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With these kitchen basics at hand a cake is only moments away…

I often get the urge to cook/bake and feel like there is nothing in my cupboards. I looked through my recipe books and realised I didn’t have coconut, almonds, cocoa, buttermilk, sour cream, cream cheese or even fruit needed in the recipes that caught my eye. OK so I had the basics, a BIG jar of homemade marmalade from the next door neighbours and a lemon tree. What can I create?

I couldn’t resist including some of the lyrics to Lady Marmalade, first recorded by an all girl group called Labelle in 1974
Lemon cake seemed the obvious choice so scanned through the books to find one that looked moist.
Lemon syrup cake from the AWW (Australian Women’s Weekly) book titled “COOK” PG 148 hit the mark and I decided to add the marmalade to the lemon syrup for a zesty moist finish.
It takes a lot of butter but I guess that’s what makes it moist! 
Like the title says rich, syrupy and sticky – perfect with a cup of tea!
What you need
250g softened butter
1 tbs lemon rind (I added 2 maybe 3)
1-cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1 cup of buttermilk (I used regular)
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 cups self-raising flour
Lemon syrup
1/3 cup lemon juice
¼ cup water
¾ cup sugar
2 tbs marmalade
How to make
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C and grease a pan with the removable sides (24cm)
Cream butter, sugar and lemon rind
Beat in eggs one at a time
Fold in milk, lemon juice and flour in t batches and spread into the pan. (I was cautious about over mixing)
Bake for about 50 minutes but do keep checking as I think I took mine out earlier.
Whilst its cooking add the syrup ingredients to a saucepan and simmer to reduce and thicken. It really doesn’t matter too much if your measurements are out, you just need to simmer until its thickened and stick. I wouldn’t advise reducing the sugar though.
When your cake is ready add a few deep holes into it with a knife pour the hot syrup all over – be generous.
Put the knife around the side of the cake tin and remove it before the syrup has time to stick.
Let it cool a bit before serving. 
The amazing marmalade from the neighbours and Greek yoghurt to dress the cake
We ate it warm soon after cooking with thickened Greek yoghurt and it was delicious. I also ate it cold the next day and not to bad BUT microwaved a piece one night and had it with vanilla ice cream and that’s the way to go – eat warm!
(PS recipe method is written in my own words – not straight out of the book) 
Posted on: November 6th, 2011 by Vanessa and Ingrid No Comments


Grilled haloumi cheese: Don’t grill the haloumi for too long as I did! It is so much better slightly gooey on the inside. Should only take a minute each side on a hot grill.

My house is being painted, so I’ve been lucky enough to be able to move myself and my son, into my Aunties pad, a stone’s throw from Takapuna Beach on Auckland’s North Shore. I feel like I’ve been on holiday, every night after dinner, I take Rhys down the beach, there is a swing that someone has hung from an overhanging tree and that is our place every night around 6p.m.

It’s been two weeks now, and the painter is not quite finished, and I’m secretly glad, I’m quite happy to hang around here for a bit longer. I can’t believe I left it so long to rediscover Takapuna, it really has changed from when I used to hang out here as a teenager, it’s quite the place for eating good food and drinking coffee,  (Try Mossimo – specially good for kids, has a playhouse and courtyard, Sal’s New York Pizza – the pizza is served on a stand and Aubergine for a good steak).

If only I wasn’t pregnant I would have been drinking a cold pint in the sun along Hurstmere Road so instead I keep myself going with a good ole Tip Top ice cream from the local diary at the top of the street.

I made this grilled salad quickly on a hot day, after being at the beach, when I didn’t feel like anything heavy, but wanted a salad with substance. It did the trick. Enjoy, Ingrid

This is a great throw together salad for a barbeque

Grilled Haloumi and Eggplant with Lemon Basil dressing

Makes 2 salads as a main or 4 as a side

What you need
1 eggplant (cut into rounds)
500g haloumi cheese (1cm thick slices )
130g bag of salad greens (or a mix of lettuce and spinach leaves)
1 lemon (juice of)
4 Tbsp Olive oil (and a bit extra for the hot plate or pan)
Small bunch of basil (chopped roughly)

The perfect salad for vegetarians, blokes and bbq’s. 

How to make
Sprinkle salt on both sides of the eggplant rounds and leave in a colander for 30mins until the salt draws out the water. Make dressing by mixing the juice of one lemon, olive oil and pepper to taste in a bowl and set aside. Pat eggplant rounds dry with paper towel. In a salad bowl add salad greens.

