Scrumptious by Chelsea Winter
This is the fourth cookbook from Chelsea Winter, following on from the very well received At My Table, Everyday Delicious and Homemade Happiness. And once again, this book is full of mouth watering recipes that don’t seem too challenging.
Scrumptious has food that is perfect for dinner inspiration whether it is weeknight or weekend. There is also a chapter on special occasion food such as Christmas family gatherings – yummy stuff like Christmas Truffles and Chelsea Bunny Easter Scrolls.
For us here in NZ, Chelsea probably doesn’t need much introduction as we know her from MasterChef NZ and her recent collaboration with Lewis Road Creamery to produce a double caramel flavoured milk got a lot of press time. Chelsea also has a strong online presence in social media – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – as Chelsea says herself on her website – she is everywhere.
Her food is simple without being boring, accessible to most cooks and home kitchens. We’ve had Savoury Mince on Toast for our Friday night Fake-aways – adding a perfectly poached egg on top of a delicious mix of mince and vegetables is an inspired idea that makes the meal a bit more substantial. The Sausage, Bacon & Bean Hotpot also gets a big tick from our family, although I can serve them a simple pan-fried sausage and they’re also happy as. These two recipes are good examples of Chelsea’s recipes – mince, sausages, chicken, lamb shoulder – regular inexpensive food for the everyday eater. Divided into lunches & dinners, on the side, salads, Christmas and sweets, the recipes range from everyday classics such as the perfect roast chicken or poached eggs on toast through to more exotic Rogan josh or slow lamb puttanesca. Chelsea’s humour and sunny nature show through in the recipe head notes and often the titles themselves (Chelly con Carne or Spaghetti Chel-fredo).
I had wanted to bake the Caramel Apple Cake before posting this review but time has not been my friend this month. As the light at the end of the tunnel is still pin-prick size, I’ve decided to box on with the post without the cake. Stay tuned though as I am sure the cake will turn up at some point – I am quite ambitiously considering making it dairy-free which will be a challenge as it has butter, milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream and more butter to find replacements for.
Chop Chop – Brett McGregor
Asian food is my nemesis so I am glad for all the help I can get when it comes to preparing delicious meals with an oriental flair. Curries and Thai food I have a handle on but anything else bewilders me. I can’t tell if the recipe is Malaysian, Vietnamese, Chinese or otherwise. Not so for Brett McGregor, New Zealand’s first MasterChef winner. This is his third cookbook, and as with his first (Taste of a traveller) and second (A Taste of home), Brett shares a whole heap of tasty recipes suitable for family cooking. Continue reading
Homemade cookies or biscuits as we call them here in New Zealand (not to be confused with American biscuits which we call scones) are a welcome sight in our baking “tins”. I say “tins” as baking containers doesn’t conjure up the same image but, although I have three or four actual tins, I store baking in airtight plastic (yes, BPA-free) containers. I prefer clear transparent containers so the kids don’t lift a corner of each to see what is inside. Invariably they don’t reseal the container leaving the contents to soften unless I come along behind them pushing down the corners and clasps. I think that is my life long task along with closing kitchen drawers (and The Anster’s is to turn off the lights in all the empty rooms).
So back to the biscuits – many biscuit (cookie) recipes begin with cream the butter & sugar which is absolutely fine if you don’t have an aversion to dairy products. I like baking with butter but I don’t like the reaction I get from Miss M and she doesn’t like to reaction she gets from consuming butter. I could substitute the butter with margarine but margarine is a swear word in our house. I do buy dairy-free spread made with olive oil for Miss M so she can enjoy toast with “butter” and jam but I try not to use that too much in baking unless I absolutely cannot get around it.
The next best thing is to find recipes that require the butter to be melted so I can swap out the butter for oil & non-dairy milk. I have found I get the best results when I use 75% neutral-tasting oil (I use rice bran oil) and 25% non-dairy milk (which is what ever milk is in the fridge at the time: almond, coconut, rice, oat or soy).
When deciding to bake biscuits the first thing I look at is, if there is butter, what method is required: creaming (discard that recipe) or melting (worth a second look). I have been experimenting with using my 75/25 butter substitute in recipes traditionally requiring the creaming method but that is another post for another day.
On one of my second-hand/charity shop scouring trips I came across Cookie Magic: Cholesterol Free & High Fibre Recipes by Diana Linfoot for the huge price of $1.00. A quick look through the book and I found a number of recipes requiring the sugar and margarine (the author says never use butter and margarine gives a better result than oil but I am ignoring that little piece of advice as this book was produced 26 years ago and butter had an undeserved bad reputation way back then). I have never used margarine in baking and always substitute it with butter – such a rebel! But back to the blending of sugar and fats – this method will work perfectly well with sugar and my 75/25 butter substitute mix which opens up a whole lot of interesting recipes to play around with. Just over half the recipes are either blend or melt or completely dairy-free however some of the recipes have five or six variations so that leaves plenty of scope for some delicious cookie creations/adaptations. The only one I have discarded completely is the Savoury Cheese Nibbles. They do sound and look very good but cheese is kind of tricky to substitute. Maybe I’ll make them anyway and put my sunglasses on to shield me from the black looks Miss M sends my way.
