Category Archives: Seasonal Fresh


My Green Kitchen

my-green-kitchen-1My Green Kitchen by  Neena Truscott and Belinda Macdonald

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My-Green-Kitchen by Neena-Truscott-Belinda-Macdonald – NZ$39

My lovely friends have just released a wonderful book that is full of inspirational recipes integrating the healing power of foods in easy-to-make family recipes. These recipes have a focus on restoring gut health, utilising leftovers and seasonal abundance and foraging for superfoods.

Also included are herbal recipes for stimulating vibrant health and innovative ideas for meals which feature ancient grains, and how to indulge in sweet treats without the ‘nasties’. The book features an article on ‘ancestral eating’ from Ben Warren of BePure, one of NZ’s leading nutrition and holistic health experts.

Written by the winners of the first My Kitchen Rules NZ, Neena Truscott and Belinda Macdonalnd I love their work. This book reflects their love and comitment to good, healthy foods and take you on a journey in your own kitchen.

 Two Thumbs Up, well worth getting.

Easy Damson Plum Jam

Plum-Jam-Jars-webDamson plums are small and the flesh is quite sharp and sour, but in my view makes the absolute best plum jam in the world. I match the jam with nice cheeses on a platter with some slightly spicy cured meats. I am in heaven. 

Makes about 8 250ml jars. 


1 1⁄2kg (3.3lb) whole, washed damson plums

3 cups water

5 cups sugar 


Combine the plums and the water and over a medium hot heat bring to a boil. 

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring constantly. 

Allow to cool enough to handle – or completely, if you like and fish out the pits. It’s a bit messy but well worth it. 

I put them in a colander over a large pot and pass the liquid and as much of the flesh that you can through and then start picking out the stones. Return the pulp to the rest of the jam to the pot once the pits are out. Bring them back to the boil and add the sugar to the plums, stirring to dissolve. 

Reduce the heat to a light, rolling simmer and cook to jam stage, about 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, put the clean jars into a pre-heated oven at 140 C (300F). 

Return the plums to the jam kettle, and bring them back to the boil. Add the sugar to the plums, stirring to dissolve. 

Jam Stage Test 

Sheet or spoon test — Dip a cool metal spoon into the boiling jelly mixture. Raise the spoon out of the steam, about 12 inches above the pan. Turn the spoon so the liquid runs off the side. The jelly is done when the syrup forms two drops that flow together and sheet or hang off the edge of the spoon. 

Once the jam has reached setting point remove from the heat and stir and skim 5 minutes. 

Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal with lids sterilized according to the manufacturers directions. (Generally, boiled for 5 minutes.) 

Let cool, label and store when the jars have sealed.

Honey Glazed Banana with Chilli Shrimps and Avocado

Spicy-Shrimp-Avo-Plant-webThis is a wonderful starter or as a brunch. While the recipe looks longs it is in fact quick to make and it looks a million dollars on the plate and will impress family and friends. 

I have made this with lightly smoked fish or smoked chicken instead of the shrimps.   Cook the fish or chicken as per the recipe.


¼ cup olive oil

2 ripe plantain, (green bananas)

100g (4 ounces) butter

1/4 cup spring onions (scallion), finely chopped

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped

2 cups cooked shrimps, tails removed and patted dry with paper towels

1-2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced fine. Adjust the amount to your taste. Green chillies also work well.

2 avocado’s deseeded and diced into small chunks

Juice of two limes

Zest of one lime

Salt and fresh ground pepper

1 lime sliced into quarters 


Place the avocado chunks in a small bowl and lightly mix in the lime juice to coat the avocado. 

Preheat a medium heavy based frying pan or skillet and coat base with olive oil. 

Preheat oven to warm, not too hot and place 4 smallish plated in it as its coming up to temperature. 

Slice the pealed plantains into 10-12mm (1/2 inches) pieces, then sauté until brown on both sides till brown, about 1 minute each side. Its better to do this in small batches so its easy to manage and the pieces do not over cook. Remove and place in a warmed bowl. 

In the fry pan add in butter and spring onions until butter is melted and spring onions are softened. Remove from heat, and stir in honey, lime zest and parsley. 

Place pan back on a medium heat and cook until the honey starts to bubble, remove from the heat and spoon ½ of the liquid over the plantains and mix lightly to coat then evenly. 

Place the fry pan back on the heat and add the chillies and shrimps. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes to warm through and remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste, stir to combine the seasoning. 

With a slotted spoon remove the shrimps and other ingredients leaving the liquid in the pan. 

