Spice Health Heros

Spice Health Heros. My first proper job after having my first child and starting work again after maternity leave. It was quite a big job to take on, and shooting a book can be very stressful at the best of times, let alone when you are sleep deprived and caring for a baby. But the end result just makes me so super proud! Many of the images are so stunning and definitely some of my very best work. I’m really excited to tell you a bit more about the background thoughts of my work on Spice Health Heros and to be sharing a few of my very favorite recipes from it.

Spice Health Heros by Natasha MacAller, published in UK, US, Aus & NZ by Jacqui Small Oct 2016.

When Natasha first came to me with her spice recipes, it was really only an idea for a book proposal for a followup to her Vanilla Table. Originally we put togethether 10 images for a book about pepper, but quickly the idea grew, and finally we were asked to create a stunner of a book about spices and their many health properties, including pepper. Initially I was quite keen on a very moody book where all the colour would come from the food and the spices themselves, but the publisher thought it might all get a bit dark, and asked me to re-think it. Finally I ended up adding a few lighter and a few more colourful backgrounds, which I think has really lifted the whole book, and brought it to life as you flick through the pages.

Spice Heros Spice Heros Spice Book, Jacqui Small Publishing Spice Book, Jacqui Small Publishing Spice Heros

I just looove this smoothie. It reminds me of tropical beaches, a light breeze and a relaxing daze in a hammic in the sun. It makes me happy both summer and winter! Turmeric was a spice I’ve never really used before, but after being introduced to it by Natasha, it has now found a regular space in my fruit and vegebowl, ready for juices and smoothies. The pepper adds some wonderful heat to compliment the sweetness and should not be left out. (MW)

TROPICAL TURMERIC SMOOTHIE
serves 1

The combination of fruit and spice and rich-but-healthy coconut milk is a favourite before a workout or just as a get-to-work beverage! If you prefer, you can use papaya instead of mango and add three leaves of coriander (cilantro). For a thicker smoothie, freeze the coconut milk in cubes before blending. (NM)

85g pineapple
115g fresh frozen mango
2.5 x 5cm strip orange peel
5cm piece turmeric root,
or 1⁄4 tsp ground turmeric
1/8 tsp cracked black pepper
1⁄4 tsp cardamom seeds, toasted and ground
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
240ml (1 cup) coconut milk
4–6 ice cubes
1 tsp chia seeds

Put all the ingredients except the chia seeds into a high-speed single-serve blender-juicer and blend until smooth. Sprinkle chia seeds on top and serve.

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The 3 images above are part of the concept for the chapter openers in Spice Health Heros. I’ve always loved coming up with the concept of the chapter openers for a book. As a natural break between all the recipes, they make up an important part of the look and feel of a book.

The hard part is usually coming up with something I haven’t seen or done before, as some of the criteria are set in stone. Usually it has to be a double page spread, and there needs to be negative space for the chapter title. For Spice Health Heros, the chapter openers would also create the intro to each class of spices, so they needed to be informative as well as beautiful and inspiring. I chose a neutral background, and a flat lay concept to keep in line with the trend of Scandi cool, which was part of the general brief for Spice Health Heros.

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Shooting a lot of food for books and magazines, I’ve become somewhat immune to a lot of food.
It takes a lot to impress me these days, but every once in a while, I’ll shoot something that really blows my mind. Taste wise I mean. Anne’s Pork Chile Verde, is one of these dishes. It just knocked my socks off. You’d think I would have known what a Chile Verde is, having worked as a food photographer for so many years, but admittedly this was my first. It’s just amazing! The right amount of heat, spice and umami, to make you just want more and more. This is one of those dishes that has truly become the fooodphtographers favorite. Thank you Anne! (MW)

PORK CHILE VERDE
By Anne Conness
serves 4

‘I can’t speak for the scientifc connection between spice and health, but what I do know is that eating spicy things makes me feel happy and satisfied. And when I feel happy, I feel less stressed, and that makes my doctor happy!’(AC)

1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1⁄2 tsp cloves
1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp salt
1.6kg (3.5lb.) pork shoulder, cut into 2cm (3⁄4in.) cubes, most of fat removed
1.2 litres (5 cups) chicken stock

For the corn:
3 ears of corn
2 tbsp butter
30g (1oz./1⁄4 cup) grated Monterey Jack or mild Cheddar cheese

