Book Review & GIVEAWAY: Edmonds Best of Baking

FBBanner_EdmondsBaking_BLOGTOUR_1200x628

My nana was an atrocious cook but an utterly amazing baker. Her cream sponges and Neenish tarts were phenomenal, and she made the best griddle scones in the history of the world. I can remember her battered, tattered, splattered old copy of the Edmonds Cookbook, and the way she only used it to check that her memory of the recipes was right.

Hokey Pokey Biscuits

When asked if I’d like to review the new Edmonds Best of Baking, it was a no-brainer: I’ve grown up baking with Edmonds, and I knew that it would contain a variety of simple yet delicious, decadent, beautiful recipes that would appeal to my children, and to me. Recipes that wouldn’t need fancy, expensive or hard-to-find ingredients; recipes that would contain copious amounts of those current evils, butter and sugar, and would therefore taste amazing.

Choosing a recipe to try was difficult, purely because I bookmarked at least eleven on my first flick through. Once I’d narrowed it down, I still couldn’t choose between the finalists, so I didn’t: I made them all.

IMG_8247

First up were the Hokey Pokey Biscuits, which I remember my mum making when I was little. There really can’t be an easier or faster biscuit recipe than this – these tasty cookies were ready for eatin’ within half an hour of the decision to bake. My boys (including the adult one) loved them, and they didn’t last long; we like a chewy cookie so I cooked them for the shortest recommended time, and they were perfect. These have now made it to top spot on my “Help! I’m out of baking for the lunchboxes” list, due to the speed with which they’re ready, and the fact that I will always have all the ingredients in my pantry.

IMG_8430IMG_8431

Next I decided to try the lemon version of the Basic Biscuits. Again, these were super-easy and I had everything I needed, and the addition of the lemon zest made these wee cookies something special. They were buttery and a little like shortbread, zingy with lemon but not overpoweringly so. I turned these babies into spider cookies for my babiest one’s fourth birthday party, and unsurprisingly, there were none left! I’m keen to give the spice version a go soon.

IMG_8441

Lastly, on a bit of a whim, I made Chocolate Eclairs (also for the party table). Except I made chocolate puffs (piping the mixture as Cream Puffs, as suggested), filled with a white chocolate custard. I don’t know why people are scared of making eclairs and puffs, as they are incredibly easy; the Edmonds recipe was very straightforward and these puppies turned out brilliantly, despite the fact that I accidentally turned the power to the oven off during the second stage of cooking.

IMG_8442

There are many, many appealing recipes in Edmonds Best of Baking, some of which will be very familiar to those of us who’ve grown up in New Zealand. Each recipe is accompanied by beautiful photography which will have you drooling from page to page. It is said that we feast with our eyes first, and for me, a winning recipe book is one that features pictures of each dish, on which Edmonds Best of Baking definitely delivers. Based on the photos alone, I want to try making the Warm Gingerbread Date Cake (I KNOW!! Sounds amaaaaaazing, right?!), and the Honey Tea Buns next!

And guess what? You might get the chance to try them too, because the kind folks at Hachette New Zealand have given me an extra copy of Edmonds Best of Baking to give away to one lucky reader!

Simply comment below with your favourite item to bake, and you’re in the draw!

Competition closes on Friday 24 June, at 8pm (NZ time). Open worldwide.

Chelsea & Me: Spiced Pumpkin Muffins

Chelsea & Me

Chelsea Winter. Winner of Masterchef NZ in 2012, author of three cookbooks, and my go-to gal when I’m in a recipe funk. At My Table and Everyday Delicious and now her new book, Homemade Happiness, are the most-used and most-recommended cookbooks in my kitchen, so I’m making it my mission to try every recipe.
~~~~~~~~~

I’m not a huge muffin fan, but I do love pumpkin and something about this recipe really caught my eye. I think it was the idea of pumpkin and brown sugar dancing together in the mixture, creating a magical caramel batter with hints of ginger, nutmeg and cloves.

spiced pumpkin muffins

The recipe is very simple and quick, like all good muffin recipes should be. The only lengthy part of the process was chopping and cooking the pumpkin, but once it was simmering away on the stove I was able to get all the other ingredients together and clear up as I went.

spiced pumpkin muffins

But what you really want to know is, “What did they taste like??”, right?

spiced pumpkin muffins

Amazing. Delicious. Sweet. Spicy. Fluffy.

spiced pumpkin muffins

I didn’t tell my kids that they contained pumpkin, and they both scoffed them down; knowing it was the main ingredient, I could taste it, but if I didn’t know….well…I wouldn’t have known. The flavour was subtle, and the cinnamon and Demerara topping was a lovely addition; the soft, fluffy muffin combined with the sweet, crunchy topping was really, really good.

(This recipe can be found in Everyday Delicious.)

Chelsea & Me: Eggplant Parmigiana

Chelsea & Me

Chelsea Winter. Winner of Masterchef NZ in 2012, author of three cookbooks, and my go-to gal when I’m in a recipe funk. At My Table and Everyday Delicious and now her new book, Homemade Happiness, are the most-used and most-recommended cookbooks in my kitchen, so I’m making it my mission to try every recipe.
~~~~~~~~~

