Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fast Pulled Pork

When I have large groups of people over, I generally like to keep it simple. If there's anything I've learned from past experience, it's that no one likes a tired host. 

Pulled pork. In the background: tortillas and buns
This is why I have slowly moved away from cooking Chinese food (where you can end up cooking upwards of 10 dishes -eek!) and towards more DIY type meals where my guests can construct their own. 

Pulled pork, served with Chinese steamed buns
Pulled Pork is one of these gems. This one simple dish has the ability to feed so many people in a variety of ways - in tacos, tortillas, on pizzas or even served in steamed buns!

Step 1: Rub the spice mix over the pork pieces
Thanks to the editors America's Test Kitchen and their wonderful book "Pressure Cooker Perfection", I don't have to wait 7 or 8 hours for delicious pork from a slow cooker. Just 2 hours in my pressure cooker produces the same result. The only difference is that I am more relaxed by the end of the cooking process!

Step 3: Pork ready to be added to the pressure cooker
This recipe produces a massive amount of pulled pork. Even if you have a large group, you will be guaranteed leftovers. Don't worry though, this just means pulled pork pizza the next day -trust me, I've never heard Jason complain about too much pulled pork!

What are your go-tos for large dinner parties? Do you prefer something quick and less labour intensive?

Fast Pulled Pork
Adapted from "Pressure Cooker Perfection" by the Editors at America's Test Kitchen


3 Tbs packed brown sugar
3 Tbs smoked paprika
2 Tbs red chili flakes
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 kg boneless pork shoulder roast, trimmed and cut into 4 pieces
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup your favourite BBQ sauce


1. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, paprika, chili flakes, cumin, salt and pepper. Rub it evenly over the pork pieces and set aside.
2. In the pressure cooker, mix together the cider vinegar, water and ketchup. 
3. Add the pork pieces to the pot, lock the lid and cook on high. Once pressure is reached, cook on medium-low or low for about 40 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to maintain high pressure.
4. Remove the pressure cooker from the heat and carefully remove the lid once all remaining pressure is released.
5. Move the pork pieces to a large dish and let cool slightly. Shred into bite sized pieces.
6. Skim off any excess fat from the remaining sauce and pour into a small saucepan. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat while whisking through the BBQ sauce. Cook until the sauce has reduced to about 2 cups and pour over the shredded pork.
7. Serve the pork in tacos with coleslaw, over pizza or in steamed buns. The possibilities are endless!

This post is a very last minute addition to Our Growing Edge (April 2015) which is hosted by Nikki at Everyday Life Mother and Wife, an event that aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. I'm so excited to be a part of it!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Grateful for Sundays 03

This Sunday I am grateful for the ANZACs...

Between 2014 and 2018, New Zealand and Australia commemorate 100 years since our involvement with World War I. Jason's poppa is among the many who show up every year to remember those who have fought for their country.

Orewa ANZAC Service
Up until a couple of years ago, Anzac day didn't really mean much to me. Having no family members connected to the event, it was really just a long weekend for me.

White Crosses at Orewa RSA
Now it means attending the service along with Jason's grandparents and listening to some great stories afterwards.

What are you grateful for this Sunday?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Grateful for Sundays 02

This Sunday, I am grateful for...

Bicycle tours at Aotea Square
A lot of my recent roading projects have been to improve the Auckland CBD for cyclists. It is very satisfying to see large groups of cyclists getting together to explore the city they would otherwise miss if they were in their vehicles. 

Fluffy, Oscar and Toby
My mother tells me that the reason I never had a pet as a child is because they are dirty. When I moved out, Jason told me that pets need responsible owners. I'm not sure if that meant he approved of me as a responsible owner or if it was just an excuse to have a human only house -so I got two guinea pigs named Toby and Oscar.

We got them from my friend Asia who, at one point, had about 15 pigs and was desperately trying to give them away. They each have their own individual personalities and it's funny to watch their chubby bodies waddle around the place.

Here they are, having a play date with Fluffy.

My grandma turned 75 last yesterday. We celebrated with a dinner at my uncle's house. Tomorrow, she will turn 75.005479 and we will celebrate with a dinner out.

Grandma has 2 birthdays every year (one for the lunar calendar and one for the normal calendar). It's a long story, but I certainly don't complain because it means 2 nights of celebrations!

This cost me less than $6
Lastly, I am grateful for supermarket specials. It probably doesn't make me the most exciting person, but I am certainly grateful that I can buy this much healthy food for less than the price of a return bus trip into the CBD.

