A few weeks ago we went to Ebisu restaurant in Britomart, Auckland. There tag line describes it perfectly, ‘Ebisu offers something new, a sophisticated twist on the traditional Japanese izakaya style of informal drinking and dining’.
The evening started off splendidly with Geisha Mary cocktail served in a wonderful mini carafe. The Japanese twist on the Bloody Mary, it was more complex in its flavours, with a base of sake, wasabi, lime, Japanese chili and a touch of furinake I couldn’t resist trying to make my own version.
After such a great start we were not disappointed with the shared dishes that followed, all faultless and divine but my top picks where the sliced seared duck breast marinated in soy & ginger, served with pickled nashi pear, green tea salt, the soft shell crab, deep fried, with orange ponzu, wasabi tartare and the unassuming dish of warm eggplant pickled in chilli sake vinegar with sesame shiso dressing. Let’s not forget dessert, finishing off the evening with the most divine black sesame ice cream with as sour cherry compote and Japanese apple doughnuts and chocolate sauce which may have been on the special menu.
The only down side of the evening for me was the restaurants modern twist, is it a night club or restaurant? With JD music pumping by 7.30pm it didn’t compliment the exemplary food they served but perhaps that is the sign of our times and something to do with being the best side of forty ;0)
The food is certainly worth going back for and we will but at an earlier hour or lunch. In the meantime I leave you with my Geisha Mary Cocktail.
2 cups tomato juice
1/2 tsp wasabi paste
2 shots saki
Juice of half a generous lime
Large pinch of Japanese chili
6-8 ice cubes
Furinake to garnish
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously to combine the wasabi.
Pour into serving glasses with the ice.
Sprinkle with Pacific Harvest Karengo flakes and serve
Weekend chilling, a book in hand, a big bean chair on the deck basking in the sun and an hazelnut affogato to finish the picture. Ten years ago I would have thought this a fancy pants way to drink coffee but that was before being enlightened by the coffee culture in New Zealand. I didn’t drink much coffee before I came to NZ, it wasn’t very good in the UK although I had started to enjoy a Milch Kaffee in Frankfurt while living there but was still very much a British tea girl.
New Zealand has an amazing coffee culture, the skill of a good barista is highly sort after as it is not just the quality of the beans that makes the perfect coffee. I was a little lost walking into my first coffee shop with ‘flat whites’, ‘lattes’, ‘macchiatos’, when all I was used to was the bog standard black or white coffee. It didn’t take me long to become part of this culture, I can be found most mornings stopping by my favourite coffee shop on the way to work, they know my car and my preferred coffee will often be on the counter waiting for me as I walk.
For one Frangelico Affogato
Add to a glass, 1 shot of Frangelico liqueur
Then 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream
Topped with 1 shot of espresso coffee
A few pics Out and About in Auckland
Today my blog turns three and it almost passed by without me realizing, I didn’t bake a cake for the event, to be honest I had eaten enough sweet things the last few days after the Panna cotta and then a ton of fudge I have not even blogged about I couldn’t face anything else…until next week of course. So instead I will celebrate the three years with a summer cocktail and my version of a Moscow Mule.
The celebrations don’t stop there, today I will finally become a New Zealand citizen and will be at the official ceremony this evening. It’s taken ten years to become a Kiwi so it will be a momentous occasion.
By freezing down a ginger sugar syrup then blending it into a slushy makes a wonderful base for the cocktail. You could even make the kids some mocktails by skipping the vodka bit.
Did you notice I have snook a bit of Christmas in there with the cocktail stirrers?
Ingredients – makes 4
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1.5 tsp ground ginger powder
A few shots of vodka
Squeeze lime juice
Mint leaves (optional)
Place the sugar, ginger and water in a pan over a medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Allow to cool then pour into a container and freeze ( I always do this mid week so I am ready for weekend)
Once frozen place in a blender and whiz on the drinks setting if it has one.
Scoop slushy ice into 4 glasses.
Add a shot of vodka to each.
Top with a squeeze of lime, splash of soda and mint leaf.
Spring here in NZ is giving us a range of weather, from warm sunny days back to cold wet and windy days. We even had a hail storm this weekend which is very unusual out at the beach, it’s so unusual that I found a bowl of hail stones in our very small freezer! Hubby found it quite a novelty to see hail in the garden and collected it up, I’m not sure what he planned to do with it, he muttered something about using it in his whiskey, apparently pure glacial or snow water is the best. I think he forgot about the dirty ground it had fell on since it was a small scattering of hail rather than metres of it where a top layer would be pure…bless. I didn’t use it in my sorbet but we do use filtered rain water collected off our roof since we have no mains supply…..no really it is quite civilized out where I live I promise )
We had the sorbet as a palate cleanser as part of a dinner but I am certain it will we a favourite during the summer months as we swing on the hammock in our garden watching the white clouds skit across the blue sky. Hurry up summer!
This recipe doesn’t require an ice cream maker
2 pears, peeled & cored
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 shots of vodka
1 egg white
Place the peeled and cored pears, water & sugar in a pan over a medium heat.
