metropol » cuisine

Tag: cuisine

Super salads go with anything

Salads are not just for summer eating; indeed, they go with almost anything, and ingredients are as varied as those who create the dish.



From sausages to steak, crayfish to chicken, a salad may just be the perfect accompaniment.

Vegetable varieties and availability vary from season to season, and this also makes salads exciting.

A summer salad with basil, tomatoes, crunchy lettuce and a tasty Italian dressing may be ideal for a barbeque, whereas a roasted winter vegetable salad with garlic and herbs works better with a roast.

One of my favourites is a pseudo-Caesar salad. Use cos lettuce if you can find it, but otherwise any variety will do.

Pan-fried chicken leftovers, crispy bacon, croutons, and parmesan work, as do herbed fish goujons, or just a few pieces of a spicy sausage for a quick and tasty meal.

Potato salad is another one that crosses all seasons and works well with many meats. For a German-style, use chopped gherkins and eggs, bacon, or ham, and even a few chopped spring onions in with your potatoes.

This is one salad that can be served hot or cold.


Green goodness lemon and parmesan risotto

Gluten-free | Serves 4 | Vegan | Ready in 45 minutes


3 tbsp butter or neutral oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1½ cups risotto rice
½ cup white wine
6 cups hot gluten-free
vegetable stock, plus a little extra if needed
1 tsp salt ground black pepper,
to taste
4 handfuls baby spinach leaves
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 cup grated parmesan
Finely grated zest and
Juice of 1 lemon
Pea tendrils or rocket (arugula),
to garnish

1⁄2 packed cup fresh parsley, watercress or rocket (arugula)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of salt


Puréeing frozen peas and adding them to a risotto just before it’s ready provides this wonderful zing of freshness. You can also purée lightly cooked broccoli, zucchini or spinach and use them in place of the peas.

Heat butter or oil in a large, heavy-based pot, add onions and garlic and cook over a medium heat until softened but not browned (8 minutes).

Add rice and stir for 1–2 minutes to lightly toast.

Add wine and allow to evaporate fully, then add hot stock, salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Simmer gently, stirring now and then, until rice is creamy and just tender (about 18 minutes). If the mixture dries out during cooking, add a little more stock or water—it should be wet enough to fall from the spoon.

While rice is cooking, make herb oil by puréeing herbs with oil and salt, adding a little water if needed to thin to a pouring consistency.

Boil a jug of water. Place spinach and peas in a bowl, cover with boiling water and allow to stand for 2 minutes. Drain, then purée with a hand wand blender or in a food processor. Add to risotto with parmesan, lemon zest and juice, and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste and warm through.

To serve, divide risotto between heated serving bowls and top with a drizzle of herb oil and pea tendrils or rocket (if using).



Extracted from Bella: My life in food by Annabel Langbein. Food photography by William Meppem. RRP$49.99. Published by Allen & Unwin NZ.


Lake of luxury

The days are getting shorter, and the temperature is getting cooler … but for The Lake House that is not a problem. The solution? A handful of heating options and a bunch of blankets.



Boats are always on the lake, says owner Vanetia Bingham. And the sunsets are particularly beautiful on the deck by the fire.

At The Lake House the current buzzword is “new.”

With a new head chef at the reins, peruse the new autumn menu and salivate at the selection on offer; seafood chowder, duck confit and twice cooked pork belly are just a few standouts.

Smoke Rolleston

Last time we checked in with the restaurant, there were behind the scenes preparations involving a second location for the increasingly popular Smoke menu and experience. And as a result, the slow-smoked American BBQ dining experience can now be found in Rolleston.

A unique interior features a custom-made fitout where everything is made from burnt wood and it is shaping up to be equally as popular as its Ashburton counterpart.

Book via the website below, phone (03) 302 6064 or email Or if you’re more of the spontaneous type… just pop in.


Delicious comfort cuisine: Quality Hotel Elms

Autumn means it’s time to cosy-up at Fig restaurant at Quality Hotel Elms and enjoy its brand-new dinner menu.



