David Neville has a play with tomatoes, vanilla and yoghurt, and hot dogs get a makeover.


Tomatoes are the Cliff Curtis of the produce world. Whether raw or cooked, whole, as a sauce, juiced or pulped, there is no role that a tomato cannot play. The character of tomato can be both sweet, savoury, acidic and packed with umami. This makes tomatoes the ideal summer item for every shopping basket. Buy them and a purpose will present itself.


Tomato, black tea & kombu passata
Wash and shake dry 1½ kg tomatoes. Put in a blender and pulse 4-5 times. Sieve to remove seeds and skin. Place 2 tea bags and a 10cm piece kombu into a clean 1-litre Kilner jar. Stir 1½ teaspoons flaky salt into tomato juice and put in the jar. Put into a suitably sized pot filled halfway with water, and simmer very gently for 45 minutes. Remove the tea bags. Allow to cool to room temperature. Store in the fridge for up to 12-14 days.

Pan con tomate
Cut 8 slices of bread about 1cm thick and toast until lightly golden on each side. Cut a garlic clove in half and gently rub it on one side of the bread to scent. Place a box grater over a bowl and grate 4 medium-sized, ripe tomatoes to a coarse pulp. Drizzle 60ml olive oil over the garlic toast slices. Top each slice of bread with an even amount of tomato. Layer with a slice of salty Iberico ham. Serve immediately.

Pasta pomodoro
Cook a finely diced onion and 2 sliced garlic cloves with 150ml olive oil for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add 2 coarsely chopped tomatoes and crush to a pulp. Stir in 2 teaspoons sugar and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add 500ml tomato passata, reduce heat and slowly cook to thicken, about 6-8 minutes. Cook 400g of dried spaghetti until al dente and drain. Add pasta to the sauce, return to moderate heat and stir for 2-3 minutes until thoroughly coated. Fold in 10 torn basil leaves just before serving. Top with freshly grated parmesan to taste.

Fried green tomatoes
Remove the cores from 4 large, green, beefsteak tomatoes; cut horizontally into 1cm-thick slices. Whisk 1 cup buttermilk with a size 7 egg. Put 1 cup flour into a bowl, put some buttermilk/egg in a second bowl, and fill a third bowl with 1 cup polenta, ½ cup flour, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon fine salt. Dredge each slice of tomato in flour, then buttermilk, then polenta and place on a tray in a single layer. Fill a pan with ½cm of oil and heat until shimmering. Carefully put 3-4 tomato slices in the oil and fry for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove to absorbent paper and repeat until all cooked. Season with black pepper and salt. Serve with mayonnaise or Green Goddess sauce (see recipe below MAKE IT YOURSELF / YOGHURT).

Sauce vierge
Remove cores from 4 ripe tomatoes and make a cross in their bases. Submerge tomatoes in boiling water for 15 seconds and refresh with cold running water until cool. Peel away skins, quarter the tomatoes and remove seeds. Coarsely dice flesh and put in a medium-sized bowl. Add 1 tablespoon each of vinegar and lemon juice. Add 100ml olive oil. Finely slice 5 basil leaves and ¼ cup flat-leafed parsley and fold through. Season with salt and pepper. An additional teaspoon of sugar can be added if tomatoes taste more acidic than sweet. Pairs beautifully with ravioli, seafood and lightly cooked vegetables.



Vanilla extract
Using a sharp knife, split 6 vanilla pods lengthwise down the centre. Place into a clean, small jar twice as large as the vanilla when it is bunched together. Pour a premium spirit over the vanilla (vodka, rum or bourbon) until vanilla pods are fully submerged. Seal the jar securely and shake until your shoulder tires, then shake a little more. Store in a cool, dark cupboard. After one week it will have developed flavour. After 6 months the iconic golden hues will develop, if using a clear spirit. The longer it matures the more pronounced it will be.

Vanilla hollandaise
Melt 500g salted butter in a medium-sized pot until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat to separate and clarify. Once the butter has separated, carefully pour off the clarified butter into a jug and discard any white milk solids at the bottom. Place 5 fresh, free-range egg yolks into a stainless-steel bowl and add 1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar and a teaspoon each of vanilla paste and vanilla essence with 2 tablespoons of cold water. Bring a pot of water to a boil and remove from heat. Place the bowl over hot water and whisk continuously until eggs are pale, doubled in size and showing whisk marks (as thick as Wattie’s tomato sauce). Remove from heat. Place the bowl on a damp tea towel to secure and, while whisking, slowly drizzle in the warm clarified butter. Adjust at the end with a tablespoon of warm water if it appears too thick. Season lightly with salt. Ideal for eggs, poultry, fish and especially grilled corn.

Vanilla-cured salmon
Ask your fishmonger for the top third of a skinless salmon fillet, approximately 700g. In a bowl, mix together 100g brown sugar, 75g coarse rock salt, 2 teaspoons vanilla essence and ½ cup chopped fresh dill. Sprinkle the base of a rimmed plate with one-third of the salt cure. Lay the salmon on top and generously pack around the remaining cure on all sides. Cover with baking paper and place an additional plate on top. Put in the fridge overnight. Be sure that the plate is deep enough as it will produce approximately 150ml of liquid during curing. After 8-10 hours remove from fridge, gently wash away the cure with cold water and pat dry thoroughly. The salmon is now ready to be sliced thinly for salads or antipasto, or for smoking or low cooking on the barbecue.

