open (almost) round the clock, it is extremely spacious and it has a very extensive menu offering both Western and local options. It isn’t cheap, but it’s certainly fun. There is a stack of seating options both indoors and out, including picnic tables, cushy seats and bar stools. With live music and other various events throughout the week Old Man’s has something for everyone. While you may pay a dollar or two more than what you would elsewhere, at least you know it’s going to be good.

The third and final gemstone we discovered in Canggu was Crate. Located on the main road (as is Old Man’s), Crate exists as a rather inconspicuous little institution which serves up absolutely fantastic food to visitors who come far and wide to eat here (I know this is true because we counted six different countries on the business cards people had scattered underneath our glass table alone).

After making your order downstairs (allow yourself time to appreciate the quirky and clever names of some of the dishes) either take a seat or climb the steep staircase past the rack of merchandise to the second storey. With outstanding views of the street below and the nearby surrounds, this is my pick of seating. The meals were absolutely outstanding – fresh, healthy and decent sized portions (something we were yet to discover as a rare occurrence in Bali). There were a huge number of vegan and vegetarian options available also. Crate would easily have been one of my top 5 eateries while I was in Bali.

 

 

Asian Slaw

Asian Slaw

A salad that serves as a funky, fresh side to any meal with an Asian marinade, or if you want to just eat it for lunch it is equally as delicious; you can make a big batch and leave it in the fridge for the week (just be sure to leave the dressing off until you are about to eat it so that it doesn’t go soggy).It is such a colourful salad that it instantly brightens up any plate and the different ingredients provide a range of textures too. Increase the amount of nuts if you want more of a crunch, and increase the amount of chilli if you’re after a spicy kick!

Collect

  • 1/4 purple cabbage, shredded
  • 1 green apple, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1/4 c coriander, chopped
  • 1/4 c mint, chopped
  • 1/3 c peanuts, roasted
  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 1 chilli (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/4 c lemon/lime juice
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 2 – 3 t sesame oil

Create

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the salad together, pouring over the dressing just before you serve it.

 

Fish, Bok Choy and Ginger Parcels

Fish, Bok Choy and Ginger Parcels

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Easy, yum, delicious. They look fancy, they are fresh and they are so simple to make! I adore Asian flavours and they go so well when paired with fish. I’m always looking for ways to vary a fish recipe – turns out, it’s a pretty diverse food!

Collect

  • fish
  • bok choy
  • 1 cm ginger sliced
  • lime
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1/3 chilli, sliced
  • 1 T tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1/2 t nutmeg

Create

  1. 180°C bake.
  2. Put everything in parcel and cook for 10 minutes.

 

WBC (Wholesale Boot Company)

WBC (Wholesale Boot Company)

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WBC (107 Victoria Street)

Located on the first floor of the Wholesale Boot Company building, WBC offers its customers so much more than what initially meets the eye. Despite working just down the road, I heard so much about WBC before I managed to even locate it, as it’s tucked away upstairs and completely inconspicuous without the sole sign. The first time I went there was during Wellington on a Plate 2015, and while mildly impressed, I didn’t see the urge to go rushing back. But after my most recent visit that opinion has changed, and now I think the place is beautiful; decor, food and service all exceeded my past expectations. Sister restaurant to Capitol, WBC is a smaller version of the same – but still boasting the same quality. Its decor is unique, with large concrete pillars crisscrossing above (apparently integral to it’s structure – which we are all grateful for in these earthquake decorated times.

The menu itself is delicious and designed to share. Oysters (and clams too) are the obvious place to start; it is hard to go past those freshly shucked mouthfuls of goodness. There are a range of small plates, large plates and sides – some dishes are more easily spread amongst people than others. My most recent visit saw quite an Asian theme shining through the dishes (think chilli, coriander, peanuts and tamarind) and they definitely leave you wanting more. The dessert menu is exciting; delicately paired flavours, all of which complement each other through every mouthful.

The perfect place for a highly enjoyable dining experience, I would have no hesitation in recommending it to others.

