Lauraine Jacobs

Food & Wine Writer

28 December 2018


I love the process of making pickled fish, by frying oily fish fillets and then bathing them in an aromatic brine flavoured with vegetables and spices. This sweet and sour fish dish is called escabeche, a well-loved recipe in Mediterranean and South American cuisines.

  • 600g filleted fish, skin on (mullet, kahawai, gurnard etc)
  • 2 tsps salt

For the pickling brine: * 1 tbsp olive oil * ½ onion, thinly sliced * 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced * 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced * 1 cup water * 1 cup white wine vinegar * 1 tbsp sugar * 1 tsp salt * ¼ tsp coriander seeds * ¼ tsp fennel seeds * ½ tsp black peppercorns * Pinch of chilli flakes * 1 bay leaf * 4 sprigs thyme

For frying the fish: * 4 tbsps olive oil * Flour for dusting

Season the fish fillets with salt and leave to sit while you make the pickling brine. In a deep frying pan or heavy saucepan, heat one tablespoon of oil. Add the onion, garlic and celery and cook over a very gentle heat until the vegetables are tender and soft. Add the water, vinegar, sugar and salt with all the herbs and spices. Bring this mixture to a boil, turn off the heat and let cool.

Heat the 4 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Dredge the fish fillets in flour, shake off the excess and fry the fish in hot oil until browned on both sides. Remove the fish onto kitchen paper to drain and cool.

Once the fish and the brine are cool, place the fish in a glass or ceramic container, pour the brine over and leave to absorb the flavours for an hour or two. Refrigerate until needed and serve at room temperature with toast and butter.

The fish will keep for a week if refrigerated.

Serves 4 as an entrée or as a snack Wine match: a dry sherry or an icy cold lager

2 October 2017


• 3 sheets best quality butter puff pastry, 30cm x 12cm • 300mls cream, whipped • 1 punnet strawberries • ½ cup redcurrant jelly • ½ cup strawberry jam

If using a block of puff pastry roll it out to size, place on baking sheets and allow to rest for 30 minutes before baking. If the pastry is pre-rolled you will not need to do this. Prick the surface of all the pastry with a fork. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Bake the pastry until golden and crisp (around 15 minutes.) Set aside.

Whip the cream until it becomes it is lightly stiff. Remove the stalk each strawberry, and slice the fruit in half. Place the redcurrant jelly in a small pan, heating gently until it melts.

To assemble the mille feuille, take a very sharp knife and trim the edge from the pastry strips to make it sharp.

Lay the first strip on a serving platter. Spread several tablespoonfuls of jam on this, top with half the cream. Spread the second pastry sheet with more jam, and place gently on top of the first pastry sheet and cream. Add the remaining cream to this and top with the third pastry sheet.

Lay the halved strawberries on top and with a pastry brush paint the redcurrant glaze over the strawberries. It doesn’t matter if a little drizzles down.

To serve cut into slices with a very sharp knife. Serves 6. Wine match: Asti Spumante

23 April 2016


The kohlrabi is an uncommonly eaten vegetable that’s versatile and currently in season. A member of the brassica family, the leaves are edible, but the main attraction of this sputnik-like vegetable is the bulb which is in reality, the stem of the plant. It grows comfortably in most climates around New Zealand and when I enquired at my local vegetable store, the owner had no trouble sourcing both pale green and violet coloured varieties.

It is at its best when peeled and cut into thin slices or strips to be served raw in salads or as a snack with a creamy blue or goat cheese dip. Kohlrabi presented like this is sweet and juicy and ideal for children’s snacks. A five year old who tried it at my house last week declared it tasted like lettuce, but I think it tastes like a cross between broccoli and cucumber. It can also be grated for tossing into slaws or salads.

Add kohlrabi to stir-fry vegetables, soups and braises. The pieces will require about 10-15 minutes and should remain ever so slightly crisp. The flavour is not strong so a little aromatic spice such as nutmeg, ginger or cumin will boost the taste, and woody herbs like rosemary, sage or thyme pair nicely with kohlrabi.