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know how much I love eggplant. When I saw that At My Table featured a recipe for one of my favourite dishes, Eggplant Parmigiana, I might have danced around the kitchen with the book clasped to my chest.

I had high expectations, and was prepared for disappointment, but Chelsea’s recipe is a definite winner. The first time I made it, Tall was out for a schmoozy work dinner, and I think I ate the portion that would have been his, as well as my own. The next day, friends came for a play date, and I cringe a little now as I recall that I actually forced them to try it (sorry ladies!).

Eggplant Parmigiana

The chunky, crunchy breadcrumbs on top were in delicious textural contrast to the soft eggplant, and the pinch of chilli flakes lifted an otherwise-ordinary tomato sauce to a soul-soaringly high level. The combination of flavours and textures all works so well to make a really tasty dish that is quite delightful to eat.

The recipe serves four, but as my kids don’t like eggplant (“It’s too mushy!” they cry), I serve this with a big green salad and some crusty bread, and there are enough leftovers for Tall’s lunch the next day, and dinner the next night.

Chelsea & Me: Pies

Chelsea & Me

Chelsea Winter. Winner of Masterchef NZ in 2012, author of three cookbooks, and my go-to gal when I’m in a recipe funk. At My Table and Everyday Delicious are the most-used and most-recommended cookbooks in my kitchen, so I’m making it my mission to try every recipe. And of course, her new book, Homemade Happiness, is on my Christmas wish-list!

If you offer me a mince pie from the local bakery, I’ll wrinkle my nose and politely decline the offer. If you offer me a Chelsea Winter pie, I’ll launch myself at you and cover you in kisses.

Ms Winter knows her pies, that’s for sure.

Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Pie
Chelsea promotes this pie as being the one to make someone fall in love with you, and having made it a few times, I think she might be onto something. The combination of chicken, mushroom and spinach is delicious on its own, but when you add that wholegrain mustard…wow. The great thing about this pie is that you can use any vegetables you like, and it’ll still be awesome.

chicken pie

Smoked Fish Pie
I like a bit of fish pie, me – it’s a bit retro, and reminds me of my mum. Chelsea’s version is nice (I like the addition of capers and gherkins), but it takes a while to make, and I’m not convinced that it was worth the effort. It’s tasty, but I’ve tried quicker versions which are just as good.

Slow-cooked Steak, Guinness and Cheese Pie
This is a real pie, according to my husband. Meaty and heavily-flavoured, it ticks all the boxes for a great winter’s meal, especially because the oven keeps the kitchen nice and warm for over three hours! I like that it takes a cheaper cut of meat and turns it into something quite special, however I would suggest using less meat than the recipe says.

Beef and Guinness Pie

Little Chicken Pies
This recipe is very similar to the chicken pie above, but takes much less time to prepare. It’s not as tasty, in our opinion, but my boys loved having little pies instead of a wedge of a bigger one. I did find I needed more than 400g pastry, but maybe I didn’t roll it out thinly enough.

Beef and Red Wine Potato-Top Bake
This was another slow-cooked ugly cut of meat pie, but didn’t hit the mark the same as the above steak pie. It was okay, but nothing special.

