Veggie potluck recipe from New Zealand?
June 12, 2010 2:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a dish native to New Zealand that's suitable for taking into work and sharing with colleagues, some of whom are vegetarian and vegan. Something that isn't very British (the office is in the UK, so that would make it less interesting) but not necessarily Māori.

My wife's office is organising a World Cup related bring-a-dish lunch based around the office sweepstake. Each person who gets a national team in the sweepstake should cook and share some home-cooked food using a recipe from that country. Something relatively indigenous. My wife got New Zealand. We've never visited New Zealand and are a little stuck.

I've been asked to help find a recipe but haven't done very well so far. From searching the web I've got as far as finding lots of meat dishes, pumpkin or sweet potato soup, and some rather tempting fried bread. I'm going to try the soup & fried bread myself, but it probably won't work for the potluck.
posted by BinaryApe to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
From some Kiwi frineds of mine who serve it all the time, pavlova seems to be a quintessential NZ dish.
posted by darkstar at 2:46 PM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Except that it's Australian.
posted by Wantok at 3:06 PM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was going to say pavlova, too, and see that there are recipes for vegan meringue out there.
posted by ldthomps at 3:11 PM on June 12, 2010

Heheh, wantok. That's a hotly contested point. But most New Zealanders I know seem to embrace it as a national dish.

Garnish with sliced kiwifruit.
posted by darkstar at 3:19 PM on June 12, 2010

Can you get kumara in the UK? They're a sort of sweet potato and the first thing that springs to mind when I think of vegetables from NZ, but I've never been able to find them in the US.
posted by supramarginal at 3:22 PM on June 12, 2010

I came here to say pavlova garnished with kiwi fruit too.
posted by jonesor at 3:29 PM on June 12, 2010

If dessert is allowed, this recipe for lolly cake might do the job.
posted by backwards guitar at 3:44 PM on June 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

If you can get some kumara or sweet potato, there are some good recipes here, e.g. Kumara, carrot, honey & fennel salad. If not, try hokey pokey ice cream: sugar, golden syrup, and baking soda, cooked, cooled, broken up, and mixed into some vanilla ice cream. Is it too early in the day for NZ wine?
posted by Paragon at 3:50 PM on June 12, 2010

Pavlova works equally well for both NZ and Australia so I'd avoid it in case the Aussie team does the same thing. Plus it's made with eggs so not vegan (and yeah you could substitute, but that's not a pavlova any more).

Fruit salad with kiwifruit as an ingredient would work, I eat that a lot in summer. I'd put in peaches, bananas, kiwifruit, oranges, but any mixture of fruit is good. Serve with hokey pokey ice cream for extra authenticity (apparently hokey pokey is peanut brittle without the peanuts). Try and get gold kiwifruit if possible as that was developed entirely in NZ (green originally comes from China).

Kumara soup is awesome and I don't see why it wouldn't work (just use a white fleshed sweet potato). It's thick like pumpkin soup so have small bowls available and let people take a single serving. Anything else with sweet potato as kumura substitute would also be good.

Trying to avoid stuff shared with Australia, not seafood or roast meat, or brought over from the UK is somewhat difficult. Kiwifruit, hokey pokey or kumara are definitely good ingredients to start with.
posted by shelleycat at 4:10 PM on June 12, 2010

After reading this thread, I happened across these Pavlova Cupcakes. If you do go the pavlova route, these would be easier to serve (maybe not make!) than a whole pavlova. Do them with kiwifruit, instead of strawberries.
posted by AnnaRat at 4:37 PM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, if you do decide to go with pavlova and kiwifruit make sure you put the kiwifruit on the cream reasonably close to the time you serve it. (and yes, there has to be cream, that's how it works). The enzymes in the kiwifruit will degrade the cream over time and make it all fall apart, but it's fine if it doesn't sit around for too long. I'm not sure of the exact time because I prefer berries on mine.
posted by shelleycat at 5:19 PM on June 12, 2010

My Kiwi Housemate made Afghan cookies, and another kind that were like shortbread but made into a sandwich cookie with icing between.

