Monthly Archives: September 2012

* Goat Cheese, Figs and Walnuts with Drizzled Honey *


Greetings from Woolpit in Suffolk, England! We’ve recently arrived here after a ten day adventure in Norway, where we had a memorable time with wonderful friends, old and new.  Norway is such a picturesque country, the people are gracious and the food is superb.  I’m feeling very inspired about the local delicacies that I’ve been devouring in Norway and here in England and I’m super excited about getting back into my own kitchen in Dunedin, New Zealand and concocting some deliciousness. I’ve been dreaming about being reunited with my food processor and making all of the dishes I’ve not been able to make on this trip without it. Living in many different abodes over the past three months has really made me appreciate exactly how good my kitchen is back home and what is essential, which has consequently been a good exercise in being truly grateful for all that I have, bless. We have another week here in the Northern Hemisphere and I’m savoring the fresh autumnal produce before I get to enjoy the spring delights of home. So much to look forward to – hurray!

The air has been feeling very autumnal here in Scandinavia and England. Leaves are fluttering about the paths and the evenings are fresh, as the summer dream is over for another year. As saddening as it may be that the warmth of the sun has dissipated, autumn brings with it an array of fresh fruit and vegetables which are very dear to many. Figs are one of my absolute favorites and have arrived at the markets, which makes me very, very happy. Ecstatic even.

Figs are the shining jewel in the autumnal crown. A fruit like no other, their taste and texture is very unique. As you take a bite, the chewiness of the skin, the crunchy popping of the seeds, the luscious flesh and the saccharine sweetness exude one great whack of sensory indulgence. In addition to tasting amazing, figs also get the Super Foodie tick of approval as their health benefits are many. Figs are an excellent source of dietary fibre, which assists in keeping you full for longer, which is good news if you are trying to lose weight especially as they are low in calories. The high fibre content in figs is also beneficial in keeping your bowels in tip-top shape and works wonders in relieving constipation. Figs are a good source of potassium, which helps to control blood pressure and also calcium, which assists with increasing and maintaining bone density. Figs also contain magnesium, copper, iron and manganese for an additional dose of goodness.

When purchasing figs, select those with a deep colour and which feel plump yet tender and ensure that there is no bruising.  As figs are highly perishable, keep refrigerated, wash right before you are about to serve and eat within two days of purchasing to ensure they are at their absolute best.

I love to eat figs simply on their own or with some Greek yoghurt, honey and nuts. However, the ultimate figgin’ combination is this one – a fragrant goat cheese (or chevre, as it is called in some places), the freshest, juiciest figs that you can find at your local market, walnuts and nectarous honey. Food of the gods, I say.

Goats Cheese, Figs and Walnuts with Drizzled Honey

200 grams of ripened goats cheese

4 large figs, quartered with stalks removed

16 walnut halves

Liquid honey, preferably raw

Fresh herbs to garnish

Cracked pepper

On four plates, drizzle a small portion of honey in the middle of each of the plates.  Cut the goat cheese into four slices (50 grams per person) and place on the drizzled honey. Arrange the quartered figs and walnut halves on the plate.  Drizzle more honey on top of the goat cheese, garnish with fresh herbs and season with cracked pepper.

Serve immediately. Vel bekomme!

* Chocolate Avocado Mousse with Raspberries and Candied Almonds *


Surely if there was a “Land of Chocolate”, Germany would be it (insert mental image from The Simpsons episode where Homer frolics around an imaginary German land made entirely out of chocolate here).  Chocolate appears everywhere in Germany, bright, alluring packets lining the aisles of supermarkets, corner stores and delis.  And my goodness, is it devoured – on buses, on the tube, biking down the road whilst talking on the phone, hiking in the hills – it seems it’s always a good time for a wee stück of chocolatey goodness.  Germany is one of the highest consumers of chocolate in the world and it is heavily engrained in German culture. It is also widely known that some kids grow up thinking that cows are actually purple after years of exposure to the purple Milka Chocolate cow.  In actual fact, the average German will eat around 11 kilograms of chocolate a year – meine Gute, that’s a whole lotta chocolate.

Chocolate has received a great deal of press in the past few years as research has unfolded just how high the levels of antioxidants are in cocoa, which you can read about in my recipe for chocolate spice bliss balls.  However, if you would like to go one step higher on the superfood-o-meter, raw cacao is the crème de la crème.  Raw cacao is one of the most beneficial superfoods that you can eat, it’s the cacao bean in it’s purest, most wunderbar form, containing iron, calcium, fibre, potassium and zinc.  Raw cacao is high in antioxidant flavanoids, which can help improve circulation and blood pressure. It also contains high levels of magnesium, which is one of the most effective minerals to combat stress, as well as building strong teeth and bones.  Raw cacao also promotes the release of neurotransmitters, which in turn release hormones that make you feel pretty fine and dandy.  One of these neurotransmitters, serotonin, can aid in reducing depression and combating PMS symptoms – what a superfood wunderkind!  The bonus is that by making your own chocolatey treats, you have absolute control over what you are putting into your mouths and can keep it as pure and unrefined as it was originally intended.

