26 Jul 2015

Chunky Rosemary Kumara Chips (Sweet Potato Fries)

The Auckland Food Show 2015 is on next weekend and it will be the stage for the biggest vegetable battle in New Zealand. Will you be #teamkumara or #teambeetroot for the nation's official veggie?
If you're #teamkumara then you might like this recipe that I made on a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon while Don Draper did his creative thing on the TV.
I love that show. Seriously, that glassware is stunning and if it wasn't around $300 for 6 tumblers, I'd be ordering at least 4 sets.

These kumara chips (or sweet potato fries if you're living outside of New Zealand) are sweet and chunky and perfect next to a chicken burger. Or in a bowl with plenty of salt as a snack.
We ate these with garlic aioli and tomato sauce.
They were delicious and by far my favourite way of eating kumara. I'm a little on the fence about kumara in general but I think it's because people tend to over cook it. It's supposed to be light and fluffy and soft. These chips are all of that but with a crispy outside that gives you that satisfying crunch.

I used the Gold Kumara that was kindly sent to me by Anthony Blundell over at Kaipara Kumara. He's obviously #teamkumara and he wants everyone else to jump on board. He kindly sent me a few of the different types of kumara but I think the gold kumara is best for these fries as they aren't as sweet as the other varieties and their skin is best left off.
Of course, all kumara will make tasty chips with or without their skins but the Gold Kumara were particularly tasty.

850g Bag Kaipara Kumara Gold Kumara
1 TBsp Olive Oil
2tsp Rubbed Rosemary
2tsp Rubbed Parsley

1// Peel your kumara and wash it.
2// Chop the kumara into strips. I made mine like chunky chips but not so thick that they'd be classed as a wedge. You can make them thicker or thinner and adjust cooking time accordingly.
3// In a bowl, drizzle your olive oil over the kumara, add the rosemary and the parsley and use your hands to toss the chips so they are all coated.
4// In an oven pre-heated to 220 degrees C, pop the kumara chips onto a baking tray covered in baking paper and cook for 25 minutes. Then shake the tray and cook for a further 15 minutes.
5// Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve hot with an array of dips like aioli, tomato sauce and salsa.

I'll be heading along to the Food Show for the first time this year and I'm quite excited. I'm hoping to see the result of the debate and see some amazing demonstrations. If you're going to be going along, let me know in the comments or on Twitter and hopefully I'll see you there!

The kumara featured in this post was sent to me courtesy of Kaipara Kumara and Salt&Pepper PR. This does not influence my decision to use the products in my recipe and does not influence my opinion of the product in any way. All opinions are my own and are open and honest.

22 Jul 2015

Winter Warming Citrus Spiced Black Tea

Winter here in New Zealand has really started to set in. The days are cold and clear and the nights are early and dark. So I've started a routine of sorts to get my through the chilly evenings and I thought I'd share a bit of it today with you.
I like to brew or mix teas to create something tasty and warming, especially in the colder months. My favourite teas are rooibos, Early Grey and a simple black tea. I don't buy anything fancy, it's just standard tea bags from the supermarket but what's lovely about this recipe is it can take something simple and make it amazing.

Michael doesn't drink tea or anything warm so I have become an expert at making tea for one. I normally make these on the stove top but you could also use an infuser to get the same effect. I'm just not fancy enough to have an infuser but I do own pots!
This tea is a spiced citrus tea that uses grapefruits from my friend's garden. You could use any kind of citrus, just make sure you're using the zest and not the white bit of the peel or it'll get bitter really quickly. I also add the citrus only at the end for a minute before pulling it out or it can become over powering.

2 Black Tea Bags
200ml Milk (or less depending on mug size and servings wanted)
1 Anise Star
1 Cinnamon Quill
Zest of Half a Citrus Fruit

1// Pop your milk, tea bags, anise star and cinnamon quill in a pot on the stove on low to medium heat.
2// Allow the milk to colour with the tea bags. You may need to stir and prod the tea bags to get the full flavour.
3// When the milk is heated through, add the zest of your citrus fruit to the mixture and allow to stew away for another minute before removing the zest quickly.
4// Remove your spices and tea bags (you can use the cinnamon quill again, just dry it out beforehand) and serve your tea warm in large mugs. Biscuits on the side are optional but really encouraged.

Because I normally drink this citrus spiced black tea by myself, I normally don't add any sweetener to it at all but if you're used to sugary teas then you can add half a teaspoon of honey to the milk when it's on the stove. This is make sure it dissolves and sweetens the drink evenly.

I hope you enjoy this during the winter chill or alternatively around a camp fire in the warmer months. It's an easy one to take camping with you as you can bag all the ingredients up into individual portions and just pop it into a pot on the fire in the evenings.

Now I'm off to make myself a cup too.
Do you get fancy with your teas or are you more into the traditional cups?