Food and beverage services manager Ravi Naidu says, “We aim to keep our menu international bistro-style, so you’ll see Asian-inspired dishes, pasta and that timeless crowd-pleaser – classic steaks.”

Of course, the new dishes do need to pass exacting taste-testing by Ravi, all the chefs, the hotel’s general manager, and the rest of the food and beverage staff (it’s a tough job!).

As a little taster of what’s on offer… for a warm-up there’s a creamy prawn chowder or how about sweet and spicy baked pork belly… on to the main event with fish fillet baked in banana leaf with garden salad, Thai dressing, and lemon… or Chicken Pasanda, a beautiful almond-based, creamy curry.

“Team these delicious dishes with a South Island wine, and you’re in for a fantastic evening,” says Ravi.

Fig restaurant at Quality Hotel Elms, 456 Papanui Rd, is complemented by its inviting bar, completing the atmosphere with a fireplace in the cooler months; you won’t be able to tear yourself away.

For your reservation, including for large groups, phone 03-355 3577 email or visit the website below.


Making Canterbury sparkle: Melton Estate

It’s time to raise your glass because “Meltonia” méthode traditionnelle sparkling wine is here!



The 2017 vintage sparkling wine was created using entirely estate-grown grapes from West Melton.

The classic French technique ‘méthode traditionnelle’ (traditional method) is a proven process for producing quality sparkling wine. While the fermentation in the bottle takes longer, good things come to those who wait!

Melton Estate is also about making your event sparkle. Birthdays, engagements, weddings and even larger functions, are all great excuses to pour a glass at Melton Estate.

Although, who said sparkling wine was only called for because of a big hoorah. Everyone enjoys bubbles and now you can enjoy a local méthode and indulge in an enjoyable few hours sipping away among the vines.

You are warmly invited – even encouraged – to venture out to the winery and restaurant, and cellar door on Weedons Ross Road, West Melton.

What better way to celebrate our expanding bubble than with some bubbles? Cheers to that.


Chocolate & almond butter swirl brownies

Makes 12



For the chocolate batter
200g dark chocolate, chopped into 5mm chunks (150g for melting, the rest for the top)
100g coconut oil
100g white spelt flour
100g golden caster sugar
½ tsp baking powder
2 organic eggs, or 8 tsp flaxseed
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste

For the almond butter batter
75g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 organic egg, or 4 tsp flaxseed
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
100g smooth almond butter


Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan and line a 20cm x 20cm brownie tin with baking paper.

For the non-vegan brownies:
For the chocolate batter, melt 150g of the chocolate (saving the rest for the top) with the oil in a small pan over a low heat. Whisk together the dry ingredients. Create a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the eggs and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour in the melted chocolate and give the batter another stir until the chocolate is mixed through. Make the almond butter batter by whisking together the sugar, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Add the egg and vanilla, whisk again, add the almond butter, stir until well combined and set aside. The batter will be thick.

For the vegan brownies:
Follow the steps above, replacing the eggs with the flaxseed. For the chocolate batter, mix 8 tsp of flaxseed with 6 tbsp of warm water in a separate bowl. For the almond butter, mix 4 tsp of flaxseed with 3 tbsp of warm water in a separate bowl. For both mixtures, leave to thicken for 15 minutes before using.

Dollop alternate heaped spoonfuls of each batter into the tin. Once all the batter is in, use a butter knife to swirl it in figures of eight. Top with the remaining chocolate, pressing each piece slightly into the batter, then sprinkle with a pinch of flaky sea salt. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the brownies are just set with a little wobble and the almond butter swirls are golden. Take out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin completely before cutting.


Recipe extracted from One: Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones. HarperCollins. RRP $54.99


The next exciting chapter! The Station Cafe

It’s full steam ahead at The Station Café in Rangiora, with proprietors Steve and Vivienne King announcing that opening hours will be extended to include an evening dining service. “It’s the next chapter for The Station. Beginning early May, we will be open for evening dining on Fridays and Saturdays,” says Steve.


