Oh my goodness, this recipe of Chelsea Winter’s is absolutely to die for. The first time I tried it my flatmates had cooked dinner for my boyfriend and I, and as it was cooking we could just smell the delicious herbs and bacon and creaminess wafting down the hallway. The dinner was a raging success, and we have made it quite a few times since. It’s quite a simple dish, but it needs to be served with something, such as pasta, potatoes or bread – as it is essentially just chicken in a cream sauce. Alongside a green salad or something fresh, it is a dish sure to win many hearts!
- 3 T oil
- 150 – 200 g bacon, chopped
- 1.5 kg chicken thighs (this is a must! I tried chicken breast once and it dried out SO quickly)
- salt and pepper
- 6 garlic
- 1/3 c sage/rosemary/thyme
- 1/2 c white wine (or lemon juice added at the end)
- 1 c chicken stock
- 2 t Dijon mustard
- 2 bay leaves
- 1.5 c cream
- Heat oil, cook bacon and set aside.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Using the same pan, sear the chicken on both sides and put to one side.
- In more oil, cook the onion, garlic, herbs and cook until soft. Add the white wine and turn up the heat.
- Reduce, add stock, mustard and bay leaves.
- After a few minutes of infusion, add the bacon, chicken and cream and cook for a further fifteen minutes (just long enough that the chicken is cooked).
- Serve with pasta/mash/rice/vegetables/bread – you name it, it works!
On my trip to India I made it a goal to order something different every meal. You’ll be pleased to know that I didn’t order the same curry dish twice! One of the healthier options that I came across (most Indian curries use a stack of cream, and little to no vegetables) was the saagwala: a rich green curry, made predominantly from spinach. This particular saagwala recipe is very easy to make and it doesn’t take that long either. Going against tradition, we added green capsicum and coriander to garnish, because a) both are delicious and b) it went with the green theme!
- 3 T oil
- 2 onions, sliced
- 1 T ground cumin
- 1 t ground chilli
- 1/4 t ground cloves
- 1/2 t ground turmeric
- 3 garlic, minced
- 2 inches ginger, grated
- 300 g spinach leaves
- 1 green chilli
- 1 can crushed tomatoes
- about 800 g skinless and boneless chicken
- 1 green capsicum, diced
- 1 lemon, juice
- 2 t cream or coconut cream (optional)
- coriander, to garnish
- rice, to serve
- Heat oil, fry onions for about 2 minutes before adding the garlic, ginger and other spices.
- Wilt the spinach by running it under hot water. Squeeze out any excess water and then blend it with the green chili, tomatoes, cooked onions and spices.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper. Fry the chicken pieces until they are lightly browned. Add the green capsicum and continue frying.
- Add spinach puree to the chicken and simmer on medium heat until the chicken is properly cooked (probably about 15 minutes). Season with lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
- Drizzle the cream across the curry. Garnish with coriander and then serve with rice.
Bethel Woods (73 The Terrace)
Not a bad spot for a catch up with friends. Or a post-work drink. Or a quiz night. Actually, Bethel Woods has a fair bit going for it! It has a super cool buzz, with its southern American decor down pat, a cute rooftop bar upstairs, and plenty going on in the restaurant itself. The soundtrack is always full of bangers, and the menu is reasonably priced with decent food (the quality is not the best, but it is better than average) and okay portions. It’s at the opposite end of town to basically everything else, which makes for a nice change, and it’s know to do host decent functions too. Not somewhere I would go out of my way (personally) to visit, but would never resist the suggestion of going there.
Tonys Lord Nelson (37 Victoria Street West, Auckland)
An institution I was told; I was yet to be impressed. My brother’s choice (a steak house, so not surprising), my mum informed me that my family had been coming here for years, and that I had probably been here as a child. The place is very, very cool. Deliberately old-school, dingy and exclusive feeling. The place was massive, it was packed, AND there was a second storey, which was also packed! The menu was your typical bar menu, but add on about $15 to the expected price and it was basically what we were looking it. I have to admit I was rather impressed by the MASSIVE steak menu; probably every different cut and every different sauce I would have thought possible. Unfortunately for me, beef is off limits so I opted for a classic chicken schnitzel, fries and salad. It was tasty, and almighty delicious, but rather expensive, and more than what I think it was worth. The staff were super friendly and our food came out pretty quickly.
