Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A New Zealand Escape, and Inspiration from Kiwifruit!

Bush Walk to Mauao Summit
Bay of Plenty, 
New Zealand
Today, I would like to take you all on a fabulous journey to the lush volcanic region of the  Bay of Plenty, in beautiful New Zealand!  Breathtaking views seem to abound in this area, with sandy beaches, active volcanoes, and lush tropical forests. To be honest, I had only slightly heard of The Bay of Plenty before a few weeks ago, when I found out about a contest by the Zespri Kiwifruit company. The contest is for bloggers, and they are looking for posts inspired by Kiwifruit and/or The Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. I have always loved Kiwifruit, so was instantly inspired by that; and the interesting thing is that my husband had just told me prior to finding out about the contest that he would really enjoy eating more Kiwifruit because he loves it.  And so we have been!  And how I have loved the results!  I will go into more detail on the wonders of Kiwifruit, but first, let me tell you what I've learned of The Bay of Plenty!  I have discovered that this is my new dream vacation location!  
White Island, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
I have always been intrigued by volcanoes, and the Bay of Plenty has some truly remarkable and beautiful volcanic activity! The White Island (shown above), is an absolutely stunning active marine volcano, and if you ever have the chance to visit, they even offer tours (walking or by helicopter) of the volcano! Mount Ruapehu is another active volcano, and volcanic activity can be seen in many locations. Outdoor adventures abound in this beautiful region of New Zealand, as well as a rich culture to be explored!
Maori Warrior at Sunrise, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

 The Maori culture seems to be very active in this area, and there are many ways to experience it during a stay in the Bay of Plenty, through traditional arts and crafts, museums, demonstrations, and more. They also have the longest running jazz festival in the southern hemisphere (held in Tauranga)! The Bay of Plenty is also home to quite possibly the best place on the planet to grow Kiwifruit, with rich volcanic soil, ideal growing conditions, and wonderful quality water! The Bay of Plenty truly is overflowing with bountiful growth and the name is so perfect for this plentiful region! So whether you are looking for beaches, mountainous hikes, water sports, or experiencing new cultures, Bay of Plenty seems to have it all! When you are planning your next vacation get-away- think of Bay of Plenty, New Zealand for the trip of a life time!!

Main Beach, Mount Maunganui, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
And here's a chance for that to happen for you now!  Not only is Zespri running a contest for bloggers (called the Zespri Kiwi A-Go-Go Bloggers Contest, with an amazing adventure of a lifetime vacation package to the Bay of Plenty as the Grand Prize), they are also running a sweepstakes give-away of a trip for 4 to the Bay of Plenty!  So you have a chance to experience this amazing destination, just by clicking this link for the Great Kiwi Adventure and entering the drawing! The prize is an adventure packed 7 day trip to Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, with airfare, a beach-side villa, a White Island tour, a Swim with the Dolphins Encounter, a glow-worm kayak trip, a helicopter tour, an orchard tour, a jet boat tour, and more!!!  Believe me, you do not want to miss out on this amazing trip, follow the link for your chance to win!
Mount Maunganui Beach, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
And here's a way for you to bring the Bay of Plenty into your own home, by enjoying the delicious benefits of the amazing Kiwifruit!  After doing further research, I have discovered that Kiwifruit just might be the best fruit on earth, and we could all benefit from enjoying it on a regular basis (as often as 2 kiwifruit a day for optimum benefits!)!  2 Kiwifruit (which are actually a member of the berry family) make one serving, and they are higher in vitamin C than an orange, have as much potassium as a banana, and contain more fiber than a serving of bran flakes!  Not only that, they are full of antioxidants with cancer fighting power, boost heart health (equal to as much as an aspirin a day, but so much more delicious, wholesome and natural!), can prevent age-related macular degeneration (loss of eye-sight), are a good source of nutrients for diabetics, can aid in digestive health, and have a slew of other benefits!  Check out this link to Zespri's health benefits of kiwifruit (and browse their website, it's packed with amazing recipes, and a wealth of information about kiwifruit!), and be inspired in your kitchen with this amazing SUPERFRUIT!
But, not only is the amazing Kiwifruit full of health benefits, it is extremely delicious, and beautiful!  I have found that it can add a delightful touch to any meal of the day.  I will be honest, before this contest, I would usually just eat the Kiwi as fresh fruit, put it in fruit salads, or possibly make this breakfast dish shown to the right, which is simply one green Kiwi, sliced, and glazed with a touch of honey and cinnamon. So when I heard of this contest, I decided to take a much more adventurous approach, and to experience Kiwifruit in all new ways in my kitchen!  I hope you feel as inspired by these green or golden beauties as I have, and create some truly delicious and unique recipes of your own!  I am sharing a selection of recipes with you today that I have really enjoyed creating, and hope that you try them soon, in your kitchen.  For those of you less familiar with the beautiful Kiwifruit, here is a photo of a green Kiwi (on the left), and a gold Kiwi (on the right).