The special evening menu will include a delicious selection of classic gourmet dishes.

“People have often told us they’d love another nice, evening dine-in option in Rangiora, and we think The Station is the perfect spot for that,” he says.

The Rangiora Station’s long and grand history, along with its unique architectural elements, makes it a big drawcard, and the renovations that Steve and Vivienne carried out when they took over last year, have not only enhanced the building but also ramped up the ambience.

“The Station has been a part of the township for 110 years. It’s a special place for many locals. It is intimate, charming and full of atmosphere. That’s why we decided to make this foray into evening dining, because our clientele asked for it. Bring on opening night!” Steve exclaims.

Visit The Station Café & Restaurant at 2 Blackett Street, Rangiora.

Bookings are welcome via phone on (03) 313 6018 or on Facebook and online.


“Dirty” bulgur with roast chicken (Red bulgur bi jara)

This dish was originally prepared in a clay pot, hence the term “bi jara”, or “from the clay oven” in the recipe’s name. My version differs from the original, not only in that I have used a regular saucepan instead of a clay pot, but also because I have ‘dirtied’ the rice. A friend of mine inspired me with his dirty rice recipe, where he mixed rice with vegetables and a lot of spices. The chicken is marinated first in the same Mediterranean seasonings that I would later use for the bulgur – each reinforcing the other.


Serves 4



2 chicken legs (drumsticks)

For the marinade
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
½ teaspoon of ground coriander
½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon of ground cumin
Salt and pepper

For the bulgur
200 g (7 oz) of coarse bulgur
Boiling water
3 tablespoons of olive oil
4 French shallots (peeled and whole)
2 garlic cloves (pressed)
1 tablespoon of tomato paste 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon of ground cumin
400 g (14 oz) of tinned tomatoes (cubed)
200 ml (7 fl oz) of chicken stock
Salt and pepper
200 g (7 oz) of tinned chickpeas (rinsed)
150 g (1 cup) of frozen peas

To garnish
1 handful of flat-leaf parsley


Put the chicken in a sealable freezer bag with the olive oil, tomato paste, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, salt and pepper. Seal the bag and rub all the marinade ingredients into the chicken. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Heat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

Place the chicken in an ovenproof baking dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken, cover with aluminium foil and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the grill (broiler) on, remove the foil and cook the chicken for another 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Make the bulgur while the chicken is baking in the oven. Pour the bulgur into a bowl and add boiling water to cover. Soak the bulgur for 5 minutes.

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Fry the shallots for 3 minutes until golden yellow. Add the garlic and fry for another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, ground coriander, cayenne pepper and ground cumin. Continue cooking the sauce until browned. This intensifies the flavour.

Add the cubed tomatoes, the soaked bulgur and the chicken stock. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Check the bulgur regularly and add some more water or stock if the cooking liquid evaporates too quickly.

After the bulgur has cooked, stir in the chickpeas and the frozen peas. Warm the entire dish for a couple of minutes. Take the pan off the burner, cover and let the whole dish rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve the bulgur warm in a dish with the roasted chicken. Garnish liberally with fresh parsley.


Recipe extracted from SUMAC: Recipes and stories from Syria by Anas Atassi, published by Murdoch Books, RRP $55.


Trust the chefs: The Monday Room

As plate after plate of beautifully presented contemporary fine dining dishes arrive at your table at The Monday Room, it becomes quite clear you can indeed trust the chefs. Or, more specifically, you can trust Eeva Torvinen and Annika Kiviniemi, the Finnish chefs behind the restaurant’s exquisite social dining offering.

Annika Kiviniemi, left, and Eeva Torvinen


Owner Joel Christian says Eeva and Annika are the backbone of the High Street eatery, which consistently delivers an exceptional hospitality experience through its Trust the Chef and other menus.

The friends have settled in New Zealand after cooking their way around the world in large, fine dining operations, including five-star resorts 10-times the size of New Zealand establishments.

