Kiwi with a twist
Brandy snaps, sponge cake, lamb and mussels have been favourites with many generations of New Zealanders. But over the years influences from international cuisines have subtly changed their character.
Brandy snaps — also a popular sweet treat in England — do not contain brandy and the origin of the name is unclear. The recipe has been around since the 1800s and they are sometimes called fairings in Britain because they were often made and sold at fairs or markets.
Although I know several cooks who enjoy making sponge cakes, I usually opt for the supermarket varieties and dress them up. A true sponge is prepared from flour, sugar and eggs. When butter or other fat is added it becomes a ‘Victoria’ sponge named after Queen Victoria who enjoyed the same delight nearly every day at afternoon tea.
Roast leg of lamb is another English tradition but as prices soar so does our choice of cut. A rack is popular because it takes just 15 to 20 minutes to cook and is easy to carve.
Mussels which grew wild on rocks were — up until the 1960s — harvested by hand. Then dredging took over until the seabeds in the Tasman and the Hauraki Gulf were cleaned out. The first farmed mussels went on sale in the 1970s. The green lipped mussel is the most popular. They’re a relatively inexpensive source of protein, omega 3 and other nutrients.
Rather than vanilla essence and icing sugar, the cream for the brandy snaps can be flavoured with ½ cup lemon curd or 3 tablespoons Kahlua. Get the recipe
The vegetables form the dips for these roast lamb cutlets. Get the recipe
I used a double sponge purchased from the supermarket. Get the recipe