cioppino 2

Cioppino is a Californian fish stew, drawing its roots from Italian regional fish soups and stews. It’s delightfully light but satisfying to eat: think paella but without the rice.

The whole idea of a stew like this is to make use of what ingredients you have: vary up the fish and shellfish, the capsicum could be subbed out for fennel, the silverbeet could become cavolo nero.

Lois’ original recipe makes an enormous feast for eight. I’ve given quantities to make enough for four.

Cioppino (adapted slightly from Lois Daish, Good Food, p.24)

olive oil, couple of good sloshes for the pan

1 large onion, chopped

1 red or green pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 can whole tomatoes in juice

1 cup dry red wine or white wine

1 cup fish stock

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary

bunch silverbeet leaves, stems removed, leaves shredded

500gm firm white fish (moki, monkfish, trevally)

12 fresh mussels in the shell

12 fresh clams in the shell

handful fresh parsley, chopped

to serve: crusty baguette (Acme, if you live in Wellington) & lemon 

First make the sauce. In a wide frying pan for which you have a lid, sauté the chopped onion and capsicum until really soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute further before adding the tomatoes, wine, stock, herbs, and seasonings. Bring to boil, then lower heat and leave to simmer while you prepare the seafood.

De-beard the mussels and use a metal scratchy cleaner to clean the outside of the mussel and clam shells. Cut the fish into 3cm pieces.

Once the sauce is starting to thicken, add the silverbeet leaves, arrange the mussels on top, and cover with a lid. Leave to simmer and steam for 3 minutes. Remove lid and add clams and fish; recover the pan with the lid and leave for a further 4-5 minutes. Remove lid; the mussels and clam shells should have opened. If not, place lid back on and leave for further 1-2 minutes.

Once the shells have opened, sprinkle the chopped parsley over the top and take the whole impressive pan to the table: you know what to do next.


Lemon & orange escabeche


Lois’ escabeche is a lovely way to make pan-fried fish just a little bit more interesting. An acidic dressing of lemon and orange juice is combined with white wine, chillies and spring onion. It’s perfect served with some lightly steamed broccoli or new season aspargagus (!!) and steamed or roasted kumara.

Lemon & orange escabeche (Lois Daish, Good Food, 24)

1 orange

1 lemon

1 small chilli

1 small red onion or 3 spring onions

1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup water

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

500g terakihi or gurnard fillets

flour for dusting the fish

oil for frying

Remove the zest from the orange and lemon, cut in half and squeeze out the juice and put together in a bowl. Finely chop the chilli (remove the seeds if you prefer) and onion and add these to the zest and juice, along with the white wine vinegar, wine and water.

Dust the fish fillets in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the fillets for a couple of minutes on one side before turning over. Cook for a further minute and then pour over the marinade. Continue to fry for a further couple of minutes until the marinade is bubbling and has reduced slightly. Remove from the heat and serve. Remember that the fish will continue to cook once the pan has been removed from the heat – don’t overcook it.

Chicken curry sauté with aubergine & coconut cream

dinner at home

After much searching I’ve finally got a complete set of Lois Daish’s cookbooks, along with an archive of most of her Listener articles. It’s such a joy having so many Lois recipes at my finger tips, but it does making choosing which Lois recipes to make each week slightly more complicated. If you are in the market for some Lois Daish books, Dinner at Home comes up for sale on Trade Me every so often and is a fabulous addition to a home cook’s library.

Dinner at Home has a wonderful chapter entitled ‘The many moods of a chicken sauté’, which this recipe comes from. As Lois writes, ‘Chicken curry isn’t a big deal if you use the basic sauté method’. She’s right. This was curry in a hurry, perfect for a weeknight dinner. This dish doesn’t involve chopping and frying off onions and garlic, which makes it super quick. Put some brown basmati rice on to cook before you get started and you’ll have dinner ready in no time.

