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.

The Southland Times - - Weekend -

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

3 eggs

160g sour cream 50g des­ic­cated co­conut 200g flour

2 tsp bak­ing pow­der

To as­sem­ble

300ml cream

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

1⁄2 cup shaved co­conut or

co­conut chips

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

but scaled

Mash

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.

Serves 4

EVA KOZUB

Clock­wise from top left: Lab­neh with lemon & herbs, baked lemon & gar­lic oil fish with creamy mash, and co­conut cake with vanilla cream & honey.

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