Tag Archives: Popcorn

The Auckland Food Show 2018 experience


The biggest foodie event of the year in Auckland – the Food Show – is here again. I look forward to it every year and start planning the day once the first list of exhibitors is out.

It’s a time to see my favourite brands, discover new products and be inspired by all the design work in the food industry. Thanks to the good people at the PR Shop, I went along as media this year, on the first day of the four-day event, which is the preview day with less crowds.

Here are some of the highlights of my day.

Fresh As – They are renowned for their freeze dried fruit powders, used by bakers and executive chefs worldwide. I’ve come back for their ready to make Panna Cotta mixes – Just add milk and follow the recipe. Each packet makes 2-4 servings. There are two flavours – Doris Plum and Raspberry. $10 for 3 packs. Don’t forget to stock up on your freeze dried fruit for your desserts. (I’ll soon be running a giveaway on my Instagram for these goodies!)

Proper Crisps

I discovered these new popcorn that is unlike any other – it is first soaked with water and then partially popped – perfect crunch!

Ghiotti

Gelato 800ml, 2 for $5 (yes that is correct!!) We picked Vanilla and Chocolate flavours.

They also have delicious cheese bites, mozzarella and parmigiano reggiano wedges.

The Apple Press

Beautiful apples from Hawke’s Bay – they are hand-picked at their peak ripeness, cold pressed and bottled. The juice are variety-specific – meaning you get the singular flavour from varieties like Braeburn, Jazz and Royal Gala in the one bottle.

Home Grown Farm Fresh

Dion and Ali’s Wairarapa farm produces amazing lamb and beef. They offer half and full lamb boxes, tomahawk packs and also 13kg Angus beef packs.

I learnt that the lambs in the boxes are always female, and that the breed is Charollais ram. As fat’s laid down intramuscularly, the lamb tastes more tender and juicy than other breeds.

Last year J and I stood at their stand for a long time, listening to their stories and eating the juiciest lamb. It was just like we were hanging out at a neighbour’s barbecue!

Living Goodness

I like their sauerkraut – our favourites have been the Naked kraut (I’ve been adding them to my breakfast, on top of toast even!) and beet kraut.

They’ve now released two new products – freeze dried beetroot and kimchi – they add the perfect texture and crunch to dishes. I couldn’t hand over money fast enough for these LOL. Think sprinkling over poke bowls…yum!

The Fresh Grower

The Fong family have been growing vegetables since 1948 in Pukekohe. They have long become part of the local landscape. I like their quality produce and will soon be sharing with you tips on how to cook kailaan (Chinese broccoli), choy sum and wong bok properly. Watch this space!

Mitchells Bone Broth

I’ve been looking into increasing J’s nutrition intake through broths lately. When I saw them from half a show-hall away, I walked straight over to sample their broth. Turns out it’s quite easy to make: simply add 2 teaspoons of Bone Broth powder to a cup of hot water, mix and add fresh ingredients to make your version of broth: a pinch of salt and a slice of fresh ginger for a warming, spicy drink.

The powder is made from New Zealand grass fed beef bones and onions, carrots, celery, parsley, apple cider vinegar, black pepper corns, bay leaf and rosemary.

Full of amino acids, these are indeed good for you.

Farmland Foods

Premium European streaky bacon – they are thinly sliced and there is no extra liquid in the packs. This means it crisps up beautifully and quickly.

I learnt some tips from chef Mark Southon in preparing a bacon butty: Toast the bread with the bacon oil straight in your griddle pan!

Serve it with your own Brown Sauce (ie. HP sauce) by cooking: dates (giving a fruity tang); Tomato sauce; Tamarind; Molasses; Chilli; Garlic; Apple juice and Orange juice. Simmer for an hour. Cool and blend.

Keas cookies

If you are in need of great tasting gluten, wheat, dairy and egg free baking, look no further than these. Their range includes Chocolate Chip; Double Choc Chip; Macadamia; Vanilla; Hokey Pokey; Gingernut; Almond; Peanut Brownies, Lemon Coconut and Coconut. They also have an organic chocolate cookie.

Simon Gault

I always stock up on their beef and chicken stock and Morrocan and Indian spice seasonings. 5 for $30. Simon’s new Chipotle Ketchup ($7) launched at the foodshow. Sweetened 100% with vegetables just like their tomato sauce, Gault’s Chipotle Ketchup has the perfect balance of sweet and heat – just a tiniest kick of smoked chipotle chilli. Gault’s Deli is their online shop where you can buy all sorts of goodies including my favourite Fruit Puree by Ponthier (I made chocolate mousse domes with these puree – you can see the photos of them on my Instagram feed).

They are also running a special with Turks chicken, $20 for 2 whole chickens with a seasoning or $20 for 4 bags of drums, nibbles, skinless boneless chicken thighs or breasts. They come with a chill bag too. They also have a new product – stuffed chicken in an oven ready roast bag. These 1.5kg birds come in two flavours.

Aoraki Salmon

Freshwater King Salmon from the ice-cold waters around Mt Cook.

