Winter is the season for TV binge watching. And at the same time, satisfy your inner self with a few scrumptious nibbles.
Snacks are a popular addition to the daily menu. They provide extra energy and warmth during the cooler months whether it’s after school or sport or during the holidays or weekends. Nourishing foods that taste great are the best. And they’re simple so all the family can do their own thing.
Kiwis love toasties. You can pack a truck load of nutrients between two slices of bread before grilling or toasting to golden perfection — tomatoes, cold meats, mashed egg, smoked fish, grated carrot, sliced tomatoes and pickles. And kids love constructing their own masterpieces.  

This year, New Zealand’s favourite toastie competition has returned — 185 venues (eg cafes, restaurants, bars, food trucks and more) are offering unique toastie creations using cheese and McClure’s pickles, plus a selection of tempting goodies they hope will make their toastie the Supreme Winner. There should be an opportunity to taste a toastie in your area as cooks from Waitangi in the north to Lumsden in the south are competing up until the 27th of July.


1 cup finely chopped spinach
125g cream cheese
1 large clove garlic, crushed
8 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
50g butter or table spread
4 thin slices ham to cover bread slices
16 slices McClure’s bread and butter pickles, patted dry

Steam or microwave the spinach, until limp. Cool a little then squeeze dry and finely chop again.

Season the cream cheese with the garlic and mix in the cooled spinach.

Lightly spread each bread slice with butter or table spread. Place 4 slices butter-side down on a board. Using half the cream cheese mixture, spread an even layer over the bread. Top each evenly with the ham and the pickle slices. Spread the other 4 bread slices with the remaining cream cheese mixture. Place on the bases, butter-side up.

Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium. Melt a little butter in the pan. Place the toasties in the pan and cook on medium heat until golden underneath. Flip over and cook the other side. Stand for about 1 minute to set. 

With a serrated knife, cut each sandwich into 4 triangles. Makes 16. 


If you haven’t enough mini muffin pans, then bake the pies in batches. The pie tops can be sprinkled with sesame seeds before baking.

Filling: 1 tablespoon rice bran oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
500g lean minced beef
1 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons rice flour
Pastry: 1 tablespoon rice bran oil
2 x (23cmx23cm) sheets ready rolled short crust pastry
2 x (23cmx23cm) sheets puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons water or milk

Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Sauté the onion until softened. Add the garlic and curry paste then stir in the beef pressing with a fork to break up any clumps. Add the stock. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix the rice flour with a little water then stir into the meat. Simmer until thickened. Cool.

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Lightly oil 32 mini muffin holes. Cut each pastry sheet into 16 equal squares. Line the muffin hole bases with the short pastry. Fill the cold meat generously into the shells. Top with the puff pastry squares. Trim neatly. 

Combine the egg and water or milk and brush over the tops. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.

These pies can be frozen, thawed and reheated in the oven. Makes 32.


If the chutney is chunky then chop it finely.

8 slices fresh white sandwich bread, crusts removed
50g butter or table spread
8 thin slices salami about 8cm in diameter
8x 10cm square slices Swiss-style cheese 
3/4 cup finely shredded lettuce
1/2 large red capsicum, finely chopped
1/2-34 cup tasty chutney

Take 2 bread slices and slightly overlap 2 edges. Using a rolling pin flatten the slices to seal the join.

Spread with the butter or table spread. Place 2 salami slices over the top to cover. Top with 2 cheese slices. Place about 2-3 tablespoons of the lettuce across the centre. Place a tablespoon or so of the red capsicum alongside. Spread some chutney either side of the vegetables. Roll up firmly from a long end. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Wrap in film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

Trim the ends and cut into 2-5cm thick rounds. Makes about 20.


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