Simmer until the pear has softened.
Add the vodka and blend everything into a smooth consistency.
Place in a shallow container and freeze until solid.
Remove from the freezer and mash the mixture to a slushy consistency.
Whisk the egg white and combine with the ‘slushy pear’ mixture completely. You can do this with a hand or electrical whisk.
Place back in the freezer until re-frozen. It will not go complete solid since alcohol doesn’t freeze but will have a good smooth sorbet texture, so don’t be tempted to add more vodka at the beginning as won’t freeze at all!
The pears were just grilled with a sprinkle of sugar and lemon juice, they were quite ripe didn’t need much cooking.
When autumn gives you feijoas make feijoa Gin Ice Lollies!Well, that’s one of the things we make with the mountains of feijoas at this time of year.
For those who live in New Zealand you will completely understand the search for new feijoa recipes with the glut of fruit we are always wading through in autumn. With a high percentage of people in NZ living rural or in suburbia with their own garden there is usually no need to buy the fruit as you always seem to know someone who has a tree in their garden and they are more than happy to donate a shopping bagful or two…every day! The feijoa tree is very generous with it’s bearing of gifts and it is a shame to see them waste on the ground. Although the trees I put in the garden two years ago (I being my hubby really) have not yet fruited.
It’s quite iconic to see school children setting up a little stall and selling bags of them outside their house to earn an dollar or two. One of those wonderful Kiwi traditions were kids are being creative and the safe environment of NZ allows them to exercise their creativeness.
I also have a Feijoa Daiquiri, Feijoa Shortcake and Feijoa Frangipane tart from previous years, and a Gin Sorbet to follow!
- 2 cups Feijoa pulp
- 3 shots gin (too much alcohol and it won’t freeze)
- Scoop out the fruit of the feijoa to fill two cups and place in a blender
- Add the gin and blend together. No sugar required if the fruit is ripe.
- Pour into ice lolly containers or shot glass containers. Put a wooden stick into the glass if using shot glasses.
- Freeze overnight.
The perfect way to enjoy a warm afternoon swinging in a hammock with a bowl of fresh fruit in the form of a blackberry daiquiri. The thought makes me a little sad, our summer is coming to a close knowing that there will be less days swinging in the hammock. It has been a great summer, one of the warmest on record with hot sunny days and humid nights, waking up to 13 degrees this morning was a bit of a shock after the temperatures suddenly plummeted. There is still some Daiquiri in the freezer and I am sure I can persuade people to enjoy it as a funky pre dinner cocktail or or even as a palate cleanser in between meals so it certainly wont go to waste.
- 400g (2 chips) fresh blackberries
- 4 shots white rum
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- 1 shot Rose’s sweet lime juice
- 1 egg white, whipped
- In a bowl, whip the egg white to soft peak.
- Place all the ingredients other than the egg whites into a blender and blend to a smooth pulp.
- At this point you can strain the mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds or you can leave them in if you don’t mind a seeded sorbet.
- Fold the egg white into the berry mixture and pour into the ice cream maker and continue as per the manufacturers instructions on your ice cream maker.
- If you don’t have a maker, pour the sorbet mix into a container and freeze. The egg white prevent it from solidifying and keeps it light.
Last weekend I had a girlfriend visiting from New Plymouth, we were rekindling our days when we used to flat together in London so that entailed retail therapy, lots of yummy food and and a few drinkies.We thought it would be rude not to create a cocktail to celebrate the event, the result of which was the feijoa cocktail since they are in season at the moment and both of us love feijoas. P wouldn’t touch it, he doesn’t like feijoas, they are certainly a fruit you love or hate. The fabulous aromatic feijoa flavour was really captured in the drink.
Ingredients – makes 4
- 6 feijoas (scooped out flesh only)
- two hand-fulls of ice cubes
- 9 parts Bacardi White Rum
- 3 parts Rose’s Lime Cordial
- Put all ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth
- Serve in a cocktail glass
The blogging world is an interesting place, you become friends with people you have never met before, you find you have something in common whether it is the style of cooking, where you live or you just seem to hit it off. I was please to bump into Nigel from Curious Kai last year, he is one of the few Kiwi Blogs I have found and follow regularly. Nigel has a great Blog that explores New Zealand’s unique foods and he has a fabulous way of writing about his adventures, some of which seem to find him discovering antique cooking implements which I am often jealous about his finds.
After I had made my lavender syrup Nigel and I got talking about the types of cocktails we could make from it and he experimented and came up with a Lavender Martini. We decided that we should co-post our recipe and share it with you as well as introducing you all to each others Blogs. Below is my recipe which is based on one from Kingsley Amis and I hope you pop across to visit Nigel and his recipe as well as browsing his Blog, I know you will enjoy his stories.
The lavender martini is quite different to a regular martini due to the sweet syrup, P who is a bit of a martini buff preferred it with less syrup added but I am not such a big fan of martini and really enjoyed the additional sweetness to this drink. I think P is please he has finally got me to drink martinis, I wonder what other syrups I can experiment with!
