Friday, 6 January 2017

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Zucchini (also known as courgette) is grown all around the world as a summer vegetable. Technically a fruit because it comes from a flower, zucchini comes from the Cucurbito pepo family like pumpkin and the other many varieties of summer and winter squash.

Originating in South America, Zucchini has been domesticated throughout the world as a food source of thousands of years. There is evidence of zucchini cultivation in Southern Mexico, dating back around 8-10,000 years.

High in vitamin C and with a good amount of Vitamin A, one 16gm serving of gives you a healthy, tasty vegetable option for your family.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

115 grams (1/2 cup) butter
240 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
60 grams (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
180 grams brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
350 grams (2 cups) unpeeled grated zucchini
160 grams good-quality chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 25-cm (10-inch) round springform pan.

Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 

In a seperate bowl, beat the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs, mixing well between each addition.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, chocolate chips, and about a third of the flour mixture, making sure the zucchini strands are well coated and not clumping too much.

Add the rest of the flour mixture into the egg batter. Mix until just combined; the batter will be thick.
Fold the zucchini mixture into the batter, and blend with a spatula without overmixing. Pour into the prepared cake pan, and level the surface.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer onto a rack to cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the pan to loosen, and unclasp the sides of the pan. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. 

Finish with chocolate icing.

Zucchini Relish

Zucchini (also known as courgette) is grown all around the world as a summer vegetable. Technically a fruit because it comes from a flower, zucchini comes from the Cucurbito pepo family like pumpkin and the other many varieties of summer and winter squash.

Originating in South America, Zucchini has been domesticated throughout the world as a food source of thousands of years. There is evidence of zucchini cultivation in Southern Mexico, dating back around 8-10,000 years.

High in vitamin C and with a good amount of Vitamin A, one 16gm serving of gives you a healthy, tasty vegetable option for your family.

Zucchini Relish

10 c. grated zucchini (skin on)
4 tbsp. salt
Dash of garlic salt
4 c. ground onion
1 finely diced red pepper
5 c. sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 chopped green pepper
2 c. vinegar
1 tsp. tumeric
1 tsp. cornflour
2 tsp. celery seed

Mix first 3 ingredients and place in a colander for at least two hours, to allow moisture to be displaced.  

Add remaining ingredients. Bring all to a boil and simmer for about 60 minutes - you will see the liquid become quite glossy. 

Seal while very hot in jars. Leave for a month of so before eating.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Fresh Pasta

2 Cups High Grade Flour
2 Cups 00 Flour (or just use 4 cups High Grade Flour)
4 large Eggs

Form the flour into a mound, in the centre of a large wooden board. Make a well in the centre of the mound.

Crack the eggs into a bowl. Using a fork, beat the eggs together and pour into the well. Starting from the inside of the well, begin to incorporate the flour. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape (it will look messy, and that is okay!).

When half of the flour is incorporated, the dough will begin to come together. Start kneading the dough, mostly using the palms of your hands. Once the dough has completely come together, set the dough aside and scrape up and discard any dried bits of dough.

Continue kneading for 10 minutes, dusting the board with additional flour as necessary. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature before using.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016


This delicious drink is made using plain white rice.

1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
3 1/2 cups cold water
1 can evaporated milk
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Add all ingredients to list

Place the rice in a bowl with enough water to cover it and let it soak overnight.
Strain the rice and discard the water. Stir the cold water and evaporated milk together. Place the drained rice into a blender along with half of the diluted milk. Blend until the rice is finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla; blend well. Pour in the remaining diluted milk; blend.

Line a strainer with two layers of cheesecloth. Place the strainer over another bowl to catch the liquid. Strain the rice milk through the cheesecloth, discard the solids. Repeat the process if necessary. Serve over ice.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Thai Curry

It has been a while between recipes and for that I apologise. It has been foodie paradise in Whakatane this year, with two brand new events; the Wild Food Challenge and the Sunshine and a Plate Food Festival. I am so lucky to have been involved in both events, but it has taken every bit of spare time I had. So now, after a week to rest my body and mind, I am happily writing again.

One of my jobs for the Sunshine and a Plate food festival was a wild food demo, sponsored by HOBEC. Using fresh swordfish for my protein, I made curry two ways, using very traditional red and green Thai curry pastes. Making curry paste is really easy and so rewarding. The recipe I am sharing today has been used as a sauce for every meat I cook and is really good with vegetables or lentils, too. I have served it as a main, an entrée, as a soup and as a stew. It is incredibly versatile and no matter what you do with it, it always tastes good. But first, some interesting information about Thai curry paste.