Store the kohlrabi in the humidity controlled vegetable drawer of the refrigerator and the bulb will last for weeks, although if you plan to cook the leaves use them within a few days of harvesting.

Wild salad of kohlrabi and apple

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 bulbs of kohlrabi
  • 2 apples
  • ½ cup parsley leaves
  • For the vinaigrette: 1 lemon, juice and grated zest 3 tablespoons walnut oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 170C. Place the walnuts in a roasting pan and bake for 5-7 minutes or until the walnuts just start to colour. Remove at once. Peel the kohlrabi and slice as thin as possible using a very sharp knife or a mandolin. Cut the apples into quarters, remove the core and cut into 1cm sized matchstick pieces. Chop the parsley roughly. To make the vinaigrette, mix the lemon juice, walnut oil, salt and pepper together so they are well combined. To assemble the salad, lay the sliced kohlrabi on a flat salad plate. Scatter the apple over this in a layer. Top with walnuts and parsley and finally drizzle the vinaigrette over everything. Serve to accompany grilled steak or roast pork. Serves 4 Wine match: pinot gris

Braised kohlrabi, choko and carrots

  • 1 large choko
  • 2 large kohlrabi bulbs
  • 2 large carrots
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Mint leaves for garnish

Peel the vegetables and cut into strips about 8cm in length and 2cm wide. Put the olive oil in a heavy saucepan to heat. When it almost reaches smoking point add the cumin with the vegetables and the leaves of the rosemary and turn the heat down. Toss everything well together and allow the vegetables to very slowly and gently braise in the oil. Stir occasionally and if the vegetables seem to catch on the edges, add a few spoons of water. The vegetables will be tender and delicious after about 20-25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve hot or cold to accompany grilled chicken or grilled fish. Serves 4 Wine match: chardonnay

15 February 2016


  • 300g lamb fillets or tenderloins
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 lemons
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 small firm radishes
  • 2 cups baby watercress leaves
  • 2 thick slices watermelon (250g)
  • 1 cup small basil leaves and flowers

For the dressing: * 1 lemon, zest and juice * 3 tbsp grapeseed oil * Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Trim any extra fat or sinew from the lamb. Tip the sesame oil into a bowl and add the finely grated zest and the juice of the lemons with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix this all together and add the lamb, leaving it to marinate for up to an hour.

Meanwhile prepare the other ingredients. Wash the radishes and cut them into paper thin slices with a very sharp knife or a Japanese mandolin. Wash the watercress, drying it in a clean tea towel or a salad spinner. Cut any tough stalks off and discard them. Cut the watermelon rind away and cut the flesh into nice even chunks. Remove any obvious large seeds.

Make the dressing by shaking the lemon juice, grapeseed oil and some salt and pepper together.

Heat a barbecue grill or a ridged grill pan until hot. Cook the lamb over medium heat until golden brown on both sides, but still a little springy to the touch. Allow the lamb to rest while you compose the salad. Toss the radishes, watercress, watermelon and the basil together, adding most of the dressing. Spread this on a serving platter or divide between four dinner plates.

Slice the lamb thinly and place on top of the salad, garnishing with the basil flowers. Tip the remaining dressing over the lamb and serve at once. Serves 4 Wine match; a chilled crisp riesling Photo by Liz Clarkson for the NZ Listener

15 February 2016


  • 800 g lamb spare ribs
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 small chilli, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp brown sugar

For the pickled mint sauce: * 150 mls white wine vinegar * 75g sugar * 1 very large handful mint, leaves and stalks separated

Mix the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame seeds, chilli and brown sugar together and pace in a shallow tray. Add the lamb ribs and turn them in the mixture so they are completely coated with this marinade. Leave over night or for at least an hour.

Fire up the barbecue and when hot, place the lamb ribs over the heat. Turn them frequently to make sure they do not burn. Aim to get the ribs golden brown with the edges an almost caramelly dark brown. Remove from the heat and serve piled on a platter with the pickled mint sauce.

