As a young boy I was surrounded by remarkable women, including my legendary grandmother, two eccentric sisters in a magical house, an unusual art teacher who carried the world in an embroidered bag and two ladies who paid no attention to those who neglected dessert. These wizards taught me that here was no ordinary life and no ordinary meal. The simplest of foods could and should be served at the most festive tables, every bite is a grand occasion and success is a happy guest. Everything has a history, ideas come from the garden, eternal youth comes from candle light, skill comes from understanding, joy comes from confidence and every meal is a small coronation.



This picturesque salad is a most simple dish, beautiful to look at and a wonderfully satisfying meal. For some reason, I have never seen this on the menu at any restaurant, never eaten this anywhere except at my own table. Serve with pan-roasted country bread, you will not wish for anything else!



1/4 cup olive oil

1 tbsp honey

juice and finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon

1 tsp dried basil

1 flat tsp mustard seeds, crushed

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper


Whisk together first 5 ingredients in large mixing bowl

Season with salt and pepper




3/4 red onion, shaved into thin slices

2 tbsp grapeseed oil

140g green olives, pitted and patted dry

140g black olives, pitted and patted dry

220g rosa cocktail tomatoes

100g fresh rocket

40g slithered almonds


Add shaved onion to dressing and let stand

Heat 1 tbsp grapeseed oil in medium pan

Roast olives for 6 minutes over medium to high heat, add to dressing in mixing bowl

Add 1 tbsp grapeseed oil to same pan, add tomatoes, roast until skins just start to burst, add to dressing and let cool completely, taste and add salt and pepper if needed

Add almond slithers to same pan and gently stir over medium heat until just starting to brown, about 60 seconds, remove from pan

Add rocket to salad in mixing bowl and using hands, gently toss in dressing, turn out onto large serving plate

Sprinkle with almonds



On the rare occasions King Rum and Queen Rum sit down together for a teatime treat, they have anything but tea. Golden sultanas, sweet dates, real vanilla, dark rum and fresh ginger create a seductive darkness that cannot be found in any commercial establishment, ordinary man is too afraid of the history and satisfaction the Kingdom Of Rum offers.

1 cup golden sultanas

1/4 cup and 1 tbsp dark rum

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup grapeseed or olive oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

generous pinch of salt

3 eggs

2 cups plus 1 tbsp self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp fresh cream 

1 cup roughly chopped dates

1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger

butter and flour for loaf pan

2 tbsp dark rum for drizzling


Soak sultanas overnight in rum

Whisk together sugar and oil in large mixing bowl

Whisk in eggs on by one

Add vanilla and pinch of salt and whisk well

Add flour and baking powder and mix until smooth

Mix in cream, dates and ginger

Add sultanas and any liquid there still might be

Mix until fruit is evenly distributed

Grease a medium loaf pan with butter

Sprinkle with flour and move pan around until bottom and sides are covered, shake out excess flour

Pour in batter, gently smooth top

Bake in oven at 170˚C (fan) for 60 tot 65 minutes

Cover loosely with foil when cake starts browning 

(Skewer inserted in the middle of cake should come out clean, otherwise return cake to oven for a few more minutes) 

Let rest for a minute or two before removing from pan

Drizzle with extra rum and let cool on wire rack




Even during my meat-eating days, I did not like working with red meat and did not serve meat dishes very often. I had only a few recipes that were not too traumatic and these little pot pies were firm favourites amongst guests. Now I make these with brown mushrooms, adding the sweetness of caramelised onions and roasted carrots. They are frequently served as starters, especially on autumn nights. Two of these pies also make a perfect serving as a meat-free main course for a hungry guest.

(8 individual pies)


2 large onions, roughly chopped

4 tbs grapeseed oil

1 tsp butter

4 carrots (about 270g), cut into small cubes

750g brown mushrooms, cut into cubes

2 tbsp brandy or cognac

1 tbsp soy sauce

5 tbsp water

5 tbsp self-raising or plain flour

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

pinch of nutmeg

leaves of 6 sprigs of thyme

2 eggs, beaten


Heat onions with 1 tbsp grapeseed oil ad 1 tsp butter in saucepan and let caramelise over low heat for 50 minutes

Line baking tray with foil, toss carrots cubes with 1 tbsp grapeseed oil, place on baking tray and roast in oven until cooked but firm, about 20 minutes

Heat 2 tbsp grapeseed oil in large pan

Add mushrooms, brandy, soy sauce and water

Let simmer over medium heat until cooked but still a little bit firm, add 2 tbsp flour and stir for one minute until sauce thickens

