Monthly Archives: December 2017

Help! Christmas Ham and Turkey leftovers!

Posted by on December 27, 2017

It’s the day after Boxing Day and there is still a whole lot of ham or turkey left. You’ve already eaten ham/ turkey sandwiches 2 meals in a row and you just can't face another one.

Here are some quick and delicious meal ideas to get you through the leftovers and enjoy them as if they are a whole new meal.

Dice up the ham or turkey and add to scrambled eggs, frittatas and omelettes for some fantastic breakfast ideas. Go all out and add small pieces to homemade hashbrowns.

Add chopped ham or turkey to your favourite pasta bake, macaroni and cheese or scalloped potatoes. Even add diced turkey or ham to a creamy fettuccine or risotto with fresh seasonal produce like courgettes or asparagus.

Feel like getting your bake on? Add chopped ham to Cheese pinwheels and add some chutney and relish for a real special lunch or picnic treat.



Stewed Strawberries in Pinot Noir

Posted by Elle Armon-Jones on December 20, 2017

Stewed Strawberries in Pinot Noir

Years ago I was just in time to walk in the front door of Lauraine Jacob's house just as she was finishing up from a photo shoot for the Listener, immediately this dessert was thrust in my hands with the instructions to "try this". So I did. And it is still one of my most favourite desserts to this day. 

2 punnets strawberries
1 vanilla bean
4 tbsp sugar
1 cup pinot noir
1 large orange
1 cup Greek yogurt
8 mint leaves, sliced thinly

Remove the tops from the strawberries and cut each in half. Place the vanilla and sugar in a pan with the pinot noir and over gentle heat dissolve the sugar. Add the strawberries and bring to a very gentle simmer. Allow the berries to cook for 3-4 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Chill in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, peel the orange, removing all the white pith and cut into segments or small pieces. Add the orange to the stewed strawberries in the syrup and spoon servings into small glass dishes.

Spoon a little yogurt on top and decorate with the sliced mint.

Plum Pie

Posted by Elle Armon-Jones on December 20, 2017


Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

90g softened butter
65g caster sugar
3 free-range egg yolks
200g plain flour plus a little extra for dusting

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until nice and pale. Then beat in the egg yolks, one at a time until totally incorporated into the mixture. Add in the flour until the mixture comes together as a ball of dough. Tip the pastry out onto a floured work surface and knead briefly until smooth. This shouldn’t take long and don’t over knead! Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 30 - 60 mins. I often make double the quantity and freeze half so I’ve always got some.

Makes 300g


Plum filling

800g-1kg plums

3tbsp brown sugar

Pinch of ground ginger

Pinch of ground cloves

2tbsp ground almonds

One egg beaten

Wash the plums and chop them in half removing the stones. In a bowl mix together with cloves, ginger and sugar.


Split the pastry into two thirds and one third. Roll the â…” to line the pie tin. Blind bake the pie base on 180 for 20 minutes or until cooked through and golden

Leave to cool for 10 mins

Scatter the bottom of the pie with the ground almonds and fill with the plum mix. Roll the remaining pastry and top the pie. Prink the pastry with a fork to let the steam out and brush with the beaten egg. I like to sprinkle brown sugar on the top, but it’s not necessary. Cook at 180 for 30-40 mins. Serve with ice cream or creme fraiche or just drowning in fresh cream!

A Christmas Tradition - A German Family in New Zealand

Posted by on December 20, 2017

Christmas Tradition  - A German Family in New Zealand

I love Christmas time. I love that the whole family comes together (no exceptions!), I love the excitement in my kids the night before Christmas and their delight on finding presents under the tree on Christmas morning. Of course, I love the food as well!

I also love tradition. Tradition doesn’t have to be anything extravagant or highly religious, it’s simply something that has been put in place and repeated year on year and it can be very personal or individualised to your family and circumstances, but it’s special and has significance to you.

Our family's traditions have even evolved over the years, as we have hung onto snippets of our German homeland and introduced traditions from the kiwi in-laws and of course adapted how we do things to fit in with the kids.

29 years ago (that realisation just made me feel so incredibly old!) I moved over to New Zealand along with just my mum, dad and my sister.

It was a huge shock coming from the wintery, cold, snowy Bavaria in Germany, to the hot sticky climate that Auckland had welcomed us with on an early December day.

And we still live with some of those traditions that we brought with us nearly 3 decades later.

