Frying Pan Chicken Curry and Rice

This is such a tasty dinner and only needs a simple green salad or steamed greens.
I usually sprinkle some roasted cashew nuts over just before serving.
Use whatever cut of chicken you prefer. I like chicken with bone and skin intact but it is up to you.
I make this in my 28cm cast iron frying pan.  I have a lid that fits snugly and it is such an easy dinner.  I make my own curry powder blend that has fennel and other aromatics but you can use your favourite bought brand.



 Winter is about to get a whole lot tastier with the launch of the third annual Great NZ Toastie Takeover.

Celebrating the delicious Kiwi staple that is the not-so-humble toasted sandwich, eateries right around the country will once again be putting their unique spin on the iconic snack.

The competition element of the Great NZ Toastie Takeover returns this year, too, with 83 establishments vying for the title of New Zealand’s top toasted sandwich in 2020 – a  66% increase on the number of entries last year.

Cook & Nelson and McClure’s Pickles will be scouring the country for the best toasted sandwiches from Monday, June 29 and they’re encouraging the public to do the same at the participating eateries.

Eateries include restaurants, bars, cafes, supermarket, garden and department store cafes, café-stores, breweries and even a hole in the wall servery – ensuring many toastie lovers have the chance to warm up this winter with a delicious toastie creation.

And the competition is bound to be tough as the luminaries of the toastie world look to take the mantle from the Hokitika Sandwich Company, who wowed the judges in 2019 with their winning combination of corned beef, McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles, harvati and cream cheeses, red onion and their own in-house sauce.

This year’s entries include The Squishy Combo – a cross between a toastie and burger from Burger Burger Newmarket – The Mount McClure’s Mauler from The General in Mt Maunganui with its 12-hour braised pulled pork and apple, chilli and mint slaw, and a new take on the famous South Island cheese roll at Christchurch’s Earl Bistro. There’s even a vegan toastie on offer at Wellington’s Mockingbird, with vegan mascarpone,  Angel Food cheddar, miso butter, caramelised onion, facon and McClure’s Sweet & Spicy pickles.

Judging will take place over July with the 12 finalists (made up of two entries from each of the six competition regions) announced on Monday, August 3. The competition’s toast-master-royale will then visit the finalists in August to sample their creations and liaise with McClure’s Pickles co-founder, Joe McClure, to determine New Zealand’s best toastie of 2020.

McClure, who visited New Zealand from the US to judge the competition in 2019, says he’s disappointed to not be able to sample the competition entries this year.

“I’m gutted to miss my annual Kiwi road trip,” he says. “I long for the beautiful sights and sounds of New Zealand, not to mention the world class toasties!”

“Much like everyone else, we’ve had to find a way to do things online in 2020, but I can’t wait to see what everyone has been creating and get detailed tasting feedback from my toast-master-royale.”

Head judge Kerry Tyack and his group of 30 toastie aficionados will be ensuring each entry meets the following competition guidelines: Toasties must be sandwiched between two slices of bread and be able to be eaten by hand if necessary. The toasties must also contain cheese, pickles from McClure’s delicious range, with all other sandwich elements left up to the participating cafes’ imagination.

Each toastie will be scored on a set criteria, including presentation, effectiveness of preparation technique, eatability, taste, innovation and originality.

All finalists will receive a case of McClure’s pickles and dine-in vouchers to give away to their customers. The supreme winner will be announced on Wednesday, September 3, and will walk away with a year’s worth of pickles, more dine-in vouchers, a toastie trophy – and most importantly, bragging rights to the best toasted sandwich in the country.

And the toastie love is being spread even further this year with the public able to enter their own home creations in a separate category. Simply create your toastie, tag it on the social media of your choice with #toastietakeover to enter the draw to win a year’s supply of McClure’s pickles. It’s time to put all that bread-making and toastie-eating practice from lockdown to the test!

For more information about the Great New Zealand Toastie Takeover competitions, check out The participating eateries are listed by region below.

