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When you have your very own chocolatier, central Otago dried fruits and local honey on your doorstep it makes you wonder what will happen when you combine them. So I did and this is one delicious, healthy slice which is perfect for the lunch box!

Serves 8-10

2 cups puffed amaranth (available from most supermarkets or health shops)

1 cup rice bubbles

¼ cup chocolate nibs available from Ocho chocolate (or finely chopped dark chocolate)

¼ cup selection dried fruit – cherries, apricots, raisins, dates or figs, finely chopped

1 cup honey

Pinch sea salt flakes

Oil for greasing tin.


Line a 20cm slice tin, lined with baking paper and lightly greased with oil.

Place honey in medium sized saucepan over moderate heat until the honey starts to deepen in colour and caramelise (4-5minutes).

Whilst the honey is bubbling away quickly measure out the other ingredients and stir to combine.

When the honey is ready add the salt and stir carefully to combine, add the chocolate, fruits and grains.  Stir to combine and pour quickly into prepared tin, smooth top and cool.

I cut this slice before I set it completely in the fridge.  It will keep for up to 4-5 days in an airtight container.





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Ocho chocolate (our very own chocolatier) has bags of nibs which are the cocoa beans finely chopped.  They add a deep, dark, intense chocolate/cocoa flavour and work perfectly in these crisp floaty meringues.

MAKES 6-8 Large

3 large egg whites (85g)

70g brown sugar

125g white sugar

2 tsp cocoa nibs

1 tsp  instant coffee granules

1 tsp cocoa for dusting

Fresh nutmeg for dusting


Preheat oven to 110C

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper

Place a medium saucepan of water over gentle heat and bring to a simmer.  Place egg whites, both sugars in a heatproof bowl (I use my bowl from my mixer saves mucking about), ensuring it doesn’t come into direct contact with water.  Add the coffee and stir to break up the egg whites and mix in the sugar.

Heat for approximately five minutes or until a thermometer reaches 40C

Remove from the heat and place onto your mixer with whisk attachment and whisk until the mixture has cooled (approx 8 minutes). Fold through the freshly grated nutmeg and cocoa nibs.

Using a dessert spoon place large dollops of mixture upright on the tray.  I like to have mixture sticking up I places so when it cooks it will have pointy and crisp parts to them. Dust with cocoa and place into preheated oven.

Cook for approximately 1 hour, then turn oven off and leave door closed until oven has gone cold.  They will last in air tight container for 2-3 days.



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These little tarts are velvety and fragrant and it’s a great way to turn a savoury ingredient into a sweet!

Makes 12 medium muffin tin size

For the filling

300g raw cut into even sized pieces

¾  tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼  tsp ginger

2 Tbsp brown sugar

Pinch of table salt

1 egg

1 Tbsp cream

For the crusts

1-2 sheets ready made sweet pastry or 150g homemade sweet pastry

12 medium-sized muffin pan


4 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp toasted hazelnuts or walnuts, lightly crushed


Preheat oven 170C

Carefully remove the skin and any seeds from the pumpkin.  Cut into even sized chunks and place into a microwave proof bowl and add 1 Tbsp water, cover with cling film and microwave for 5-8 minutes or until the pumpkin is very tender.  Or you can simply steam the pumpkin until tender.

Drain well and cool.


Puree the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt together until smooth and velvety (I used a food processor). Add the egg and cream whisk until just blended.

Lightly grease 12 regular-sized muffin tins and line with the pastry which is rolled to about 4 mm thick.  I used an 8cm round biscuit cutter. Working with one round at a time, use your finger to gently press the dough into a prepared muffin cup, making sure that the dough is pressed firmly and evenly up the sides and bottom.

Spoon the pumpkin mixture into the pastry molds and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the filling slightly wobbles in the center.

Cool for 5 minutes in the tin and then gently remove and cool.

Sprinkle over the topping and enjoy!




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I am aware berries aren’t in season but Butlers frozen berries are the next best thing and sometimes in these dark colder months you want a little colour.  These little muffins can be substituted with any berries but today I am going with raspberry.

Makes 12 – 16 depending on size of tin.

1 ¼  cups / 160 g wholemeal flour
2 ¼  cups /  / 295 g plain white flour
½  cup / 100 g firmly packed brown sugar
¾  tsp salt
1/2  tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder

2 medium mashed, ripe banana
240 ml buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
115 g unsalted butter, barely melted

1 cup / 125 g berries, plus more for topping
1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp cinnamon for topping


Preheat the oven to 200C, with a rack in the centre. Line a muffin tin with papers or grease well.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

In another bowl combine the banana, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and butter. Stir until blended.

Gently stir the berries into the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients over dry, and mix until just combined. For tender muffins, do your best to avoid over-blending.

Fill the muffin tins 2/3 full (maybe a bit more than that), sprinkle with more berries and a generous dusting of cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 25-40 minutes (larger muffins on the long side), or until golden-topped, and a tester/toothpick comes out just clean.