Moroccan Lamb Pie
This one is a goody! Great flavours, and although the ingredient list is long, most of the items are spices so it’s not as daunting as you think. However, there is a bit of planning ahead required, so it might not be a mid-week pie.

moroccan lamb pie2

Chelsea & Me: Burgers

Chelsea & Me

Chelsea Winter. Winner of Masterchef NZ in 2012, author of three cookbooks, and my go-to gal when I’m in a recipe funk. At My Table and Everyday Delicious are the most-used and most-recommended cookbooks in my kitchen, so I’m making it my mission to try every recipe. And of course, her new book, Homemade Happiness, is on my Christmas wish-list!
~~~~~~~~~~~

When I was growing up, hamburgers were a treat meal that dad cooked on the barbecue, while mum filled dish after dish with every possible topping imaginable. The burger was always a pattie made from mince, and there was never any deviation from this.

Fast-forward to burgers in our house, and so much has changed. The pattie might be made of any minced meat, or it might not be a pattie – or meat – at all. It might be a piece of pan-fried blue cod, or a mixture of chicken mince and Thai-style flavours, or a crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside falafel. The extras are just as varied, although I must say that a beef burger without beetroot just isn’t worth the effort.

Chelsea has a number of burger recipes that will take you out of any burger rut you might be in – and with the barbecue season upon us here in the southern hemisphere, what better time to get you inspired??

Cajun Chicken Burgers with Avocado and Mayo
Made with boneless chicken thighs, these burgers are slightly spicy and highly delicious, especially if they are charred a little on the barbecue. The homemade Cajun seasoning is so easy, made with ingredients you’re likely to have in your pantry already, and while it was spicy, the avocado and mayonnaise helped to cool the palate down. My children don’t like mayonnaise (whaaaaaaaaat??), but they still gobbled down the chicken and didn’t complain about the heat at all.

Barbecued Chicken Burgers
These burgers were very Greek in flavour, and the herby feta mayonnaise was delicious. To avoid over-dosing on dairy, I left out the cheese that Chelsea melts onto the buns, and to be honest, I don’t think it was missed. The rest of the ingredients were simple and full of flavour and crunch.

Fresh Salmon Burgers
The first time I made these, my patties fell apart because I hadn’t diced the salmon finely enough. The second time, I was much more vicious, and the patties held together beautifully. The flavour of these burgers is divine, and keeping the extras to a minimum ensures that the salmon is the (excuse the Masterchef-esque speak) hero of the dish. All three of my males loved these and fought over the extra patties.

Fresh Salmon Burgers

Steak and Bacon Sandwiches with Smoky Mayo and Crispy Onion Rings
These burgers are not for the faint-hearted…they are what an old work colleague would have called a “heart-attack sandwich”. Despite the heaviness and manliness of the recipe, the combination of flavours was delicious. The smoky mayo (mayo + smoked paprika) was genius, and cut through a bit of the fattiness. The onion rings were a bit moreish, and I had to stop myself from sampling too many; they were super-easy (if a bit messy) to make.

Tandoori-Style Chicken Burgers
Yum. Another interesting option for a chicken burger, but one that my entire family loved. I have noted in the margin of the recipe to use less chilli powder next time, which probably means they were a bit spicy for my bublettes.

Chelsea’s Cheeseburgers with Secret Sauce
Apparently this is one of the public’s favourite Chelsea recipes, but I’m afraid I’m going to buck the trend and say we found them just okay. The burger patties were okay, and the secret sauce was okay, but I’m not rushing to make them again. I don’t know what it was, but none of us were big fans…you’ll have to try them for yourselves and see!

Chelsea's Cheeseburgers with Secret Sauce

Lamb Burgers with Fresh Beetroot Relish
These delicious burgers got the big thumbs up from my beetroot-hating husband – he even took aaaaall the leftovers for his lunch the following day. The patties were full of flavour and really tender without being sloppy, and the beetroot relish…I could have eaten it by the spoonful!

Pulled Pork Burgers
From the moment I discovered pulled pork, I was hooked, and these wee beauties appealed from the moment I received Everyday Delicious. When I finally made them, I was not disappointed – they were awesome. They take a lot more effort than your average burger, but the effort is worth it. The tender pork combined with the zesty dressing was a mixture made in heaven; the crackling was a great textural element too.

Chelsea & Me: Salads

Chelsea & Me

Chelsea Winter. Winner of Masterchef NZ in 2012, author of three cookbooks, and my go-to gal when I’m in a recipe funk. At My Table and Everyday Delicious are the most-used and most-recommended cookbooks in my kitchen, so I’m making it my mission to try every recipe. And of course, her new book, Homemade Happiness, is on my Christmas wish-list!
~~~~~~~~~~~

Like soup, salads are one of my favourite dinner options. As the weather gets warmer, I crave the freshness and lightness of salads, and Chelsea’s offerings have all come up trumps.