Remove from heat and stir in onions, carrots and thyme, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg

Spoon into 8 ramekins

In mixing bowl, combine 3 tbsp flour and 3 tbsp water, mix into a paste

Whisk in eggs

Spoon on top of mushroom mixture, carefully spread out batter without covering all the vegetables

Place on oven tray and bake in oven at 170˚C (fan) until golden brown, about 30 minutes

Lemon Cakes


I LOVE YOGHURT. Fat-free, low fat, full cream, double cream, natural, flavoured, on its own, baked or used as a topping! These little cakes are made with yoghurt instead of butter and served with a yoghurt and lemon filling, they are marvellously messy and get served at the end of a very happy meal. Without the filling, they are perfect lunch box treats and are even more delicious after a day or two.

(16 cakes)




3 eggs

1 cup plain yoghurt

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste

1 1/2 cup self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

1 cup almond flour

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

icing sugar

Whisk eggs, yoghurt, sugar and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl

Whisk in flour, baking powder and salt

Stir in almond flour and lemon zest, mix until smooth

Spoon 2 tbsp batter into each muffin pan until half-full or JUST more than half-full (usually 12 at a time and then a few extra for 2nd baking)

Bake in oven at 170˚C fan until golden brown, about 15 minutes

Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to wire rack, let cool completely




500ml double cream or Greek yoghurt

2 tbsp lemon curd

Mix together




Use finely serrated knife and carefully slice off the top of each cake

Spoon 2 tbsp lemon yoghurt on top of cake

Gently place top over yoghurt and dust with icing



It is mindblowing to think of all the home cooks who serve lasagne on a regular basis, the process wipes an entire day from your life! I make this dish once a year (at the most), and only this absolutely delicious meat-free version and only for a very special occasion. The pasta gets replaced by layers of oven-roasted sweet potato and excellent matured cheese is used.

(6 portions)


6 tbsp grapeseed oil

3 medium onions, chopped

400g brown mushrooms, chopped


freshly ground black pepper

1kg sweet potatoes

600g baby spinach

300g white cheddar




60g butter

1/4 cup plus heaped tsp flour

3 cups full cream milk

pinch of nutmeg

1 cup finely grated Parmesan



Heat 3 tbsp grapeseed oil in pan

Add onions and fry over medium heat for 5 minutes, add mushrooms and fry until onions are cooked but not browned, season lightly with salt and pepper, let cool

Wash and dry sweet potatoes, do not remove skins

Slice crosswise into thin slices, drizzle with 2 tbsp grapeseed oil and arrange on foiled oven tray

Bake in oven at 170˚C until cooked, 20 to 25 minutes, season lightly with salt, let cool

Roughly chop spinach and wilt in saucepan with 1 tbsp water, drain all excess liquid, season lightly with salt and pepper, let cool

Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat, add flour and mix into a paste

Add 1/3 cup milk at a time and whisk until more milk is needed

Continue process until all milk has been added and sauce has become thick and smooth

Remove from heat and stir in nutmeg and Parmesan, taste and season lightly with salt and pepper

Rub bottom and sides of a medium-sized (20cm x 29cm) rectangular oven dish with the remaining tbsp of grapeseed oil

Cover bottom with half the sweet potato slices, slightly overlapping as to form a solid layer

Spoon half the onion mixture over, cover with half the sauce and sprinkle with half the cheese

Arrange rest of sweet potato on top

Spoon spinach over and carefully spread into even layer

Spoon rest of onion mixture over

Cover with rest of sauce and sprinkle with rest of cheese

Bake in oven at 170˚C until top has turned golden brown, about 45 minutes



The combination of dark chocolate and lime was unknown to me until a bought such a slab of chocolate in France, mainly for the beautiful packaging. I loved the taste but could immediately think of 10 people who would not be ready for this. I decided to try it in a no-bake cheesecake and it is absolutely perfect. This unusual cake is made even better by adding a gluten-free crust with pecan nuts, oats and sea salt. This one is a winner, I HAVE WITNESSES!