And for more about McClure’s Pickles, see

#toastietakeover @cookandnelson; @mcclurespickles.

uckland /Northland

  • Akarana Eatery (Orakei)
  • Bread & Butter Café (Grey Lynn)
  • Burger Boy (Central)
  • Burger Burger (Newmarket)
  • Butcher’s Shop Café (Patamahoe)
  • Cheese on Toast (Mt Eden)
  • Federal Delicatessen (Central)
  • Fish Kitchen (Devonport)
  • Good Day (Orakei)
  • Good Dog Bad Dog (Central)
  • Good George North Wharf (Central)
  • Hallertau Brewery (Riverhead)
  • Hello Pickle (Whangarei)
  • Hero Sandwich House (Eden Terrace)
  • Jemima’s Kitchen (Oratia)
  • Kohi Store (Kohimarama)
  • Longroom (Ponsonby)
  • New World Eastridge (Kohimarama)
  • New World Victoria Park Café (College Hill)
  • Palm Beach Store (Waiheke Island)
  • Pickle Pickle (Mission Bay)
  • Pilkingtons (Central)
  • The Humble Grocer (Central)
  • Vondel (Devonport)
  • Winner Winner (Pukekohe)
  • Wren Kitchen (Mt Wellington)
  • Wynyard Pavillion (Central)


Hamilton/ Waikato/ Coromandel/ BOP/ Rotorua

  • Capers Café + Store (Rotorua)
  • Espy (Whitianga)
  • Flock Kitchen & Bar (Tairua)
  • Harbour House Cafe (Whitianga)
  • Hayes Common (Hamilton)
  • Keystone  (Hamilton)
  • Mr. Pickles Bar & Eatery (Hamilton)
  • No.8 (Mount Maunganui)
  • RedKitchen (Te Awamutu)
  • The General (Mount Maunganui)
  • The Lookout (Hamilton)
  • The Verandah (Hamilton)
  • Thyme Square (Hamilton)
  • Winner Winner – Hamilton East (Waikato)


Central North Island

  • Bay Espresso Karamu Road (Hastings)
  • Carr’s Kitchen (Hastings)
  • Federal Store (New Plymouth)
  • High St Bistro (Dannevirke) OPENS 6th JULY
  • Joe’s Garage (New Plymouth)
  • Parnells Cafe (Whanganui)
  • Replete Café & Store (Taupo)
  • Roosters Brewhouse (Hastings)
  • The Rose Irish Pub (Napier)


Wellington Region

  • 10 O’Clock Cookie Bakery Café (Masterton)
  • Bebemos (Newtown)
  • Bin 44 Restaurant & Bar (Wellington)
  • Fix & Fogg Eva Street Window (Wellington)
  • Goods Manufactory and Café (Petone)
  • Leeds Street Bakery (Wellington)
  • Mockingbird (Wellington)
  • On Trays Scheckter’s Deli (Wellington)
  • Park Kitchen (Wellington)
  • The Butcher & Brewer (Petone)
  • The Crooked Elm (Lower Hutt)
  • The Offering (Greytown)
  • The Residence (Wellington)
  • Winner Winner (Wellington)


Upper South Island

  • Arden Bar & Kitchen Porta Via (Nelson)
  • Beach House (Kaikoura)
  • Bottle & Stone – OPENING 8 JULY (Christchurch)
  • City Social (Christchurch)
  • Civil & Naval (Lyttleton)
  • Earl Bistro (Christchurch)
  • Grain Coffee and Eatery (Christchurch)
  • Joe’s Garage – Riccarton (Christchurch)
  • Kin at Ballantynes (Christchurch)
  • Sign of the Kiwi (Governor’s Bay)
  • Terra Viva Cafe (Burnside, Christchurch)
  • Terrace Tavern (Christchurch)
  • The Tearooms at Ballantynes (Christchurch)
  • Welles St (Christchurch)


