Nicola Cronin is a happily transported South Islander who has now lived with her family in Browns Bay for 18 years – less four years when they were overseas. She is also the North Shore Branch Coordinator for a wonderful not-for-profit organisation called Bellyful. They are volunteers who cook and deliver free meals to families with newborns and families with young children, who are struggling with illness.
Nicola and her husband now have a son living in Wellington and a uni student daughter at home, along with an eight year old labrador. She has a small business importing and distributing items for biomedical research and also does some medical writing. She says it’s a great lifestyle, she enjoys the flexibility with plenty of time for other interests and to be able to help out a bit in the community. She shared her recipe for lemon tart with Aidan Bennett during November.
AIDAN BENNETT: What is your recipe and where did it originate?
NICOLA CRONIN: My recipe is for a lemon tart and it came from a great friend, Philip Smyth.
AB: What’s the secret to making this recipe work?
NC: Slightly undercook the filling – just till it develops a ‘wobble’. It will continue to cook a bit after you take it out of the oven.
AB: Why did you choose this recipe?
NC: It’s very straightforward and always a hit. Plus you can make it in advance and it’s still great the next day.
AB: What do you love about cooking?
NC: Mostly the fun of being able to share food with friends and family. My husband and I both cook and have so many good memories involving sitting around dinner tables.
AB: Self taught, or did you have a cooking mentor?
NC: My mother was a great baker and cook of simple but balanced and nutritious meals. She was always keen to try new things and her recipe books are covered with her notes.
AB: What’s the biggest disaster you’ve had in the kitchen?
NC: I admit nothing!
AB: What’s your favourite cuisine?
NC: I’ve always had a love for Thai and Cambodian cooking which was enhanced when we visited Cambodia and managed to fit in a cooking course – such flavours! Currently, we’re cutting back on how much meat we eat so I’m enjoying exploring more vegetarian options.
AB: What foodie spots do you and your hubby enjoy visiting locally?
NC: We’re so lucky with Farro and it’s always inspiring to drop in and pick up ingredients for a meal or two. Right now we’re spending a lot of time at Fruit World on Greville Road choosing from wonderful fresh produce.
AB: Tell us about your involvement in Bellyful North Shore.
NC: I’ve been with Bellyful North Shore since it first started up in early 2012. I took on the Cookathon coordinator position a couple of years ago and this year moved into the Branch Coordinator role. Bellyful is a not-for-profit organisation, whose volunteers cook and deliver free meals to families with newborns and families with young children, who are struggling with illness. It’s a wonderful group to be part of – such a satisfying thing to be able to do and our group is a great collection of interesting, warm and funny people. We get together to cook and then the frozen meals are delivered out to the families that need them. It’s not a financial need we’re filling; it’s really for families who just need a bit of support and don’t have access to that.
AB: How can Channel readers help you with your efforts with Bellyful?
NC: We have a great group of volunteers and the more we have the easier it will be to make more meals and get them out there to help more families. We need volunteers for our cookathons, doing deliveries and to help with fundraising. Of course, we are always grateful for donations as well.
AB: How are you going to relax over the Christmas/holiday period?
NC: We usually have our immediate family and another family of close friends for Christmas day and then we’re hoping to escape to the Marlborough Sounds a bit later in January for some serious relaxing.
Nicola's lemon tart recipe
1/2 C icing sugar
1C plain flour
125 g butter
Blitz together in a food processor until it comes together. Press into a large loose-bottomed pie plate (I use 27cm). Refrigerate 30 mins or freeze for 10 minutes then bake blind at 160’C for 15 minutes. Cool.
Zest of 1 lemon
150ml lemon juice
Whisk together till light and fluffy. Then add the lemon juice (about 3 lemons) and cream. Mix well. Pour into pastry case and bake 20-24 minutes at 160’C until it just sets and the middle is still wobbly.