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However, this year I just want to keep it simple and to build memories with my family.
Heading away to the iconic Kiwi bach is my kind of perfect. It is also a great way to gather and cook from the land.
Foraging from the hedgerow and hills and trying your luck in the water can be one of the most fulfilling ways to eat and to create lasting memories.
You will be pleasantly surprised at the wide array of ingredients you can gather, and you will be impressed with just how delicious and memorable your meals will be.
No holiday at the bach would be complete without a rabbit hunt at first light!
Rabbits are a pest and just happen to taste very good (it’s very similar to chicken).
I marinate the rabbit for a couple of hours in buttermilk, which enhances the flavour and helps to tenderise the meat.
If rabbit is not your thing, you can use chicken instead.
2 rabbits, cut into portions (such as hind legs, saddle etc)
2 cups buttermilk
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion flakes
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried sage
1½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 cups oil
Wash the rabbit and pat dry. Set aside.
Mix the buttermilk with the garlic, onion flakes, paprika, cayenne and dried herbs.
Submerge the rabbit in the buttermilk mixture and put into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
Mix the flour with salt and pepper and put into a large bowl.
Remove excess buttermilk from the rabbit.
Coat well in the seasoned flour.
Heat the oil in a deep-side fry pan over a medium to high heat.
Cook the rabbit in batches so the fry pan doesn't get overloaded and the rabbit pieces don’t touch.
Cook until golden and crisp (about 10 minutes).
Drain well and serve with wedges of lemon and a sprinkle of sea salt.
The beauty of a dish like this is that you can improvise with your catch.
Here, I’ve added mussels and clams, which we gathered on and around the rocks.
The fish is whatever we were lucky enough to catch.
600g fish (bones and skin removed), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 lemon, zest
salt and pepper
sprig of fresh thyme or rosemary, finely chopped
1 Tbsp oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 bulb of fennel, finely diced
1 red capsicum, finely diced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
4 tomatoes, deseeded, diced
1 litre fish stock or water
2 bay leaves
1 orange, zest and juice
salt and pepper
croutons and aioli
Marinate your prepared fish with the garlic, lemon, chopped herbs and a little salt and pepper.
Set aside in your fridge for at least an hour.
To make the broth
Heat the oil in a heavy-based pot, add the onion, fennel and capsicum and cook gently without colouring for 2-3 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and cook for a further 3-5 minutes or until darker in colour. It is important to cook the paste out as this will add depth to your stew.
Add the tomato and stir to combine.
Add enough stock to just cover the ingredients, as you want this dish to be thicker than a soup. You can add more stock later, if needed. Add the bay leaves and season lightly.
Add the zest of the orange and juice.
Bring to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
Taste the broth and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Add the fish and mussels, if using.
Cover and let simmer for 3 minutes. Add the clams, if using, cover and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat and ladle into bowls.
Serve with good-quality aioli and croutons.
Homemade fish-finger sammie
Holiday season should be about relaxing and for me it also represents eating great tasting, relaxed food.
I love the coast, and fishing is a pastime I really enjoy.
The joy of making your own fish fingers is not only that they taste so much better, but you don’t have to be fussy on the variety of fish you use.
I used a shop-bought mayo and loaded it with extra goodies and threw some peppery leaves in and you will definitely go in for a second.
4 fresh rolls, cut in half
600g fish, cut into thick finger-sized lengths
1 egg, beaten with a dash of milk
salt and pepper
oil for cooking
1 tsp capers
2 gherkins, finely diced
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tsp chives, dill or parsley, roughly chopped
150g rocket, watercress or salad leaves
Place the beaten egg in a bowl. Place the flour in another dish suitable for coating the fish and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Place the breadcrumbs in a third dish and season lightly.
Place on your workbench in the order of flour, egg and then breadcrumbs.
Coat the fish by drenching it in the seasoned flour, shaking off excess. Then place it into the egg mixture and coat well. Drain and then place in the breadcrumbs.
Press the crumbs firmly on to the fish. Set aside.
To make the tartare sauce
Place the mayonnaise in a bowl and add the capers, gherkins, lemon zest and herbs (or just add what you have on hand).
Combine and taste, adjust the flavour and set aside.
Wash the salad leaves and pat dry.
Pour enough oil into a deep-sided heavy base fry pan to coat the base. Turn the heat to just above medium.
Add the fish fingers and fry until golden on all sides (5-7 minutes), season lightly and squeeze over a little lemon juice before serving.
Generously spread the tartare sauce over the bottom half of the roll. Add salad leaves and fish fingers. Finish with more tartare sauce on the top half of the roll and press lightly on to the fish.
Plum and oat slice
This is one of those slices that can double as dessert.
10 plums (450g) halved, stone removed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
110g soft light brown sugar
275g wholemeal flour
150g rolled oats
½ tsp baking powder
Heat the oven to 190degC.
Line a 15cm x 25cm tin with baking paper.
Cut the plums into slices and toss together with 1 tablespoon of sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
Melt the butter and sugar together gently until the sugar has dissolved.
Combine the wholemeal flour, oats and baking powder.
Pour in the melted butter mixture and stir to combine.
Press two-thirds of the mixture into the base of the tin. Leave the remainder for the topping.
Evenly spread over the plums.
Scatter the remaining flour mixture over the plums.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden.
Allow to cool before cutting.