Category Archives: Recipes

Why We Continually Use HelloFresh Food Delivery (+ NZ $90 off discount when ordering through me! )


HelloFresh meals

(Beef & Mushroom Red Pesto Penne with Parmesan)

HelloFresh meals

(Tex-Mex Chicken & Roast Veggie Toss with Garlic-Lemon Yoghurt)

HelloFresh meals

(Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos with Shredded Cheddar Cheese)

HelloFresh meals

(Hoisin Beef & Garlic Rice Bowl
With Lime & Mint)

HelloFresh meals

(Caramised Pork & Garlic Rice with Zesty Tomato & Cucumber Salad)

[Note: we received a meal kit as a gift. ]

Over the years, there has been a steady increase in the number of online companies delivering meal kits to households NZ-wide. From a simple but fulsome range of veges and fruits from the farm to your door, fresh pasta delivery, budget meals aimed at young school leavers, meat boxes, fresh fish (literally still swimming in the sea the morning of delivery day) to full variety meal plans for small to large family and also meals that have been part prepped with sauces already made for you.

We tried all of them. They all brought something unique, and there were small points of difference. Many of my friends regularly use them. However, it wasn’t enough to keep us on long term.

HelloFresh on the other hand, has ticked the boxes for our family and we have continued to use it because it allows me to choose what I am going to have for dinner. For our small family, this is what sets them apart from other meal kits.

This has been the main niggle I have with other services: On a week night, I simply don’t have the energy or patience to persuade the family to eat a dish, designed albeit by chefs and nutritionists alike, that is new or with ingredients that has not often graced our dinner table for one reason or another.

Don’t get me wrong, we are all for adventures and trying new things, but on weeknights, I choose the path of least resistance.

To me, this is the beauty of HelloFresh: I show my daughter the upcoming weeks’ menus (three weeks’ worth are available to preview) and she decides what she would like to try. Amazingly, she picked things that I didn’t think she would. TBH we don’t use this every week – we plan ahead and choose the weeks according to our needs or taste preference.

These boxes were super handy during our COVID19 lockdown – I was the least stressed the week I knew food was coming. Going forward, it will be a useful service that gives us back our time.

What has HelloFresh done to improve their offering even more? I’m glad you asked 😉 – from 12 August,

  • they are streamlining the prices and my Classic plan price is reducing – thus making their meal plans more affordable
  • increasing the choices by making all Classic, Family and Vegetarian meals available across your order! You can now choose from 20 different options
  • Additional sides are available, such as desserts, soups, bread and also a Fruit Kit!

These changes make it a straight forward choice for us when choosing a meal delivery service. We will be ordering more definitely.

Head over to their website, and enter in my code (HDA3311) at check out for a $80 discount off your order ($30 off both your first and second orders, then $10 off both your third and forth orders.) plus free delivery on your first order.

ps. The links are affiliated. What this means is I will receive a small commission for every new HelloFresh customer using the link and code. Thanks in advance! I only post affiliated links when I am happy to pay for the products myself. Always.

Easy Bagels


Bagels

Bagels

Bagels

As the markets are now closed due to the COVID19 lockdown, we haven’t been able to enjoy some of our favourite products for weeks. Specialty dumplings, sauerkraut, gozleme… and also bagels. I happen to have high grade flour, peacefully bought before the lockdown, so I set to work over Easter.

These didn’t require much work at all, and turned out pretty fun as well. Each proof was only a measly 20 minutes and a tiny amount of yeast was called for. Try make them bigger (into 6) or smaller (into 10) and that will serve as lunch or for snacking. A pretty good lockdown recipe I would say, considering how flour and yeast are such a hard-to-come-by-commodity at the moment.

I’ve played with 2 types of toppings here, a homemade ‘everything’ topping and one for the onion and cheese lovers. Feel free to scale up for future bagel action.

