Summer is officially over but, hopefully, there will still be plenty of beautiful autumn days to make the most of.
It was only a week or so ago that we were swimming on Waiheke Island. The water was a little nippy but invigorating and kept us moving. A swim to the end of the beach and back helped work up an appetite. Back on the beach, we dried off in the sunshine and then tucked into our delicious picnic. Food had never tasted so good.
Picnics are fun - whether it's pot luck, a planned gourmet feast, or simply a block of pate, a stick of French bread and a bottle of something to match. (Cider is proving popular with my crowd at the moment.)
Bacon and egg pie is a Kiwi classic. It has been appearing at our picnics for as long as I can remember - at the pony club, surf club, hunting or hiking. We all have our own magic ingredients and flavours we like to add (often depending on what is in the fridge).
Puff pastry or savoury short pastry are a great standby in the freezer for this occasion. Serve your pie with fresh greens picked from the garden, or a tomato salad.
The wonderful flavours of our duck noodle salad bring summer screaming back - light and so tasty, with lots of fresh coriander and a hint of chilli. This is a great way of making two duck legs go a long way. The five spice rubbed on the duck before cooking has a subtle flavour. Of course, you could make this with chicken, but duck is easy to find on the shelves at most supermarkets now.
In my fruit bowl recently there was a bunch of rather sad-looking bananas waiting to be put to use. As they ripen they get so sweet, so what better than to transform them into a tasty, soft loaf? Soaked and pureed dates add texture and sweetness, and I have included agave syrup, which you can find at your supermarket.
This loaf is quick to make and keeps well in an airtight container, making it perfect for packed lunches and snacks. If you are serving this on plates, a great big dollop of Greek yoghurt is a fabulous finishing touch.
• Cheesy bacon and egg pie