Pale and interesting
The lusciously moist and creamy textures of these three recipes are what makes them winners, says NZ House & Garden’s Sally Butters.
Labneh with lemon & herbs
Soft and creamy labneh is the easiest of fresh cheeses to make. Enjoy it spread on crusty bread or bagels or serve as part of a mezze. In the Middle East it is eaten for breakfast with olives.
1kg natural unsweetened yoghurt 2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp flaky salt
1⁄2 cup finely chopped mixed herbs,
such as parsley, mint and thyme About 2 cups extra virgin olive oil
Combine yoghurt, garlic, lemon zest and salt. Place a sieve over a large glass bowl and line it with fine muslin or a clean Chux cloth. Pour yoghurt into lined sieve and leave to strain for 3-4 hours at room temperature then transfer to the fridge for a further 6 hours or preferably overnight.
Discard whey. Roll strained yoghurt into walnut-size balls then roll in chopped herbs. Place on a plate and chill 30 minutes. Layer the balls in a glass jar and fill with oil to cover. Seal and refrigerate for up to a week. Bring to room temperature for serving.
Makes 18-20 balls
Coconut cake with vanilla cream & honey
Because this cake is filled with fresh cream it needs to be assembled close to serving, but the cake itself can be baked a day or two ahead.
250g butter, softened 300g sugar
160g sour cream 50g desiccated coconut 200g flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1⁄2 cup shaved coconut or
1⁄2 cup fragrant liquid honey
Heat oven to 165C fanbake. Line the base of a 23cm spring-form tin with baking paper.
Cream butter and sugar for 4-5 minutes until pale. Beat in eggs one at a time then gently fold in sour cream, coconut and sifted flour and baking powder.
Spoon mixture into prepared tin and smooth out evenly. Bake for 45-55 minutes until cake is golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in tin about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. To assemble: Whip cream with vanilla to soft peaks. Cut cold cake into 3 even layers. Sandwich with about half the cream and cover top with remainder. Garnish with coconut and drizzle with honey. Serves 8-10
Baked lemon & garlic oil fish with creamy mash
Oven-poaching fish in oil and aromatics ensures an incredibly moist and flavoursome result. 1 cup olive oil
2 bulbs garlic, cut in half horizontally
1 lemon, finely sliced
4 bay leaves
Fresh thyme sprigs
1 tsp baby capers
4 fillets firm white fish, skin on
5 medium potatoes suitable
for mashing 1⁄4 cup cream, heated Flaky sea salt Pinch of nutmeg
Heat oven to 175C. Heat 1⁄4 cup of the oil in a frying pan and sear the halved garlic bulbs and fish fillets, skin side down, until just golden.
Transfer to a small, shallow roasting dish and arrange with lemon slices, bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Sprinkle capers over and pour over remaining 3⁄4 cup oil.
Bake 8-10 minutes or until fish is opaque and just starting to flake. Serve on creamy mashed potato with the garlic bulbs on the side for squeezing.
Mash: Peel and dice potatoes. Simmer in plenty of salted water until soft. Drain and add hot cream, salt and nutmeg to taste. Pass through a sieve or potato ricer and mix until smooth and creamy.
Clockwise from top left: Labneh with lemon & herbs, baked lemon & garlic oil fish with creamy mash, and coconut cake with vanilla cream & honey.