What are you grateful for this week?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Grateful for Sundays 01

I realised the other day that I hadn't been outside in a while. I mean, I had been outdoors -I had physically stepped outside to travel to work, shop for groceries and collect the mail, but I hadn't actually experienced outside. Between work and running errands, I was always in a rush and never stopped for a rest. Sunday seems to be the only day where the world stops for a little while and there is a moment of peace before the madness begins again.

This is why I am starting a new weekly segment on my blog called "Grateful For Sundays.

Grateful For Sundays captures moments throughout the week where I have taken the time to stop, take a deep breath, and appreciate the little moments that can get lost in all the hurry.

Takapuna Beach
My first picture is taken on Takapuna Beach. With daylight savings now officially over, dog owners can take their pets on to the beach at any time of the day instead of getting up at ungodly hours or waiting until after 7pm. I don't have a dog of my own, so I love watching them running along with their owners and swimming out into the ocean to fetch sticks.

I find that lighting candles and fresh flowers around the house can boost your mood instantly. I bought these candles from the Wellington Underground Market a few weeks ago and have placed them in the kitchen and bathrooms. They make our rooms smell wonderful - even when they're unlit! I picked up the flowers while I was grocery shopping and I love how they add a pop of colour to the house.

Quiet time is hard to come by in our house. The television is usually playing in the background or someone is playing music out of the stereo. This is mostly my fault because I like to do housework with background noise. 

Yesterday, Jason and the Doctor went out to watch the rugby and I was left alone with a few hours to spare before our dinner guests arrived. The house was completely silent and it was weird

Once the shock wore off, I got out my chamomile tea and started a mega-crossword. Without the background noise, I heard birds chirping outside. 

So these are the little moments from this week that brought joy. What are some things you are grateful for?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Sails Restaurant, Auckland

Just over a month ago, Jason and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary and decided to go to the fanciest Auckland restaurant we could think of - Sails. 

Unlike the other restaurants that had popped up in Auckland in the recent years, Sails has been around for as long as I can remember. It doesn't do fusion or twists on old favourites -it just does good food. 

Peach Bellini - $18.50, Three Boys Brewery Wheat Beer - $15.50
I started the night off with a Peach Bellini made with a Cloudy Bay Pelorus. Although I couldn't see any peach puree in the glass, the flavour was definitely there. Jason opted for a Wheat Beer from Three Boys Brewery. 

Beef Carpaccio - $21.00
Entrees were quick to come. When the Beef Carpaccio arrived, it looked almost too good to eat! The thinly sliced beef had a smooth, melting texture while the capers and parmesan provided the salt. The micro salad gave the dish a nice freshness while fried onion pieces added a more earthy flavour.

Spiced Crayfish and Coconut Broth - $19.00
I am a huge sucker for crayfish bisque so I was very excited when our waiter listed the soup of the day. The flavour of the broth was intense, but very well balanced - the addition of coriander cut through the creaminess. Prawns and scallops slowly emerged as I drank the broth. Both were deliciously plump. My only complaint is that the bottom of the soup bowl was flat and it was hard to get the last few spoonfuls of broth!

Free Range Chicken - $38.00
The chicken breast was very tender and flavoured with a salty jus and serrano ham. The real star of this dish, however, was the forest mushroom risotto -it was cooked al-dente and each mouthful had an equal amount of mushroom and rice. The porcini powder further intensified its earthy flavour.

Hawkes Bay Lamb - $39.00
Jason's lamb dish looked like a piece of art. Balanced carefully on some roasted vegetables and nestled between dollops of pumpkin puree was the most tender pieces of lamb we had ever eaten. The saltiness of the jus and olives offset the creamy sweetness of the pumpkin puree. 

Baked Lemon Cream - $17.00
To finish, we ordered the baked lemon cream. To be prefectly honest, we were both incredibly full by this stage but didn't have the will to pass up the notion of dessert. The staff had also cottoned on to the fact we were on our anniversary, so our plate arrived with something special.

Like our other dishes, the flavours were intense -although, this time, they were a little too lemony. The circles of lemon cream were my favourite while I found the sorbet too acidic for my liking. 

By the time dessert had arrived, the sun had set and we were greeted with a beautiful view of the waterfront all lit up. One of the best things about Sails Restaurant is the amazing view from its position at the foot of the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Naturally, we went for a stroll to walk off our massive dinner.

Sails is not somewhere you visit every day -I reserve it for very very special occasions only. While it is on the pricier side, I would argue that it is a bargain for what you get.

Sails Restaurant is located at: 103-113 Westhaven Drive, Westhaven Marina, Auckland