Bring it together. 

Its important to make the stacks while the ingredients are still warm, excluding the avocado. 

Remove the warm plates from the oven and lay out on the bench. 

Place a medium sized ring mould on the first plate and layer 1/8 of the plantain mixture in the base. Then add ¼ of the avocado, ¼ of the shrimp and another layer of the plantain. Drizzle 1 tbsp of the juice from the pan on the top of the stack. 

Repeat for the other three plates. 

Serve straight away with a wedge of lemon on top. 

If you do not have a ring moulds you can use a medium/large warmed ramekin(s).  Make the layers and then place the warm plate on the top and turn out. 

Sometimes I place some rolled, smoked salmon slices on top for added colour and taste.

Easy Herb Roast Lamb Leg

Herb-Lamb-roast-webThis is my fall back lamb leg roast recipe. Its quick and easy to prep and I often use it to make pulled lamb. 

The juices from the lag roasting make a wonderful base for a tasty gravy. 

Serves 4-6


1.8 kg (4 lb) Leg of lamb 

2 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves Garlic, peeled and sliced lengthways into 24 slivers

2-3 stems Rosemary, cut into 24 pieces (preferably with thick, mature stems)

2 onions, peeled and cut in half

Several sprigs fresh thyme

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

½ cup stock (broth) of choice. I use chicken.


Pre-heat the oven to 190 °C (375F). 

Rub the olive oil all over the lamb leg and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Make 24 small but deep slits all over the leg of lamb, spacing them out evenly.

Insert 1 garlic sliver and 1 rosemary piece into each slit and season generously with salt and pepper.  

Place the cut onion halves and thyme in the roasting tray and position the leg of lamb on top, making sure it is stable and add the stock to the base of the tray. 

Cover the tray loosely with foil and cook for 90 minutes. After 90 minutes remove the foil and cook for another 30 minutes, uncovered.  The lamb will be well done; cook for less time for medium well or medium rare.  

Remove from the oven and cover again with foil and let stand for 20 minutes before carving.

Vegetable Tagine


2 large onions, peeled
400g carrot, peeled
2 turnips, peeled
500g firm potatoes, peeled
400g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled
200g green beans, ends chopped
200g cherry tomatoes
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp ground seeds
1 handful flat parsley, finely chopped
1 handful coriander seeds, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: Harissa to taste
5 tsp olive oil
¾ cup water 


Chop the onions in thick slices. Cut the carrot, potatoes, pumpkin and turnips into large chunks. Halve the beans.


In a medium sized bowl add the garlic, cumin and coriander seeds, herbs, salt and the rest of the spices and mix into a thick paste. Add some Harissa if using any (I used a teaspoon). Add the olive oil and water and mix to combine. 

Grease a tagine or alternatively a large deep bottom pan with lid with 1 tsp olive oil. 

Layer the vegetables in the tagine/pan, first the onions, then the potatoes, etc. finish with the beans and tomatoes. Season with ground pepper between each layer. 

Pour a bit of the spice mixture in between each vegetable layer making sure to keep at least a third to pour on top. 

Put the tagine/pan on top of a stove top heat diffuser on medium heat and leave to heat up covered for 10 to 15 minutes until the veggies start to steam. Then lower the heat and leave to cook covered for about 1 hour or until the vegetables are cooked through. 

Oven option. Place the tagine in a cold oven and turn temp to 170C and once up to temp cook for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until the vegetables are cooked through.

Fast and Easy Monk Fish Stew

fish-stew-webAny firm fish will do for the warming, light stew. I use Monk fish as its keeps its firmness and shape when cooked. 

This recipe is also quick to plate and great when you are time limited. 


1 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp paprika

400g (12oz) tin chopped Italian tomatoes

1 red pepper, cut into chunks

450g (1lb) Monk or other firm white fish fillets, cut into chunks

1/3 cup coriander, roughly chopped

lemon or lime wedges 


Heat the oil in medium-sized saucepan and add the garlic, cumin, paprika and cook for 1 minute. 

Add ½ cup water and the tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer. 

Add the pepper and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the fish. Simmer for a further 5-8. Don’t be tempted to stir it too much or you’ll break up your fish chunks. 

Season well and serve with the coriander and lemon or lime slices.

Leftover Seafood Salad Brunch

Seafood-Salad-webThere are times when we have been entertaining and the fridge is stocked with leftovers. This recipe uses cold seafood leftover and can also include cold chicken (smoked is great) and turkey meat. 

