Home-style food and big plans

Extract reproduced with permission from: Little & Friday Every Meal by Kim Evans and Sophie Beck. Published by Penguin NZ. $50.  Photography by Lottie Hedley. Out now, available nationwide.
Extract reproduced with permission from: Little & Friday Every Meal by Kim Evans and Sophie Beck. Published by Penguin NZ. $50. Photography by Lottie Hedley. Out now, available nationwide.
She started out selling fudge at a Saturday market before opening a bakery selling goods only on a Friday. Now Kim Evans runs four sites, open seven days a week selling breakfast and lunch alongside her legendary baking.

The inspiring cook of Auckland-based Little and Friday - just ask Wooden Table's Kate Woodhouse and Kelly Ennis of Mosgiel - has also published two cookbooks and now a third, Little and Friday Every Meal.

Unlike her previous baking-based books, she teams up with Little and Friday chef Sophie Beck to share their most popular recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts.

Evans said despite the growth her principles are still the same: ''To make good, home-style food with produce from ethical sources and ultimately to make our customers feel like they are entering our home for breakfast, lunch or dinner.''

That feeling is translated in the book, which features salads, slaws, pies and the most amazing slow-cooked Asian beef cheeks recipe.

Evans told The New Zealand Herald it reflects the direction she is thinking about taking the business next: making a space for the community to gather that is not just a cafe but somewhere to enjoy and eat good food, from the day's first meal to the last.

Evans ensures that despite the growth of the business it stays true to its aims of creating a sustainable, family-based food operation that nurtures a community and brings a little indulgence into people's day.

''It's not just what we choose to purchase, but how to treat my staff and community, the respect we have for the food, every choice we make to live harmoniously in our environment.''

Given the energy of its leader, it's no real surprise the empire of Little and Friday is not just staying in the same place, not just continuing on as a small bundle of cafes considered by leading food writers to be among the city's best.

Beck describes her boss as a ''very strong woman, strong-minded'', with ''a hell of a lot of determination''. She says: ''I've never met anyone like her.''

Gesturing at the long kitchen that abuts Little and Friday's Belmont cafe, where Beck is nominally in charge, she says, ''Just to give you one example. You can come in here one week and the kitchen looks like this. Next week, it will be all moved around.''

That's not just Evans, she says, but it's obviously her influence.

''You're always trying to make it better,'' Beck says. ''It's never like, 'That's enough, that's it and we're sticking to that.' Never. It's always like, 'What way's better? What can we do to make that more efficient' ?''

-Additional reporting - NZ Herald

Chocolate hazelnut biscuits

Keep these biscuits in an airtight jar ready for a super easy, gluten-free, impromptu dessert. Just add your favourite ice cream!

Makes 12

Ingredients
2 ¼ cups icing sugar
½ cup good-quality Dutch cocoa
pinch of salt
½ cup chocolate chips
1 cup roasted whole hazelnuts
3 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla essence
ice cream, to serve

Method
1. Preheat oven to 160degC. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Combine icing sugar, cocoa, salt, chocolate chips and roasted hazelnuts in a large bowl.

3. Mix egg whites and vanilla together, add to the chocolate mixture and mix well. This will create quite a wet, sticky mixture.

4. Scoop tablespoons of mixture on to prepared baking tray, spacing them 5cm apart.

5. Leave tray out at room temperature for 20 minutes until biscuit mixture dries out slightly, forming a skin on the surface. (This is a very wet mix.)

6. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool on tray.

7. Sandwich together with your favourite ice cream!

Spiced Thai pork meatballs

This is a super-fresh summer meal. The meatballs are best made the day before to allow the flavours to develop. For an alternative, replace the meatballs by pan-frying tofu and adding it to the salad.

Serves 6

Ingredients

MEATBALLS
1kg pork mince
½ carrot, finely grated
4 Tbsp fish sauce
3 tsp sugar
6 coriander stalks, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, finely diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 lime
3 Tbsp peanut oil, for cooking

SALAD
250g dried vermicelli
1 iceberg lettuce, shredded
450g packet blanched shelled edamame beans
1 cucumber, sliced into matchsticks
handful of roughly chopped mint
handful of roughly chopped coriander
handful of roughly chopped Thai basil

NUOC CHAM DRESSING
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chilli, deseeded and chopped
½ carrot, finely grated
¼ cup water
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup rice vinegar
2 ½ Tbsp caster sugar

TO SERVE
150g peanuts, roughly chopped
3 limes, halved

Method

TO MAKE THE MEATBALLS
1. Combine all meatball ingredients except oil and roll into 30 bite-sized balls.

2. Heat oil in a frying pan and cook meatballs in batches (taking care not to overcrowd them), turning to brown them all over (about 5-8 minutes). Remove meatballs from the pan and set aside. Keep warm.

3. Place lime halves in pan cut side down to caramelise.

TO MAKE THE SALAD
1. Place vermicelli in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 10 minutes until cooked. Drain.

2. Combine all dressing ingredients.

3. Toss together all salad ingredients until well combined.

TO SERVE
1. Lightly toast peanuts by dry-roasting them in a frying pan for a few minutes, stirring regularly to avoid burning. Allow to cool slightly.

2. Divide salad among 6 bowls. Top with 5 meatballs per bowl and drizzle with dressing. Serve with half a caramelised lime each and toasted peanuts.

Mushrooms with spiced chickpeas

This is a gluten-free vegetarian option packed with flavour. The stuffed mushrooms can be served as a light meal or as part of a main meal.

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 red capsicums, deseeded and finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 red onion, finely diced
salt and freshly ground
black pepper
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
400g canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground sumac
handful of roughly chopped coriander, stalks and leaves
3 handfuls of baby spinach
100g haloumi, grated
8 large portobello mushrooms

BASIL YOGHURT PESTO
30g pine nuts, plus extra for garnish
2 handfuls of basil leaves
⅓ cup grated parmesan
100ml good-quality extra virgin olive oil
juice of ½ lemon
½ clove garlic
150ml thick unsweetened Greek-style yoghurt
salt and freshly ground black pepper

GARNISH
20g toasted pine nuts
handful of basil leaves

Method
1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over a moderate heat. Add capsicum, carrot, onion and salt and freshly ground black pepper and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are soft but not brown. Add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.

2. Add chickpeas and spices and cook for a further 30 minutes on a low heat. You want the chickpeas to start to soften and smash up a little bit, but most to stay whole. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary, and remove from heat. Allow to cool.

3. Preheat oven to 180degC. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

4. Fold chopped coriander, baby spinach and grated haloumi through cooled chickpea mix.

5. Place mushrooms cap-side down on prepared tray. Season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.

6. Divide chickpea mix over mushrooms. Pile into centre of each mushroom, leaving a 1cm gap around the edge, as the mix spreads slightly during baking.

7. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake for 15-20 minutes.

8. Lightly toast pine nuts by dry-roasting them in a frying pan for a few minutes, stirring regularly to avoid burning. Allow to cool. Set aside some for garnish.

9. Place all pesto ingredients in a blender and whizz on high speed until you have a smooth consistency and a vibrant green colour. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.

10. Transfer mushrooms to a serving platter and dollop pesto over the top. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and fresh basil.

Serve 2 stuffed mushrooms per person.

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