My ongoing Thai frenzy of cooking – Chicken Larb

Oh I do LOVE a good Larb. I think in some ways it represents what I love most about Issan ( Northern Thai) Food – it’s lighter, cleaner, less creamy and not much coconut compared to dishes typical of Southern Thai Cuisine. ¬†Soups involve just stocks and lots of herbs. This dish has the perfect balance of heat, sourness, texture, intense flavour and generally is just damn yummy, the sort of salad I could happily live on should I ever be stranded on a desert island somewhere…..meanwhile it’s a stunning sunny day here in Biot, and I’m off to the Asian Marche to get everything I need to re-create this favourite salad.

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Posted in entrees, healthy and fresh, recipes, salads, Thai cusine, thai salads | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Pirate’s Admiration Award

Ahoy me hearties! – ARGGGGHHHH – finally my computer has found it’s way back from the Apple Hospital and I can respond to this ūüôā

Many thanks to Alli from The Vintage Postcard  for this nomination! I have never heard of this award till now, but was super pleased to be considered!

So cheers Alli, and I trust me lovely New Zealand is treating ye well on your travels and should ye be ever needing any advice whilst plundering and battling nary an ol’ boisterous kiwi, ¬†just fling a message in a bottle and I’ll do what I can to help ye!


The rules for Pirate’s Admiration Award are:
1. Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and a link back.
3. Put on somethin‚Äô frilly, ‚Äėn be tellin‚Äô a blogger ye desire to admire that a Steamin‚Äô Pirate admires ya, ‚Äėn yer passin‚Äô that admiration to him or her to be plundered, if ye so desire.
4. Nominate up to ? bloggers for Pirate’s Admiration Award, provide a link to their blogs in your post, and notify them on their blogs.
5. Copy and paste the award somewhere on your blog.

May the following pirates please get up on deck to join in the bounty, rum and booty of being nominated also!

1.  101 Cookbooks

2. La Tartine Gourmande

3. Wildfellhall Vintage

4. Soulshine Traveler

5. Gluten Free Gus

6. Baker Bettie

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grilled turbot on pearl barley risotto with pancetta, pecorino & asparagus bundles


You need:

A fresh vegetable or fish* stock ( 2 Litres)
1 diced onion
generous splash of olive oil / rice bran oil / sunflower oil
1 1/2 C pearl barley ( bio or health stores usually stock it)
1/4 C grated pecorino* or parmesan for the risotto (optional)
Large handful of finely chopped Italian parsley
zest of one lemon
dollop of salted butter* (optional)
1 VERY  large bag of spinach or other greens ( Kale, silverbeet, beetroot tops)
36 or so baby asparagus stems
6 strips of pancetta or streaky bacon*
long shavings of pecorino cheese (or parmesan)*
6 fillets of turbot ( or other firm white fish)*
White balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
good quality salt ( I use Himalayan) and fresh ground  pepper

To do:

Heat your stock to a simmer.  In a good heavy bottomed pan, saute gently your onion in oil until clear and soft. (I use bio sunflower or rice bran oil.) Turn your oven onto grill Рyou want it hot twenty minutes before serving.

Set aside. Wash spinach greens well, remove any long stalks, finely chop and set aside. Wash asparagus, sort in 6 bundles of six ( or so) and wrap each bundle with a pancetta strip around the centre of the stems. Place in oven tray, cover pancetta with shavings – give a light slosh of olive oil and season. Add 2 T of water to tray and set aside.

Prepare your fish, in a bowl add 2 T good olive oil, splash of white balsamic vinegar or lemon juice and season. Toss gently over fish.( You can add a scrunch of pink peppercorns if you fancy!)

Warm your onions again, adding the pearl barley and stirring for a few mins on a med/low heat.
Add stock one or two ladles at a time continuously stirring. THIS IS THE VITAL TRICK TO ANY GOOD RISOTTO! As your barley absorbs more stock, keep adding more when necessary and keep stirring.

A generous dollop of white wine is good here, but of course, optional.
Put your asparagus in the oven 2/3 way up – not at the top! check it every five mins – all ovens vary but mine takes about 10 mins.

