Three cheese and kale pie

New Zealand produces some truly spectacular cheeses. I’m always excited to see the wonderful range and quality being produced up and down our glorious land and we, as consumers, now appreciate a wider variety of cheese than ever before. This Three Cheese and Kale Pie recipe of mine incorporates three wonderful NZ Cheeses. This pie is a play on the Greek spinach and feta pie (Spanakopita) but I’ve tweaked it a bit to lighten it up (less pastry and butter), used kale instead of spinach (though either is fine), and twisted the variety of cheeses to add a unique NZ flavour combination. This tasty pie is something the whole family will love and just the ticket to serve for lunch or a light dinner.

Serves 6

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

120g super kale (small kale leaves)

1/2 cup fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs

250g ricotta or cottage cheese

200g feta cheese crumbled

100g aged gouda, grated

1 tbsp thyme leaves, chopped

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

150g (8 sheets) filo pastry

1 Preheat the oven to 190°C. Grease an ovenproof pie dish with butter or oil.

2 Coarsely chop kale and place in a bowl with garlic, breadcrumbs, three cheeses, thyme and eggs. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

3 Spoon mixture into prepared dish and press with the back of a spoon to smooth the surface.

4 Cut the roll of filo pastry sheets into 2cm thick sections. Toss the sliced filo on a board to separate into ribbons. Completely cover the cheese mixture with the pile of filo ribbons and spray lightly all over with olive oil.

5 Bake for 30–35 minutes or until the filling mixture is set and the filo pastry is golden brown. Serve hot or warm.



Golden kumara & feta frittata

A big frittata makes a great family meal, lunch dish, or picnic feast. This recipe is an excellent base for a huge variety of flavours, and is also great for using up leftovers such as roast vegetables. Other good frittata combinations include: pumpkin, bacon and thyme; or potato, cheddar and broccoli.

Serves 6-8

3 cups (500g) cubed golden kumara (sweet potato)

4 spring onions, chopped

6 large eggs

3/4 cup milk

2 tbsp chopped fresh sage or parsley, as preferred

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

100g feta cheese, crumbled

1 Heat oven to 190°C. Spray a large cake tin (not loose-based) with oil. Arrange cubed kumara over the base of the pan. Scatter with spring onion.

2 In a bowl, whisk eggs with milk to combine, then stir in sage and season well with salt and pepper.

3 Pour eggy liquid over vegetables and sprinkle with feta. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and set. Serve hot or cold.

Chef’s trick: Any other vegetables can be used in place of the kumara, if preferred. Try florets of broccoli or cauliflower, leeks, courgettes, peppers, pumpkin, leftover roast potatoes, or even mixed frozen vegetables. Add ham, bacon, salami, or canned tuna for meaty options.

Speedy pasta sauce

This is the best pasta sauce for when you want a dish in a hurry that combines maximum flavour with minimum fuss. It works particularly well with any long pasta shape, such as spaghetti, linguine, fettuccini or pappardelle.

3 tbsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 small red chilli, finely chopped with seeds removed

6 anchovy fillets

1 cup pitted black olives, chopped

2 tbsp capers

2 tbsp tomato paste

400g can tomato puree

350g long pasta (I used pappardelle)

3 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Shaved parmesan, to serve

1 Heat oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add garlic, chilli and anchovies and cook over a medium heat for 1 minute.

2 Add olives, capers, tomato paste and puree and 1/2 cup water. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until sauce has reduced and thickened.

3 At the same time, cook pasta for 8 minutes or according to packet instructions until al dente (just tender to the bite). Drain well, toss with sauce and serve scattered with parsley and parmesan. Serves 4

Chef’s tip: Cook dried pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water, according to the packet instructions (about 8-10 minutes, depending on size) or until ‘al dente’ (just tender to the bite), as they say in Italian. There is no need to add oil to the water but it is wise separate the pieces with an initial stirring. Drain well and immediately to prevent the pasta continuing to absorb liquid or it may become gluey.

Chilli beef and beans

A good savoury mince recipe is super versatile and can form the base of many different dishes – instead of going Mexican with chilli and beans: add oregano and bacon for Italian Bolognaise; layer with eggplant and cheese sauce to make Greek Moussaka; or top with mashed potato for Cottage Pie.

Serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

500g beef mince

2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 small red chilli, finely chopped (or 1/2 tsp chilli powder)

400g can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Heat a saucepan, add oil and onion and cook over a medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes until softened. Add beef mince and cook for 5 minutes, breaking up the mince with a wooden spoon.

2 Add tomatoes, paste and beans to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Add chilli and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3 Serve with condiments, such as avocado, coriander, sour cream, lime and extra chilli, on the side, as desired.


Moroccan Lamb Meatballs

Meatballs are popular in many different cuisines, so here’s a dish the whole family is sure to love.
Serves 4
500g lamb mince
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Tomato sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 Preheat oven to 200°C. Place lamb mince, breadcrumbs, spices and egg in a large bowl. Mix well to combine and season with salt and pepper. Form into 24 meatballs. Place in an oven pan and bake for 15 minutes until browned.
2 To make the sauce, heat olive oil in a saucepan. Add onion and garlic and cook for 8 minutes until soft but not browned. Stir in tomatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper.
3 Transfer meatballs to the base of a tagine or a baking dish. Pour sauce over meatballs and turn to coat. Bake for a further 10 minutes until browned. Serve scattered with mint and parsley.

Chef’s trick: Use damp hands to form meatballs with ease, as the moisture will stop the mince sticking to your hands.

