Friday, 28 October 2016

WOW! The World of Wearable Art!

It's over for another year, a highlight of Wellington's wonderful art scene! Each year in late
Super Nova - The Supreme Winner
September and early October exhibits from all over the world come together to contend for the top prizes in the world of wearable art.
 Entries come from both established and emerging artists and designers, local and international design and fashion schools and individuals with a creative imagination who compete for prizemoney of $165,000. They enter categories like the Bizarre Bra section, Avant Garde, Performance Art etc. The show, which started from small beginnings 30 years ago is a fast moving, show-stopping extravaganza set to music.This was the third year we have seen it and thought the show was better than ever.  Our well-travelled companions reckoned it was the best how they had seen anywhere in the world, quite an accolade for little old Wellington, New Zealand.
Next year's show will be held from the 21st September to the 8th October, and, as always when there is a  Big Show on in
Wellington, accommodation will be at a premium. We would love to have you stay with us at Harbourlights B & B and we have lots of advice and suggestions on how to spend your time here.  Many of the city restaurants have a 'Dinner and Show' deal, the shop fronts in Lambton Quay, our main shopping street join in the WOW theme and the city buzzes with all the visitors from NZ and the world. For budding creative types entries close for next years competition on 31st March.

My favourite entry this year was an entry from the UK: Lippydeema.

So Fried Eggs

Here are two entries from the Bizarre Bra section.

Bravada Cycling



Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Wellington Welcomes The Champions!!!!! Hurricanes!...Hurricanes!...

Could you hear the excitement at your place?  Our HURRICANES have taken out the Super Rugby championships for the first time ever, defeating the South African Lions 20 to 3. The game was
played in the most appalling weather to a packed stadium who to a man couldn't have cared less about the cold and rain. It's been a long, hard climb to the top and Wellingtonians turned out in their thousands yesterday for the victory parade from parliament through the central city to the civic square where they were given a heroes welcome. In contrast Wellington put on the most magnificent of days. Wellingtonians love a good party and most of us hunkered down in our warm cosy homes on Saturday night to watch the final live. I couldn't help noticing on the day the trash and recycling is collected around here there were an unusually large quantity of celebratory bottles awaiting pick up.

Here's a good hearty casserole to warm the fans  when they come in out of the cold. Serve it with rice and crusty bread, or with squares of cooked flaky pastry, which would make it a Beef and Beer Pie.

Beef 'n Beer Hotpot:

750g gravy beef, topside or blade steak
2 onions
2 heaped tablespoons flour
425g tin haricot beans
1 diced carrot
1 1/2 cups beer
2 bay leaves
1 sprig of thyme
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
A few halved prunes

Toss meat in flour and seasoning and brown with the onion. Brown the meat in a little oil to seal it then add the rest of the ingredients. Cook for one and a half hours at 160 degrees celsius.If necessary add a lttle stock or water. Check the meat is tender and return to the oven for another half an hour if required, turn the temperature down to 150 degrees for any extra cooking.
This is a great staple to have cooked and in the freezer. Turn it in to a meat pie, or pasties for an eat and run snack. The beer and prunes make a lovely rich sauce.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

