Spaghetti with sautéed zucchini, cherry tomato and basil pesto

Pasta dough


200g plain flour

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

1 tbsp olive oil



Pour the flour into a bowl or directly on the work surface. Make a crater in the center and break in the eggs. Add the olive oil and the salt. Break the yolks of the eggs with your fingers and then gradually begin to incorporate the flour.

When the dough forms a ball, start kneading with your hands, making sure that the dough is not too sticky or too dry, if is dry, add small amount of water and incorporate to the dough, if is too wet, add small amount of flour until is just right.

Wrap the dough with cling-wrap and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

About the pasta machine:

Read the manufacturer’s direction.

Set the machine and make sure that is firmly secured to the working bench. 

Set the rollers of the pasta machine on the widest setting.

Divide the dough in 4 parts.

Flatten the dough into an oval and guide it through the rollers. Fold the dough into thirds and pass it through the widest setting again. Repeat this process 3 times. If the dough sticks dust it and the machine lightly with flour.

Move the dial of the machine to the next notch and pass the dough through, without folding, 3 times. Repeat this process until get almost to the thinnest setting.

Now you can use the pasta machine attachment for cutting the sheets into fettuccine or spaghetti.

Keep the freshly cut pasta in a tray and sprinkle with flour to avoid the pasta to stick.


Fresh basil pesto


1 small garlic clove

Pinch of sea salt

60g fresh basil

Juice of ½ lemon

140ml extra-virgin olive oil

1 handful of parsley, chopped 

While you are waiting for the dough to rest is a good time to make this simple pesto, it take only a few minutes.

Peel the garlic and put it with the salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse. You can use a mortar and pestle if you have one.

Add the basil and pulse carefully until it is well mixed, but still very textured. Add the parsley and pulse again just to mix it.

Transfer into a bowl and add the lemon juice. Pour in the olive oil and mix well until you have an oily paste, seasoning to taste.

You can add some almonds or walnuts if you like to make the pesto with a more traditional flavour.


Spaghetti sautéed zucchini, cherry tomato with

fresh basil pesto


400g fresh spaghetti

2 zucchini

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tomato cherry punnet

2 tomatoes

100g baby spinach

freshly chopped parsley

olive oil

salt and pepper

parmesan cheese

First of all, you will need a big pot of salted boiling water to cook the pasta.

Make sure that the water is boiling before you start cooking the vegetables.

Slice the zucchini in angle, about 5 mm thick and set aside. roughly chop the tomatoes keeping the seeds and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant but not browned, about 30 seconds. Add the zucchini to the pan and cook for 1 minute, add the chopped tomato and cook for another minute.

At this point, drop the pasta into the boiling water in two or three batches, stir the pasta to avoid sticking. It will take only about 3 minutes to cook to “al dente”  because is a very fresh pasta.

Back in the frying pan, add the tomato cherry and cook for 2 minutes. Now, add the baby spinach and toss a couple of times. Very carefully, using tongs, transfer the pasta from the pot to the frying pan, don’t worry about all the liquid that comes with the pasta, all that cooking liquid will make the whole dish taste much better, also it will help to thicken the sauce. Mix the pasta with the vegetables, add the freshly chopped parsley, salt and pepper to taste and cook for another 2 minutes.

Serve the pasta and finish with the basil pesto, extra olive oil and parmesan.


Fresh strawberries on a shortbread biscuit and mascarpone cheese

Fresh strawberries on a shortbread biscuit and mascarpone cheese

Today I decided that is a great day to do some gardening, it’s Waitangi day and I’m off.

For the last 3 or 4 weeks we had been changing our flower garden into an edible garden. It has been hard work so far but we are already enjoying the benefits of it. We have flat leaf parsley, curly parsley, oregano, sage, Thai mint, etc. we also have raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, figs and some citrus trees, most of them are too small yet, but me, Yani and the kids are very exited about the new garden.

This morning, while I was getting some herbs for a salad, I notice that the strawberries had been stolen during the night, we think is our lovely Uma, the cat ;)

strawberry flowers

Not very happy, I ended at the supermarket buying some strawberries for the dessert :(

The plan was to make a nice barbecue, couscous, tomato and fresh herb salad and strawberry and mascarpone tartlets for dessert. So, we did.