Or you could head to the local Kiwi shop and get those TimTam things. (Penguin biscuits are similar, but British.)
posted by jb at 8:46 PM on June 12, 2010

Pavlova is not exactly vegan friendly, unfortunately. I take serious issue with it being claimed as an "australian" dish! Come off it, guys!
Anything involving kumara is good. It's a tricky thing because our cooking is basically english except a bit more colonial and using a few local ingredients.
If you really want to go all-out, I would suggest cooking some food in a hangi. Not too difficult to do, but will take some time to set up. Tastes pretty good as well. Yum, and distincly New Zealand.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 9:19 PM on June 12, 2010

see also. There's a few instructional sites at the bottom of the wikipedia article.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 9:32 PM on June 12, 2010

As someone who grew up with a Kiwi parent, I have only three words for you.

Scarlet fucking Manuka fucking honey, motherfucker.

It is a deep, rich, nutty brown, made from the national flower of NZ. The aroma is appropriately floral, but the taste is dark and earthy and sweet, and unlike the pallid, awful pale piss-colour of North American honey.

All you need is a loaf of lovely white bread, some butter, and a jar of this. Go vegan in the bread if you must, and have the butter on the side so people can make their own choices. And, frankly, fuck the vegans who won't even eat honey, because ferchrissake get over yourselves. This stuff will, I shit you not, change your fucking life.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:39 PM on June 12, 2010

Also hangi. Yes. Yes please. SO GOOD.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:40 PM on June 12, 2010

Seconding manuka honey. It's amazing stuff
posted by dydecker at 12:12 AM on June 13, 2010

Hangi is fucking awesome but not exactly easy. Kumara are tasty as (bro) but kiwi fruit are gross. Hokey pokey is tasty too and can be done vegan (I think).

dirtynumbangelboy's suggestion of honey? Totally owns everything else. That shit is GOLD.
posted by geek anachronism at 12:18 AM on June 13, 2010

Pikelets are a staple food with whipped cream and jam.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:02 AM on June 13, 2010

Or ANZAC biscuits -- these should work with marge instead of butter and thus be vegan-acceptable.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:05 AM on June 13, 2010

Finally, have a look for recipes for Rewena bread, which is basically a sourdough potato bread (here seems to be an ok one). Classic Maori cuisine, and vegan too. Requires a few days to get the starter going though, but maybe you have time, or you know someone with sourdough starter already.

We're a nation of meat eaters who don't do fancy cooking, so veganism places some serious limitations on non-bakery items.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:11 AM on June 13, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks! This is great.

I had no idea that Pavlova was from New Zealand/Australia <>
Soup still looks impractical, there's apparently a delivery/bowls/spoons logistical problem. But I'm having a minor soup obsession at the moment so I'm going to try it myself. It's their loss.

We're going to look for kumara.

Hokey pokey ice cream is definitely going to occur around here - that's another one I'm going to try even if it gets rejected as a potluck thing. There's no freezer near my wife's office office but a place nearby sells vegan icecream, so this looks good. Same goes for Afghan cookies. I'd got the impression they were just the standard UK/American cornflakes in chocolate thing but they're more cookie-like.

Hangi looks fun, but not in a city centre flat. It might get awkward.

I'll definitely suggest the manuka. I'm vegan myself, but a vegan with controversial pro-honey opinions. And it's not for me anyway.

The potluck is on the 8th July (I had thought it was next week for some reason) so I'll report back what was cooked and how it went. Thanks!
posted by BinaryApe at 2:39 AM on June 13, 2010

Response by poster: Feeling rather hungry now...

(the odd empty tag on the second line started off as an ascii arrow with "diplomatic neutrality" next to it, but got mangled. )
posted by BinaryApe at 2:50 AM on June 13, 2010

How about a Risone pasta dish? This dish is easy to make and good for a pot luck.
posted by wheats at 5:54 AM on June 13, 2010

Afghans are definitely cookies (although we call them biscuits), crunchy, chocolatey and with thick chocolate icing. Anzac biscuits are also a classic, developed during the war with ingredients available during rationing or something. The third classic would be peanut brownies, a basic chocolate flavoured cookie with peanuts in it. Those three go together in my mind at least. I think the shortbread ones mentioned above are probably Belgium biscuits, lightly spiced cookies sandwiched together with jam and topped with pink raspberry flavoured icing (frosting). As you can see we're not terribly politically correct with our traditional cookie names.