15 Jul 2015

In My Kitchen // Props for Blog Posts

My favourite blogs always have fantastic props. They use them to make a simple recipe look amazing. A lot of the blogs I read talk about thrift shops (op shops) being gold mines for these types of pieces but I never have much luck in second hand shops. I don't have the patience and I always have somewhere else to be.
But I do like finding interesting pieces in stores like Kmart or dollar stores. They tend to have some good things and if you're looking for props that are popular in your niche then you won't mind a department store supplying them.
I've listed a few of my favourite pieces that I've found in Kmart over the last couple of years blogging. You'll also notice that I use chopping boards as a background. I find this fitting as a foodblogger and I try to pick up interesting boards with different types of wood and patterns. I've also got my eye on a few paddle boards to style cheeses and platters too.

1// Milk Bottles
I love these milk bottles. I like to put cocktails in them at dinner parties and smoothies in them for picnics. They look beautiful, they're not a huge serving and they're glass rather than plastic so they hold some weight to them. They're beautiful in photos and can be styled well.
The Kmart bundles comes with some pretty paper straws in different colours but I find that when you want to pick up more, a dollar store is the best place. Dollar stores sell packs of the paper straws (in a huge number of colours) for $3.

2// Chip Baskets and Curry Bowls
I haven't seen them often but the baskets and the bowls were only $2 each so that's probably why. The baskets are great for styling anything fried and the bowls are fantastic for curries and also salads. The bowls have a copper bottom to keep the dish warm and they're actually very functional as well as being stylish.

3// Soup Mugs
These are also functional and pretty. They hold a lot of soup but look so good when you serve them with crusty bread and a dollop of cream on top. I love these mugs and I've got a few different interesting spoons that make them really pop in photos.

4// Malvin the Zebra
This print was originally bought to make my very cold room feel a bit brighter and warmer. Now it hangs on the wall on the way into our bedroom. I've named the zebra Malvin and love the bright colour and the simple design. My boyfriends hates it because it's mass produced but I don't mind it and I like having a bright background for summer recipes.

5// Fresh Herbs
I love buying herbs to decorate my house with. I love having some greenery inside the house but also having it functional. I use basil and oregano in my recipes and like to have it fresh to hand, especially to pop some basil in a cocktail or a soup to make it really sing.

Do you have somewhere you go for prop shopping regularly? What are your favourite pieces?

6 Jul 2015

Roasted Sweet Butternut Squash Soup

Moving country can be stressful. You don't know if the new country has your old favourites. When we moved from South Africa to the UK, I spent the last month living off Spur burgers and creamy Woolworths Butternut Soup. And good thing I did because the UK has neither of those.
The butternut soups in the UK are normally spicy, heated through with chilli flakes but I love creamy and sweet butternut soups. So now I make them in my own kitchen even though I know New Zealand has the sweet creamy ones in the store. Soups are always just so much better home made.

I used to be afraid of making soups. I thought it was complicated and time consuming. Boy was I wrong.
This soup takes around 45 minutes from start to finish and tastes like absolute magic in your mouth. I normally make this as a whole meal in itself and serve it with crusty bread. Any leftovers are thrown in the fridge or deep freeze for quick workday lunches. This is a hearty soup that will warm you from the inside and seems so much naughtier than it actually is.

1 Butternut Squash, peeled and diced
1 Onion, peeled and cut in half
3 Cloves Garlic, peeled
Olive Oil
Ground Cinnamon
1TBsp Brown Sugar
500ml Vegetable Stock, more depending
200ml Whole Milk

1// You can buy pre-peeled and diced butternut squash or do it yourself. I prefer to do it myself but I know some people don't like all the fuss. Either way is cool. I think I had about 2kg when I was done peeling.
2// Peel your onion and cut it in half. Peel our garlic and throw it into a roasting pan with your onion and butternut. Drizzle over the olive oil, sprinkle with the ground cinnamon and the brown sugar. You can use honey if you'd prefer a healthier version.
3// Pop your roasting pan into the oven at 200°C for 20-30 minutes depending on your oven. Make sure you can easily put a fork through the butternut pieces before removing it from the oven.
4// Either make up your own stock from stock cubes according to the packet or use the ready made liquid stuff out of a carton.
5// Put your butternut, garlic and onion into a blender, add 2 cups of stock and blend on medium speed. If the mixture is too thick to blend properly, add a bit more stock. Depending on how you like your soup, you can add more or less liquid at this stage.
6// Lastly, add your milk and do a final blend.
7// Serve hot with crusty bread.

I love this recipe because it doesn't require much effort at all but everyone is impressed when you produce homemade soup. The roasted butternut squash will be sweet and beautiful and the onion and garlic add a really lovely wholesome taste too. The cinnamon and sugar can be swapped out for chilli flakes and spices if you'd like to make a spicy version.
This is a great base soup that you can add things to like roasted carrots or some roasted fennel. If you have a few veggies that are past their best then add them alone side. Just made sure you get your flavour combinations right, for instance a piece of broccoli probably wouldn't be welcomed in this pot.

Hopefully your winter isn't too cold and that you get nice and warm inside with this soup!
What's your favourite flavour of soup and do you make it at home?