Conclusion: considering that it’s not really my kind of place, I really enjoyed the experience and the food was good. Too expensive for my liking though; it just felt like well cooked pub food to me.
Dumplings are one of those foods that I think have become particularly trendy in the last few years; ask many people about their thoughts on dumplings 10 years ago and lots probably wouldn’t even know what you were talking about. There is a huge spectrum for the quality of dumplings; it is so easy to go out and buy horrendous ones (from where you’d expect to be good) and then stumble across some of the best dumplings you’ve ever had at some gross looking Chinese takeaway shop. I have discovered my local dumpling shop in Wellington (Dumpling’d – so delicious, conveniently close to work and at a great price too!) but sometimes it can be really nice to just make them yourself – that way you can always guarantee their taste (although maybe not always the presentation).
Collect for the dipping sauce
- 1/4 c soy sauce
- 1 t minced garlic
- 1 t brown sugar
- 2 t lemon juice
- 1 t sesame oil
- pinch chili flakes
Collect for the filling
- 250 g chicken thigh, chopped finely
- 1/4 c fresh chives
- 1 spring onion, chopped
- 1 T lemongrass
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 t finely grated ginger
- 1 T soy sauce
- zest of 1 lemon/lime
Collect to serve
- dumpling wrappers
- 1 T rice bran oil
- 1/4 c water
- toasted sesame seeds
- For the dipping sauce, combine ingredients and set aside.
- For the dumplings, chop up the chicken (2 – 3 times as chunky as chicken mince would be). Add rest of filling.
- Hold dumpling wrapper, spoon 1/2 t mixture onto the wrapper. Fold into semi-circle. Pinch them and crumple the edges. Place on a clean damp tea-towel to stop it from sticking.
- Heat in a large frying pan. Add dumplings. Add water. Cover with lid/foil. Simmer for 5 – 8 minutes.
When I went to South East Asia I think Pad Thai was probably the food I ate most often. It’s so incredibly delicious, and so conceptually simple – just noodles with a few delicious flavours. The Thai people have a way of cooking this noodle dish that is fresh, light and super tasty – something that can be harder to come by in New Zealand. However, over time I have managed to pinpoint some of the better places around Wellington that do serve up a tasty Pad Thai. I have also found a recipe that I love, and have made it often enough that in my eyes it is now my ideal Pad Thai – hopefully when I go back to Asia their Pad Thai lives up to mine!
- Pad Thai noodles
- 1 large chicken breast, sliced into strips
- Spring onion, chopped finely
- 2 eggs, whisked
- Coriander, fresh
- 1 chilli
- 2 t lemon juice
- 2 T brown sugar
- 3 garlic, crushed
- 3 T fish sauce
- 3 T soy sauce
- 6 T peanuts
- mung bean sprouts
- 1/2 c peanut butter
- Cook the noodles.
- Cook the beaten eggs 75% of the way through, chop and set aside.
- Cook the chicken, garlic, spring onion.
- Add the noodles, fish sauce, soy sauce, peanut butter, lemon juice, sugar, chilli.
- Lastly add the sprouts, peanuts, omelette and coriander.
The Riddiford Bar & Bistro (16 Riddiford Street, Newtown)
With a prime location of across the road from the hospital, business here should be booming. Unfortunately, I think The Riddiford probably needs a bit of a revamp before this happens. It took me a while to visit here because I’d heard extremely mixed things about it, but when I did I was pleasantly surprised.
We came here for lunch (so I still can’t really review the dinner options I’m afraid) and I was pleased to see that the place was relatively busy. It is essentially two rooms joined together to form the cafe, but with a big wide open door so that it basically feels like one. It’s quite cramped, but that works positively for the vibe.
