Emma Boyd meets the people behind the produce and cooks with their bounty
WHEN WE BEGAN brainstorming for this issue’s theme “time”, I knew right away that I wanted to focus on the idea of taking the time to discover local producers. Of course this is by no means a new concept, but it’s one that has been resonating with me more and more recently, and it can be hugely rewarding.
A move from suburban Auckland to semi-rural Taranaki almost a year ago has seen my approach to food change significantly. On our three-quarter-acre section we have 60 or so fruit trees, the fruit of which we eat and preserve. Our chooks forage under the trees and provide us with eggs (when we can find them!), as well as fertilising the soil in which we grow our vegetables.
We buy our milk from the farm gate and stop at stalls along the roadside to buy vegetables we don’t yet grow ourselves. This approach means that I feel far more connected to the food that nourishes us, knowing exactly where it comes from and how it has been grown. What’s more, I have found that this has made me more resourceful and less wasteful, which is also a wonderful thing! And as our days are peppered with conversations with local people from all walks of life, I can feel our roots beginning to find a hold in our new home.
For this issue’s Goodness feature, it felt like a logical progression to collaborate with several local producers, using their produce to write my recipes. As I met with each of them in their places of work and they told me their stories, it became apparent that common threads wove among them – the likes of supporting local growers and communities, producing in more sustainable ways and being enthusiastic and passionate about their processes and products. Their stories I share below.
NESTLED IN THE FOOTHILLS of the Kaitake Ranges you’ll find Kaitake Farm, once an organic kiwifruit orchard overseen by Gaye and Murray Dixon, now a thriving market garden run by their son Toby and his friend and business partner Ryan Gut. A chance meeting between the pair just over a year ago revealed their mutual interest in healthy living and growing spray-free vegetables, and subsequently Kaitake Farm was born.
While the footprint of this market garden is relatively small, Dixon and Gut’s bio-intensive gardening methods enable high yields of the produce they grow. Salad greens have been a staple, alongside a selection of seasonal vegetables that grow well in the conditions. The garden’s winter crops included beetroot, turnips, silverbeet, kale, spinach and carrots, and over summer they grow tomatoes, capsicums, cucumbers and zucchini.
It’s all-consuming work and both Gut and Dixon live on site, one in a caravan and the other in a purpose-built off-grid cabin, which allows them to squeeze the most they can out of every daylight hour. They sell their produce to a handful of local restaurants and also do a roaring trade at Beach Road Milk Co, the local farm-gate milk supplier. Despite being only a little over a year in, the demand for Kaitake Farm’s product is such that they are showing no signs of slowing down. So while supply is currently their main focus, the two are full of new ideas, and are excited for the future of organically grown food in Taranaki. kaitakefarm.co.nz
CARROT TARTE TATIN SERVES 4-6 AS A LIGHT LUNCH WITH A SALAD / PREPARATION 30 MINUTES PLUS RESTING / COOKING 30 MINUTES
The pastry recipe makes enough for two tarts, so freeze half to use another time. 175g flour 105g butter, wrapped in foil, frozen,
plus 2 teaspoons extra butter 75ml water, chilled 350g carrots, sliced into rounds about 7mm thick (using market-fresh carrots results in a sweeter, tastier tart) 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 onion, quartered, thinly sliced 1 clove garlic, minced 2 sprigs rosemary 2 tablespoons brown sugar 125g goat’s cheese, softened to room
temperature 3 tablespoons Greek yoghurt lemon wedges and green salad to serve Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin with baking paper.
Put the flour in a bowl and add a pinch of salt. Remove the butter from the freezer and peel back the foil so the heat from your hands is not directly transferring to the butter. Grate the butter into the flour, stopping from time to time to stir the butter in with a butter knife.
Once all the butter is grated, pour in the water and stir it in using the butter knife. Using your hands, quickly work the dough into a ball then refrigerate for at least half an hour. (This step can be done a day or two in advance.)
Put the carrot rounds in a saucepan, just cover with salted water, bring to the boil then simmer for 4 minutes or until cooked through. Drain and set aside.
Divide the dough in two and put one half in the freezer to use another time. Roll the other half out to 3mm4mm thick and cut out a circle that is slightly bigger than the tin.
In a heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and fry the onion, garlic and rosemary until soft and translucent. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Heat another tablespoon of oil in the pan without cleaning it and in batches, fry the carrot until it turns golden brown and starts to caramelise. Remove the carrot from the pan and again without cleaning, add the extra butter and the brown sugar to the pan and heat until the sugar is dissolved.
Pour this mixture into the bottom of the tin and working quickly with a spoon (it will start to harden), roughly spread it around the tin. Place the sprigs of rosemary on top of this followed by the carrots and then the onion mixture. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and put the pastry round on top, tucking in the edges. Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through.
While the tart is cooking, put the goat’s cheese in a food processor with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the yoghurt. Season with freshly ground black pepper and process until smooth.
To serve, grate the lemon zest over the tart, dollop with the goat’s cheese whip and serve with lemon wedges and a simple green salad. (V)
AFTER 20 YEARS in Australia, Jo and Dave James of Juno Gin decided to return to their hometown to embark on a new endeavour together. Though neither had distilled spirits before, both had worked in the food industry and felt it made sense to draw upon their collective knowledge and experience to begin their own business.
Their still was completed in May by local manufacturer Rivet, known for creating the facade of the renowned Len Lye Centre. It was at this point that production began in earnest to deliver Juno Gin’s pre-orders.
Although the couple currently import their juniper berries (gin, by definition, must derive at least 50 per cent of its botanicals from juniper berries), they are working with Massey University and an iwi group to develop a commercial juniper-growing operation here in New Zealand.