Here is the first cookie recipe I converted to dairy-free and is a resounding success with all four of the bottomless-pits commonly known as teenagers that reside in our house. My changes were to swap out the margarine for oil & non-dairy milk, substitute the dates for chocolate chips, substitute self-raising flour for standard flour & baking powder (I have nothing against self-raising flour but I already have large containers of high-grade, standard and wholemeal flour as well as numerous smaller jars of coconut, oat, sorghum, quinoa, and rice flours etc etc and my-bursting-at-the-seems-pantry has the draw the line somewhere) and I used Weetbix crumbs as I have a large jar that I top up each time a box of Weetbix is consumed (which sometimes seems like every second day). None of the BLP (bottom-less pits) like Weetbix crumbs (dust) for breakfast but are quite happy to eat it when incorporated into cookies & cake which is great for the zero waste movement. On that note how do they measure how much food each household throws away each year? Do they dig through our rubbish? And what about the food I discard from our fridge to donate to our chickens – is that considered “thrown away”?
Bushwalker Cookies (Dairy-Free)
95 g oil
30 g non-dairy milk
200 g raw sugar
1 (53-62 g) egg
½ tsp vanilla essence
15 ml (1 T) water
½ tsp baking soda
170 g (1 cup) dark chocolate chips (dairy-free)
150 g (1 cup) flour
1 tsp baking powder
90 g (1 cup) rolled oats
30 g (1 cup) Weetbix crumbs (approximately 2 Weetbix biscuits)
45 g (½ cup) desiccated coconut
Preheat oven 140ºC and grease & line 2-3 baking trays.
Place the oil, milk and sugar together in a large bowl and beat until combined. Add egg, essence, water and baking soda, and beat again until combined.
Mix in the remaining ingredients.
Roll into balls and flatten onto baking tray (I scoop out a teaspoonful of mixture then push it off the spoon with another spoon, then shape them slightly with the second spoon, saves getting my hands all biscuity and works just as well as rolling out the mixture).
Bake until crisp on the edges and golden in colour (about 18-20 minutes).
Melie’s Kitchen by Amelia Ferrier (Penguin Random House New Zealand)
I have a fair collection of cook books both new and old. My favourite cook books are anything with baking or preserving (jams and jellies and such like). Some books I have never made anything from, although I want to try three or four of the recipes. Other books I have get me extremely inspired to get into the kitchen and try stuff out. Melie’s Kitchen falls into the second group – there is so much in there that is just ‘wow’ and ‘oh-my-goodness’ and ‘I’d never have thought of that’. It’s so exciting (and no, it is not sad that I find a cookbook exciting). Continue reading
Pipi, a vibrant pink café in Havelock North, Hawkes Bay, has locals bowled over and visitors listing it as one of the attractions not to miss when visiting the region. That being said, I haven’t yet managed to find my way there despite being in and through Havelock North many times. The main reason (excuse) is that we are usually on our way to somewhere or we are visiting friends so time to sit and have a leisurely meal hasn’t presented itself as yet. It doesn’t help that Havelock North is stuffed full of fabulous places to visit – from Bellatino’s Foodlovers Market and Poppies bookshop which, as I’ve mentioned before, is packed with a huge variety of cookbooks to the Adam & Eva café & food store and Jacksons Bakery & Café. It is also worth a mention that Pipi, while described as a café, is open 4pm – 10pm so it is an evening meal destination (or very late afternoon tea/lunch).
I have a lot of cookbooks; more than I care to count. I use a lot of them for research and some contain favourite family recipes. Occasionally, I get one out and I’ll try a couple of recipes to try to find a superb dinner to add to our repertoire of awesome recipes.
As part of my writing gig for the local newspaper, I request cookbooks to review (I also receive some that I haven’t requested which is interesting as it causes me to try recipes out of a cookbook I might not have otherwise picked up and in turn, broadens our food experience even more – as was the case with Rick Stein’s ‘from Venice to Istanbul’). Continue reading
One-dish dinners – Penny Oliver
Published by Penguin Random House (NZ)
I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of One-dish Dinners by Penny Oliver. A long-time NZ food writer, Penny has written six cookbooks including Beach Bach Boat Barbecue and Single Serve. The easy all-in-one meals theme of her latest book, One-dish Dinners, appealed to the busy-week-night-mother-with-hungry-chickens in me. I work from home, so I have more freedom than most working mothers in that I can put tea on at any point during the day. However, with after school trips to guitar lessons, choir practice and such-like, dinner prep time can be a harried affair. On these nights, I don’t want to create a delicious healthy macaroni and cheese that uses every pot I have in the kitchen and most of the bowls as well. I do want to create delicious healthy meals with minimum fuss and bother. Continue reading
Recipes from my French Kitchen – Allyson Gofton
Published by Penguin NZ
NZ food writer Allyson Gofton and her husband Warwick relocate their children Jean-Luc & Olive-Rose to rural South-West France for a year. The idea behind the move was to experience a different culture and help the children learn a second language. Allyson has written an honest account of their year and shared the experience in Recipes from my French Kitchen. The resulting book is more than a recipe book – it allows the reader to learn about the lifestyle of rural French villagers from Caixon – a small village nestled beneath the Pyrenees. Continue reading
Everyday Delicious is the second cookbook from Chelsea Winter, winner of NZ MasterChef season three. At My Table, Chelsea’s bestselling first cookbook, is marketed as ‘hearty, delicious, no-fuss mainstream New Zealand recipes’ and Everyday Delicious continues this theme with recipes specifically created for home cooks. Continue reading
As I was flicking through the pages of Little India trying to settle on the first curry to try, I wondered if apples grow in India. Turns out, apples do grow in India, though not all of India. Just a few states have the right conditions to grow apples: Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand & Arunachal Pradesh. All of these areas border China, and China is the top apple producer in the world, so that kind of makes sense. It appears that India is the 5th highest producer of apples in the World following China, America, Turkey & Italy. Continue reading