The salmon is gently smoked with oak wood chips following a Scottish inspired method, which uses a mixture of salt, golden syrup and black rum. This enhances the taste experience with a sweet smoky layer. The softer notes of oak, never distract from the original qualities of the salmon.

Appleby Farm Icecream

Their award winning ice cream is made in Nelson, with milk straight from their farms 15 minutes down the road. Cow to cone! What’s special about these ice creams? It’s made with A2 protein milk, so it’s better for those who are lactose intolerant.

I love the Bedford Vanilla Bean, made with Madagasgan vanilla beans, the Brown Eyed Girl (which is the coolest name for chocolate brownie ice cream) and Doubleshot Ipanema. They also have Bad Boys & Berries (Boysenberry) and Tangled Passion (Passionfruit) which both won awards at the 2018 New Zealand Ice Cream Awards.

Good Chow NZ
NZ Blackfoot Paua XO Sauce – traditional chinese XO sauce with a kiwi twist: dried scallop, chillis prepared with NZ paua (that’s abalone). XO sauce 2.0 and so good with stirfrys. This is good with traditional chinese turnip cake (law bak gao) and rice rolls (cheung fun).

They also have in their line up: Sambal Fish Roe Sauce, Kiwi Moo Beef Jerky, Fluffy Fried NZ Cod Flakes and Aromatic Chili Oil. Made in Napier, Hawke’s Bay, none of their products have any preservatives or artificial additives.

First light

Grass-fed Wagyu scotch fillet just off the pan – so tasty! They have meat packs on special too.

Jersey Girl Organics – Their milk is full of Omega 3 and A2 Protein, is fully certified organic that comes direct from their farm in Matamata. When tasting, the milk is full-bodied and creamy. Pure deliciousness. You can now bring your own jar to fill up with at the farmers markets – just $3 a litre. Make sure the jars are clean and of known volume.

WaHiki
Wahiki does coconut icecream that is vegan, gluten free, dairy free and made in NZ. The new flavour, turmeric latte is pretty special.

Wild Fennel Co’s range of gourmet seasonings is naturally addictive. Dan, the creator behind the seasonings, was formerly a fine dining chef and naturally is inspired by traditional flavour pairings from different cuisines around the world. The flavours are slightly unusual but surprisingly good. They have collabed with the likes of Silver Fern Farms to create spices specific to the cut of meat.

Silver Fern Farms

Good from Scratch soup – chef Michael Van De Elzen. Loved these!

Hellers have some interesting soup flavours: Pumpkin & Smokey bacon, Sweet corn & bacon chowder, Chicken & Smokey bacon and Spicy tomato & Chorizo soup.

We also picked up some Hot & Spicy pork ribs – these have been slow cooked for 4 hours, and only needs 20 mins in a 180C oven. $8 each.

Cooking demos

Here are some of my suggested must see demos:

Annabelle White – Thursday 10.30am, Friday 11am

Jess’ Underground Kitchen – Thursday 1:45pm

Simon Gault – Friday 12:15pm, Saturday 2:45pm, Sunday 11am

Nadia Lim – Friday 2:45pm, Sunday 2:30pm

Monique Fiso – Saturday 12:45pm, Sunday 12:15pm

Brandhouse Drinks Masterclass

This is where you’ll learn the differences between your prosecco and champagne, take a brewery master class and taste Cognac! Classes are timed through the weekend. I’ll be at the brewery master class to learn about craft beer.

With over 300 stalls at the show, I know I’ve potentially missed mentioning some goodies here. However the following are my last minute dash stalls that I will have to remember to pick up goodies from on Sunday, when I return with Miss 8:

  • Amplify Kombucha – fizzy fermented tea which J also likes! I love the fact that there’s hardly any sugar in it, which makes it a healthier drink.
  • I Love Food giant cookies – 4 for $5, and sour cream pastry for home cooking
  • Top shelf – dips!
  • Perfect Pork – 3 for $25 – their range of grain-fed New Zealand pork includes sirloin and pork belly.
  • House of Dumplings – we love the Nepalese Spiced Lamb and Korean Sesame Beef dumplings. J misses them as they are no longer at the La Cigale French Market.
  • Dish magazine – I love their stories and food styling! I renewed my subscription and received a gigantic goody bag.

Top tips:

  • Register your ticket if you haven’t already done so, and have it within easy reach like in your pocket. Scan them at the stalls you visit and gain entry in the respective competitions and giveaways.
  • Get there early if you can. 11am to 2pm is the busiest at the show.
  • Keep hydrated (plenty of water coolers inside but bring a cup or bottle) and wear light layers as it’s warm in the showgrounds.
  • Keep track of time if you have a particular cooking theatre session you want to see. It can be a bit chaotic when you realise you are in Hall 3 when the cooking session in Hall 1 is about to start in 5 minutes.
  • Mazda chauffeured shuttles will pick up and drop off at designated stops around the showgrounds, making it easier to buy more. Gold coin donation for the Auckland City Mission.
  • The show is on till Sunday 5pm.
  • Here are some more photos from the show:

Honest Chocolat – I always go for their Pure Water Ganache.