Try and find recipes tested by people local to where you are because flour is different in different countries and Anzac biscuits at least have had disastrous results when I gave my recipe to people in different countries (the texture is really important for the first three recipes). Margarine or similar could be used in any of them I think (but not oil) but again you probably want a recipe which has been tested locally to make sure the replacement is done correctly and doesn't mess up the texture.

And TimTams are Australian, by the way.
posted by shelleycat at 3:13 PM on June 13, 2010

shelleycat -- thanks for your comment. But I think the double biscuits I remember are yet another kind -- they were heavy, not spiced, and definitely held together with icing. And they had a name which was repetitive or alliterative, like tim tams -- ah, brain suggesting -- yo yos?
posted by jb at 9:51 PM on June 13, 2010

yes -- they are yo-yos. The blog I just linked to claims they are Australian -- but if NZers make them too, they are just as NZer as they are Australian. (My ex-housemate is 100% rural Kiwi, with an accent you can cut with a knife).

But actually too sweet and rich for me -- I much prefer the Afghan cookies.
posted by jb at 9:58 PM on June 13, 2010

You can't actually get the Afghans wrong, since they are mostly butter and cocoa. We've used the same NZ recipe with UK flour, and Canadian flour. We played around -- you can used cornflakes or Weetabix or really any crunchy, dry cereal.
posted by jb at 10:00 PM on June 13, 2010

Ah yo yos. Made with custard powder I think, I don't like them either. It never occurred to me that they'd be local and personally (as a kiwi) would avoid anything with mixed Australian origins.

Heh, afghans are definitely possible to screw up. Mostly by making them too dry but too crumbly or too stodgy would do it too. The end result might not be terrible but it won't be afghans (much like the kind you get in packets, totally wrong). The ratio of flour to butter is important so for the OP making them with different flour *and* vegan ingredients I'd want to at least practise first if not find a validated recipe.

(and weetbix? really? that's not an afghan!)
posted by shelleycat at 11:30 PM on June 13, 2010

Response by poster: I have no problem practising and testing the Afghan biscuits, many times if need be. Even if we get them right first time.
posted by BinaryApe at 2:25 AM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

You have the advantage already over the other sweepstake teams, in that the tradition of pot-luck is strong in New Zealand. We call it "Ladies, a plate" or just "bring a plate". Many kiwis have a story (apocryphal?) of an ancestor or acquaintance, generally fresh off the boat from the UK, confused by this wording on a social invitation, with an obvious and amusing consequence.

A very fresh salad with a dressing made with avocado oil (and Manuka honey?) would be a nice nod to the best of NZ food.

And please do visit sometime. : )
posted by Catch at 3:51 AM on June 15, 2010

Response by poster: The Potluck was held today and I've been told it went very well, thanks for all your suggestions!

In the end the choice for New Zealand was honey roasted vegetables (with manuka honey of course) and afghan biscuits. On different plates. Both were popular.

Other choices of national food were:

Cameroon - ndole
Serbia - poppy seed strudel
Ghana - chocolate
Slovenia - almond biscuits
Algeria - cous cous and vegetable dish
Mexico - tortillas and salsa
Germany - hot dogs (vegan too)
Uraguay - sausage rolls. Some creative license was involved.
Paraguay - a fish salad
Spain - olives and sausages
Denmark - Danish pastries.
Italy - tiramisu
USA - grapes from California
England - cheese and biscuits
Greece - pittas and hummus and tzatziki
Ivory Coast - tropical fruit salad

and, controversially

Australia - pavlova and crisps. The crisps were barbeque flavour.
posted by BinaryApe at 1:05 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

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