Jubilee Rice


First world problems: Too many cashew nuts.

It all started off around National Nut Day when I had heaps of cashew nuts sent to me. I made a delicious Coriander and Cashew Pesto and Sugar and Spice Candied Nuts which were both winners, but I wanted to try something else.

I pondered, what else can I make? Something easy to fit in with my crazy November schedule. Then I remembered how one of my favourite Indian dishes, biryani, has cashews in it. This recipe is only very slightly inspired by biryani and even that is a stretch, with olives, sundried tomatoes, chilli and red onion, the flavours are more Mediterranean antipasto.

I’m calling this dish “Jubilee Rice”. The chopped the bits and pieces look festive and I’ve made this dish about 5 times now, tweaking the flavours as I go along. I’m pretty happy with this edition.

Jubilee Rice is vegan (vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free) so a crowd-friendly dish to bring to a potluck during the holiday season. It’s also quick to make, super easy and you might already have all the ingredients in your pantry.



Jubilee Rice

Serves an army / makes a big bowl suitable for sharing between 6+ people!


  • 2 cups long grain rice, uncooked
  • 2 cup olives, pitted
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Black pepper
  • Optional: A good pinch of dried chilli flakes


  1. Cook the rice according to normal instructions. I use a rice cooker. Makes life easy.
  2. While the rice is cooking, slice the olives and roughly chop the sundried tomatoes. Finely dice the red onion. Reserve until required.
  3. Roughly chop the cashews or smash nuts in a mortar and pestle. This can be strangely therapeutic. Heat a small frying pan and dry toast the cashews for about 4 minutes on medium high heat, stirring occasionally until cashews are golden. Remove from heat.
  4. Once rice is cooked, stir to fluff up and then add all the other ingredients to the rice. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if required. Serve warm. Will stay warm for some time if covered, otherwise this can be refrigerated and re-heated in the microwave.


Extra recipe notes: 

  • I’ve added a good pinch of chilli flakes to give a kick to this recipe but this is entirely optional. Leave out if you are serving gentle palates.
  • I used a mixture of black and green pitted olives. Feel free to use whatever you prefer (as long as pits have been removed).
  • I haven’t tried it, but you could sub the olive oil for the oil that comes with your sundried tomatoes.
  • This recipe can easily be divided or multiplied.


Lights, camera, action!

Another thing that has fed my growing edge this month is behind the scenes in these photos. The Koala got me two shoot through umbrella lights for my birthday and this is the first time I’ve used them. I’ve never used photography lights before, not even in my many years of photography classes at school, so working with lights is fun and interesting a learning curve.



our-growing-edge-badgeThis post is part of Our Growing Edge, a monthly blogging event to encourage bloggers to try new food related things. Linda from The Orange Bee is the host for this month’s event. This month has an optional theme: Holiday Sweets and Sides.

If you have a blog and you are eating or cooking something new this month, click below to join. More information here.





Tofu Tuesday: On the bed (again)


Spring time in Auckland is a rambunctious somersault. I have to carry both sunglasses and an umbrella every day and sometimes, I use both at the same time.

Yesterday morning Tofu the bunny went outside because it was fine out, but by the time I got to work, a storm was already brewing. I called The Koala so he could bring the bunny back inside before he left for work.

When I got home in the afternoon, I couldn’t find Tofu in his usual spots. Instead, I found him on our bed. He stayed there all afternoon and into the evening. Our room gets great afternoon sun so maybe he had it all figured out.


Tofu doesn’t jump up and down from our bed as much as he used to. He’s getting old and he is completely blind, but it warms my heart to see him explore the house or hang out in different areas.

Just in case you are wondering, the black, white and gold painting above our bed was a collaboration between The Koala and I. We painted it for a  champagne event many years ago (theme being champagne, hence the gold bubbles). You can’t see it so well in the photo, but underneath the top layer of paint is a completely layer of gold bubbles. It’s possibly the only collaborative painting we have. Our styles are very different but this painting seems to be quite a good mixture.

Click here to see more editions of Tofu Tuesday.


Monday Bunday: Rory Dobner’s Bunnies


I stumbled across this rather lovely living room shot on Pinterest and on further investigation, found out it was the living room of British artist/interior designer Rory Dobner.

Then I fell into the Rory Dobner rabbit hole. Here are some images of Rory Dobner’s bunny related works.

rory-dobner02 rory-dobner03 rory-dobner04 rory-dobner05 rory-dobner06 rory-dobner07 rory-dobner08

You can few more of these and many others on his website: http://www.rorydobner.com

Taste of Auckland 2014 – Epic Food Post


Taste of Auckland always means good eating and after my initial squiz (quick look) at the menu, I stuck to my guns. I have remarkable discipline.

Here’s a run down of the dishes we ate and a whole lot of food porn.


Depot’s Raw Bar

Depot’s Raw Bar was a cool set up. The menu was Oysters, Bloody Mary Oyster Shooters and Tuatuas (clams). When we arrived, the chefs were standing around, proud as punch and with nothing to do. All the hard work already done. Smart move!