For the sauce:
1 tomatillo, halved and stem removed
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 jalapeños, halved and stems removed
2 Anaheim chilies, halved and stems removed
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
60ml (1⁄4 cup) canola oil
2 tbsp lime juice
11⁄2 bunches coriander (cilantro)
2 tsp cumin
1⁄2 tsp cloves
1⁄4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp paprika
1⁄4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
350ml (11⁄2 cups) reserved cooking jus (see method)

To serve:
1 tbsp sauce from chilies in adobo or chipotle paste mixed with
115g (4oz./1⁄2 cup) sour cream
1 dash Tajin (a classic Mexican dry seasoning of dried lime juice, chili powder and salt)
4 lime wedges
150g (51⁄2oz./1 cup) pico de gallo (Mexican fresh tomato salsa)
small handful micro-coriander (cilantro) leaves

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4).

Toast the whole spices, cool, then grind to a powder. Stir in the cinnamon, cayenne pepper, paprika and salt. Toss the pork in the spice mixture and put in a roasting pan. Pour over the chicken stock, cover tightly with foil, put in the oven and cook until tender, about 11⁄2 hours. Strain the jus, skimming off the fat, and reserve 350ml (11⁄2 cups) for the sauce. Break up the meat if necessary.

Char the sweetcorn: Shuck the corn and remove the silks. Place the corn cobs on a baking tray on the top shelf of the oven or under the grill (broiler) on a high heat until charred. Leave to cool then place the corn cob in a cereal bowl and, using a sharp knife, cut the kernels from the cob in a downward motion; the kernels will collect in the bowl. Set aside.

For the sauce, toss the tomatillo, onion, jalapeños and Anaheim chilies and garlic in a bowl with the oil. Spread out on two baking trays and roast until caramelized, about 30 minutes at a medium–high heat. Leave to cool.

Blend the caramelized veggies in batches with the lime juice, coriander (cilantro), spices and strained cooking jus. Check the avour and season to taste.

Put the pork in a pan with this sauce and heat up.

Melt the butter in a hot ovenproof pan then add the charred corn. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese on top and put in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese.

To serve, put the pork on a plate and top with the corn. Garnish with the chipotle cream, a sprinkle of Tajin, a lime wedge and some pico de gallo. Finish with the coriander (cilantro).

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This ice cream is both refreshing and surprising. I love the combination of cinnamon and basil, and it kinda fits perfectly as a Christmas dessert in the warm weather here in New Zealand, if anyone dares to swap out the pavlova! (MW)

CINNAMON BASIL ICE CREAM
By Mindy Segal

makes 1 litre

‘This ice cream was inspired by some beautifully roasted peaches that I bought one year at the farmers’ market for a special dessert. I decided that it needed a little of the garden in the ice cream I served them with so I steeped fresh basil in my cinnamon ice cream. Eureka – delicious! It’s also good served with poached berries. Indonesian (Ceylon) cinnamon is a milder, softer avoured cinnamon also known as true cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is also fine to use but as the flavour is stronger, the basil-cinnamon balance will have a stronger cinnamon taste when using the cassia variety.’ (MS)

4–6 fresh Indonesian cinnamon sticks
475ml (2 cups) double (heavy) cream
475ml (2 cups) full-fat (whole) milk
13 large egg yolks
225g (8oz./1 cup) cane sugar
leaves from 1 bunch (70g/21⁄2oz.) cinnamon basil, regular basil or Thai basil, finely chopped
1⁄2 tsp fresh ground cinnamon
pinch sea salt
1⁄4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Put the cinnamon sticks on a baking tray and toast in the oven until hot to touch. Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed pan, heat the cream and milk to a simmer. Remove the cinnamon sticks from the oven and crush into pieces. Put the pieces into the warm milk and cream mixture and leave to steep for 1 hour.

Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a 2-litre (2-quart) bowl, whisk thoroughly and set aside. Strain the cinnamon sticks from the milk and cream mixture and discard them. Return the liquid to the pan and bring to the boil, then pour the liquid over the eggs and sugar, mixing thoroughly.
Pour back into the pan and cook over medium–low heat, stirring constantly until the custard coats the back of a spoon (nappe). Pour the hot custard into a bowl and set over an ice bath.