You can see that the green Kiwi has a fuzzy skin, whereas the gold Kiwi has a smooth skin.  Here is a photo of the beautiful interior of the tangy yet sweet, Green Kiwifruit:

And of the sweet, delightful, and tropical tasting, Gold Kiwifruit:
With a multitude of uses in the kitchen, Kiwifruit truly can enhance your dining experience.  And Zespri is a great brand to use, with positive growing practices, even offering organic Green and Gold Kiwi. You can also rest assured, knowing your Kiwi was grown in one of the best places on earth, the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand! The Kiwi is in season from about May-October, so now my next adventure will be to try making some Kiwi preserves, so that I can enjoy them throughout the winter as well! But for now, I'm enjoying this incredibly flavorful and delicious in season fruit as many ways as I can. 

For my first recipe, I would like to share this fabulous cocktail, that I call the "Green Kiwi Escape", which I think would be a fantastic addition to your next gathering with friends.  Beautifully green, tart, yet sweet, full of the flavor of delicious green Kiwifruit, and absolutely crisp and refreshing.  Simple to make, and a delightful new flavor combination to be enjoyed with loved ones and friends.

This cocktail would be the perfect beverage to serve while guests are waiting for the meal to be served, or as an after dinner drink, to finish a delectable meal (try serving with my recipe for Pan Seared Kiwi Citrus Halibut over a Bay of Plenty salad, recipe further below!).
The Green Kiwi Escape Cocktail:
serves: 1
1 tablespoon honey
1 Zespri Green Kiwi
2 leaves pineapple mint, plus a sprig of pineapple mint for garnish
1 1/2 ounces Midori (melon liquor)
1 1/2 ounces white rum
4 ounces tonic water
1 wedge of green kiwi, for garnish

To Prepare: Puree the green Kiwi (remove the peel, and be careful not to over-puree and crush the seeds, as the seeds may become bitter) with the honey and the 2 leaves of pineapple mint (about 1 1/2-2 teaspoons of minced mint).  Add the honey/Kiwi/mint puree to a cocktail shaker, along with the melon liquor and the white rum.  Cover, shake until fully combined, and add in the tonic water.  Pour into a highball glass filled with ice, and garnish with a sprig of pineapple mint, and a slice of Kiwi. Sit back, relax, and feel taken away to a delightful retreat in New Zealand!
Mount Maunganui at Sunset, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

Inspired by the breathtaking image above of a sunset over Mount Maunganui, I have created a deliciously tangy, sweet and refreshing drink, The Mount Maunganui Mocktail!  It is truly a Superfruit drink!  With Pomegranate juice, Acai berry juice, and  delicious Gold Kiwi, each sip is sure to refresh and revitalize you! Along with the Gold Kiwi full of the nutrients listed above, I've added an extra punch with the Pomegranate (full of antioxidants, amazingly cancer fighting, heart healthy, and more!), and Acai (also full of antioxidants, can lower blood pressure, and more!). I hope you enjoy this nutrient rich, invigorating, and beautiful beverage! I have tried to include all of the colors of the sunset (Golds, Reds and Purples) over Mount Maunganui, and felt that the only thing that could improve the flavor of this drink would be to sip this beverage on the beach, overlooking the view in person!

The Mount Maunganui Mocktail:
serves 1


1 Zespri Gold Kiwifruit
1-2 Tablespoons Honey, to taste (or you can substitute Agave Nectar)
2 ounces Pomegranate juice
2 ounces Acai Berry juice
2 ounces Ginger Ale
1 slice Zespri Golden Kiwifruit, for garnish

To Prepare:

Blend the Golden Kiwifruit (you may remove the skin if desired) with the honey, just until the Kiwifruit is fully pureed. Add the pureed Kiwifruit with the Pomegranate juice and Acai berry juice to a cocktail shaker.  Cover, and shake until fully combined. Pour the Ginger Ale into the Superfruit juice blend, and then pour into a Highball glass full of ice.  Garnish with a slice of Golden Kiwi, and enjoy!

And now that we have been refreshed with some fantastic Bay of Plenty inspired beverages, we will move on to the perfect, cooling appetizer!  This chilled Kiwi soup is the perfect start to a delicious meal, savory, yet sweet, soothing and satisfying at the same time!  This is actually a chilled kiwi soup, two ways.... I have served a wonderful small dish of the chilled soup, along with the perfect mouthful (a delightful amuse-bouche for your guests!) of components from the soup.  This way, you can enjoy all of the great textures of the ingredients, and are able to savor it in a couple different ways.  I hope you'll give this recipe a try, and will enjoy having kiwi in a savory/sweet appetizer!

