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: Chicken, Chorizo & Butternut Bake

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!

Everything about this recipe appealed to me from the first time I flicked through At My Table. The thought of sweet pumpkin, soft roasted chicken and spicy chorizo set my tastebuds a-tingling. The flavours are very Spanish, and the addition of creamy cannellini beans means this is essentially a one-pan dinner. A marvellously-delicious one-pan dinner.

Chicken, chorizo, butternut bakeThe chicken was soft and tender; the flavoured oil had permeated nicely into the meat. The pumpkin was super-sweet, and combined with the chorizo and lemony onions…heaven on a fork.

My boys (all three) aren’t big bean fans, and the littlest ones don’t like pumpkin, but they enjoyed the rest of the dish. I thought the flavour and texture combinations were sublime, and this has quickly become one of my favourite Chelsea recipes.

It’s a great dish to prepare as a meal for someone else – lay everything in an aluminium tray and it can be easily transported and cooked (or vice versa) in the same dish.

And the best news is that you can find the recipe for Chicken, Chorizo & Butternut Bake online.

Chelsea & Me: Quick Honey Mustard & Herb Roast Chicken

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 & MeThe mention of roast chicken usually elicits a polite smile from my husband, followed by a subtle hint towards a different, “tastier” meat to roast. The fact that he had two helpings of this Quick Honey Mustard & Herb Roast Chicken speaks volumes about how tasty it was.

Quick Honey Mustard & Herb Roast ChickenButterflying the whole chicken myself was oddly satisfying…although the handle of my kitchen scissors snapped partway through, which meant it took a little longer than it probably should have.

The marinade was really tasty – garlic, honey, mustard and herbs – and permeated throughout the chicken to really flavour the meat. I left the chicken to marinate all day on the bench (it was a cold day, and my kitchen stayed fridge-like for most of it!).

As for the onion and lemon mixture the chicken was roasted on….oh my goodness. The lemon was sticky and sweet, and we fought for the last slices, while the onion was alternately soft, sweet, crispy and caramelised. Yum.

This recipe features in Everyday Delicious.

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.

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: 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.

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

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.