First Impressions, Fabulous France, Sensational Caramel Sauce and Apple Pie

Caramel Sauce
It's back to the real world today after 5 weeks on holiday in Europe. It is an interesting exercise for Bed and Breakfast owners to travel the world, seeing how other people do things. Over the last 37 days we have stayed in 17 different places and slept in 17 different beds, some hotels , some B & B's and even bunks on a ship. The experiences have differed from the really great to the truly dreadful. The worst was a very large 100 year old hotel in Geilo in Norway where the staff were indifferent, the room was dingy, the bedcover looked like it hadn't been changed for months and the breakfast was so forgettable we struggled to choose anything to eat. The best two were in France, an apartment in St. Malo, beautifully furnished and equipped in typical French style, and a B & B in the beautiful old city of Bayeux. Here we received the warmest welcome of all. Our host, Sandrine, from 'La Tour Louise' was truly a delight. She spoke good English, clearly loved sharing her lovely home with guests from all over the world and made each guest feel special. She was a breath of fresh air and a lesson in 'doing it right'. One wall of her dining room had been painted with blackboard paint, with 'WELCOME' in every imaginable language chalked on it. The breakfast she served was delicious, not the bacon and eggs we are accustomed to but fresh pancakes with a delicious caramel sauce. They were served warm and were utterly delicious. She recommended two restaurants for us to try, one serving authentic French cuisine and the other a Creperie that made the most delicious galettes. Sandrine explained that crepes are pancakes with a sweet filling and galettes are pancakes made with buckwheat flour and served with a savoury filling. Our room looked out on to a quiet street on one side and the cathedral could be seen from the other. Although somewhat cramped, it was well appointed with lovely thick towels and some tasty treats on arrival. The finishing touch was a cellophane pack of little crisp biscuits stamped with 'THANK YOU', stapled closed with her business card, for us to take away. The whole experience was a delight and demonstrated the importance of first impressions.
Savoury Galette in Bayeux
Here at Harbourlights B & B we pride ourselves on the welcome we give our guests. A warm smile and a bit of assistance with their bags costs us nothing, but for the guests the memory will continue long after they have returned home.
The following recipe is my version of the yummy caramel sauce we enjoyed in Bayeux. I made it to pour over a delicious apple cake that we had enjoyed in Sweden. The hostess here, Heidi, shared her recipe for the apple cake and my family gave it a 10 out of 10, especially when I drizzled it with the warmed caramel sauce and served it with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.


130 grams butter
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 taspoon vanilla
1/8 taspoon salt

Melt the butter over a medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar till melted. Stir for 2 minutes. Add the cream and cook, stirring for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Cool slightly before pouring into a jar. This can be used as a filling for biscuits, a topping for pancakes or desserts or as a spread.


100 grams butter
100 grams sugar
1 large egg
200grams flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
5 apples
100 ml water
100 ml sugar

Peel, core and slice apples and cook with the water and 100 mls of sugar till the apples are soft. Drain in a colander and cool down.
Beat the butter and 100 grams of sugar till creamed. Add the egg and beat again. Add the flour and baking powder. Cover with cling wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Use 2/3rds of the dough to line a 22cm pie dish.  Bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees celsius. Pile in the apple. Roll out the remainder of the dough and cut into strips to make a lattice for the top Bake for 15-20 minutes till golden brown.
Drizzle a little of the warmed caramel sauce over. Serve with freshly whipped cream and a little more caramel sauce.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Anzac Day in Wellington, and Anzac Biscuits

Today, 25th April is the day that Kiwis and Aussies remember those brave men that fought and died in the First World War on the Gallipoli Peninsula, so far away from their homeland in Turkey. It has become a day of commemoration for all the men and women who fought for our freedom across the years. Anzac Day is recognised here as a national holiday and attracts tens of thousands of New Zealanders and Australians to dawn services held throughout the country.  Two of our young grandchildren attended the service this  morning wearing the medals of their Great Grandpa.

It has been a beautiful day here in Wellington, a perfect day for our German guests to cross the strait from the South Island. And it was a lovely autumn evening for us to visit the site of the Wellington National War Memorial with our daughter and granddaughter to see the very moving laser light commemoration in the twilight. There were many families coming and going, some with very young children wrapped up for the cool evening. It was heartening to see the Dads and Mums with their little ones explaining the images portrayed on the tower. We can only but hope and pray in these troubling times that lessons have been learned from the past that will prevail for the future.