Rest of South Island

  • Forage Café & Information Centre (Cromwell)
  • Hungry Hobos (Dunedin)
  • Love Chicken (Queenstown)
  • Nichols Cafe (Cromwell)
  • The Kitchen (Cromwell)

Luscious Lemon Cheesecake

Kathy Paterson tells me she has been making this cheesecake for years and has no idea where the original recipe came from. Ben Hurst, a former rugby player for Canterbury gave her a similar one, but Ben’s uses lime zest and juice and he serves his cheesecake with a raspberry sauce.
Kathy has kindly shared her recipe with us.
It is creamy and luscious and perfect for entertaining.
It is a recipe that works well made the day before eating.
Check out Kathy’s website with her Let Bake Together recipes.

*Note from Helen, I deviated on the garnish of the cheesecake photographed to fresh raspberries and mint leaves.
Also with my oven after 30 minutes I increase the oven temperature to 140 C.

Black Forest Hedgehog Slice

The addition of black forest chocolate turns this from a simple hedgehog slice into something much more glamourous!

My friend Vic Brown is famous for her version, she gifts it to everyone and it is fondly known as Vickie slice.

*Recipe has been amended in the realisation that Cadbury’s Black Forest chocolate weighs 180g not 200g.

American Style Chocolate Chip Cookies

Growing up in NZ our chocolate chip biscuits were inherently small, crisp and usually contained small chips of chocolate and sweetened condensed milk.
My teens see these as a bit ho hum and instead like the American style cookies,  filled with big chunks of molten chocolate that are delicious when eaten warm and then cool to a crisp on the outside and softish style biscuit.
After playing around with a few recipes including David Leite’s famous 36 hour cookies I have come up with a simple recipe that everyone is happy with.

June 2020

For many of us this year has meant a reduction and income making it all the more necessary to spend wisely.  We have put together 20 of our favourite economical tasty dinner recipes that will hopefully give you some winter inspiration but without breaking the bank.  We also welcome your suggestions of course.
Have you tried Barker’s of Geraldine’s Tomato Sauce yet? In my post-Covid considered shopping I am happy to be supporting a Kiwi business using NZ-grown tomatoes, glass instead of plastic and the reduced salt and sugar are a bonus too.
Happy Cooking!

Onion Bhaji

I am a huge bhaji fan and could never miss ordering them at an Indian or Sri Lankan restaurant.
These are exactly as I like them.  Barely any batter but essentially onion bound together with a little egg, chickpea flour and spices.
We top ours with yoghurt, mint and a dollop or mango or tamarind chutney.

Thanks to Kit Perera from Chef For a Night for his wonderful Sri Lankan recipes and inspiration.

Cheap and Cheerful Dinners


Most of us have been impacted in some way or another with the events over the last few months.   With that in mind and thinking of well priced meals, here are 20 of our favourite dinners that have great flavour and also go easy on the wallet.
Photographed above is my favourite Kung Pao Chicken.


One of our teens makes herself Pasta Carbonara every other day for lunch or any other meal. Bacon can be swapped out for chopped cooked chicken and vegetables such as frozen peas add a fresh touch.


The humble stew is greatly enhanced with extra flavours such as our full flavoured Asian Beef Stew.
For a difference in flavour but also delicious is our Greek Beef Stew.


Beef Stew with Crunchy Topping is traditional stew topped with dollops of dough that then form crunchy little cheese and herb balls during cooking.

Spinach Tart has been one of my go to vegetarian tarts for some years.  The flavours are similar to Spinach and Feta triangles but blended and poured into a tart.


A heartier tart is our Bacon Leek and Potato Tart, only needing some steamed greens or salad to make a complete meal.

Bakes are great winter dishes that are easy to make and low on dishes.
Our Chicken and Potato Bake is good simple family fare.
Chicken Pot Pie is on a similar style but with a pastry top instead of mashed potato.