Chicken curry sauté with aubergine and coconut cream (Lois Daish, Dinner at Home, p. 20)

8 boneless and skinless chicken thighs

1 tablespoon curry powder

salt & freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 medium-sized aubergine, cut into 1cm chunks

2-3 ripe tomatoes, blanched and peeled or a can of tomatoes

1/2 cup coconut cream

freshly squeezed lemon juice

fresh coriander, chopped 

Preheat your oven or a warming draw to a low temperature, which you’ll use it to keep the cooked chicken warm while you cook the sauce. Put the chicken thighs in a bowl and sprinkle with the curry powder and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a frying pan and once it’s hot, add the chicken. Sauté for a couple of minutes before turning over to brown the other side. Add the aubergine and stir to coat it in the spices and oil. Put a lid over the frying pan and leave to cook for about 7 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Remove from the pan and place onto a serving platter and put into the oven or warming drawer. Add the tomatoes to the pan and use a spoon or potato masher to break up. Bring the tomatoes to a simmer and add the coconut cream and reduce down a little to thicken. Add lemon juice to taste to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken and aubergine, sprinkle over some chopped coriander and serve.

Curry of chickpeas, potatoes & currants

photo (9)

Detail of a Geoffrey Notman illustration from Lois Daish ‘Dinner at Home’

Lois’ chickpea, potato and currant curry is quick to prepare and makes an excellent weeknight dinner. Serve it with some basmati rice, some buttered spinach and a dollop of yoghurt on top. This recipe makes enough for two, but can be easily doubled.

Curry of chickpeas, potatoes & currants (Lois Daish, Listener, June 7 2003, p.45)

2 tablespoons oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground in a mortar and pestle

1 large red-skinned potato, skin scrubbed and diced

1 cup water

2 tablespoon dried currants 

300g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed or 250g home-cooked chickpeas

large bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a lidded frying pan or pot and add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook until the onion starts to colour. Add the curry powder and cumin and cook for a further minute then add the potato, water and currants. Season with a little salt, cover the pan with a lid and cook at a gentle simmer until the potato is tender; this will take about 20 minutes. Stir the mixture from time to time and add more water if is starting to stick and the potato isn’t cooked through yet. Once the potato is tender, add the chickpeas and simmer again for a few minutes. Stir through the coriander and serve.

Meatloaf baked in tomato sauce



As fellow Lois Daish fan Lucy Corry recently pointed out in her excellent ‘Three ways with…’ column in the Dominion Post, meatloaf is well overdue for a comeback “not least because a cold meatloaf and chutney sandwich is one of the world’s greatest culinary pleasures.” The joy of Lois’ baked meatloaf in tomato sauce is that you don’t even need the chutney; place slices of leftover meatloaf along with some of the tomato sauce between slices of fresh bread and you’ve got yourself a top rate sandwich.

As well as providing excellent leftovers, Lois’ meatloaf makes a lovely hearty dinner which could be served with some spinach, wilted in a pan and then tossed with extra virgin olive oil. Seeing as you’ve got the oven on already, you could easily bake a couple of Agria potatoes in their skins (scrubbed thoroughly and pricked with a fork) or roast some yams to go alongside.

Meatloaf baked in tomato sauce (adapted slightly from Lois Daish, Dinner at Home, p. 43)


2 free-range eggs

500g beef, lamb or a combination of beef and pork mince

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

2 tablespoon chopped parsley

2 tablespoon grated parmesan 

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons cooking oil

Tomato sauce:

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

500gm fresh tomatoes or 2 x cans of tomatoes (if using canned tomatoes add a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar)

couple of sprigs of fresh thyme (or if making in summer, use a handful of basil leaves)

pinch chilli flakes (optional)

salt and pepper

Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl. Put the minced meat together with the breadcrumbs, parsley, parmesan, salt, and pepper into a large bowl and use your hands to evenly combine. Add the beaten eggs and mix it through. Shape the mixture into four or five small loaves or one large one. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and brown the loaves all over. Carefully lift into a lidded casserole dish.

Make the tomato sauce by gently frying the onion and garlic together until softened. If using fresh tomatoes, you’ll need to blanch the tomatoes in hot water and peel off the skins. If using canned tomatoes, use a potato masher to break them up once you’ve added them to the onions and garlic along with a little sugar. Add the basil or thyme, chilli flakes, a little salt and pepper and simmer for ten minutes before pouring the sauce over the meat loaves. Place the lid on the casserole and bake for 40 minutes, removing the lid after 20 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.