To make the pickled mint sauce, strip the leaves from the stalks and chop the stalks into tiny pieces. Place the white wine vinegar, sugar and the chopped stalks in a saucepan over the heat. Dissolve the sugar then bring the vinegar to the boil. Allow this to boil for about 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat and tip into a small bowl to cool. Infuse the mixture for an hour or two, then strain it into a small jug. Chop the mint very finely and add to the vinegar mixture. The mint will turn very dark green almost immediately due to the reaction of the vinegar but it will be delicious.

Serves 4 Wine match; pinot noir PHOTO by Liz Clarkson for the NZ Listener

12 January 2016


My husband Murray used to be disappointed if he caught a kahawai as his first love in fishing is to chase for kingfish. However once I started smoking the oily dark kahawai over manuka chips, he has changed his mind. Smoked fish is gorgeous when it’s warm and straight from the smoker, then as it cools it loses its appeal. So the leftover smoky flesh is perfect for fish cakes.

  • 250g smoked kahawai
  • 100g fresh white fish (gurnard, trevally, blue cod)
  • 2 potatoes, boiled or steamed
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsps fresh thyme, chopped
  • Few sprigs parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 2 tbsps butter
  • 2 tbsps flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 tbsps milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

Combine the fish, potatoes, spring onion, herbs and lemon zest together in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, leaving the mixture slightly chunky. Make a ‘panade’ to bond the cakes together. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the flour, cumin, salt and pepper with the bay leaf and stir until the flour starts to cook. Tip in the milk and stir constantly until thick and bubbling. Add this to the fish mixture, stirring in the lemon juice and season to taste. Cool the mixture and form into six large fishcakes. Beat the egg, and dip each fishcake in egg and coat with panko crumbs to cover completely. Refrigerate until needed. To cook, melt a little butter in some olive oil in a heavy frying pan and gently cook the cakes on both sides until they’re golden. Serve at once with a spicy chutney or lime-flavoured mayonnaise and salad. Serves 4-6

20 December 2015


For the meringues: * 4 egg whites * 220g sugar * ½ tsp pure vanilla essence * 40g crushed freeze-dried raspberries (Fresh As brand)

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Beat the egg whites until stiff with an electric beater and add the sugar a little at a time, continuing to beat. Add the vanilla essence. Remove the beater head and fold in the freeze dried raspberries. Spoon small tablespoons of the meringue mixture onto the baking tray, leaving a gap between each meringue. Bake the meringues or one hour then turn the oven off and leave to cool. Make about 2 dozen and these can be store in an airtight tin for up to a week.

For the chocolate sauce: * 200mls cream * 200g finest quality dark chocolate * 50g soft brown sugar

Take a medium saucepan and half fill with water. Place a large heatproof bowl over this so that it fits snugly with the base just above the water line. Bring the water to the boil and reduce the heat so the water is barely simmering. Place the cream, chocolate and sugar in the bowl. And stir this mixture for about 3 minutes or until chocolate almost melts. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to stir until all the chocolate melts. You do not want the chocolate to ‘seize” or go grainy. Place this chocolate sauce in a clean, dry airtight jar. Will keep in the fridge for 3-4 weeks. Serve at room temperature or reheat very carefully in a small bowl over simmering water.

To finish: * 300mls cream * 300mls Greek style yogurt * 3 punnets mixed berries; raspberries, strawberries and blueberries

Whip the cream until soft but not too stiff and fold in the yogurt into this gently in a very large bowl. Break up about 1 dozen meringues into 2-3 pieces and add to the creamy mixture with most of the berries. Fold very gently so everything is just combined but not swamped. Serve with the remaining berries and a drizzle of the chocolate sauce over the top. Serves 10.

12 December 2015


I loved the food in Oregon, and this rich chocolate cake is almost brownie like, reminding me of the superb chocolate shops of Portland and of course the superb berries that state is known for. My mother shared this recipe with me and I’ve added more raspberries as raspberry and chocolate is one of my all-time best flavour combinations.

