When asked to describe my cooking style, I despair a little. I often think I'd be a better cook if I had more time, or if I used my enormous collection of cookbooks a bit more.
The truth is I end up being a very throw-together cook. If I think there's nothing in the fridge or pantry, I pride myself on getting creative and being able to produce something tasty for dinner. I go for fresh, quality ingredients. I'd rather eat meat once a week and have it better quality than cheaper stuff more often. I care about where my food comes from, and I'm guided heavily by what's in season.
I get excited by vegetables, and I love learning new ways to cook them. I've always been inspired in my cooking by other cultures and, at present, I'm going through a huge Middle Eastern phase. I've got a Lebanese cookbook I've been thrashing to pieces. I love flavour and I especially love simple twists, like the addition of a fresh herb or spice or nut or seed to totally transform something from okay to really great.
Sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed and sometimes I get food fatigue. We have so much choice I sometimes simply cannot decide. On nights like that unless I get a last-minute invite to someone's house for dinner, I'll eat just an entire head of broccoli, roasted, or a spaghetti and cheese toastie. I really love going out for a meal, whether it's to someone's house or eating out - cafes, Malaysian, casual bistros, fine dining (when the opportunities arise).
I think it's important to think about balance when cooking and eating and it's important to not take it all too seriously. I figure that if I want to spend a day in the kitchen tackling recipes, I'll go to one of my books. But if I'm flicking through the Sunday paper I'll want simple, tasty, accessible ideas. So that's what you'll hopefully find with my column. I'm constantly searching for inspiration - on the internet, on restaurant menus and from other people.
And a bit about me. I began my food blog Heartbreak Pie four years ago when I was a graduate lawyer living in Wellington.
I had always loved eating and cooking and writing, so it seemed like a natural thing to do. Writing that blog has led to many incredible eating experiences, including the time I ate 17 burgers on 17 dates in 17 consecutive days for the Wellington on a Plate festival.
For a couple of years I would take mornings off from work to cook regularly on the Good Morning show, as well as write freelance pieces for magazines. I loved Wellington but was ready to leave after seven years and I returned to my hometown Auckland a couple of years ago. I quit my job as a lawyer last year to pursue food and writing full time and since then have designed and thrown lots of dinner parties for people, started writing regularly for Metro magazine, and I continue updating the blog, when I get round to it. I'm often instagramming my breakfast (@delaneymes) and bleating about food and other rubbish on twitter (@heartbreakpie). I love talking about food, so as you can probably imagine, I'm very excited to be here.
In today's recipes, you'll see a lot of crossover; the same herb or ingredient used in more than one place. I love having something like a herb link its way through a meal. These are all pretty simple but by adding a dressing to your roast vegetables or chopped nuts to your greens, you'll have a super tasty and simple dinner in no time.