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Warm pears, a little lemon surrounded by flaky pastry and of course a generous dollop of cream would make this pretty much perfect!

Makes 4 tarts

6-8 pears or apples

60 g butter

¼ cup sugar

½ tsp grated fresh nutmeg

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp cornflour

1 Tbsp lemon juice

4 sheets puff pastry

1 egg, beaten

Sugar for sprinkling

To serve

Icing sugar

Whipped cream or vanilla icecream to serve


Preheat oven 180C

Peel, quarter and core the pears then slice into 1 cm thick wedges.

Heat the butter in a large fry pan or pot and add the sugar, nutmeg and the pears.  Cook over high heat for 10 minutes or until the pears are tender but still holding their shape.  Combine the cornflour and lemon juice until smooth then tip onto the pears and stir to combine.  Cook for 1 minute to thicken the juice.  Set aside.

To assemble: Cut out 4x 16 cm circles of pasty (side plate) and place on a lined baking tray.  Divide the pears with their thickened syrup between the circles, leaving a 2cm boarder around the edge.  Brush the border with the beaten egg then fold the pastry to pleat.  Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sugar.  If time place the tarts in the fridge to harden the pastry for 30 minutes.  If you haven’t got the time then bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the pastry is well cooked and puffed and golden.

Serve warm with plenty cream or ice cream.


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This is an utterly scrumptious cake as it is overloaded with juicy apples, topped with a light batter and baked until golden – need I say more!

Serves 8-10

Butter or nonstick spray, for greasing pan
6-7 large, tart apples, such as Granny Smiths
3 large eggs
200 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
125 g white flour
Ground cinnamon and icing sugar, also to finish


Preheat oven to 180C.

Line the bottom of a 20 cm springform pan with greaseproof paper. Butter the paper and the sides of the pan. Peel, halve and core your apples, then chop them into medium-sized chunks (about 2cm squared). Pile the cut apples directly in the prepared pan.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer or whisk, beat eggs with sugar until thick and ribbons form on the surface of the beaten eggs. Beat in vanilla, then stir in flour with a spoon until just combined. The batter will be very thick.

Pour over apples in pan, using a spoon or spatula to spread the batter so that it covers all exposed apples.

Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a tester comes out free of batter. Cool in pan for 10 minutes on rack, then flip out onto another rack, peel off the parchment paper, and flip it back onto a serving platter. Dust lightly with ground cinnamon and icing sugar.

Serve warm or cooled. It goes particularly well with freshly whipped cream.


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As you know I love rhubarb and I love cookies so why not combine them. Enjoy the satisfying flavours of autumn.

Makes 20

500g fresh or frozen rhubarb, cut into ½ cm chunks

75g sugar

115g butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar

1 egg

Zest of 1 orange

1 ¾ cup flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp mixed spice

3 tsp crystallised ginger, sliced thinly

½ cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely crushed


1 cup icing sugar

1-2 tsp orange juice (use orange from above)


Preheat oven 180C or 160C fan bake.

Begin by cooking the rhubarb with the first measure of sugar in a medium sized pot.  Cook gently until the sugar has dissolved and the rhubarb is soft and on the verge of going mushy.  Place in a sieve and drain any excess moisture and allow to cool. You are wanting 1 cup of cooked rhubarb for the cookies.

Sift the dry ingredients and set aside.

Place the butter and sugar into a large bowl and cream until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and mix to combine, add the rhubarb and orange zest and mix well.  Fold through the dry ingredients until just incorporated and place tablespoon size mounds of mixture on to greaseproof lined oven trays, allowing space for spreading.

Bake for 12 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch.

To make the icing, mix the orange juice one teaspoon at a time into the icing sugar and mix well.  Drizzle the icing over the cookies whilst still warm so that the icing falls down the sides of the cookies.  Allow to cool.

These will keep for 2-3 days in an air tight container.

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Steve McArthur from McArthur Berry Farm -





This is the ultimate classic dessert which is perfect for end of any meal!  Source good apples and good pastry and the rest will fall into place.

Serves 6

plain flour , for dusting

500 g puff pastry

5 small eating apples, approximately 800g, a mixture of sweet and acidic varieties

100 g golden caster sugar

100 ml Calvados, cider or 50ml water

1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways, seeds scraped out or a drop of vanilla extract

50 g butter, cubed


Preheat your oven to 190˚C. Dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with flour and roll out your puff pastry until it’s just over 0.5cm thick. This will be enough to cover the ovenproof frying pan you’ll be cooking the tarte Tatin in, leaving about 5cm extra around the edge. Put the pastry to one side for now. Peel your apples, then halve them horizontally and use a teaspoon to get rid of the seeds and core.
Put the ovenproof pan on a medium heat and add the sugar, Calvados, vanilla seeds and pod. Let the sugar dissolve and cook until the mixture forms a light caramel. Just please remember never ever to touch or taste hot caramel, as it can burn really badly.

