Jam session

[Recipe 1] FEIJOA, QUINCE and ROSEWATER JAM transforms into
[Recipe 2] SPICED LINZER TORTE

I’ve been on a jam-making frenzy! “It smells like the doughnut van at the footy” said the husband, and I could only take that as a huge compliment.
Feijoa, quince and rosewater jam is one of my favourite conserve creations to date. I adore feijoas! If you’re unfamiliar with them, they’re a little like a musky guava in taste, with a dash of watermelon and kiwi. They have a short season and are tricky to find, so when my friend Janet dropped off a bag recently I was one happy lady!
I usually stew feijoas with apples, but decided to give feijoa jam a try. Honestly it was as if the stars had aligned as within two days of my jam-making decision I discovered the important reference tool ‘Making men happy with jams and jellies’, published in 1930 and part of the beautiful Little Blue Book series. I also scored lemons from my mum and even styling props in the form of pink paper doilies (from my delightful 7-year old niece ‘especially for your blog’) and pink roses from my neighbours.
I love a robust, zesty jam and was concerned feijoas might be a little delicate in flavour and colour on their own, so decided to chuck in some quinces. Quinces have a similar season to feijoas, and they’re natural partners; both being quite fragrant – almost perfumey – and somewhat exotic. Quinces turn a beautiful ruby red colour after cooking too, which is a fab bonus!
I was so chuffed with how the jam turned out! After giving most of it away as gifts, I made a second batch the following week, reserving some for a pretty damn amazing Middle Eastern style Spiced Linzer Torte we’ve served up to two groups of dinner guests recently. I heavily tweaked the Hairy Bikers recipe, using more flour as I found their mixture a little wet. I also doubled the jam, added lemon zest and cloves (traditional Linzer Torte ingredients); and swapped the cinnamon for cardamom, which pairs beautifully with quinces and feijoas. Lastly, I lined the top edge with flaked almonds, both to hide the scrappy pastry joins and add a bit of crunch. Absolutely bloody delicious, even if I do say so myself!
I’m signing off with a poem by Dougall from Episode 19 of the Magic Roundabout:
“Life is for living.

Jam is for giving.
Love should be spread.
And I’m off to bed.”

Feijoas and quincesFeijoa and quince jam. One Equals Two[Recipe 1] Feijoa, quince and rosewater jam

Ingredients (makes 1.8 kilos/about 4 lb jam):
5 firm quinces (about 1.2–1.3 kilos/2½–2¾ lb)
½ cup (125ml) lemon juice (from 2 medium lemons)
10 cups (2.5 litres) water
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 2 medium lemons)
4 cups (800g/1¾ lb) sugar

8 feijoa (about 500g/1 lb), peeled and chopped
2 small firm pears (about 300g/10½ oz), peeled, cored and chopped into small cubes
1 teaspoon rose water

Rinse and scrub the quinces. Place into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with the lemon juice and water. Boil, covered, for 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave the quinces in the syrupy liquid for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
Remove quinces with a slotted spoon and place on a board, reserving the liquid. Add lemon zest and sugar to the liquid and bring to the boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 1–2 minutes, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Peel off the quince skins. Core quinces and chop roughly. Place into the prepared liquid as you go, to prevent discolouring. Add the feijoa and pear.
Bring to the boil, turn down heat and simmer rapidly, for 1½–2 hours, uncovered, until thick. Stir occasionally, and enjoy watching it turn ruby red right before your eyes! Keep a close eye on the jam towards the end of the cooking process, to ensure it doesn’t stick and burn.
Give the jam 3 whizzes with a stick blender.
Add rose water and simmer for a further two minutes. Remove jam from the heat.
Test to check the jam is ready. Place a small ceramic plate in the freezer for 5 minutes. Spoon a heaped teaspoon of jam onto the plate and return to the freezer for two minutes. If the jam sets and forms a skin it is ready! If the jam is runny and can be poured off the plate, return the saucepan to the stovetop and simmer jam for a further ten minutes, stirring constantly. Test again.
Divide the jam amongst hot, sterilised jars.
Reserve 500g (1 lb) jam for the Spiced Linzer Torte.
Store remaining jam in a cool, dark place.

  • Use good quality fruit that is firm and not over-ripe. Fully ripened fruit contains less pectin, the substance that makes jams set. It’s best to use your fruit as soon as possible after buying or picking.
  • I always add a couple of pears to my jams as they’re high in pectin. This will help achieve a good set even if your hero fruit is beginning to over-ripen.
  • Rose water can be found at Middle Eastern grocery stores. If you have roses in your garden, you can make your own! Rose water is beautiful sprinkled on khoshaf (Middle Eastern dried fruit salad).
  • Resist the desperate urge to enjoy your jam immediately! Allow it to further firm up for at least 24 hours, preferably longer, before using.
  • Jam in properly sterilised jars will keep in a cool, dark place for up to ten months. Refrigerate after opening.

Making men happy with jams and jelliesFeijoa, quince and rosewater jam. One Equals TwoSpiced Linzer Torte with quince jam. One Equals Two

[Recipe 2] Spiced Linzer torte

Ingredients (serves 6–8):
175g (6 oz) almond meal

175g (6 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
200g (1⅓ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons lemon zest, chopped (from 1 lemon)
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
175g (6 oz/1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg, lightly beaten
500g (1 lb) reserved Feijoa, quince and rosewater jam (see recipe 1)
Egg wash (1 egg yolk, whisked with 1 teaspoon milk)
50g (1.7 oz) flaked almonds
Icing sugar, for dusting

