The other night I held a dinner party where we took a diverse range of fresh lettuces and edible flowers from the garden, washed them, kept the roots on and set them on the table. My guests loved trying the various chicory, spinach, and beetroot leaves for instance, paired with purple viola’s, blue corn flowers, orange calendulas and pink chives buds. But the stars of the ‘build-your-own-salad-sampler’ were the dressings. Saffron and orange vinaigrette complimenting the beetroot leaves, smoked chili vinaigrette punching up the spinach and a beautifully smooth blue cheese dressing toning down the chicory all made the evening super special. To the surprise of my guests, the dressings were store bought – but I couldn’t have done better myself, garden and all.
This is thanks to Genevieve Knights, who has somehow managed to create professional kitchen fresh dressings (and other products) and made them available at my local Raeward Fresh. I know that sounds a bit corny, or marketing speak, but trust me, this stuff is outstanding for a number of reasons. First reason; Genevieve is a qualified chef with an amazing resume, including working at The French Café where she learned how to create world class meat and fish pates, parfait’s and mousse. Secondly, knowing that she wanted to be a chef since the age of 13, she has obsessed on, studied and experimented with food for over two decades in both the fusion scene, and the in the classics. Finally, Genevieve has had an intense focus on using and preserving the freshest of ingredients in her kitchen, insuring it arrives in the exact same state in mine. This is no easy task, especially when it comes to dressings and meat parfaits, all preservative free. You really have to taste this to know what I’m talking about. The zing in these dressings for instance, due in part to the fabulous flavours she chooses, comes mostly though from her unmatched skill as a chef to keep the fresh taste of ingredients in tact on the fridge shelf.
Having worked in professional kitchens for years, for next to no pay, getting yelled at, learning the hard way, Genevieve decided to shift gears and focus on recipe and food writing / photography. Many well received articles, a few cookbooks and some great catering gigs later, she decided to put some of those tried and true recipes to good use at her local La Cigale French Market in Parnell. The rich, smooth texture of her duck liver parfait gained such a following that she decided to go full time and extend her range:
• Free range Chicken Liver Parfait (either peppered, original or truffled)
• Open barn raised Duck Liver Parfait (in either orange, original or Peaking spiced)
• Seafood Mousse (original prawn, original scallop or Mahurangi oyster)
• Classic French Vinaigrette
• Saffron & Orange Vinaigrette
• Classic Caesar Dressing
• Blue Cheese Dressing
• Smoked Chili Vinaigrette
• Sesame & Soy Vinaigrette
Each one of these products has required all of Genevieve’s chef skills to bring to market. Working alongside Massey University to maintain flavour, quality and a no preservative approach, the seafood mousse alone took over a year to perfect. I love the her commitment for this kind of kitchen to kitchen delivery. So has the NZ Food awards who have acknowledged Genevieve’s same skills.
My recommendation; bake some of your own bread or oatcakes, grab some veg from the garden and lay it all out for your friends and neighbors with a good sampling of Genevieve’s parfaits and dressings. Have people specifically pair different flavours and see how you can take your best and Genevieve’s best to create a good time for all.