Really good peanut salad dressing

I’m not sure it’s the sort of thing Oprah writes in her gratitude journals, but every day I thank my stars that no one in my household has a nut allergy. Quite apart from the threat of anaphylaxis, I can’t imagine life without peanut butter. Actually, I can barely imagine a day without it. 

Peanut butter – especially proper peanut butter, like the excellent varieties springing up everywhere in New Zealand now – is a major food group in my house. Peanut butter and banana on toast is my hurried breakfast (and sometimes, lunch) of choice. It’s a handy tahini replacement in homemade hummus, works well in a marinade and is a major baking ingredient. It’s also a nifty addition to a salad dressing to perk up broccolini and other assorted bits and pieces. Add this to your weeknight repertoire for those nights when peanut butter and crackers seem like the only viable dinner option.

 

Really good peanut salad dressing

This is child’s play to make and it’s really useful. I think it’s good with steamed broccolini, but you could add all sorts of crunchy greens and some cooked chicken or tofu for a very family-friendly dinner. 

1 clove garlic, crushed with 1/2 tsp flaky salt

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 Tbsp good quality peanut butter

1/2 cup good quality peanut oil

Put all ingredients in a screwtop jar, attach the lid and shake well until emulsified. Makes about 1 cup – easily enough for a substantial salad for 4-6 people – and stores well in the fridge.

If you prefer your peanut butter treats to be a little more decadent, then this peanut butter pie should fit the bill (though you won’t be fitting much after eating it). 

*My clever friends at Kiwi Mummy Blogs have teamed up with the nice people at Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter to collate some Really Good peanut butter recipes. You can get more peanut butter inspo here.*

The best ever chocolate coconut chia pudding

There’s no question about it; chia seeds are miraculous. Not only do they contain all sorts of good things like omega 3 fatty acids, potassium and all the amino acids a girl could want (making them a complete protein), they also swell amazingly fast in liquid meaning you can have chocolate pudding for breakfast. That’s what I call a miracle.

Chocolate coconut chia pudding
This is my current favourite breakfast – it’s very portable, very fast and it keeps you going for ages. The only trouble is, it’s very hard to stop eating it, especially when you discover that it goes extremely well with a scoop of fridge-cold coconut cream (or yoghurt, if you’re virtuous). If you have fearful childhood memories of sago and tapioca pudding, the bobbly texture may not be for you. But that just means there’s more for me…

400ml can coconut milk
1/3 cup chia seeds
3 Tbsp best quality cocoa
1 Tbsp golden syrup or runny honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Put everything in a bowl and stir vigorously, until well mixed. Set aside – in a cold kitchen or in the fridge – for 15 minutes. The chia seeds will swell like magic, thickening the liquid. If it seems a little too thick, add a little water or more coconut milk. Grate a little chocolate or grind some vanilla over the top. Serves 2-4 people, depending on greed.

Have a great weekend, everyone! x

What to do with a Buddha’s hand

Ever shaken a Buddha’s hand? I wouldn’t recommend it; the ‘skin’ is pitted and lumpy and the fingers are disturbingly claw-like. But the scent makes you see past its horror-movie looks – it’s light, floral and lemony, the sort of perfume you wish they’d bottle.

What-To-Do-With-A-Buddha's-Hand

The Buddha’s Hand, also known as Fingered Citron, Buddha’s Fingers or, by it’s botanical name, citrus medica, is apparently one of the most ancient forms of citrus fruit still in existence. There’s no juicy interior -slice into one and it’s all bright white pith. But beyond using them as a conversation starter or a scary prop for tricks (imagine getting into bed and having one of these at your feet!), there are lots of ways to use one.

You can take follow David Lebovitz’s advice and turn it into candied citron, you can come over all Martha Stewart and use it to scent a room (though a rather small room, unless you want the scent to be very faint). You can zest a little skin over fish, or use it to scent a butter cake or shortbread. But this is my favourite way to use it: Buddha’s Hand Vodka.

How-To-Make-Buddha's-Hand-Vodka


Buddha’s Hand Vodka
You can adapt this to suit whatever amount of vodka you have, just adjust to suit.
For 250ml vodka, pare off about a third of the Buddha’s Hand rind, trying to avoid as much pith as possible. Put this in a screwtop jar, along with 1/3 cup of sugar. Add the vodka, apply the lid and shake well until the sugar has dissolved. Make sure the Buddha’s Hand peel is below the surface of the vodka. Leave for at least three days (a week is better), shaking once a day. You can strain out the peel if you like, but it gives a suitably freakish appearance to the liquid and it will continue to flavour the liquid if you leave it in.

Do you have any interesting ways to use a Buddha’s Hand?

Treat me: Double ginger apricot balls

I know what you’re thinking: ‘Please, no, not another raw energy/bliss ball recipe. Save me, please!’
While it’s true that the world probably doesn’t need another set of instructions on how to pulverise dried fruit and nuts into a lunchbox-friendly treat, I think this one – my latest flavour combo – is worth sharing.

Apricot And Ginger Bliss Balls

Double ginger apricot balls
Don’t even think about making these with those flabby, flavourless dried apricots – you want the really tangy, chewy, intensely apricot-y ones. If you don’t have crystallised ginger, the stem stuff would work well here too. And if you really want to push the boat out, try dipping these in white chocolate instead of coconut…

150g dried apricots, cut in half with scissors
150g raisins
50g crystallised ginger
50g walnuts or almonds
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp orange blossom water
60g (3/4 cup) fine desiccated coconut

Put everything except the coconut in a food processor and whiz until it forms a lump. Put the coconut in a bowl. Take teaspoonfuls of the mixture, roll into balls and then roll these in the coconut. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Makes about 20.

Have a great weekend, everyone x

Halloumi, peach and pepper salad

Late last year I got my arm twisted into a podcast interview with the lovely Natalie Cutler-Welsh from If Only They Had Told Me. Now, this is nothing against Natalie, but it was probably a mistake to do it after a very long, stressful day at work. It was probably even more of a mistake to do it while reclining with a glass of wine. I’m hoping that’s the reason why I sound like a garbled fool who can barely remember her own name. If I sound like that all the time, well, I guess I have a voice best suited for print.

But every cloud has a silver lining and one of the best bits about recording the podcast was that Natalie, a non-cook, told me about a salad her friend had made that night involving halloumi and peaches. I can’t bear to go back and listen to the podcast, but I’ve managed to make my version of the salad. Without a hint of shame, here it is.

Halloumi Peach And Mint Salad Photo Credit: Lucy Corry/The Kitchenmaid

Halloumi, peach and pepper salad

We always have a packet of halloumi in the fridge. It’s a guaranteed insta-meal for those times when there seems to be nothing else to eat. Peaches and red peppers are both in plentiful supply at the moment – and this salad is the perfect combination of sweet, salty, soft and crunchy. 

250g halloumi, patted dry and sliced into 1cm-thick pieces

2 ripe peaches, washed and sliced into wedges

2 red peppers, washed, deseeded and sliced

a handful of fresh mint, shredded

a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice

2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Panfry the halloumi in a non-stick pan until golden brown on the outside. Remove from the pan and slice each piece into two, lengthways. Let cool briefly.

Put the peaches and peppers in a bowl, then toss through the mint, lemon juice and olive oil. Drape the halloumi on top. Grind over some black pepper and serve. Makes a small side salad for four or a light lunch for two.