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Beer Batter Fish (and Chips)

Beer Batter Fish (and Chips)

On the weekend I went home to the lovely Hawke’s Bay. Always a pleasure and never a chore, I love visiting all my friends and family, and wherever possible eating as much delicious food as possible. I had the good fortune of some colleagues accompanying me and then going one step beyond and fishing with my Dad. A successful day out on the water saw a great haul of fish and stacks of delicious meals ahead for all of us. I thought I’d mix it up and try make a beer batter to go with the fish – it’s hard to get more Kiwi than a solid dose of Fish’n’Chips. The beer batter itself is actually really easy – just choose a beer that tickles your fancy, and get pouring. It pays to use a firm white fish – for example terakihi works well, just so that it doesn’t dissolve in the pan as you fry. This recipe is just for the beer batter, and the fish goes great served with chips and/or salad.

Collect

  • 2 c self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 bottle beer
  • oil for frying (try keep it neutral if possible)
  • fish
  • lemon

Create

  1. Put the flour into a bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Gradually add in the beer until the batter is mostly smooth. Lumps don’t matter – they will go yum when fried.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Add oil to the pan so that the bottom of the pan is at least covered.
  6. Heat oil until it is extremely hot.
  7. Season the fish with salt and pepper.
  8. Dip the fish into the batter to coat, draining any excess liquid.
  9. Fry for a few minutes on each side until golden brown and the batter is cooked through.
  10. Serve with lemon wedges, and chips and/or salad.

 

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Rainbow Salad

Rainbow Salad

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This salad is so beautiful, so tasty, so fresh and has the added bonus of being healthy! There is a massive assortment of fruit and vegetables included within the salad, guaranteeing you that 5+ a day (servings and colours included). There is also protein from the haloumi and texture from the walnuts.

Collect

  • 3c lettuce leaves (I use half rocket and half baby spinach)
  • 1/2 seeded pomegranate
  • 15 cherry tomatoes (whole or cut)
  • 1/4 sliced cucumber
  • 1/2 orange
  • 1/2 yellow capsicum
  • 10 strawberries
  • halloumi cheese (as much as you want – I tend to use the whole block)
  • [any other fruit and vegetables you want to add – purple cabbage looks pretty great!]
  • nuts and seeds / candied walnuts (see recipe below)
  • Dressing: 1/4 EVOO + lemon + 2 T balsamic

Create

  1. To make the candied walnuts, cook the walnuts in 2T of butter and 1/4C brown sugar. Stir frequently to ensure it doesn’t burn and add any additional sugar/butter as needed. It takes awhile for the sugar to melt properly – when it does it will turn into quite a liquid, but once taken off the heat it will harden up again quickly. While it is a liquid make sure all the nuts have been coated, and then once removed from the heat, separate the nuts out on a plate because once they harden they are really hard to break.
  2. Mix all the fruit and vegetables. (I like to layer all the salad ingredients so that it looks super pretty, but it isn’t essential because it ends up all being mixed anyway!)
  3. Slice the haloumi thinly into slices. Cook either on the BBQ, or in a pan – using oil to ease the stickiness.
  4. Add the dressing just before you serve the salad, to avoid it going soggy.

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Garlic Butter Prawns

Garlic Butter Prawns

This recipe is really easy and takes no time at all to whizz up – so a great starter dish for a dinner party. Prawns are inherently fancy, so you will also be able to impress, with minimal effort. Although the recipe calls for raw prawns, it isn’t the end of the world if you want to just pre-cooked prawns – just take care not to overcook the meat (as it will be harder to infuse the prawns with the same flavour in a shorter time), so you could marinade the prawns in some mixture before cooking.

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Collect

  • olive oil
  • 5 garlic, crushed
  • chilli, just a pinch
  • 75 g butter
  • 500 g raw prawn cutlets
  • 2 T fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon

Create

  1. Add the butter, garlic, oil and chilli into a medium pan over low heat. Allow it to cook for about 10 – 15 minutes – don’t rush it, as if the garlic burns it doesn’t taste anywhere near as good.
  2. Increase the heat and add the prawns. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the parsley and salt&pepper.
  3. Serve with lemon – see, easy!