Good food, simply made

As the turmoil of Covid-19 continues to swirl globally, here in our little corner of the world it is time to celebrate our wonderful food professionals.

Local chefs Judith Cullen and Greg Piner, who helped to keep us inspired during lockdown, share some of their favourite home-cooking recipes.

Greg Piner

Greg Piner
Greg Piner

I’m a firm believer that if you eat food that is well cared for you can taste the difference.

I’ve been using Havoc pork over the past few years, not only in industrial kitchens, but also at home.

I’m all about animal welfare and knowing the proteins that my family eat are well looked after and live a happy life.

Havoc’s pigs are feed on locally-grown grain and a few added ingredients such as garlic and cider vinegar to keep the animals healthy and happy.

Havoc has also been known to feed its animals mozzarella, which adds a wonderful creamy texture to the meat.

They called the farm ‘‘Havoc’’ because, well, occasionally it’s havoc. Like when the piglets get drunk on the ripe cherry plums (despite all efforts to keep them away) or when a sow decides to farrow in an unusual place. Then there was the time when Yuri the boar jumped the gates . . . and the time they had to call in a pig hunter to shoot a wild boar that had come on the rampage. Owners Ian and Linda Jackson are now known as Lord and Lady Havoc.

I’ve come up with some recipes that are easy to make and great with winter upon us, I personally think a roast belly of pork is always a winner on a Sunday night with a Central Otago red or a Emerson bookbinder.

BBQ chili ribs with crispy shallots and coriander 

a side of pork ribs


250g hoisin sauce

250g tomato sauce

250g Korean chili paste

To serve

toasted sesame seed

crispy shallots

chopped coriander (optional)

To make the sauce

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix.

To prepare the ribs

Pat dry with a paper towel, using a sharp knife lift the membrane from the back side of the ribs, once slightly lifted you should be able to pull free. If your fingers are slightly slipping add salt for more grip.

Line a baking tray with foil, add pork ribs and smother two-thirds of the

sauce recipe on the ribs.

Cover with more foil and fold to seal.

Marinate in the fridge for up an hour.

When ready to cook

Heat oven to 120degC and bake for 2 hours in the centre of the oven.

Remove from oven and remove top foil, base again with remaining

sauce. Return to the oven, increase temperature to 180degC and roast for 20 minutes.

When the ribs are cooked, remove from the oven, sprinkle with toasted sesame seed, crispy shallots and chopped coriander.

Serve with a side of steam rice and Asian coleslaw.

Tips: If you’re not a fan of coriander, replace with spring onions.

If making for the kids or those sensitive to chilli, substitute for more tomato sauce. My preference is the Barker’s tomato sauce as it has a great rich flavour.


Cured crispy pork belly with roasted fennel and celeriac puree

small whole pork belly

fennel bulb, quartered

½ lemon, juiced

dash of olive oil to lightly coat

salt and pepper (to season)

Salt rub

500g rock salt

2 tsp fennel seed

1 tsp chilli flake

1 tsp peppercorn

Celeriac puree

celeriac, peeled and chopped

1 brown onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled

500ml chicken stock

200ml cream

a good crack of pepper

To make the salt rub

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix.

Dry and score pork belly, rub with salt mix and cure overnight.

Cook the pork

Quarter the fennel and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

Wash the salt from pork belly, place skin side down in roasting tray, line with parchment paper or non-stick foil. Add weight (another tray, skillet or heavy pan, if you have one. This will stop the pork from curving/bending while cooking).

Cook in a preheated oven at 200degC for a 1 hour. Remove, turn belly skin side up and add quartered fennel bulb and return to oven to cook for 10-15 minutes or until skin is super crispy.

Celeriac puree

When the pork belly has 20 minutes to cook, make the celeriac puree (this can also be made in advance and reheated).

Put all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a light boil. Let it boil for approximately 20 minute or until celeriac is easily pierced with a fork. Add all ingredients to a blender and blitz on low for 1 minute then on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add a touch more cream to thin if it’s looking too thick. Taste and season and needed.

To serve

Add puree to middle of plate, top with pork belly and roasted fennel bulb.

Judith Cullen 

Judith Cullen
Judith Cullen

An indispensable ingredient in our house these days is labneh.

For many you may ask and what is that?

My tours to Turkey introduced me to this versatile essential Middle Eastern staple. It's made by removing excess whey from salted yoghurt, which results in a velvety, cream cheese-like spread with a lightly sour note. I add lemon juice as well.

It's eaten on bread and topped with olives, mint, tomato, cucumber and olive oil.

I always have a pottle of this extremely simple labneh in the fridge and use it for a pre-dinner spread topped with a variety of toppings alongside toasted bread, or serve these flavoursome side dishes as an accompaniment with meats. It is especially delicious with chargrillled barbecued vegetables and everything from sausages, kebabs, lamb chops to a fillet of beef.

I have to say my favourite topping is grilled figs — caramelised with pomegranate molasses and olive oil — but they are well out of season at the moment.

The adaptability of lanbeh is never ending and it can help to bring out your creativeness.

My son’s favourite topping is called ‘‘Atom’’ and is made by frying 8-10 dried red peppers until crisp, 2 cloves garlic, crushed, ¼ cup olive oil, pinch salt, ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon chilli flakes. Heat together and drizzle over cold yoghurt.



Yoghurt (I use 900g pottle of ‘‘The Collective’’ straight up unsweetened probiotic yoghurt )

1 tsp salt

juice from a lemon


Add salt and lemon juice to the yoghurt in the pottle. Mix together with a fork.

Pour into a paper towel-lined sieve and sit on top of a bowl.

Place on the refrigerator overnight.

Discard the clear liquid and transfer thick labneh back into your cleaned pottle to use as you wish.

Caramelised onion and garlic 

3 onions, sliced in half lengthways then each half into 4

6 cloves garlic sliced in

quarters lengthways

3 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp fresh marjoram leaves

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp chopped parsley


Saute onions and garlic gently together in olive oil. Add marjoram,brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until sticky. Add chopped parsley before serving.

Grape and olive mostarda

2 cups fresh black grapes
1 cup black Kalamata olives
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh chopped thyme


Place ingredients in an oven proof bowl and bake for 30 minutes at 180degC. Turn the fruit often with a spoon during cooking until the olives are soft and the grapes are juicy. Serve over chilled labneh.

Other suggestions:

Roasted cherry tomatoes with garlic, thyme and cumin seeds.

Pan-fried mushrooms with tarragon and garlic

Grilled aubergine or courgette slices drizzled with olive oil and pomegranate molasses.

Mashed broad beans and peas with lemon juice and mint

Simple basil pesto

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