Put frying pan on to heat for fish, adding a dash of frying oil. (I have ceramic pans, that are fantastic as they are non stick and require less oil than any other pans I’ve ever used.)

When your risotto is almost done, should be JUST a wee bit crunchy but soft as well – turn down and toss in lemon zest, parsley and grated pecorino.

Steam spinach or boil in a  covered pan with an inch of boiling water. 4 mins. Drain, squeeze out excess water and add good grind of salt and pepper. (the butter if you wish and  a good pinch of nutmeg is nice too.) Cover.

Asparagus should be tender, the cheese nicely grilled over the sizzling pancetta. If ready – cover with foil and set aside.

Keep stirring the barley risotto, add any more stock or hot water to keep it at a nice creamy consistency. Most recipes for risotto call for cream – I don’t use it in mine but go for it if you fancy!

Sear fish in fairly hot but not burning hot pan or grill pan, around 3-4 mins each side, depending on the thickness of your fish Р turn only once!

To plate up, I put a generous dollop of barley risotto heaped in the centre of the plate, lay the fish on that, add a nice bed of spinach on your fillet and top with the asparagus bundle.

I think this needs no garnish, but you could drizzle lemon oil around your plate edge and sprinkle ground pink peppercorns over the oil if you fancy!

Et voila! 



* I ¬†mostly believe, that many recipes can easily be adapted should the need arise or dietary requirements dictate. If you are a vegetarian omit the fish ¬†or replace it with grilled tofu or tempeh. ¬†Wrap the asparagus with a long slice of grilled aubergine. If you don’t eat dairy omit the butter and cheese and instead of grilled cheese over the asparagus, use sliced sun-dried tomato. You can add a couple of cloves of diced garlic to the pearl barley to give it some oomph if you are sad about losing the cheesy aspect!

Pearl barley is a healthier alternative to risotto rice – I’m becoming quite a fan.

Posted in food, healthy and fresh, recipes, risotto and alternative grains, seafood, Springtime! | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Petit pois & radish salad w umeboshi dressing, and a few extras!

Well Spring has kicked off here in France, the markets are abundant in purple artichokes, petit pois, capsicums, spring baby carrots of all colours and bunches of fresh herbs, piquant roquette and plump, crunchy radishes.


As a fresh, clean entrée, where the ingredients speak for themselves I like to make this salad in Springtime. Its simple, textural, fresh petit pois are sublime and super healthy to boot. ( They are also great a bit mashed up with olive oil, goats cheese, chives, lemon good salt and pepper smeared on great crusty bread tartine styles or as a crostini topping.)


Serves 4.

You need:

600 gms of fresh petit pois or baby peas – shelled
12 radishes diced
1 punnet or about 15 vine ripened baby or cherry tomatoes – chop in half
good-sized half a bunch of VERY fresh coriander and stems (optional)
baby roquette/ cress/ baby spinach/ micro greens of your choice
1 green pepper

1 clove of garlic
1 T white miso paste
1/4 t white pepper
2 T umeboshi vinegar or rice wine vinegar
1 very finely chopped shallot
1/2 t fleur de sel Camarague ( enhances radishes like you wouldn’t believe!)
1/2 c walnut oil (or other oil of your choice suitable for salad)
1/3 cup water

When preparing a dressing, I always add the onion, garlic, salt, pepper and vinegar first and leave for at least 10 mins. Then add the miso, oil, water and shake or whisk vigorously. You can then add either more oil or water, to get your consistency just right, maybe a wee bit more vinegar or lemon juice etc, honey if you want the sweet element, or more salt to your own taste.

For the salad, wash ingredients, shell peas, dice radish, slice onions super fine, julienne or dice the green pepper, chop the coriander and tomatoes and toss carefully in a bowl. Add the leaf/ salad component and lightly mix – just before serving drizzle over generous amount of dressing and toss.


Other favourite spring canapes or starters for me are:

Super fresh, mixed tomato crostini with tons of basil and virgin olive oil. Here, I used rose, green and yellow coeur de boeuf tomatoes.



