One of my favourite winter warmers is a casserole. The combination of meat (usually), vegetables, spices and herbs slow cooked in the oven or on the hob to mouth-watering deliciousness is a cosy comfort.

And with cosiness in mind Food Writers New Zealand has released an e-cookbook. ‘Cosy’ features 40 family-style recipes for warming mains and desserts created by food writers from across the country. And it is just $10. 

All profits go to ‘Meat the Need’, a national charity with the goal of supplying much needed meat to City Missions and Food Banks throughout New Zealand. 

‘Cosy’ dishes such as Helen Jackson’s Chicken Adobo, Ginny Grant’s Braised Chickpeas with Haloumi and Mojo Verde, Ashia Ismail-Singer’s Potato Curry, and Annabel Langbein’s Chicken & Ginger Noodle Bowl, are just a few of the appetising temptations. There are also some irresistible desserts to follow — such as Fiona Hugues’ Chocolate Croissant Tray Baked Pudding + Salted Cocoa Cream and my Slow-cooker Baked Apples! The collection of cosy comforts can be downloaded at: www.foodwriters.org.nz

And here is my ‘winter warmers’ collection of casseroles.


1kg diced pork
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 rashers bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
200g button mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon each: mixed dried herbs, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar
1 cup red wine
4 tamarillos, peeled and halved crosswise
Preheat the oven to 160°C. 

Sprinkle the pork generously with black pepper.

Sauté the chopped bacon in half the oil in a large casserole suitable for the hob and oven. When nearly crisp, add the onion and mushrooms. Sauté until lightly coloured. Place aside.

Brown the pork in batches in the remaining oil. Return the bacon mixture to the casserole and mix well. Add the herbs, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and red wine. Mix well. Cover and cook in the oven for 1 hour. 

Place the tamarillo halves on top of the pork, cut-side up. Cover and cook for a further 30 minutes. 

Great served with bread rolls. Serves 6.


Onions: 125g bacon, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil  
2 large onions, diced
2 teaspoons sugar
Meat: 1.5kg chuck or blade steak
4 tablespoons cornflour
Liquid: 330ml black beer
1/2 cup beef stock
Seasonings: 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
bunch fresh herbs tied with string
salt and pepper to taste
1 roasted red capsicum, seeded and diced
Croutons: 6-8 slices French bread, lightly toasted
25g butter
2 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs

Preheat the oven to 160°C. 

Sauté the bacon in half the oil in a large casserole suitable for the hob and oven. When nearly crisp, add the onions. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the sugar and sauté until golden. Place aside.

Cut the beef into cubes and dust with the cornflour. Fry in the remaining oil in batches, until coloured.  

Remove from the heat and pour in the beer and beef stock stirring well. Return the onion mixture to the casserole together with the mustard, herbs and seasonings. Cover and cook in oven for 2 hours.  

Ten minutes before the end of cooking time, remove the casserole lid and stir in the red capsicum. Spread the croutons with butter and herbs and place on top of the meat. Cook for 10 minutes. Serves 6-8.


400g whole skinned and boned chicken thighs, cubed
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon each: mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, cardamom seeds
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
finely grated root ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/4 cups chicken stock 
2 large tomatoes, diced
Dust the chicken with the turmeric. Place aside.

Heat the oil in a large pot suitable for the hob and oven if choosing oven cooking. Add the mustard seeds and stir until they begin to pop. Add the cumin, fennel and cardamom seeds, then the onion. Cook, until slightly browned. 

Combine the garlic and ginger. Add to the pot with the curry powder and stir for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and the tomatoes and bring to the boil. Cook gently for 20 minutes, until thick.

Add the chicken and simmer for about 20 minutes on the hob or 30-40 minutes in a 180°C oven. Serves 4.


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