Family food

I’ve been in New Zealand for exactly a week now and I’ve eaten what I’d probably eat in two back in Hong Kong. I’m visiting my relatives in Auckland – my mum’s three sisters and brother and my little cousin, who just turned 5 today. There’s a massive food obsession in my family, which my mum passed on to me. We love to plan our next meal, or snack, whilst eating and spend most of our time talking about food.

I’d only been in Auckland for about 10 minutes before I had my first ice cream. There’s a farm store on the way into the city that grows loads of fresh vegetables, as well as strawberries, and one of the sons of the owners decided it would be a good idea to invest in an ice cream machine several years back to make use of the slightly damaged or too ripe berries they had left over. Well it turned out to be hugely popular and there’s now four machines and a heap of picnic tables outside the large shed that were full of people happily licking away at their strawberry ice creams.

The farm shop

Vanilla ice cream and strawberries are blended together on the spot to create soft serve ice cream in a lovely fresh waffle cone. I ordered a regular size, laughing away suggestions of trying the smaller ‘kiddie’ size. Well, regular size is absolutely massive, I think I was very nearly sick by the time I got to the end of the cone, but it was well worth the struggle!

My huge strawberry ice cream

We were invited over for lunch today to celebrate my cousin, Amberley’s birthday. My aunts who I’m staying with, decided we had to make something to take along and decided on scones since we didn’t have much time. We don’t make traditional individual scones, but instead one large one that is chopped up into squares, which makes it really nice and easy to make.

We used dates and crystallised ginger in this batch, but you can use anything really – dried fruit, chocolate, cheese and tomato, and I’m pretty sure it would all be delicious.

It’s super simple – to make one batch you just need 1 cup self-raising flour, 1/2 cup milk, 1 tablespoon butter, plus the fruit or whatever you are using. Place the flour in a food processor, pulse for a couple of seconds just to get a bit of air in there, add the chopped up cold butter, pulse again til it looks like breadcrumbs. Turn out into a bowl, add the fruit and then gradually pour in the milk, mixing well. Place this on a floured baking tray and shape out a bit, then brush with a bit of milk and shake a little bit of sugar over it. There are loads of variations on this recipe but these are the basics. We baked them at 200ºC for about 12 minutes, checking if they were done by tapping them on the outside – if it sounds hollow they are ready! Serve with butter, jam, cream, whatever you like really!

The dough sitting on a floured baking sheet

Flattened out and shaped

Just out of the oven

The finished scones, all cut up

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Baking and eggs

I found myself at franc franc one evening, trying to find some plates and props for our the next foodie shoot. The more issues we do, the harder it is to get find stuff that isn’t just white or indeed, horrible and flowery. franc franc is one of the few places that stock more unusual, modern dinnerware. That being said, it’s also pretty pricey, so when I saw they were on sale, I snapped up some ceramic cocotte pots that I immediately pictured myself baking eggs in.

The next day was Saturday (yes I spent my friday night shopping for discount dishes) and it turned out Ben and I were both home and up early that day, so we decided to make breakfast.

As always, I hadn’t really planned ahead so we just cooked what we had in the fridge – some free range eggs, mushrooms, feta, and two bunches of asparagus, green and white, that Lee at Graze had left over from a catering job.

I quickly sautéed the mushrooms with some garlic and butter, whilst Ben blanched some of the asparagus. I added this into a mixture of two whisked eggs, some milk, salt, pepper and Italian parsley. After pouring this into the cocotte pots, I placed some roughly cut up feta on top and then cracked a whole egg over each. We popped them into the oven and meanwhile stewed some tomatoes, red onions and rosemary together.

Egg, asparagus and mushroom mixture

With feta layer

And another egg on top

Tomatoes, onion and rosemary

The pots took about 10 minutes to cook through, and we served them up with white asparagus and buttery toast soliders.

They came out really well, though could probably have done with a minute or two less in the oven as the yolk wasn’t very runny. In the end, we turned them out, upside down and covered them with plenty of the tomato sauce.

The final dish

Turned out and upside down, with tomato sauce on top

Cut open

Tomato sauce