Process almond meal, sugar, cardamom, cloves, flour, lemon zest and salt until combined. Add the cubes of butter and process until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add egg and process until dough just comes together.
Transfer to a bowl (it will look quite crumbly, don’t worry). Knead lightly into a ball. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Grease a 3cm (1″) deep, 25cm (10″) fluted tart tin, with removable base.
With a sharp knife, cut off one third of the dough (about 260g/9 oz) and roll out between two pieces of baking paper to make a rectangle approx. 25cm x 18cm (10″ x 7″) , and 3mm (.1″) thick. This is for the top layer of pastry strips. Slide onto a tray and pop in the fridge.
Roll the larger piece of dough between two pieces of baking paper into a piece large enough to line the base and sides of the pan, about 5mm (.2″) thick. Carefully press the dough onto the base and up the sides of the prepared pan, trimming off the excess. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, covered in cling film.
Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Blind bake the pastry: cover pastry base and sides with baking paper. Cut two 6cm/2½” high strips of foil and fold over the sides of the tin to prevent the top edge of the pastry from burning. Fill lined tart case with pastry weights (or uncooked rice) and bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove paper, foil and weights. Bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Spread cooled pastry base evenly with reserved Feijoa, quince and rosewater jam.
Remove smaller piece of dough from fridge and, using a sharp knife or pastry wheel, cut into 1½cm (.6″) wide strips. Carefully place strips diagonally over jam to form a criss-cross pattern. Press the edges to seal, and trim off excess.
Very lightly brush pastry strips and outer top edge of pastry with egg wash. Arrange flaked almonds around the edge of the torte, brushing with egg wash here and there. Use an outward movement to prevent the nuts sticking to the brush – ‘wipe’ the brush as if you’re removing paint!
Bake torte for 25–30 minutes, until pastry is pale golden brown. Allow to cool in the pan, then carefully remove and slide onto a serving plate.
Dust Linzer torte lightly with icing sugar, cut into wedges and serve.
[Recipe loosely adapted from the Hairy Bikers]

In a stew

My emotions have been all over the place these last couple of months and I’ve found it so hard to get my blogging mojo back. I try not to be an oversharer on my blog, but I consider many of you as friends I’ve never met, and I really want to explain my absence and apologise for not having visited all your lovely blogs for a while. I’ve missed this little corner of my world!
My lovely, funny, generous dad passed away 5 weeks ago from cancer. This beef bourguignon stew was the last meal I cooked for him. Dad loved it. I’ve made it a couple of times since, and I’ve thought of him every time I’ve eaten it. I miss you dad.


[Recipe 1] BEEF BOURGUIGNON without WINE
transforms into
[Recipe 2] BEEF and MUSHROOM PITHIVIERS

I set myself a goal to cook up a flavoursome stew, minus the merlot, and this alcohol-free bourguignon came about after much experimentation.
Beef bourguignon without wine? Mais non! C’est impossible! Au contraire mon ami, it is not only possible, but trés tasty.
My recipe is loosely adapted from Stephanie’s in the Cook’s Companion and Margaret Fulton’s from her 1974 masterpiece The Complete Margaret Fulton. I doubled the orange peel, swapped the bacon for speck, and replaced the wine (and Margaret’s brandy!) with two secret ingredients – verjuice, which adds a sweet wine-like tartness; and a good slosh of balsamic vinegar. The other key to a great wine-free stew is full-flavoured stock. I squirreled away some home-made beef broth (thanks Tracey!) a while ago and this stew seemed a worthy reason to crack it open.
Regular readers will know I wouldn’t dream of making a casserole to serve 4. While the oven is cranked up, it makes sense to cook a huge quantity of Beef bourguignon (in two pots if necessary – see notes). It freezes beautifully, and can be put to use in the most beautiful Beef and mushroom pithiviers. Pithiviers are basically fancy French pies made with two layers of flaky puff pastry. You can use store-bought puff, but if you’ve not tried making your own, you simply must! Rough Puff is the easiest, quickest pastry to throw together; and you will never reach for the Pampas again, I promise! Mine is adapted from Clotilde’s recipe on Chocolate and Zucchini, the first food blog I ever followed and still one of my absolute favourites.
Have a lovely week. I’m off to catch up on some serious blog reading. xxx

Beef Bourguignon and mash. One Equals Two[Recipe 1] Beef bourguignon without wine

Ingredients (serves 12; ie. 3 meals for 4 people):
2–4 tablespoons olive oil
400g (14 oz) speck, rind and large areas of fat removed, chopped
1 kilo (2 lb) shallots (or pearl/pickling onions), peeled
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 kg (6 lb) blade steak, trimmed of large fat, cut into 5cm/2″ cubes
2 tablespoons (30g/1 oz) butter
2 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
1 cup verjuice (verjus)
1 litre (4 cups) good quality beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste (tomato concentrate)
4 x 10cm/4″ long pieces of orange peel
2 tablespoons fresh-picked thyme leaves
⅓ cup (80ml) balsamic vinegar
400g (14 oz) small button or cup mushrooms, trimmed, large ones halved
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
To serve:
Creamy parmesan mashed potatoes
Flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Steamed green veggies

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and gently brown the speck for 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl.
Add onions, and gently brown in the speck fat for 3–5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute. Remove and add to the speck.
Seal the beef in batches until nicely browned, adding more oil as required. Remove beef and juices and add to the onions and speck.
Melt butter in the pan, add flour and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Add the verjuice and simmer for 2 minutes, scraping up all the lovely brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add stock and tomato paste, and simmer gently for 1–2 minutes, until the tomato paste has dissolved.
Lightly oil a large casserole or cast iron baking dish (see notes if your baking dish is too small to accommodate everything). Add prepared speck, onions, beef and juices. Tuck the orange rind pieces here and there, and sprinkle with thyme.
Pour over the verjuice and stock mixture.
Cover with a layer of foil and pop the lid on (or 2 layers of foil if you don’t have a lid).
Transfer to oven and cook for 2½–3 hours. Check if the meat is tender after 2½ hours by prodding it with a fork, then add the balsamic vinegar and mushrooms and cook for a further 30 minutes uncovered. If the meat is still firm and chewy, return it to the oven for an extra half hour before adding the vinegar and mushrooms.
Season well. Remove and discard any large pieces of orange zest (most will have deliciously dissolved).
♦ Divide beef bourgionon into three portions of approximately 1.15 kilo (2½ lb) each. Each portion of borguignon will serve 4 people. Reserve ½ portion (550g/1.2 lb) for the Beef and mushroom pithiviers.
Meanwhile, prepare creamy parmesan mashed potatoes. Divide amongst four serving plates, ladle over bourguignon, scatter with parsley and serve with steamed green vegetables.