Just a squirt of the vinaigrette and the dish is served.

I was in the company of The Bivalve Haters Club* so got all 4 clams to myself. Note to self, get clams, oysters or mussels if you don’t want to share. The clams were lovely and fresh, I’d never had them like this, much firmer than scallops and oysters with a springiness to them. In Cantonese we have a word for a springy/crisp bite: “song”. The clams were “song”.

Cable Bay

I got the Beef Shortrib with Crayfish and I was not surprised I enjoyed this surf n turf. The shortrib was reminiscent of corned beef, the poached crayfish sweet and delicate.


My portion of cray was a bit mean but my friend’s portion was generous so you might get lucky (or you might not). My friend expected to be wowed but didn’t feel the dish was anything special. I do suppose if we wanted corned beef, we could get a kilo for this price, though it was nice to have a bit of crayfish.

taste-2014-089 taste-2014-086

The ladies manning this counter were cheerful and friendly and they convinced my friends to try dishes they might not ordinarily try. Good job ladies!


Lava Dining

At Lava Dining, I got the Confit Duck Leg, Dehydrated Eggplant Charcoal, Brie Custard, Iberico Ham, Pickled Grapes. I’m a new eggplant convert and when I fell from hate to love, I fell hard.


The thin charcoal wafers were cool. The charcoal was made from dehydrated eggplant. They tasted sweet and smokey. A culinary novelty. The duck was tender and lovely and the Iberico ham a tasty compliment.


The staff managing the Lava Dining counter were friendly and knowledgeable, answering questions and offering extra foodie tidbits.


One of the limited “icon dishes” was Harbourside’s Smoked Eel & Pork Belly, Brioche Toast, Avocado, Quails Egg, Semi-dried Tomatoes. By limited edition, I mean they made 20 and sold them on a first in, first served basis. I nabbed one.


Surprisingly, this dish included two rows of foie gras. Yes, that’s foie gras as in the controversial un-PC goose liver. That’s kind of an ingredient you tell people about before they order. At 20 crowns, this dish was expensive but there was plenty of foie gras.


The order of ingredients went: foie gras, smoked eel, pork belly, granny smith apple, more pork belly, more smoked eel, more foie gras, topped with avocado mousse, quail egg, semi-dried tomatoes and all on top of brioche toast. Yes, there was a lot going on. Kinda perfect for those with greedy inclinations.


Another one on my list was the Lemon Curd Cheesecake Mousse, Digestive Crumb, Burnt Orange Sorbet. Actually, my friend got this but I got a taste. It was delicious and the burnt orange sorbet was punchy. The Lemon Curd had been replaced with Mandarin which was just as lovely. I would go back for the burnt orange sorbet.

Some other dishes my friends got…

taste-2014-031 taste-2014-038 taste-2014-041 taste-2014-049

Our favourite dishes were:

  • Lava Dining’s Duck Confit.
  • Farina’s Pork Saltimbocca Bun
  • Farina’s Pasta with Duck, Mushroom and Truffle

Of course, this is by no means the official favourites, just the favourites of us ladies. I’d love to hear what your favourites are and what the crowd favourites are.

*OK, so not a real club.


Read more of my posts about Taste of Auckland here.

Taste of Auckland 2014 – General festival rundown


Taste of Auckland opening night was scattered rain, muddy shoes, very nice wine, lovely cocktails and fancy stunning food.

I met up with three friends and we ate our way through 13 menu items and various other tasty treats including the Dilmah/AUT Tea Tasting Platter, cheeses, meats, Petal cupcakes, avocado canapes and more.  Continue reading

Tofu Tuesday: It’s My Birthday


Today is my birthday and it’s been exactly one year since I turned 30.

It’s been crazy busy here lately but I told my bosses I wasn’t working on my birthday (and they couldn’t do a thing about it). I’ve worked on my birthday only once in my life, it was some insignificant birthday in my twenties and I regretted it. It’s only one day a year. Treat yourself!


When I turned 30 last year, I was lucky that my sister, Joey just arrived back in NZ after being in Europe. I was able to catch up with her on my birthday. This year, I’m lucky that one friend finished a work contract and another finished uni for the year so I have (at least) two lovely people to hang with.

The weather has been stunning over the past few days and I’ve made plans for a super day before the weather packs up again…

The Daily Specials:

1 hour aromatherapy massage*.

Head to my favourite swimming beach to catch high tide.

Main Course
Enjoy a light picnic lunch and then to Cheltenham Dairy for ice cream sandwiches.

Dinner with my family at Cazador, one of Auckland’s best kept secrets.

*I’ve never had a massage in New Zealand. Weird huh? I get them in Asia because they’re so cheap you can have them daily. It takes some getting used to NZ prices, but I decided to splurge for my birthday. I’ve been crazy stressed and busy that my body is screaming for a good massage. Plus, immediately after I made my booking, I got an email from them offering a discount for a birthday massage. Sweet!

tofu-happy-birthday3 tofu-happy-birthday4