Good morning, as i have mentioned i am not going to talk about the weather today, after all the snow, rain, wind and sunshine who cares what is in store! I will talk about some of the new products/produce at the market.  If you haven't noticed or tasted Scothbrook and Goodfellow extra virgin olive oil well it's back and it really is quite special. I highly recommend purchasing one bottle of quality extra virgin olive oil as it is a vital ingredient for the oncoming summer produce.  You never cook with it, it is purely for drizzling over asparagus, sun-ripened tomatoes, blistered capsicums, salads and of course dipping bread into (this list goes on and on)!

                                                      Photos Sarah Cowhey

The first of the season new potatoes are available (and they are good), asparagus and watercress are in thei prime, broccoli and romescu are also back.  Oh yeah Nigel from Brydone Organics is back you have to check out his remarkable produce his red onions are amazing (i will be demonstrating some dishes with them in a few weeks).  Don't forget to check out the many stalls selling plants and flowers- paeonies are available from many stalls so don't worry you won't miss out!

Todays menu is as varied as the weather - Skate wings, new season potatoes, toffee apples, pickled carrots  and Greek cheese pies (told you).

EDMONDS FRESH FISH - As I have mentioned before Edmonds Fish are a family run business with boats moored at Tairei Mouth and with a fish shop in Green island. They only have fish for sale if the boats can go out, that’s a true indication of just how fresh the fish actually is.

photos thanks to Sarah Cowhey

Skate wings are not so commonly used here in New Zealand, which is a shame as they are moist and delicious. They are also one of the cheapest types of fish on the market, making it a very reasonable meal for the family. The recipe below is a classic, but don’t be afraid to experiment with skate as you would other fish it will take on any flavours to add to it very well!

Serves 2
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 skate wings
75g butter
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp extra-fine capers
1 lemon, juice only
2 Tbsp roughly chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Heat the oil in an ovenproof frying pan and add the skate wings. Fry for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden.
Transfer the fish to the oven and roast for 6-7 minutes, until tender.
Remove the fish to serving plates and keep warm.
Melt the butter in the pan over a high heat until the it begins to brown.
Add the vinegar, capers, lemon juice and chopped parsley. Pour the brown butter sauce over the skate and serve immediately.

I have so many memories of my time in Greece and in particular was the many food stores selling these cheesy pies encased in wonderfully oily pastry. This is one of many that I make time and time again.

Makes 6 large pies

175g plain flour
175g wholemeal flour
5 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
Lukewarm water
350g ricotta cheese
Grated parmesan, aged cheddar or cheese of your liking, for sprinkling
Pinch Greek oregano
Pinch sea salt flakes

In a large bowl add the flours, pinch of salt and oil, mix with your hands whilst pouring in a little warm water at a time. You want the dough to be soft and pliable! Knead the dough until it loses it stickiness about 3-5 minutes.

Divide the dough into 12 even sized balls, cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough into thin rounds about the size of your fry pan, continue until all are done.

Spread a thin layer of ricotta cheese over the base of 6 rounds, sprinkle with a pinch of oregano and light sprinkle of salt, leaving a narrow margin around the edges. Moisten the edges with a little water or egg and place another round on top, and press down to seal. Dust with a little flour.

Heat up a heavy frypan brushed with oil to medium-low heat. Add one pie at a time and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. Drain on paper towel and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Cook the remaining pies, brushing the pan with oil each time.
Best served hot.

The secret to a crystal clear and crisp toffee is to never stir the mixture once the sugar has dissolved!
Always keep children away from the toffee and never leave the pot unattended as hot toffee is very, very dangerous.

photo from Sarah Cowhey

Makes 12 small apples

12 small wax free apples, washed and dried
12 ice-block sticks
2 cups white sugar
¾ cup water
1 Tbsp vinegar (white or malt)
Food colouring

In a clean, deep heavy-based pot add the water, sugar, and vinegar. Bring to a boil stirring only to dissolve the sugar. Once it has come to the boil leave it alone.

Meanwhile remove the stalk from the apples and push an ice-block stick into the cavity.
Lightly grease your work surface with a little oil (to prevent them sticking).
When you see the bubbles in the toffee becoming larger and slower, get a little bowl of cold water and carefully with a spoon scoop a tiny amount of toffee and drop into your cold water. It should crack and go hard when ready (hard ball stage) 10-15 minutes approximately. If this stage has not been reached then continue cooking until it does, it is paramount that it reaches this stage or you will not have hard toffee!

Remove from the heat and very carefully (stand back a little) add a few drops of food colouring. Stir to combine but be careful as it splutters and spits. Let toffee sit for a minute or two.
Hold your toffee apple by the stick and very carefully dunk your apple into the hot toffee. Let it run off the apple, twist the apple and place onto your greased work surface. Continue until all the toffee is used up. Allow the apples to set. Wrap in gladwrap or put into cellophane bags.

Last 1-2 days only!

Nigel from Brydone is back and we are blessed with the first of the season’s potatoes…..

1 kg new season potatoes, washed well
Pinch salt
2 handfuls fresh mint
1 Tbsp redwine vinegar
1-2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp olive oil

Put the potatoes into a suitable size pot and cover with cold water, add the salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender (20 minutes), drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile remove stalks from the mint and place the leaves into a mortar and pestle add a pinch of sugar and mash until you get a coarse paste, or alternately chop by hand until you get the same results. Add the red wine vinegar, pinch of salt and oil. Taste, you will more than likely have to get the balance of sweet/minty and vinegar right, adjust as necessary.
Pour the mint sauce over your potatoes and toss gently. Serve at once!

I stumbled across pickled carrots once or twice on my travels served alongside some salami, good quality bread and perhaps a few olives. I thought it was a refreshing way to serve carrots.

400g carrots, cut into thick slices on the diagonal
1 fresh bay leaf
2-4 slices fresh red chilli
1 tsp salt
12 black peppercorns
375ml verjuice or good quality white wine vinegar
½ cup raw cane sugar


Cook carrots in a saucepan of lightly salted simmering water until just tender (about 5 minutes).

Add the verjuice, sugar, chilli, bayleaf, peppercorns and salt, heat gently until sugar dissolves (3-5 minutes).

Place carrots into 750ml capacity sterilised glass jar. Pour over the verjuice mixture until the carrots are well covered. Seal tightly with a lid. Invert the jar a couple of times to mix contents. Leave upside down for at least 24 hours to allow mixture to settle. Turn upright and store in a dark cupboard for at least several months. However once opened store in the fridge.