  • Notes: The flavour of this stew is improved with time. I recommend making it on the weekend and refrigerating for up to 3 days. It can be reheated gently in a saucepan on the stovetop.
  • Unless you have a huge casserole baking dish like this one, which I covet; you can cook the bourguignon in two smaller casserole pots or Dutch ovens. Divide the onion/speck/beef mixture between the two pots. Add 1 tablespoon thyme and 2 pieces orange peel to each. Pour 2½ cups of the stock mixture into each pot. After the specified cooking time, add 40ml (2 tablespoons) balsamic vinegar and 200g (7 oz) mushrooms to each. When cooked, both pots of stew can be mixed together in a large pan or bowl before dividing into portions.
  • You can have your butcher cut thick 5cm blade steaks; or buy two small whole blade roasts and cube them yourself. You’ll need a very sharp knife!
  • Speck is smoked pork, cured in salt and spices such as juniper berries. It has a lovely intense flavour. Replace with kaiserfleisch or bacon if unavailable. If using lean bacon, add an extra tablespoon olive oil at the frying stage. 
  • Verjuice (or verjus) is made from the juice of unfermented grapes. One of my Australian foodie heroes, Maggie Beer, has been producing her verjuice since the mid 1980s. Hers is available world-wide, in large supermarkets and specialty food stores. Verjuice is beautiful sloshed into caramelised apples.
  • Beef bourguignon can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Beef and mushroom Pithiviers. One Equals TwoBeef Bourguignon Pithiviers. One Equals Two

[Recipe 2] Beef and mushroom pithiviers

Ingredients (makes 6 pithiviers to serve 6):
1 tablespoon corn flour (cornstarch)
1½ tablespoons hot water

♦ ½ quantity (approx. 550g/1.2 lb) reserved Beef bourguignon

½ tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 x 1¼ kg (2½ lb) quantity rough puff pastry OR 3 x 375g (13 oz) store-bought puff pastry blocks
Egg wash (2 egg yolks, whisked with 1 teaspoon water)
Easy spiced tomato chutney (or store-bought chutney), to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Blend flour and hot water until smooth.
♦ Spoon reserved Beef bourguignon into a large saucepan. Add flour mixture and worcestershire sauce and bring to boil. Simmer gently, uncovered, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, until the meat starts to break down and the mixture is thickened. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until cold.
If using home-made rough puff pastry, roll out each prepared pastry block on a lightly floured surface to 5mm (.2″) thick. You’ll end up with 2 x 32cm² (12.5″) pieces of pastry. If using store-bought puff, roll out the three blocks to 5mm (.2″) thick.
Using a 12cm (4.7″) diameter plate, cut out 12 rounds from the puff pastry. Pastry scraps can be loosely stacked on top of each other (don’t roll into a ball or the pastry will lose its puffiness), and lightly re-rolled.
Divide cooled beef mixture amongst 6 of the pastry rounds, mounding up a bit in the centre. Leave a 1.5cm (.6″) border. Brush edges with egg wash and top with remaining puff pastry rounds, lightly pressing down edges to seal. Lightly brush with egg wash, and score a shallow radiating sunbeam pattern in the top with a very sharp knife. Pierce a small hole in the top of each.
Place pithiviers on an oven tray lined with baking paper, loosely covered with cling film and rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Bake pithiviers for 20–25 minutes, until golden and puffed. Serve with tomato chutney.

  • Cooked pithiviers can be stored in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days. To reheat, place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, lightly cover with foil, and bake at 180°C (350ºF) for 15 minutes. Remove foil and heat for a further 5 minutes.

A nice pair of buns

TRANSFORM ONE BATCH OF GREEK EASTER BREAD DOUGH into
[1] CHOCOLATE and RAISIN GREEK EASTER BUNS and
[2] MIXED SEED and FRUIT BUNS


Is there a better school holiday activity than a good session of dough kneading? I think not, especially when said dough encases plump raisins and hidden chunks of couverture chocolate!
With eager helping hands available, it makes perfect sense to double up and make two batches of buns; in this case lovely Chocolate and raisin Greek Easter buns, best eaten hot, slathered in butter; and tasty little Mixed seed and fruit buns which can be popped in the freezer, ready for lunchboxes.
This recipe is admittedly time-consuming, and a definite weekend or holiday pursuit, but most of that time is in the resting and proving. We managed to squeeze in a movie during the first rising session (Peabody and Mr. Sherman – loved it, even though it was an absolute violation of the original cartoon)!
The dough is sweet and light, similar to brioche or challah; and is tweaked from last year’s Orange and currant Greek Easter bread, a treat we’ll be enjoying for breakfast this Sunday. For those who celebrate it, have a most eggcellent Easter! xx
PS. The little blue Danish apron with removable bunny is from my childhood. I’m so glad my mum is a hoarder like me!
PS2. Leftover couverture chocolate can be used for home-made Easter eggs. We whipped up a batch yesterday, which I posted on the 1=2 Facebook page this morning. I announce new blog posts, and often share extra bits n’ pieces and fun foodie facts on Facebook, so feel to ‘like’ for updates!

2 batches of buns from 1 batch of dough. Via One Equals TwoEaster buns and seeded buns. One Equals TwoGreek Easter buns with hidden couverture chocolate. One Equals TwoOne batch of dough =
[1]
Chocolate and raisin Greek Easter buns and
[2] Mixed seed and fruit buns

Ingredients (makes 24 buns: 12 Chocolate and raisin Greek Easter buns and 12 Mixed seed and fruit buns):
250 grams (8 oz/2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup (215g) caster sugar
1½ cups (375ml) warmed milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon salt
1½ tablespoons (3 sachets/21g) dried yeast
1.3 kilos (2.8 lb) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon mixed spice
Olive oil, to grease
For the Chocolate and raisin Greek Easter buns:
125g (4oz) raisins
2 heaped teaspoons finely chopped orange zest
60g (2 oz) milk couverture chocolate, cut into 12 little cubes (or 12 couverture buttons)
For the Mixed seed and fruit buns:
60g (2 oz) raisins
60g (2 oz) dried apricots, chopped
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons mixed seeds for sprinkling (I used poppy seeds and pumpkin seeds/pepitas)
Glaze:
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon caster sugar, extra
1 egg yolk

