Summer Cooking with Jen from The Modern Mess

We had the pleasure of sitting down with local chef and recipe developer, Jen Pomeroy, of The Modern Mess. Jen lives with her young family in Amberley, which is just a short drive from Greystone. Jen and her husband, Keeley, made the move to North Canterbury two years ago to set up their own half-acre block and have loved having space to entertain friends and family.

Q: What made you move to North Canterbury?
A: Keeley and I both shared a dream of owning a plot of land to grow our own food. For us, gardening and cooking go hand in hand. We are also surrounded by lots of excellent produce and wine here in North Canterbury, so we knew it would be the perfect spot to set up.

Q: What is your favourite thing about hosting?
A: It can be daunting to host big groups of people, but I love feeding people. My love language is cooking for others. I love creating a menu to suit the season. If it’s cold and raining, I cook lots of slow cooked meats and things to make my guests feel warm and welcomed. If it’s hot, like it has been this summer, I love to dish up meals that are fresh, light and showcase the local produce, which we are spoiled for choice in this region.

Q: What do you enjoy most about this time of year?
A: I love the produce. It just keeps getting better and better at this time of year. I live off salads. You can’t beat outdoor cooking and eating. We have an Ooni pizza oven that gets a lot of use.

Q: Which element would you never overlook when organizing an event?
A: I will always create a menu based off recipes that I can prepare ahead of time so that I’m not stuck in the kitchen when my guests arrive. I’ll do a low and slow meat, which are resting while guests arrive. Salads and sides can always be prepped in advance and dressed just before hitting the table.

Q: What are your favourite ingredients to work with around this time of year?
A: Tomatoes, olive oil, herbs, fresh corn, chillis and stone fruits. To name a few.

Q: What do you love most about North Canterbury?
A: I love having the wine region at our backdoor and that we’re just down the road from Gore Bay and Kaikōura. I love the peace and space that we have here. We would never have been able to achieve what we have in the garden in town. We love growing our own food. It’s just become a way of life now.

Q: You’ve just released a new recipe eBook based on summer gatherings. What dishes would you serve with our Rosé and Pet Nat?
A: I love the freshness and crispness of the Rosé and think it pairs well with my creamy homemade labneh and flat bread. The flavours also complement the chopped salad which uses lots of seasonal fruit and vegetable with a lovely pomegranate dressing. The Pet Nat is such a summer vibe. I think it goes really well with almost everything in the recipe book, but I particularly love it with the herby chicken (recipe below) and prawns.

About The Modern Mess

North Canterbury based chef, Jen Pomeroy, created the Modern Mess with one main goal in mind – to help Kiwis get confident in the kitchen and encourage them to start cooking seasonally using fresh produce. In her 12 years working as a professional chef, she learnt a secret – good food does not come from having the fanciest ingredients or the flashiest techniques. Exceptional meals come from the freshest, seasonal produce, and can be easily made at home using simple techniques. Visit The Modern Mess website to discover 1000+ seasonal recipes, how-to tutorials, meal plans and more: The Modern Mess

Click HERE to buy the e-Book

Jen’s Herby Chicken

800 g chicken – I used chicken thigh 

1 cup herbs – coriander, basil, mint or parsley or a mix
1/2 cup yoghurt
2 cloves garlic
2 T lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1/2 green chilli or more to taste
1 tsp salt

Yoghurt drizzle
1 T yoghurt
1 T lemon juice
pinch salt

Soak the skewers in water if they are wooden.
Dice the chicken and season.

Place all the marinade ingredients in a blender or similar and blend until smooth.
Pour over the seasoned chicken and leave for 30-60 minutes at room temp. or in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Skewer the chicken onto the skewers. You can add vegetables too if you fancy.

Preheat the BBQ to medium. My BBQ has two hot plates and a flat plate so I left the flat plate off and the handle end of the skewer hung over that.
Grill on both sides until cook through, if you can’t flip it it’s not ready to flip! I have a lid on the BBQ too so I used that to speed up the cooking time.

To serve
Place the cooked skewers on a platter and drizzle over the yoghurt drizzle (just mix it together) and top with extra chilli and herbs.