Once the caramel looks and smells delicious – it should be a lovely chestnut brown – add your halved apples. Carefully stir everything in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes or until the apples start to soften and you get a toffee apple vibe happening. Add the cubed butter, then lay the pastry over the top. Quickly and carefully tuck the pastry down right into the edges – it’s best to use a wooden spoon so you don’t touch the caramel.

Bake the tarte Tatin for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden, with crispy caramelly pieces bubbling up from under the edges. Take it out of the oven. To make it look like a tarte Tatin you need to turn it out, which isn’t hard – but you do need to be careful with that hot caramel. So get a serving plate or board larger than your pan and put an oven glove on to protect the arm holding the board. Put the board or plate on top of the pan, then quickly, carefully and confidently turn it out (remember you can go to www.jamieoliver.com/how-to and see a video of how to do this safely). Put it to one side for a few minutes, so the caramel can cool down, then divide it up and serve with a spoonful of crème fraîche or ice cream.


Greek Easter Bread (Tsoureki)

Easter in Greece is like Christmas for us, it is a time for worship, families and friends and a lot of food and parties.  The celebrations go on for days and the preparation has been going on for weeks.  This year we are sort of doing our own Greek celebration, we will be eating lamb, baking Easter bread and dancing around like happy Greeks.  We will be giving thanks, thinking how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful, happy place and of course we will be eating (a lot).

Have a happy Easter what ever you religion or not and remember to stop and appreciate the little things in life!

Tsoureki, a sweet yeast bread made of eggs, milk, and butter, is a staple during Greek Easter. The three-strand braid symbolizes the Holy Trinity, while the red-dyed hard-boiled egg braided into the dough symbolizes the blood of Christ. The bread is delicious and keeps for several days, but eat that double-cooked egg at your own risk.


3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp whole milk

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

4 cups flour, plus more for dusting

2/3 cup  sugar

1 tsp fine salt

115g unsalted butter

2 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest (from about 1 orange)

1 red-dyed hard-boiled egg (optional)

1 large egg yolk

1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted


In a small saucepan, heat 3/4 cup of the milk until warm to the touch but not hot (about 50C ). Transfer the warm milk to a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for about 15 minutes to activate the yeast.

Sift the flour, sugar and salt together into a large bowl; set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt 7 tablespoons of the butter. Let the butter cool, then transfer to a medium bowl. Add the eggs and orange zest and beat together. Stir the egg mixture into the yeast mixture until combined.

Using a spoon, stir the flour mixture into the yeast-egg mixture until combined. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth, flouring your hands and the surface as needed, about 10 minutes.

Coat a baking sheet and a large piece of plastic wrap with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Set the dough on the baking sheet and cover it with the plastic wrap, butter side down. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Remove the plastic wrap and set it aside. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces (about 250g each roll). Roll the pieces into 2 .5 -by- 1.5 cm ropes. Pinch all 3 pieces together on one end to secure, then braid the ropes, entwining the red hard-boiled egg (if using) into the bread. Pinch the other end of the ropes together to secure the braid. Set the braided dough on the prepared baking sheet, cover with the buttered plastic wrap (butter side down), and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180C and arrange a rack in the middle.

In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolk and remaining 1 tablespoon milk. With a pastry brush, evenly brush the egg mixture over the risen dough, then sprinkle the almonds over top, pressing the nuts gently into the dough. Bake until the bread is browned and the internal temperature reaches 190°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes. Let cool before serving.




This is definetly worth a try as the plums mingle deliciously with this amazing Bowerbird Tea

Serves 4


6-10 firm medium-sized plums
3 Tbspn black chai tea
3 cups water
1 vanilla bean, split, optional

Cut the plums in half and remove the seeds. If you would like to remove the skins, lightly score the plum skin to make them easier to remove after poaching. (I’m lazy, so I left my skins on with no ill effect.)

In a pot with a tight-fitting lid, combine the tea leaves, vanilla bean, and water and bring to a boil with the lid on.
Poach the plums in the tea for 3-5 minutes until fork-tender, then remove from the poaching liquid.

If you want the poaching liquid to be more of a syrup, simply reduce over high heat until you get the desired consistency.


Makes 8

2 cups milk

1 dessertspoon tea
2 eggs
55g butter, melted
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt


Warm the milk with the tea and bring to the boil, remove immediately from the heat and cool.  Strain the milk and discard the tea.

Combine spice-infused milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract in a bowl and whisk thoroughly.
Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix until smooth. Batter should be thick and fluffy, but if it is too thick and difficult to stir, thin it with a tiny dash of milk.
Oil lightly a medium hot skillet. Cook the pancakes slowly over medium heat, making sure that your skillet is always well-greased.
Serve pancakes with poached plums.