Thai curries as we know them are actually named “Gaeng”, but pronounced with a “k” sound in place of the “g”. The paste has always been made with shrimp paste, onions or shallots, lemongrass, garlic, chillies, galangal (closely related to ginger) and coriander root. While there will be variations added to these ingredients, a true Gaeng paste will always have these base ingredients. While most Thai curry dishes include coconut cream or milk, traditionally they did not. They are described in the first Thai dictionary 1873 CE as a watery dish using those base ingredients, as listed above. It is interesting to note that Thai people do not call this dish a curry at all. In Thai, “kari” (curry) is specific to Indian influenced curry, with flavours such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, pepper and cumin.

When you make your paste, make a good sized batch – it freezes really well. I divide my left over paste into meal lots and store in zip lock bags in the freezer. Then simply take it out, thaw and fry, like you would when it is fresh. I would love to hear how you get on, so please feel free to make contact.

Kia makona, Mawera Karetai

Thai Green Curry with Swordfish
1 1/2 tablespoons for the spice paste and a further 2 tablespoons of oil for the fish
3 tablespoons green curry paste, recipe follows
Enough fish for the meal
1 standard tin each of coconut cream and coconut milk (use two cans of milk for a thinner sauce)
5 kaffir lime leaves, lightly bruised
2 small, sweet capsicum sliced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/4 cup Coriander and some Thai basil

·       Heat up a pot over medium heat and add the oil. Sauté the green curry paste until aromatic. Add the coconut milk and cream and bring it to a quick boil.
·       Add the kaffir lime leaves and capsicum. Lower the heat to simmer, cover the pot and let simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce slightly thickens.
·       Cut the fish steaks into bite-sized pieces. Sauté in oil until just cooked through.
·       Add the fish, fish sauce, basil and coriander to the curry. Stir gently and serve immediately with rice.

Green Curry Paste
1 tablespoon sliced coriander roots
1 tablespoon coriander
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons galangal
1/4 cup garlic
1 Kaffir Lime (try really hard to find this, but if you can’t, regular lime will do)
3-4 tablespoons sliced lemongrass
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup sliced shallots
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
2 large Green Thai Chilli Peppers
·       Making the paste: Toast coriander, peppercorns and cumin in a pan until light brown.  You’ll hear the crackling sound when they're ready.  Let the spices cool so they will grind easily.
·       Slice shallots, lemongrass, galangal and cilantro roots into small pieces.  I use one lemongrass stalk. Slice thinly or grate the kaffir lime zest, about 1 tablespoon. They will grind into fine paste with smaller fibers

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Peach Chutney

Right outside our back door is the most amazing peach tree I have ever seen. It is tall, strong and keeps the summer sun out of our living room in the late afternoon. It started life as a seedling under a wild tree on the side of the road, and was soon planted in our garden. For the first couple of years nothing happened, and then the third year we had buds, but it aborted all the fruit soon after they formed. We decided to give it one more year (last year) and we are very glad we did; last year we got a healthy crop of peaches and this year was even better. So what to do with kilos and kilos of peaches? My two favourites are peach chutney to serve with cold meats and of course bottles peaches for winter desserts.

Peaches are deciduous trees (they lose their leaves annually), originating in Northwest China. They are a tree that likes a cold winter and so they grow best in places like Central Otago and the Hawkes Bay. Over the last two winters here in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, we have had some good winter frosts which have contributed to our good crop. Most varieties of peach require 500 hours of chilling (0-10 degrees Celsius) over the last autumn/early winter period. Over this time the plant is dormant, but inside, important chemical reactions are taking place. Once the weather starts to warm up again, these reactions result in the buds breaking and growing. Peach trees can happily tolerate temperatures above -26C, but new buds are unlikely to form if the temperature falls below -16C, especially close to bud break. If temperatures are too warm over winter, then the chemical reaction required for fruit does not happen, or at least is not as successful as it would be in a cooler climate.
Peaches are loaded with nutrition.

One large peach will provide an adult with up to 10% of their daily requirement of fibre, vitamin A, potassium and almost 20% of the vitamin C we need. That is a lot of goodness packed into a very delicious snack.

