A little taste of Spring
photo Simon Lambert
Isn't it exciting that winter feels as though it is subsiding and spring is on the way....!  It won't be long until we get to dip that long, crisp green spear of Asparagus into some peppery Central Otago olive oil mayonnaise.  It is true it won't be long but hey lets not forget what is good at the moment....silverbeet, calvolo nero, cauliflowers, brocccoli, romanesco, jerusalem artichokes, potatoes, pumpkins, brussels sprouts, leeks, lettuce, asian greens (large variety from Youngs) living sprouts, huge array of apples and pears, frozen berries and much, much more.  I am only scatching the surface as to what is available i haven't even mentioned the incredible array of meat, fish, cheese, wine and beer......i will leave the rest up to you!

Character's of the market vendors
photo Sarah Cowhey

I have put together an interesting menu for you all to play around with.  Leckies Butcher have given me the challenge of preparing and cooking Lamb Sweetbreads, i am going to simply poach, then crumb and panfry with a little squeeze of lemon.  I also have some bacon ends which i am going to incorporate into a fantastic pasta dish using none other than Pasta D'oro.   I also have the infamous Smoked Manuka Eggs which i am adding to make my market version of Carbonara!  This is one of those meals you can come home from work and whip up well under 30 minutes.

Busy day in the mobile kitchen...thanks
photo Sarah Cowhey
I also have some fantastic apples from Willowbrook Orchard which i am going to turn into a delicious dessert along with hazelnuts and quince conserve from Corydon Hazels.


Serves 4

photo Sarah Cowhey

100g bacon ends, cut into 1 cm pieces
50g parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated
3 Manuka Smoked eggs
350g Pasta d’oro Linguini
2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
50g unsalted butter
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Put a large saucepan of heavily salted water on to boil.

Firstly get together all your ingredients such as the cut bacon ends, grated parmesan, lightly beat together your eggs in a bowl and set aside.

In a heavy based fry pan add the butter and dash of olive add the bacon. Cook over a moderate heat so the fat renders out a little and it starts to colour. Squash the garlic and add it to the bacon. Continue cooking until the bacon has gone golden and crisp. Remove the garlic as it has done its job of imparting flavour.

Cook your pasta as directed on the packet. I am using fresh pasta which is very quick to cook (2-4 minutes). Ensure the water is constantly boiling. When your pasta is cooked you can either drag it across from the pot to the fry pan with a long pair of tongs or you can drain in through a colander, but ensure you collect a little of the cooking liquor as this is vital to your dish.

Mix most of the cheese with the eggs (reserving a little cheese for serving), remove the fry pan from the heat and now quickly pour in the egg mixture. Using tongs lift up the pasta through the mixture so it evenly coats all the threads of pasta and thickens as you do so. Add a few Tbsp of the cooking water to loosen the mixture. You want it moist but not wet. Adjust the seasoning and serve with freshly grated cheese.


Sweetbreads have nothing to do with bread at all they are in fact the thymus or pancreas gland from sheep, calves or deer. Do not let this put you off as they are tender and creamy in taste and texture. There is a little preparation beforehand but worth the small amount of effort. Go on be daring…!

Basic preparation of sweetbreads – ideally soak them for a few hours in several changes of cold water. If a little low on time you can omit this stage and gentle poach them in unsalted water for 5 minutes. Drain and leave to cool. When cool enough to handle prick each sweetbread all over to release any excess fat. Remove any gristly or sinewy bits and discard. Be careful not to remove too much of the membrane as this holds them together.

Your sweetbreads are now ready to use in whichever way you so desire!


This is a classic way of serving sweetbreads, simply panfried and finished with a zesty sauce.

photo Sarah Cowhey
Serves 4

250g sweetbreads
2 eggs,
½ cup flour
1 cup panko or breadcrumbs
1 lemon
2 Tbsp capers
Handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
50g butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Firstly get together the ingredients for crumbing – put the flour into one dish, then break the eggs and lightly whisk and put into another dish. Finally put the crumbs into another dish. Place them on your bench in the above order.

Crumb the sweetbreads in the flour, egg mixture and finally the crumbs. Lay out on a tray ensuring they are not sitting on one another. Refrigerate until required.

Heat up a large fry pan with ½ the butter and drizzle of oil. Fry the sweetbreads over moderate heat, season with salt and pepper and fry until the crumbs go a lovely golden brown (2 minutes) turn over and repeat with the other side. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

To make the sauce; add the remaining butter and let it go frothy (2 minutes) it will give off a slightly nutty aroma, squeeze over the juice of the lemon, add the capers and swirl the pan around to amalgamate the flavours. Finally add the parsley, taste, adjust if necessary.

To serve; divide the sweetbreads between the warm plates and drizzle over the sauce. I particularly like mine with some crisp pepper rocket or watercress leaves.


photo Sarah Cowhey

3 carrots, thinly sliced diagonally, or peeled into strips with potato peeler

½ red onion or spring onions, thinly sliced
70g roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

1 cup (loosely packed) mint leaves, roughly torn if necessary

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp each of ground cumin, coriander and fennel


Place the carrot, hazelnuts, onion and mint into a large bowl.
In another bowl prepare the dressing by mixing the oil, spices and juices together. Season lightly.
When ready to eat, drizzle over the dressing, toss to combine and serve immediately.
This is wonderful alongside some middle eastern spiced lamb or chicken. Although it works superbly on its own.


photo Sarah Cowhey
 I love the crunchy pastry with the brandied apples, crunchy hazelnuts and sticky quince it makes for a fantastic dessert or a very decadent high tea.

Makes 12 pieces

500g puff pastry
9 apples – granny smiths, braeburn or fuji work well, peel and core
Juice of 1 lemon
250g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
50 ml brandy (optional)
125g hazelnuts
Icing sugar for dusting
Whipped cream (optional)


Firstly cut the apples into 1 cm dice and put into a heavy-based saucepan with the butter, brandy and lemon juice. Add 250g (1 cup) sugar and the cinnamon stick. Cook over high heat, stirring continuously, until the butter has melted. Reduce the heat to low then cover and cook, stirring frequently for 30 minutes, or until mixture reaches a jam-like consistency. Remove from the heat and cool.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work bench until you get a 30x 40cm rectangle. Place it onto a baking sheet, trim the edges and prick well all over and cover with another baking sheet (this will prevent the pastry rising up too far)

Preheat the oven 220C

Bake the pastry still between the two baking sheets, for 15 minutes or until the pastry becomes golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 180C.

Remove the top baking sheet and allow the pastry to cool slightly, cover with the apples, leaving a 1 cm gap around the edges. Scatter evenly with the hazelnuts and coat heavily with icing sugar. Bake for another 15-18 minutes or until the nuts are golden brown. Remove from the oven, cut into desired size pieces and enjoy it goes wonderfully well with lashings of whipped cream.

Thank you to everyone that makes the mobile kitchen such a success


JUDGE ROCK WINES (thank you Paul for the fantastic wine week after week)http://www.judgerock.co.nz/CORYDON HAZELS – HAZELNUTS AND QUINCE CONSERVE

PASTA D’ORO – LINGUINI  http://www.pastadoro.co.nz/
SMOKED MANUKA EGGS  http://www.nzmanukaeggs.co.nz/


www.alisonmarketchef.blogspot.com or follow me on facebook Alison Lambert Taste of my life.