The recipe I am sharing with you today is for Anzac Biscuits. The story goes that they were made by wives and mothers and sent overseas to the troops as they would keep well. It is more likely that they were made to sell at fetes and fairs to raise money for the troops. Either way they are a tasty morsel to eat along with a cup of tea, easy and quick to make and you are likely to have the ingredients in the pantry. They keep for weeks in an airtight container. My grandchildren love them and I often give them to guests for afternoon tea.
125 grams butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup flour
Melt the butter with the golden syrup over a medium heat till the butter melts. Mix together the baking soda and water and add to the butter mixture. It will foam up. Mix together the coconut, sugar, flour and oats and add to the butter mixture. Put teaspoonfuls onto a  baking tray that has been lined with baking paper. Flatten them slightly with a fork.  Leave spreading room between them.
Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 12 minutes till golden.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Fresh Bread, Fragrance and Fruit Square.

There's nothing quite like the smell of fresh bread baking, wafting through the house.
Combined with the glorious aroma of freshly brewed coffee, and a freshly cleaned house and suddenly your house has become a home. I recall my old Mum saying when I was a kid that if she hadn't had time to get the dinner started before Dad got home from work she would put a chopped onion on to fry and he would know that dinner wasn't far away.  These days its just as likely to be the man of the house cooking for the family. How times have changed since the days my Mum had Dad's slippers waiting and a cup of tea in the pot to greet him at the door! Some things don't change though, and the enticing smells of home cooking still serve as a warm and inviting welcome to the home.
We bake bread daily, a small loaf served whole at breakfast to be toasted, or eaten fresh if our guests prefer it untoasted, perhaps with a generous dollop of our homemade preserves.
Guests at Harbourlights B & B choose between having a cooked or continental breakfast upstairs in our dining room or a continental breakfast delivered to the hall table outside their room at whatever time they choose. A toaster, plates and cutlery is supplied in their room along with a selection of cereals and preserves. We take them a tray containing fresh fruit, home-made yoghurt, freshly baked bread, butter, orange juice and coffee, just as they would have had upstairs in the dining room.This enables them to eat in the privacy of their own room if they prefer and works particularly well if they are leaving to catch the early ferry to the South Island or an early flight.
We also bake fresh cookies or cake for them to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee when they arrive, and replenish them daily if they are staying for more than one night. Today I made a sultana slice, it takes just a couple of minutes to prepare. It is cooked in a Swiss roll tin and sliced when cold. I like recipes that involve melting the butter and adding the rest of the ingredients, no mixer bowl or food processor to wash and it cooks while I am preparing dinner. The recipe for my slice is at the end of this blog.

I love the house, and particularly the B & B to smell fresh and appealing. Fresh flowers and cleaning products go a long way and I have been using diffuser oil to add a background freshness, especially in the bathroom, but  I balk at the outrageous price of a little bottle of fragrance with a few sticks poking out the top. There had to be a cheaper way of achieving the same result, so I consulted Mr Google and searched on Pinterest and found a recipe to make our own. The resulting diffuser is a subtle vanilla smell that adds a layer of freshness at a fraction of the cost. You can choose any essential oil to create whatever fragrance you like. All you need is:

1/4 cup rubbing alcohol (or vodka)
1/4 cup water
about 20 drops of essential oil (I used vanilla, but lavender, lemon etc would be nice)
5 small bamboo skewers (like you would use for kebabs)
an attractive bottle with a neck wide enough to hold the skewers.

Mix the rubbing alcohol (or vodka), water and oil together and pour into the bottle. Insert the bamboo skewers and wait for a few days till the bamboo absorbs the smell. Top up as required. It should last for weeks.

I am not sure where this sultana slice recipe came from as I have been making it for years. Possibly it came from my mother. I have seen many adaptations of it over the years, but this is my recipe:

Sultana Slice:
125grams butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon caramel essence (or use vanilla)
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sultanas  (or substitute chopped dried apricots)

Melt the butter gently with the sugar and golden syrup. Add the beaten egg and essence, then the rest of the ingredients. Put into a greased Swiss roll tin that has been lined with baking paper. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius  for 20 minutes until nicely browned. Slice when cool. This can be iced if you like but is nice plain. It will keep for a few days in an airtight container.


