Chelsea & Me: Spanishy-Style Eggs

Chelsea Winter. Winner of Masterchef NZ in 2012, author of two (nearly three, eeeeeek!) 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.

Chelsea & MeThere is something about the combination of runny egg yolk and a smoky tomato sauce that gets me drooling every time. Spanishy-Style Eggs features in the Breakfast section of Everyday Delicious, but we’ve eaten it for dinner (accompanied by fresh ciabatta and a green salad) numerous times and it is deliciously filling and superbly tasty.

Spanishy-Style EggsThe sauce features capsicums and olives, but I’ve also tried adding grated carrot and zucchini to bulk up the vegetable quota when I know my boys are feeling less inclined to eat their greens (or oranges). I also prefer to chargrill the capsicum before adding it to the sauce, but that’s mostly because I find the skin gets stuck in braces.

This meal, like most tomato-based dishes, tastes even better the next day – the depth of flavour is so full and intense. Yum. I feel like a bowlful right now!

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NZ Ninja Bake 2015

Last weekend, stealth ninja-bakers were diving over fences and behind bushes* in their missions to deliver baking to front doors and letterboxes unseen. Unsuspecting recipients were opening their doors and checking their mail, surprised to find baked treats waiting for them.

NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015This is the third Ninja Bake I’ve been involved in (check out 2012 and 2013), and the buzz of baking for deserving lovelies who have been nominated by their equally-lovely friends is yet to wear off. There’s something pretty special about secretly making a stranger’s day alongside other anonymous bakers. There’s something pretty special about being involved in an event that lets people know that what they do and what they are going through is acknowledged and not un-noticed.

One of my favourite parts of this year’s bake has been seeing the number of bakers who have also been nominees, proving that good people attract other good people. Reading about their surprise at leaving to get their ninja on and finding they’ve been “bombed” was a really inspiring part of this weekend.

NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015By some stroke of luck, the person I was to bake for required dairy-free treats, so I made my Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake into cupcakes (18 minutes cooking time for the medium-sized cakes, 13 minutes for the minis). I iced them with a simple vanilla buttercream frosting (diary-free, of course!), packaged them up with the Ninja Bake poem and a Random Acts of Kindness card, and set off to make my delivery. The container was too big to fit in their letterbox, so I had to get brave and deliver to the glass front door. As I raced up, I realised the curtains were pulled, so I’m pretty sure I got away unseen.

NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015 NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015 NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015 NZ Ninja Baking Drop poemCheck out NZ Ninja Baking Drop on Facebook and Instagram, or check out the blog. The event was timed to coincide with the 11th NZ Random Acts of Kindness Day on Tuesday 1st September.

*No ninja bakers were harmed in the delivery of baked goodies

Recipe: Dairy-free Apple Crumble Muffins

Apple Crumble. Synonymous with hibernating at home during the winter, snuggling under blankets and eating your body weight in all things carbohydrate. And ice cream, but that doesn’t really fit with the whole dairy-free idea, does it?

Apple Crumble Muffin I was sent some Equal Spoonful to try baking with, and after two failed attempts (I almost cried over the number of eggs I wasted), I found some tips online, and then set about creating my own muffin recipe, armed with a “What have I got to lose?” attitude. As it turns out, nothing. These little beauties were so delicious, and the absence of real sugar wasn’t even noticeable.

Apple Crumble Muffin Apple Crumble MuffinDairy-free Apple Crumble Muffins – makes 12

2c plain flour
1c Equal Spoonful
2tsp baking powder
1 – 2tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1c apple & nectarine juice (plain apple would be fine)
4Tbsp rice bran oil
1 free-range egg
1 apple, peeled and finely diced
1Tbsp rolled oats

Pre-heat the oven to 180degC. Line a medium muffin tray with 12 paper cases.

In a small bowl, combine the rolled oats and chopped apple. If you wish, you could add 1tsp of white or brown sugar to create a bit more of a crumble crunch to the topping. Set aside.

Sift the flour, Equal Spoonful, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat together the apple juice, oil and egg, then fold gently into the dry ingredients. Don’t overmix – the mixture shouldn’t be smooth.

Evenly fill the paper cases (to about three-quarters full); sprinkle with the combined oats and apple.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the centre of the muffins spring back when lightly pressed, or when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Best eaten warm on the day of baking; keep in an airtight container for no more than 3 days.

Apple Crumble Muffin Apple Crumble Muffin Apple Crumble Muffin

Chelsea & Me: Chicken Cacciatore

Chelsea Winter. Winner of Masterchef NZ in 2012, author of two (nearly three, eeeeeek!) 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.

Chelsea & MeChicken Cacciatore has always been a dish I’ve enjoyed, but one I’ve never been able to fully master. The balance of flavours has always been slightly askew, and while I’ve managed to create a tasty version, there’s just been something missing. Most of the recipes I’ve tried have used chicken drumsticks, which are a bit tricky to eat when smothered in a rich tomato sauce.

Enter Chelsea’s Chicken Cacciatore. The ingredients are uncomplicated and few, and the method couldn’t be simpler. Brown chicken breasts? I can do that. Throw a few sauce ingredients into a pan to simmer and thicken? Yep. Add a few more bits and pieces to create that balance I’ve been searching for? Done!