Combine the melted butter, sugar and 1 cup (250 ml) of the warm milk in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the eggs and salt.
Combine yeast and remaining ½ cup warm milk in a bowl, stir to remove lumps, and allow to stand for 8–10 minutes, until frothy. Add the yeast mixture to the butter mixture and stir to combine. Gradually add the flour, cinnamon and mixed spice. Use a wooden spoon to stir until combined, then use your hands to bring the dough together.
Dust your work surface with flour, and knead dough for 15 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
First rising:
Place dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and rest in a warm place for 2 hours (or up to 3 hours), until doubled in size.
Punching and resting:
Punch down the dough with your fist, and divide in half, handing one piece to your kitchen assistant! To one portion of dough (for the Easter buns) add the 125g raisins and orange zest; and to the other portion add the 60g raisins, 60g chopped dried apricots and chia seeds. Turn dough pieces onto a lightly floured surface and knead each for 10–15 minutes, until smooth.
Set prepared dough portions aside for 10 minutes to rest.
Line two baking trays with baking paper. Lightly pat each dough portion flat, and cut each into 12 even pieces (24 in total). Gently roll each piece into a ball and arrange on prepared baking trays, leaving 2cm (¾”) between each. Push a small cube or button of chocolate into each of the Easter buns (ie. the ones without seeds). Don’t push them all the way down, or they’ll burn on the bottom.
Second rising:
Cover prepared buns with two damp, well squeezed-out tea towels. Set aside in a warm place for 45 minutes or until almost double in size.
Meanwhile make the glaze by whisking together the milk, extra caster sugar and egg yolk.
Baking and eating:
Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Lightly brush the tops of the buns with prepared glaze. Sprinkle the mixed seed and fruit buns with poppy seeds and pumpkin seeds. Bake for 15–18 minutes or until buns are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the base. You can bake the buns in two batches if your oven can’t accommodate the trays side by side.
Mixed seed and fruit buns can be set aside to cool on trays, then frozen (see tips below).
Serve Easter buns immediately, pulled apart and spread with butter.

  • Chocolate and raisin Easter buns are best eaten immediately, while still warm, with lashings of butter. They can also be re-heated on Easter morning, covered in foil, in a warm oven; or split and toasted. Leftovers can be used for bread n’ butter pudding or French toast!
  • Couverture chocolate is premium quality, containing a higher percentage of cocoa butter than regular chocolate. It’s smooth, creamy and completely delicious. You’ll find it at specialty food stores. In Australia it’s available at Essential Ingredient, Melbourne Food Depot and Belgian Delights.
  • Mixed seed and fruit buns can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight at room temperature and use in lunchboxes, lightly spread with butter or creamed cheese.

Greek Easter buns and vintage bunny. One Equals TwoVintage Danish apron with removable bunny

 

Meet your baker

[Recipe 1] KEEMA ALOO (Indian spiced minced beef and potatoes) with GLUTEN-FREE DOSAS transforms into
[Recipe 2] SPICED BEEF and VEGETABLE MINI PASTIES
……………..
I’m not normally an OMG-double-exclamation-mark type of girl but OMG!! I’ve been baking my butt off!! On Saturday we hosted a mega combined party for our boys – one turned 6 and the other 9 (still can’t quite believe we have a 9 year old).
Having a combo party was fantastic but the biggest job was the catering, including TWO birthday cakes. There were 30 kids + adults. Yikes.
Our freezer was positively heaving by Friday. I made a huge batch of tsukune (teriyaki chicken balls), 100 mini margherita pizzas, a massive tray of honey joys (yep, you can freeze them in case you were wondering) and 80 Spiced beef and vegetable mini pasties; plus platters of the usual party fare (fairy bread, fruit, guacamole, snags etc).
I’m a bit chuffed as my little pasties turned out beautifully, and there were quite a few requests for the recipe. My boys loved them, and they went down really well with both the adults and the kids at the party. They came about when I had a lightbulb moment while making a vat of my Keema aloo (Indian spiced minced beef and potatoes) – it’s the perfect pastie filler! I used store-bought shortcrust pastry too, so they were incredibly easy to make.
My boys adore Keema aloo (I’m yet to meet a kid who doesn’t like a minced beef based dinner). It’s perfect for kiddy palates as it’s lightly spiced; and adult serves can be jazzed up with kasoundi (this recipe is great), a finely chopped red chilli or a dash of Tabasco. It can be frozen too, so it’s perfect for a quick mid-week dinner.
We roll up the keema aloo in easy home-made dosas (Indian-style pancakes). My dosa recipe is based on one by Jamie Oliver – I omit the mustard seeds and use gluten-free plain flour. Gluten-free flour (I like Orgran brand) contains maize and rice flours, making for a lovely light dosa batter.
So, our freezer is now spookily empty, but the oven is remaining off for quite a while while I recover from my baking overdose.

Keema Aloo (spiced Indian mince)[Recipe 1] Keema aloo (spiced minced beef and potatoes) with gluten-free dosas

Ingredients (serves 4 for 3 meals; or 4 for 2 meals plus 40 mini pasties):
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large red (purple/Spanish) onions, finely chopped
6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped tablespoon cinnamon
1 heaped tablespoon garam masala
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1½ kilos (3 lb) minced (ground) beef
3 large potatoes (approx. 750g/1½ lb), peeled, chopped into small pieces
2 large carrots, chopped into very small pieces (approx. 5mm/¼”)
7 tablespoons (140g tub) tomato paste (tomato concentrate)
1½ cups (375ml) water
2 x 400g (15 oz) cans lentils, drained, rinsed (or 2 cups cooked lentils – see tips below recipe)
2 cups fresh podded or frozen peas
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Home-made gluten-free dosas or store-bought dosas, to serve
Basic cucumber raita, to serve
Spicy accompaniment for adults (eg. kasoundi, finely chopped red chilli or Tabasco)

Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, garam masala, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and cloves; and cook for 1–2 minutes, until aromatic. Add mince and cook over low heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until brown. Break up the mince with a wooden spoon now and again. 
Add potatoes, carrot, tomato paste and water and simmer, covered, over a medium heat for 25–30 minutes. Add lentils and peas, and simmer for a further 15 minutes, covered, until liquid has evaporated and vegetables are tender. Add a splash more water if it starts to dry out too quickly. Season to taste.
Divide the the Keema aloo into plastic containers.
 The Keema aloo recipe will yield three portions of about 5 cups (1¼ kilos/2½ lb) each (1¼ kilos/2½ lb will serve four).
♦ Reserve 1 portion (5 cups/1¼ kilos) Keema aloo for the Spiced beef and vegetable mini pasties. The third portion can be frozen for another day.
Serve remaining Keema aloo with dosas and raita. Keema aloo can be placed into individual bowls, so people can roll up their own.

  • Keema aloo can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge and should be used within three days; or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Serve the Keema aloo with steamed basmati rice instead of dosa, for a change.
  • 2 x 400g (14 oz) cans lentils, drained, will yield 2 heaped cups lentils. For 2 heaped cups cooked lentils, cook 1 cup dry lentils in boiling water for 45 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse. I often cook up a load of lentils, and freeze them in 1 cup portions to use when required.