Chilled Kiwi Soup with a Kiwi Amuse-Bouche. 
Serves: 4

For the Chilled Kiwi Soup:
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil1/4 cup Shallots, minced
1/4 cup Green Onion, chopped
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Peppercorn blend, freshly ground
2 Zespri Green Kiwifruits
2 Cucumbers
1/2 cup Temptation melon (orange-flesh honeydew), diced
1/2 cup Grapefruit Juice
2 tablespoons Honey
3 slices Prosciutto, very thin
diced Avocado, for garnish
diced Green Kiwi, for garnish

For the Kiwi Amuse-Bouche:
4- 1 inch thick slices of Zespri Green Kiwifruit
8- 1/2 inch thick slices Temptation Melon (about 1 1/2 inches long)
4- 1/2 inch thick slices Avocado
1 slice Prosciutto, cut into 4 long, thin strips

To Prepare:

Add the olive oil to a small skillet, and place over medium high heat.  Add in the minced shallot, minced green onion, sea salt, and peppercorn blend (my pepper blend includes: black, green and red peppercorns, coriander and allspice), stirring frequently, until shallot begins to caramelize, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, and place the shallot mixture in a large bowl. Remove the peels from the Kiwifruit and cucumber, and the rind from the melon, and place the fruits/vegetables into the bowl with the shallots.  Add in the grapefruit juice and the honey, and use an immersion blender to puree completely (being careful not to over-puree and grind the seeds).  You can use a regular stand type blender if an immersion blender is unavailable. Cover the bowl, place into a refrigerator, and chill at least one hour.
While the soup is chilling, prepare the prosciutto garnish.  Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.  Place the 3 slices of prosciutto onto a piece of foil, and place in the preheated oven. Bake for about 8-10 minutes per side (flipping over after 7-10 minutes), till prosciutto has darkened in color (watch carefully to prevent burning), remove from the oven, and cool about 10 minutes.  Crumble the prosciutto into small bits.  Set aside until ready to serve.
Right before serving the soup, prepare the Kiwi Amuse-Bouche:
Place the 4 long strips of prosciutto on a cutting board, and set 1 thick slice of Green Kiwi on the center of each strip. Set two slices of melon and one slice of avocado on top of each slice of kiwi, wrap the prosciutto strip up around the fruit, and gently tie to secure it together.
To serve:
Divide the soup among 4 small chilled serving bowls. Garnish each with the crispy, crumbled prosciutto, as well as some diced Kiwifruit, and diced avocado.  Serve each dish with one of the Kiwi Amuse-Bouche, and enjoy!

And now it is time to move on to the main course!  This dish is truly inspired by the Bay of Plenty, succulent and rich with seafood, Kiwifruit, avocado, and citrus, all bountiful harvests readily available in this region of New Zealand.  I have incorporated other complimentary flavors and textures for an entree salad you will not soon forget!  I have used Halibut in this recipe, but you can substitute another type of firm, white fish if desired.  Simple and quick to make, but so elegant and full of flavor!  The Kiwi really shines in this dish, as I have used Kiwi in the dressing, which was also used as a marinade for the fish, as well as serving each salad atop a bed of 4 green Kiwi slices, adding Kiwi to every bite! Kiwifruit is a natural meat tenderizer, and although Halibut is a tender and delicious fish (when cooked properly), I could tell that the Kiwi added even more of a tender succulence to the finished dish.  If you are looking for an escape to the coast, and a beautiful retreat to the flavors of the Bay of Plenty, try this elegantly simple recipe!

Pan Seared Kiwi Citrus Halibut over a Bay of Plenty Salad
Serves: 4

 For the Kiwi Citrus dressing and marinade:
3 Zespri Green Kiwifruit
1/4 cup Orange Juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 cup Lime Juice, freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Ginger Paste
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon Peppercorn blend, freshly ground
2 tablespoons Honey
1 tablespoon Thyme Leaves

For pan searing the Halibut:
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin olive Oil
4- 4-6 ounce Halibut Fillets 

For the Honey Ginger Macadamia Nuts:
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the Bay of Plenty Salad:
1/2 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
1 avocado, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup diced hearts of palm
4 large handfuls spring greens mix
1-2 Zespri Green Kiwifruit (sliced thinly for placing under the salad)

4 slices of orange, peel and pith removed, for garnish
4 slices of lime, peel and pith removed, for garnish
4 slices (wedge type slices), green Kiwifruit, for garnish

