Minimum effort, maximum effect

EASY-PEASY: Dried apricots with basil cream cheese and honey roasted almonds.
Better than a Bought One — Clever Recipes and Ideas for Home-grown Celebrations
By Jo Seagar
Published by Random House
RRP: $50
Jo Seagar.

‘Cook of the Nation’ Jo Seagar shows ordinary Kiwis how they can put on great celebration events with minimum effort and maximum effect in her new book Better than a Bought One . . .

From a baby shower to a 21st, an office shout to a winter dinner party, from a high tea to a wedding, Jo Seagar creates great recipes and tips so you can celebrate in style, without breaking the bank.

There’s even a chapter on holding a winter bonfire party for Matariki which symbolises the start of the Maori New Year.

Seagar suggests a bonfire at the beach with Kiwi treats like whitebait morsels, smoked mussels wrapped in bacon, pipi fritters and hokey pokey pavlova.

And no celebrations book would be complete without Christmas — but this one is a Kiwi Christmas at the beach.
Seagar — dubbed “cook of the nation” by Next magazine — is a hugely successful bestselling cookbook author and TV cook, famed for her catch-cries of ‘Easy peasy’ and ‘Maximum effect for minimum effort’.

Trained as a cordon bleu chef in Paris and London, for many years Seagar was a columnist for North & South magazine, while running popular Hartley’s restaurant in Auckland. She also wrote for the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly.

Real Food for Real People saw her move into television, and this series was followed by Jo Seagar Cooks, bringing the chef known for her pearls and her “easy-peasy” catch-cry to a wider audience.

Her promotion of fresh local ingredients with cooking that should be “a doddle”, combined with her humorous down-to-earth approach, has endeared her to the nation, with the first edition of her classic You Shouldn’t Have Gone to So Much Trouble, Darling selling over 70,000 copies.

A real sense of joy and passion infuses her approach to cooking.
“There’s a lot more to food than getting nutrients,” says Seagar.

As well as her trademark books on stress-free entertaining, she has written cookbooks for novice cooks and for children.

North & South wrote of her TV series Jo Seagar Cooks: ‘Wholesome, hearty, delicious, do-able . . . Jo Seagar’s culinary style is instantly recognisable . . .

The Weekend Herald wrote Seagar was “ahead of the curve in the whole seasonal/local/simple food-done-well philosophy”.

‘Cook of the Nation’ Jo Seagar shows ordinary Kiwis how they can put on great celebration events with minimum effort and maximum effect in her new book Better than a Bought One . . .

From a baby shower to a 21st, an office shout to a winter dinner party, from a high tea to a wedding, Jo Seagar creates great recipes and tips so you can celebrate in style, without breaking the bank.

There’s even a chapter on holding a winter bonfire party for Matariki which symbolises the start of the Maori New Year.

Seagar suggests a bonfire at the beach with Kiwi treats like whitebait morsels, smoked mussels wrapped in bacon, pipi fritters and hokey pokey pavlova.

And no celebrations book would be complete without Christmas — but this one is a Kiwi Christmas at the beach.
Seagar — dubbed “cook of the nation” by Next magazine — is a hugely successful bestselling cookbook author and TV cook, famed for her catch-cries of ‘Easy peasy’ and ‘Maximum effect for minimum effort’.

Trained as a cordon bleu chef in Paris and London, for many years Seagar was a columnist for North & South magazine, while running popular Hartley’s restaurant in Auckland. She also wrote for the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly.

Real Food for Real People saw her move into television, and this series was followed by Jo Seagar Cooks, bringing the chef known for her pearls and her “easy-peasy” catch-cry to a wider audience.

Her promotion of fresh local ingredients with cooking that should be “a doddle”, combined with her humorous down-to-earth approach, has endeared her to the nation, with the first edition of her classic You Shouldn’t Have Gone to So Much Trouble, Darling selling over 70,000 copies.

A real sense of joy and passion infuses her approach to cooking.
“There’s a lot more to food than getting nutrients,” says Seagar.

As well as her trademark books on stress-free entertaining, she has written cookbooks for novice cooks and for children.

North & South wrote of her TV series Jo Seagar Cooks: ‘Wholesome, hearty, delicious, do-able . . . Jo Seagar’s culinary style is instantly recognisable . . .

The Weekend Herald wrote Seagar was “ahead of the curve in the whole seasonal/local/simple food-done-well philosophy”.

Dried apricots with basil cream cheese and honey roasted almonds

These are very popular nibbles and easy to prepare in advance. Jo recommends using Central Otago dried apricots, as they have the best flavour.

Ingredients:

50 plump dried apricots
250g softened or spreadable cream cheese 8–10 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped, or substitute 1 teaspoon dried basil salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
50 roasted salted almonds
liquid honey to drizzle over, about 2 teaspoons

Method:

  • Spread the apricots out on a bench or board.
  • Using a fork, beat the cream cheese, chopped basil and salt and pepper together until creamy and well mixed.
  • Using a round-ended butter knife, spread a small dollop of cream cheese mixture onto each apricot half. Press a roasted almond on top and place on a serving platter.
  • Just before serving, drizzle over a tiny splash of honey. A little squeeze bottle is ideal for doing this. You only need a little, not a drenching, as you want to prevent them being too sticky for guests.
  • A wee sprig of fresh basil is good for a garnish.


Makes: 50.
Preparation time: 10 minutes

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