Layered Savoy cabbage, mince & rice

photo (5)
Lois had an academic approach to curating recipes for her Listener column. Often not content with picking up ‘second hand’ recipes, Lois would try and get as close to the source of a recipe as possible. Lois would seek out books on traditional cookery from particular countries and cultural groups, and try out recipes she came across in historical accounts or memoirs. Conversations with friends, neighbours and colleagues about their own food culture was another source of inspiration for Lois, and this Hungarian-derived recipe for layered savoy cabbage with mince and rice came by way of her friend Klara.

Savoy cabbages are such a visually beautiful winter vegetable and in this dish they are really given a starring role. Layers of cabbage are alternated with layers of a gently spiced rice and mince mixture and then baked in the oven until the top layer of cabbage turns deliciously dark brown and crunchy. Once baked, it is served with a squeeze of lemon juice and a dollop of yoghurt on top to make a perfectly balanced ‘one bowl’ dinner.

Layered Savoy cabbage, mince & rice (Klara do Toit & Lois Daish, Listener, July 18 1998)

1 medium Savoy cabbage (about 1kg)

3/4 cup long grain rice

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

300g good quality beef mince

2 teaspoons paprika

generous pinch of caraway seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup beef stock or water

oil for greasing baking dish

1 tablespoon dry breadcrumbs

For serving:

plain unsweetened yoghurt (I use The Collective)

a lemon, cut into quarters

Cut out the core of the cabbage by turning it upside down and cutting in a circle around the core with a small knife. As you do this the outside leaves of the cabbage will fall off. Carry on pulling off the leaves until you get down to the small tight core of the cabbage which can be discarded. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add the cabbage leaves (do this in batches if your pot isn’t large enough). Use a spoon to push the leaves down into the water and and place the lid back on. Once the cabbage leaves have softened (about 3-4 minutes), remove from the water and drain in a colander.

Wash the rice in a sieve and put in a covered saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of cold water. Bring to the boil and then turn right down to low and cook until all of the water is absorbed; about 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the rice on the still warm element.

Preheat oven to 190°C (fan bake setting). Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes before adding the beef mince. Continue to cook (stirring to break up any lumps) until the beef is no longer pink, then add the paprika, caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Add the beef stock and cook until it has been absorbed – this will take about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Brush an ovenware dish (approximately 25 x 18cm) with oil and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Spread a double layer of cabbage leaves in the dish, then a thin layer of the rice mixture. Repeat the layering two or three times finishing with cabbage leaves on top. Bake for about 45 minutes. To serve, cut into squares and serve with a dollop of yoghurt on top and a wedge of lemon on the side to squeeze over top.

Pumpkin, onion, and lemon kedgeree


Smoked fish seemed like such an integral ingredient to kedgeree that I really couldn’t imagine it without. Let alone imagine that kedgeree might even be better with pumpkin than smoked fish. At best, I thought, this was a good recipe to have up my sleeve for times when something comforting and substantial is needed for dinner but there isn’t much besides a wedge of pumpkin lurking in the fridge.

When Queen of Kedgeree Kelda Hains (and co-owner of the unsurpassable Nikau Cafe) mentioned pumpkin kedgeree as one of Lois’ recipes that she continues to make, I knew beyond doubt that it was going to be good. But not only is it good, pumpkin kedgeree is delicious. I still love smoked fish kedgeree but there is definitely a place for both.

Pumpkin, onion, and lemon kedgeree (adapted slightly from Lois Daish, Dinner at Home, p. 98)

1 1/2 cups basmati rice

4 tablespoons butter

2 onions, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

750g Crown pumpkin (grey-skinned), deseeded, peeled, and chopped into 1cm pieces

2 tablespoons curry powder

juice of 2 lemons

1/2 cup water

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

juice of 1 lemon

handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

Accompaniments to serve with the kedgeree (some, or all of the following):

Lemon wedges

Unsweetened yoghurt with some chopped fresh mint and black pepper stirred through

Sliced hard boiled eggs

Finely chopped spring onions


A salad of diced tomato, cucumber

To prepare the rice:

Start off by cooking the rice. Rinse the rice in a sieve until the water runs clear. Put into a medium sized saucepan with a lid and add 3 cups of cold water. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat right down to low. With the lid on the pan continue cooking the rice until most of the water has evaporated and there are little ‘tunnels’ on the surface. Turn off the heat and leave the rice on the element with the lid on. Leave for 15 minutes and then turn out into a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Once cool enough use your hands to break up any lumps of rice.

