Weekend Tea and Scones

Tea and Scones on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon is a great relaxed way to hang out with friends. I love date scones.

Unfortunately dates seem to be one of those fruit that many people dislike. To cover my bases I make a double batch. One with dates, one with currants.


I use the standard Edmonds scone recipe and just add a cup of dates or currants (some recipes suggest adding cinnamon and brown sugar as well but I don’t think it adds anything to the scones).

Here’s the full scone recipe for those without an Edmonds handy.

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 6 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 75g butter
  • 1 to 1.5 cups milk, approximately
  • extra milk
  • 1 cup of chopped dates or currants

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add butter (chopped) and rub in with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add fruit. Add milk and mix quickly with a knife until it forms a soft dough. Knead a few times. Lightly dust work surface with flour. Roll out dough on to this. I used a glass (floured rim) to cut out scones. Alternatively cut into 12 even sized pieces. Put on baking tray with even sized spaces between the scones. Brush the tops of scones with milk. Bake at 220C for 10 minutes or until golden brown.


Have a great weekend.

The Joy of Haloumi

I remember the first time I had haloumi. I was astonished that something so delicious could exist without me ever hearing about it before. It was at Moyses, one of my favourite restaurants of all time.


For a while I was intimated by the idea of frying cheese but it’s so good I just had to try. It turns out it’s actually rather easy.

You just need to heat olive oil in a non-stick frying pan until it reaches a high temperature. Add your haloumi (cut 7mm thick). Fry each side until golden brown (about 20 secs per side). Then eat. It is so worth it. Fried cheese!



New Improved Mushrooms on Toast

You might have seen my earlier post about the problems I have with cooking mushrooms. Things had improved, but I knew there was room to do better…and today I found it (with the help of a little pointer from a magazine).

For this technique you need:

  • mushrooms (say 20 brown caps)
  • a good non-stick frying pan
  • a little bit of butter (about 1tsp)

And for serving/eating I I also suggest having:

  • salt and
  • hot buttered toast
  • parmesan


1. Remove any obvious grit from the mushrooms and chop into thick slices.
2. Put the frying pan on to a high heat (don’t leave it there too long, they tend to buckle).
3. Put the mushrooms in and stir occasionally.They’ll heat up and generate their own juice.
4. When they look a bit browner/smaller and nearly cooked, add in the butter. You’ll need less than you think.
5. Quickly stir the mushrooms around to absorb the melted butter.
6. Leave in for another minute or two, stirring.

Serve on hot buttered toast and sprinkle with shaved parmesan.


Fruit Salad and Scrambled Eggs

Sunday Brunch with Friends

A friend of ours just had knee surgery and is not out and about as much as he normally is. Today in Wellington it was perfect winter brunch weather.

So, when you can’t take your friend to brunch take brunch to your friend!

The first course was:

Fruit Salad

I just love those plastic Tiki salad servers.


We served it with my favourite yoghurt. Yoplait Greek Style Honey yoghurt.


Scrambled Eggs

Then it was time for the rich and satisfying scrambled eggs with spring onions. I always get Thomas to cook this because he makes it perfectly. I’ve included his instructions below.


The weird thing about scrambled eggs is how frequently they are done badly when it’s really very easy to do them well (hint: the key ingredients are butter and enough time).

Here’s how I cook them when I want them be really good.


  • Two eggs per person
  • 1 tbsp of milk per person
  • One spring onion per person (or so)
  • Two tablespoons of butter per person (one for eggs, one for bread)
  • 1-2 pieces of ciabatta bread per person
  • Some grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper grinder


1. Put the serving plates in the oven at a low temp to warm up.
2. Prepare everything in advance so the final assembly can proceed smoothly – slice the bread, grate the parmesan, clean and chop the spring onions.
3. Break the eggs into a bowl and add the milk. Whisk until well mixed with a uniform colour.
4. Put a frying pan on to a low heat.
5. Add the butter and wait for it to melt.
6. Add the egg mixture.
7. Immediately add the chopped spring onions.
8. Use a wooden spoon to gently stir the eggs frequently but not constantly. The secret is to cook them slowly enough. If they’re sticking to the bottom of the pan or the cooked bits look sort of foamy it probably means the heat is too high.
9. Toast the ciabatta. Put the completed pieces in the oven with the plates to keep them warm.
10. Keep stirring. It does take a while if you’re doing it slowly enough.
11. Butter the toast, top with the cooked eggs and serve. People can add their own parmesan and salt/pepper to taste.

Other Variants

  • Replace the spring onions with some lemon thyme (just awesomely good even writing this makes me wish I had some for tomorrow).
  • Serve with salsa.

Non-gourmet snacks

One of my favourite non-gourmet snacks are baked bean and cheese sandwiches. I know a lot of you are cringing but sometimes a baked bean and cheese sandwich is just the right thing to eat! Honest!