Steep the chopped basil in the hot custard until cool. Add the ground cinnamon and salt and mix thoroughly. When cool, strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer then whisk in the vanilla extract.
Freeze the custard in an ice-cream maker, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Spice Heros

© Spice Health Heros, available at your local bookstore (in UK, US, Aus & NZ) and online from Amazon
Recipes © Natasha MacAller
Photos © Manja Wachsmuth

Orphans Kitchen

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Having shot two editorials of Orphans Kitchen, been there to eat a few times, and also recently went to a ConversatioNZ talk by Tom Hishon, chef and co-owner, I thought it’s probably time to share this fabulous eatery on my blog.

Orphans Kitchen opened in 2014, named as a tribute to their London kitchen where all their “orphan” expat friends would gather for dinner during the holidays, Tom Hishon and Josh Helm was quick to find their niche on the competitive Auckland dining scene, and have had great success.

With bees on the roof and a love for locally sourced, organic and sustainable produce the eatery is at the front of the worldwide trend of local, honest ingredients, foraging and anything homemade and wholesome. If you haven’t been, GO!

Here Tom shares a couple of his recipes from the restaurant…

Dish Magazine #58 Dish Magazine #58 Dish Magazine #58 Dish Magazine #58 Dish Magazine #58 Dish Magazine #58 Dish Magazine #58 Dish Magazine #58 Dish Magazine #58 Dish Magazine #58 Homestyle Magazine #60

ROAST PORK FILLET
Serves 6

zest of two lemons
2 long sprigs of rosemary
pork scotch fillets, trimmed (300g of pork per person)
flaky sea salt
grapeseed oil
3 cloves of garlic
100g butter

Zest the lemons, chop the rosemary, then massage into the fillets. Leave overnight on a covered tray. Take out of the fridge one hour before cooking and bring to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 140°C. Heavily season the fillets with flaky salt. Heat a cast iron pan to a high heat, and add enough grapeseed oil to make a shallow pool in the bottom of the pan. Add the fillets and heavily colour by rolling. Add the butter and garlic and continue cooking in
the foaming butter.

Once you have achieved a very heavy crust, place the meat on a wire rack. Put the rack on top of an oven tray and into the oven, rotating every 20 minutes. At the 60 minute mark the meat should be well roasted through and ready to serve. If you are not confident it is ready, insert a metal skewer in the centre, pull out and make sure the juices are running clear.

Homestyle Magazine #60 Homestyle Magazine #60 Homestyle Magazine #60 Homestyle Magazine #60

SWEDE & CARROT MASH
Serves 4-6

2-3 large swedes, peeled
4 carrots, peeled
3 tbsp olive oil
flaky sea salt
fresh thyme
50g honey
50g honeycomb
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut the swedes and carrots into chunks and toss with olive oil, a good pinch of sea salt and the thyme. Put into a roasting tray, cover tightly, and roast for an hour and a half, or until very soft. Pour off residual juices, coarsely mash with the honey and season to taste. Top with honeycomb and drizzle with olive oil to serve.

BREAD & BUTTER PUDDING
Serves 6

800ml milk
200ml cream
1 vanilla bean, sliced length-ways
5 sprigs fresh thyme
100g dried currants
90ml Olorosso sherry
60ml water
1 loaf brioche
100g butter
fresh nutmeg
2 pears
zest of half an orange
1 tbsp honey

CUSTARD
1 whole egg
7 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
100g honey

Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a saucepan combine milk, cream, vanilla bean and 2 sprigs of thyme. Bring to a simmer while stirring with a wooden spoon.

Next, make the custard. In a large bowl, whisk the whole egg and yolks together with the sugar and honey until a creamy white texture is achieved. Pour the heated milk mixture over the beaten honey and eggs, while stirring to incorporate.

Place currants in a small saucepan with 60ml of sherry and 60ml of water. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid then take o the heat until they plump up. Cut the brioche into 2cm slices and butter each side with half the butter. Finely grate nutmeg over the buttered brioche.

Assemble in small ovenproof bowls, layering the brioche with the crusts sticking out. Pour the custard over the top, sprinkle with currants and leave to sit for half an hour.

Place the bowls into a deep oven tray and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of them. Carefully place the tray in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes.

While the puddings are cooking, peel and cut pears into 6-8 wedges, removing the cores. In a non-stick pan, add the remaining butter, thyme sprigs and pear slices. Cook until golden brown, then add honey and remaining 30ml of sherry. Flame, then serve alongside the pudding.