The coffee beans are those of Mojo, so I was immediately looking forward to my coffee arriving. The menu itself was rather plain; I wasn’t sure whether to keep it simple or to mix it up. I opted nervously for a chicken quasedilla with fries, and I kid you not, it was absolutely delicious. I had such a good meal here that I wouldn’t hesitate in coming back to order the exact same thing again. I also tried the open chicken sandwich, which was also pretty nice, but not as delicious as mine.
Overall this place exceeded my rather low expectations, and while the overall experience was good, The Riddiford probably needs to up its game if it wants to stay in competition with the other fantastic options Newtown has to offer.
Mama Brown (250 Wakefield Street)
I’ve lived across the road from Mama Brown for the past 2 years, and I’m afraid to say, I just don’t rate it. When someone suggests Mama Brown to me, I inwardly cringe. Sure, it has great deals (2 for 1 mains on a Wednesday) and the food is relatively inexpensive, but it’s one of those places I find overly greasy and tasteless (kind of like sub-par American diner food).
In saying that, I have been there multiple times, so it can’t be all bad! The decor is absolutely fantastic. The seating arrangements are great; a mixture of tables and chairs, some which seem like old aeroplane (or bus?) seats – with arm rests and the (now lost) ability to recline. The room is decorated in a way that gives it a definite New Orleans hip feel, and the menu backs this up. My recommendation would be the chicken burger and a small curly fries. If you are feeling indulgent, add on a shake (there are only about 10 extravagant flavours on offer) but be warned, this may be the tipping point between walking away satisfied and walking away feeling sick!
Cool location, cool buzz, average food – will never be my choice, but I’m sure I’ll be back.
Who doesn’t love fried chicken? Like, seriously. Fried chicken done well is absolutely one of my favourite foods, but admittedly fried chicken done bad can be pretty rank. Around Wellington town I have scouted out some of my favourite places to find fried chicken, but I have always been slightly tentative about making it myself. Finally, my desire to find my own secret recipe became too much, and it was time to indulge in some fried deliciousness.
- 4 x boneless chicken thighs
- 1 c milk
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 garlic, crushed
- 1 t lemon juice
- 1.5 c flour
- 2 T salt
- 1 T pepper
- 2 t ground ginger
- 2 t nutmeg
- 1 t allspice
- 2 – 3 c oil for frying
- Marinate the chicken by adding it to the milk, onion, garlic and lemon and covering in a container overnight.
- In a large mixing bowl, add flour, salt, pepper, ginger, nutmeg and allspice. Mix well.
- Piece by piece dip the chicken into the flour mix and ensure that it is coated thoroughly.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil on the stove-top so that it is about 160°C.
- Lower the chicken gently into the pan and cook for about 6 minutes. You can add as many pieces as the pan will reasonably hold – you don’t want to overcrowd it. Cook until it’s golden brown.
- Once it’s cooked (you may want to test a piece by cutting it open) you can keep the chicken warm by putting it in the warmer (or the oven on a low heat).
- Serve with aioli, chipotle mayo or whatever else takes your fancy. Bright idea: make tacos!
With winter comes the excuse to cook hearty, warming dishes and this chicken pie is certainly no exception. It’s a relatively straight-forward recipe and definitely feeds the crew. The saucy centre of the pie also means that it’s a great dish for freezing (although you lose the puffiness of the pastry; but it still tastes fine!), so you can be reassured that none of it will go to waste.
- 1 T oil
- 850 g chicken
- 250 g bacon
- 1 leek
- 2 garlic
- 1/3 c flour
- 2 c chicken stock
- thyme (fresh if possible)
- 375 g puff pastry
- 1 egg, whisked
- Cook the chicken. I usually do this by boiling the chicken in a pot of water for a few hours, until the meat basically falls away from the bone.
- Add the bacon, garlic and leek to a heated pan for approximately 5 minutes.
- Add the flour and cook for 30 seconds.
- Remove from heat and stir in the stock.
- Add the chicken and thyme for about 8 minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken.
- Once it reaches a boil, season with salt and pepper and then cool.
- With the oven on 220°C bake put the mixture into an oven dish and cover generously with the pastry. If desirable, you can line the entire dish with pastry, just make sure you grease the dish first.
- Brush the pastry with the whisked egg and bake until golden.