Spiced beef and vegetable pasties

[Recipe 2] Spiced beef and vegetable mini pasties

Ingredients (makes 40 – recipe can be doubled if required):
10 x 25cm (8″) sheets ready-rolled frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
♦ 1 portion (5 cups/1¼ kilos) reserved Keema aloo
2 eggs, lightly whisked
Easy spiced tomato chutney, store-bought chutney or tomato sauce (ketchup) to serve

Preheat oven to 220°C (425ºF). Line two baking trays with baking paper.
Use a 10cm (4″) round pastry cutter (or trace around a 10cm/4″ plate or Milo tin) to cut 4 discs from each pastry sheet.
♦ Spoon one heaped tablespoon of reserved Keema aloo onto each pastie circle. Don’t be tempted to overfill them or they’ll pop open.
Fold pasties in half to enclose filling. Seal edges of pastry with water and use fingertips to gently crimp and seal. Place on the lined trays. Lightly brush the tops of the pasties with egg.
You can bake one batch while you prepare the remaining pasties if your oven won’t accommodate two trays.
Bake in hot oven for 15–18 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.
Serve hot with chutney or tomato sauce (ketchup).

  • If using refrigerated Keema aloo (not frozen), cooked pasties are suitable to freeze, for up to 3 months. Place baking paper (or plastic sheets from the pastry pack) between the layers. When serving, allow to defrost overnight in the fridge. Reheat in a hot oven, covered with foil, for about 10–15 minutes.
  • Instead of 10 sheets, you can use 8 sheets shortcrust pastry and seal the leftover strips of pastry together with water to make the extra 2 sheets.

Pudding on the Ritz

[Recipe 1] ORANGE AND CURRANT GREEK EASTER BREAD (Tsourekia) with VANILLA RICOTTA transforms into
[Recipe 2] ‘GOLDEN ROUGH’ (chocolate coconut) BREAD AND BUTTER PUDDING
……………..
Melbourne’s weather has finally cooled and kick-started a baking frenzy at our house, including pesto pizza and Greek Easter bread.
Greek Easter bread is a lovely eggy brioche, similar to challah. It traditionally features dyed red eggs pushed in the dough, and mahlepi (ground spice from the pips of wild cherries). I usually buy it from Hellas (a gorgeous Greek bakery in Richmond, established in 1962). Their Easter bread is available for two weeks of the year only, and it’s fabulous.
My home-made version is a rather yummy orange/currant combo. It’s completely delicious sliced thickly while still warm, and spread with vanilla ricotta.
This bread is incredibly easy to make. My boys love helping with the kneading and plaiting (photo here). The only time-consuming part is waiting for the dough to prove as it requires two risings – it’s definitely a weekend activity.
I modified a recipe on taste.com.au, using half plain (all purpose) and half self-raising (self-rising) flour instead of all self-raising (yeast is a raising agent, so self-raising flour seems unnecessary). I also added orange zest and currants, omitted the caraway seeds (not such a nice pairing with orange) and swapped the allspice for cinnamon.
This recipe makes two loaves. The other can be set aside (or frozen) as planned-overs, and used for my Golden rough bread n’ butter pudding. Golden Rough is a classic Aussie chocolate treat, basically a round disk of chocolate, studded with roasted coconut, available at Milk Bars and petrol stations around the country. To put you in the picture, there is a photo of one on the 1=2 Facebook page. Coconut and gooey molten chocolate are heavenly in a Bread n’ butter pudding. I’ve used smashed chocolate Easter eggs – a great way to use up some of the excess chocolate you’ll no doubt have lingering in your house around Easter. I hesitate to use the term ‘leftover Easter eggs’ though. I saw a recipe recently that called for ‘leftover wine’ – I mean really, what on earth is leftover wine?
Happy Easter folks!

Greek Easter bread with vanilla ricotta[Recipe 1] Orange and currant Greek Easter bread with vanilla ricotta

Ingredients (makes 2 loaves: 1 plain, 1 orange and currant):
250 grams (8 oz/2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup (215g) caster sugar
1½ cups (375ml) warmed milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
Pinch of salt
1½ tablespoons (3 sachets/21g) dried yeast
5 cups (750g) plain (all-purpose) flour
4 cups (600g) self-raising (self-rising) flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Olive oil, to grease
2 teaspoons finely chopped orange zest
¼ cup currants
Glaze:
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg yolk
Vanilla ricotta:
½1 tablespoon caster sugar (to taste)
250g (½ lb) tub ricotta (or 250g fresh ricotta + 1 tablespoon milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or one vanilla bean, split and scraped)

Make the vanilla ricotta by whisking ingredients with a stick blender until completely smooth. Refrigerate until required.
Combine the melted butter, sugar and 1 cup (250 ml) of the warm milk in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the eggs and salt until combined.
Combine yeast and remaining warm milk in a bowl, stir to remove lumps, and allow to stand for 8–10 minutes, until frothy. Add the yeast mixture to the butter mixture and stir to combine. Gradually add the flour and cinnamon. Use a wooden spoon to stir until combined, then use your hands to bring dough together.
Dust your work surface with flour, and knead dough for 15 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
First rising:
Place dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap (or a lid) and rest in a warm place for 2 hours (or up to 3 hours), until doubled in size.
Punch down the dough with your fist. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10–15 minutes, until smooth. Divide the dough in half. To one portion add the orange zest and currants, and lightly fold dough over a couple of times to enclose. Set dough balls aside for 10 minutes to rest.
Line two baking trays with baking paper. Divide each dough ball into 3 equal portions (6 portions total) and roll each portion into a 35cm (13″) long log. Place 3 dough logs side by side on a prepared tray and plait. Tuck ends under the loaf. Repeat with remaining dough to make another loaf.
You can find photos of the process at the bottom of this page.
Second rising:
Cover plaited loaves with a damp, well squeezed-out, tea towel. Set aside in a warm place for 1 hour or until almost double in size.
Meanwhile make the glaze by whisking together the milk and egg yolk.
Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Brush the tops of the loaves with prepared glaze. Bake in oven for 35–40 minutes or until bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped on the base.
Reserve one loaf Greek Easter bread (the plain version) for the Golden Rough bread and butter pudding.
Serve the Orange and currant Greek Easter bread sliced thickly with vanilla ricotta.
[Recipe adapted from taste.com]

  • Greek Easter bread is best eaten immediately, while still warm. Leftovers can be toasted and served with butter. The planned-over loaf (for the bread and butter pudding) can be stored for up to two days in an airtight container, or frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight at room temperature.