Homestyle Magazine #60

ORPHAN OLD FASHIONED
Serves 2

120ml whisky (any will do, but we prefer to use a rye or a bourbon)
3 cloves
2 cinnamon quills
Angostura orange bitters
2 cubes or 2 level tsp sugar
orange rind

Steep 120ml of whisky overnight with 3 cloves and half a cinnamon quill.

Absorb Angostura in sugar (a cube of sugar on a napkin works best).

Muddle orange rind with sugar in a Boston or large glass.

Fill half a glass with ice and 60ml of whisky. Stir until sugar melts. Top with ice and add another 60ml of whisky. Stir again. Strain liquid from the ice. This can be made in advance. Pour half the liquid into a serving glass with a large block of ice, then squeeze orange rind into the drink to release the oils. Garnish and serve with more orange rind or a cinnamon quill. Drink responsibly.

A selection of these images has previously been published in Dish Magazine#58 and Homestyle Magazine#60. The recipes was also published in Homestyle Magazine #60.
Recipes © Tom Hishon, Orphans Kitchen

Parts of this story also features on my profile on Steller

Ris ala Mande with homemade Cherry Sauce

Ris Ala Mande with Cherry Sauce Ris Ala Mande with Cherry Sauce Ris Ala Mande with Cherry Sauce

I’m back in Denmark for Christmas this year. For the first time in 5 years, I’m spending Christmas with MY family, and I can’t wait! There’s just something strange about spending Christmas in New Zealand, when it’s summer, and I just can’t seem to get into a real Christmas spirit. But this year it’ll be different, and I’m looking forward to showing my husband around a Christmas lit Copenhagen, ice skating and sipping Gløgg (mulled wine).

Obviously the big thing about Christmas is food, and for me as a food photographer, no less! We’ll have all the regulars: Roast duck, pork roast with crackling, caramelised potatoes, gravy, herring and lots of snaps of course! And a classic Danish Christmas dessert, the Ris ala Mande of course! Usually the cherry sauce for the dessert is just a store bought thing, but since I’ve moved to NZ, I’ve always made my own- just because you can’t buy it there. The good thing about that, is that it’s summer there, and cherries are in season, so I make mine out of fresh cherries. So this year, I’ve imported 3 litres of NZ made cherry sauce into Denmark, for our Christmas dessert. My recipe has a dash of single malt whiskey in it. It’s yum!

So, I bring you the recipe for: Ris ala Mande with homemade Cherry Sauce! Merry Christmas!

Ris ala Mande
6-8 portions

1 litre whole milk
2 vanilla beans (I use Heilala Vanilla)
150g arborio rice
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
100g blanched almonds, roughly chopped
1 whole blanched almond (skin removed)
500ml cream

Cherry Sauce:
makes 3 litres

500g fresh, pitted cherries (alternatively use frozen or jarred cherries)
150g caster sugar
2 vanilla beans (I use Heilala Vanilla)
3 cups water
4 tablespoons cornflour
100 ml whiskey (I use single malt – some might argue that – especially your husband. You could also use cognac)

Place milk and rice in a large pot. Cook over gentle heat, stirring often to prevent rice sticking and burning, for about 20 minutes. Most of the milk should have been absorbed by this stage. Remove pot from heat and cover. Leave to rest 30 minutes. In Denmark it’s common to let the rice porridge rest under the duvet, to heat up the bed (as it’s winter, and cold outside)

Stir in caster sugar and salt. Split vanilla beans and scrape seeds into pot. Fold them through rice mixture. Leave to cool completely. At this stage the porridge can be covered and refrigerated until the day it is needed (up to two days).

On the day of serving, beat cream to soft peaks. Fold about one third through the rice until smooth then fold in remainder with chopped almonds.

Transfer Ris ala Mande to a serving bowl and hide 1 whole almond in the mixture. Cover and keep chilled until ready to serve. Traditionally we serve the dessert with 1 whole almond, and sometimes a few half or 3/4 ones (cheat almonds). Who ever can present the whole almond, wins the almond prize, which is usually another sweet treat, such as a mazipan pig or chocolates. The idea is to keep the almond hidden (if you find it), until all the Ris ala Mande has been eaten.

Sauce: Place cherries, sugar, whole vanilla bean, water and whiskey in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil then simmer 15 minutes.