- 6 parts gin
- 1/2 part vermouth
- ice cubes
- Handful fresh lavender flower buds
- Lavender Syrup
- Ice Cubes
- Chill Martini glasses prior to making the cocktails
- Fill cocktail shaker with ice
- Pour in gin & vermouth
- Shake or stir vigorously depending if you are a James Bond fan or not!
- Add 3 teaspoons of lavender syrup to each martini glass
- Pour martini over the lavender syrup and float a few fresh flower buds in the glass.
Saturdays Cooking Class.
The class grew a little larger this week and we were certainly at maximum capacity in my kitchen space, the word is spreading and P is suggesting to converting our now vacant granny flat into a dedicated cooking space for me! I’ll keep you posted.
This week the girls wanted to learn how to make a really good short pastry since most of then end up buying it ready made, not having success with homemade. The class was split into two parts, everyone making a sweet short pastry which would become a lemon tart they could take home with them. Then while that was baking we prepared a few savoury canapes; tomato tart tatin and a modern twist on the Kiwi asparagus rolls.
I have posted the canapes first and will post the lemon tart as soon as I get a chance. The pastry recipe I use came from a French head chef I worked with and has a higher quantity of fat to flour than regular pastry, this I find guarantees a short crust pastry but you have to rest it for at least an hour in the fridge otherwise it is too difficult to roll.
Ingredients – Savoury Herbed Shortcrust Pastry
- 110g Butter
- 180g flour
- 1 egg
- 2 tblsp fresh thyme
- salt & pepper
- Place the flour, butter and a pinch of salt & pepper into a bowl.
- Work the ingredients together until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
- Add the egg and bring dough together.
- Rest dough in fridge for an hour before rolling out.
Ingredients – Tomato Tart Tatin Canapes
- 18 Cherry tomatoes
- Bunch basil leaves
- 100g Parmesan Cheese, shaved or grated
Assembly Tart Tatin
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
- Roll out pastry and cut out shapes with 4-6cm cookie cutter which will fit your cupcake/muffin tray base.
- Dock/prick the pastry shells.
- You don’t need to grease the tins (although I do use non-stick) since the tomatoes give off a lot of juice.
- Slice tomatoes in half and place 2-3 halves in base of each cupcake section of tin.
- Place once basil leave on top of tomatoes.
- Sprinkle approx 1 tsp of cheese on top of the basil leaf and then cover with pastry circle, push pastry down the sides gently to form an upside down case.
- Bake mini tarts for 20 mins or until golden brown.
- Allow to rest and partially cool before turning out of tray. The best way is to place a baking sheet on top of the muffin tray and then flip the whole tray over. Some of the tomatoes may stick but you can lift them out gentle and place back into the shell.
- Finely slice some more basil and sprinkle over the top of each tart and serve warm.
Ingredients – Asparagus Rolls
To make these you will use half a sheet of filo and 1 tsp of cheese per asparagus spear so your quantities will depend on how many you wish to make.
- Filo pastry
- Your favourite cheese
- Salt & Pepper
- Sesame seeds to garnish
- Egg wash
- Olive oil
Assembly of Asparagus Rolls
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
- Trim ‘woody’ ends off asparagus.
- Take one sheet of filo pastry and brush half with olive oil.
- Fold sheet in half and brush with olive oil again and fold again.
- Cut filo in half and lay one asparagus spear at one end of filo, sprinkle cheese over asparagus and roll up. Repeat.
- Egg wash the outside and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
- Serve warm.
The most exciting gifts for Christmas for me are certainly the ones which have anything to do with food, whether edibles, gadgets or books. This year I received an ice cream maker, not that I had been dropping any hints for the past month or so about how wonderful it would be to make my own ice cream! I don’t think my partner thought it was such a fantastic idea until I mentioned one evening while he was making us Pina Coladas that the ingredients would surely make a good ice cream too….I think that sold the idea and here is the recipe made with my new kitchen appliance!
- 2 cup of coconut cream or milk
- 1/2 cup of pineapple juice
- 1 cup of cream
- 1 cup crushed pineapple (or blended pineapple)
- 50g sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons of white rum (optional)
- Place coconut cream, cream & pineapple juice in a pan and bring to a simmer
- Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a bowl till combined.
- Whisk hot liquid mix into yolk mixture.
- Return to a clean saucepan over a very low heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent mixture from ‘catching’ on base of pan.
- Cook gently until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon (creates a custard).
- Transfer to a bowl and allow to chill in fridge completely before before putting into ice cream maker.
- Stir crushed pineapple and white rum into custard mixture. Do not be tempted to put in more rum as too much alcohol can prevent the mix from freezing.
- Put mixture into prepared ice cream maker as per instructions for that appliance.
Very delicious and refreshing, Enjoy!
You can pour white rum over the ice cream when serving the adults instead of adding it to the mixing process if you are making the ice cream for a family with youngsters. Then no-one misses out!