Wednesday, 16 March 2016

No-one Ever Leaves Here Hungry

In the past couple of years, since we exchanged our interior design business for the space that now contains our B & B, I have had a little more time to indulge in one of the great loves of my life, (after my Beloved and our collection of five kids and ten grandchildren, that is!). I love to cook, and my Beloved likes to eat, so we are a marriage made in Heaven indeed! After years of fielding calls from the family for my recipe for lemon tart, or an SOS about how to cook rhubarb (or pavlova, or couscous etc) I decided it was time for a permanent solution. With the help of my Significant Other I have put together a compilation of old family recipes, tried and true dishes of indiscriminate origin, adaptions from my favourite chefs and the results of 50 odd years of experimentation.Many of the recipes are used daily for our bed and breakfast guests, some of whom ask to share a meal with us during their stay.
Most of our guests are from far off countries so it is nice to be able to offer them a New Zealand dinner experience. As we know from our own experience when travelling overseas the thing they tell us they miss the most is a home-cooked meal. It is a great chance to showcase our country and let them see what living in a New Zealand household is like.  We found an app that we downloaded (called Jam Jar), painstakingly tested and photographed the results of our labours and the result is a little home-
Mother's original Christmas Cake recipe
grown recipe book called 'No-one Ever Leaves Here Hungry'. Some of the 68 recipes were my mothers, like the pavlova, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding and a delicious lemon cheesecake.
The lemon tart filling was originally from a recipe from Delia Smith's book: 'Delia's Summer Collection', and others have Nadia Lim, Jo Seagar and Alexa Johnston to thank as I am inclined to mix and match bits of several recipes and come up with what suits me, (or what I happen to have in the pantry at the time).We gave all the kids a copy of the book and keep a copy of it in the B & B. I am always thrilled when our guests ask to purchase one. (We have several still to sell at $24 (NZ) each.
The recipe I am going to share with you today is from the book and is made with lamb fillets (or tenderloins). It is served with a mint dressing.

3 lamb fillets
1 teaspoon sumac
2 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper

Put the lamb fillets in a plastic bag and coat with the flour and seasonings. Brown quickly all over then put into an oven at 200 degrees Celsius for a few minutes till done to your liking. They should still be pink in the middle.


3 cups of mixed root vegetables, eg pumpkin, beetroot, carrot, parsnip, sweet potato etc
1 eggplant
1 courgette
a handful of broccoli or cauliflower florets
4 cloves peeled garlic
rocket leaves or basil to serve
1/4 cup good olive oil for the dressing
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard

Cut the vegetables into 2 cm chunks. Roast with the garlic cloves in a little olive oil. They may take different times to cook so watch them carefully and remove from the oven as they are cooked. Blend the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon juice and the mustard together and toss through the cooked vegetables. Scatter over the rocket leaves. Slice the lamb diagonally and arrange on the salad. Top with the mint dressing.


1/4 cup of sour cream or Greek yoghurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
grated rind of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and allow to stand for half an hour before serving

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice

Two months of the year have passed already and our little B & B has been busy with back-to-back guests from all over the world.  Since the year began we have hosted folk from all over the UK, Australia, Sweden, Bulgaria,the US, Canada, Hawaii, China, Germany and the Isle of Man, plus of course Kiwi visitors to Wellington. Wellington has put on some great events this summer, including the spectacular Edinburgh Tattoo held at the Westpac Stadium, the wine and food festival, Chinese New Year celebrations and various music events. There are currently two cruise ships in the harbour and we have put on a spectacular day for them to enjoy the city .Some of them may end up at the Bordeaux Bakery for lunch, which is where we intend to go with family. They have the most eye watering selection of pastries in their cabinets as well as great cafe type food. The chef is a boulanger from Bordeaux who opened his cafe 20 years ago. Their selection of artisan breads and cakes is food for the soul.
Last night we had family from Auckland staying and I decided it was time I pulled a superb dessert out of the hat. My collection of recipe books and foodie magazines grows by the day and there is nothing I like better than a sit down with a cup of tea and a food magazine to browse. The recipe I decided to try was from 'Dish' magazine,(Issue 61, August 2015) the picture looked divine and it measured up in every way to expectations. It is a caramel base with a simple custard filling. It sliced beautifully into portions and was simple and quick to make. It is definitely on my list of favourites to make often. Here is the recipe:


