Category Archives: Products

David Schofield at Grey Lynn Farmers’ Market

“As with all good spinach, it’s still got dirt on it”
~ David Schofield

[How time flies! I penned this post a whole MONTH ago. Anyway, better late than never, right?]

You get people who cook, people who teach others how to cook, and people who are champions of food. David Schofield is all three.

For some, David needs no introduction, having won several awards including NZ Culinary Fare’s New Zealand Chef of the Year 2011. I had not previously heard of David – but following Sunday’s demonstration, will be keen to read/see more of him again.

On Sunday [23 Oct], I yanked myself out of bed a little later than I meant to, arriving at the bustling Grey Lynn Farmers’ Market just minutes before David’s demo was due to begin. When I got there and saw all the great looking stalls, I immediately regretted my laziness, for there was now no time to shop before the demo…

Out in the courtyard, grey clouds gathered and a few tears spilled from the sky, but a small crowd appeared nonetheless. A kind lady wiped the chairs with a tea towel and we all sat down in front of David’s stand/kitchen/screen, eager to see what David would present.

In just two hours (with an intermission in between), David produced five dishes – with yummy samples for lucky us – and I don’t know about everyone else, but I came away with way more than just recipes and good food in my tummy – I also gained tips, knowledge and laughter.

I think the skies liked David’s demo too. It held in the rain. :-)

First dish on the tasty menu: cheese dreams (see above). The name itself was enough to make me swoon; but add in Over the Moon cheese curd, some quality bread, free range NZ bacon and a nicely poached egg – and there you have it; a breakfast to keep you dreaming happily all day. David also got Roland from Over the Moon to chat briefly about their cheese and share ideas on what to do with the cheese curd (pair it with salmon, spinach, roasted veges – mmm!)

Dish #2 involved ginger syrup, honey, some luscious wet and natural jam, strawberries… a sweet dance on the tongue and very pretty to look at.

Next, David whipped up what he calls “a play on French Toast”. He blithely cooked while telling us the truth about bright orange salmon (source of colour: carrot pellets). A not-so-pretty tale behind a lovely colour; a good lesson in deciphering “real and fresh” from “lies consumers believe”, I think! David’s emphasis on fresh and local food came through from start to finish of his demo by way of little facts like the colour we may expect fresh salmon to be – salmon feeding on kura may be reddish in colour, while salmon feeding on seaweed may tend towards white tones, etc.

He reminded us that when we reject fresh and local produce in favour of perfectly shaped, unblemished, brightly coloured produce, growers have little choice but to (1) import from overseas, (2) discard perfectly good produce that doesn’t meet these “ideals”, (3) add additives/modify our vegetables to meet our demands. Sure makes me think twice about how I pick my veges!

He also mentioned another point which I like very much: “Every time you buy an NZ product, it tastes just as good as its overseas equivalent, and it keeps someone here employed”.

The salmon “French Toast” (see above), complete with a lovely tomato paste, was put in the oven just long enough to warm (but not cook) the salmon… it emerged beautifully flavoured, and David paired it with a fennel and mesclun salad. I’m pretty sure this dish could steal a smile from the grumpiest human you know.

During the intermission, I hastened in to look at the stalls… and my eye fell on some Good Things indeed (green apple olive oil, creamy cheese, spicy and sweet ginger syrup – just to name a few!)

When we reconvened, David showed us two lavish and simple (the combination sounds contradictory, but it’s true!) dishes: oyster and spinach with lemon pappardelle, and fresh flounder with broad beans and fresh greens. I didn’t get to try the flounder, but the oyster pasta was precious to sample – just imagine soft, quivering, oyster mingled with gently wilted spinach and fresh, generous wide pappardelle ribbons… it was honest, calming and delicious.

It was a pleasure to watch David cook, and inhale the good smells. Vanilla-toned pappardelle bearing the hallmark of freshness: uneven edges. Broad beans tinkering from David’s fingers into a bowl. The warming, nutty aroma of beurre noisette. The sound of fish sizzling in the skillet. So much colour and freshness.

David’s demo was a display of abundance, a reflection of the truth David mentioned at one point: we live in a country where you can visit your Neighbour with the Lemon Trees or go out with a line and catch an honest-to-goodness fish (so why don’t we realise how lucky we are more often?).