Vintage wooden egg cupsChocolate and coconut bread and butter pudding

[Recipe 2] ‘Golden Rough’ bread and butter pudding

Ingredients (serves 4–6):
1 x reserved plain loaf Greek Easter bread, crust and base removed, thickly sliced
60 grams (2 oz/½ stick) butter, softened, for spreading
3 good-quality hen-sized hollow chocolate Easter eggs, broken into pieces
¼ cup dessicated coconut
3 large eggs
3 cups milk
½ cup (100g) caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Lightly butter each slice of bread on one side.
Cut each slice into strips, about 2cm (¾”) wide.
Lightly grease a lasagna-sized baking dish. Lay one or two bread strips at one end to ‘prop up’ the first layer. Layer the remaining bread strips, slightly overlapping.
Push chocolate pieces down between the bread strips here and there (they’ll melt better if they’re slightly buried). Scatter with coconut.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla extract. 
Pour egg mixture over the bread slices. Push down lightly to help the bread absorb the liquid, and allow to stand for 5–10 minutes.
Place into the preheated oven and bake for 35–40 minutes, until puffed and golden.
Serve immediately.

  • It’s important to use good-quality Easter eggs (not compound chocolate!), with a minimum of 30% cocoa solids.
  • Leftover pudding is surprisingly fine re-heated the next day. Cover with cling-film (or a lid) and microwave on high for about 45 seconds–1 minute.

Pasta la vista [2]

[Recipe 1] FULL-OF-VEGGIES BOLOGNAISE (recipe posted here) transforms into
[Recipe 3] GRAND FINAL DAY MINI MEAT PIES
……………..
Our Grand Final* is on this Saturday but I’ve gotta confess that I’m not a football fan. I went to one match when I was 13, deciding there and then that I didn’t ever need to relive the experience.
Most sport-related activities don’t really float my boat; but I do like the charged, slightly mental, atmosphere on Grand Final day though. Friends usually drop in to watch the whole damn exciting thing on TV with us; ploughing through mountains of food. These mini meat pies, topped with cut-out pastry footballs, go down a treat. Perfect finger food!
The pies are super easy to whip up as they use store-bought pastry. They’re also relatively healthy as they’re made with a reserved portion of Full-of-veggies bolognaise (originally posted back in February), which is plugged full of veggies and lentils. Enjoy! Have a beaut weekend readers. Hope your team wins!
*Overseas readers: The Grand Final is the end-of-Season championship game for Australian Rules Football, mildly akin to the Super Bowl or World Cup, but with a speck of the budget. If you’re not familiar with it, Aussie Rules is probably the weirdest game you’ll ever have seen. Grown men in tiny shrunken shorts kick, punch and throw a misshapen ball around. If a goal is scored, a man in a silly outfit gesticulates from under the goal posts.

Grand Final mini meat pies

[Recipe 3] Grand Final Day mini meat pies

Ingredients (makes 20 mini pies):
4 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
1 kilo (2 lb) reserved full-of-veggies bolognaise
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
5 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
3 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Tomato sauce or Easy spiced tomato chutney, to serve

Preheat oven to 220°C (425ºF).
Grease 2 x 12-hole standard-sized muffin pans (you’ll need to grease 20 holes).
Blend flour with 3 tablespoons hot water to form a smooth paste.
Spoon reserved full-of-veggies bolognaise into a medium-sized saucepan.
Add flour paste and bring to boil. Simmer, uncovered, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in worcestershire sauce.
Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until cold.
Using a 10cm (4-inch) round cutter, cut out 20 circles from the shortcrust pastry. Press into prepared pan holes, covering them with a tea towel as you go, to prevent them drying out.
Brush inside pastry cases (this prevents them going soggy), and the edges, with egg.
Divide cooled bolognaise mixture among pastry cases.
Using a 7cm (2¾-inch) round cutter, cut out 20 circles from the puff pastry. Place on top of pies. Press edges together to seal. Cut out little football shapes from the puff pastry scraps and place one on top of each pie. You can score little lines for the laces on top too, if you have the patience. Brush tops of pies with egg, and prick with a fork.
Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown.
Serve with tomato sauce or Easy spiced tomato chutney.

  • If you don’t have a 10cm (4-inch) round cutter, trace around a lid with a sharp knife (a lid from a 450g tin of Milo is the perfect size).
  • The Grand Final Day mini meat pies can be cooked the day before and stored in the fridge.
  • If using fresh full-of-veggies bolognaise (not frozen) you can freeze the cooked mini meat pies, between sheets of baking paper, for up to one month. Thaw overnight in the fridge. To reheat pre-cooked pies, place the pies on a baking tray and bake at 180°C (350ºF) for 15 minutes, or until heated through.

Porklife

[Recipe 1] PULLED PORK with BBQ SAUCE and CARAMELISED APPLES
transforms into

[Recipe 2] PORK PO’BOYS with APPLE SLAW
……………..
Texan-style pulled pork is one of our favourite, er, pig-outs. It’s totally lip-smackin’, and goes down beautifully with caramelised apples and a glass of cider. My boys just love it. You’ll need to whip up a batch of my home-made kick-arse BBQ sauce to cook the pork in – it’s lovely and tangy, with a bit of bite; and is super easy to make. It yields a large quantity of sauce and it freezes well, so you can make these recipes again at a later date.
The pork is slow-cooked for at least 4 hours, so it’s most definitely a weekend meal. Reserve half the pulled pork, and some of the BBQ sauce though; and you can serve up amazing Pork po’boys with apple slaw as a second meal in no time.
Po’boys are traditional Louisiana-style submarines stuffed with any type of warm meat or fish (chicken, roast beef, shrimp, oysters, crab, fried catfish or… pulled pork). They’re always dressed with salad and we love stuffing ours with apple slaw – can’t have pork without apple 😉
The key to a perfect po’boy is the bread – it must be crusty with a soft centre. The long white rolls sold at Vietnamese bakeries fit the description perfectly.
There are countless theories as to the origin of the term po’boy, but the most widely-accepted story (which I discovered here) is that they were invented by Clovis and Benjamin Martin, brothers and former streetcar drivers who opened a restaurant on St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans in the 1920s. When streetcar drivers went on strike in 1929, the brothers took up their cause and created an inexpensive sandwich of gravy and spare bits of roast beef on French bread that they’d serve the unemployed workers from the rear of their restaurant. When a worker came to get one, a cry would go up in the kitchen: ‘here comes another poor boy!’ The name was transferred to the sandwiches, which eventually became known as ‘po-boys’.
Gawd, all this talk of 1920s America has reminded me of Boardwalk Empire. Season 3 starts in 8 days. Not that I’m counting sleeps or anything…
Ciao for now.