Chocolate mousse often conjures up thoughts of über-decadence, a bloated stomach and the goddess of all things domestic, Nigella Lawson.  In a typical chocolate mousse recipe, the main ingredients are cream, sugar and chocolate, which is such a feisty combination that it’s no wonder you feel like a nap afterwards.  However, with this chocolate avocado mousse, you get maximal health benefits with an intense chocolatey hit, without the post-dessert-too-much-dairy slump.  It’s sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan (when using agave) and can also be raw, providing raw honey or agave is used and that the almonds are kept in their natural state.  This dessert is also textural sensation – the tart raspberries, mixed with with the creamy chocolate mousse and lightly-spiced candied almonds is a superfoodie winner. Do it do it.

Raspberry and Chocolate Mousse with Candied Almonds

Two ripe avocados

Two tablespoons of raw cacao powder

Two tablespoons of coconut oil, softened

Two tablespoons of raw honey or agave

One teaspoon of vanilla paste/extract or a vanilla bean

A pinch of Himalayan rock salt

1/2 a cup of milk of your choosing (almond, hazelnut, dairy, rice, oat, etc)

1 1/2 cups of fresh raspberries

Fresh mint to garnish

Candied Almonds

1/3 of a cup of almonds

One teaspoon of coconut oil

One tablespoon of raw honey

1/4 of a teaspoon of cinnamon

Spoon the avocado into a bowl, blender or food processor*.  Add the raw cacao powder, softened coconut oil, raw honey or agave, milk, vanilla and salt.  Mix until smooth.  In a bowl, lightly mash about half of the raspberries with a fork.  Layer into small glasses, alternating the mousse with the mashed raspberries and the whole raspberries as you like. Allow to cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Toast the almonds for a few minutes in small frying pan until lightly crunchy.  Add the coconut oil and toss around in the pan for another couple of minutes.  Add the honey and keep the almonds moving around the pan until a light caramel color is reached.  Take off the heat, add the cinnamon and stir well.  Transfer to baking paper and allow caramel to set.  Once hardened, break up the candied almonds, sprinkle over the mousse, garnish with mint and serve.

*  If you don’t have a food processor or blender, use a whisk and watch your guns grow.

Serves 4

* Watermelon, Halloumi and Rocket Salad with Tamari Toasted Pepitas *


I feel pretty damn lucky to be able to experience the best of the summer seasons in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and really do make the most of the summer provisions. Currently at the markets, nectarines, plums, peaches, melons, berries and avocados are all in abundance, so I’m happily concocting delightfully fruity combinations like this summery salad to share with you here in the warmer climes.  For those in the deep south, summer is just around the corner, so sit tight and watermelons will soon show their bright faces again.

Watermelons are peaking right now here in beautiful Berlin – juicy, sweet and oh-so-lecker, I just can’t get enough.  Watermelon really is the bees knees.  It is a super satisfying fruit which quenches thirst, the perfect fodder for cruising down the canal in a blowup rowboat on a bright, sunny day.  It is an excellent source of vitamin C, which assists the body in fighting infection (a bonus if you happen to fall in the canal).  It is also especially good for men as it has a generous dose of lycopene, a cartenoid which not only assists in keeping the prostate gland in tip-top shape, it is also beneficial to cardiovascular health.

As you may know, I’m staying in Neukölln, a highly eclectic area of Berlin with an array of cultural diversity and naturally, all of the foodie delights that come with it.  In actual fact, it seems that anywhere in Berlin you can’t swing a shopping basket without hitting a Middle Eastern kebab shop, Greek restaurant or Turkish supermarket. If I’m eating out, one of my favorite dishes has to be anything with fried halloumi, whether in a kebab with felafel or as the pièce de résistance atop of a salad.  Fried halloumi is something of a revelation for me.  I’ve only recently discovered just how easy it is to cook this “squeeky cheese” and how it is the perfect accompaniment to so many things, as the salty richness lends itself perfectly to the sweetness of fruit and sweeter vegetables like capsicum, tomato and beetroot.  It also provides a hearty dose of calcium which is fundamental to bone development, plus protein which is good for rebuilding muscle after a strenuous day rowing. Due to the robust texture and strong flavor of Halloumi, a little really does go a long way, so it’s possible to cut down on the high fat content and earn extra health points by reducing calories from fat where possible.

So, celebrate the last of the summer sun by grabbing your paddles and heading out on the canal for an afternoon of swan spotting whilst devouring this lush salad.

Watermelon, Halloumi and Mint Salad with Tamari Toasted Pepitas

200 – 250 grams of Halloumi

Olive oil for frying and drizzling

1/4 of a cup of pumpkin seeds

A tablespoon of tamari

1 kg of the brightest watermelon you can lay your hands on

A handful of mint leaves, plus extra for garnishing

A large bunch of rocket

The juice of half a lemon

Ground Himalayan rock salt and cracked pepper to taste

Heat a frying pan to a medium temperature and toast the pepitas until lightly browned, moving them around the pan often.  Coat the pepitas in tamari, remove from the heat and transfer to another dish to cool.

Wash and dry the pan and place back on the heat.  Add a good glug of  olive oil to the pan and allow to heat.  Cut the halloumi into small slices (about 1/2 cm thick) and place in the pan.  Fry until golden brown and flip over to brown the other side.  Remove the rind of the watermelon, cut into rustic pieces and remove the seeds where possible.

Arrange the rocket, mint, watermelon and halloumi onto a large serving plate or smaller individual plates.  Mix the lemon juice with a good glug of olive oil and drizzle over the salad.  Sprinkle with tamari toasted pepitas and season with Himalayan rock salt and pepper. Serve immediately while the halloumi is still warm.  Guten Appetit, meine Lieblings!

Serves 4