This is a wholesome and hearty vegetarian dish that you can make as a main and doesn’t require much else by way of accompaniments. Butternuts roasted are the best as they are sweet, luscious and warming. I used Manchego cheese for this recipe but you can use Gruyere or any other sweet cheese that melts well.

I’ve made the dish using two medium sized butternut pumpkins but you can scale it up or down. By the way, any leftover lentils are yummy on their own or on toast!

Roast Pumpkin Topped With Puy Lentils


For the butternut pumpkins:

2 medium sized butternut pumpkins weighing about 700g each

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 teaspoon salt



On days when you don’t feel like cooking much but still want to serve up something healthy and filling, this soup is your answer. You can actually use any combination of root vegetables you have on hand but vegetables like kumara (sweet potato) and carrots make the soup luscious. This is a lovely creamy soup that is so satisfying.

Creamy lentil and root vegetable soup


200g onions, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 potatoes, chopped

400g orange kumara

1 parsnip, chopped

4-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons medium curry powder

3 tablespoons vegetable oil like canola

1 cup of lentils, rinsed

150ml coconut cream

30 – 40mls of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Salt to taste


In a large saucepan, heat the oil and fry onions for 3-4 minutes. Toss the garlic and curry powder in and continue frying for a further 30 seconds. Add the lentils and root vegetables. Fry to combine everything well, so the vegetables are coated in the spices. Season with salt. Add 1.5 litres of water. Let it come up to the boil, cover with a lid and let simmer gently for 30 – 40 minutes. The vegetables should be soft and not offer resistance when pressed with a spoon. Rest for five minutes and blitz soup with a hand held stick blender.

Mix in the coconut cream and return saucepan to heat for five minutes until it is warmed through. Stir in the lemon juice. Sprinkle the coriander leaves and serve immediately. Serves 4-6.


Exciting thing about end of summer and early autumn is bountiful produce in the farmers markets. I’ve always loved the sound of jalapeno poppers but didn’t like the idea of deep frying so I created these oven baked poppers. I assure that they are so tasty and if you are a chilli lover, you’ll simply love them and want more.

Jalapeno poppers ready to be grilled
Jalapeno poppers


16 jalapenos

125g cream cheese (I used reduced fat)

1 shallot, finely diced

50g finely grated cheese like gruyere

1 tablespoon of tomato ketchup or hot sauce

Salt to taste


Preheat your grill to 180 degrees Celsius.

Slice the jalapenos in half from the stalk to bottom tip. Scoop out most of the seeds and pith.

In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, shallot, grated cheese and sauce. Season with about half a teaspoon salt.

Arrange the jalapeno halves in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Use your hands or a small teaspoon to fill the jalapenos with the cheese mixture.

Place under grill for 8 – 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly and brown. Serve warm. Serves 4-6 as a starter.


I love growing jalapenos as they are relatively easy to grow and the plants produce abundantly provided you have a long, dry sunny summer. This year, mine didn’t produce well as summer in Wellington was virtually non-existent. I love pickling them as that way I can enjoy year long and tend to use them in different ways. I use them as a pizza topping, in tacos and burritos, chop finely and add them to a dipping sauce or a marinade and in hummus. They are very much a staple in my pantry and if you know how quick it is to make a jar yourself, you won’t be buying them again. You can scale the recipe down too.



1 kilo jalapeno peppers

4 cups white vinegar

2 cups water

Continue reading “PICKLED JALAPENOS”


Chilli is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum which are members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. The plant is capable of mutating very quickly and as a result you have so many varieties. They come in all shapes, sizes, colours and spiciness. The environment also impacts what the pepper will look and taste like: soil, temperature, and weather all need to be taken into account.

Rocoto, Bishop’s hat and Thai red chilli

I am going to share some interesting facts about chillies.

Peppers are believed to be one of the first plants to have been domesticated, and chili pepper seeds from over 6000 years ago have been found in Peru and Mexico.

Continue reading “HOT, HOTTER & HOTTEST”


Who doesn’t love food that is nutritionally balanced, screams fine dining without the pretence or expense, easily prepared at home with readily available ingredients?