Pulled pork with caramelised apples. One Equals Two.Pulled pork with caramelised apples and BBQ sauce. One Equals Two.[Recipe 1] Pulled pork with BBQ sauce and caramelised apples

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
1.75 kilo (3.8 lb) piece free-range boned pork neck (pork scotch fillet)
1 cup home-made BBQ sauce, plus extra to serve
Caramelised (caramelized) apples:
2 tablespoons (30g) butter
2 large green apples, cut into eighths
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon verjuice (verjus)*

Preheat oven to 150°C (300ºF).
Place pork into a small, close-fitting, ovenproof pot.
Add 1 cup of cold water to the home-made BBQ sauce and stir well. Pour over the pork piece. Cook, covered, for 4–5 hours, basting with the marinade once every hour, until the pork is very tender. Test to see whether pork is tender after 4 hours. If not, return to the oven for a further 30 minutes and check again.
Meanwhile, make the caramelised apples. Melt butter in a heavy-based frying pan. Add apples and brown sugar. Cook, covered, over a medium-high heat until the apple is golden brown and caramelised, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in verjuice. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes on high, uncovered, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat and set aside. Apples can be warmed when pork is ready to serve.
Remove pork from pot, place on a board and allow to rest, completely covered with foil, for 15 minutes.
♦ Reserve ½ cup pan juices for the Pork po’boys with apple slaw.
Discard remaining pan juices. With two forks, pull the meat apart into shreds.
Reserve half of the pulled pork (about 2–3 cups) for the Pork po’boys with apple slaw.
Pile remaining pork onto a large platter. Place warmed caramelised apples and extra BBQ sauce into serving bowls, and allow everyone to help themselves. Yummo.

  • *Verjuice (or verjus) is made from the juice of unfermented grapes. The wonderful Maggie Beer, Australian cook and writer, has been producing verjuice since 1984. Hers is available world-wide, in large supermarkets and specialty food stores. If unavailable, replace with apple cider vinegar or white balsamic vinegar.
  • Reserved pulled pork can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Fussy kid tip: I peel a couple of the caramelised apples and puree them for my boys – pulled pork and apple sauce! Yum.

Apple slaw. One Equals Two.Pulled Pork Poboys. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 2] Pork po’boys with apple slaw

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 crusty French bread rolls, split lengthways
2–3 cups reserved pulled pork + ½ cup reserved cooking juices (see recipe 1)
Apple slaw, to serve
1 cup home-made BBQ sauce

Cut through bread rolls.
♦ Lightly warm the reserved pulled pork. This can be done carefully in a small covered saucepan, or in the microwave (drizzle with the reserved cooking juices, cover with cling film, and microwave on high for 1–2 minutes). Don’t make it too hot!
Stuff the bread rolls with the warmed pulled pork.
Add apple slaw and drizzle with home-made BBQ sauce. Serve immediately.

  • Fussy kid tip: My 5-year old isn’t too keen on coleslaw so I serve his po’boy with avocado, grated carrot and tomato sauce (ketchup). We polish off the leftover coleslaw for lunch at work, with sliced poached chicken stirred through.

Easy squeezy

[Recipe 1] LEMON CURD transforms into
[Recipe 2] LITTLE LEMON TARTS
……………..
I spent a weekend at my sister’s house in beautiful Ocean Grove recently. She has a bulging lemon tree so I snaffled a bag to take home. I day-dreamed about potential lemon recipes as I drove home along Geelong Road (arguably the most boring stretch of tar in Victoria). Just as I reached the big smoke it came to me – Lemon curd!! The curd my friend Janet makes from her mum’s original recipe is my favourite. Lemon curd is a ripper recipe if you’re lucky enough to have chooks in the backyard and a lemon tree, as you’ll have the two main ingredients covered – eggs and lemon juice.
You can use lemon curd in soooo many different ways – drizzled over pancakes, sandwiched in a sponge cake, smeared on pikelets or plopped on top of Greek yoghurt or ice cream. It’s also a beaut gift to pass on to neighbours, friends and/or family AND, best of all, you can make heavenly (even if I do say so myself) Little lemon tarts with it too.
The crackling sugar topping on the tarts is of course optional, but I can’t stress enough how much fun can be had with a kitchen blowtorch. I found mine at Dalgarnos. A miniature gun that shoots fire – it’s of course my 8-year old’s most favourite, like totally awesome, kitchen gadget.

Lemon curd in a jar

Lemon curd in a bowl[Recipe 1] Lemon curd

375g (12 oz/3 sticks) unsalted butter
2¼ cups (560g) castor (superfine) sugar
1⅔ cups lemon juice, strained (6–8 lemons)
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
6 large eggs, plus 1 extra yolk, at room temperature, beaten

Place butter, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Stir over a low heat until butter has melted. Stir in lemon rind. Take the saucepan off the heat and allow to cool for ten minutes.
Carefully pour in the beaten eggs, whisking continuously with a hand-held whisk. Gradually return to a low heat and stir until thickened, for about 10–15 minutes. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools, so don’t worry if it’s not perfectly thickened. It should be the consistency of thin custard.
Place the hot lemon curd into sterilised jars. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
Reserve 3 cups Lemon curd for the Little lemon tarts.
Makes 5½ cups.

  • Be careful when adding the eggs – if the eggs are too cold or the butter mixture is too hot, the eggs will curdle. If this does happen though, don’t panic. Press it through a fine sieve, then return it to a low heat and stir continuously for about 5 minutes.
  • Glass jars, lids and rubber rings can be sterilised by running them through your dishwasher on the hottest cycle, on the top shelf.
  • Lemon curd can be stored in sterilised jars, refrigerated, for up to two weeks.

Little lemon curd tarts

[Recipe 2] Little lemon tarts

Half quantity sweet shortcrust pastry
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
3 cups reserved lemon curd (½ cup per tart)
Caster (superfine) sugar, for caramelising (optional)
Icing (confectioners) sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Roll out the sweet shortcrust pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper until quite thin, no more than 3mm (⅛-inch) thick. Line six 12cm (5-inch) lightly oiled shallow tart tins (with removable bases) with the pastry, gently pressing down into the edges, and trim to fit. Prick the bases with a fork. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to prevent shrinkage.
Blind bake the pastry to prevent it collapsing: cover pastry bases with baking paper and fill with pastry weights (or uncooked rice). Bake for 10 minutes. Carefully remove paper and weights. Bake for a further 10 minutes or until light golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small bowl and allow to stand for about 5 minutes.
Add gelatin mixture to reserved lemon curd. Beat until just combined.
Divide curd amongst baked pastry shells. Refrigerate until firm, preferably overnight.
To caramelise the tops, sprinkle a generous layer of castor sugar over the tarts. Wave the flame of a kitchen blowtorch back and forth over the surface until the sugar is golden brown and caramelised. Sprinkle with icing sugar. Yum.
Makes 6 x 12cm tarts.