Place eggplant rounds on a bbq hot plate (lightly oiled) or under the grill until they become soft and golden brown. Grill both sides. Place haloumi slices on lightly oiled hotplate or lightly fry in a pan on the stove top and grill for a minute each side until golden. Roughly rip each eggplant round and add to salad bowl. Cut haloumi slices in half and add to bowl. Coat salad with dressing. Add chopped or torn basil, and mix through the bowl. Serve.

Posted on: October 30th, 2011 by Vanessa and Ingrid 4 Comments


If only we caught it ourselves…

Fishy facts 

  • Fish have been on the earth for more than 450 million years and were well established long before dinosaurs roamed the earth.
  • Fish is a good source of protein, low in saturated fat, and filled with omega-3 fatty acids which are good for the heart and brain.
  • Populations that eat fish regularly live longer and have less chronic disease than populations that do not.
  • Recent research suggests that supplementing the diet with omega-3 fatty acids not only can reduce these risks but can also help treat depression, bipolar disorder, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Fish is, indeed, a brain food.
We have been shooting, eating and posting images to our flickr site in the hope that we can tap into photo libraries and publications buying our images. We realised if New Zealand based companies wanted our images we needed more New Zealand stuff which is why we decided to tackle fish for this food fight. 
We are blessed to live very close to beaches both East and West coast and and you would think that fish would be plentiful. Fish is of course available, however New Zealand fish is expensive. A fish we remember as kids and our parents too is Snapper. Our Mum remembers her father after work taking the dingy out and catching a bucket load for dinner. Today its a day event, usually chartering a boat for a hefty fee and there is never the guarantee of anything never mind the prime snapper. 
Snapper used to be de rigure at the fish n chip shop, now is the premium option battered or crumbed for a tidy $6-8 dollars per piece. Snapper fillets are usually $30 – $35 dollars per kg! Maybe chartering the boat isn’t such a bad option!
Whenever Ingrid and I come up with an idea we are both itching to get started. With work and kids its often difficult so when I decided to drive tired Jake around the place looking for the perfect fish to shoot I opted for the most convenient option, a gourmet supermarket en route home. At the local mega supermarket the previous weekend, I noticed lots of interesting types of fish both whole and fillets so thought a gourmet supermarket will also stock the range however the price will be ridiculous.  
How wrong was I! They had fillets of white fleshy fish, large tiger prawns, Morten bay bugs, scampi, fish roe, salmon, oysters and even paua. Where were the ice-trays of glistening and shiny whole fish? 
Me: ‘Have you got any whole fish?”
Fishmonger: “HUH whole fish, we don’t usually do whole fish here” 
Me: “What, why not?”
Fishmonger: “You are on the North Shore love, the people here want fillets”  
Fishmonger: ” Its your lucky day though, we have a few baby snappers if you want them”
Me: “Are they fresh?” (I laugh at this question as of course he’s going to say yes even if its not!”
Fishmonger: “Yeah, they came in this morning” (I am thinking where from?)
He shows me 2 baby snapper barely legal size
Me: “OK just one please”
Me:  ” Make it 2, I feel sorry for the one left behind”
So I walk out of the shop with 2 baby snapper in a fancy gourmet supermarket bag and $20 lighter in the pocket and a grizzly child. 
The plan – early to bed for Jake so I can cook, shoot and eat.

Fresh snapper 


Grilled baby Snapper Asian style
Asian style snapper
What you need
Whole fish, gutted and scaled (1 per person or a large one for the table)
Olive oil
Sea salt
Fresh lemons
Oyster sauce
Seasoning – I added a touch of chili and lime store bought seasoning
How to make 
Score the fish on both sides (deep cuts) This makes it look good, shortens the grilling time and gives you a look in to see if its cooked. 
Place on baking paper and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning/salt.
Turn the grill on and when its hot cook the the fish for about 5 mins on a tray close to the element. 
When its brown and cooked through, gently turn and do the same to the other side. 
When cooked, transfer to serving plates and squeeze lemon juice on to the fish, drizzle with oyster sauce and sprinkle with chopped coriander.
Suggestion -You could warm the oyster or soy or chili sauce and serve as condiments on the side.  
How to eat
Eat one side first, off the bone but be careful of the small bones. When done remove the entire bone and discard and start on the second side. If you are game like Lewis, tuck into the head too!
Before and After – be careful of the bones!
Posted on: September 24th, 2011 by Vanessa and Ingrid 2 Comments



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Posted on: August 10th, 2011 by Ingrid Opera No Comments