This soup is the answer as it is packed with flavour and deliciousness. It is rich and robust without using cream and I know it is going to be this season’s favourite.

Cook’s notes: If you want to retain the green colour of broccoli, use hot stock and leave the soup uncovered if not serving immediately.

Broccoli soup with poached egg


4 eggs

1 large head of broccoli, florets and stalk separated

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4-5 spring onions, trimmed and roughly chopped into 2 cm pieces

5-6 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1l hot, vegetable stock

75g leftover cooked rice



Most cuisines have their version of salsa verde. It is simply a green sauce – in India it is coriander chutney, in Britain it is a mint sauce, France it is simply verte using herbs like parsley. This salsa verde is Mexican in it’s origin and made from tomatillos.


Tomatillos are not baby tomatoes although you can be forgiven for thinking they are. Tomatillos once dehusked look like small green tomatoes.

Tomatillos (botanical name is Physalis philadelphica and Physalis ixocarpa), also known as the Mexican husk tomato, is a plant of the nightshade family bearing small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit of the same name. Being slightly more acidic than tomatoes, they are great roasted. You can make a great salsa with raw tomatillos too.

Salsa Verde

In New Zealand, there are a few growers in the Hawkes Bay and they are available only through specialist supermarkets. I got a good crop out of the seeds I planted last year. You can use tinned tomatillos if you can’t get fresh ones.


500g fresh tomatillos or 200g tinned tomatillos

2-3 Hungarian peppers (optional)

Olive oil for roasting

10-12 cloves of garlic

4-6 fresh green chillies, chopped (seeded if you prefer less heat)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil like Canola

75g brown onion, finely diced

1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander

Salt and ground pepper


If using fresh tomatillos, preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Remove husks from fruit, rinse in warm water and towel dry. Place tomatillos in a roasting pan, along with the Hungarian peppers and cloves of garlic. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast for 30 -40 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the pulp from the garlic cloves. In a blender or food processor, pulse the tomatillos, garlic, peppers and chillies. The salsa verde is nicer if it is chunky so take care not to make the sauce too smooth.

Heat remaining vegetable oil in a pan and cook onion until soft. Add tomatillo mixture and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, remove from heat. Add coriander, salt and pepper.

Store in sterile jars in refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.


Have you ever racked your brain wondering what to take a plate for an office morning tea? Not just office morning tea – I mean a baby shower or for other occasions when you are asked to take something. If you want an easy, fail proof, easy to impress slice, then look no further. I tweaked the recipe a bit to suit my own personal preferences but this is Dean Brettschneider, the Global Baker’s recipe. Do try it as like everyone who has tasted this slice, you’ll be craving for more!

Millionaire’s caramel oat slice


125g melted butter

120g plain flour

70g rolled oats

50g coconut

120g brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder


1 tin (380g) caramel condensed milk

30g butter

45g golden syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Good pinch of sea salt (crystals)


100g dark chocolate (62% cocoa)

20g butter

75g evenly chopped toasted and skinned hazelnuts


For the base

 Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Mix all dry ingredients together and then pour in the melted butter and combine until it forms a loose dough (a little crumbly). Prepare a 28cm by 22 cm baking tin by lining with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly before applying caramel filling. Make caramel filling while base is baking.


Place all the ingredients except the salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring all the time until it becomes thickened. Watch it does not burn.

Spread evenly on warm base and sprinkle the sea salt on top. Place back in oven for further 12 -15 minutes. Cool well.


Melt chocolate and butter together. Spread evenly over cooled caramel and base. Sprinkle with nuts. Refrigerate for a couple of hours at least. When cool, use a sharp knife and cut into squares. Clean knife edge with every cut so you have clean squares.

To prepare roasted hazel nuts, place nuts on a shallow baking tray. Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes at 150 degrees Celsius. Check often to ensure that the nuts don’t burn. Cool and rub nuts in your fingers to loosen skins. Handpick nuts out and discard skins. Chop with a knife or in a food processor.