Ingredients

Makes 8

Dough

  • 3/4 tsp instant dried yeast
  • 240ml water, luke warm
  • 450g bread flour (also known as High Grade flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp maple syrup

Bi carb soak

  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • Large pot of water

Everything bagel sprinkle

  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds

Cheese sprinkle

  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese, grated

Method

  1. In a small bowl, add luke warm water and yeast and set aside.
  2. Add flour, salt, olive oil and maple syrup to a standmixer bowl. Add in the warm water with yeast. Mix together and then knead with a dough hock attachment for 5 minutes. The dough should be springy to the touch.
  3. Remove dough and divide into 8 pieces. Roll into smooth balls and cover with an oiled cling film. Leave to proof in a warm place for 20 minutes.
  4. Push a hole with your fingers through the middle of each ball, stretching as you go. This forms a dough ring.
  5. Cover with oiled cling film and let them proof for another 20 minutes in a warm place.
  6. Preheat the oven to 250C.
  7. Into a large pot of gently boiling water, add the baking soda.
  8. Place bagels, 3 at a time, into the bi carb soak. Cook each side for a minute. Remove and drain on a cooling rack.
  9. Sprinkle the bagel toppings on the bagels, pressing them in if you need to. Alternatively, you can place the sprinkle ingredients in a shallow bowl and dip the bagels in. You’ll need to beware of the heat though.
  10. Repeat until all bagels have had a soak and toppings added.
  11. Place bagels on a lined baking tray and bake for 8 minutes.
  12. Reduce the heat to 225C and bake for another 6 minutes.
  13. Cool on a wire rack. Serve with cream cheese, salted butter for breakfast or as a snack. These are freezable too!

Bagels

Braised pork belly, leek and noodle with vinegar broth


Slow cooked pork belly with noodles in vinegar broth

This is one of J’s all-time favourite year-round dish. Using the pressure cooker, it takes only 35 minutes for the pork belly to become soft and meltingly tender. The soup is fragrant from peppercorns and bay leaf, with the big and bold vinegar taste adding depth to the soup. The key here is to use a good broth, such as Simon Gault’s beef or chicken concentrated stock pouches (not sponsored to say this, I always have these in my pantry).

Slow cooked pork belly with noodles in vinegar broth

Always pour the soup in just as you are ready to serve to avoid soggy noodles.

If you have enough pourers, you can serve the soup in individual vessels and let each person add their own portion of soup into the bowl. (We’ve just picked up our handmade ceramic pourers from a Christmas workshop and they are perfect for this!)

Slow cooked pork belly with noodles in vinegar broth

Slurping is unavoidable and would bring smiles to the chef.

Slow cooked pork belly with noodles in vinegar broth

Ingredients

Meat & soup

  • 1kg free range pork belly, boneless, with skin
  • 3 tbsp rice bran or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 leek, white stalk section – washed and cut into thick rings. Green stalk section – chop into half.
  • 2 spring onions, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 big slices of ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups chicken or beef stock
  • ½ cup chinese black vinegar
  • ¼ cup light soy sauce
  • 4 medium sized eggs (optional)

Noodles:

  • 200g ’00’ flour or just plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 egg yolks +1 yolk
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

To serve:

2 spring onions, green part only, thinly sliced

Soft boiled eggs (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a pressure cooker over a high heat. Add peppercorns, bay leaves, leeks, spring onion, ginger and garlic and fry for a minute.
  2. Add pork and fry each side till golden.
  3. Pour in stock, soy sauce and black vinegar and bring to the boil. Close the pressure cooker lid, ensuring it is locked in.
  4. Set it to high pressure and cook for 35 minutes. When the cook time has been reached, release pressure. Don’t remove the lid straight away, let the pork rest in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove lid from pressure cooker, remove pork and set aside.
  6. Place a sieve over a deep saucepan and pass the braising liquid through and into the pan. Heat and reduce the sauce until slightly syrupy (about 10 mins). Adjust flavor to taste by adding extra sugar, light soy or hot water.