Chilled cucumber soup:


Posted in entrees, food, healthy and fresh, recipes, salads, Springtime! | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Doors and beyond.

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Posted in doors, history, south of France fun | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Choo Chee Curry Paste & Choo Chee Fish – my favourite Thai fish dish so far!

Choo Chee Curry Paste

This was the last curry paste we made in the six-day course I was part of in Thailand recently ( see older blogs for more details). ¬†It’s apparently an adaptation from the red curry paste family.


In fact, I had never heard of it before, earlier in the week we had covered all the usual more commonly known pastes and curries – red, green, Massaman, Tom Yum…..
as I love pretty much any dish involving fresh fish I was pretty psyched!

This did not disappoint!
It calls for fresh tumeric and what is known as aromatic ginger or finger ginger ( Krachai) – again must be fresh – dried or pickled won’t do! I imagine if you have only dried, just soak in room temperature water first for at least 20 mins and it would suffice.









Let me tell you if you like a bit of heat, this really was super delicious and one could easily replace the fish for tofu for a vegetarian option. This curry paste was recommended for seafood/ tofu only, and I figured you could also baste a bit on NZ green lipped mussels and grill with a little cheese….or use it in a stirfry with other seafood and fresh vegetables and a bit of homemade stock.

And like most homemade curry pastes, you can turn down the heat by using less of the hot chillies – the colour will be lighter, as will the pow!

You need:

1 large dried red chilli – cut into small slices with scissors and soaked in warm water until soft – about 20 mins. Let drain then pat dry.
6 dried red hot chillies – here is where you can reduce for your own heat levels – for mine I used 4. The others used 6 and theirs was !!!!!!!!! spicy.
1 T lemongrass finely chopped
1 t galangal finely chopped
1 t fresh tumeric finely chopped or 1/2 t tumeric powder ( fresh is BEST!)
1 t fresh aromatic ginger ( Krachai) finely chopped – optional
1 T shallots finely chopped
1 T garlic finely chopped
1 t shrimp paste – could omit for vegetarian paste of course
1/4 t salt

To do:

Put the soaked and drained chilli peices and hot chillies and salt into a mortar and pound until smooth.
Add the galangal, tumeric, lemongrassand aromatic ginger and pound some more until smooth, then add the shallots and garlic and repeat.
Finally add the shrimp paste and mix well.


Then, use this delicious paste in the following way.

CHOO CHEE          PLA

( “Noise” of stir fry ¬† ¬†Fish)

180 grams of white fish fillet ( sea bass, red snapper, tuna or tofu)
thats about 1 cup – cut into bit- size pieces
2 T choo chee curry paste
1/3 C sweet basil
1 C coconut cream
2 fresh kaffir lime leaves – stem removed and finely sliced
1-2 t fish sauce or to taste
1/2 t cane sugar if desired
1/4 t white pepper powder
2 T soy bean or rice bran oil for cooking
sweet basil and fresh large red chili for garnish


To do:

Heat your wok over medium and add oil.
Add the curry paste and stir until frangrant, add the coconut cream, fish sauce, sugar pepper and fish. Don’t overly mix the fish about, just let it sit there so as to avoid it breaking up. Mix just a little. Cook for about 2 minutes and serve hot garnished with sweet basil and fresh red chilli slices.

Generally, potatoes and heavy vegetables are not used in this curry. I think perhaps green beans or asparagus could be a nice, light addition, and as mentioned tofu could be the fish replacement.



Posted in cooking classes, dishes with coconut milk & cream, food, healthy and fresh, photography, recipes, spicy fish dishes, Thai Curries, Thai cusine | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

My way of jazzing up a burger.

The kids in the family I work for were calling out for burgers. Their parents don’t eat a lot of bread or buns or much wheat based food, but they love their meat.

So, I designed this meal to include the burger pattie part that they do like, making them a bit more gutsy in flavour and making it a bit more glam for the ‚Äúguests‚ÄĚ.

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Posted in burgers, food, gluten- free burger recipe, healthy and fresh, recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments