Tag Archives: fish

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!


L’Assiette – post #2

Food for thought is no substitute for the real thing.
~ Walt Kelly

L’Assiette is not a place you are likely to just visit once. Oh, no. I don’t know what it is – there must have been a secret spell tucked into the heart of the croque madame I had when I first visited this place – I’ve now been there for breakfast, lunch, dinner and in-between. Not all the time, but still. That’s a lot of meals to eat in one place in just two months.

I had dinner there for the first time last night. My friends Matt and John came to visit from Wellington, and I thought they might enjoy it…

We got a bottle of 2009 Domaine Lafond Côtes du Rhône Roc-Epine for the table (lovely red, like a silk dress). John ordered their scotch fillet served with a bourguignon garnish and roasted potatoes; Matt opted for the fish; I was very close to ordering the duck but decided to pick the fish in the end because, well, if I am to ever like cooked salmon or polenta, I felt L’Assiette would be the place to change my heart.

They did.

The fish made me want to kiss someone.

I’m not sure why I am describing it that way, but it was honestly the first thought that entered my brain (I hasten to add that I did not give the boys seated across from me this honour). Last night’s poisson du jour was a sublime piece of salmon cooked so beautifully I even ate the skin (usually a no-go zone for me). The sauce did what every sauce should do – it made the star (the salmon) shine. Also, the texture was amazing – so light that each time I placed a bit of it in my mouth I felt like I was eating a savoury cloud.

The skins on the oven-roasted cherry tomatoes on the side were just getting ready to burst; the tomatoes collapsed readily in my mouth.

I looked at the polenta on my plate, hesitating slightly.

I’ve tried polenta fries, polenta cakes – and, mostly, it’s been sort of disappointing. Reminiscent of rice or cous cous in a jelly mold.

Last night, I was so sad when I got to the last bite of the polenta! If you want to make someone love polenta, send them to L’Assiette. And have them eat it with their salmon.

We weren’t given a long time to mourn the completion of dinner – the dessert menu made its way to our table, and the well-lit cabinet in the background perked up as we looked towards its offerings. The boys ordered a mille-feuille and a creme brulee respectively; I opted for a coffee éclair. I was given a fork and knife to eat this – it felt like an occasion. This is one of the many little things that cause me to love this place; no matter what you order – a macaron or a main – they are designed to please, and served with thought and care.

L’Assiette – 9 Britomart Place, Auckland – Phone: 09 309 0961


Let your hook always be cast; in the stream where you least expect it, there will be a fish.
~ Ovid

So I sat tonight in a room pregnant with good smells and hungry people, watching this man whip up Mediterranean seafood dishes… but my mind was far away. It was an unsettling and seemingly slow day at work today, and by 3.30pm when we were seated in a meeting room on a conference call – I was less taken by the call than I was by the view outside the window… the sky was startling. Half the sky was illuminated, blinding; while the other half sat shrouded in angry cobalt and grey. Then we learned about this afternoon’s tornado… not a good thing at all. Things are a little crazy around the world and I think this is a time to live courageously and reach out more! At least, I’m trying to do so…

Anyway, class tonight: the main thing I learned from Marco was a wonderful method of chopping basil finely without bruising it. Usually, I tear the leaves with my fingers – but tonight I learned that to chop them finely without bruising them, you stack them like pancakes, roll the stack into a little cigarette and chop finely. Great method which Marco says he adapted from Gordon Ramsay.

After watching Marco and his assistant demonstrate cooking the dishes, we were divided into groups of four to cook our dinner. Things went reasonably smoothly all things considered and I soon fell into a different world where everything else that was going on around me seemed at once immediate and distant; all I knew was the smell, look and feel of what I was touching – de-boning oily salmon and smashing/peeling/chopping garlic and drizzling garlic oil on baguette slices… beautiful is food! I hardly noticed what everyone else in my group was doing, but they did really well and dinner came together so nicely.

(Kath did most of the plating – not so well captured in the photographs in this post – our plates looked very pretty on the table!)

Finally, everything was ready and we sat down to enjoy a glass of chilled white wine; saffron scented fish soup and garlic crostini; poached seafood roulade, spinach and sauce vierge; and lemon sorbet (the latter was provided by the kind folks at Auckland Fish Market).

Overall verdict? The whole meal was wonderfully light and easy to eat, yet satisfying; flavours melded together well and the fish was perfect. Preparation wasn’t too difficult and I suspect that with some practice, this routine will be a very easy and good one to use for dinner gatherings. Marco gave a great demonstration and was unbelievably patient while we were fumbling in the kitchen and constantly all asking for help at the same time!

I’m not sure I really tasted the saffron or the fish stock in the soup tonight, but what I do think are great are the simple additions of basic ingredients like fresh herbs, celery, fennel, leeks, potatoes, salt, pepper, lemon, sugar – I suspect carrots would be great too and that ingredients can easily be swapped based on what is in the cupboard or in season at the time.

Also great – the use of two kinds of fish (salmon and a white fish) in the roulade and in the soup, and varying the textures (cubed, minced), and, oh, I cannot not mention the vierge sauce. My goodness! The vierge sauce was so delicious – and so simple. Olive oil, tomatoes, lemon, basil, chervil, garlic, coriander, salt and pepper – mixed and gently warmed – and that was it. I do think this sauce would effectively work its magic on many other dishes.

So thank you Kath, for coming to class with me, Marco, and Auckland Fish Market for tonight. :-)


Finally, a chance to use the Moroccan spices I bought in Morocco in December… a dash of olive oil, garlic, spices, lemon zest and lemon juice on some fresh tarakihi – yum!

A good risotto to conclude Risotto Season

Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.
~ Mark Twain

There’re a few dishes that are lovely to cook and to eat, but not in excess – and I am fast learning that risotto is one of them. For instance, I fashion meals with eggs all the time and never tire of them, but risotto… risotto is different. It’s beautiful, elegant and comforting, but it’s absolutely smothering if you have it too often (made the third one this month tonight – oops).

I think both Matt and I were heaving wearily with the weight of risotto after a few spoonfuls of it this evening!

The recipe came from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:
#62 Champagne Risotto – Page 297

Tessa Kiros describes it perfectly with the phrase “startling honesty”… that is exactly what it is. The champagne is invisible, seemingly lost in a galaxy of rice, butter, parmesan and shallots – but its aroma penetrates your mind and its flavour arrests your tongue the moment it enters your mouth. It’s a blade of truth, transparent and pure. I do like this dish, and think it is best served in smaller portions as a prelude to seafood or vegetables.

As the risotto bubbled to cooked perfection, I stirred in a whisked egg yolk as suggested in the notes; I think I liked this and will do it again in other risotto dishes in the future.

You’re looking for photographic evidence now, I know. Well, I am sorry I am unable to post any of the pictures I took. I ran them past three people just to be sure I was not the only one who thought them distasteful, and all of them think you will be better off not seeing them… :-/

Tonight, we also had:

Matt’s Juice (version #50-something-at-least? of juices like this)… tonight’s version included baby carrots and beetroot leaves. :-/ Pretty potent.

Monkfish baked with lemon zest and juice, garlic, olive oil, rosemary, salt, pepper… (wrap the fish up in foil parcels and bake at 180°C for around 20 minutes. Simple).

And now we are drinking stovetop hot chocolate… always a welcome finish to the evening!


PS. Cute is this post on The God of Cake.

The wonderful world of rain

Short post tonight, since it’s really way way past my bedtime.

1. Thunderstorms, rain and wacky hail are so fantastic (when you are watching them crash and pour from within a warm room)… I LOVED watching it this evening and was much excited about it… poor Jono had to sit through my excitement :-)

2. Caramelised leek rings, fried flour-dipped monkfish, grainy bread, salt, pepper, lemon zest and juice make for a pretty good 4pm lunch.


Baked market fish with lemon, salt & dill

I don’t like gourmet cooking or ‘this’ cooking or ‘that’ cooking. I like good cooking.
~ James Beard

I went to City Market with Luke on Sunday and we came home victorious with: fresh fish from Rachel at Yellow Brick Road, delicious cranberry & pistachio chocolate from Annette at Esque Chocolate, and a heady bulb of fennel from a bustling vege stall. What a treat on a greeeey Sunday morning!

    Baked market fish with lemon, salt & dill
    For the fish:
    2 snapper fish
    2 lemons
    olive oil
    Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
    Line a baking tray with foil, and grease it lightly.
    Zest 1 lemon, and cut both lemons into quarters. Put 4 lemon quarters aside. Wash the fish, and make 2-3 shallow, diagonal cuts on both sides of them. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil and lemon juice over the fish, sprinkle on salt, dill and lemon zest, and rub them in gently. Repeat above steps on the other side of the fish.
    Bake the fish for 23 minutes, or until they are cooked. They should be a little milky and the aroma that hits you in the face upon the oven door opening should cause smiling dizziness.
    Serve with remaining lemon wedges (for the fish), braised fennel, and a glass of ice-cold wine. Don’t forget to eat the fish cheeks too…
    Conclude with strong black coffee and a bit of dark chocolate.

The fish was so fresh, it would honestly have tasted wonderful even on its own. Lightly scented with lemon, salt and dill though, it was perfect. It was also really great to just eat a whole fish again! Fennel is still pretty new territory for me, but I like it more each time I eat it – the aniseed flavour of it tiptoes around my senses in a very pleasing way.

Recipe for fish inspired by Rachel :-) – fennel recipe borrowed from Orangette (except I didn’t read it properly, and missed the browning step!)