Fast and easy

Eleanor Ozich shares the shortcuts and tricks she has learned on her journey of creating...
Eleanor Ozich shares the shortcuts and tricks she has learned on her journey of creating wholesome, nourishing meals for her family. PHOTOS: ELEANOR OZICH

Eleanor Ozich describes  her latest book as a game-changer for people who claim to be ‘‘too busy’’ to cook.

In Simply Food, Kiwi author and blogger Ozich says she has designed every recipe to need less than 15 minutes in the kitchen.

Better still, these recipes create delectable home-cooked dishes that the family will want to eat, she says.

‘‘I’m completely flipping the belief that delicious, home-cooked meals require far too much preparation and cleaning up afterwards.’’

THE BOOK: Simply Food by Eleanor Orzich. Published by Penguin Random House NZ. RRP: $45
THE BOOK: Simply Food by Eleanor Orzich. Published by Penguin Random House NZ. RRP: $45
She is sharing the shortcuts and tricks she has learned on her journey of creating wholesome, nourishing meals for her family.

‘‘Eating healthy is so often depicted as being time-consuming, expensive and bland. I’m here to teach you that creating tasty, satisfying food can be easy for everyone.’’

Ozich’s focus is on seasonal and vegetable-led food and in the book she also shares the pantry ingredients she goes back to time and time again, as well as the kitchen equipment she uses.

‘‘They aren’t earth-shatteringly fancy or exciting; however, I find they continually seem to bring texture, excitement and interest to my dishes.’’

She also wants people to enjoy their time in the kitchen, so provides tips about clearing kitchen counters, creating a cooking playlist and accepting ‘‘kitchen failures’’.

The book is broken into chapters on breakfasts, lunchboxes and picnics, traybakes, slow-cooked and quick-assembly dishes.

In this edited extract, we have selected some lovely slow-cooked dishes perfect for relaxing during the Easter break.

Vegan sticky date pudding
with coconut butterscotch sauce

This sticky date pudding is one of my favourite things to make during the colder months.

What makes this dessert really special is the hint of ginger and cardamom in the coconut butterscotch sauce.

I bet you can’t wait to grab your spoon and dig in!

Just remember to get your dates on to soak a bit beforehand. If you don’t need this to be vegan, you can use regular milk, cream and butter.


Sticky date pudding

1½ cups dates, soaked in boiling water for at least 1 hour
1 cup plant-based milk
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1½ cups spelt flour
1 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp sea salt

Butterscotch sauce

½ cup maple or rice malt syrup
1 cup coconut cream
¾ cup vegan spread (like an olive oil spread)
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp sea salt (or pink Himalayan salt)
¼ tsp ground cardamom


Heat the oven to 160degC, and grease a 20cm bundt cake tin with coconut oil.

Drain the dates, then place in a food processor with the remaining date pudding ingredients, and process until well combined.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin, and spread out evenly.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before carefully turning out on a serving platter.

While the pudding is baking, you can make the sauce. Place the syrup, coconut cream, vegan spread and spices in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon - about 6-8 minutes.

Serve the pudding warm with the butterscotch sauce poured over the top.

Slow-cooked balsamic beef cheeks

Braised in a beautiful balsamic sauce, these slow-cooked beef cheeks are so meltingly tender you could devour them with a spoon!

Eight hours of cooking ensures that the braising liquid turns into a luscious, gravy-like sauce.

I encourage you to enjoy it spooned over creamy potato mash or fluffy cooked grains such as quinoa or bulgur wheat.


4 Tbsp olive oil
4 beef cheeks (about 1.2kg total)
4 Tbsp flour or cornflour
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
4 carrots, sliced into rounds
2 bay leaves
handful of fresh thyme sprigs, finely chopped
2 cups beef stock
¼ cup balsamic vinegar


Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat. If your slow cooker has a saute setting, you can use this.

Dust the beef cheeks in the flour, then sear on each side for about 2 minutes or until nicely browned. Transfer the meat to your slow cooker.

Heat the remaining olive oil in the frying pan, then add the onion and garlic. Cook, while stirring, for a few minutes until the onion starts to become translucent.

Pile the onion and garlic into the slow cooker along with the remaining ingredients, and cook on high for 8 hours.

You’ll know it’s ready when the meat simply falls apart.

Serve piled on top of vegetable mash or cooked grains.

Note: You can also cook this in a Dutch oven for 3 hours in an oven preheated to 160degC, or on the stovetop over low heat for 2½ hours.

Baked salmon with lemon, tomato and basil

In this recipe, rich and tender salmon is slow-roasted until perfectly cooked, and is accompanied by a gentle, summery sauce.

The classic combination of basil and tomato complements the flaky salmon very well.

It’s a total winner that you’ll go back to time and time again.


3 large sweet potatoes
2 large salmon steaks, about 600g in total
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
1 lemon, sliced into wedges
handful of fresh basil leaves
1 cup vegetable stock
3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil


Heat the oven to 180degC.

Finely slice the sweet potatoes into thin rounds and layer in a roasting dish.

Place the salmon steaks on top along with the cherry tomatoes and a few wedges of lemon, then scatter the fresh basil on top.

Pour the vegetable stock around the edges, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, then bake until the salmon is nicely cooked, about 30 minutes.


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