The dish: The right blend

Chef Donna Hay reckons stick blenders are a must-have for kitchens. And we agree.

They do everything big food processors do but they don't take up an entire cupboard - and there is less cleaning.

Braun's Multiquick Professional gets our vote. It has four attachments - an ice crusher, metal whisk and small and large choppers - which allow you to slice vegetables, puree soup, whisk egg whites and even mix cocktails.

The perfect kitchen addition, it costs $169.95 from leading appliance stores.

Passionate reward

Two years ago, Justine Orme turned her passion for things gourmet into a backyard business. She launched a range of fruit-based chilli sauces, jams and liqueur pates called Fruit'n'fire from a food processing facility she built on her Papakura property.

The range was an instant hit. And now Orme is celebrating after winning a major international award - her Passionate About Chilli sauce has won top honours at the annual Superior Taste Awards in Brussels. The awards, held by by the International Taste and Quality Institute, are judged by some of Europe's top chefs and sommeliers.

42 Below Vodka is the only other New Zealand company to have won the award.

Passionate About Chilli is a passionfruit-based chilli sauce and can be used as a salad dressing, glaze or in a lime sorbet. It is $14.95 for 260ml.

Super saussies

Bean Supreme's new range of vegetarian sausages and tofu chunks had vegetarians whooping with delight when they discovered them at the Food Show.

The sausages come in three flavours: rosemary, sage and parsley; roast red onion and parmesan; and sundried tomato and kalamata olive. Perfect for the barbecue, they're rich in taste and can also be added to pasta, casseroles and risottos.

The tofu chunks - which come in sweet chilli, Asian masala, and soy and ginger flavours - are marinated, diced and lightly fried in vegetable oil. Great cold straight from the pack or added to stirfry and noodle dishes or salads.

$5.99 from supermarkets and food stores.

Currying flavour

The chain of Shahi Indian restaurants is expanding. The fourth eatery has opened in Remuera, offering dine-in, takeaway and deliveries.

Shahi first opened in Ponsonby 17 years ago followed by restaurants in Parnell and Milford.

The new Shahi is at 610 Remuera Rd, ph (09) 523 5496.

Espresso perfection

Here's a chance to learn the art of making a good espresso. Main Course cooking school is running a two-hour barista class on September 18, teaching you how to make the perfect coffee and the difference between a ristretto (the coffee purists' espresso) and a macchiato (espresso with a dollop of foam). Classes are $89. For more information visit the Main Course website.

Catch of the day

Seafood and more seafood is on the menu in Auckland next month.

Chefs will create special dishes and host cooking classes as part of the Auckland Seafood Festival from September 30 to October 1.

There will be a street party on Jellicoe St in front of the Auckland Fish Market (the street will be closed for the event) with seafood tastings and wine/beer matching. Tickets are $20 from Ticketmaster or at the gate.

A VIP lounge will feature demonstrations by chefs preparing seafood dishes. There is also the chance to join seafood cooking classes at the Auckland Fishmarket's Seafood School. VIP tickets are $500 for a table of 10.

Profits will go to charities that benefit fishers and to sea-based search and rescue organisations.

Multicultural performances will be staged in a free family area, and practical demonstrations of handling seafood and food tastings will also be held.

For more information ph (09) 575 0677.

Love-hate dessert

British celebrity chef Gary Rhodes' latest culinary creation will either leave diners cold or hungry for more.

He has created the ultimate love-hate dessert which features a surprise ingredient - Marmite.

The dish combines the aphrodisiac properties of chocolate and icecream with a dash of the salty yeast extract.

It is being served at Michelin-starred Rhodes' Twenty Four restaurant on Old Broad St in London as part of a Marmite menu.

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