Caramel:        2/3 cup caster sugar
                      1/3 cup water

Custard:        6 size 7 eggs
                                                                                     395ml sweetened condensed milk
                                                                                     375ml evaporated milk
                                                                                     1 cup cream
                                                                                     1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the caramel:
Put the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and heat slowly, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Brush any stray sugar crystals off the side of the saucepan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Bring to the boil  and cook, without stirring , until a dark caramel colour, swirling the pan to colour evenly. Quickly pour it into the base of a 20cm cake tin with a fixed base. Place a wet kitchen cloth on the base of a roasting pan and put the cake tin on top. Set aside to harden and set.

For the caramel:
Spray or grease the sides of the cake tin to prevent the custard from sticking.
Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl then stir in all the remaining ingredients until well combined.
Strain the custard into the cake tin. Cover the tin tightly with foil and add hot tap water to the roasting dish until it comes half way up the side of the cake tin.
Bake for about an hour, topping up the water during cooking until just set but still with a slight wobble in the centre. It will continue to warm up as it cools.
Carefully remove the tin from the roasting dish and leave to cool. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight if possible.

To serve:
Loosen the sides of the custard by running a small palette knife around the edges. Place a serving dish over the top and turn upside down. Pour any caramel remaining in the tin over the top. Serve with softly whipped cream. Serves 8-10.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

High Tea, Hobbits and Waitangi Day holiday

I do love long weekends, and this is the second in a three week period for Wellington! The extra day's holiday is given to recognize the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand's founding document, on the 6th February 1840. Whilst for many of us the day is just another holiday it carries great significance for many, especially Maori, and it brings out both those keen to celebrate it and also those eager to use it as a tool for protest. The sun has shone brilliantly, the wind has been relatively gentle (for Wellington!) and we have made the most of the extra day, driving out to Eastbourne, wandering around the Rona Gallery, enjoying an ice cream as we wandered. 
We celebrated a birthday earlier in the week with a delicious high tea at 'Louis Sergeant', an exclusive French patisserie in the city. ( The assortment of savoury and sweet morsels were delectable, a feast for the mind. There are several places that offer high tea in and around the city and we have tested them all! Their range of teas was interesting too and I dared to try something a little different from my usual Earl Grey or English Breakfast.
Later on we met up with some relatives who are cruising around New Zealand and were in port for the day. We drove out to Miramar to visit Weta Cave Workshop where the models for 'Lord of the Rings', 'The Hobbit', 'Avatar' etc were made. If you are a movie buff, or you just love the Hobbit like so many of our guests do the visit to Weta Cave is a great experience.You can book online at Our relatives came back here for a barbecue, butterflied lamb marinated with garlic, ginger, wholegrain mustard and oil, perfectly cooked by my Beloved. As usual I aim to feed the five thousand and had leftovers for at least a couple of meals. I was a bit desperate to disguise  it tonight so we ate the last of the meat, pumpkin salad and potatoes in an omelette, and delicious it was too! As with many of the meals I cook there is not necessarily a recipe as such, just more of a method, so the proportions and ingredients given here are fairly loose and can be altered to suit what you have in the fridge. The leftover pumpkin salad gave the omelette a piquant edge so I shall include it for reference.  There would have been about a cup and a half leftover to put into our omelette.


