Wednesday, August 31

Creamy Lime and Coconut Chicken and The Way it Should Be.

There’s been a swift change. Suddenly everything is the way I remembered it being. I was starting to think that France had lost everything from four years ago that had given me feelings of; I can’t believe this is my home.

My last apartment didn’t overlook blue roofs with scattered red chimneys, the parks weren’t filled with children and clean grass but instead men who wouldn’t bother finding a bathroom, and I hadn’t yet come across one of the few streets in Paris filled with shops overflowing out onto the road; whether it be for your baguette, cheese or horse meat, you can now find these just around the corner. And so, as I was saying, everything is as it should be.

Of course in all areas of Paris there are still those few people who do us the disgrace of seeming to personify this country’s stereotype. The other morning at 7 a.m. a very crafty gentleman attempted to run me off the road as I rode my bicycle to work. I skidded, he pushed his breaks, I stopped, he rolled down his window, I became aware that there was no one else on the road, he reversed as I rode behind him and he yelled at me.

And there would be many of you who would nod at this and say that yes, everything is the way it’s supposed to be in Paris.

But you’re wrong.

Because where have all the classic sauces gone that France is known for?

A few months back I did a course at Le Cordon Bleu called Classic and Modern Sauces. I completely recommend it, even if it is just for the experience created by the chef who has spent a considerable amount of time working at the Ritz here in Paris (that link is worth a click even if it is just to listen to the back ground music).

Yes, I have become determined that sauces will not be left to only their culinary professionals. I will say this for everyone; we too can make sauce worthy of groaning. I may have chili in my fingernails and it may sting just as much as it would if it were in your eyes, but you too are capable of balancing your sweet and tart flavours, correcting your seasoning and becoming overwhelmed by the glory of reduction!

Creamy Lime and Coconut Chicken

The ratio of this recipe is to 1 chicken piece.


1 Tbsp curry powder

1 cm green chili, diced

1 cm lime rind, diced

6 saffron strands



juice of half lime

50ml coconut milk

1 Tbsp fresh coriander, diced

Chicken on the bone, amount depends on people

1 tsp peanut butter

½ onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

¾ cup chicken stock

Place the marinade ingredients in a bowl big enough to fit your chicken pieces. Mix well and add your chicken. Try and leave it for a few hours, or even over night, but don’t be too fussy about this.

Meanwhile, in a pan add a splash of oil (olive or peanut) and the peanut butter. Add garlic and onion and allow to sauté for a few minutes. Once the pan is quite hot, take the chicken pieces out of the marinade and shake them a bit, then place them in the pan skin-side down. Allow them to golden and crisp ever so slightly on both sides. Turn the heat on low and add your stock. The stock will simmer rapidly then slow down. You want it to be at a consistent light simmering. Once this has reduced by at least half, add the rest of your marinade and stir well.

This will reduce again, creating a thick and sticky consistency. When the sauce comes to your desired sauce consistency, check seasoning and see if the chicken has cooked through. Serve.

I served mine with garlic sautéed spinach, which was incredible. Just bang butter, diced garlic and spinach in a pan, cover and allow to soften and then dry slightly before eating.

Monday, August 29

Curried Lentil Soup with Coriander and Movie Night

When you say, “take me to Paris,” for no other reason than because you love it there. And when you are taken there, to this place that gives you that feeling; the one Harriet I said I would always describe as overwhelment, then all you can be is thankful. And know that that person must love you a lot.

We’ve been on our honeymoon. We walk through the streets that are covered with crackling brown leaves, we linger in the aisles at the monoprix supermarket deciding if we would prefer haricots blancs; fresh or dried, and we ride our bikes on Sunday afternoons when it’s quiet and the streets are barely chattering.

And it smells like it used to smell here. All the air-conditioned air blown out on to the streets, the open-styled fish mongers displaying their morning catches on the pavements, and the whiff from four a.m baked baguettes that floats around my courtyard, up towards my apartment and through my open window that overlooks the roofs of Paris.

There have been so many more surprises here in this city than I expected to find...

Like Sarah.

We talk about relating and moving countries and living, not only in Paris, but in every day life.