One of my favourite things to do with excess peaches is to make peach chutney. Today I will share my recipe with you. Enjoy!
Kia makona,
Mawera Karetai x
Peach Chutney


1.8kg firm, ripe peaches
1 2/3 cups light brown sugar
Two cinnamon quills
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 small red onion, sliced finely
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
12 cardamom pods, bruised
2 fresh red chillies, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced (choose your chilli based on your tastes

·         Bring a large pot of water to a boil and fill a large bowl with ice water. Using a paring knife, score the bottom of each peach with a small X. Add the peaches to the boiling water for 30 seconds, then transfer them to the ice water with a slotted spoon. Peel the peaches, then halve them and remove the pits. Cut the peaches into medium dice.
·         In a medium pot, combine the brown sugar with the vinegar, ginger, onion, cinnamon and cardamom; stir to dissolve the sugar. Simmer over moderately low heat until the onion is slightly softened, about 8 minutes. Add the peaches, chillies and a pinch of salt and simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the peaches are very soft and translucent, about 1 hour. Remove cinnamon quills.

·         Ladle the chutney into preserving jars, tapping lightly on a flat surface to release any air bubbles. Seal the jars and leave to sit for at least a month.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Fiesta Cheesecake

As my regular readers will know, last month was the end of our peafowl cull for 2015. In a couple of weeks we will be having a BBQ for our volunteers, to thank them for the work they have done for us over the year. I love these kinds of celebrations, since I get to pull out all the stops to create a feast. Part of the feast will be the first run of my UFO steamer; I will be making a sort of contemporary hangi. Dave will be chained to his BBQ, cooking many different wild meats. It is going to be a great day. When people first arrive, I will have prepared all sorts of treats to nibble on while we wait for the meat. One of these is the single most requested thing I make and it is so popular, I cannot work out why I have not shared it before. It is a savoury Fiesta Cheesecake, finished with tomato, black olives, capsicum and spring onions – something for everyone.

Before we get into the recipe, here are a few facts about cheesecakes. Cheesecakes have been recorded in history since the times of the ancient Greeks. It is written about in Cato the Elder’s  De Agri Cultura – the oldest surviving work of Latin prose, dated around 160 BC. So, for well over 2000 years, people have been eating them.

Cheesecakes have survived the test of time in many forms. As the years have gone by, little has changed in the basic way it is made. The recipe for Cato the Elder’s cheesecake contained what was called “tender cheese” and we now call Ricotta. It also contained bay leaves, eggs, honey, orange and lemon zest and flour.

Around the world now, in 2015 those same ingredients are still used to make cheesecakes. Variations can be the use or type of flour, the type of cheese (generally Ricotta or Cream Cheese), and the flavours. Cato the Elder’s cheesecake was baked; ours can be baked or contain gelatine for a set cheesecake. Sweetness can come from honey, or from any other available sweetener. Unless you are making the cheesecake we are looking at today, which happens to be a savoury cheesecake.

Savoury cheesecakes are not very common. They are absolutely delicious and everyone likes them a lot. You will see in my recipe that I generally use ground corn chips for the base. Lately I have been testing ground crackers for the base and I am getting some good results. Feel free to test your own base and let me know how you get on.

Thanks for the feedback from those who heard me on the National Radio last week; they have asked me to come back again. I will let you know when.

Kia makona,
Mawera Karetai – The Wild Cook

Fiesta Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups finely crushed tortilla chips
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
550 gms cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups grated Tasty cheese, or other aged cheddar
1 small can chopped green chillies, well drained
1/4 teaspoon ground red chilli pepper
225gms sour cream
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup chopped sweet yellow pepper
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/2 cup spring onions, chopped
2 bunches fresh coriander or parsley (optional)

·      Combine tortilla chips and butter; press onto bottom of a lightly greased 9-inch spring-form pan.
·      Beat all of the cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until fluffy; add eggs,one at a time, beating after each addition.
·      Stir in cheese, chillies and ground red pepper.
·      Pour into prepared pan, and bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.
·      Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Gently run a knife around edge of pan to release sides,
·      Spread sour cream evenly over top; cover, chill and let cool completely.
·      Remove cake to a plate. Serve on a bed of fresh coriander or parsley, if desired.
·      Arrange capsicums, tomato, olives and spring onion on top as desired. The spring onion section is my favourite. Serve with corn chips on the side.