Combine cornflour with a little cold water. Slowly add to cherry mixture, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Bring mixture slowly back to the boil then remove from the heat. (Sauce can be made ahead and bottled in sterilised jars).

Serve the Ris ala Mande (rice pudding) at room temperatue with warm cherry sauce.

Merry Christmas!

Berry Beautiful

NZ House & Garden Magazine #244 NZ House & Garden Magazine #244 NZ House & Garden Magazine #244 NZ House & Garden Magazine #244 NZ House & Garden Magazine #244 NZ House & Garden Magazine #244 NZ House & Garden Magazine #244 NZ House & Garden Magazine #244

It’s summer in New Zealand! And it is time to utilise some of the beautiful produce this season has to offer.
For NZ House & Garden, I’ve shot a beautiful berry story, using ripe berries of the summer season. With Christmas fast approaching, I thought it would be a good idea to share this lovely take on the classic Pavlova with fresh berries, along with a Raspberry Vinegar recipe to use with the Pavlova. Happy Holidays!

Stay tuned for a recipe on a Danish Christmas classic: Ris a’la Mande with homemade Cherry Sauce. Will be up before Christmas!

Recipes © Bernadette Hogg. Styling by Claudia Kozub @ Indie Home Collective

Individual Pavlovas with Berries & Raspberry Vinegar Sauce
Makes 6

This is a fabulous make-ahead dessert – the sauce can be made several days before required, while the pavlovas can be made the day before needed and stored in an airtight container.

6 egg whites
2 cups caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons cornflour
300ml cream, beaten until thick
500g mixed fresh berries
Raspberry vinegar sauce:
11⁄2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
3 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
3 tablespoons icing sugar

Heat oven to 100°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs whites to firm peaks. Gradually add caster sugar a teaspoon at a time (this can take about 10 minutes).

Beat in vanilla, salt, vinegar and cornflour until mixture is fluffy and glossy.

Spoon mixture onto lined tray to form 6 evenly sized pavlovas. Bake 1 hour or until crisp and dry looking. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Sauce: Blend raspberries, vinegar and icing sugar together until smooth. Strain through a sieve and discard seeds.

To assemble dessert, place pavlovas on serving plates and top with beaten cream, fresh berries and a good drizzle of sauce.

Raspberry Vinegar
Makes about 2 cups

Use this vinegar to make dressings, drizzle over berries or add to marinades and sauces – both sweet and savoury.
It’s also ideal for the sauce served over the pavlovas on page xxx, and makes a lovely gift.

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, lightly crushed
2 cups white wine vinegar
2 small cinnamon sticks

Place all ingredients in a glass jar and seal. Store in a cool, dark place for 2-4 weeks. To remind you when the vinegar will be ready, add a date label.

When vinegar is ready to be bottled, line a sieve with muslin and place over a bowl. Pour contents of jar through sieve then transfer the clear liquid to sterilized bottles or jars and seal.

Vinegar will keep for up to 12 months in a cool, dark cupboard, even after opening.

Pizza on the Weber BBQ

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Summer has officially arrived in New Zealand! One thing I love the most about summer is cooking on the BBQ. Last year I discovered cooking pizza on the BBQ, and when you’ve tried it once, it’ll be the only way you’ll ever want to cook pizza again. Pizza on the BBQ is the fool proof way of getting a moist and delishious filling and above all a super crispy base, which you can never seem to get in the oven, regardless of the temperature or quality of pizza stone.

The majority of Kiwis (and probably Ozzies and Americans) swear by th gas BBQ’s and most pizza BBQ recipes will tell you to cook your pizza on a gas BBQ, where you can control the temperature and monitor it 100%, but there is another way. Personally I prefer a coal BBQ any day. This is how it was when I was a kid and the ritural of lighting a fire (or drinking a glass of ice cold chardonnay, while watching your husband lighting a fire) – you just can’t beat it. The smokey flavour of cooking over coals, just adds an extra element to the pizzas and everyone will be coming back for more.

The tricky thing is obviously getting the temperature right, so you don’t burn your base, so you gotta watch your pizza like a hawk. And also you MUST use a pizza stone. But once you’ve tried it a few times, you will master it, and be eating pizza’s with friends and family all summer!

I’m providing you with the recipe for a great pizza dough, that’s my updated version of a pizza recipe I shot for Dish Magazine back in 2010, for their Italian issue. I’ve used wholemeal, stoneground flour for added nutritional benefits, and it is how I prefer my pizza base. Of course you can use plain flour or 00 flour if you like.