“Eeva and Annika are the entire backbone of our restaurant. They are the inspiration for everything that happens here and I feel really blessed to have them in our team,” he says.

Head chef Eeva has been with The Monday Room since 2015, and sous chef Annika joined the team a few years later. Now settled in Christchurch with their Kiwi partners, Joel says the pair’s skills, creativity and calm demeanours have created a winning recipe for the humble fine dining restaurant.

“What sets us apart is the is the level of quality coming out of that kitchen and being produced by the people in that kitchen.”

And he is not wrong. About 90 percent of guests at the busy, plush-industrial restaurant choose the Trust the Chef option.

For just $55 per person, the table is adorned with two courses of beautifully presented sharing plates, each selection tailored for the likes, dislikes and dietary requirements of diners.

“If someone came three nights in a row, they would try three different meals,” he says. The changing menu depends on the season, but does follow a format of starters, followed by a main course of a feature plate with a bevvy of creatively cooked accompanying vegetables and salads.

“It’s not the same as tapas-style plates, but is big hearty portions with a selection of veges flared out in really interesting ways. It’s designed to go down the middle of the table like you would at mum’s Sunday dinner.”

Currently serving its new autumn menu, diners can expect to be treated to tender cuts of venison. In spring you may find a 1.5 to 2kg serving of lamb and in summer, a whole fresh fish.

A nod to the chefs’ Scandinavian roots, the cuisine combines high-end European bistro-style fare with fresh New Zealand produce, all presented colourfully on the plate. Attention to detail, harmonious flavour and texture contrasts, and impeccable service deliver a flawless, multi-dimensional dining experience.

For wine matches, you can also Trust the Somme and for dessert, Trust the Pâtissier.

However, Joel says patrons are not bound to sharing, they can order from the equally well thought out bistro menu, too.

“We just aim to leave people with their expectations exceeded, and that extends right through our offering from food to price, service and our wine list.”

The extensive wine list is hand selected by Joel and is not tied to one supplier. Prices start at $9 for a glass and ascend to up to $400 to $500 for vintage cellared bottles.

Not to mention the huge selection of cocktails and artisanal spirits, and craft beer from Three Boys and other local brewers on tap.

Beyond the food and beverage offering, the fit-out of the two-storeyed red brick heritage building creates an intimate and connected atmosphere.


Cardamom + dark chocolate “cheesecake” bars


Gluten-free | Makes 12–14 slices | Vegan


Start this recipe the night before to soak the cashews.

To make the cheesecake base, line a 28cm x 18cm slice tin with baking paper, overlapping the sides by 2cm. Put the pitted dates, almonds and melted coconut oil into a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Press the mixture into the tin, using the back of a spoon to pack it in firmly.

To make the filling, place all the filling ingredients into a high-powered blender and blend on high until smooth. If you don’t have a high-powered blender, finely grind the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle first, before adding to the blender. Pour the mixture over the base and smooth the top. Allow to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight. To make the chocolate topping, place the dark chocolate into a small heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.

Add the coconut milk and the maple/brown rice syrup and heat gently until melted. If it starts to look a little split (this can happen because of the coconut milk), whisk to bring it back together into a smooth sauce. When just melted, remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly, before spreading over the cheesecake. Return to the fridge until set. Once set, slice into 12–14 bars, using a sharp knife warmed under running hot water.


240g (1½ cups) dried pitted dates, roughly chopped
100g (⅔cup) raw almonds
1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil, melted

375g (3 cups) raw cashew nuts, soaked overnight in cold water + drained well
185ml (¾ cup) virgin coconut oil, melted
125ml (½ cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice
125ml (½ cup) pure maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp fine salt
seeds from 20 cardamom pods (or 2 tsp ground cardamom)

Chocolate topping
85g dairy-free dark chocolate, roughly chopped
60ml (¼ cup) coconut milk
2 Tbsp pure maple/brown rice syrup


Extracted from Every Day by Emma Galloway. HarperCollins. RRP $60.