4 cups of mixed cubed pumpkin and kumara (sweet potato)
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
1 teaspoon cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1 finely chopped red onion
200g cubed feta cheese
a handful of rocket leaves
torn basil to serve
dressing (see below)

Heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Roast the pumpkin in a little oil, sprinkled with the garlic, cinnamon and seasoning until just tender, about 25 minutes. Cool then add the pumpkin seeds and red onion. When ready to serve toss with the rocket  and basil and pour over about a quarter of the dressing. The dressing recipe makes more than you need but it keeps in a screwtop jar for weeks. 
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
salt and pepper
Whisk all the ingredients in the food processor till well blended.


4 eggs
1/4 cup cream
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
leftover pumpkin salad (greens removed)
leftover roasted barbecued lamb or alternative
1/4 cup grated cheese
salt and pepper

Chop the meat into small cubes and heat with the pumpkin salad in a non-stick frypan in a little olive oil.When thoroughly heated through remove from the frypan and wipe it out with kitchen paper and a little oil. Whisk the eggs with the cream,dijon mustard and some salt and pepper. Add the pumpkin mixture to the eggs with the cheese. Heat a little butter over a medium heat in the frypan and when it is sizzling pour in the egg mixture.Allow the egg to set , carefully drawing in the sides and swirling the pan a little until the bottom is cooked. Invert a dinner plate over the frypan and tip the omelette onto it, then carefully slide the omelette uncooked side down in to the pan.Allow the bottom to set and brown a little. Do not overcook it. Cut into wedges to serve with a little green salad. Nice with a spoonful of onion jam.


When the edges start to look like this the omelette is almost ready to flip over

Monday, 25 January 2016

Long, Lazy Wellington Weekend, and Copycat Crepes for Dinner

Don't you just love long weekends? That extra Wellington Anniversary Day Monday tacked on to the weekend makes for an all new state of mind! The standing joke about being 'retired' takes on an all new meaning when you run a bed and breakfast. Our 'holiday Monday' had a Very Early Start this morning as our guests needed to be away by 7.30 for the early morning sailing of the Interislander ferry to the South Island. They requested a 6.45am breakfast, which for me means being out of bed at 5.45. I don't cope well with being unprepared and we prep as much as we can the night before, but I need to be composed and un-rushed (is there such a word?) to present breakfast at its best.
Our delightful Swedish guests arrived last night, right in the middle of me cooking dinner. Fortunately it was an easy dinner, a recipe that I had replicated from one of our local restaurants.There is an Italian restaurant just a couple of minutes away from us that we visit frequently called La Bella Italia. It is owned and operated by Antonio Cacase, an Italian with family links to Italy. As well as serving superb authentic Italian food they also sell all manner of delicious produce, delicious cheeses, pastas, meats, oils, you name it. If you need it to make an Italian dish you can get it there.
A year or so ago I tried their Cannelloni de Crespelle. Beautiful light crepes filled with ricotta and spinach on a bed of thick tomato passata. I vowed to try to recreate the recipe at home and achieved a passable imitation. I researched many recipes and came up with one that can be adapted to suit whatever ingredients you may have on hand as a filling for the crepes. Last night I had neither ricotta nor spinach, but did have a little leftover white fish and a small quantity of roast pumpkin. Along with one of the copious supply of courgettes our garden produces and a little of the feta cheese from our last weeks cheesemaking session they combined to make a delicious Sunday night dinner.
I will give you my version of the original recipe with an alternative filling at the end. If you are adapting this for yourself, open the fridge and decide what you need to use up... be original and enjoy creating your own filling.

185g strong flour
450ml milk
3 eggs
salt to taste

Whisk all the ingredients together and let the mixture rest for half an hour before making the crepes. Melt a little butter in a non-stick saucepan. When the butter is sizzling add a scant 1/4 cup of crepe mixture, swirling the pan to cover the base. Shake the pan occasionally until the mixture moves freely, then either toss them (if you dare) or turn carefully with a spatula and cook till the base is set. Continue until all the mixture is used up. Keep them warm on a warmed plate in a 50C degree oven.