Juno Gin’s base spirit is bought in from nearby Fonterra, a by-product of the milk production process whereby specialist yeasts are added to whey to convert the milk sugars into alcohol, resulting in a high-quality spirit.
The couple source their aromatics from local growers as well as private individuals (after I met with them, they stopped by our garden for a handful of mandarins and bergamot oranges).
Juno Gin is now available through the website and selected liquor stores. junogin.co.nz
CITRUS SALAD WITH GIN SYRUP & BRANDY SNAPS SERVES 6 / PREPARATION 30 MINUTES / COOKING 25 MINUTES
55g butter 80g brown sugar 40g flour ½ teaspoon ginger ½ teaspoon cinnamon ⅔ cup freshly squeezed orange juice ½ cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice 3 tablespoons golden caster sugar 3 tablespoons Juno Gin 3 oranges 2 grapefruit 2 limes 125g punnet blueberries and small mint
leaves or shredded mint to serve 900g labneh (made following the recipe
in Chop Chop on page 30) Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Put the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan and melt, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool a little before stirring in the flour, spices and a pinch of salt.
Spoon teaspoons of the mix onto the baking tray, leaving plenty of space for spreading. Bake for 8 minutes or until bubbly and golden, keeping an eye on them as they will burn quickly. Remove from the oven, cool then blitz in a food processor to form rough crumbs. Store in an airtight container.
Pour the orange and grapefruit juice into a saucepan, add the caster sugar, bring to the boil then simmer for about 15 minutes or until it starts to become syrupy. Leave to cool, stir in the gin then pour into a bowl.
Using a paring knife, remove the skin and all the white pith from the citrus fruit. Starting with one of the oranges and working over the bowl containing the syrup (to catch the juices), cut down one side of a segment, separating the membrane from the fruit. Cut down the other side then gently pull the segment away and put into the bowl. Repeat with the remaining orange segments before working your way through the rest of the fruit. Gently mix to coat all the fruit in the syrup and leave for at least 2 hours or as long as overnight before serving.
To serve, spread a tablespoon of the labneh onto a small plate, top with the citrus salad and syrup and then the brandy snaps. Garnish with blueberries and mint to serve.
GREEN MEADOWS BEEF
THE CAREY FAMILY FARM lies south of Opunake, a stone’s throw from the waters of the wild west coast. To the east the presence of Maunga Taranaki is keenly felt, almost as if it is standing guard over the 420-acre farm and the cattle that graze it.
Farmed for 47 years by Joe and Margy Carey (and before them Joe’s parents), the Carey farm was run exclusively as a dairy farm until 2008, when the decision was made to convert to cattle farming. Four years later, in 2012, the family felt there was an opportunity to sell direct to market, and the couple’s three sons came on board to form the Green Meadows Beef brand. Coinciding with a renewed consumer interest in the origins and production methods of food, their timing proved impeccable.
The Careys raise their Angus cattle using traditional farming methods whereby the animals eat only grass, silage and hay (grown on the farm) and source water from a community-owned water scheme. Owning their own butchery ensures total control of their product from farm to plate and also enables them to sell direct to Taranaki locals from the butchery door.
Their award-winning website reaches customers nationwide and offers a range of packages, from 3.5kg beef boxes to whole beasts, butchered and delivered fresh to the door. In 2016 well-known chef Michael Van de Elzen joined the team and created a range of products under the “Good From Scratch” philosophy including beef and beetroot meatballs and burger patties, with additional flavour combinations in the pipeline.
Green Meadows Beef now employs 12 people, and after five years the Careys are excited to continue to push the boundaries of what it means to be a farmer. greenmeadowsbeef.co.nz
BEEF, BLUE CHEESE & BEETROOT BURGERS WITH PICKLED PEAR
MAKES 8 BURGERS / PREPARATION 25 MINUTES / COOKING 20 MINUTES ⅔ cup white wine vinegar 1½ tablespoons honey 2 firm pears, cored, thinly sliced 1 teaspoon peppercorns 4 strips lemon zest 500g Green Meadows Premium
Angus Beef 1 medium beetroot (about 125g),
peeled, coarsely grated ½ red onion (about 100g), finely diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 tablespoon thyme, finely chopped 1 tablespoon tomato sauce 1 teaspoon brown sugar 2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard 50g pine nuts, toasted 100g blue cheese (I used Kāpiti
Kikorangi) 8 burger buns 1 tablespoon olive oil mayonnaise to serve 8 slices tasty cheese to serve watercress or rocket to serve Pour the white wine vinegar into a bowl, add the honey and mash it up with a fork so it dissolves. Once dissolved, add the pear, peppercorns and lemon zest. Mix to combine then set aside while you make the patties.
Put the beef, beetroot, onion, garlic, thyme, tomato sauce, brown sugar, mustard and pine nuts in a bowl, season generously with freshly ground black pepper and using clean hands, mix well to combine. Roughly crumble in the blue cheese and mix again to combine. Shape into 8 patties and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Cut the buns in two, put onto a baking tray and grill in the oven until lightly browned. Set aside.
Remove the patties from the fridge and heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan. Fry the patties in batches for about 4-5 minutes on each side or until just cooked through.
Spread the bottom half of the burger buns with mayonnaise, top with the patties, then the slices of cheese, and return to the grill to melt.
Once melted, remove from the oven and top with slices of pear and a handful of watercress or rocket. Pop on the tops to serve.
BEEF, BLUE CHEESE & BEETROOT BURGERS WITH PICKLED PEAR recipe page 106