Along with the laughs (on David’s generous “pinches” of salt and “pats” of butter, etc), we also gleaned a gallon of great kitchen/food tips from David. I’ll share a few here:

  • On de-veining spinach: fold the spinach leaf like you’d fold a heart (vertically), then gently tear away the stalk.
  • On shucking oysters: grip the oyster with a dish towel, and hold a shucking knife in your other hand. Run the knife along the opening, and pry the shell apart. Open the oyster over a bowl so you don’t lose the juices. (Use the juices in the dish too).
  • On fresh vegetables: better with dirt and insects than bleach (another “lie consumers believe” = clean, sparkling leaves with a sanitised smell are fresh and good… not true).
  • On pepper: it is not a season, but a spice – it alters flavour.
  • On fish fins: snip off with scissors prior to cooking, as they burn quickly in the pan.
  • On removing fish skin: make a cut under the fish skin, dab on some salt to give some grip, then use your thumb and pull the fish skin off.

Here is a picture of David showing us how to take the bone off… admittedly I didn’t see how he did it: one blink, one lift and the bone was out!

David was as generous with food samples as he was with taking questions, and people gathered to ask more questions at the end:

I regrettably had to dash off while David was still taking questions. Late in the afternoon, I came home to my market/NZ produce-lunch – not quite David’s fare (yet), but delicious in my hungriness nevertheless: fresh sourdough topped with Over the Moon black truffle brie (triple cream brie with truffle in the middle… it is every bit as good as it sounds), J. Friend and Co Northern Rata honey (sweet, gently earthy and delicate), and a spicy hot toddy made with Hakanoa Ginger Syrup (the BEST). I look forward to cooking a few things based on David’s recipes soon!

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving!

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I felt like Winnie the Pooh

“Sometimes,” said Pooh, “the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
~ A.A. Milne

Tasting this, I was Winnie the Pooh in Wonderland.

I am sure I am not the only J. Friend and Co. honey consumer who has thought about sticking a human paw into one of their jars…

Before we moved to New Zealand, I was a stranger to the wide honey world. If anyone said “honey”, I’d think of couples or of a sticky bright yellow substance glooping down Pooh Bear’s rotund tummy. Over the last few years, I have really loved getting acquainted with the beautiful honey made right here in this country – especially the unique manuka honey which NZ is so rightfully well known for.

While I like honey, though, I have seldom enjoyed it neat. I can be persuaded to try raw cookie dough, or lick my butter knife after using it to spread PB on toast, and once or twice I have even been seen to lick a plate (ungraceful, I know)… but I am mostly NOT a honey-spoon-licker. I’ll drizzle honey on my crumpets or stir honey into warm water, then toss the honey-coated spoon straight into the sink.

So yesterday, while trying to choose a honey (of my three jars*, of which I had only tried one) for R’s salmon, I took a TINY sample of each one… before Winnie the Pooh unexpectedly whooshed into my brain. He nearly took over. Instead, I took out teaspoons and insisted that everyone try some honey. I think I may have looked frighteningly excited, because they all looked a little shocked and just obeyed silently.

;-)

I am happy to say that after everyone had a taste of some honey, no one questioned my sanity. It spoke for itself…

We used a few spoonfuls of the Beechwood Honeydew honey to make a honey-balsamic glaze which greatly enhanced our main course of seared salmon fillet; baby spinach and blanched asparagus tossed with lemon zest; portobello mushrooms baked with halloumi; and couscous with parsley.

This honey tasted of forests and fairies… it was a total surprise, and it was wonderful to place a full teaspoon of this into my mouth and shut my eyes for a minute… I thought of Enid Blyton’s “The Wishing Chair” (still so fun to think about, years later). What can I say? If you were to use a liquid to describe imagination and abundance, this honey would come pretty close.

We ate very well last night. R and K thoroughly spoiled us with this dinner, and their company! (Thank you R and K!)

In addition to that crazily delicious salmon dish above (which the photo does not do justice to), we also had prosciutto draped over cantaloupe… a combination I have often heard great things about but never ventured to try. I was certainly not disappointed!

For dessert, I just assembled two platters:

Havarti with grapes and crackers, and fresh strawberries with crème fraîche and brown sugar. Not that we really fit much dessert in after the preceding courses!

* Thank you so much, kind Sharyn, for sending me two jars of your precious honey to try! I can’t wait to try the Viper’s Bugloss honey in a dish. :-)

Kit-Kat comes in green, too

Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise.
~ Julia Cameron

Did you know that Kit-Kat came in so many flavours? I didn’t!