Beautiful Parma Ham.

Whaiora smoothie blends – I recommend the berry flavour.

Check out Emma’s food bag – menu is viewable online before ordering and ingredients are sourced as local as possible.

Trade Aid chocolate – the dark raspberry is new!

Nata is the only Portuguese Bakery in New Zealand, and their traidtional Portuguese custard tarts are baked fresh every day. Delish!

Not that you’ll be hungry, but if you want a rest over a decent meal, there are plenty of food in the Street Food Alley. Dumplings from Akemi’s Gyoza, Clevedon Coast Oysters, juice from I Press, Vietnamese from Indochine Kitchen, fried chicken from Peach’s Hot Chicken (must check out!) and Mexican from Taco Loco.

Popcorn macarons with salted caramel and popcorn ‘snow’


I’ve been slowly working through my macaron flavour list and finally arrived at popcorn!

popcorn popcorn

My memories of popcorn brings me back to my high school days. It would be the last day of school before the summer holiday, and we would typically change from our school uniforms to causal wear and head out for an afternoon of fun. The bunch of us might go to see a movie (Finding Nemo, I think on this occasion) and for me, if I was having popcorn, it would always be sweet flavoured popcorn, not butter popcorn actually. It was quite a shock for me when I first went to a cinema here in NZ and discovered they only make fresh butter flavoured popcorn! The distinction was so profound I still haven’t understood or gotten over this simple fact. In honoring that memory, I have therefore used sweet popcorn in this version of my macarons. I was initially worried it would be way too sweet, but as it turns out this brand of sweet microwave popcorn wasn’t nearly as sweet as actual caramel popcorn, so the pairing of it with a salted caramel filling was subtle and appropriate.

Macarons shell ingredients

150 g icing sugar
150 g almond meal
6g valrhona cocoa powder
110 g egg whites
150 g caster sugar
38 ml water
1g meringue powder
1 packet sweet microwave popcorn

Making macarons shells

Follow the popcorn packet instructions and get the popcorn popping. You need to let it cool a bit before blitzing it to make the ‘snow’ (After my trip to Queenstown I am a bit obsessed with snow) and it seems to be a nice treat to snack on while you are working on a piece of art – macarons that is.

When they are cool, blitz about half of the bag, taking care to remove the burnt ones, if any.

Now for the shells.
Sift the almond meal, icing sugar and cocoa powder, set aside in a large wide bowl.

Put half of the egg whites into your stand mixer.
Clip the sugar thermometer according to manufacturer’s instructions to a milk saucepan, put the water and caster sugar in and dissolve the sugar over a low heat. Don’t splash the sugar around, and don’t stir. Use a clean pastry brush to brush down the side of the saucepan to avoid any crystallization if the liquid splashes up. Increase the heat.

Cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 70°C. You should monitor your sugar thermometer, and as it reaches this temperature, add the meringue powder to the egg whites and whisk in medium speed until it becomes frothy.

Once the sugar syrup has reached 118°C (soft ball stage), take the saucepan off the heat, decrease the mixer speed to medium and slowly trickle the sugar syrup in, down the side of the bowl. (Be warned not to get the syrup onto the whisk as you will then have spun sugar.) Increase speed to high and whisk until the bowl is warm to touch, about 8 minutes.

Add the extra egg white to the almond meal mix, then add the meringue and use a large spatula to thoroughly combine it. Continue mixing the mixture to soften the meringue. Don’t be afraid to slap the mixture down.To achieve “macaronnage”, I mixed the batter about 25 times. Don’t over do this.

Ready for piping

Scoop half into a piping bag fitted with a #12 Wilton tip, and pipe.

Today I waited for 30 minutes for a skin to form.

I fan-baked them at 125°C, for 20 minutes. After a few minutes in the oven, I could see them rising nicely.

Once out of the oven, the macarons were left for 2 minutes on its trays before I checked them. They peeled off the baking paper quite easily. I then slid the whole sheet off the baking sheet onto my cool marble counter top. This causes a thermal shock and will make it even easier to peel off.

I paired these with a salted caramel with popcorn ‘snow’ filling

Filling Ingredients:
200g castor sugar
310ml fresh cream
50g butter, cubed
5g good quality salt flakes
A few drops of vanilla essence
2 tbsp popcorn snow

Instructions:

Heat the sugar in a wide saucepan until melted and golden colour.
Be careful and wait for it to turn amber and slightly smoke.
Carefully add the cream in slowly, continuing to whisk but be very careful of the resulting vigorous bubbling.
Add the butter in gradually until melted and combined.
Add in salt flakes, vanilla essence and the popcorn snow.
Cool in fridge for a few hours.

Pairing up:
put the salted caramel onto half of the shells.

Melt a litte bit of butter (20g) and brush the tops of the other half of the shells with butter, and then dip it into the popcorn snow. Pipe or use a small offset spatula, place salted caramel filling onto the other half of the shells and pair up.

I’ve rolled some of my macarons in the snow completely too.

These need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the filling to flavour the shells, so don’t eat it yet! These freeze well (up to 3 months).