100g gluten-free chocolate sandwich cookies

100g pecan nuts, finely copped

40g oats

1 tbsp light brown sugar

1/4 tsp sea salt

85g butter, melted


Place cookies in a bag and pound with a roller until finely crumbled

Place in mixing bowl, add rest of ingredients

Mix well and press down on the bottom of a 22cm non-stick springform pan

(I spray the pan very lightly with oil)

Bake in oven at 170˚C (fan) for 7 minutes

Let cool and place in refrigerator until needed




500g Philadelphia cream cheese at room temperature

100g Greek yoghurt

1/2 cup castor sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lime juice

finely grated zest of 1 lime

100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

250ml fresh whipping cream, very cold

2 tbsp icing sugar


Combine cream cheese, yoghurt, castor sugar and vanilla in mixing bowl, mix until smooth

Stir in juice and zest

Grate 80g dark chocolate (use coarse side of grater) and stir into cream cheese mixture, keep 20g chocolate aside for dusting finished cake

Beat cream with icing sugar in a separate bowl until soft peaks form and into fold cream cheese mixture

Spoon onto cookie crust, smooth top, cover and refrigerate overnight

Remove cake from refrigerator a few minutes before serving

Grate 20g dark chocolate over top



This is what happens when great ingredients come together in an uncomplicated dish. Clean food. Conscious eating. Modern entertaining. Serve as a snack, with salad as a light meal, on its own as an elegant starter. These kind of savoury tarts are often bland, this one has a subtle but great flavour!

400g zucchini, thinly sliced crosswise (keep 1 extra zucchini aside)


1 tbsp grapeseed oil

2 tsp butter

3 medium leeks or small onions, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped

200g baby spinach, roughly chopped

250g ricotta at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream or thick natural yoghurt

2 eggs, beaten

4 tbsp finely grated Parmesan

2 heaped tbsp finely chopped parsley

freshly ground black pepper

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted


Arrange zucchini slices on large plate and sprinkle with salt, let stand for 15 minutes

Heat 1 tbsp grapeseed oil and 2 tsp butter in pan

Fry leeks or onions and garlic over medium heat for 4 minutes

Pat dry the zucchini slices, add one half to the pan

Fry until vegetables are cooked and there is no more liquid

Add chopped spinach and stir until wilted

Remove from heat, season lightly with salt and pepper and keep aside

Combine ricotta, sour cream and eggs in mixing bowl and whisk until smooth

Stir in Parmesan and parsley

Season lightly with salt and pepper

Dust working surface with flour, roll out pastry until thin

(Pastry should cover bottom and sides of 24 cm tart dish)

Carefully transfer pastry to tart dish and press down on bottom and sides, cut off excess pastry

Spoon vegetable mixture evenly onto bottom of pastry shell

Spoon ricotta mixture over, creating an even layer

Arrange rest of zucchini slices on top, overlapping slightly and covering entire top

Cut extra slices if needed

Bake in oven at 170˚C (fan) until crust is golden brown and filling is set, about 45 minutes

Serve warm or at room temperature



From the beginning of autumn to the end of winter, this dessert is the highlight of every week. Yes, every week! Shockingly, very few people really know anything about this self-saucing pudding. This historical masterpiece, born from poverty and the need to create something special from the most basic of ingredients, is just extraordinary, even in its original form. The lemon zest, marmalade, nutmeg, figs and walnuts are things that I have added over time, I also use much less sugar than the traditional recipe. But even the simplest version, just butter, sugar, flour eggs, ginger, water and vinegar, is out of this world.



1 1/4 cup light brown sugar

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

2 cups water

1/2 cup white wine vinegar


Heat ingredients in a small saucepan

Let boil for 5 minutes

Let cool




1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 tbsp soft butter

2 eggs

2 tbsp citrus marmelade

1 1/2 cup self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped

7 soft dried figs, chopped

100g walnuts, chopped


Whisk sugar and butter together until light and creamy

Whisk in eggs, mix in marmalade

Add flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg, mix until smooth

Stir in ginger, figs and walnuts

Pour syrup into a round baking dish of about 20cm

Spoon batter into syrup

Bake in oven at 170˚C (fan) for 35 to 40 minutes

(cover loosely with foil if top starts browning too quickly)



This is a true indulgence, this is not French fine dining, this is what the king demanded! Food for a banquet! The sauce is rich and I serve ALL OF IT. No starch, no side dishes, just fresh trout, a few fresh green things and this heavenly sauce. Serve with the same wine you used for the sauce. You will want for nothing more.