To make the kedgeree:

Melt the butter in a very large frying pan and add the diced onion. Fry gently for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the chopped garlic and fry for a couple more minutes. Add the diced pumpkin and sprinkle over the curry powder and continue to fry for another couple of minutes. Squeeze over the lemon juice, add the water and season well with salt and pepper. Lower the heat and cover the pan.

Cook gently until the pumpkin is tender; carefully stir the pumpkin every now and again to ensure it cook evenly. Test a piece of pumpkin to see if it’s ready; it should be soft but still holding its shape. Add the rice to the pan and carefully turn and stir the rice into the curried vegetable mixture until all of the grains are golden. Squeeze over the juice of the remaining lemon, grind over more black pepper and sprinkle with parsley before serving with your chosen condiments.

Lois & Karen Speer (and Lois’ firehouse chilli beans)

photo (3)

My mum has never been one to shy away from a dried legume. It wasn’t unusual for our family to eat curries and savoury loaves combining lentils and vegetables, or shepherd’s pie and nachos made with kidney beans. My family wasn’t vegetarian but enjoyed eating this way and certainly didn’t feel that anything was lacking from these well-made meat-free meals. I didn’t realise that not everyone ate this way until I went flatting and found that for most people, shepherd’s pie and nachos meant mince.

When I asked mum about her favourite Lois recipes, firehouse chilli beans was one of the first that she mentioned. When I was young and we lived out in the wops an hour’s drive away from the nearest supermarket, meals like this that could be thrown together from pantry staples were essential.

Despite the name, firehouse chilli beans isn’t actually that spicy but has a lovely depth of flavour from the spices and herbs that are gently fried together with the onions. Firehouse chilli beans has a comforting quality and there’s something lovely about a bowl of rice with a dollop of spiced bright red tomato sauce studded with beans topped with grated cheese and a dollop of sour cream. A coleslaw made from finely sliced red cabbage, grated carrot, fresh coriander, spring onion and dressed with some extra virgin olive oil, lime juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper and a pinch of sugar is a perfect accompaniment.

Firehouse chilli beans (Lois Daish, Good Food, p. 139)

1 cup of dried red kidney beans or 2 cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I have also used black beans instead and they work well, too)

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped

1/2 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of cumin or 1/2 – 1 teaspoon chilli powder, depending on how fiery you want it

1 teaspoon paprika

1 can tomatoes in juice

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon fine cornmeal

grated cheese & sour cream to serve

To prepare the dried beans (if using):

Rinse the beans and cover with cold water and leave to soak overnight or for most of the day. Drain off the soaking water and replace with fresh water. Put in a large pot and bring to the boil and simmer until tender; this will take anything from one hour to two hours, so best to do it ahead of time.

To make the firehouse chilli beans:

Warm the oil in a good heavy pot, add the onion and garlic and fry gently until softened. Add the herbs and spices and gently fry for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the canned tomatoes and tomato paste and use a potato masher or fork to break the tomatoes up. Stir in the cornmeal. Simmer for 15 minutes before adding the cooked beans and heat gently. Firehouse chilli beans tastes better after a resting period, so pop a lid on and set it aside while you prepare the coleslaw. Taste the beans and add more cayenne or chilli if you like.

Fish steamed with broccoli

Barbara henderson broccoli

Broccoli illustration by Barbara Henderson, Good Food, p. 132.

One of the first meals I learnt to make was a one pan dinner: an Alison Holst recipe comprising mince, frozen peas, a can of condensed tomato soup and dried pasta. As constantly hungry teenagers, my sister and I made this ‘hearty’ dish repeatedly on our weekly cooking nights until mum could bear it no longer and it was banned from the kitchen. If only I had known about Lois’ own version of a ‘one pan dinner’ to substitute in its place.