Freekeh Pilaf

Freekeh Pilaf with Walnut Sauce
Serves 4
Walnut Sauce:
1 1/2 cups natural walnuts
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch chilli powder
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freekeh Pilaf:
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 1/4 cups Freekeh
1 1/4 cups liquid vegetable stock
1/2 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
400gm can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 bunch kale, coarsely chopped
Handful each of coriander and mint, finely chopped
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup toasted whole almonds, chopped
1. To make walnut sauce, chop walnuts in a small food processor. Add garlic, lemon juice, chilli, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup boiling water and process to form a smooth, creamy paste. Adjust seasoning to taste.
2. To make the pilaf, heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan, add onions and cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly until onions are browned.
3. At the same time, soak the freekeh in cold water for 5 minutes. Rinse well under cold running water then drain. Add the freekeh to the onions, followed by the stock. Stir well.
4. Bring to the boil, then cover pan, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the apricots, chickpeas and kale and simmer for 3-4 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes.
5. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Spoon onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, almonds and herbs and finish with a nice drizzle of olive oil. Serve with walnut sauce on the side to dollop over.

Fish tortillas

Serves 4

1/4 red cabbage, finely shredded

Juice of 2 limes

4 white fleshed fish fillets

1 tsp paprika

4 Mexican tortillas

1 avocado, flesh cubed

1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves

1 Place shredded cabbage in a bowl, sprinkle with lime juice, season and toss well.

2 Season fish fillets then dust lightly with paprika. Heat a little oil in a nonstick frying pan and cook fish for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

3 Place one tortilla at a time in a dry, hot pan for 1 minute on each side, to warm.

4 Spoon some cabbage onto tortillas and top each with a fillet of fish. Fold in half to serve topped with some avocado and coriander.

Massaman Curry

Serves 6

Massaman is an old way of saying “Muslim” and this curry is so called because many of the dry spices were carried to Thailand by early Muslim traders. This rich, melt-in-your-mouth, Southern Thai curry combines typical Thai ingredients with a strong Indian influence. Like Indian curries, this recipe is heavy on dry spices and very aromatic.

2 tbsp peanut oil

650g lamb steaks, cut in large cubes

1 large onion, diced

2 tbsp grated fresh ginger

5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 small red chilli, sliced

1 cup liquid chicken stock

1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped

1 tsp each ground coriander, cumin, cardamom and turmeric

1 tbsp palm sugar, or substitute brown sugar

3-4 tbsp Thai fish sauce

Juice of 1 lime

400ml can coconut milk

6-8 small potatoes, scrubbed and quartered

3/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts

1/2 cup sprigs fresh coriander

1 Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat. Add oil and lamb, tossing to brown all over. Remove to one side. Add onion, ginger, garlic, and chilli to the pan and stir-fry 1-2 minutes to release flavours.

2 Add stock, lemongrass, dry spices, shrimp paste, sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice. Bring to a light boil, stirring to combine ingredients. Return lamb and juices to the pan. Simmer gently for 1 hour.

3 Stir in coconut milk, potatoes and peanuts. Simmer for a further 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lamb and potatoes are tender. Serve scattered with coriander. Serve with extra lime, and chilli on the side, if desired.

Fragrant Salmon Pies

Pies are wonderful comfort food and this one, filled with fragrant salmon bathed in a creamy, wine sauce and studded with artichokes and capers, is no exception. I’ve simply topped these ingredients with pastry, meaning some buttery, flaky texture is there but this is a lighter version of pie, so you can still feel virtuous.

Serves 6

900g skinless, boneless salmon fillet, cut in large cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup artichoke hearts, sliced

1/4 cup salted capers, rinsed and drained

1 cup crème fraiche (or sour cream)

1/2 cup Chardonnay

3 sheets pre-rolled savoury shortcrust pastry

1 egg beaten with 2 Tbsp milk, to glaze

1 Season salmon with salt and pepper and divide between 6 individual 1 1/2-cup capacity pie dishes, interspersing each with some artichoke quarters and capers.

2 Place sour cream and chardonnay in a bowl and whisk to combine. Spoon some sauce on top of each pie.

3 Cut pastry lids to fit the top of the pie dishes and use to cover each pie. Press pastry edges with a fork to secure and cut small slits in pastry lids to release steam during cooking. Use pastry scraps to make decorations, such as leaves, if desired. Chill pies for 30 minutes.

4 Preheat oven to 200°C. Brush pastry lids with egg glaze. Bake pies for 25-30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Pizza dough (gluten-free)


(this recipe is from my cookbook, Made by Hand)

This dough makes a tasty gluten-free alternative for those who need it and a perfectly good pizza base for those who don’t have gluten issues.

Makes 2 thin pizza bases

1 cup warm filtered water

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix

1 teaspoon natural sea salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Extra gluten-free flour, to dust

1 Place warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and then yeast and set aside for 5 minutes for the yeast to activate – the mixture will foam, indicating the yeast has been activated.

2 Place the flour and salt into the bowl of a food processor. With the motor running, add the activated yeast mixture and the oil and process until the mixture comes together to form a ball of soft dough. There is no need to knead a gluten-free dough.

3 Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for approximately one hour, or until doubled in volume.

4 Knock back the dough with your fist and turn out onto a work surface lightly dusted with flour and knead just to bring the dough together again. This dough is delicate and hard to roll, so use your hand to press and shape it into the desired base and top with your choice of ingredients.

Note: at this stage, the dough can be stored in the fridge for one day or frozen for up to two weeks. Bring the dough to room temperature before rolling out and cooking.