It's Matariki weekend, Winter is upon us - time for warming winter food using lamb, kumara and pears

Matariki 2022 the first year New Zealand as a whole has celebrated the Maori New Year, and it seems to me that we are the richer for it.  People have taken the time to learn the meaning of the star cluster and the stories and traditions around the coming of Matariki and her daughters the stars in our morning sky.  It is a time for sharing, remembrance  and celebrating; part of the story is the importance of kai, food, our gardens, our producers and our families.


It just so happens that kumara is a part of that story, its season is now, growers up north are finishing the harvests, watching for the brightest showing of Matariki to signal the success and good luck for the next growing season, it tells them its nearly time to plant kumara for next harvest.


We have both red and orange kumara on special this week, and also diced lamb.  There have been a few discussions amongst my friends about the benefits of buying in food boxes such as my food bag and hello fresh.  My personal opinion is that the meals are very pricey for what you get and often not the freshest.  One of them (we did try an experiment at home) had a turnip (not my favorite vege at all – who actually eats turnips?) in just about every recipe.  Things are about to get very tight, rising fuel costs, interest and labour costs among some of the things pushing up the price of food.  So shop the specials people, shop seasonal, look around for the seconds and the deals and most importantly plan! I can’t stress that enough, plan, it’ll mean there’s less waste, your costs can be managed and you may even save yourself some time.  I sometimes make enough of things to put extra in the freezer or change it up for dinner the next night …. You know like roast chicken one night and chicken burritos the next ( something like that).  In the meantime lets get back to the kumara and diced lamb shoulder… here’s a couple of recipes from Dish Mags of past that I have really tweaked to suit the tastes in our house, and to make use of our specials.


Lamb Kumara and Mint Pies

Pear Almond Ginger and Caramel Cobbler






Lamb Kumara and Mint Pies

Use Texas Muffin Tins if you don’t have pie tins, or make a family sized pie to save on time.


The lamb stew can be made a day ahead and placed in pie dishes cold just before baking.



600 grams lamb shoulder, cubed
2 tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon table salt
2½ teaspoons cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for greasing
20 grams butter
1 brown onion, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
3 or 4 cloves garlic, crushed
a good handful of chopped fresh mint

600 grams beauregard (orange) kumara, peeled and cut into 3cm cubes
3 bay leaves
400-gram tin chopped tomatoes
200ml chicken stock
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon sea salt
500 grams flaky puff pastry
1 egg, whisked
1 tablespoon black or white sesame seeds
10 grams butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
250 grams frozen peas, defrosted
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
sea salt and cracked black pepper
6 individual pie tins (12.5cm x 3cm), greased with olive oil


Preheat the oven to 170°C.

LAMB PIES: In large bowl, combine the lamb, flour, table salt and 1½ teaspoons of the pepper.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large, heavy-based ovenproof saucepan. Dust any excess flour off the lamb and fry in batches until browned on all sides. Set lamb aside and return the pan to the heat. Add the onion and carrot and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until the onions have softened. If the onions are sticking to pan, add an extra tablespoon of olive oil.

Add the garlic fry for 1 minute. Return the lamb to the pan along with the kumara, mint, bay leaves, tomatoes, stock, Worcestershire sauce, sea salt and the remaining pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan and place in the oven for 2½ hours, or until the meat is tender and falling apart.

Discard the bay leaves and set the lamb stew aside to cool for at least 30 minutes, the pie filling needs to be cold, it helps the pie stand up as they say.  I made mine the day before.

The oven temperature needs to be 180°C for cooking the pastry.

Grease the tins whatever they may be, pie tin, muffin pans, or quiche or large pie tin so the pastry doesn’t stick.

Roll the pastry out and cut 6 bases (if using pie tins or texas –large muffin tins) or one large base if you are using a quiche tin., roughly 2cm wider than the pie tins, then cut 6 tops the same size as the tins. Line each tin with pastry bases then fill with stew. Brush the edges of the pastry bases with egg wash then place the lids on top. Press down on the edges to seal.

Make a 1cm-long cut in the centre of each pastry lid. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle over sesame seeds. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

PEAS: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a low heat. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute. Add the peas and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until warmed through. Remove from heat and roughly smash using a potato masher or the back of a fork. Add the mint and season with salt and pepper.




Pear Ginger Almond Caramel Cobbler



380ml tin caramel condensed milk
250ml (1 cup) cream
3 medium ripe pears, peeled, cored and each sliced into 8 wedges
3/4 cup plain flour

¼ cup almond meal (ground almonds)
1/4 cup toasted slithered almonds plus extra for sprinkling (optional)
1 tablespoon each baking powder and ground ginger
⅓ cup caster sugar
60 grams butter, diced
½ cup milk
1 large egg, size 7
1 tablespoon raw sugar
cream or ice cream, to serve


EQUIPMENT: 28cm ovenproof sauté pan or baking dish, about 3cm deep.

Preheat the oven to 170°C fan bake.

In a bowl, whisk the caramel until smooth then whisk in the cream. Pour into the base of the pan and top with half of the pears.

Sprinkle over the toasted slithered almonds if using.

Combine the flour, almond meal, baking powder, ground ginger and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Whisk the milk and egg together and pour into the bowl then use a fork to bring everything together.

Dollop clumps of dough over the pears. Arrange the remaining pears on top then sprinkle with the raw sugar and extra slithered almonds (only if using).

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden and puffed and the caramel is bubbling up. Serve warm with cream or ice cream.

Hint: Be careful the caramel doesn’t bubble over on to the bottom of your oven, add a tray to catch drips if this happens, be sure to use a dish that has high enough sides so this doesn’t happen …. Speaking from experience … sigh

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