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!


Chelsea & Me: Fresh Mint & Chocolate Slice

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 & MeWhen we moved into our new house two years ago, I was excited about having a bigger vegetable garden. The previous owners were keen gardeners, but as with most people who put their houses on the market, they’d let the vege patch go a little. As a result, the mint was flourishing. And by flourishing, I mean it was starting to take over like a scene from The Day of the Triffids.

Over the past two summers, we spent a lot of time eradicating it from the vege garden, and suddenly…we had no mint. No mint AT ALL. My mum gave me a mint root to plant in a pot (“Contain it!” she said. “Contain it goooood.”), aaaaand I forgot about it for a few weeks. When I found that dry, shrivelled root outside one day, I decided to shove it in some potting mix anyway, and wouldn’t you know, we now have a lovely pot of fresh mint in the front yard.

fresh mint & chocolate slice - chelsea winter fresh mint & chocolate slice - chelsea winter We’ve been making mojitos, adding it to fizzy water with slices of lemon and lime, and making Fresh Mint & Chocolate Slice.

Oh my. This slice is amazing. The biscuity base is chocolately but not too sweet. The mint cream is rather sweet, but offset by the inclusion of chopped fresh mint leaves. The dark chocolate icing…well…I don’t think you need me to wax lyrical about that, do you??

fresh mint & chocolate slice - chelsea winterThis recipe can be found in Everyday Delicious, but it’s also online here. If you have mint taking over your garden or politely keeping to itself in a pot, you should make this slice. It’s supposed to keep for up to a week in the fridge, but I doubt it will last that long!

(Chopping board from Needle and Nail)

Chelsea & Me: Pizza

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’s something about making pizza dough that I find both satisfying and frustrating. I love that it is so easy to create your own bases on the cheap, but I really don’t enjoy the kneading. However, I’ve tried many no-knead versions and they just don’t have that same texture as a base that’s been pummeled massaged gently for a good ten minutes.

Pizza Dough - Chelsea Winter The pizza dough recipe in At My Table is very easy and relatively quick to make – the mixture rises quite quickly in a warm environment, and even though there’s still a lot of kneading involved, it’s kinda worth it in the end. The recipe makes a lot of dough, but it freezes really well, so I often make the full batch, pop one or two portions in the freezer, and when there are enough in there for a meal, out they come, almost as good as fresh.

The pizza sauce recipe is pretty standard; I switch between using it, plain tomato paste, or my own pizza sauce recipe, depending on what kind of pizzas we’re having, and how much time I have to spare.

Chelsea offers seven topping recipes, and we’ve tried five of them:

Chilli, olive and tomato – enjoyed by the adults, not by the children. They were wary of the delicious, salty wee anchovies, and the slices of tomato.

Greek lamb – this cheese-lee baby was really tasty, and even though my boys picked off the tomato, they liked the flavour of the lamb. I’ve also tried it with the addition of crumbled feta (pictured on the slightly over-cooked pizza below) which adds an extra sharpness that I liked but was a definite no-no for my babies.

Greek Lamb Pizza - Chelsea WinterPrawn, garlic and aioli – YUM. We are a prawn-loving family, and this simple pizza is now one of our favourites. Occasionally I’ll leave the cheese off my portion, but the boys (all three of ’em) prefer it to have a little hint of stretchy mozzarella.

Proscuitto, mozzarella and basil – given the price of proscuitto and fresh mozzarella, I’ve only made this once for a date-night-in dinner. The flavours were so good – the saltiness of the proscuitto was tempered by the fresh mozzarella and the freshness of the basil. I like pizzas where there are toppings added after cooking, as it keeps things texturally interesting and flavours high.

Salmon, caper and cream cheese – another divine seafood offering, using parmesan cheese. The addition of fresh rocket and lemon juice before serving cuts through the richness of the salmon and cream cheese, and we love capers. I always add a little sprinkling of dried dill, simply because I love it, and it works really well with this flavour combination.

Salmon, Caper and Cream Cheese Pizza - Chelsea WinterI don’t bother using any other pizza dough recipe now (the grease marks on the page are testament to that fact!), and it’s always nice to have suggestions for toppings when the motivation to create something that looks and tastes pretty is low.

Recipe: Roasted Eggplant and Mushroom Curry

This curry probably should have served four, but it was so tasty that Tall and I ate the whole lot between us. It was delicious and filling, especially when served with homemade chapati.

Eggplant & Mushroom Curry Eggplant & Mushroom Curry Roasted Eggplant and Mushroom Curry – serves 2-4

2 large eggplant (aubergine)
rice bran or canola oil
1/2 tsp yellow or black mustard seeds
1 bunch spring onions, sliced
200g button mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on the size
1 zucchini (courgette), sliced into bite-sized chunks
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped (seeded removed if you don’t like much heat)
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp each: ground cumin, ground coriander, salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
fresh coriander

Preheat oven to 200degC. Brush the eggplants all over with oil and prick with a fork a few times. Bake for 35 minutes, until soft.

