Sarah Tuck's got a great name for an author of a food blog. Her own, From The Kitchen, might have in another life have been named 'S.tuck in The Kitchen', or maybe even 'Sarah Tuck(s) In'. Puns aside, it's not just her name that lends itself to writing and creating food. Sarah has a natural talent for combining flavours interestingly, and photographing the results with originality and class, some of which can be found in the current and next issue of Dish magazine.
She's going to be a regular contributor online too, so we thought it high-time we got to know this ex-boot camp manager, food stylist, photographer, cook and mother of two a little better.
How did From The Kitchen come about?
I started From the Kitchen whilst working for Annabel Langbein. I really enjoyed the creative aspects of my job there, developing recipes, styling and doing the odd bit of photography, and wanted to have the opportunity to share my own ideas and recipes with people 'from the kitchen', which is where I was always working! It gave me a really good chance to practice and hone my skills with both styling and photography.
Which recipe are you most proud of?
Tricky question! It would have to be the one that has had the most views on my blog: Fragrant Spiced Indian Vegetable and Lentil Soup, it gave me so much confidence to know that people were using, and enjoying my recipes. I especially love the combination of spices with the mellow vegetables and lentils, finished with the zing of lemon and mint.
What do you find to be the biggest challenges in writing and creating recipes?
The biggest problem is finding the time to do them all! I have so many ideas in my head, but it is just not in my nature to cook something and take a quick snap. I have to find to the time to cook, style and photograph each recipe, and of course write the recipes up as fully as I can, so that they are clear and easy to follow.
What’s your earliest cooking memory?
Funnily enough my earliest kitchen memory is of doing the dishes on a stool at my grandmother's when I can't have been more than three years old. The next kitchen memory is of burning the tips of my fingers from sneaking bacon out of the frying pan when I was about five, and it's not until I was about eight years old that I remember actually cooking - making slices, biscuits and cakes with Mum. The bits I remember most were licking the wooden spoon and crossing our fingers when she put anything in the oven...she has never liked cooking!
What’s in your fridge at the moment?
Oohh, blushing, this is like when I was a personal trainer and people used to look in my trolley at the supermarket and I would be busy hiding anything naughty! At the moment there is left over slow cooked lamb with pappardelle, brie de meaux, Piako natural yoghurt, lots of salad greens, duck breasts, home-made onion jam, prunes soaking in sherry and the remains of yesterday's pancetta, onion and three cheese tart. Oh - and also the last of the pea and ham soup...lots of lovely left-overs to use up!
If you had to only eat the cuisine of one country, which would you choose?
This is an evil question...unthinkable - one of the things I love about New Zealand is our diverse cuisine! But if I had to choose...French, as I love the range of simple to complex flavours and recipes, the use of fresh seasonal produce, and I'm not averse to the accompanying red wine.
What are your food related pet peeves?
My pet food peeves would have to be dry, over cooked-meat, and flavours that don't match. I always think in my head about flavours that 'play nicely' together and find jarring notes really off-putting. For cooks who find that flavour matching difficult I would highly recommend The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Senit - it's also a great way to get creative in the kitchen with loads of wonderful ideas.
What's the best dish you’ve eaten in the past year?
The best dish I've eaten this year was at All'Osteria Bottega in Bologna, Italy, with my husband. We had the most beautiful meal of simple artichoke hearts marinated in olive oil with rosemary and thinly sliced prosciutto, followed by spring lasagne with slow-cooked wild pork shoulder, and spinach and ricotta and tortellini filled with duck liver and shredded duck meat finished in a little duck fat. To finish we had zabaglioni semi-freddo and a panna cotta / creme caramel combination...and two glasses of luscious Nocino, a walnut liqueur. Hugely rich but with blessedly small portion sizes, totally delicious.
Name your top three places to eat and drink in New Zealand
My favourites are Baduzzi and Coco's Cantina in Auckland, and The Shed at Te Motu vineyard on Waiheke.
What or who are your biggest food influences?
There are several, starting with Jamie Oliver who I remember bouncing onto our screens years ago as a fresh-faced young man, laden with fresh and flavourful recipes. Marcella Hazan and Julia Child, for sharing the secrets of French and Italian Cuisine, and Yotam Ottolenghi for his creative and inventive ideas. Travel is also a huge influence - both within New Zealand and on the rare occasion overseas - there is nothing like new experiences, tastes and styles to get the creative juices flowing. Fresh produce is also a huge influence, I can be feeling totally uninspired then go to a farmers market, and being surrounded by seasonal fruit and vegetables always inspires me to get cooking.
Which other food blogs are on your bookmarks bar?
I really enjoy Australian blogs the Monday Morning Cooking Club, Cook Republic, The Food Dept and What Katie Ate. In Italy, Hortus Cuisine, in the US, The Vanilla Bean Blog and in New Zealand My Darling Lemon Thyme and Made from Scratch - so many clever people, so much inspiration!