(2 servings)




4 trout fillets of 100g each

2 tbsp grapeseed oil


freshly ground black pepper


Line baking tray with foil

Drizzle with 1 tbsp grapeseed oil

Arrange fillets on top

Drizzle 1 tbsp grapeseed oil over fillets

Season lightly with salt and pepper

Bake in oven at 170˚C (fan) for about 7 minutes





2 egg yolks

1 tsp French mustard

90g butter, cut into small cubes

1 tbsp fresh cream

1 heaped tbsp chopped fresh chives

freshly ground black pepper


Place heatproof bowl over small saucepan with simmering water, water should not be boiling or touching bowl

Whisk wine and mustard together over hot water

Whisk in egg yolks, keep whisking until light and creamy

Whisk in butter, 1 small square at a time

Whisk in cream

Remove from top of saucepan, stir in chives and season very lightly with black pepper





100g mange tout (snow peas)


Blanche mange tout in boiling water for a minute or two, remove peas from water and season lightly with seasalt and freshly ground black pepper

Arrange 2 trout fillets on each plate

Divide mange tout between plates

Pour sauce over trout

Serve immediately



Few things are as comforting and versatile as a good egg dish. This one is also called the Scandinavian Omelette. However, because of the final moments under the oven grill, it is much closer to a frittata than a traditional omelette. It also hints at the Spanish Omelette, made with potato slices. Served with freshly baked bread and a crispy green salad, this is a light, but really satisfying meal for any time of the day.

(4 servings)


6 large eggs

1/2 tsp seasalt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

fresh leaves of 4 sprigs of thyme

1 shallot or small onion, finely chopped

1 red apple

100g matured Cheddar, grated

1 tbsp grapeseed oil

1/2 tbsp butter

more fresh thyme


Whisk eggs in mixing bowl with salt and pepper

Whisk in thyme, shallot and the cheese

Cut apple in quarters and use mandolin to slice thinly, add to egg mixture

Preheat oven grill

Heat oil and butter in pan, just higher than medium heat

Add egg mixture, making sure apple pieces are distributed evenly, cook until bottom is set

Place under oven grill until top starts to brown

Cut omelette into quarters, garnish with extra thyme and serve hot or at room temperature



A simple, light and elegant shaved salad with lots of texture and flavour. With pan-roasted pecan nuts and a dressing made with pecan oil. Even those who run from fennel will love this dish. Many variations are possible, add shaved carrots, asparagus or red cabbage, chopped spring onions and even some goat cheese. Serve as an accompaniment to any meal, I serve these as picture-perfect little starters.

(4 to 6 servings)


1/2 cup LIVE LIKE N pecan oil

1 tbsp honey

juice and finely grated zest of 1 not too large lemon


freshly ground black pepper

75g pecan nuts

2 medium fennel bulbs

1 red onion

4 red radishes

1 red apple

fennel leaves


Whisk together pecan oil, honey, juice and zest in mixing bowl

Season with salt and pepper

Heat 2 tbsp of dressing in pan

Add pecan nuts and roast for about a minute until dressing has turned into a thick syrup covering the nuts, let cool

Use mandolin and cut fennel bulbs, onion and radishes into thin slices, add to dressing in bowl

Cut apple in half and then into thin slices

Toss with rest of salad in dressing

Place small heaps on individual starter plates

Arrange nuts on top, season with some more black pepper and garnish with fennel leaves




Blackberries are like really friendly cousins, you only see them once a year and then they disappear for a very long time. This happened throughout my childhood - both the blackberries and the cousins appeared at the same time at Grandmother’s house in Wellington. We would eat the ripe and almost warm berries straight off the trees, the ones we could never reach would be used by Grandmother in many different ways. This cake reminds me of the pictures in my storybooks, golden, full of fruit and often with some cracks on top. Grandmother only made this cake a few times and I never got the recipe, I concoct it from many other recipes, but it looks and tastes exactly like her version and every good memory is still brought back.

1 cup sugar

110g salted butter

3 eggs

1 cup thick natural yoghurt

seeds of 1 vanilla pod (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)

juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon

2 cups self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup almond flour

generous pinch of salt

350g fresh blackberries

1 tsp (extra) flour

1 tbsp (extra sugar)


Do not preheat oven

Whisk butter and sugar together until creamy

Whisk in eggs, yoghurt, vanilla, juice and zest

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, almond flour and salt 

Add to wet ingredients and mix until batter is smooth

Spoon half the batter onto the bottom of a greased and lined 22cm springform pan

Toss half the blackberries with 1 tsp flour and arrange on top of batter in pan

(This will not prevent large berries from sinking to the bottom, not to worry, every slice will still be spectacular and colourful) )

Spoon rest of the batter over blackberries

Arrange rest of blackberries on top

Turn oven on at 160˚C (fan) and let cake rest until oven is ready

Sprinkle one tbsp of sugar over top of cake and bake for 70 minutes

Loosely cover cake with foil after 30 minutes if cake starts to brown too quickly

Remove from oven and let cool in pan