Pizza dough
Makes two pizzas, 4-6 serves

1 cup of plain flour or 00 flour
1 cup of stoneground, wholemeal flour
½ teaspoon of sugar
1 ½ teaspoons of instant dried yeast
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup of lukewarm water
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix together. Mix the water and oil together in a separate bowl or jug. Gradually add the water to the dry ingredients, little by little, mixing the dough with your hands or a wooden spoon. Be careful not to make the dough too wet and sticky, nor too dry. Once roughly combined turn the dough out on a lightly floured benchtop and knead for 3-5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky and springy. Place it in a lightly floured bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Set aside in a warm place and let rise for 1 – 1½ hour.

Mastering the BBQ & making your pizza

About 10-15  minutes before your dough is ready, start up your BBQ using choal or briquettes. If using briquettes, you might want to get them started around half an hour before the dough is ready. The coal is quicker to start up, but also burns out faster. The briquettes take longer to get ready for cooking, but will hold the heat a lot longer. We usually use coals when it’s just the two of us, and briquettes when cooking for more people.

Once doubled in size, split the dough into two portions and roll out thinly on a lightly floured bench top. Place the pizza base on a piece of baking paper, and fill with your favorite filling. I’ve used:

Organic tomato paste
1 whole zucchini sliced sideways with a potato peeler
Red onion, thinly sliced
Cherry tomatoes (from the Curious Croppers)
Prosciutto
Buffalo mozzarella
Homemade pesto
Salt & pepper

Once the coals or briquettes have settled down, and turned to embers, place your pizza stone on the BBQ about 5 minutes before you’re ready to cook it, to let the stone heat up properly. Then transfer your pizza, with the baking paper underneath, to the pizza stone, and cover your BBQ with the lid. Make sure to have the air vents open, to keep the air circulating around the pizza and ensure even cooking of the base and the top. Depending on the amount of heat in your BBQ, your pizza will cook in 15-20 min. Keep an eye on it every 5-10 minutes, making sure the base doesn’t burn. If the base colours too quickly the BBQ is too hot, and you should wait a little while longer, next time, to let the coal settle a bit more. Once the base has firmed up, you can remove the baking paper. When the base is crispy and the cheese on top slightly melted, garnish with fresh basil. Your pizza is ready to serve!

ENJOY!

Don’t drink and fry!

Amass Copenhagen

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With summer just around the corner here in New Zealand, and a trip to Denmark planned for Christmas, I’ve been thinking back on my trip home to Denmark in June, earlier this year. Back then I was doing a few travel stories about Denmark and specifically Copenhagen for Dish Magazine here in New Zealand. I also had the pleasure of doing a shoot with Matt Orlando at Restaurant Amass Copenhagen, to be included in a travel piece on Copenhagen. I was incredibly intrigued by the athmosphere at Amass, and Matt’s approach to the “New Nordic Cuisine” style of restaurant and cooking. The whole place, everyone there and Matt himself, just oozes “cool” and I can’t wait to go back and actually dine there and be able to take the whole place in, on a more relaxed level. I hope and wonder if it’s just as awesome in winter…

Copenhagen Standard

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While I was in Denmark for the month of June, I also photographed a travel story on the food scene in Copenhagen for Dish Magazine. The article is written by food writer, cook book editor, self acclaimed foodie and now also cook book author Marie Holm. I first met Marie, when I started shooting for Danish food magazine MAD&venner (FOOD&friends) back in 2008, before I left Copenhagen to go travelling. Back then Marie worked for the magazine, but today she is freelancing, working for all sorts of magazines, publishers and others who needs Marie’s expertise as an experienced food writer.

When I first came to New Zealand in 2009, with my portfolio and a stack of MAD&venner magazines under my arm, I was thrilled when Dish magazine booked me, and every year since I’ve been trying to talk them into doing some sort of story on Copenhagen. This time they finally jumped on it, and I was fortunate enough to talk Marie Holm into writing the story, as I knew there wouldn’t be anyone more perfect for it. Now the story is out in recent issue of Dish Magazine (#55 August 2014). Unfortunately I can’t publish it here (so you should go buy the magazine to read Marie’s brilliant story), but I can show off some of the extra photos, that didn’t make the cut for the article.