1 can chopped tomatoes (or use fresh tomatoes)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic chopped finely
1 tspn sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the onion and garlic in a little olive oil and butter till they are beginning to soften, add the tomatoes, sugar and seasoning and simmer over a low heat for about half an hour.

250g ricotta cheese
pinch of nutmeg
1 egg
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/2 to 1 cup wilted spinach
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together well.

extra virgin olive oil
parmesan cheese
fresh coriander

Put a third of a cup of filling on to the centre of each crepe and roll up.
Put half a cup of the passata on to a serving plate. Top with two or three crepes and sprinkle with parmesan. Put under a hot grill, 200 degrees Celsius until they are piping hot and nicely browned. Drizzle a little olive oil around the passata and serve with a sprinkling of coriander.

half a red onion
1 tspn chopped garlic
1 courgette, grated
1/2 a red or yellow capsicum,
1 chopped tomato
leftover pumpkin
1 tspn fresh oregano
1 egg
black pepper
75g of cooked white fish, (or use chicken, cooked mince, salmon etc)
150g feta cheese, crumbled

Fry the onion and garlic in a little oil for a few minutes until starting to soften. Add the capsicum, tomatoes, courgette, oregano and pepper and allow to cook down until the vegetables are soft.Add the fish or selected filling. Remove from the heat and add the egg. Mix in the feta. Mix together well but don't mash it!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Fog and feta cheese...

What happened to the view?.. Fog over the harbour.
For the second day in a row fog has brought Wellington to a standstill. Our usually glorious view out to the harbour and beyond is a sea of grey mist....not the view our guests are expecting when staying at a B & B called 'Harbourlights'! Yesterday we watched the fog sit like an umbrella over the entrance to the harbour. It was unseasonal (January in New Zealand is the height of summer), and eerie. Last night the airport closed due to the fog,  Tonight the airport is marginal again and flights are delayed, disrupting the travel plans of many and affecting tourists and locals alike. New Zealand is in holiday mode in January. Many businesses are just starting up again after the Christmas break, schools don't reopen until the start of February and universities a month later. But every cloud has a silver lining and the unusual weather is not all bad - farmers have been crying out for some welcome rain, and so has our garden.
Cooking in the rain
 Our strawberries are thriving and the courgettes are growing so fast that if we leave them a day before picking them they are turning into young marrows.
Home made feta, plain (top) and with fresh herbs.
Green salad with feta cheese
Tonight Peter was on dinner duty barbecuing some of those courgettes with carrots, new potatoes and  tasty little lamb chops. Real men don't let a bit of rain stop them cooking on the barbecue and our lamb chops were perfectly cooked and delicious. I made a salad using an assortment of lettuces and herbs from the garden and tossed it with some fresh feta cheese that we made over the weekend. It is the first time we have made feta and it is delicious. It used 4 litres of full cream milk which is not cheap to buy so I doubt we will have saved much money by making it ourselves, but we enjoyed the experience and will certainly be doing it again. We ended up with 800g of cheese, half of which we mixed with fresh herbs from the garden.
The salad is not really a recipe, more a combination of whatever is at hand. If you want to replicate the picture the following is a list of the ingredients I used, but feel free to add anything you like:


2  handfuls of mixed lettuce greens
a selection of herbs, parsley, coriander, mint, oregano
a few fresh peas, removed from the pod
cucumber sliced and quartered
1 courgette stripped into ribbons with a potato peeler
1/2 an avocado diced
1/4 red capsicum, chopped
100g feta cheese (we used the herbed one)
freshly ground black pepper
(no salt is needed as the feta is quite salty)

3 tbspns extra virgin olive oil
1 tbpn white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tspn dijon mustard
1/2 clove garlic, crushed and chopped
seasoning to taste

Blend dressing ingredients together and toss over the mixed salad.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Tangelo Marmalade... a delicious way to spend the afternoon!

