It’s about the chocolate

With Easter on its way it’s important to understand why we get these few days off: to be contemplative, in the loving arms of our family and friends, to consider what’s important, sacred even…

You understand this is about chocolate, right?

Chocolate has a long history as an item of great value, to be cherished and honoured. For devotees, Easter is a time of great celebration and reverence.

But mainstream purveyors of the hallowed hollow egg have desecrated the sacred bean. Followers must look further to feed their desires.

We understand so we’re doing our bit to bring quality product to the common people.

At The Picnic we honour chocolate and all it can evolve into. Like Pukeko eggs. Beautiful bon bons filled with surprises. Teddy bears. Teddy bears holding eggs. And choco pops with fried eggs on top!

Worship at the altar of yum with The Picnic this Easter. Life is too short to eat bad chocolate.

Prawn fattouche two ways

As a last hurrah, as Summer slips out the door, here are two delicious prawn salad recipes we have used this past season in our kitchens. Both have Middle Eastern flavours, one is a classic fattouche (a bread based salad) and the other introduces an amazing spicy ingredient called zhoug.

These will send you back to sunny days eating al fresco as we come into Autumn and the colder months ahead. Rug up warm and kept BBQing! It’s the only way to stave off Winter blues!

Prawn Fattouche Salad

This is how I cook, adjusting the ingredient to use what I have, you could add coriander, or feta, or watermelon, to this salad, even cooked zucchini.

Allow 5-8 prawns per person, peeled, seasoned cooked as you like.

This is a great salad for b.b.q or fry the prawns and add to the salad below.

Just adjust the amount of ingredients for how many people you have, sprinkle the salad with lots of sumac, some extra mint leaves and throw some lemon wedges on it before serving.

Combine in a bowl:

Marinated red onions

Roasted bread.

Salad Greens, any type from your garden, a small handful for each person. e.g.rocket, baby cos, mesclun.

Washed and chopped radishes, tomatoes, seeded cucumbers, flat leaf parsley and mint leaves .

Add enough dressing to suit your taste, squish in your hands a bit to mix the flavours.

For the marinated red onions:

1T sumac

¼ t allspice

¼ t pepper

1 red onion finely sliced

Soak sumac in cold water for a few mins and remove any husks, put the onion, sumac, allspice and pepper in a bowl and rub everything together, leave to marinate foe an hour at least.

For the roasted pita bread:

¼ round per person.

Tear pita bread into bite sized chunks, toss with olive oil and salt and pepper on a baking tray.

Roast in a pre heated oven, 175 degrees C, until golden, stirring often to get an even colour.

For the dressing:

Mix together (adjust ingredients to taste):

1 garlic clove, crushed with salt to a paste

Juice of one lemon

3T extra virgin olive oil

1T white wine vinegar

Zhoug prawn salad

You will need:

7 cooked prawns

½ large avocado cut into chunks

2 heaped spoons of sumac pickled cucumber and a good spoon of the liquid

1 heaped spoon of zhoug (make your own – here’s how) http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/spicy-zhoug

Pinch salt

Coriander

A few mesclun leaves

To assemble:

Mix prawns, avocado, cucumber and liquid and zhoug in a bowl. Add coriander, mesclun, flatbread and salt.

Sprinkle with sumac and pomegranate seeds.

 

 

 

Bring the rainbow

Simple food, prepared well outstrips flashy fluffing with a pile of fancy fare. And the simplest of all is the humble vegetable. VEDGE is a vegan restaurant in Philadelphia and what they do with vegetables would garner the envy of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, he of the ultimate veg-head Vertumnus.

Vegetables are beautiful.

Meat comes in two colours: blood and blah. Vegetables bring the rainbow. “Eat your greens,” mothers tell their issue, “Eat your oranges, your reds, your purples, your yellows, AND your greens!”

VEDGE is the baby of Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby who have captured their restaurant in a cookbook, also called VEDGE. “100 plates that redefine vegetable cooking,” they say.

The ideas are simple enough to be easily dismissed. But there’s an aftertaste that makes you linger longing for more. Look again at that roasted carrot, come closer and see what’s been done with those Brussels sprouts.

Dinner hosts shrink at the thought of a vegan coming to tea. “No eggs?!” “No cheese?!” “A single serving of nut loaf?” But VEDGE offers so many inspired ideas the whole table will soon be devouring vegetables.

Few people raise meat to eat in their own back yards. But vegetables are so do-able. There’s such variety there, not just in type but in specifics. Take tomatoes: cherry, roma, yellow, plum, bush, brandywine and beefsteak. All ready to go, cheap to grow and offering up a hundred different meals.

Embrace the vegetable, make it the hero on the plate, invite some veg heads to tea and show them your moves. If you get it right with the vege you may even find you have no room left for the meat.

 

 

Stop talking and eat

Everywhere we look there’s food but much of it we can’t touch. There’s food on TV, in books, on blogs, in every magazine. There’s food on the radio. But we can’t taste any of it. It’s all talk.

What do people say? “Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink?” Same with food. It’s food-fatigue!

Who would have thought? Too much food in our lives! We risk losing balance and falling for the fantasy. What we all need to do is sink our teeth into reality. Crunch! Simple and easy.

Don’t label me locavore, sustainable, organic; of course I know where those vegetables come from! I don’t need to be slotted into a tidy box to prove my place. I always want to eat better and what I do in my kitchens is an extension of that.

My kitchen is a conduit between growers and eaters. That’s all. What’s fresh, in season, available. This with that. Nothing more. Enjoyed your lunch? Good. Over-analysing why is like dissecting the meal before you taste it.

I’m inspired to eat, and bored to tears talking about it. There’s a truth to what we do in the kitchen, and we hope you can taste it. Even naming it makes it feel thin and trivial. Your tongue can’t be free to really savour the flavour if it’s too busy chewing the fat.

But here I am adding to the prattle. Come in and eat. (I promise I won’t ruin it by talking.)

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Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
info@operakitchen.co.nz
+64 6-870 6020

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