On Thursday, I met up with my Kiwi chef friend, Dave, again, this time for my New Zealand cooking lesson. He had already gone to the market so we unloaded all of the groceries and got started in the kitchen. He was teaching a demo course the next day, so first off I helped him prepare a seven-hour slow braised Merino lamb shoulder.
After we got the lamb on the stove, we got started on smoked salmon, polenta and a candied carrot walnut & sticky date pudding. The fresh salmon was smoked over Central Otago dried summer fruit on a rack between two baking pans outside on a gas grill for approximately eight minutes. Side note, while I was standing watch the salmon cook, I was able to take in breathtaking views of the sun setting on the backside of Queenstown, complete with a sheep farm just down the hill…amazing!!
While the polenta was cooking, we got started on the candied carrot walnut & sticky date pudding. First we julienned the carrots and cooked them in a stock syrup (sugar water) until they were candied and ready to add to our dessert. I got to use a Kitchen Aid mixer again, which is sometimes one of my favorite parts of baking. After we put these in the oven, we finished up the polenta.
Once everything was ready, Dave whipped everything together into a beautiful, well presented dinner. The dinner was DELICIOUS (I’m sure my role played a large part in that…ha!) and was accompanied by a lovely New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Dessert was even better…the candied carrot walnut & sticky date pudding was served over a butterscotch sauce with vanilla ice cream on top! I told Dave if I cooked with him everyday, I might be big as a house.
One of the interesting things that you don’t think about much is the different units of measurement that are commonly used in New Zealand v America kitchens. It definitely keeps you on your toes thinking about converting back and forth. Another thing I really enjoyed was trying and using a lot of local New Zealand spices and seasonings. I think horopito might be my fav! Or the avocado lime oil. That would make for a pretty tasty dressing!!
I got extremely lucky with my first chef and couldn’t have found a nicer, more generous teacher. I never expected to find a chef who would give me a one on one cooking lesson, especially with such a scrumptious dinner to cap it off – I later found out just how lucky I got because that night Danielle & Casey opted for Subway over our free hostel dinner since it was weird boiled sausages. They were quite jealous to see the pictures of my meal. The kick off of this cooking project couldn’t have gotten off to a more successful start!
Me & Dave
View during Salmon smoking