To Prepare:
Prepare the dressing and marinade by adding the peeled green Kiwifruit, orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, ginger paste, sea salt, pepper, honey and thyme to a medium size bowl. Blend with an immersion blender (or use a stand type blender) till Kiwi is fully pureed and ingredients are fully incorporated. Set about 1/3 cup aside for dressing the salad and drizzling over the prepared halibut, and pour the rest over the uncooked halibut fillets in a shallow dish, coating each fillet well. Cover, and set aside to marinate while you prepare the Honey Ginger Macadamia nuts.
To prepare the macadamia nuts, combine the macadamia nut pieces, honey, ginger and sea salt in a small dish, pour onto a small foil lined baking sheet, and place under a broiler (500 degree), stirring frequently (about once per minute), until golden and toasted, about 5 minutes.  Watch carefully to prevent burning. Remove from the broiler, and allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Prepare the salad by combining the cranberries, diced avocado, diced hearts of palm and salad greens in a large bowl.  Set aside while you pan-sear the halibut.
Place a large skillet over high heat, bringing the pan to high temperature.  Add in the olive oil, allow to heat about 30 seconds, and then place the marinated halibut fillets into the skillet (make sure the pan sizzles when you place the fish in, so you know it's hot enough!), removing any excess marinade.  Cook the fillets for 3-4 minutes per side, just until golden and just cooked through, being careful not to over cook.
While the fillets are searing, drizzle the salad with about 1/4 cup of the prepared Kiwi citrus dressing, add in the honey ginger macadamia nuts, and toss well to coat.  Place 4 very thin slices of kiwi on each plate ( 4 plates), divide the salad evenly over the kiwi slices, and place one pan-seared halibut fillet over the top of each salad. Drizzle some of the remaining Kiwi-citrus dressing over the top of each fillet, and garnish with a slice of orange, lime, and Kiwi.  Serve, and ENJOY!

And finally, to complete this delectable Bay of Plenty meal, it is time for dessert!  After the prior courses of elegant and delicious recipes, I wanted something simple, yet beautiful, and bursting with kiwi flavor to finish the meal off!  I have decided to use both the Green and Gold Kiwis for the dessert, and to serve them in a way that would show the beauty of the Kiwi.  The green Kiwi does lose some of it's color while baking, but the flavor is delicious, and this dessert couldn't be more simple! Small individual tarts of luscious slices of green and gold Kiwi, atop a simple gingersnap crust all combine to create the perfect ending to a delightful meal.  Sit back and enjoy these simple sweet delights while dreaming of your chance to go on an amazing Kiwi Adventure to the Bay of Plenty!

Simple Kiwi Tarts
Serves: 4

1 cup gingersnap crumbs (crushed gingersnap cookies)
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
4 Zespri Green Kiwifruit
4 Zespri Gold Kiwifruit
2 Tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger paste

To prepare:
Lightly butter 4 small springform pans (about 3-4 inch) and preheat an oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine the gingersnap crumbs with the melted butter, stirring well.  Evenly divide the crust mixture among the prepared pans, pressing very firmly into the bottoms (you can allow the mixture to sit a few minutes before pressing into the pans, to soften the gingersnap crumbs).  Place the pans into the preheated oven, and bake the crusts for about 7 minutes, until fragrant.  Remove from oven, but leave the oven set to 350.
Cut the peeled Kiwifruit into thin slices, place into a medium size bowl, and coat with the honey, cinnamon and ginger, carefully stirring to prevent breaking the Kiwi slices.
Evenly divide the Kiwi slices among the pans, topping each crust with spiraling glazed kiwi slices, alternating between placing green and gold Kiwifruit. Place into the heated 350 degree oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until Kiwi has softened.  Remove from oven, and allow the pans to cool about 15-20 minutes on a wire rack.  Carefully release the spring on the pans, and place each tart on a plate.  The crust should be still be warm with a crisp layer on the bottom, getting softer as it nears the Kiwi, being full of all of the delicious juice released from baking the kiwifruit.  You may serve the tarts as they are, or with a touch of freshly whipped cream, if desired.

Well, as you can see there are many ways to enjoy the delectable Kiwifruit!  I hope you will try experimenting in your kitchen with these beauties, or try my recipes!  And dream of the Bay of Plenty, and the adventure of a lifetime that could be yours, by simply following this link to the Great Kiwi Adventure and entering your information for the drawing! I hope you will find some Zespri kiwis in your area, and can appreciate the art and care that goes into the growth of each one! For more information on the Bay of Plenty, check out this link to the Bay of Plenty website.  All photos of the Bay of Plenty were used with permission by the Bay of Plenty Tourist board.  Take yourself on a Kiwi Adventure Today!!


  1. New Zealand looks wonderful and so do the receipes. I will have to try to eat more Kewi and I will go to the website and hope to win a trip. Take Care

  2. i like kewis too carleen