Bacon, Pumpkin & Chickpea Salad with Feta Dressing
Pumpkin and bacon in a salad can never be wrong, right (unless you’re vegetarian)? This was a really tasty dish, although I noticed all three of my boys picked out the chickpeas! I’ve written in the margin of this recipe that the dressing was very garlicky, but I also remember it being quite nice, so if I make this one again, maybe I’ll omit the raw garlic in the dressing.

Chicken Caesar Salad
I’ve never been a huge caesar salad fan, always finding them very salty and bit too rich, but this recipe was different, fresher and lighter somehow. The homemade dressing still had that rich, anchovy flavour but without the heaviness, and I think the chunkiness of the chicken and croutons especially made it better (I didn’t feel like every inch of bread was soaked in dressing; some mouthfuls had only the tiniest amount of dressing). I’ll be making this one again! You can find the recipe here.

Haloumi & Vege Salad with Capsicum Dressing
I’ve made this salad countless times and it remains a firm favourite. It features some of my favourite things: Portobello mushrooms, courgette, red onion, haloumi (squeaky cheese!!) and red capsicum. The herby capsicum dressing is wonderfully sweet and piquant and works so well with the cheese. I’m actually drooling a little as I think about it…

roasted vege and haloumi salad (Chelsea Winter)

Kumara & Asparagus Salad
I really liked this recipe, but none of the boys were all that fussed. It was possibly because I made it towards the end of summer when we were feeling a bit asparagussed-out, but I thought the flavour combo was lovely and the textures were deliciously contrasting.

Summer Chicken Salad
One of the most-made recipes from either of Chelsea’s books, this salad is so easy and super-tasty. Actually, the salad itself is pretty standard, but the herb and feta dressing is out-of-this-world-amazing. The combination of salad ingredients can be mixed up to suit your family, but the addition of the sweetcorn and crispy noodles are quite enlightened. And the dressing…have I mentioned the dressing? Tall and I fight over the last dregs, it’s that good. This is a great dish for fussy little people too, as you can serve all the components separately before mixing the rest together for non-fussy big people.

Summer Chicken Salad (Chelsea Winter)

Tricolore Salad
The combination of fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil is one that takes me right back to our time in Italy, and I think Chelsea’s recipe is a fitting replica. I made this for myself one evening when Tall was away for work, and ate the whole lot after thinking I’d save some for the following night. It’s fresh, light and delicious, and pretty as well.

Steak Salad with Crispy Onions & Herby Garlic Ciabatta
I’m only including this with the rest of these salads because Chelsea has called it a “salad”, however it’s much heartier than that might imply. The salad merely provides a bed for the steak to relax on; it’s a lighter backdrop for the crispy fried onions which aren’t particularly healthy that I could’ve eaten on their own which are a lovely textural topping. Flavourwise – yum, although Tall thought the dressing was a bit creamy (“This must be a Chelsea Winter dressing”).

Roast Chicken Salad with Super-Dressing
I’d never used Israeli couscous before, and my children were a little suspicious of this dish at first. They love couscous, and pasta, but took some convincing that this was a delightful mash-up of them both. I really liked the flavour and texture combos (pumpkin in salads = winner), but left out the grapes simply because I forgot to get them. Apparently the dressing for this salad is from Ray McVinnie – it was full of flavour and worked really well with the chicken and couscous.

Roast Chicken Salad with Super-Dressing (Chelsea Winter)

Smoked Salmon Salad
Such a classic combination of ingredients, all serving to complement the smoked salmon to perfection. Cornichons, capers and red onion are all smoked salmon’s BFF, and they are definitely harmonious in this recipe. The dressing had a nice tang with the inclusion of natural yoghurt.

Asparagus & Chorizo Salad
Yum yum yum. I love asparagus, and chorizo, so this was one of the first recipes from Everyday Delicious that I made. It was such a simple salad to make, and the while the flavours were all quite simple, together they had a real punch. I’ve also made this using courgette instead of asparagus, and while it’s still good, using asparagus is definitely tastier.

