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!
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.
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!
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.