As part of a New Year’s resolution, I’m cooking a dish from each country around the world. Check out my progress here!
From Australia, we move on (appropriately) to New Zealand!
Now as with Australia, my knowledge of New Zealand has been greatly influenced by popular culture (the way I interact with the world in many ways) — specifically that of Lord of the Rings. Once upon a time, I was in love with Orlando Bloom and consequently obsessed with LOTR.
Watching many hours of behind the scenes footage was (I think) my first exposure to New Zealand… or at least to the landscape and beauty of the country. I would also have to say that another New Zealand pop culture reference in my life is Whale Rider, which introduced me to Maori culture, something that is important when discussing New Zealand cuisine.
Besides Lord of the Rings, the only thing I really knew about New Zealand was that there are more sheep than people… a fact that is probably a myth, but nevertheless there are a lot of sheep compared to people (as a result, lamb is quite popular!). A popular lamb preparation is Colonial goose, where the leg of lamb is deboned and stuffed with honey and dried apricots and marinated red wine (which sounds amazing).
Here is what I learned about New Zealand cuisine:
The Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, often cook their food using heated rocks buried in a pit oven, known as hangi.
They are thought to have brought the popular root vegetable, Kumara, to the country. It is a variety of sweet potato and used frequently in Maori cuisine.
Two well-known Maori dishes include the boil-up, a soup of pork, potatoes, kumara and dumplings, and pork and puha (or sow thistle).
The ANZAC cookies, that I discussed in relation to Australia, are also popular here. Another cookie, most likely popular in both countries, is called Afghan biscuits. These cookies are made with cornflakes and cocoa (among the normal baking ingredients) and are iced and topped with half a walnut.
Another New Zealand dessert is Lolly Cake in which chopped marshmallows are incorporating into a batter of malt biscuits, melted butter and condensed milk. The cake is rolled in coconut and refrigerated until set.
I also came across a few confections native to New Zealand (and Australia):
– Jaffas – round orange flavored chocolates commonly sold in movie theaters.
– Chocolate fish – fish shaped chocolate coated marshmallows; term used in the phrase, “Give that kid a chocolate fish” to reward someone for a job well done.
– Pineapple lumps – chocolate candy with a pineapple flavored chewy interior.
Candy in other countries is always very interesting to me!
But, I chose to make Pavlova, which I never knew is considered the national dish of New Zealand. It is named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova and was served to her originally in the1920s when she was touring the country.
This dessert is made of a meringue crust topped with whipped cream and fruit – traditionally in New Zealand this would be kiwis and strawberries!
I also decided to add cactus pear to the fruit topping. I picked up this fruit randomly at Eataly in an attempt to eat more fruit, not really knowing how to eat it, open it or use it.
After some googling, I learned it’s the most invasive weed ever imported into Australia so using it atop this Pavlova seemed appropriate!
I should also note this dessert was quite frustrating to make! It’s not for the faint of heart apparently. (But more on that later).
4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp vanilla extract
sliced kiwis, cactus pear & strawberries (optional)
mini chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees F. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw a 9-inch circle on the paper.
Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 1 minute. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 2 minutes. Sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites. Add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula.
Pile the meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it within the circle, making a rough disk. Bake for 1½ hours.
Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
Top with whip cream, fruit and mini chocolate chips and enjoy.
Use a serrated knife to gently saw slices. Store leftovers in a covered container.
- 4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- sliced kiwis, cactus pear & strawberries (optional)
- mini chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees F. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw a 9-inch circle on the paper.
- Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 1 minute. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 2 minutes. Sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites. Add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula.
- Pile the meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it within the circle, making a rough disk. Bake for 1½ hours.