I was quite surprised when Dave whipped out these cherry blossom & green tea-flavoured kit-kats from his bag… and even more surprised when I saw their colour… (lovely green)! Eventually, my face went from looking like this -> O.O to -> B-).

Taste-wise, it was pleasant, with a floral scent and a flavour reminiscent of milky white chocolate. Inevitably, it did taste processed – still fun to eat though!

It sure is interesting to think about how different snack foods are around the world… and to remember the things we used to eat at school in Asia (whilst hiding behind our textbooks, of course): curry puffs, Pocky sticks, Mamee noodles, Twisties…… what a different range of snacks we eat here in New Zealand. Everyone likes different ones, of course, but in the places I’ve worked in, it’s been common to find mini pies, muffins, sandwiches, sausage rolls and fruit being served at morning teas…

I’ve heard it said many times that snacking is bad for you, but mini meals can be such fun.

Well, it’s late and I must get to bed… goodnight!

To market, to market

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
~ J. R. R. Tolkien

Visiting City Market this morning was a delicious experience. Haidee and I went around sampling some tasty things (especially loved the unique thyme-infused chocolate from Esque Chocolate), chatting with the lovely stall-holders about their produce and (unfortunately secret) recipes, and I also bought some fresh duck rillette which made for a delightful afternoon snack today.

Things I enjoyed: besides the food itself of course, I loved watching a smile flicker slowly across a baker’s face as he talked about what flours he uses in his bread, apologising that he couldn’t disclose details of his partner’s secret recipe… loved it when the lovely lady from Esque Chocolate shyly offered us two exquisite twigs of orange-peel chocolate, asking what we thought… loved seeing the lady selling vegetables obviously enjoying herself while bagging stalks of fragrant fennel and cheery figs for happy customers… loved listening to stall-holders talk about their area of expertise… loved seeing people milling around, taking time to do their grocery shopping…

If you want to read more about City Market, Millie did an excellent two-part review of it – here and here.

This is a snapshot of my duck rillette spread on some nice rye bread :-) Très bonne!

This afternoon, I decided to try my hand at making some pesto from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:
#55 Pistachio & Rucola Pesto – Page 306

Modifications: I used mesclun instead of rocket; and not having a weighing scale, I couldn’t ascertain the weight of my ingredients so I just went by instinct. Our blender isn’t working very well either, so it was pretty interesting shaking it vigorously in trying to get it to run! The result was a full-bodied, garlic-spiced pesto with the distinctive flavours of pistachios and parmesan shining through like a star – I do look forward to stirring this through some pasta on Tuesday night!

I also bought some fennel this afternoon, which I haven’t cooked with before… my poor flatmates John and Jono are going to be guinea pigs yet again for this dinner experiment (which I haven’t quite worked out the details for yet, except that it will involve chicken, cream, fennel, white wine, rosemary and maybe some leek and carrots).

[edit] Below: Tuesday’s pesto-ed pasta… (with leeks, cream, lemon & riesling)

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Yummy poppadoms


Image © Trade Aid.

These have got to be the yummiest poppadoms I’ve ever eaten.

Seriously. I first tried them yesterday. They are like little crispy warm blankets, toasty, flavourful, yummy like hell… more addictive than chips.

What adds to my appreciation of these is the knowledge that they’re made by Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad, an amazing group of 40,000+ women in India. (‘Lijjat’ means tasty, ‘mahila’ means women, ‘griha’ means home, ‘udyog’ means industry.)

Originally started in 1959 by 7 semi-literate Gujarati housewives, this is a group of hardy women who have navigated all sorts of challenges ranging from the general secretary of a trade union trying to interfere in their affairs, to fake Lijjat poppadoms being circulated in the market…… not to mention the challenges surrounding poverty, gender discrimination, violence etc that affect many women in India!

Presently, Lijjat aims to empower women by providing them with employment opportunities. They run their business and cooperative system through 60 autonomous branches; their ‘sister-members’ as they call each other all have a right to vote on business policy. Lijjat also coordinates free transport, eye tests, health education and literacy programmes for its members.

What I find remarkable too is that no machinery is used at production level in accordance with their aim to generate self-employment for women!

Go poppadom shopping
More information on Lijjat