We still celebrate on the 24th! rather than on the 25th, with a full-on meal of Turkey (always prepared by dad), potatoes, rotkohl (red cabbage), green beans and plenty of thick gravy.

For dessert, we introduced a New Zealand element (but has been the same since day 1 here in NZ), fresh strawberries, ice cream and whipped cream.

After our meal with full tummies, we all make ourselves comfortable on the couches in mum and dads lounge for ‘Bescherung’ - the handing out of presents.

Christmas baking is never far away during the Bescherung, which easily takes a couple of hours (as the family has now grown to 10 and each present is unwrapped individually, with everyone watching!).

The Christmas baking tradition has also evolved over the years. For many years, while my sister and I were young and living at home, it was completed on the morning of the 24th with dad at the helm with traditional German cookies such as Zimtsterne (Cinnamon stars, made with hazelnut meal) and Vanillekipferl (Vanilla Cresents, made with Almond meal) but as we have both had children and allergies to egg and nuts prevent these traditional morsels being made, the tradition continues, but with child friendly and allergy-safe baking and not on the 24th, but when the kids have finished school and we have finally got a moment to ourselves.

Because I wanted to keep this tradition going and wanted to share something from my past with my dearest friends and family (the kiwi side), everyone receives a small sampler plate with their Christmas card.


Two of my recipes that we baked as a family over the weekend are:

A modified version of ‘Spritzgeback’ that is able to be rolled out and decorated, which is what the kids love the most. Traditionally made with Almond or Hazelnut meal, I substitute these with Coconut flour, which I find has a similar texture and has a more coarse texture than regular flour. I also substitute egg with apple puree. The result (if the kids don’t over do it with decorations and I don’t forget them in the oven!), is delicious and you can't really taste the difference at all!

Kids Christmas Cookies


230g butter - softened

1 cup white sugar

60g apple puree (I use the Watties baby food jars)

115g coconut flour

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract



Preheat oven to 180° C

Cream butter and sugar. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine to form a smooth cookie dough

Using your hands, give a it a light knead, ensuring all the dough is part of the the main dough ball.

Prepare and flour your working surface.

Roll the dough out using a rolling pin until it is about 3-4 mm thick.

Using cookie cutters, press out cookies and gently lift them onto a greased oven tray.

Either put them in the oven as they are or decorate them with anything that you may have in your pantry - my kids used, coloured and chocolate sprinkles, peanuts, chocolate buttons. To help the decorations stick, we painted on a thin layer of milk, but an egg mix will work best (if you can tolerate egg)

Bake for 10 -12  minutes until starting to become golden.


My second attempt with the kids on theweeeknd was a modified version of a tradition German shortbread like biscuit - Melt in your mouth delicious and super addictive. Again, I substituted the almond meal for coconut flour and it tastes absolutely divine.


Coconut Flour Shortbread


250g butter

100g icing-sugar

A few drops of vanilla essence

100g plain flour

250g cornflour

50g coconut flour

Mix all ingredients well and leave to cool for 30 minutes in a cool place.

Shape walnut-sized balls from the dough. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper ensuring that there is plenty of room between the biscuits. Imprint stripes onto the balls with a floured fork.

Bake at 175°C for approximately 20 minutes.


Yip, I left them in the oven slightly too long!! The distraction of kids!

Tamarind and Apple Christmas Ham Glaze

Posted by on December 16, 2017

Tamarind and Apple Christmas Ham Glaze


Every year for the last 5 years I have got my ham from Manda Hellier at The Farm Gate Butchers who we see at the Parnell Farmers market every Saturday. My favourite glaze is a totally decadent, sticky and tangy sauce which makes the Christmas ham really stand out.



1 Granny Smith or other tart apple peeled and diced finely

1 jar of Jenny’s Tamarind Chutney (medium)

¼ cup apple juice

1 teaspoon of dijon mustard


Pre heat the oven to 200

Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl until combined.

Remove the skin of the ham leaving as much of the fat layer in place.

Score through the fat layer diagonally creating diamond shapes in the fat.

Line your baking try with a couple of layers of baking paper, placing the ham in the middle of the dish.

Baste with a couple of layers of the glaze.

Bake for 40 minutes basting the ham every 10 minutes with the glaze.


The Vineyard Cottages Summer Tart

Posted by on December 14, 2017

The Vineyard Cottages Summer Tart


As we get busier with the Food Tours and the Vineyard Cottages throughout summer, getting something on the dinner table for everyone to tuck into has to be quick and delicious.