I cringe when I hear about people eating peanut butter and jam/jelly sandwiches. What’s with that? I fail to understand how anyone can think that tastes good.

What are your favourite non-gourmet snacks? The grosser the better :-)


Asparagus and Feta Mousetraps

It’s another wintry Sunday afternoon here and I was all on my lonesome in our rather cold house (welcome to New Zealand). Time for comfort food like mousetraps with asparagus, served with a nice pot of tea.

We’ve featured mousetraps here before but I just wanted to point out that the addition of lumps of feta cheese under the cheddar makes a good thing even gooder.

The Dominion Sunday Times did a little survey of the commonly available types of cow’s milk feta today. They favoured the Zany Zeus variety followed by the Bouton d’Or. Unfortunately they didn’t cover my favourite budget feta from Mainland. It’s on the crumbly side of the family and is quite salty which makes it perfect for cooking.



My parents were disappointed when I overcame my childhood aversion to eating mushrooms . It wasn’t that they had something against the consumption of fungus by young people – it’s just that they’d have to share.


Now I live with Kim and we both like mushrooms on pizza and in hamburgers, but I can’t get her to appreciate the simple beauty of mushrooms on hot buttered toast. Sadly I think that the fault might be mine as I seem to have an inability to cook them consistently. There seem to be three possible outcomes whether I fry or grill them:

1. Too dry – burnt and leathery
2. Too wet – soft and slimy
3. Just right – hot and juicy and tasty

Today’s effort was one of the better ones and I’m going to keep using this technique until I learn a better one (tips greatly appreciated!).

Take sufficient portobello mushrooms. Shake off the dirt and slice thickly. Heat a large (in relation to the amount of mushrooms) frying pan with a little bit of canola oil. Put the mushrooms in and shake/stir them fairly continuously. Put the toast on when the mushrooms are starting to sweat. Butter the toast and put the (with any luck) cooked mushrooms on top. Eat with a knife and fork.


Potato and Leek Pizza

Potato Pizza is a simple way of combining both major food groups into one delicious meal.


In the past I’ve always had problems getting the potatoes just how I want them. Either they’re too leathery, or too hard and underdone, or … just not as good as they should be. Indeed, I would say that I generally have problems with frying things and it’s my worst cooking method (although I seem to have finally got the hang of frying eggs).

Tonight I decided to take a different approach and decided to roast/fry the potatoes in the oven – and it worked just great and the pizza was delicious. Here’s how I did it.

Potato and Leek Pizza
(serves 1-2 depending on desired belly fullness)

– One small pizza base (yes, I’m lazy, feel free to make your own)
– 2 tbsp basil pesto
– One large potato
– 1 sprig fresh rosemary, or 1-2 tsp dry rosemary (inferior, less classy, easier)
– Extra light olive oil, or other cooking oil
– One leek (or about four spring onions)
– 30gm grated mozzarella cheese
– 30gm grated cheddar cheese
– salt grinder

1. Heat oven to 200c
2. Scrub the potato and cut into thin slices. Cut the slices in half if they’re too big.
3. Pour a little oil into a baking dish and make sure the bottom is covered.
4. Put in the potatoes, drizzle over the rest of the oil.
5. Sprinkle the rosemary over it.
6. Cook until half-done (5-10 minutes) and then turn. Complete cooking.

While waiting for the potatoes:

7. Spread the pesto on the pizza base
8. Chop the leeks. They can be small to large depending on your whim.
9. Nibble on some of the cheese (we call this “emergency cheese” as we’re normally pretty hungry by the time we start cooking).

And now the potatoes are done:

8. Put the potatoes in a single layer on the pizza. Eat the rest.
9. Arrange the leeks over the potatoes.
10. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese.
11. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese (yes, the order is important).
12. Put on a baking tray at the top of the oven, cook until golden and bubbly (5-10 minutes)
13. Grind some salt over it, cut it up and serve. Don’t be too hasty and burn the roof of your mouth.

Enjoy, Thomas.

Spirulina Wedges

For the Bron Marshall Wild Weeds Event I made Spirulina Wedges.

Spirulina is a blue-green algae (Mmmm, sounds delicious) which grows wild in fresh water ponds.

It’s a bit of a wonder food. As well as being a complete protein it is one of the few plant sources of vitamin B12. In powder form it’s also rather strong smelling. After mixing all the ingredients together I got this green concoction.


I confess to having a back-up lunch in mind in case it tasted as strange as it looked. Fortunately it actually turned out rather yummy. The wedges ended up with a nice savoury crust.


Spirulina Wedges

  • 3 potatoes cut into thick wedges
  • 2 tsp of mixed cajun spices
  • 2 tsp of spirulina
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Oil to lightly cover wedges

Mix oil, cajun spices, spirulina and garlic together. Cover wedges evenly with the mixture. Cook at 200 C until done (turn wedges at least once).