Sunday, November 20

Kedgeree for a holiday......

As usual I left my packing for our holiday to the last minute (despite a staggering amount of list making the week prior), so supper this Friday needed to be quick, tasty & use up the vacuum pack of hot smoked salmon I brought for my sister’s birthday party & didn’t use. The solution proved delicious, a version of Kedgeree that was as good to eat as it was easy to prepare. It is also a fantastic way to make not very much salmon go a long way....

Kedgeree was created by the English in India during the Raj. It is a mildly spiced mixture of rice, eggs & poached smoked fish, usually smoked haddock. Generally served as a breakfast dish, it would have been prepared & served by servants into a lovely silver chafing dish, sitting on a Victorian sideboard already groaning with food, just the ticket to sustain a thrusting young East India Company man before he trekked off to an exhausting couple of hours at the office.
I have a distinct lack of servants, sideboards or chafing dishes, so my not terribly authentic recipe ( I was making it up as I went along, never having actually eaten Kedgeree before!) was instead served up to my husband & sister for supper. Hot smoked salmon is my favourite smoked fish, and eliminates the poaching, making this a very quick supper, even if your kitchen staff are on their hols & you have to cook yourself.....

Kedgeree              Serves 3-4

1 onion
Splash oil
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
Pinch cayenne pepper or chilli powder
Good grind of black pepper
200 grams basmati rice
500 ml chicken or vegetable stock, heated ( I just bung a jug in the microwave)
3 eggs
4 chopped spring onions
1 cup frozen peas
250 gram hot smoked salmon (or used any smoked fish you like
Handful chopped coriander or parsley

In a large frying pan melt the butter and oil together over a medium-low heat. Peel & finely chop the onion, and add to the pan with the salt. Stir and cook for 5 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and chilli, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the rice, stirring to coat with the onion oil spice mixture, then pour in your stock, stirring to combine. Cover with a lid (or foil if your frying pan has no lid) and leave to cook on low for 10 minutes

Meanwhile put your eggs into a saucepan of water & bring to the boil. Boil for 7 minutes then drain & pour over cold water. Peel the eggs and slice into quarters.

After your rice has been cooking for 10 minutes, add the chopped spring onions, peas and half the coriander, stir through the rice, which will still be quite wet, cover again & cook another 10-15 minutes. When the rice is tender but not mushy, add the eggs & smoked salmon, gently folding through the rice mixture with two forks. Cover with a teatowel, then a lid (or foil) & leave to sit for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining coriander and serve

It is actually quite a light meal, but sustaining at the same time, with a lovely smoky gentle spice. Very elegant with a glass of bubbly for brunch, and a whole lot easier to prepare then eggs Benedict!

I am writing this from our hotel in Fiji. We arrived to gray skies and pouring rain, which thankfully have stopped, I have already finished one book, and am about to start number two. This is the view from the patio, I can hear palm trees swaying in the breeze and behind me, the insistant,  profoundly irritaing twang of a games machine .......

But the best bit of the trip so far? Besides the in room Playstation? Mr PK just discovered the Sky channel in our room is playing Chelsea v Liverpool at 5am tomorrow morning. We can watch football on holiday without even getting out of bed. Wish you were here??

Thursday, November 17

The Conference you REALLY want to attend......!

A conference on a topic I am actually really interested in, at a great venue with fabulous food and lots of lovely attendees? Now that’s a novel idea......... The last conference I attended was years ago in London, about finance. Well I think it was finance, I was slipping into a boredom induced coma by morning tea so cant be sure.......

No such danger on Saturday, at the First New Zealand Food Bloggers Conference,  aptly named     
For the Love of Food. Doesn’t that sound just so much more appealing? Organised brilliantly by Alli over at Pease Pudding, it was fun, informative, and for me, inspiring. And what a corker of a goodie bag (don’t fib, you would dive in like a kid in a candy shop too!)

With visitors, work & illness inspiration has been in short supply in Plum Kitchen of late, so it was great to talk to other bloggers and get some new ideas from the presenters. After a welcome intro from Alli, Andrea at d'lish talked about website design, which particularly interested me as PK is in the process of getting a makeover.

This was followed by Jaco Swart talking social media. I find all the different forms of SM a bit overwhelming to be honest so it was refreshing to hear murmurs in the room telling me I wasn’t alone…!

After morning tea we listen to Alessandra talk food writing . This is the talk I was most looking forward to, as it the part of blogging I enjoy the most, and what I look out for in other blogs. Alessandra is a great presenter, honest & informative, she knows what she is talking about and is happy to share.

Next up was Emma from Fisher & Paykel. I suspect Emma may have the best job in New Zealand, not only does she & her colleagues produce a fantastic blog, they do it during working hours. Needless to say there were plenty of volunteers to fill her shoes should she ever decide to hit the road…….

Lunch was fabulous, no boring buffet here. The Tasting Shed is a beautiful spot in Kumeu, and the food was just delish. My top pic would be the Pork Head fritters, like eating crispy crumb Pork Belly, and the Beef, which was tender with a moreish onion jam on top, mmmmmmm.

The afternoon session can always be a tough sell, when everyone has a full tum, but a Q&A panel discussion was the perfect choice. It is fascinating to hear different views on why we blog, for the most part it is financially a thankless task, but rewarding in many other ways. For me personally the buzz is when someone cooks a recipe I have shared, or learns a new technique. Or just has a chuckle. Everyone has their own inspirations, hearing so many different approaches reiterated to me there is no one fit, as the song says “you cant please everybody so you’ve got to please yourself”….or something along those lines!

Louise Fawcett from Pacific Harvest gave us a really interesting round up on sea vegetables, of which I can say my prior knowledge was nil. I have found some of the Kelp which I am looking forward to experimenting with on my return from holiday

A wine tasting at Coopers Creek was next on the agenda, but nursing a wee headache I stayed behind, by all accounts it was delicious.

Last up was Bron Marshall who gave us all some great tips for food photography and styling. I must admit this is the area of food blogging I struggle with the most, so any/all help is greatly appreciated. Bron had a slide show presentation, and had props set up for those with cameras to have a play. As you can see from the spectacular lack of pics for this post I only had my iPhone, and I am no great shakes driving that. But avoidance cures nothing, so more practice required , hopefully my pics will look half as good as Bron’s!

There was a dinner kindly sponsored by Cook the Books that evening, I was unable to attend, and was very envious as it did sound like a lot of fun, and a perfect end to the day.

For MUCH better pictures of the whole day, here are the blogs of all the attendees, who will have there own top picks from the event:)

Alessandra Zecchini
Alli Pirrie-Mawer
Andrea Wong -
Bron Marshall -
Carmella Lee -
Christina Hoey
Christy Harcourt
Jaco Swart
Jemma Adams
Julie Treanor 
Lesley MacMichael 
Mairi Herbert
Mika Reilly
Moira Clunie
Rosa Wakefield
Rowan Bishop -
Saya Hashimoto
Shirleen Oh –
Sue Busch 
Vanessa and Ingrid Opera
Viviane Perenyi
Emma Boyd
Louise Fawcett

Thanks again to Alli for making it all happen, all the great speakers, and the following list of sponsors, what a generous bunch!

Cook the Books
Kohu Road
GU Puds
I Love Pies
Mad Millie
Pacific Harvest
Gravity Coffee
Bell Tea
Coopers Creek
New Holland Publishers