Hawkes Bay Mystery Box

For the past 10 days I have been down in the beautiful Hawke’s Bay soaking up some sunshine, exploring fabulous food places and wineries, and experiencing the region through the eyes of a foodie traveller.  And staying with friends provided the perfect opportunity to cook for them using local produce - something I love doing, and a superb way of saying thanks.

Early in my stay, with a few hints dropped by my friends Kim and Rick’s teenagers that I should get cooking and that they would love salmon, we sat down to a delicious lime and thyme salmon fillet, cooked on the Weber.  With slow baked potatoes, feta and basil stuffed portobello mushrooms from Te Mata Mushrooms and a green salad, the simple flavours made it a very enjoyable meal.  And with the boys providing the BBQ expertise - okay, with a little ‘bossy’ supervision from me - and the washing up, it was a joint effort too.

During that evening, and for the life of me I can’t remember exactly why but then I am a huge fan of Masterchef, we decided that is would be fun for Brad, Kyle and Erica (Brad’s girlfriend) to cook for us.  But to make it a fun and interesting challenge they would get a mystery box of mostly local ingredients  to use, thanks to a visit to the Hawke's Bay Farmers' Market the weekend prior.  Very simple rules: must use every ingredient in the box, full access to pantry and fridge but can only cook on BBQ. The thinking here was that this would mean less mess inside - boy was I wrong how messy prep can get. Let’s just say, I was glad I didn’t have to clean up after them!

 Hawke's Bay mystery box

Hawke's Bay mystery box

After the mystery box reveal, and the delight - yeah right, who am I kidding, of finding a yellow zucchini, half Kim’s herb garden and that the mystery box was vegetarian, we decided to let them know there were also chicken breasts in the fridge - a sigh of relief.  Oh, and eight people for dinner that night too.

 Brad and Kyle - mystery box revealed

Brad and Kyle - mystery box revealed

I then disappeared into the study to write one of last week’s blog posts.  But honestly it sounded like an episode of Masterchef - the banter was very entertaining and of course because I couldn’t see what they were doing it sounded even funnier.  It’s worth mentioning that if you set a mystery box challenge for your family, it’s a good idea to put a time limit on proceedings too - we didn’t eat until 8:30pm!  Although they did decide mid-way through to make an avocado and red onion guacamole once our hunger pains kicked in!

 Chicken, zucchini, red onion and mushroom kebabs

Chicken, zucchini, red onion and mushroom kebabs

And the peaches did get used - served halved with berries and lemon and mint sorbet - the latter shop bought, which caused lots more laughter as it tasted just like a lemonade popsicle!

Good luck, if you decide to take on the mystery box challenge – love to hear how things go.

Happy cooking.

Michelle