Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Cooking 4 Change - Celebrities feast

They're not just smart and famous, they can cook, too. Russell Blackstock talks to well-known Kiwis whose family recipes feature in a charity cookbook.

A selection of Kiwi celebrities have served up a sneak peek of their favourite recipes.

Dubbed the ultimate celebrity cookbook, Cooking 4 Change features the favourite home-made dishes of 101 New Zealanders ­famous for their exploits in sport, politics, media, film, television, art and music.

Curated by leading artist Dick Frizzell, the project aims to raise more than $500,000 for charities.

Cooking 4 Change is the brainchild of Frizzell and business partner Christian Casper. The pair spent months persuading some of New Zealand's best known names to contribute a favourite recipe.

"A lot of the people were hard to reach but we were delighted that most agreed to do it," Frizzell said. "The most satisfying results were when we just bumped into celeb­rities and press-ganged them into it on the spot. Stan Walker was a classic example of that.

"We were having ­difficulty contacting him through his Australian agent but then Chris bumped into him at the airport one day and he signed up within an hour.

"Stan later came to my ­studio and gave us a lovely story about his mother's spinach pie.
"There was a lot of ­seren­dipity involved, and a lot of thinking on our feet."

The book has a scrapbook feel and each recipe is accompanied by a ­personal food story.

Released later this month, it ­includes contributions from Olympic gold ­medallists and world champion ­rower Eric Murray and Hamish Bond, Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum, actor Sam Neill and musicians Tiki Taane and Gin Wigmore.

"We slowly built a team and once one big name was on board, the others fell into place," Frizzell said.

"It was an act of faith and ­fortunately it came off."

The first print run of 30,000 copies has almost sold out in advance, and work on a second edition is under way.

The Starship Foundation, Auckland City Mission, Paws for Justice and Leukemia & Blood Cancer NZ will ­benefit.

Some ­contributors joined forces at Milly's ­Kitchen in the Auckland suburb of Ponsonby on Tuesday to have their first look at the finished product.

Amanda Billing

Former Shortland Street star ­Amanda Billing chose a Pozole Rogo red soup from Mexico and a mince and plant main dish from Thug Kitchen.

"I like food that has a bit of attitude but vegetarians will be horrified I added mince to the plant dish," she said. "It also freezes well, so what you can't eat you can save for another day. I also threw in a recipe for hokey pokey biscuits which I used to eat a lot of as my mum made them when I was a kid and she in turn passed on how to make them."

Moses Mackay

Sol3 Mio singer Moses Mackay dished up a version of his mum's Samoan coconut buns, called pani popo.

"When Mum made these I would eat them straight out of the oven," he said. "She couldn't make trays of them fast enough. It is very cheap but very happy food and kids love it.

"I also put forward another family ­recipe for glazed ham with apricots, ­pineapple and cherries, which looks great and tastes even better."

The meatball recipe has been in my family for 16 generations so you don't mess about with that recipe.
Leigh Hart

Urzila Carlson

TV funny girl Urzila Carlson served up a mince, sponge and rice creation from South Africa called Bobotie. "This will feed eight people for about 20 bucks," she said. "I grew up really poor but I didn't know that and this was Mum's go-to dish.

"It is affordable food if you don't have a lot of cash. If you are a South African and you can't make this, you are pretty much a disgrace. There is a lot of meat involved but it's cheap, quick to make and it freezes well."

Erin Simpson

Erin Simpson, the makeover queen on TV One's Kiwi Living show, provided a lasting tribute to her late grandmother, Violet Simpson, who died soon after ­photographs of her signature blackberry pie were styled for the book.

The pie was a childhood favourite. Simpson's nana always asked the grandchildren to pick berries at the Waikato family farm.

Simpson also chose recipes for fried flounder and venison steaks.

"We used to cook these things in ­minutes at our family batch in Whitianga and the recipes bring back a lot of happy memories.

"We used to lay a plank of wood down in the bush so we could collect the berries without getting snagged," she said.

Colin Mathura-Jeffree

New Zealand's Next Top Model judge Colin Mathura-Jeffree opted for a lamb curry dish with puri bread and a ­traditional trifle for dessert.

"I am an Anglo-Indian so I ­wanted something to reflect who I am," he said.

"I don't cook so it was a bit of a ­challenge putting this together and I had a bit of help from my mother and brother.

"To me, food represents love and it is nice to be able to share an old family recipe."

Leigh Hart

TV host Leigh Hart conjured up two dishes passed down through his ­family from his Italian roots.

He rustled up a recipe for gluten-free meatballs and another for roast lamb. "The roast is done with a pork crackling jacket, which ­infuses it with a unique taste.

"The meatball recipe has been in my family for 16 ­generations so you don't mess about with that ­recipe.

"I have been hearing disturbing stories about families in New Zealand being left with just $40 to feed ­themselves for a week, so my dishes are easy to cook and cheap to buy."

Erin's Blackberry Pie

Prep time 15 minutes Cook time 50 minutes Serves 8 Skill level Easy

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Ingredients

1⁄2 cup flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling, 1⁄2 cup corn flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 115 g soft butter, cubed, 1⁄2 cup caster sugar, plus extra, 1 egg, beaten, 2 cups blackberries, icing sugar, to dust

Let's cook

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a pie dish. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips. Stir in the sugar, add the egg and bring together with clean hands to form a pastry.

Sprinkle flour on a clean work surface, tip out the pastry and knead until it has come together and is no longer sticky or crumbly. Set a small handful aside.

Urzila's Bobotie

Prep time 5 minutes Cook time 45-55 minutes Serves 8 Skill level Easy

Ingredients

Mince, olive oil, 1 brown onion, finely chopped, 1kg premium beef or lamb mince, salt and ground black pepper, 4 tsp hot curry powder (to taste), 2 tsp ground turmeric, 1 tsp mixed spice, 1⁄2 cup raisins, 1⁄2 cup chutney

Rice: 2 cups rice, 2 tsp ground turmeric, pinch of mixed spice, tsp salt

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Topping

3 large eggs, 1 cup whole milk

Let's cook

For the mince, heat some olive oil in a large pot, add the onion and cook it for a couple of minutes.

Add the mince and brown. Season with salt and pepper and add curry powder, ground turmeric, mixed spice, raisins and chutney and mix well.

Reduce heat and cook 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the rice in a pot and add ground turmeric, mixed spice and salt (this makes for a yellow flavourful rice, you can add chilli if you want to spice it up ). Cook rice according to the packet instructions.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Put mince in an oven dish and push it down firmly with a spoon. Make sure it's spread out evenly. Whisk eggs and milk together until well mixed and then pour over the mince - do not mix in with the mince, it should sit on top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Serve with fragrant rice.

Roll out the remaining pastry with a rolling pin until it is big enough to cover the base and sides of your pie dish. Line the dish with pastry and spread the berries over. Sprinkle sugar over - to your taste.

Roll out the remaining pastry and cut it into strips and top the pie in a lattice pattern. Bake in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes until golden. Sift over some icing sugar and serve.

TIP: Serve with glass of milk and/or ice cream.

- Herald on Sunday

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