We love it when our guests settle in to the B & B for a few days, but at this time of year, the high tourist season, many of our visitors book to stay for only one night. We are strategically placed to make getting to the Interislander ferry very simple. The ferries sail several times a day across Cook Strait to the South Island.They travel through the Marlborough Sounds, the Tory Channel and through Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton.  We can see the ferries coming and going from our place so often have a good idea what time they will arrive if they are travelling from the South Island.While they are here we encourage our guests to see as much as they can of our lovely city. There is so much to do and see in Wellington, and getting around the city is simple and enjoyable on foot. Peter has made up a couple of itineraries that we offer guests so they get to see the very best of the area while they are here. Out guests last night were from the U.K. Tonight's guests are a honeymoon couple from Sweden. They didn't give us an ETA so I was confined to home for the afternoon, and spent it happily turning out a batch of Tangelo Marmalade.
Our local market had beautiful juicy ripe tangelos and though I have never made marmalade with them before could see no reason why it wouldn't work. It has turned out citrussy (is there such a word?) and sweet and will complement our lovely homemade bread for breakfast in the morning.


1 kg tangelos
1.25 kg sugar
250 ml water

Peel and remove the pips from the tangelos. Chop the skins, (pith and all) finely. Put the peel and flesh into a preserving pan and bring to the boil. add the water and sugar and stir till it boils. Boil for about 15 minutes until a teaspoonful put onto a cold saucer wrinkles. If you have a thermometer it should read 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour into sterilised jars and seal.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Gooseberry Pie like Granny used to Bake

Our gooseberries have finally (after many years of being talked to nicely) put on a decent show for us this summer. Last year we picked 8, yes 8 whole gooseberries, this summer our two bushes gave us a whole bowl full with more still to pick.I remember the gooseberries in our garden when I was a child and the eye-watering tartness as we picked them straight from the bush, shredding our hands in the process. My grandmother used to make a gooseberry pie but her recipe died with her many years ago. I searched my multitude of recipe books and eventually decided I could replicate it better if I wing it. The pie was delicious. I served it with custard but it would have been yummy with a dollop of cream or icecream. I used a pastry recipe that is a cross between short and flaky pastry and is easily made in the food processor. If you leave out the sugar it is a wonderful pastry for a rustic savoury pie, but more about that another day. Here is  my gooseberry tart recipe.


1 1/2 cups flour
2 tbspns sugar
1/2 tspn baking powder
100g cold cubed butter
1/2 cup cold milk
1 tspn white wine vinegar

Process the flour, butter, sugar and baking powder in the food processor until the butter is about 5mm across. Mix the milk and vinegar together and pulse with the butter mixture till it is crumbly and will form a ball when gently squeezed. Don't over process it. It is better to gently combine it with your hands than to overdo it. Chill the pastry wrapped in cling wrap for half an hour while making the gooseberry filling.
Roll out the pastry to a circle about 30cm round and pile the cooled filling in the centre. Bring the sides of the pastry part way across the filling and seal the edges where the pastry touches itself with a sprinkle of water. Brush with milk to glaze. Put the tart onto a baking tray and cook in a 190C degree oven for about 30-35 minutes until the  pastry is nicely browned and the base is cooked through.


3 cups topped and tailed gooseberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbspns cornflour
1/2 tspn salt

Crush a quarter of the berries in the bottom of a saucepan and mix with the cornflour, sugar and salt.. Put on a gentle heat and cook over a moderate heat for  two minutes. Add the rest of the gooseberries, cook for a couple of minutes then remove from the heat. Allow to cool. There will be a lot of liquid so strain off the surplus and use it in a jelly or gooseberry fool.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.