The fridges are always full of cheese and cured meats and this tart becomes a weekly dinner, decorated with chive flowers and plenty of herbs and accompanied by a fresh green salad and thick french dressing.

Ingredients and Instructions

1 sheet of good quality puff pastry

1 baking tray


For the base:

2 tbsp of tomato puree

1 tsp capers

1 clove of garlic

1 roasted pepper ( we buy jars of them from the middle eastern store or make your own)

Zest of half a lemon

1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil.


Blitz the ingredients together in a mixer until smooth. Add a little lemon juice to taste is required.



1 onion thickly sliced and sauteed until translucent

Pancetta or bacon rashers

Prosciutto / ham slices

Half a dozen sliced mushrooms

Grated cheese - Whatever you fancy. We had Provolone from 'Cassaro at Parnell Farmers Market' and some gouda to use up.

2tbsp milk


Mixed Chopped fresh herbs




Chive flowers



Preheat the oven to 180.

Grease the baking tray.

Score the pastry a couple of centimetres in from the edges on all four sides to allow the side to puff up.

Spread the pastry with the base and add the other ingredients with the cheese on last.

Brush the edges of the pastry lightly with milk


Into the oven for 20 mins or until the pastry has puffed up and turned golden. Transfer to a rack and leave to cool for 10 mins.

Scatter the chopped herbs on the top, pulling the chive flowers apart.

Slice and serve with a crisp green salad.


Cultural Evenings

Posted by Elle Armon-Jones on December 06, 2017

On one of the first dry evenings we have had this spring, a group of international visitors here on business were invited to a truly intimate cultural experience at our home base Vineyard Cottages.

Legs of pork, chickens, kumara, potato and cabbage filled with coconut was piled into the pit on top of boiling hot volcanic rocks and covered with sheets, hessian sacks, palm leaves and earth. 3 hours later it was pulled from the ground and taken down to the lodge for everyone to tuck into.

Experiencing a hangi is one of the most authentic ways to experience New Zealand. It’s not a native New Zealand way of cooking but a true Polynesian one. Tucked away in amongst the vines of Waimauku our hangi evenings are the perfect way to try some of the most delicious food you will have in New Zealand.

This year has seen a great rise in the opportunity to try hangi cooked food. Monique Fiso has dedicated this year to extraordinary dining experiences around the country with her pop up restaurant Hia Kai. Rewi Spraggon, The Hangi Master opens a new hangi food truck in Auckland city later this month and at Taste of Auckland last month he and his team cooked gourmet hangis with a number of Auckland chefs throughout the festival.

From late summer onwards we will be doing a weekly hangi at Vineyard Cottages for our guests and anyone who would like to join us. Places will be limited to 25 per week and we will be doing pick ups and drop off from Auckland CBD.

Introducing Sonja's Taste of Austria

Posted by on December 06, 2017

Sonja’s Taste of Austria, creates delicious sweet desserts and gourmet frozen meals inspired by Austria, homemade from local, fresh New Zealand produce.


Sonja’s passion for baking and cooking started from a very young age of 6 years old, where mud cakes garnished with daisies and dandelions were her expertise.

Her cooking and baking talents emerged over the years whilst growing a love for different cultures and their cuisines.

After her mother passed down her old Austrian cook books, a passion for the Austrian way of cooking and its’ cuisine became her love, a much indulged in hobby, in which she could relax, unwind and express herself and of-course hold some extreme dinner parties for her friends!

With Austrian inspiration behind her and fresh New Zealand produce at her fingertips, she lovingly creates beautiful sweet desserts that delight, and frozen gourmet meals that will satisfy anyone's appetite.

You will find Sonja at the Parnell Farmers market on a Saturday morning stocked up with the most divine treats and meals.

Although Sonja lives slightly out of Auckland, Sonja still adores Auckland “because it is vibrant and diverse”.

Since coming to live here, she has watched New Zealand evolve “from a place of plain simple food to a foodies paradise”.

“Farmers markets are the best showroom for all the wonderful products that are created”.

She loves to eat out at Yum Cha Pearl Gardens in Newmarket, and also enjoys Aucklands waterfront with its “abundance of great places to eat” and its stunning scenery.

Her most favourite place to eat however, is right at home, where she and her husband experiment with all the wonderful products found right here in New Zealand.

As well as finding Sonya at the Parnell Farmers market on a Saturday, make sure that you visit her website which you can order straight off, to either order from for pick up from the Farmers market or if you live in Tuakau, delivered straight to your door.