Asparagus & Chorizo salad (Chelsea Winter)

Chelsea & Me: Soups

Chelsea & Me

Chelsea Winter. Winner of Masterchef NZ in 2012, author of three cookbooks, and my go-to gal when I’m in a recipe funk. At My Table and Everyday Delicious are the most-used and most-recommended cookbooks in my kitchen, so I’m making it my mission to try every recipe. And of course, her new book, Homemade Happiness, is on my Christmas wish-list!
~~~~~~~~~~~

On a cold winter or autumn night, there’s nothing more warming than sitting down for a bowl of soup served with bread hot from the oven. We all like soup, and as long as there’s enough buttery bread to go with it, no one in this household complains that soup isn’t a meal.

We’ve tried all of the soups in At My Table and Everyday Delicious, and all have been hearty, warming and delicious.

My Chicken Laksa
I don’t quite know what to say about this one…it was bloody marvellous! Making the curry paste from scratch added so much depth of flavour; I finally found shrimp paste and what a difference it made to that depth! I hoped this wasn’t going to be too spicy for my boys, but I needn’t have worried – they ate it all, and asked for seconds (in fact, Pickle ended up finishing mine, cheeky monkey). I only used two fresh chillies, but garnished mine and Tall’s with another, which added a great amount of extra zing.

My Chicken Laksa (Chelsea Winter)

Leek & Potato Soup with Gruyere Crust
Yum. I’ve never been too fond of leek & potato soup, but this was a winning recipe. I over-cooked the spuds slightly so we ended up with a thicker soup than expected, but the taste was definitely up there. I pureed it for the boys and they really liked it. I didn’t have any gruyere, but made the wee cheesy toasts using my favourite Mainland Noble cheddar, and they were a great accompaniment. You can find the recipe here.

Leek & Potato Soup (Chelsea Winter)

Mushroom Soup with Buttery Garlic Mushroom Toppers
As the boys don’t like mushrooms, I’ve made this as a date night in dinner a few times. The recipe says it serves 3-4, but…..it doesn’t. It’s such a gorgeous soup, and the crunchy, garlicky mushroom toppers are so delightful, that hubs and I finish the whole pot between us. The combination of flavours is so simple but so magical…I’d go so far as to say that this is one of my favourite soups everrrrrrrrr.

Pea & Ham Soup
Hearty, filling and tasty, this soup (Chelsea’s Oma’s recipe) reminds me of my nana. It’s a bit old-fashioned, but with every spoonful, you feel like you’re eating good health. It’s a great way to use up the that leftover ham hock from Christmas, too!

Tomato & Meatball Soup
The idea of this might seem a little strange, and to be honest, this is my least favourite of Chelsea’s soup recipes. It felt like we were eating spaghetti and meatballs but without the spaghetti and with way too much sauce. The flavour of the soup was good; the meatballs were quite plain. This is one I’ve only made once, and I doubt I’ll make it again given my husband’s lukewarm response.

Soul Chicken & Vegetable Soup
Any soup recipe that starts with making your own stock is going to be pretty tasty, and this definitely was. I mixed up the vegetables to suit my little men’s taste, and used alphabet soup pasta, and it went down a treat. It has that taste of goodness about it; I can imagine eating a big bowlful if I wasn’t feeling very well, and instantly feeling better.

Chicken, Corn & Kumara Soup
This recipe is very similar to the chicken soup above, but the flavour is lighter and reminds me more of autumn and spring than winter. It was quick and easy to make, but still very tasty.

Chicken, Corn & Kumara Soup (Chelsea Winter)

Easy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup
Tiny has asked me to make this soup several times – both boys love it, which surprised me a little given they profess not to like half the vegetables in it! I loved that the mushroom stalks were used to flavour the broth, and how clean the flavours were (typically South-East Asian), and that Chelsea gives us the power to adjust the flavours of hot, sweet, salty and sour to suit our own palates.

Easy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup (Chelsea Winter)

Perfect Creamy Seafood Chowder
Seafood chowder is one of those dishes that everyone thinks they can make, but only certain recipes are actually any good. This is one of those – the seafood is the hero of the chowder, with the creamy base hanging subtly back in the shadows. Tall is a big seafood chowder fan and critic, and this recipe got his approval from the first taste. Delicious.