You can use salad greens of choice for the base and also wilted asian greens for a difference. 

This recipe is per serve 



1/4 cup virgin olive oil
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp blue cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, to taste 


1 head fancy lettuce, chopped or asian greens that have been wilted (steamed for 1-2 minutes)
1 small bunch watercress, some of the stems trimmed, chopped
200g (6 oz) cooked lobster or prawn meat, chopped (mix of both is good)

100g (3 oz) smoked chicken, shreaded
100g (3 oz) blue cheese, crumbled
2 medium tomatoes, seeded, and diced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 6 slices
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 

Optional additions – Sliced hard boiled eggs, cooked bacon (crumbed)


Make the dressing by combining the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, blue cheese, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender. This can also be done with a whisk, blending until creamy. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. This can be done a few days in advance, and the flavours do improve with time. Be sure to whisk before using. 

Toss the lettuce or wilted asian greens and watercress in a large bowl. 

In another bowl combine the cold meats with the dressing. 

In a serving bowl arrange a layer of the greens and then place a severing of the seafood mix. Arrange the sliced tomatoes and avocado around the edge. Season with a little salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Eggplant Rollatine

eggplant-rollup-webThis is a very taste dish that is great as a side.

Serves 2


1 500g (1.1 lb) eggplant
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 cup fine gluten free bread crumbs
olive oil
500ml (2 cups) Sicilian tomato sauce
2 tsp honey

1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp. oregano
1 cup ricotta


Cut eggplant ¼ inch thick, lengthwise. Combine and beat milk and egg. Dip eggplant in milk then dip and cover in bread crumbs. Place on a flat baking tray oiled with olive oil and grill on both sides for 5-6 minutes.

Combine ricotta, pepper, honey, and oregano. Put 1-2 tbsp of cheese mixture on each slice of eggplant, spread and then roll up. Pour some of the tomato sauce into a baking dish. Place eggplants, seam side down, into the pan. Top with remaining sauce and bake at 160C for 30 minutes. 

Juicy Cheery Tomato Bites

Classic-Tomato-webI have mentioned many times before that Italian and Sicilian food is based in simple flavours that work well together and don’t need any complication with unnecessary additions just to bulk dishes as we see in so many western countries. 

This side is a classic that has not changed in generations and can be made in a few minutes. Resting in the fridge will allow this wonderful tomato dish develop its full depth of flavour. 

There are two main flavour tastes that I cover in this recipe. 

As a side for 4-6 


600g (20oz) Cheery tomatoes

1 tbsp fresh thyme, leaves removed from the stalks

1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped

Balsamic vinegar to drizzle

Olive oil to drizzle

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste 


Slice the cheery tomatoes in half and place them in a medium sized bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the tomatoes with fresh thyme leaves and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Mix together, cover and rest in the fridge for 1 hour for added flavour. 

Pre-heat oven to 200 C (400 F). 

On a lined flat baking tray place the tomatoes flesh side up. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven for 5-8 minutes to soften them. Do not over cook. 

Remove from the oven and place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with the diced basil leaves. Serve warm or cool.

Seared scallops 101

scallops-webI have been asked by many people to do a post of how to make the best, simple seared scallops. Cooking scallops has to be done fast! They’ll take a few minutes on either side, and they’ll still cook a little when you take them off the heat.  

I do not over season or add too much flavour to scallops as I love to get their natural sea taste. Also make sure the scallops are dry. If they are wet when you put them on the heat they will release water and will not colour up as they should and it won’t matter how much you heat them. 


400 g (12oz) dry scallops

2-3 tbsp olive or coconut oil

Sea salt

Fresh ground black pepper 


Take the scallops, thawed if frozen, and place them on a paper towel. Pat them well and let them rest covered for 30 minutes if they have been frozen. After 30 minutes give them another pat to make sure they are dry. 

Place the dry scallops in a bowl and lightly season with salt and pepper. Turn them in the bowl to make sure the seasoning is evenly distributed over the scallops. Add 1 tbsp oil, mix through and rest for another 1-2 minutes. 

scallops-3-webWhile they are resting heat a cast iron skillet or non-stick pan over a high heat. Once the pan is very hot, add the other tbsp of oil. Once the pan is hot place each scallop carefully into the oil and cook untouched for 2 minutes. 

Turn the scallops over and cook for a further 2 minutes and each side is a deep golden brown. ONLY TURN THEM ONCE. 

Serve at once with a side salad, pasta or your favorite risotto dish.