  • 400g caster sugar
  • 200g butter
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsps pure vanilla essence
  • 75g cocoa (Valrhona)
  • 100g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C. Prepare a 22cm square tin by buttering the sides and base and dusting with flour. Shake off any excess flour.

Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until soft and fluffy. Add the eggs, a little at a time with the vanilla and beat well. Sift the cocoa, flour and baking powder together, and fold carefully into the mixture.

Turn half the mixture into the prepared tin. Scatter over half the raspberries, and then top with the remaining mixture. Dot the top with raspberries, and place the pan in the oven.

After 45 minutes, check the cake is cooked by poking the middle with a skewer. If it comes out clean and when the cake has started to pull away from the sides of the tin, remove it from the oven.

Turn out onto a rack and when cool, dust the top with icing sugar.
Serve with freshly whipped cream, or a thick Greek style plain yogurt and raspberry sauce made from 1 cup raspberries pureed with 4 tablespoons sugar.

Cuts into at least 12 pieces.

8 August 2015


  • 1 large leek
  • 50g butter
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 200g baby spinach leaves, washed
  • ½ cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 4 thick slices sourdough bread, crusts removed

For the custard mixture;

  • 200mls milk
  • 150mls cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 75g grated tasty gouda cheese
  • 2 tsps thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Butter an ovenproof casserole or soufflé dish. Preheat the oven to 170C. Slice the leek very finely. Melt the butter in a wide saucepan over gentle heat, add the leeks and cook for 5 minutes until they soften without browning. Add the spinach leaves and toss over the heat until they wilt. Continue to cook for a minute or two so any juices evaporate. Set this aside. Meanwhile bring salted water to the boil and blanch the cauliflower for two minutes. Drain well and add to the leeks and spinach.

Place the eggs, milk, and cream in a large bowl and whisk together. Add the half the grated cheese, feta, thyme, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

Cut the bread into large cubes and fold into the egg mixture with the reserved vegetables. Tip this mixture into the prepared dish, and scatter over the remaining cheese. Allow the dish to sit for about ten minutes so the bread absorbs some of the custard. Bake for about 45 minutes, until it is puffed and golden and still a little moist in the centre.

Serve immediately with a green salad. Serves 4 Wine match; fruity chardonnay

12 July 2015


‘Jelly Tip’ Trifle As it is Jelly-Tip July I have paid homage to this special treat that I have been eating for more than 50 years. The delicious trifle is made in three stages and my dinner guests last night thought it tasted exactly like a Jelly Tip!! Here’s my recipe;

For the Jelly layer: • 1 pkt raspberry jelly crystals • 600mls boiling water • 250g raspberries, fresh or frozen • 8 savoyarde biscuits

For the chocolate custard;

• 6 egg yolks • 4 tbsps sugar • 1 vanilla bean • 200mls cream • 400mls whole milk • 4 tbsps Valrhona cocoa

For the creamy layer and finishing:

• 150 mls cream, whipped • 150 mls Greek yogurt • 3 tbsps Heilala vanilla syrup • Handful of freeze dried raspberries • 4 squares dark chocolate

Dissolve the jelly crystals in the boiling water. Allow this to cool a little, before putting the raspberries into a crystal bowl. Break the savoyarde biscuits into pieces about 5 cm long and lay these on top of the raspberries. Tip the jelly over all this, place the bowl in the fridge so the jelly sets while you make the custard.

To make the custard, beat the yolks and sugar together. Heat the cream and milk with the vanilla bean until it almost simmers. Tip the hot liquid onto the yolk mixture, stirring all the time to make the custard. Rinse out the milk pan, tip the custard back not the pan and over a gentle heat, stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens and coast the back of the spoon. Take off the heat and stir the sifted cocoa in while the custard is still hot. Allow the chocolate custard to cool a little before carefully pouring over the raspberry jelly layer. Cover and refrigerate.

About an hour before serving, whip the cream and add the yogurt. Carefully fold the vanilla syrup through and spoon the creamy mixture on top of the chocolate custard. Decorate by grating some chocolate over the top and chucking a few freeze dried crunchy raspberries over.

Serves 8-10