The first time I made this recipe, the whole chicken breasts took a little longer to cook through than I expected, but we all went back for seconds and basically licked our plates clean. The second time I made it, I started cooking earlier and yep, same as before – clean plates.

Chicken Cacciatore - Chelsea WinterI’ve also made it using chopped chicken breasts, in an effort to make it s-t-r-e-t-c-h a little further – the cooking time is drastically reduced this way. I’ve made it without capers, and the flavour wasn’t quite right, but it was still very tasty. I chargrill fresh peppers – throw quarters under the grill at the same time as you brown the chicken, then pop them in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave the skins to basically sweat loose.

It was easy to make a gluten free version for a kindy teacher and her family following surgery, and it is already dairy free which is perfect for me. It’s a healthy dish, and a great meal for a family – I normally use half the number of chicken breasts (unless they are tiiiiiiny), and there is enough to feed my family of four, with plenty of leftovers for Tall’s lunch.

This is one well-spattered page in At My Table, and a dish I keep returning to when I’m feeling uninspired.

Recipe: Patatas Bravas

Over the weekend, we invited a group of amazing friends to ours for a potluck Tapas Night. I love tapas – any meal comprised of lots of little tasty morsels is a winner for me – and it turns out that this group of friends loves tapas too.

Tapas NZ-style Tapas NZ-style Tapas NZ-styleBy the time all the dishes were heated through, our dining room table was almost bowing under the weight of all the food. It looked pretty impressive, and tasted every bit as good. My friends are good cooks, y’all!

One of my favourite tapas dishes is the piquant patatas bravas. Crispy chunks of potato smothered in a slightly spicy tomato sauce, it’s like fries with ketchup only a thousand times better.

Patatas Bravas Patatas BravasPatatas Bravas – serves 8-12 as part of a tapas meal

2T olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
60ml white wine
400g can chopped tomatoes
2t red wine vinegar
1-2t crushed dried chillies
2t smoked paprika
1kg potatoes
oil for frying

Heat 2T olive oil in a high-sided fry pan; add the onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until softened but not browned.

Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds; add the wine and bring to the boil.

Add the tomatoes, vinegar, chillies and paprika; reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until thickened. Once cooked, blend to a smooth consistency using a stick blender or food processor; set aside.

Cut the unpeeled potatoes into chunky (2cm) pieces.

Heat enough oil for shallow frying in a large fry pan. Add the potatoes and fry over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally. When golden and tender, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Gently reheat the sauce; transfer the potatoes to a warm dish and pour the sauce over top to serve.

Recipe adapted from Tapas Made Simple

Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake

Yesterday was a dear friend’s birthday, and a few of us gathered for a playdate which also involved cake and bubbles. I offered to make the birthday girl a cake; my directives: it must be chocolate, and dairy-free.

I flicked through my trusty hand-written book of favourite recipes (collected over the past 13+ years), and found a recipe that could easily be adapted to become dairy-free; it was also considered low-fat, and suitable for those who can’t eat egg yolks too.

The result was, quite honestly, spectacular. I was really pleased with how light and fluffy the cake was, and it was damn tasty to boot. I was going to get a photo of the inside of the cake, but it didn’t last long enough for that kind of carry on.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake

Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake

3/4 c caster sugar
4T dairy-free margarine
3/4 c boiling water
1 1/4 c self-raising flour
1/4 c cocoa powder
1/2 t baking soda
2 egg whites

Preheat oven to 180degC. Grease and line the base and sides of a ring tin.

Completely dissolve the sugar and margarine in the boiling water.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda into a large bowl; add the liquid mixture and beat with an electric mixer for 60 seconds.

Add the egg whites and beat for a further 30 seconds. Do not overmix.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin (it will be quite liquidy, but don’t worry!), and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes.

Cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Dust with icing sugar, or drizzle with melted dark, dark chocolate, or smother in a dairy-free buttercream frosting:

Melt 50g of dark, dark dairy-free chocolate and set aside to cool*. Beat 100g of dairy-free margarine until pale; gradually beat in 200g icing sugar, and a splash of vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Gently fold in the cooled chocolate and splodge onto the cooled cake (fold in a little water if the frosting is too stiff).

*if you add the hot melted chocolate into the buttercream, it will harden immediately and you’ll end up with a still-delicious-but-not-quite-right chocolate chunk frosting. Trust me on this one – let that chocolate cool.

Meal Planning

Monday again?! Really?? Sigh.

This week’s menu was planned last minute, with a couple of cookbooks dusted off for a look-through. Earlier in the year I got rid of some that I no longer wanted, but recently realised that I kept some that still haven’t been opened in a while.

Meal PlanningI’ve tried to plan mostly dairy-free meals this week, after over-indulging at our Mid-to-Late-Winter Christmas potluck dinner. Suffice to say my system went a little nuts after all the dairy I consumed, so I’m easing back into a dairy-free lifestyle.

Sunday: Sloppy Joes with roasted potatoes – from CafĂ© Classics
Monday: seafood fettucine – from Chelsea’s book
Tuesday: tomato and meatball soup – another Chelsea Winter recipe
Wednesday: Thai chicken curry
Thursday: roasted pork shoulder with apple gravy
Friday: date-night-in tapas – from Tapas