Enjoy luscious apricots, try your hand at homemade popsicles, summer’s ultimate cooling salad and budget-friendly tinned fish – all great ideas from David Neville..


As a child I had access to an apricot tree. Its fruit was floury and dry, but I didn’t realise the tree wasn’t thriving. Thankfully, in time, I was reintroduced to the summer superstars that apricots can be. Of all the summer stonefruits, apricots have a quiet confidence. Smaller than peaches and less tart than nectarines, they do what they do well: deliver the colours of summer with honey sweetness.


Pickled apricots & vanilla
Wash 8 apricots, cut in half and remove the stones. Pack them into a sterilised pickling jar as snugly as possible. Put 1 cup white wine vinegar, ¼ cup water, 1 cup caster sugar, one split vanilla pod and a teaspoon of salt into a pot and bring to a boil. Pour into the jar, tucking the vanilla pod in with the apricots, and seal. Store in the fridge for a minimum of 24 hours, preferably a week.

Apricot & amaretti sous la cinder
Wash and pat dry 10 whole, ripe apricots. Cut two 50cm-long sheets of foil and place on top of each other. Brush the foil with soft butter and put the apricots in the centre. Brush with amaretti liqueur and sprinkle with a tablespoon brown sugar. Seal the edges of the foil to form a parcel. Place the parcel directly into the embers of a barbecue and allow it to cook for 30-35 minutes. Alternatively, bake at 170°C in an oven. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes before opening.

Apricot piccalilli relish
Wash and dry 8-10 slightly under-ripe apricots. Cut each apricot in half, remove the stones, then cut each half into four pieces. Dice a large green capsicum into 1cm pieces. Slice 10-12 green beans into 1cm pieces. Put the apricots and vegetables into a bowl, toss through 2 teaspoons salt and stand for 10-15 minutes to allow excess water to be drawn out. Put 1½ cups white wine vinegar, 1 cup caster sugar, 1 teaspoon each celery seeds, mustard seeds and ground turmeric in a pan and bring to a simmer. Drain the apricots and vegetables, add to the pot and reduce the heat. Simmer for approximately 25 minutes until the apricots collapse and the relish thickens. Transfer to sterilised jars.

Apricot mustard hot sauce
In a medium pot put 1 cup diced fresh apricot, 2 tablespoons hot American mustard, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup water, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper and ¼ teaspoon dried turmeric. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over a medium heat and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apricots are soft and the sauce thickens. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool slightly. Blend the sauce and store in a clean container. It is ideal as a condiment for grilled chicken.

Apricot General Tso chicken
Dice 300g chicken thigh, dredge in cornflour and pan-fry until golden brown and cooked through. Remove chicken from the pan and gently fry 2 diced apricots, 2 sliced garlic cloves, ½ tablespoon finely grated ginger and 1 teaspoon chilli flakes for 3-4 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce, ½ tablespoon dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and 3 tablespoons water and bring to a simmer. Mix 2 teaspoons cornflour with a splash of water to make a slurry and add to the sauce. Return chicken to the sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes until glossy and thickened. Serve with jasmine rice and toasted sesame seeds.


Despite being simple in theory, I’ve discovered a few tricks to popsicles that I will share. I found many swanky popsicle moulds priced at a king’s fortune, but I opted for a $15 mould from a cake store. We can look at the more expensive copper and stainless-steel sets if the bug grabs you, but let’s just have some fun with it first.


Brambleberry & cola
Boil 300ml cola in a medium pot over a moderate heat until reduced by 70%, giving you about 90ml. Add 400ml popsicle syrup and 300g over-ripe blackberries, boysenberries or raspberries. Bring to a simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove 3-4 berries per popsicle mould with a slotted spoon and chill. Blitz the remaining mix with a stick blender, pass through a sieve to remove the seeds, then put the berry syrup into the fridge for 60 minutes to chill. Put the poached berries in the tip of each popsicle mould and fill with berry syrup. Freeze until solid.

Coconut & passionfruit
Remove pulp and seeds from 5 ripe passionfruit. Mix 100ml coconut milk with 400ml popsicle syrup and stir to combine. Add half the passionfruit pulp to the coconut and mix to disperse evenly. Reserve the remaining pulp until ready to freeze. Chill the coconut syrup for 60 minutes. Evenly divide the remaining passionfruit between popsicle moulds and fill each mould with coconut syrup, swirling once or twice with a skewer to marble the passionfruit through. Freeze until solid.