Lois’ fish steamed with broccoli is a lovely healthy and fresh-tasting dinner in which everything is cooked together in the same pan. Simple to make, hardly any dishes to do afterwards and, most importantly, it’s really delicious.

Fish steamed with broccoli (Lois Daish, Good Food, p. 24-5)

1 tablespoon olive oil

500gm fresh boneless fillets of firm white fish (I used gurnard)

1 cup of water

1 head broccoli, cut into florets 

small bunch of spring onions, sliced

Some, or all of the following ingredients:

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 small carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 small leek, washed and sliced

2 rashers bacon, finely diced

fresh herbs – parsley, thyme, or oregano

freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy based wide saucepan. Add whatever ingredients from the list you have on hand and fry together gently until the mixture softens and takes on a golden tint. Add a cup of cold water and lay the fillets of fish on top. Arrange the broccoli and spring onions over the top, cover with a lid and cook gently for about 5 minutes until the fish is opaque and broccoli is bright green and still crunchy. Serve immediately with boiled potatoes, plain rice or some crusty bread.

Afghan sweet poached pumpkin & simple pilaf

good food pumpkin illustration

Barbara Henderson’s wonderful cucurbits illustration from Good Food, p. 66.

After the recent floods in Dunedin, my mum was helping her friend to clear up the ground floor of his water-damaged house and came across a stack of old Cuisine magazines. Sitting on top of a soggy pile of back issues was a completely dry magazine from 2009 with ‘Lois Daish does dinner’ emblazoned across the front cover. Mum excitedly told me about it and posted it up to me; we both know the value of a undiscovered Lois recipe.

In that flood-spared magazine Lois gives recipes for a simple and delicious dinner at home; a snapshot of what she was cooking and eating at that time. Among these recipes was one for Afghan sweet poached pumpkin which Lois recommends serving alongside simple pilaf.

A small list of inexpensive ingredients and simple cooking methods creates two unexpectedly delicious dishes; the flavour of the pumpkin really shines and is lifted by the dollop of garlic-spiked yoghurt on top. The pilaf has a lovely toasted flavour which comes from the frying of the rice before it is cooked in liquid. Served with some wilted spinach, Afghan sweet poached pumpkin and simple pilaf make for a really lovely and comforting dinner.

Afghan sweet poached pumpkin (Lois Daish, ‘Lois Daish does dinner’, Cuisine 134, May 2009, p. 92).

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup water

500g crown pumpkin (grey-skinned) or buttercup, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-3cm chunks

1/2 cup thick plain unsweetened yoghurt (I use The Collective brand)

1 clove garlic, crushed to a paste with salt

1 lemon, cut into wedges

Place the butter in a wide saucepan or deep frying pan over a medium heat until melted and then add the onion and fry until just starting to colour. Season with salt and pepper and add the sugar and water. Bring to the boil and add the pumpkin, preferably in a single layer. Cover with a lid and simmer gently until the the pumpkin is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. This process will take quite a while, but you can get on with preparing the rice pilaf and green vegetables in the meantime. Combine the yoghurt and garlic. Serve the pumpkin and its sauce in a warmed serving bowl and spoon the yoghurt over the top. Serve the lemon wedges in a small bowl on the side and squeeze over the top of the pumpkin and rice as you eat.

Simple pilaf (Lois Daish, ‘Lois Dais does dinner’, Cuisine 134, May 2009, p.92).

1 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 small onion, finely diced

1 1/2 cups jasmine or basmati rice (I used brown basmati)

3 cups water or chicken stock

1 bay leaf

a few thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt (unless the stock you are using is salty)

Put the oil and butter in a medium-sized heavy saucepan over a gentle heat and add the onion. Fry until the onion is translucent and then add the rice (no need to wash it first). Continue to gently fry for a couple of minutes, stirring it often. Add the water, stock, bay leaf and thyme. Taste the cooking liquid and add some salt if needed.

Simmer uncovered until the liquid is almost absorbed and then cover the pan, lower the heat and cook for a further 10 minutes until the rice is almost tender. Turn the heat off and leave the rice in the covered saucepan for another 15 minutes until it is tender and fluffy.