While the eggplant are roasting, heat 1-2 Tbsp of oil in a wok and fry the mustard seeds until they begin to spit. Add the spring onions, mushrooms, zucchini, garlic and chilli and fry for about five minutes.

Stir in the dry spices and salt; fry for a further 3-4 minutes then add the tomatoes and simmer gently for another 5 minutes.

Cut the eggplant in half and scoop the soft insides into a bowl. Mash to a coarse consistency with a fork, then add to the wok with a handful of fresh coriander leaves.

Bring to the boil; simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Serve sprinkled with more fresh coriander leaves, with plain basmati rice or chapati and mango chutney alongside.

In Our Garden

I love watching our garden spring into life at this time of year. The new, brilliantly-green leaves on the trees, the bursts of colour as flowers bloom…everything about this time of year magically whispers, then yells, of growth and change and promise.

This is our second spring here, and we are still watching, learning, planning and bluffing our way along. We’re not gardeners, but we’re learning to be, and we’re excited to see things grow and change and adapt.

It’s a bit like parenting, really.

Vege patch Pea plants Radishes Strawberry plants in pot Mesclun and spinach Vege patch Thyme IMG_6189 Rhododendron Urban gardenThose plastic bottles covering my mesclun seedlings? My dad’s clever idea. They have two purposes: they act as mini glasshouses, and they protect the tender little plants from hungry hedgehogs and other garden pests. His thumbs are greener than a leprechaun’s top hat.

The weeds? They’re all my own.

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

Meal Planning

8pm on a Sunday night is not the best time, in my opinion, to plan the week’s meals. Such a task deserves more time and concentration than I can offer at that time of night, especially after an early start to the day, and a mini road trip during which I struggled (and possibly failed) to stay awake.

However, I did manage to come up with a vaguely coherent menu and subsequent shopping list…tomorrow’s supermarket visit will be the true test.

In no particular order, this week we’ll be dining on:

Pumpkin risotto (with added bacon)
Easy Butter Chicken (a Chelsea Winter recipe that my boys loved; this time I’m attempting her naan breads as well)
Prawn marinara (I’ll make it up as I go along)
Lamb and salad kebabs (the pita bread sort; I’m hoping I still have bulgar wheat so I can make tabbouleh)
Fish Thai green curry (a throw-it-all-in speciality of mine)
Steak sarnies with caramelised onions (date night in before Tall heads away for work for two weeks)

Not a bad meal plan for a half-hearted effort.

Here, be distracted by how adorable my babies looked sharing a bed at their aunty’s house over the weekend:


Meal Planning

We’re all starting to shed our latest colds – slowly – which has meant my boys are back to eating like tiny little horses. What this translates to is last week’s entire menu being a raging success.

Yes, I did just high five myself.

This week’s menu is heavy on seafood and vegetarian dishes (shhh, don’t tell my husband), and the groceries came in under budget, whoop whoop. It’s also Chelsea Winter-heavy too. Again.

Sunday: steak with mushroom and bacon sauce – from At My Table; very tasty
Monday: cajun chicken burgers with avocado mayonnaise – as above; Pickle was the only one who didn’t like this
Tuesday: seafood fettucine – as above; my boys hoovered this last week, and I’m hoping they’ll do the same again
Wednesday: aloo gobi – from Curry; a dry potato and cauliflower curry
Thursday: creamy spinach and salmon fettucine – from At My Table
Friday:  mushroom soup – as above
Saturday: Spanish omelette

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 Café 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

Meal Planning

This week’s menu is a real mixture of family favourites and new recipes. I’m still enjoying flicking through different cookbooks and selecting a few to try each week, while trying to keep our food bill down. It was interesting watching Jamie Oliver’s new show, Save with Jamie, over the weekend – a reminder at how expensive fresh fruit and vegetables are here in New Zealand. As my boys get bigger and hungrier, I can see that our eating habits will change, and I’ll have to get over my snobbish views on frozen vegetables!

Fish Wraps.jpgSunday: fish wraps with mango salsa – a Chelsea Winter recipe that is fresh, inexpensive and delicious. My boys won’t eat the salsa because it has tomatoes in it, but they hoover up wraps and the fish like it’s their last meal on earth!
Monday: lasagna – a perennial favourite.
Tuesday: chipotle pork tortillas with apple slaw – I’m looking forward to trying this one! Wish I could remember where it’s from, though…
Wednesday: pea and ham soup with bread – from At My Table.
Thursday: chicken enchiladas – one of Tiny’s favourites, and super-easy (I cheat by using a jar of enchilada sauce, which makes this a quick weeknight dinner before yoga).
Friday: leftover soup
Saturday: Mid-to-Late-Winter Christmas Dinner – a catch-up with some cricketing friends and partners.