*we sometime serve this soup with a soft boiled egg, as you sometimes would for Japanese ramen noodle soup. Place eggs into a pot with cold water and bring to a boil. Once it boils, turn off the heat, cover and leave for 2 minutes. Remove immediately after and place into iced water to cool completely. Peel shells and set aside.

Egg noodles

  1. Place flour and salt in a bowl. Add eggs, yolk and oil. Stir with a fork until mixture forms a dough. Place onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Cover with a tea towel and rest for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Using a pasta machine, beginning on the widest setting, work the dough through. Repeat down to the second or third setting. Use the thinnest cutter to make thin noodles and toss in flour.
  3. Bring to the boil a large saucepan of salted boiling water. Boil noodles for 3 minutes, refresh in iced water and drain well.

*Alternatively, use packets of noodles from Asian supermarkets and cook according to packet instructions.

To serve, thinly slice pork to 1cm thick slices (you may want to cut off the fatty skin). Divide noodles between serving bowls, place 3 slices of pork, blanched vegetables, a soft boiled egg and spring onions, and pour over the reduced braising liquid.

It looks like this before closing the lid on the pressure cooker:

Braised pork belly and leek noodle soup

Slow cooked pork belly with noodles in vinegar broth

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chunk Cookies


Brown sugar chocolate chunks cookies

Brown sugar chocolate chunks cookies

Brown sugar chocolate chunks cookies

Brown sugar chocolate chunks cookies

Brown sugar chocolate chunks cookies

Brown sugar chocolate chunks cookies

What’s the definition of a good chocolate chip cookie?

For us, it has to be crunchy on the edges and chewy in the middle. It has to be flavourful, with a molasses aroma and of course, lots of good CHOCOLATE. In fact, puddles of it will be excellent.

Dark brown sugar provides for a stronger molasses aroma, resulting in a deep complex, toffee-like flavour. It also makes for a chewier cookie. If you want even chewier cookies, try swapping the plain flour for bread flour (i. e. High gluten). We tested this so trust us.

Use the best chocolate you can afford, high in cocoa mass (70% minimum) and use ones you like to eat, perhaps with interesting flavour profiles? Here I’ve used bars of Valrhona my Dad got for me when he was on a trip. It had notes of berry and it will come through to the end when you are biting into the cookie, especially if they are semi melted. I would also use my favourite Foundry Chocolate bar made with single origin beans from Masidu Farms, Vanuatu or their top-of-the-class new bar from Anamalai Estate, India.

To achieve the ultimate unctuousness, you’ll need to add the chocolates in two timings: when mixing the cookie dough, and then half way through baking.

Then right at the end, when you pull the cookies out of the oven, add flakey sea salt for another dimension to the cookie. This salt + sweet combo tickles your palate, making this an even more amazing tasting.

Ingredients

Makes 35 medium sized cookies

  • 230g butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 200g dark brown sugar
  • 160g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, size 7
  • 4g vanilla extract
  • 360g plain flour
  • 10g baking soda
  • 5g baking powder
  • 3g salt
  • 230g 60-70% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100g 70% dark chocolate, broken into 2cm pieces
  • Flaky sea salt