I’ve been back from Italy for four sleeps and already we’ve had a moving-in-day, which actually turned in to a Nicoise Salad Lunch with Cereal Baguette. Not a bad substitution.

And then last night there was Curried Lentil Soup with Coriander and Movie Night. That one was most exciting, as it required a process which ended in relating with some one else. And isn't that what it is all about? How the process leads to the relating…

But how ever you like it, how ever you make it, make a thing of it. Because it is how well we go about dwelling in these kinds of processes, that then establishes how authentic we become to relate with.

Curried Lentil Soup with Coriander

I used water but if you want an even more full-bodied flavour-filled soup, then used vegetable stock.

Makes enough for two.

1/2 cups red split peas

3 cups water or vegetable stock

a large handful of broccoli florets

1 carrot

1 onion

4 cm ginger

3 garlic cloves

1 Tbsp and 1/2 tsp curry powder

7 saffron strands

some butter

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1/2 cup raisins

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 cup coconut milk

small handful coriander

handful spinach



Wash your lentils and place them into a pot with about 3 cups of water (or stock) and a sprinkling of salt. Bring to the boil and then simmer.

In a dry pan, toast your curry powder until it has become richer in colour and very fragrant. Be careful not to burn it, stir the pan often. Once it is toasted nicely pour the powder in to a bowl and cool.

Dice your onion, 2 of your garlic cloves and half your ginger. Place the pan back on the element and add 1 Tbsp of butter. Add these vegetables and sauté until the onion is translucent. In the meantime, grate the left over ginger and carrot and place them both in with the lentils. Stir well and continue to simmer. Add your broccoli to the lentil mixture. Once the onion mixture is ready, add the tomato paste, raisins, ½ tsp of untoasted curry powder and the toasted curry powder. Mix well and sauté on low for another two minutes. Add this to the lentils, along with 7 saffron strands and stir well. At this point you want the lentils to be absorbing a lot of the liquid and becoming barely visible within the soup as they simmer. Continue to do this until the lentils are at your desired consistency, about twenty or thirty minutes. Next, add the lemon juice, coconut milk, sugar and a dash of salt and pepper. Taste. If you want it a little sweeter; add more sugar, if you want it with a bit more of a bang; add more lemon and so on. Dice the coriander and stir it through the soup. While all this is happening, in a separate pan add a small knob of butter, 1 diced garlic clove and your washed spinach. Cover for five minutes on low, then stir. Spoon the soup into two bowls, top with spinach, a splash of coconut milk and some fresh coriander leaves and cracked pepper.

Note: If you prefer your soups more liquidy, just add some extra liquid ten or some minutes before it is ready.

Wednesday, August 24

I Imagined my Kitchenette when in Rome

It’s coming to a close; seven days of Nero’s naturally chilled aqueducts in Rome.

Except that I don’t want to talk about any of it. I don’t want to talk about travel, about dragging a 26 kilo suitcase around, about wearing sun block all over my body in 39°, and I don’t even really want to talk about the food… not really.

Except that I am a strong believer that a successful traveler is a well researched traveler. Therefore, to help you along in your own Roman experiences I will tell you two things…

Gusto; I had so much fun with you. Watching you in your pizzeria rolling out your dough and throwing rocket and fresh balls of mozzarella (not sparingly) on as toppings. Walking between your stacks and cases of various cookbooks, old and new. And then we sat over a bottle of wine listening to the clatter of pots from the open kitchen, walking through your three or so dinning areas, and admiring your baskets of aperitifs in your wine bar. Gusto, that was one hell of a night.

Gusto is a highly recommended Roman food experience for dinner or a long lunch.

And then you get to the point where you don’t care any more if pasta and pizza are Italian and you’re in Italy and it’s supposed to make sense, that combination of place and cuisine. In this case, it has just become entirely appropriate to visit Piazza Vittorio. Here you will discover Rome’s largest food market.

And for the first time in Italy you will finally get your hands on the most beautiful vegetables ever created: borlotti.

You will take these fire crackers home and pod them and then put them in a pot of salted boiling water with some extra virgin olive oil, a bunch of sage, and perhaps even some rosemary, and they will turn light purpely/burgundy right there in front of you. And then you will eat them all on their own… except if you are cooking for someone else you will put them in to a fresh salad made from all the other vegetables you bought from this market dream.

