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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Chelsea & Me: Eggs Benedict

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 & MeOnce upon a time, in a small flat in St Albans, England, my husband made the most amazing hollandaise sauce from scratch, all by himself. He used every pot, pan and utensil in that small galley kitchen, but the resulting sauce was really good. Thinking to myself, “How hard can it be?”, I tried to reproduce his efforts one day, and it was rubbish. The mixture curdled and split, and no matter how may times I tried again, I just couldn’t get it right.

Fast forward six or so years, and I decided to try again. There was a recipe for Eggs Benedict in my then-new Chelsea Winter cookbook, and it didn’t look so hard. One Sunday lunchtime, when husband was away and my parents were coming for lunch, I assembled everything I needed, ensure the children were distracted by their grandparents and set to work.

I doubled the recipe, as the original is for two servings, and took my time. I made sure the pan of simmering water under the egg and butter mixture was barely simmering, and I whisked until my arm nearly fell off. I timed the eggs, and toasted the muffins to perfection, and when I dished it up, I may have danced a happy dance right there in the kitchen.

Eggs Benedict - Chelsea WinterIt was good. So good. Lip-smackingly, plate-licklingly good. The hollandaise was perfectly lemony, and the yolks were oozy and delicious. When husband returned home, I couldn’t wait to tell him about the dish, and with a cheeky glint in his eye, he said, “You’re going to have to prove it.”

Eggs Benedict - Chelsea WinterAnd prove it, I have. About twice a month, on a Sunday, I make us Eggs Benedict for breakfast. I’ve failed at the sauce just once, and that was when I stuck to the quantities in the recipe. It seems I am rubbish at making holldandaise that serves two, but an expert at making hollandaise that, in theory, serves four. Which it doesn’t. I don’t need to look up the recipe anymore; it’s etched into my brain so strongly that it’s second nature now. Thanks to Chelsea, I think I can say that I am now a bit of a hollandaise master.

Spanish Omelette

I wish I could find my copy of ‘Let’s Cook’, by Alison Holst.

Actually, I know where it is – under the back of the fridge, helping to compensate for our sloping floor – but I just can’t get to it. This was the first cook book I ever owned, along with the brilliantly-titled follow-up, ‘Let’s Cook Some More’. One of them has the most hideous delightful 1980s photo on the cover. They were aimed at kids, with simple, healthy, fun recipes, many with names like “Cornstack Mountains” (creamed corn and cheese on toast) and “Peppermint Pillows” (homemade Oddfellows).

One of the first meals I learned to make came from these books – a recipe for a Spanish Omelette. Since then, this has been a standard fall-back dish whenever I’ve been short on time, money or inspiration – and often all three.

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When we were travelling in South America, I made a lot of omelettes. They were cheap, required no fancy kitchen equipment, and when served with a salad and crusty bread, made for a filling meal. They were a guaranteed “safe” meal during pregnancy, and I could easily ask for the ingredients in Spanish.

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I’ve been known to throw extra vegetables (finely diced zucchini, mushroom, capsicum) or cheese in, but this plain version is still my favourite. I’m pretty sure there are lots of variations floating around, but this one is pretty good.

Spanish Omelette – serves 2-3

10g butter
1T olive oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 red onion, finely diced
2 large potatoes, finely diced
salt & pepper
fresh parsley, chopped

Over a medium heat, melt butter and oil in a lidded frying pan.

Add potato and onions, and fry, stirring, for three minutes. Cover the pan, reduce the heat, and cook a further 10-15 minutes until tender.

Season the eggs. Add a small handful of parsley, reserving some for later. Mix well.

Spread the potatoes and onions evenly in the pan, then pour in the eggs.

Leave to set (covered or uncovered), scraping cooked egg aside to let the uncooked egg run into the gaps.

Once the egg is cooked to your liking, remove from the heat. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Delicious served warm or cold, with crusty bread (in crusty bread!) or a simple garden salad, or on its own.

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Original recipe inspiration: Alison Holst

Roasted Vegetable Quiche

On the rare occasion that we have vegetables leftover at the end of the week, I always try to use them all up in one foul swoop. I’ve used them to make vegetable soup, Pastry Squares and Roasted Vegetable Muffins, but this time, I wanted something a bit more substantial.

I found a recipe for a quiche pastry that used ricotta cheese (a tub of which was also found lurking in the back of the fridge), and decided that the leftover vegetables could be thrown together into something quite delicious.