I also grilled some eggplant and used them for an eggplant escabeche to have with the barbecue.


IMG_2690Fresh strawberries on a shortbread biscuit and mascarpone cheese

Serves 4 

100g icing sugar

150g unsalted butter, softened

2 tsp. vanilla extract

225g. Plain flour

2 tbsp. corn flour

1 strawberry punnet, halves

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

200g-mascarpone cheese

4 mint leaves

50g roasted almonds, crushed


Preheat the oven to 180c

For the shortbread, place the butter, sugar and vanilla extract in an electric mixer and beat until pale and creamy. Add the flour and corn flour and beat until smooth dough forms. Roll the dough to 6 mm thick between two sheets of backing paper and refrigerate for 20 min.

Cut 4 bases using an 8 cm round cutter  (you will have some dough leftover that you can keep in the fridge for a couple of days to make cookies later on).

Place them in a lined baking tray and bake for around 10 minutes or until light golden. Cool.

In a bowl mix the mascarpone cheese with 50g icing sugar, half of the lemon juice and 1tsp vanilla extract. Keep on the fridge until serve.

Place the strawberries in a bowl, add the rest of the lemon juice and sprinkle 2 tbsp of icing sugar, mix well and let rest for 3 min.

To serve, spread the mascarpone mixture over the biscuit, you need about 1cm think layer, sprinkle some crashed almond and then place the strawberries on top of the mascarpone. Slice finely the mint leaves and sprinkle over the strawberries. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Fresh strawberries on a shortbread biscuit and mascarpone cheese

Fresh strawberries on a shortbread biscuit and mascarpone cheese

This dessert is one of my favourites for summer and is really popular at the Northstar Restaurant & Bar.

My introduction

Being this the first time writing on my blog, I will start introducing myself. I’m Pablo Tacchini, from Argentina, Executive chef at the Northstar Restaurant and Brydone Hotel in the lovely town of Oamaru, New Zealand. I came to New Zealand nearly 6 years ago for a holiday with my wife and son and we felt in love of this country and especially for Oamaru and his people, and we decided to stay.

I worked for 6 years as a chef in Argentina and thanks to the lovely influence from my family, that came from Italy and Spain, I have a really wide and rich way of cooking the dishes that I love. Now, after 6 years living in New Zealand my knowledge got even richer, not just for the kiwi culinary culture itself, but for the chefs that I had the pleasure to work with and as well for the amazing growers and produce all over this country.


The first dish that I will share with you is one that my and my family enjoy a lot. 

Pan seared lamb cutlets alla provenzale with rocket, fennel and potato salad.

Serves 4


2 lamb racks (6-8 bones each)

2 garlic cloves chopped

1 tbsp. rosemary chopped

2 tbsp. olive oil

Oil for frying

Salt and pepper

Put the racks in a large bowl, add olive oil, garlic and rosemary and rub the meat.

Leave marinating for 20 min. in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat a frying pan and sear the racks until golden both sides. Place the lamb in a roasting pan and cook in the oven for 10 min. (medium rare). Set aside and leave the lamb rest. In the same frying pan deglaze the lamb cooking juices with a little red wine and chicken stock. This could be our sauce to finish the dish.


500 gr gourmet potatoes boiled until tender

1-cup baby peas

100gr butter

1 handful mint leaves sliced

1 fennel bulb finely sliced

200gr rocket leaves

Juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil 

Salt and pepper

Heat a frying pan and melt gently the butter, add the gourmet potatoes and fry until browned. Add the baby peas and cook for 30 seconds, add mint and stir to mix together. Set aside. When just warm, transfer to a bowl and add rocket, fennel and finish seasoning with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.


3 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 handful parsley chopped

100 ml extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Put all the ingredients together into a bowl and mix well, add salt and pepper to your liking.


To assemble, cut the lamb rack into cutlets, place the salad in the center of the dish, put 3 to 4 cutlets on top of the warm salad and drizzle with the cooking juices and the provenzale sauce.