First off we have a new favorite of mine. Claus Meyer and Torsten Vildgaard’s new place The Standard. Based in what used to be the former Custom House, they’ve opened up 3 new restaurants and a jazz club. I visited two of those restaurants: Studio and Alamanak, to photograph for the article and although I’ve only been in Copenhagen this time for 2 weeks in total, I still managed to eat at Almanak 3 times for lunch. What can I say? The food is great – I just love that liver patee (pictured above)! Danish smørrebrød, open sandwiches, with a modern, New Nordic twist. I suppose it has become the new Copenhagen Standard for me. The other restaurant, Studio, is definitely more of a fine dining place of the New Nordic Cuisine caliber, and I suppose former Noma souschef Torsten Vildgaard’s playground – his Studio. Unfortunately I didn’t get to actually eat at Studio this time, although I hope to return and have the pleasure of Torstens genius cooking.

More photos from my favorite city in the world, Copenhagen, later. Thanks for stopping by!

Visit Strandgaarden Badehotel

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My last stop for the day of my visit to Læsø this time around was Strandgaarden Badehotel.

Strandgaarden beach hotel offers an idyllic setting and located just 4 minutes walk to the beach, it’s the perfect spot for a relaxing summer holiday. I could have stayed here for weeks on end, reading, relaxing, swimming, and taking heaps more photos, enjoying the Danish summer when it’s at its best. This place is so quaint and cute, that I just had to dedicate a whole blog post to it.

The hotel was built in 1727 and parts of the original building are still in use. The owner takes pride in keeping the hotel in its original idyllic state with thatched roof and half timbering, but with all the commodities of modern day living. Such is the hotel kitchen, which each year has a new, up and coming Danish chef have a chance to stand up to the big boys, with the title as head chef at Strandgaarden Badehotel. The owner Ole Lind, has gotten pretty good at picking them, and for many years Strandgaarden has earned much appraisal in the media across Denmark. Every evening the menu changes according to the season and what’s available on the island, so what’s served tonight will most likely not be served tomorrow. The element of surprise is one of the things I find intriguing about the restaurant here alongside the presentation of the food by the table, by the kitchen chefs – Nicolas Højgaard Michaels and head chef Thomas Wetle Andersen.

I was served:

Homemade Sourdough Rolls & Browned Butter stirred with Butter Milk, Crème Fraiche and Onion Powder
Amuse Bouche: Seaweed Chips, Lobster Mayo and Chervil + Pork Belly, Parsley Puree and Spiced Crackling
Starter: Scampi, Kohlrabi and Green Strawberries
Main: Lobster, Scallops and Yellow Peas
Dessert: Dark Chocolate, Truffle and Blackberry Granita
All accompanied by a Sparkling Rosé to begin, a NZ Honky Dory Sauvignon Blanc for the starter and the main and a Riesling to end.

Thumbs up to both of the chefs! I loved the sourdough rolls with the browned butter, and if it wasn’t because it requires some pretty expensive, high end pro kitchen gear, I would make that butter myself. Everything else was delicious too, particularly the main, which really played with, not just the flavours but also the textures. It’s not often I say it, but the highlight of the meal was definitely the dessert. The surprising taste of the chocolate cake, which I was told later was the influence of the truffle, was really interesting and intriguing. I suppose after shooting a sweet and savoury book about Vanilla, those combinations of savoury flavours with sweet or vice versa, is really something I notice.

After a very tasty meal, a quick chat to the chefs and tons of photos later, I had to end the evening watching the sunset on the beach. It’s one of those things I love! It’s the perfect ending to a perfect day, before going to sleep in one of Strandgaarden’s super comfortable beds.

Thanks to Ole Lind at Strandgaarden Badehotel for excellent service! Read more about Strandgaarden on their website or join their facebook page for regular news and updates.

Next up are some of things I got up to in Copenhagen, so please come back soon!

Nordic Sea Salt

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If you’ve worked with me in my studio, or just gotten to know me, while I’ve been in New Zealand,  you might have been so lucky to recieve as a present, a cute little linnen bag, tied with a piece of string and filled with pourus sea salt crystals, along with an attempt from me to explain why this salt is awesome!

You might have thought:  “Wow, how awesome can salt be?” or “I thought Maldon salt was supposed to be the awesome salt!” Well Maldon salt is awesome, and I know the “REAL” salt to use if you are a chef or a real foodie. But Maldon, move over, because here’s the story and the images to show, why I think Læsø Salt is more awesome.