I cut the vegetables in a dice of approximately 1cm, as I wanted this to be a chunky quiche. I used a yellow capsicum, but aesthetically, I think a red would look so nice. However, at the price they are at the moment, looks are definitely NOT everything!

Roasted Vegetable Quiche – serves 4-6

1 large potato, peeled and diced
400g pumpkin, peeled, de-seeded and diced
200g kumara or sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
1 capsicum, diced
1 onion, peeled and cut into wedges
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 T olive oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4c plain flour
40g butter
40g ricotta cheese
1c milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 – 1/2c grated cheese
fresh basil leaves, shredded

Preheat oven to 200degC.

Combine vegetables in a large roasting dish with olive oil; season well and bake for one hour. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Combine flour, butter and ricotta in a food processor; gradually add up to 3 T of the milk, to form a soft dough.

Roll mixture into a ball and cover with cling film; refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Lightly grease a quiche dish or flan tin with olive oil or oil spray.

Roll pastry out on a floured surface; gently fit to dish and trim edges.

Turn oven down to 180degC; blind-bake pastry for 10 minutes, then bake a further 10 minutes with blind-baking paraphernalia removed.

Combine remaining milk, eggs, cheese and basil in a small bowl.

Spoon vegetables onto pastry (you’ll end up with quite a mound); tip egg mixture over the top and bake for 70 minutes, or until set.

Stand for at least five minutes before serving.

* This was a fantastic way of getting our toddler to eat a LOT of vegetables in one go – he protested and earned himself a stint in time out, but eventually ate a good triangle and actually enjoyed it!

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Pastry Recipe: Family Circle ‘Low-Fat Recipes’

Toddler Bites

For a toddler such as Tiny, who has two food-loving parents, the variety of foods he has been exposed to from a young age is vast. We started him on baby-led weaning at around seven months, and by 18 months, he was already showing a preference for smoked salmon, ciabatta, basil pesto and paté.

However, as an almost two-and-a-half year old, he has turned into a rather fussy eater, much to my chagrin.

He’ll eat fruit like there’s no tomorrow, and has been known to eat a mound of plain pasta on numerous occasions. He’ll eat roast pork, and risotto, and loves lasagne. He’s not big on vegetables but can be persuaded to eat broccoli, and will chow down on raw carrot if he can dip it in hummus or cream cheese. He’ll always ask for a “chocolate” (Nutella, or similar) or paté sandwich at lunchtime, and enjoys a good meal of fish and chips.

I’m forever trying to come up with meals we can share together, but the battles at dinner time make for an unenjoyable experience, and with a six-week-old thrown into the mix….let’s just say he’s been eating a lot of pasta-and-pesto lately!

Recently, however, I tried two new dishes which seemed to go down a treat. They were both easy and quick, used ingredients I usually have on hand, and could easily be eaten hot or cold – ideal when dinner can take a looooong time.

Mac and Cheese Bites

The first was inspired by Pinterest and Tiny’s love of macaroni cheese. I took my basic mac cheese recipe (bacon, cheese sauce, macaroni), and instead of baking it in a big dish like I normally would, I spooned it into medium-sized muffin pans. The cheese sauce held the macaroni together and the resulting bites were delicious and were easy for Tiny to eat with his hands (cutlery is soooo last week, didn’t you know? Yeah…me neither!), meaning less pasta on the floor, and more in his belly.

The second was inspired by a recipe in ‘River Cottage Baby & Toddler Cookbook’ called Helen’s Egg Parcels.

Eggy Bites

Eggy Bites – makes 12

4 eggs, lightly beaten
2T milk or cream
1t butter, melted
salt & pepper
50g ham, chopped*
half a zucchini, grated*
50g cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 200degC.

Lightly beat the eggs, milk and butter to combine; season according to taste (or omit if you prefer).

Pour the mixture into lightly-greased muffin pans, filling each about two-thirds full.

Sprinkle ham and zucchini over top, and finish with a sprinkle of cheese.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until puffed and golden. Cool in the pan for five minutes (they will sink down again).

Serve warm or cold.

* Leave out the ham to make these meatless, and add other veges for more substance. Finely chopped, cooked and drained spinach or mushrooms would be nice.

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Recipe inspired by: River Cottage Baby & Toddler Cookbook