Berry Beautiful

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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!

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!

Red Basil Pesto

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I’ve noticed when I make pesto, like the one I did the other day, the basil tends to go brown, after a while. After advice from Annabel Langbein and a bit of reserch on the internet, it seems that blanching the leaves beforehand is the answer to ever delicious looking pesto. So here is an updated version of my pesto recipe that will work just as well with red basil pesto as with green. This time I’ve used pecan nuts, which I think work well with the more bitter flavour of the red basil, but you can use pine nuts as in traditional pesto, if you prefer.

 Red Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves, green or red
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup pecan nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

Toast the pecan nuts lightly over medium heat until golden. Be careful not to burn. Leave to cool. Blanch the basil leaves for just a few seconds in plenty of boiling water, then rinse and cool in an icebath. Dab the leaves dry on a clean teatowel. They don’t need to be superdry, just not soaking wet, so they water out the pesto. Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the basil pesto to clean glass jars, and pour over a little olive oil to cover, then seal. The pesto will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Homemade Basil Pesto

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On the deck of the studio, I’ve always got a selection of herbs growing. They are great to have handy for shoots, and off course they look nice as well. At the moment, I’ve got more basil than I can eat, so I decided to make some of it into pesto. Here’s a quick and easy recipe:

Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil, plus a little extra for storage
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

Toast the pine nuts lightly over medium heat until golden. Be careful not to burn. Leave to cool. Place all ingredients in the blender and mix until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the basil pesto to clean glass jars, and pour over about 1/2 cm of olive oil to cover, then seal. The oil will prevent the pesto from browning. The pesto will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Curious Croppers for Dish

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In April 2010 my first photoshoot on NZ soil was published in Dish 29, their annual italian issue. This month, 4 years later, I’m on the cover of this years italian issue (currently out now). Thank you Dish for all the good times and for being a loyal client! Styling by The Props Department, platter on the cover from Flotsam & Jetsam and tomatoes from Curious Croppers

 

Vanilla Cocktails for New Year

The Cocktail Cabinet/ Vanilla Table The Cocktail Cabinet/ The Vanilla Table

A very last minute blogpost with a couple of ideas for New Year cocktails. These are brought to you by Vanilla Table author Natasha MacAller and will work well for New Years eve where ever you are or at any cocktail party really. Cocktails are all the rage at the moment, so easy to make, and sure to impress! Cheers and Happy New Year! (Drink responsibly)

The Vanilla Lemon Drop
Serves 1
Inspired by a Taste of Vanilla Lemonade, this perfect celebration cocktail, combining two fragrant tastes and only takes mere seconds to mix and enjoy!

Vodka 60ml/ 2 shots/ 2  fl oz
Lemon juice, Fresh, Strained  30ml/1 shot/1 fl oz
Vanilla syrup (I used Heilala) 2 tsp/10ml
Vanilla bean sliver for garnish

Pour liquid ingredients into an ice filled cocktail shaker. Shake well, Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a sliver of vanilla bean.

*1 shot equals  30 ml/1 fl oz

The South Pacific Star
Fragrant with Passion fruit and Proseco, this south pacific summer party cocktail was served at “Cuisines of the Sun” in Hawaii for 350 guests! This updated version Serves about 12.

42 Below Passion Fruit vodka 235 ml/8fl oz/8 shots
Heilala Vanilla Syrup 175 ml/6 fl oz/6 shots
Proseco or NZ Sparkling wine (I used a blush style) 1 bottle/750ml/3/4 fl qt.
Passion Fruit Fresh, pulp and seeds about 12/235ml/8fl oz
Vanilla bitters 2 dashes (optional)
Orchids to float and garnish

Pour together vodka, vanilla syrup (and bitters if using) then Proseco in a large jug. Layer ice cubes in bottom of a large punch bowl (3 liters). Drizzle over ice a third of passionfruit pulp and seeds. Add another layer of ice and more passionfruit. Repeat once more. Slowly pour the liquid in the center of the punch bowl, garnish with orchids and serve immediately.

1 shot equals 30 ml/1 fl oz

Recipes © Natasha MacAller. Thanks to The Studio of Tableware for letting us borrow the trifle bowl, used as punch bowl. All other props photographers or food stylists own.