Wonderful winter warmers

Enjoy some food food round a campfire this winter.  PHOTOS: SIMON LAMBERT
Enjoy some food food round a campfire this winter. PHOTOS: SIMON LAMBERT

Winter for me is all about big flavours, comfort ingredients and keeping it interesting and joyful.

With the cooler, shorter days and more time inside, I thought we should find an excuse to still enjoy the outdoors by cooking over the fire and celebrating Matariki with a large one pot “boil-up” of goodness and then to have some fun indoors with a hot dog feast, churros and the ultimate, indulgent chilli chocolate.

Need I say more...


Hot dog feast

When I talk about hot dogs, I am not talking about the fried version stuck on a stick. I am talking about the ones sandwiched between a soft bun and covered with outrageously delicious (messy) toppings.

When it comes to toppings, you really can go crazy. I have to have good sticky onions, American-style mustard, pickles of some sort and cheese. But, as I said, go crazy!


8 frankfurters
8 hot dog buns
4 onions, sliced thinly
1 Tbsp oil
4 rashers bacon, cooked to crispy
grated cheese
American mustard
gherkins, sliced
1 red onion, sliced thinly
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp vinegar

chilli sauce


Add the oil to a small saucepan or fry pan and gently cook the onions, stirring every now and then until the onions become golden brown and sticky (20 minutes). Remove from the heat.

Get a suitably sized saucepan to cook the frankfurters and add enough water so that it will cover the frankfurters comfortably.
Cook the bacon to crispy. Set aside.

To pickle the red onion

Add the sliced red onion to a small, non-reactive bowl. Add the salt, sugar and vinegar, stir to combine and let sit for 10 minutes or so.

Have all your preparation done so you can easily assemble the dogs.

These are two of my favourite options: 1) Melted cheese, sticky onions, gherkins, mustard and chilli sauce; and 2) American mustard, crispy bacon, gherkins and pickled red onions.

To assemble

Cut the buns lengthways along the top of the bun until two-thirds deep.

Place the frankfurters in the hot water and simmer for 5-8 minutes to warm through.

Using half of the buns, create option 1: Sprinkle enough grated cheese to coat the inside of the buns. Place under the grill until the cheese melts. Add the frankfurter, cover with the sticky onions, squeeze over the mustard and chilli sauce.

Option 2: Spread the American mustard over the inside of the buns, add the frankfurter, crispy bacon and gherkin slices.  Sprinkle over a little grated cheese and grill until the cheese melts. Serve with the pickled red onions.

Rewena paraoa (Maori potato bread)

Rewena paraoa is a traditional Maori bread made with a natural fermentation of rewa (potato). This gives the bread an almost sourdough flavour and a firm texture.

It can be easily made at home, just allow a couple of days for the rewa to get bubbling.

This bread is traditionally eaten alongside boil-ups, stews and traditionally cooked hangi. However, we found it is also scrumptious simply toasted with lots of butter.


Rewa starter
1 cup white flour
3 medium (organic) potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
1 tsp sugar

5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1½ cup warm water (approx)



Put the potatoes in a suitably sized saucepan and add enough water to just cover the potatoes. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook the potatoes until tender enough to mash.

Mash the potatoes with any remaining water that may be left in the pot. Set aside.

When the potatoes have cooled to a lukewarm temperature, add the flour and sugar. Mix together to make a firm dough.

Cover and leave in a warm place to ferment for at least 1-2 days.

Heat the oven to 220degC.
Lightly grease either two large loaf tins for two baking trays.
In a large bowl, sift the flour and salt together. Make a well in the centre and add the rewa (potato) starter, which should be bubbly and yeasty smelling.
Sprinkle the baking soda over the rewa and stir to combine.
Add a cup of warm water and stir to combine - you want a soft, pliable dough. If you are finding the dough too firm and tight, add a little more water.
Lightly dust a bench with flour and turn out the dough.
Knead for 10 minutes. Lightly grease a deep bowl, place in the dough, cover and let prove until it has doubled in size (1-2 hours).
Turn the dough out on your floured workbench. Knock out the air and knead once again for a couple of minutes.
Divide into two evenly sized balls.
Place in the greased tins or shape into two large rounds.
Let prove until it has doubled in size.
Cook for five minutes at 220degC then reduce the temperature to 200degC and continue cooking for 20 minutes or until golden in colour and it has a crunchy crust (tap the surface of the bread, it should have a hollow sound).
Allow to cool slightly in the loaf tin for five minutes, then turn out.


Boil-up for Matariki

A “boil-up” is just that, really. A variety of bones, meat and hearty vegetables cooked together in a large pot, until meltingly tender and full of goodness.

You will find most cultures around the world have their own version of a boil-up. Whether it be on the street corners of far-flung countries or beautiful Aotearoa, the fundamentals are the same: using bones and off-cuts to create a sharing pot of goodness, full of nourishment, which warms the soul and spreads joy.


2kg pork bones
1 ham hock or bacon ends (optional)
800g potatoes, scrubbed, cut into large pieces
600g pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed, cut into large pieces
800g kumara, peeled, cut into large pieces
salt and ground white pepper to taste
300g watercress/puha (if unavailable you could use winter greens such as kale, silverbeet)


Rinse the bones in cold water. Place into a large “stock” pot along with the hock or bacon ends, if using. Cover with plenty of cold water (at least 5 litres).

Bring to the boil and remove any scum that floats to the surface. Reduce the temperature and gently simmer. Add half the pumpkin and allow this to cook down with the bones this will help to thicken the consistency of the broth.

Continue to simmer for 1 hour.

Prepare all the vegetables and set aside.

Add the potatoes, remaining pumpkin and kumara and cook until the vegetables are soft (40 minutes).

Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning.

Add the watercress/puha and cook for a further 10 minutes (you will need longer if using more robust greens).

Serve in bowls with a little of everything and don’t forget the bones are for enjoying too.

Rewena paraoa (Maori potato bread, see recipe) is perfect for soaking up the delicious broth.


Irresistible hot chocolate and churros

What a fun way to keep cosy on a cold winter night - dipping churros in an indulgent, decadent hot chocolate, wrapped in a cosy blanket and looking at the stars.


Hot chocolate

800ml milk (can use plant-based)
¼ cup good-quality cocoa powder
1 cinnamon stick
1 dried red chilli
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp maple syrup


¼ cup cream, lightly whipped for topping


1 cup water
100g butter
2 Tbsp sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
oil for frying


Combine the ingredients (except the cream) in a saucepan.

Gently warm so the flavours mingle.

Pour into mugs. Add a generous spoonful of cream on top.

Heat together the water and butter until bubbling. Remove from the heat. Add the flour and salt and stir well to combine. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.


Add the eggs one at a time and beat well between each addition.

Transfer into a piping bag with a large star nozzle. Set aside

Heat one and a-half litres of oil in a heavy-based deep-sided pot. You need to heat the oil to 180degC. You can test this by trying a little dough and if it rises to the surface and bubbles instantly then you are ready to cook.

Carefully pipe the churros into the hot oil in 8cm lengths (cut the dough with scissors). Continue with about three more as you don’t want to overcrowd the pan.

Cook for about three minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain well and coat in the cinnamon and sugar mixture.

Continue cooking until all the dough is used up.

Best enjoyed by dunking in the hot chocolate.


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