Mum's the word for Dunedin duo

Bracken chef Ken O’Connell. Right: His mother’s Friday fish dish. PHOTOS: KELLY LINDSAY
Bracken chef Ken O’Connell. PHOTOS: KELLY LINDSAY
A Dunedin team determined to inject some fun in their lives now has a second cookbook to their names, Rebecca Fox discovers.

One thing all chefs have in common is the influence their mothers or grandmothers played in their love of food and cooking.

So when film-maker Roger Donaldson suggested it would make a great cookbook topic, Christian Kasper and photographer Kelly Lindsay did not take long to grasp the idea.

The Dunedin-based duo, who had not long completed Cooking for Change, which featured 101 recipes from well-known New Zealanders, soon realised they had hit a nerve when ``everybody'' wanted to take part.

My Mother’s Kitchen, compiled by Christian Kasper, photographs by Kelly Lindsay, Potton & Burton,...
My Mother’s Kitchen, compiled by Christian Kasper, photographs by Kelly Lindsay, Potton & Burton, $50
My Mother's Kitchen features more than 70 New Zealand chefs, cooks and foodies who share favourite recipes passed down from their mothers.

It includes Kasper's wife, Jennifer Chou, and her mother, Eleanor (from Chopsticks 101 and Papa Chou in Dunedin), as well as a swathe of others, such as Nigel Broad (Plato), Simon Berry (Whitestone Cheese), Darren Lovell (Fishbone Queenstown) and Fresh columnists Alison Lambert (Market Kitchen) and Bevan Smith (Riverstone).

It also features well known chefs Simon Holst, Michael Van de Elzen, Giulio Sturla, Sid Sahrawat, Sean Connolly and Ben Bayley, to name a few.

The recipes range from jams and desserts to roasts and curries.

Along the way the authors heard some great stories about the cooks and met some great characters.

With the book now on the shelves, the pair is already hard at work on their next book: Delicious Dunedin, which features 60 chefs and cooks from Dunedin, with interviews from prominent Dunedinites including students chosen from a ``My Flat Rules'' competition they ran with the University of Otago.

``It's labour intensive, but we always try and find interesting people to make a good read,'' Kasper said.

The pair aims to make sure whatever they do is fun, so they have also filmed a piece for television in Malaysia and Thailand and next year are heading to New York to make a cookbook featuring 120 people from the Big Apple, starting with New York Times food editor Sam Sifton.


Ken O’Connell's mother’s Friday fish dish.
Ken O’Connell's mother’s Friday fish dish.
Friday Fish

My mother is a very generous woman and we always had plenty of food on the table. We lived in Cork, southern Ireland, so it was usually traditional stews and other heavy dishes, but I always looked forward to Fridays when we had fish.

Mum and I would go to the big food market in the city and I'd pick out our fish from the fishmonger there, always a delicate one like plaice, sole, or trout, or salmon. This is how Mum made it - grilled with a crumb on top - and I still love the flavours and textures. - From Ken O'Connell (Bracken, Dunedin)

Serves 6

Prep time 1 hour

For the crumb

50g butter
1 shallot, very finely chopped
60g coarse dry breadcrumbs
half a lemon, zest and juice
10g chopped chives

For the vegetables

1kg new potatoes, skin on, whole
100g butter
sea salt
400g baby carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into coins

For the sauce

50g butter
100g flour
300ml whole milk
10g chopped parsley
salt and pepper

For the fish:

800g skinless sole, brill, or turbot fillets
Olive oil, for brushing
Salt and pepper


Prepare the crumb

Melt butter in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add shallots and cook for about 15 minutes until soft and golden brown, stirring occasionally.

Add breadcrumbs and cook until golden brown, stirring frequently.

Remove from the heat and stir in lemon zest and juice and chives. Set aside until serving.

Prepare the vegetables

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add potatoes and gently boil until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, and stir in butter and sea salt to taste. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Add carrots and boil for about 8-10 minutes until tender, then drain. Keep warm until serving.

Prepare the sauce

While the vegetables are cooking, melt butter in a medium saucepan on a medium-low heat. Stir in flour and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Add a splash of milk and whisk to combine. Repeat a few more times.

Add remaining milk slowly, whisking thoroughly. Increase the heat to medium and cook, whisking frequently, for 5 minutes until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm until serving.

Prepare the fish

Preheat the oven at a high temperature on the grill setting. Arrange fish in a single layer on an ovenproof tray, brush with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place under the grill for about 7 minutes until just cooked through.

Scatter crumb over cooked fish, and serve with potatoes, carrots, and sauce on the side.



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