Instructions

  1. Cream butter and sugars in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed, for about 3 minutes. The mixture should be pale in colour and fluffy.
  2. Add egg and vanilla, mix on low to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add to the cream mixture and mix on low till just combined. Add chopped chocolate in, mix until evenly combined.
  5. Using a small ice cream scoop, place small scoops of dough onto a baking tray. You can keep them placed close together, as this needs to firm up in the freezer for 1 hour. This ensures a chewy and nicely flavoured cookie. (You can freeze the dough for baking later. Just keep them in a sealed container for up to a month. Bake the cookies straight from frozen, for 2 mins longer.)
  6. Preheat oven at 175C and line 3 baking trays with baking paper. Place dough balls on the baking sheet, well spaced.
  7. Bake for 8 minutes and remove from the oven. The cookies will be rather puffed at this point and I like to bang it a few times against the bench to flatten it slightly. This is also when you add a few pieces of broken chocolate on top of each cookie. Rotate trays 180 degrees and return the trays to the oven and bake for another 7 minutes.
  8. Once they are golden brown, remove from the oven and let them cool on the baking trays. To make the cookies look rounder, you can use a large glass or metal cookie or tart ring to spin each cookie inside the ring for a few seconds. Learnt this from Erin from @cloudykitchen!
  9. Sprinkle sea salt flakes on the warm cookies and serve! Once cooled, you can store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Brown sugar chocolate chunks cookies

Anytime Vanilla Cake


Vanilla cake

Vanilla cake

Vanilla cake

Simple is the best. We are in love with the Nordicware Heritage bundt spiral – hypnotising isn’t it? Where does it begin? Where does it end?

This is a simple vanilla cake, with no chocolate (what? Michelle didn’t put any chocolate in her desserts?!) Moist, fluffy and all Vanilla. So good. I especially love the crunchy edges. The secret to this cake is in the combination of butter, neutral oil and buttermilk. It won’t fail on you, and is the best vanilla cake we’ve ever had.

I have been perfecting this Vanilla cake recipe and finally have a good understanding of potential variations. First I started with a naked version which was beautiful on its own but then the next one takes it to a whole new level: a simple, easy raspberry icing made with crumbled Fresh As freeze dried whole raspberry pieces, icing sugar and water. The tasters said it was very delicious with the berry notes coming through.

I’ve also hid freeze dried blackberries inside the large cake and the little surprises of fat berries when slicing through the cake was a lot of fun. Almond flakes are nice sprinkled over too.

J also likes to add lots of colourful sprinkles to the batter to make it a cute subtly colourful cake.

This isn’t a recipe particular to a bundt pan. You can bake this with equal success in a sheet pan – cutting out with cake rings to make stacked cakes (which is in fact, its original design!); or in regular cake pans for an effortless anytime cake.

Cake recipe adapted from All About Cake, Christina Tosi.

Ingredients

  • 250g caster sugar
  • 60g soft brown sugar
  • 120g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs (size 8)
  • 110g buttermilk (or sour cream)
  • 80g neutral oil (rice bran or rapeseed oil)
  • 10g vanilla baking extract (I used Heilala vanilla baking extract)
  • 180g plain flour
  • 25g corn flour
  • 4g baking powder
  • 4g salt

Raspberry icing glaze

  • 10g Fresh As freeze dried raspberry pieces, crushed up
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 175C on fan bake. Grease a bundt pan well (or line your cake pan with baking paper, if you are not baking in a bundt pan).
  2. Cream the sugars and butter together in a stand mixer, on medium-high for 3 minutes or till light and fluffy.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add eggs in one by one, making sure each has been incorporated before adding the next. Beat on high for 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl at the end.
  4. In a jug, mix together buttermilk, oil and vanilla. With the mixer on low-medium, very slowly pour this fatty mixture in. This should take 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beat on high speed for 3 minutes. The mixture should have doubled in volume, is quite white and homogenous, with no streaks of fat. This is an essential step. Take your time to do this right.
  5. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture (flours, baking powder and salt), taking just a minute. Scrape down the bowl and mix on low for a further minute.
  6. Check that the oil in the greased pan has not pooled in the grooves. (if so, brush again). Pour the batter into your prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes (25 – 30 minutes for sheet pans and smaller cake pans, especially if you are diving the batter up and baking the cakes into smaller cakes). The cake is done when it has pulled away from the sides, and is bouncy to touch.
  8. Leave in the pan for 15 minutes before up ending it onto a wire rack for cooling.
  9. To make Raspberry glaze, mix all the ingredients to form a thick glaze. Drizzle over cake.