Piha Minced Pies: Worthy of a Trip

_DSC0483There are dishes that I grew up with and those that I picked up along the way. Take minced beef pies. They are a family tradition in New Zealand, as well as England and Australia, and my husband would drive out of his way to a little beach-side village West of Auckland called Piha to fill up on his share of minced beef pies at the local General Store. My pies aren’t exactly the same as those, but they sure do the trick when you want to feed a crowd a hearty, nutritious and delicious meal. Come and cook with us!

Minced beef forms the base of this dish, so don’t be fooled by the pie crust which is easy enough to make and lends the dish an elegant delivery. The filling is made with garlic, thyme and red wine but can be adapted to your flavor preferences and pantry inventory. My final dish – it went through a few iterations – uses tomato paste to bring together the flavors. Be sure to properly brown the meat so it can develop those complex flavor compounds that will add the desired umami taste before it is braised in the wine and beef broth and then baked in the oven. And for the upper crust we use spelt, which has a distinctive flavor that works well with the rest of the ingredients. And it is wheat, although not gluten free.

If you want to try your luck at savory pies, this is your chance. And if you are looking for an alternative to shepherd’s pie, I can but recommend you try our classic minced beef pie. It might not exactly live up to my husband’s memories of the pies in Piha, but that might have to do more with being on holiday than the taste of my pie. Come and cook with us!

Classic Minced Beef Pie


Bow to the Buchtel!

_DSC0507It’s not until I left Italy that I realized we take good food for granted. Not just in our homes, but everywhere we go. Even when skiing. To this day, the snow might be fluffier, the runs more thrilling and the crowds better behaving in the U.S., but nothing compares to the food you are served in the many high-altitude mountain huts when skiing in Italy. There were many favorite places we would pilgrimage to every weekend, but there was one that stood out. Ditching skis and poles behind, we climbed on board our neighbor’s jeep and drove along the snowy roads to a remote small family-run hut called Rauch Hütte. There was no question on what the kids would order. It was always the same: Buchteln. Translating this dish for what it is – apricot-jam-filled yeast dumplings – doesn’t do it justice at all. These plump, fluffy and buttery dumplings were the size of well-rolled snow balls, served over a bed of runny vanilla sauce and leaving you filled with buttery goodness. Who cared what the weather was, or how many people were queuing at the lift when we returned to the slopes. We were happy, stuffed and didn’t know that having Buchteln on Sundays when skiing would be one of the fondest memories we would carry with us thirty years later when living on the other side of the world. Come and Cook with us! Continue reading

Nuts Over Coconut-Free Curry

Every once in a while, we test a new recipe that perfectly fits the bill. Of course, the first thing we want to do is share it with you. Thanks to my sister’s introduction, we discovered a perfectly balanced curry dish that works without coconut milk. It contains a healthy dose of Ayurvedic spices that most of us would benefit consuming more of without the whopping amounts of saturated fats in the deliciously creamy coconut milk. Come and make some curry with us! Continue reading

Happy Raspberry Valentine’s!

_DSC0483In case you haven’t noticed, it is Valentine’s week. My kids have been frantically writing cards for all their classmates coming up with the cutest appreciation ideas: you make me laugh, you always help out and you know good jokes. They have been advised, not to bring any chocolates or sweets into school. That did not prevent one boy in class to bring in bacon one year. Individually wrapped slices of “Bacon Appreciation” for each kid in the class. Isn’t that absolutely genial? Of course, he immediately became my sons’ hero. In case indulging your loved one with bacon isn’t what you had in mind, show your love with this aptly named raspberry dessert instead. Come and make some Hot Love with us! Huh, this sounds promising! Continue reading

Nuts and Seed Aren’t Just For Birds: Make Dukkah!

_DSC0523Have you heard of dukkha? To be honest, I can’t say that I’ve known about it for long. It’s a savory blend of roasted nuts, seeds and spices that hails all the way from Egypt. The fragrant mix is absolutely delicious, very versatile and super easy to make. Where have I been that I didn’t know about it sooner? Here’s to more dukkah in my house and, hopefully, yours, too. Come and cook with us! Continue reading


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