Vanilla, peanut butter & dulce de leche blondie – makes 12 / preparation 20 minutes plus 1 hour cooling / cooking 35 minutes
A sweet-tooth lover’s dream, with just enough savoury notes to get a passing mark from those who don’t have sweet teeth.

In a large bowl, whisk together 300g standard flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon cornflour. Melt 170g butter in a pot and add 200g brown sugar and 130g caster sugar, then remove from heat and stir thoroughly to dissolve the sugar and cool. Add two eggs and a generous teaspoon of Heilala vanilla essence and stir through. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir 5-6 times to partially combine. Add ½ cup white chocolate chips and continue to stir until just combined. Spoon the mixture into a non-stick, or parchment-lined 20 x 20cm baking dish. Dollop 4-5 tablespoons of chunky peanut butter across the blondie, drizzle with 3-4 tablespoons Highlander caramelised condensed milk and swirl through with a knife tip. Bake in a preheated oven at 170℃ for 35 minutes. Allow to cool for one hour before removing from the tin.



Double pork brat with kimchi, togarashi & tonkatsu sauce
Place 16 bratwurst (I use BavariaNZ Nürnberger) in a clean bowl, sprinkle over a generous tablespoon of togarashi seasoning and toss well to coat. In a separate bowl, mix 400g kimchi with 5 tablespoons mayonnaise. Cook the bratwurst under a hot grill for 3-4 minutes on each side and remove from heat. Warm 8 soft white hot dog rolls and place 2 bratwurst in each roll. Top with the kimchi and finish with a streak of tonkatsu and an additional sprinkling of togarashi.

Parsley, sage & rosemary tofu hot dogs with lime avocado & pesto
Put the flesh of 2 medium-sized avocados into a bowl and season with a good pinch of salt and 5-6 cracks of pepper. Add 2 tablespoons lime juice, mash together with a fork and keep to one side. Cook 8 Bean Supreme parsley, sage & rosemary sausages under a hot grill for 3-4 minutes each side and remove from heat. Split 8 soft white hot dog rolls and spread with mustard. Divide sausages between buns and load up with crushed avocado. Drizzle with basil pesto and add picked watercress sprigs for a peppery kick.

Tandoori chicken hot dog with blackened cucumber raita
Mix 1 cup yoghurt with 3 tablespoons tandoori paste in a bowl and add 8 chicken sausages. Cover and place in fridge to marinate for 1-2 hours. Split a large telegraph cucumber lengthwise and then into quarters. Place on a baking dish and rub with 1 teaspoon each of salt, ground cumin seed, mild chilli powder and ground fenugreek seed, and drizzle with oil. Place cucumbers skin-side down on a hot barbecue and cook on a high heat for 4-5 minutes until the skin chars. Remove from the heat and allow to rest. When cool, coarsely chop cucumber and mix with 1 cup yoghurt and ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves. Remove sausages from marinade and shake off excess. Cook on a hot grill for 3-4 minutes on each side. Warm 8 split hot dog rolls and brush with soft butter. Assemble the hot dogs and top with cucumber raita and some finely sliced spring onion.

Pilsner corn dogs
Place 8 sausages of choice into a pot of cold water and bring to a simmer to precook. Remove from water and allow to steam dry. Insert a popsicle-style stick halfway into each sausage. In a bowl, mix 1 cup each of fine cornmeal and flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 teaspoons salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add ½ cup each of milk and light pilsner beer and 2 whole size 7 eggs. Whisk all ingredients together until smooth and thick. Heat a litre of canola oil in a heavy-based pot to 160°C, or until a bread cube fries to golden in 6 seconds. Coat the dry sausages in flour and swirl in the batter. Shake off excess and cook 2 corn dogs at a time for 3-4 minutes until golden. Remove from oil to absorbent paper and repeat. Serve with ketchup and mustard.
Cook’s tip: The longer the batter sits, the more it will thicken. It can be thinned down with warm water for a lighter batter.



Green Goddess yoghurt dressing
Put 2 cups of yoghurt into a blender or immersion blender jug. Add the flesh of a whole avocado, 2 anchovies (optional), 1 finely chopped garlic clove and ¼ cup each of finely chopped basil, parsley and tarragon. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Blend for 10 seconds and scrape down the sides. Continue to blend until completely smooth and a light green colour. Season lightly with salt. Serve immediately or store in a snaplock container for a day. Cook’s tip: Makes an excellent dip for the fried green tomatoes (see above recipe THERE’S LOTS OF . . . TOMATOES).

Yoghurt marinade with Aleppo pepper, garlic & savoury yeast
Place 1 litre yoghurt into a large bowl and add 10 tablespoons Aleppo pepper flakes, 3 minced garlic cloves and 5 tablespoons savoury yeast flakes. Whisk together thoroughly. Add your desired protein, coat thoroughly and cover with a lid. Store in the fridge overnight. The following day, remove protein from marinade and shake off any excess. Place onto a moderately hot grill to cook and baste with the remaining marinade.

Grilled zucchini with yoghurt, preserved lemon & Sichuan pepper
Split 4 medium-sized zucchini lengthwise. Season the cut sides with salt and keep to one side. In a medium-sized bowl put 1 cup of natural yoghurt and the pith of a finely chopped preserved lemon. Put a dozen each of black peppercorns and Sichuan peppercorns into a pepper mill, grind into the yoghurt and mix through. Pat dry the zucchini and brush with oil. Place onto a hot grill and cook for 3 minutes on each side until becoming tender. Remove from the heat and spoon over the yoghurt dressing and garnish with 7-8 torn mint leaves. Serve immediately.