Za’atar zing


Za’atar is one of the great middle-eastern spice mixtures that I discovered when I was introduced to Barakah, my local Arabic foodie shop. So many things I found and still find there that I had not seen or tried before. Pomegranate Molasses, Halva, amazing Tahine sauces, all sorts of dried beans, mulberries, sour plums, lots of thick creamy yoghurt and feta’s. And then the spices, oh what a playground. Lemon Powder, Sumac, Baharat and of course Za’atar. All these exotic names ae spice blends. All with their own personality, perfect for their own type of dish.

Za’atar has got oregano, thyme, basil, sumac, salt and sesame seeds. Tonight I rolled the fresh local salmon fillets in it and added some lemon zest before grilling them. I served them on top of a salad with roasted tomatoes, avocado, lettuce, capsicum and Israeli Couscous. All topped with a creamy yoghurt sauce with dill and lemon juice.

The salmon fillets are amazing, and can easily be eaten just like that as they just melt. The za’atar does give it that extra middle eastern zing though!


Whey what?


Whey, what the heck is whey? I had no idea either, until I got my own cheese making kit earlier this year. When you make cheese out of milk, you end up with solids and liquid.The cheese are the solid bits, and the whey, well that’s all the liquid that’s leftover. There’s a lot of it and it feels a waste to throw it away. It still has lots of nutritious bits and pieces in it and since I have been brought up trying to not throw anything away that can be used, I looked for uses of whey. Apparently it’s great as a fertiliser for trees. My citrus trees therefore have enjoyed a bit of whey juice recently. We’ll see if they produce better next year! I also found out that whey is perfect as a base for making smoothies. After my last cheese making attempt I poured the whey into my mixer, added some pineapple, banana, coconut water and half a lemon and mixed it for a minute. It got lovely and fluffy, and tasted fantastic. Definitely a keeper!

What do you use whey for?


Oysters, oysters, oysters


Oysters, what can I say. I know the French say their oysters are top of the world, but I am guessing they have not tried the NZ ones yet! Pacific oysters, rock oysters, farmed ones, wild ones, and don’t forget the flat shelled deep sea very chunky Bluff Oyster. You can wake me up at any time to try any of these.

One of the best oysters I ever had were the wild ones we picked and opened ourselves at a lodge we stayed at in Marlborough Sounds. Those were small but oh so flavoursome rock oysters. These days my favourite oyster has to be the Kaipara oyster, farmed in the Kaipara harbour in a very sustainable way. But I am always willing to try any other ones.

I eat them the only way that you can really enjoy the flavour to its fullest, just with a squeeze of fresh lemon. I can’t justify putting them in batter and frying them. what do you think?