Tuesday, the 6th of February, marks Waitangi Day here in New Zealand - a day dedicated to commemorating the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi) in 1840. British representatives and Māori chiefs came together and signed what is considered to be the country's founding document. Festivities unfold at the treaty grounds and across the country as we enjoy the last of our summer public holidays.
While there's no specific traditional dish associated with this day, a public holiday often prompts a deviation from the ordinary. Whether it's having some extra time on your hands or the joy of hosting guests, it's an opportunity to indulge. I'm curious to know your preferred go-to treats on public holidays.
In our case, we're planning a BBQ if the weather is favourable, and I'm excited to experiment with the smoked salt I mentioned in a previous newsletter. I don't know about you, but usually when we have a BBQ it comes with a salad accompaniment. Read some more below about how to serve salads for the best visual effect.
Maybe you might even put together a cheeseboard or platter to nibble on at some stage. In this newsletter I'll share a few tips about chutney's that you can use on a board or platter or even in meals to give them an extra punch of flavour.
In this issue:
- Inspiration from my kitchen - Smoked Garlic Salt
- Food presentation spotlight - How To Plate Salads
- Q&A - What Is A Chutney?
Inspiration From My Kitchen - Smoked Garlic Salt
A few weeks ago I mentioned having tried smoking some garlic salt. I had quite a few garlic bulbs that needed using and the BBQ was on so we decided to give it a go.
- First I blitzed 1 whole chilli and about 3 bulbs of garlic into small pieces, but not as fine as crushed garlic.
- Then I mixed through about one and a half cups of rock salt, 1 tablespoon of whole peppercorns and 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds.
- I spread it out on the smoker tray and smoked it on the BBQ (with oak wood chips) for about 10 minutes. As soon as we could see the smoke coming out we turned off the heat, but left the smoker in the covered BBQ for a further 10 minutes.
- Then we opened it and left it to cool completely. It was quite chunky so I gave half of it a quick blitz (maybe slightly too much, next time I will do it a bit less) and then mixed it through with the rest.
- I have been enjoying using it while lightly frying or charring broccoli or beans. We've put it onto roasted potatoes while they're cooking, it's gone onto everything we've BBQ'd and I think we'll definitely make it again. It's such a great flavour that goes with so many different dishes.
I love experimenting with things like this. I always say flavour comes first and presentation a very close second. Things like a delicious seasoning - with a hint of smokiness in this case - adds to the flavour profile making your dish stand out.
Food presentation spotlight - How To Plate Salads
We're thoroughly enjoying salads with the abundance of fresh seasonal ingredients at the moment. They're so quick to make and so tasty - absolutely perfect for a busy week night!
BUT... I often get asked how can you serve a salad nicely? It's so true that a salad is often just a mound of ingredients on a plate or tossed in a bowl, so I was thinking of a few simple tips you can think about to elevate your salad presentation.
- It's best not to mix your salad in the same bowl you're serving it in. It looks terrible when the dressing is all smeared up the sides!
- When you're putting the finished salad into a serving bowl, try not to flatten it out - leave it in a bit of a mound. This gives height and looks better. You can also add a little more of something already in the salad as an added garnish on top (maybe something in a contrasting colour or with a contrasting texture)
- Think about the colours in your salad, vibrant colours look great together - as do salads made with ingredients in different shades of the same colour. The colour of the dressing can make or break your salad presentation too. A dark balsamic vinaigrette on light coloured ingredients doesn't work well even though it might taste ok! But a dark balsamic vinaigrette on a beetroot salad is a perfect combination.
- If you want to serve individually plated salads, is there a way you can set them in a mould? Maybe you can use a strip of cucumber to create a little barrier. Or have you got some funky smaller bowls that might add to the presentation?
There are lots of ways to make your salads look as amazing as they taste! Have some fun next time you're serving a salad and see what you can come up with 😄.
Q&A - What Is A Chutney?
A recent comment on our YouTube channel mentioned how often I use chutney and pesto on different sandwiches. Chutney is something that might not be familiar to you all, so I decided to tell you a little more about it here. (I will write about pesto in another newsletter 😄).
Q: What is a Chutney?
A: A chutney is a savoury condiment (although it can taste sweet) made from slow-cooked fruits and vegetables with added herbs, vinegar, sugar, and spices. It's often used to provide balance to a dish, highlight a specific flavour profile or simply add flavour.
The word chutney is now broadly applied to anything preserved in sugar and vinegar, regardless of its texture, ingredients, or consistency.
I love the different flavours a chutney can add to a dish, whether it's cooked or raw. I often add a tomato chutney to fried chicken for example. It's also great with cheese so I usually put some on a cheeseboard. Of course if we're talking about making a delicious sandwich, it's the perfect ingredient to give your sandwich a 'wow' factor too.
Chutney's (and relishes, which are very similar) are surprisingly easy to make. You can use fruit and vegetables that you have in abundance or are getting past their best. Yes, the soggy, soft veggies lurking in the back of the fridge are perfect for making chutney!
Here's a video throwback to a delicious simple beetroot relish and apricot chutney recipe.