Mince and Cheese Pie is one of my favourite pies and is sure to keep everyone happy.

Thai yellow curries are favourites in our house.  Larger tubs are much more economical, I buy a pottle from our local Asian supermarket and keep it in the fridge for months. Yellow Chicken Curry is an obvious choice and another favourite is Pumpkin, Spinach and Chickpea Curry


The Swedes are known for making fabulous meatballs and there are those who go to Ikea just for the meatballs (Virgil Evetts Swedish Meatballs).  Our Swedish Meatballs have a few modifications, (I can’t find ligonberries around here) but are truly delicious.


For those of us who like risotto then Chicken, Pumpkin and Leek is surely one of the loveliest of gentle winter combinations.


If you want a change from rice risotto then don’t overlook our Mushroom Prosciutto Barley Risotto, this recipe is also slow cooker friendly.


Dahl is a simple yet hearty meal, this Red Lentil Dahl with Kumara can be made with stock or try taking out some stock and replacing it with coconut milk.  To make it a complete meal double the spinach and you have your food groups covered.


Deliciousness in simplicity is Pasta with Broccoli and sprinkled with toasted crumbs, olives, anchovies etc…

Family Favourite Hearty Meatloaf makes a delicious family dinner and is large enough that there are sure to be slices left for doorstop sandwiches the next day.


Quiche flavours are completely personal, For the filling I usually work on 1 egg to 100ml cream regardless of other flavours. Ham, Corn and Cheese Quiche is a good family friendly quiche, tuna chunks can swapped out for the ham.

Jasberry Rice, An Awesome Initiative

One of the big things that the last few months have reinforced is how much I want to support businesses that have a social conscience. Helping them to continue working in this tumultuous world of uncertainty. Our dollars suddenly seem more precious and I want mine to go to those that care about others.
Finding businesses that are socially responsible is reasonably easy if they are large and on an international radar.  For smaller businesses it becomes more of a word of mouth scenario or searching for research.

Not long before lockdown a packet of rice arrived at my door.   Rice isn’t something I would normally wax lyrical about (oh maybe I might) but this one has a really good story.


in 2011, Peetachai ‘Neil’ Dejkraisak and Pornthida ‘Palmmy’ Wongphatharakul were studying together as MBA students. In learning that Thai farmers were some of the poorest in the world, earning a meagre income of around 40c per day (due to many issues), together they decided to take action and thus was founded the social enterprise Siam Organic.  Under the Siam Organic social enterprise Jasberry™ rice was born. Jasberry™ is a very new variety of ultra-nutritious, non-GMO, wholegrain rice, developed over the last 10 years by Thai scientists.
With a conservative beginning with 25 farmers from North Eastern Thailand, they are now working with over 2500 farmers, directly helping 12000 people to find a life out of poverty.
Their mission to improve small scale farmers livelihoods in a sustainable manner is paying off. The daily pay rate has increased from $0.40 to about $6 a day, their crop yields are increasing 60 percent per year, and costs have declined 25 percent.
Siam Organics are exporting Jasberry™ all around the globe,  here in New Zealand is it imported and distributed by Stephan Findlay from Findlay Foods 

Jasberry™ rice is receiving many prestigious accolades including being a finalist for the Gulfood innovation awards in Dubai under the category ‘Most Innovative Organics Product’.  They also received a Food and Beverage Award in the USA for the year’s most delicious, unique and exiciting food products that will shape the future of food

Jasberry™ rice provides opportunities for an ethical farmer-grower journey; from the high-quality organic seeds, to field preparation, rice maturation, from harvest to milling and storage, packaging and distribution.

With its dark purple colour, great texture and flavour,  Jasberry™ rice boasts 40 times more antioxidants than brown rice, 7 times more antioxidants than Kale and 3 times the amount of blueberries. If you like using the word superfood (I am cautious), then Jasberry rice is certainly ticking boxes.

Isn’t it great when we can eat food that is good for us, good for the planet and also good for the farmer?