As a visual person, I buy with my eyes (not everything and always, but often). A product has got to look good or sell me the idea of looking good. Well for starters Læsø Salt does just that. Just take a look at the place where they make it!
It is full of beautiful photo opportunities, and if my dad hadn’t been hanging around, waiting for me to finish “doing my thing”, I could have spent the whole day here. Although I think I got some pretty cool shots after all.

We are still on the island Læsø, as I wrote about the other day and the first visit on my itinerary of the day. At the edge of a pine forrest, south of the town Byrum, bordering the open plain of the the truly windblown parts of Læsø, lies Læsø Salt Works. It is both the place where they make Læsø Salt, but also a tourist attraction that tells a lot of the story on life on Læsø back in the day. Without making it too long and boring (the guides at Læsø Salt does not), I’ll try to explaing why this place, and the salt, is so special.

Due to the high concentration of salt in the sea around Læsø, the making of sea salt has been happeing on Læsø since the middel ages, but then since died out. Back in 1990 when archeoligists started looking into some of the history of Læsø, the idea of salt seething on Læsø was brought back to life using the discoveries the archeologists made. Today they seethe salt after the old traditions and recipes and make just enough to meet demands and keep Læsø Salt Works a healthy business.

The salty water is brought in from wells, dug in the lower parts of southern Læsø. In the Salt Works the water is set to evaporate over the fire. Once the brine is saturated, the salt crystals form on the surface and is scooped up into the baskets where residue water runs off, before the salt is set to dry in the drying addic.

The salt still retains a lot of the minerals and has a full-bodied flavour. It is porous enough to be perfect for crushing between two fingers before seasoning any dish. The salt is hand made and with respect for the nature sourroundings of the island. All biproducts of the seething is used for Læsø Salt Care scin care range and is excellent treatment for people with dry skin or pshoriasis. So apart from the oddness in bringing sea salt across the globe to New Zealand, Læsø Salt meets a lot of my criteria for many products that I buy. I like to support: My local community, the preservation of a lost art, AND pride and effort into making a tasty and beautiful product.

Read more about Læsø Salt Works in English here and in Danish here. Stay tuned for another awesome place to visit on Læsø, soon!

Idyllic island Laesoe in Denmark

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If you’ve been following my instagram feed or my facebook page lately, you might have noticed that I’ve been on a trip home to my native Denmark recently. Having only just returned to New Zealand last week, I’m struggling to cope with the depressing wet New Zealand winter weather and the lack of proper heating and insulation at my studio. So I have emerged myself into working through all the images I’ve done, while I’ve been away.

Over the next month or so, I’ll keep the theme of the blog in the name of Denmark, Danish summer, Copenhagen eateries and all things Danish, while I wait for the New Zealand summer to return. If you love everything Scandinavian and miss summer too (or are in fact enjoying Danish summer at the moment), I’m sure there’ll be something for you to be inspired about, get your wanderlust itching again or just take your mind off the crappy weather for a bit.

I’ll start by introducing a place that’s very close to home, or should I say close to “my hometown” and my heart. Somewhere truly idyllic! The Island Læsø in Denmark or Laesoe (in English) is a small island in the North Sea bay Kattegat, just off the coast of the peninsula Jutland, the Danish mainland.

An hour and a half’s ferry ride from my hometown Frederikshavn, you’ll find this idyllic island, also referred to as Kattegat’s perle: “The Pearl of Kattegat”. Once you step off the ferry (or pretty much when you get on it actually), you know you’re on island time. My grandmother grew up here, so I’ve been coming here since I was a little girl, but it’s only after I moved to New Zealand, I’ve come to actually really love this place. It is windblown (due to the lack of hills) but peacefull. It’s full of nostalgica and by gone days of old school Danish fishermen and small town charm. This is truly the outskirts of Denmark, but if you are feeling stressed out, you’ve come to the right place to relax! The island has an amazing and unique nature, and you’ll find the beauty in the small things, such as riding a bike from one end of the island to the other (21km), go horseback riding on Icelandic Ponies or taking a swim at one of the many beaches. The island is known for it’s scampi festival in August and the cute half-timbered houses thatched with seaweed.

The next few upcoming posts, I’ll show a few of the really great places on the island, Læsø Salt Works and a really good place to eat (and sleep). So please stay tuned!