Peach & Earl Grey
Bring 400ml popsicle syrup to a simmer, add 1½ cups diced, over-ripe peach and 2 Earl Grey tea bags then remove from the heat. Allow to infuse for 5-7 minutes then remove the tea bags. Blitz the syrup and peaches with a blender, strain through a sieve and chill for 60 minutes. Carefully pick the petals from a selection of edible flowers. Fold the flowers through the peach syrup and pour into popsicle moulds. Use a skewer to swirl the syrup in the moulds so the flower petals begin sticking to the interior and are evenly dispersed. Freeze until solid.

Cucumber & mint
Finely slice one Lebanese cucumber and place into a blender with 14-15 large mint leaves. Turn the blender on low and slowly pour in 400ml popsicle syrup. Increase the speed to high and continue to blitz until the mix is deep green. Strain through a fine sieve and adjust the sweetness to taste. Chill the syrup for 60 minutes, then briefly whisk before pouring into popsicle moulds. Freeze until solid.

Melon & mānuka
Remove the skin and seeds from half a rock or honeydew melon. Dice the flesh into 1cm pieces and put into a blender. Add 400ml popsicle syrup and 3 tablespoons mānuka honey and blend until smooth. Pass through a sieve into a clean container and chill for 60 minutes. Whisk briefly after cooling to ensure it is thoroughly mixed before freezing. Pour into popsicle moulds and freeze until solid.


In scouring the world for the next upcoming stars from the culinary world, I was oddly amused to see tinned fish on the rise. Upon deeper examination, I now see tinned fish everywhere – I even found tinned fish in my cupboard that I didn’t know was there. My partner firmly let me know it was hers. She even tried to hide it from me. I suspect now it isn’t just rising, it’s a cult classic.


Sardine rillettes
Drain the oil from a 200g can of sardines and break the sardines into small flakes. Melt 60g unsalted butter in a pan over a low heat. Add 1 minced shallot and 1 minced garlic clove, then fry gently until translucent. Allow to cool slightly. Combine the sautéed shallot and garlic with the sardines. Add 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley and the zest and juice of a lemon. Season with salt and pepper. Stir until well combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer to ramekins and put in the fridge for 2 hours to set.

Smoked mussels & white bean bruschetta
Drain and rinse a 400g can white beans. Put into a bowl with ¼ minced garlic clove, 10 chopped basil leaves and the juice and zest of 1 lemon. Add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Gently toss ensuring the beans are well coated in the dressing. Drain a tin of smoked mussels. Slice a baguette into thin rounds and toast until golden brown. Put a spoonful of the white bean mixture on each toasted bread round, top with smoked mussels and drizzle with additional olive oil.

Crispy chilli & anchovy oil
Gently fry 100g dried Vietnamese anchovies in 3 tablespoons oil for 3-4 minutes until crispy. Allow to cool. In a separate pan, gently heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, add 3 minced garlic cloves and cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Put the crispy anchovies and garlic and the oil they were cooked in into a food processor and add ½ tablespoon chilli flakes. Pulse to a coarse texture. Gradually add an extra 3-4 tablespoons oil, blending to a thick, aromatic paste. Add salt to taste. Store in the fridge in a clean container. Ideal as a condiment to salads and noodle dishes.

Spaghetti bagna cauda
Cook 200g spaghetti until it is al dente, then drain well. In a separate pan, gently heat 100ml extra virgin olive oil. Add 3 cloves minced garlic and 5 anchovy fillets. Stir for 5 minutes until the anchovies dissolve into the oil. Toss the spaghetti with the bagna cauda sauce, ensuring the pasta is fully coated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Salmon & cream cheese Southland rolls
Drain 200g tinned salmon and put into a food processor with 150g cream cheese, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill and a pinch black pepper. Blend until smooth. Remove the crusts from 6 slices soft white bread. Evenly divide and spread the mix across the bread and roll it up from edge to edge. Brush the rolls in melted butter and bake at 180℃ for 5-6 minutes until light golden brown and the cream cheese is beginning to melt slightly. Ideal as a light snack.


A meat-free main definitely isn’t ‘less’, it’s just different. Whatever the reason to choose a vege dish, you can’t deny we all want delicious meals packed with flavour. If you’re used to cooking with meat, it takes a bit of a pivot to make veges the star ingredient. In this column we load up your knowledge so your vege meals pack a punch.