Delicious summer recipesby Lauraine Jacobs
Make the most of Marlborough’s memorable bounty with these summer recipes.
As the launch cruised through the still waters of Kenepuru and Pelorus sounds, cribs set in the glossy-green native bush seemed to spy on us. I was on the Greenshell Mussel Cruise, a daily excursion that departs from Havelock, deep in the Marlborough Sounds. The skipper, a mine of information, told us the history of the region’s early settlers and gave us facts and figures about the greenshell mussel industry.
From our anchorage near a mussel farm, I could see a series of long ropes in tidy rows floating on the water, tethered to sturdy buoys. Mussels grow in the clear waters of the sounds, flushed twice daily by the tide, reaching maturity after 18 months.
Twenty to 30 tonnes of mussels are loaded aboard barges each day for local and export markets. Over 100,000 tonnes of the shellfish, which make up the bulk of our burgeoning aquaculture industry, were exported last year, earning over $200 million.
As well as absorbing details about the industry, we relaxed over a generous feast of freshly steamed mussels, accompanied by a Marlborough sauvignon blanc. This is culinary tourism at its best: stories of the region’s bounty made memorable with tastings of food and matching wines in the place they are produced.
Every region, not just premium wine areas, could do with such offerings, creating a food trail tourists can follow from one end of New Zealand to the other. Marlborough is our largest wine region. Each time I visit, I am amazed by the expansion of grapevine planting. But there are also many pockets of cultivation of other fascinating foods.
At Sherrington Grange farm in Mahau Sound, Lisa Harper milks 11 goats and three cows, using the milk to hand-make a range of savoury cheeses. Harper, named South Island Enterprising Rural Woman of 2011, makes cheeses for a select group of chefs. But she also sells them at the weekly Marlborough farmers’ market.
Fifteen years ago, Jenny and Malcolm Horwell bought a Blenheim property that had two enormous walnut trees. They planted 600 hazelnut trees of two varieties: the locally bred whiteheart; and ennis, a larger, creamier, flavourful nut from Oregon. They now have a successful nut business, supplying fresh walnuts and hazelnuts and nut spreads and oils to delis and supermarkets under the Uncle Joe’s brand.
I knew Blenheim’s garlic and shallot growers had suffered under the cut-price competition of imported Asian crops. It was a relief to learn from the Jones family at Piquant Garlic Growers that Kiwis have done an about-turn and realised locally grown products are superior in aroma and flavour. The industry is now back on its feet and struggling to keep up with demand. My recipes feature Marlborough ingredients. I always seek Uncle Joe’s nuts to use for my meringue cake. Briny fresh mussels and local shallots make the perfect combination in the salad.
HAZELNUT MERINGUE CAKE WITH FRESH RASPBERRIES
- 140g fresh hazelnuts
- 4 egg whites
- 250g caster sugar
- vanilla essence
- 4 drops of vinegar
- 300ml fresh cream
- 1 large punnet raspberries
- icing sugar to dust
Prepare 2 loose-bottomed 20cm cake tins. Cut baking paper to fit the bases, then butter the inside rims of the tins. Lightly dust with flour to make a non-stick surface. Roast the hazelnuts in a preheated 180°C oven for about 7 minutes so they are browned and toasted. Cool, then remove from their skins by rubbing between your fingers. Grind in a nut grinder or food processor until coarse but not turned to dust.
Using an electric beater, beat the egg whites until stiff, then add the sugar. Continue to beat until the mixture is satiny and smooth. Add vanilla to taste (about half a teaspoon), then the vinegar. Finally, carefully fold in the ground hazelnuts without losing any volume. Divide the mixture between the tins and spread evenly. Bake at 180°C for about 45 minutes or until crisp and brown. Remove from the oven and immediately turn out onto a baking rack. (If left to set in the tin, it will be impossible to remove.)
To decorate, whip the cream and pile onto one of the cakes. Place the berries on top of the cream, then lightly press the other cake on top. Dust with icing sugar and serve. It can be made a day or two ahead, but must be kept in an airtight tin and decorated within an hour or two of serving.
MUSSELS, SHALLOTS AND BABY POTATO SALAD WITH PARSLEY AND CAPERS
- 2kg live greenshell mussels
- 8 medium shallots
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 500g baby new potatoes
- juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp salted capers
- 4 tbsp chopped parsley
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Scrub the mussels, then place in a large saucepan with a cup of water and bring to the boil. Let them steam open, then remove from the pan as soon as most have opened – about 3 minutes. Strain the cooking juices into a bowl and as the mussels cool, remove them from their shells. Remove the beard, the foot and the tough little round muscle that attaches the mussel to its shell. Discard these pieces and place the whole mussels in the reserved juices to keep moist until ready to assemble the salad.
Cut the shallots into 2-3 pieces, then toss in the oil in an oven dish. Preheat the oven to 180°C, then place the shallots in the oven and roast for 10-15 minutes until they are golden and soft. Steam the potatoes until tender. Make the dressing by putting the lemon juice, zest, oil and mustard in a jar and giving it a good shake. Add the capers, parsley and enough salt and pepper to taste. Any leftover dressing will keep for 5-7 days in the refrigerator.
To assemble the salad, mix the mussels, shallots and potatoes on a serving platter. Drizzle with dressing and decorate with a few reserved mussel shells and sprigs of parsley or coriander.
Wine match: chilled sauvignon blanc.
Marlborough's seafood in action
- Greenshell Mussel Cruise
This cruise leaves Havelock Marina daily at 1.00pm and visits a mussel farm in Pelorus Sound. The three-hour experience includes mussel tasting, accompanied by a glass of locally grown sauvignon blanc. (www.marlboroughtravel.co.nz)
- Salmon and Oyster Cruise
From late December, the Seafood Odyssea will offer a three-hour cruise from Picton into Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel to experience salmon and oyster farming. At one of NZ King Salmon’s farms, visitors will be able to hand-feed the fish, then observe the workings of the Tio Point oyster farm. There is also a chance to sample salmon and oysters with a glass of sauvignon blanc. (www.marlboroughtravel.co.nz)
- Stay at Vintners Retreat
Fourteen spacious self-catering luxury villas with stunning views across the vineyards, and within walking distance of many world-class wineries. www.vintnersretreat.co.nz
Lauraine Jacobs was a guest of Destination Marlborough.
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