Rome, your dinners in your piazzas fulfilled every imagination. But that’s all I’m going to say.

Because tomorrow I move back to Paris, into a 14-squared-meter apartment, into my very own place that I have rented on my own before, in to my very own kitchen(ette)...

And I couldn’t be more excited about it.

Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 9, Roma

Sunday, August 21

Florentine Favourites and Why I Should be Over for Dinner

“It feels a little strange that you haven’t been around for dinner recently.”

Over here there’s being away and living in Paris; adjusting to a life filled with genuine pastry; walking down streets that in themselves possess the notion of entertainment. There’s seeing new things; popping over to Africa; flying into Bologna; imagining living in Florence, a place filled with calm as well as city, rushing water as well as horses on cobbles, and the best biscotti and seafood spaghetti, that one’s mouth can not even strive to imagine.

I’ve even met this gorgeous boy.

And when she made that comment, she was responding to what I had told her; that living really is just spending time in your homes with you, it’s being a part of your lives so we can figure it all out together, it’s having a meal with you and your husbands, because that is the space I enjoy; being in all your presences.

Mother is here with me now. We have been doing these sorts of things, spending time and having meals together. We’ve eaten the most delicious dessert involving custard. It was called Grandmother, except that it was in Italian.

We had that seafood spaghetti I was talking about, the one outside the Duomo in Florence.

Then there was the swankiest coffee/sandwich/patisserie bar that I have seen in Italy with an Italian standing outside on his cell phone. It seemed appropriate considering our location and so we got the most vegetarian-Italian sandwich you could imagine; marinated aubergine, sliced tomato, soft white cheese and fresh basil leaves.

There was the hugest gelato cone one has ever held, which was surprising considering the bountiful amount of dairies I bought ice creams from growing up in New Zealand. Even more surprising was that the flavour I have most embraced so far has been mint with chunks of dark chocolate.

Then this man here…

He brought out an entire fish for us…

And he prepared it at our table…

And it was wonderful.

But not as wonderful as coming around to yours for dinner.

I knew that before I came here. I know that even more now. And so what I am saying is that it feels a little strange that I haven’t been a part of your lives recently.

And that I am looking forward to that dinner at your place, very much.

Friday, August 19

Never Too Appropriate to Eat Pasta in Florence

Sometimes when traveling with others you can get that feeling that internally sounds something like this; every day has been an occasion of exploring through someone else’s eyes. And in times like these I like to think that an amble on your lonesome through an ancient city is necessary. This ancient city that is not only wonderful because it is old and tells its history as you walk through it, but because the new has had to learn to live amongst the old as well.

I heard these guys say, as I strolled passed them yesterday looking up at the tops of the buildings, “I’ve seen that girl three times now.” And that is how long I wandered for, pottering along allies that tour guides didn’t walk down, staring up at roofs that were reaching out to each other from across the cobbles and stopping to look at images that seemed out of place against the stone and concrete and marble.

My walking took me to the end of the day which draw to a close over a glass of wine at a recommended Trattoria called La Taverna, only a petit walk from our hotel.

Here you will be genuinely surprised by the bread as it is very good. They also bring a selection of two olive oils to the table; extra virgin and chili. It is because of this understanding that I get along with the Italians; of course we want to dress our own salad. And it was the best looking salad I have ever seen in Italy. Fluffed up in this platter of magic was ripped radicchio, fresh pieces of tomato, shredded mozzarella, salted capers, anchovies and kalamata olives, with a healthy amount of extra virgin olive oil and salt added by yours truly.

Following this brilliant amalgamation was another knock out. It hadn’t crossed my mind before to cook pasta in stock, not water, then at the last minute to stir through sautéed aubergine and tomato with fresh tuna. A little glug of chili olive oil, sprinkle of pepper, and this very quickly became the best meal I have eaten on this trip.

In Italy you must pay to be seated in a café or restaurant. That is why you see people standing outside or beside the cashier with a beer and often even holding a fork and a plate of dessert.

La Taverna

Via Cimabue, 1r