I learnt to make this brittle from my friend Rachana. I had tasted it more than a year ago and when I asked for the recipe, she said she eye balls all the ingredients, so she needs to come over to my place and demonstrate. We did just that a couple of weeks back. In India, brittle is called chikki and there are family variations. Sesame seed and peanut brittle are most common. Chikki is made with jaggery and an easy substitute would be muscavado sugar.

Mixed nut chikki

This mixed nut version uses edible gum called gond or gaund or gondh. The gum is dried resin of axle wood tree (type of Acacia – the botanical name is Anogeissus latifolia) and is believed to be a wonderful warming food according to Ayurveda.

Frying the edible gum until it is popped

Copra is dried coconut kernel – commonly sold in Indian supermarkets in the half shell or uncut as a whole.


300g cashew nuts

350g almonds

150g pumpkin kernels

200g dried copra

75g sesame seeds

50g sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon pepper

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

½ teaspoon ajwain (carom seeds)

32g edible gum or gond

6 tablespoons ghee

750g good quality jaggery


Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and spread the cashew nuts and almonds, making sure to keep them separate. Roast in oven for 25 – 30 minutes until they are well roasted and crisp. Once cool, cut or process in the food processor so they are roughly chopped.

Dry roast the sesame seeds. Place the pumpkin kernels in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 30 seconds intervals until they are roasted. May take a couple of minutes based on your microwave wattage. Finely slice the copra and dry roast in a pan.

Prepare two large baking sheet pans by lining them with baking paper. Have a large rolling pin handy.

In a large non-stick cooking pot, dry roast the spices – pepper, fennel seeds and ajwain. Pound coarsely and set aside.

Heat four tablespoons of ghee and fry the edible gum in three batches until it pops.

Caramelizing the jaggery to hard ball consistency

Put the jaggery in the pot along with the remaining two tablespoons of ghee. Melt the jaggery while stirring continuously. Have a small bowl with cold water handy to test the doneness of the syrup. You have to get the jaggery to a hard ball consistency. This means if you drop the syrup in water, it turns hard immediately.

Once the jaggery syrup is ready, mix in all the prepared nuts, spices and edible gum. Mix well and pour onto prepared sheet pan. Flatten out using a rolling pin. Use a pizza cutter to cut the chikki into bite sized pieces. Store in an airtight container.


This is a flavourful, protein packed one pot dish that is plant based. When you eat this, it definitely feels like you are feeding your soul. You may need to get the urad dhal from an Indian grocer along with black mustard seeds. The urad dhal makes the stew thick and creamy.

Lentil, Buckwheat and Spinach Stew


250g red lentils

50g urad dhal

100g buckwheat, toasted

250g tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 x 400g tin of chick peas, drained

200g onions, thinly sliced

1-2 green chillies, sliced thinly (optional)

7-8 centimetre piece of ginger, peeled and finely sliced

120g spinach, finely chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

4 tablespoons vegetable oil like canola

Coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Greek style yoghurt to serve (optional)


Dry toast the buck wheat for five minutes on medium heat until pale brown.

Heat oil in a large saucepan. When hot enough, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When you hear them crackling, add the onion, green chillies and ginger and a teaspoon of salt. Fry on medium heat for seven to ten minutes until soft. Add the red lentils and urad dhal and continue frying for another 10 minutes on low heat.

Use a box grater and grate the tomatoes. When the mixture looks dry, add the grated tomatoes and juice. Continue frying as the lentils will absorb most of the moisture quickly. Measure out 2 cups of water – add half cup of water at a time and cook (with lid closed) for five minutes until the water is absorbed before adding another half cup. Spoon in the tomato paste, along with chick peas, toasted buck wheat and turmeric powder. Continue adding half cup of water in five minute intervals and cook for a further 12-15 minutes until the buck wheat is soft. Mix in the spinach leaves. Cover and cook for a further 30 seconds. Turn off heat, remove lid. This way the spinach will remain a vibrant green colour.

Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste. Stir in the coriander leaves.

Serve hot with a dollop of Greek style yoghurt.