MasterChef star turned restaurateur Mindy Woods has shared her favorite dinner dishes, how to shop on a budget, and her five cooking rules.
The talented chef won fourth place on MasterChef Australia season 4 in 2012 and is now the owner of the popular Karkalla Byron Bay restaurant in Byron Bay.
Mindy told FEMAIL that her family is currently obsessed with macadamia butter chicken and lemon myrtle flatbread, often throwing ‘curry parties’.
“There is always something for everyone and the curry is generally cheap to make and is absolutely a flavor bomb,” he said.
She’s also a fan of making dahl and Italian chili tuna pasta when she’s on a tight budget.
Mindy Woods is a genius in the kitchen and placed fourth on MasterChef Australia Season 4 in 2012.
At home, she hosts ‘curry parties’ with the family and one of her favorite dishes to cook is butter macadamia chicken with lemon myrtle flatbread.
Mindy also partnered with Australian Macadamias to create two native-infused recipes: The Original Macas Burger (pictured) and Mylkshake.
When money is tight, Mindy recommends looking at what’s in the pantry and freezer first before heading to the grocery store.
“Cooking with canned and jarred foods can deliver great flavor, without breaking the bank,” she said.
‘My favorite dish in the pantry is a weekly special at home: canned tomato and Italian chili tuna pasta. Cooked in a pan and mixed with packaged spaghetti with capers and olives – a delicious meal with everything out of the cupboard.
Leftovers, or “better leftovers” as Mindy calls them, often taste better than the next day and can be used for work lunches.
“Getting creative with leftover vegetables, meats, curries and stews allows you to create a new dining experience with the same ingredients,” she said.
“Think about turning last night’s curry into a meatloaf by simply reheating it in the oven with a puff pastry topping, creating delicious tacos or enchiladas by adding Mexican spices and seasonings to leftover roasted meats and vegetables. I love the creativity that leftovers can inspire.’
When sticking to a budget, Mindy recommends shopping at local and commercial and farmer’s markets. “Without question, the BEST, tastiest produce is farmer-direct and at the best price,” she said.
Mindy also recommends buying local and buying seasonal produce at farmers markets.
“Without a doubt, the BEST tastiest produce is direct from the farmer and at the best price,” he said.
‘You’ll find everything from locally grown fruits, vegetables, meat and nuts to locally made cheeses, pastas and much more. It’s a great way to become part of their great community.’
She added that “odd” shaped fruits and vegetables tend to be specials at farmers markets, but they taste the same.
‘They may look like fun, but they will certainly save you money! Imperfect fruit and vegetables will not only save you money, but will also help Australian farmers and, more importantly, help the environment by reducing food waste.”
What are the rules of Mindy’s kitchen?
1. Always use sharp knives and learn how to sharpen them. Sharp knives are safe knives and learning the skill of knife sharpening means you are respecting your tools and working safely in the kitchen.
2. Lift and stir: Condensation and steam forms inside hot pots and pans. To avoid burns, splatters and spills, tilt the lid away from you when opening a hot pot or pan and always turn it away from your body.
3. Reduce clutter on your kitchen bench. Kitchen benches should be used for food preparation, not for storing or displaying utensils and food. A clean and organized kitchen bench helps make cooking easy and helps create a clean and safe kitchen environment.
4. Cover the pot when the water boils. There’s a reason we choose high heat when boiling water: the faster the water heats up, the faster it will boil. Covering the pot to trap the heat will reduce the time and energy required to bring the water to a boil.
5. MAKE IT FUN! It breaks my little chef’s heart when people consider cooking to be a chore rather than a choice!
Overthinking or overcomplicating meals tends to be the biggest mistake people make in the kitchen, according to Mindy.
Instead of preparing complex menus and dishes to impress family or friends, she recommends keeping it simple.
‘Simplicity does not mean boring when it comes to food. Buy ingredients that are in season and at the height of their flavor and prepare them in a way that helps them shine,” he said.
When budgeting, he turns to a Tarka Dal recipe that is often described as a ‘warm hug in a bowl’.
‘It’s so cheap to make and it will feed a crowd. It freezes well too,” he said.
The vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free dish consists of onions, garlic, tomatoes, ginger, potatoes, and turmeric along with spices and herbs to spice up the dish.
Instead of preparing complex menus and dishes to impress family or friends, she recommends keeping it simple. ‘Simplicity does not mean boring when it comes to food. Buy ingredients that are in season and at the peak of their flavor and prepare them in a way that helps them shine,” he said.
The Maca Mylkshake (pictured) can be made at home using Australian macadamias
Both can be made at home with native ingredients, with the flavor of macadamia nuts being the hero of both dishes.
‘Most Australians don’t even realize that the Queen of all nuts; Macadamia is native to Australia. It is our world famous nut and one we should all enjoy cooking with at home,” said Mindy.
“Macadamia nuts are not only good for you, delicious, and great for snacking, but they are incredibly versatile in the kitchen and can be used in both sweet and savory applications.”
HOW TO MAKE THE ORIGINAL MACA BURGER:
Native salt and pepper seasoning
- 1 teaspoon ground native pepperberry
- 4 teaspoons of sea salt
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 4 teaspoons of ground tomato
- 2 teaspoons sriracha-style hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce
- 200g minced kangaroo meat
- 300 g minced meat
- 1 free range egg
- 4 tablespoons macadamia chunks, roasted, salted
- and chopped
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped or grated
- 4 tablespoons of spicy tomato sauce
- 3 teaspoons of pepper leaf
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons native basil
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 4 tablespoons of macadamia oil
- 4 brioche burger rolls
- 4 slices of hamburger-style cheese
- 12 slices of hamburger pickles
- 8 small tomato slices or 4 large slices
- 4 cos lettuce leaves, torn
For seasoning, dry roasted berry and salt in a pan and grind in a spice blender or mortar. Set aside.
For the sauce, mix all the ingredients well to combine. Set aside.
For the empanadas, place the ground beef, egg, macadamia nuts, and onion in a large bowl. Season with spicy tomato sauce, pepper leaf, blackberry, native basil and a good pinch of salt. Mix by hand, mashing together until well combined. Divide evenly into 4 servings.
Carefully flatten each portion into a 3-inch-diameter patty.
Transfer empanadas to a large, parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop and burgers to “set.”
Press your thumb into the center of each patty to create a small indentation to ensure the patties cook evenly and lie flat.
Spray a large nonstick skillet with the macadamia oil and heat over medium-high heat.
Add the patties and season with the native mix of salt and pepper. Cook, 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until charred and cooked through.
Transfer to a plate, season again with the native salt and pepper mixture, and cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining burgers.
To serve, heat burger buns in a clean, warm skillet with the insides toward the bottom of the skillet. Arrange the bread crusts on plates and spread with a generous dollop of the sauce.
Top with burger, cheese, pickles, tomato, and lettuce. Finish with a layer of sauce, then the top of the burger. Attend.
Fountain: australian macadamias