  • If you don’t own 12cm shallow tart tins, you can also use Texas-style muffin tins.

It’s easy being green

Mediterranean Food Elizabeth David[Recipe 1] SPANAKORIZO transforms into
[Recipe 2] SPINACH, RICE and FETTA SCROLLS
……………..
Many moons ago, when I moved out of the family nest, my first housemates were Paul and Mary, both Italian. We rented a decrepid, slightly spooky half-house in St Kilda, with stables in the backyard, and a huge, ancient kitchen. Paul and Mary were both cooking whizzes, and it was through them that I grew to love Mediterranean cuisine. Mary’s dad often arrived on our door-step with massive home-grown eggplants (aubergines) and bottles of home-made tomato sauce.
It was around that time that I discovered A book of Mediterranean food by Elizabeth David, one of my most favourite cookbooks ever, first published in 1950. Look at that beautiful cover art!
Greek meals were always on high-rotation in that house. Paul made a mean Moussaka; and I still have some of Mary’s hand-written recipes, including one for her fabulous Spanakopita. My version is made with planned-overs as I love the addition of rice and zucchini. I like to twist mine into scrolls too as they look ace and are more child-friendly, especially if you refer to them as snails.
I make up a big pot of Spanakorizo (Greek spinach and rice) first – a lovely, light dinner as is; or served alongside fish. By reserving a couple of cups, you can conjure up a scrumptious batch of Spanakopita (spinach, rice and fetta) scrolls later. Yum.

Spanakorizo (Greek spinach and rice)

[Recipe 1] Spanakorizo (Greek spinach and rice)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 brown onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 zucchini (courgette), grated
10 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach (2 bunches)
3 cups long-grain white rice (I use Basmati)
2½ cups water
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup (100g) grated parmesan cheese, grated
1 lemon, juiced and zested (approx. 2 tablespoons juice and 1 teaspoon zest)
½ cup chopped fresh dill, plus extra for scattering
Cracked black pepper
Lemon wedges, to serve
Crumbled fetta, to serve

Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and zucchini and cook for 3 minutes. Add spinach and cook over a low heat, stirring often, until the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes.
Add the rice, water and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes until rice is cooked and liquid absorbed. Have a little peek after 10 minutes, and add a splash more water if necessary.
Lightly stir through the Parmesan, lemon juice, lemon zest, dill and pepper.
Reserve about 2½ cups for the Spanakopita (spinach, rice and fetta) scrolls.
Divide remainder amongst four deep bowls. Scatter with crumbled fetta and extra dill; and serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.

  • 10 cups of spinach seems an obscene amount, but remember it shrinks when warm!
  • For a change, add one cup chopped button mushrooms with the garlic and zucchini; or flake 100g (4 oz) of smoked trout fillet over the spanakorizo before serving. Yum! Spanakorizo is also lovely served with toasted pine nuts scattered on top.
  • FUSSY CHILD TIP: Add 1 small drained can of tuna to children’s servings of spanakorizo.

Spinach, rice and fetta scrolls

[Recipe 2] Spanakopita (spinach, rice and fetta) scrolls

2½ cups reserved spanakorizo
1 cup (100g) vintage tasty cheese, grated
250g fetta cheese, crumbled
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons (30g/1 oz) butter, melted, combined with 2 tablespoons olive oil
12 sheets filo pastry (3 sheets per scroll)
Sesame seeds, for sprinkling
Green salad or Green beans with toasted pine nuts, to serve

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF). Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Place reserved spanakorizo into a large bowl.
Add tasty cheese, fetta, eggs, salt and pepper. Mix well.
Make 1 scroll at a time. Lay out one sheet of filo. Brush with butter/oil mixture. Add another 2 sheets of filo, brushing lightly with butter/oil mixture each time.
Spread a quarter of the spanakorizo and fetta mixture (about 1 cup) along one edge of the LONG side of your filo stack. Roll up into a sausage shape.
Place seam side down, and twist filo sausage to create a scroll (or ‘snail’ if you are preparing this with/for children). Brush top lightly with butter/oil mixture. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Repeat procedure to make four scrolls.
Lift scrolls onto lined tray and bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown.
Serve with a green salad or Green beans with toasted pine nuts (cooled, and served as a salad).
Makes 4 scrolls.

  • FUSSY CHILD TIP: Scoop out half (about 2 cups) of the spanakorizo and fetta mixture and add a handful of leftover chopped roast chicken, before rolling into scroll shapes.

Bam-ba-lamb

[Recipe 1] LAMB and SPINACH PILAF with TOASTED PINE NUTS
transforms into
[Recipe 2] LAMB and PINE-NUT SAMBUSEK
……………..

One of my favourite Melbourne restaurants is Abla’s. Abla Amad herself is considered Melbourne’s Queen of Lebanese cooking, and her signature dish is Djaj a riz (chicken and rice cooked with lamb and spices). It’s a taste sensation! I cooked it once and it was divine, but too time-consuming for a midweek family meal.
Lamb and spinach pilaf with toasted pine nuts is my cheat’s version. It’s packed with veggies, and is super quick to throw together. I go through stages of making it once a week, and have been serving it up to my boys since they were toddlers. Mine doesn’t contain chicken so purists should avert their gaze, but leftover chopped roast chook can be stirred through before serving.
By doubling up on the spiced lamb mixture, and reserving half the toasted pine-nuts; you can whip up a batch of excellent Lamb and pine-nut sambusek (Lebanese pastries) for lunch or a light dinner later in the week. My boys adore these. Look for the orange diamonds in the recipe for instructions on how much to set aside as planned-overs. Enjoy!

Lamb and spinach pilaf. One Equals Two

[Recipe 1] Lamb and spinach pilaf with toasted pine nuts

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter (approx. 20g)
1 small red (purple/Spanish) onion, very finely chopped
750g (1½ lb) minced (ground) lamb
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
(Note: you’ll be reserving half the above ingredients, cooked, for Recipe 2)
1¼ cups (250g) uncooked long grain white rice (or basmati), rinsed and drained
3 small carrots, grated
3½ cups chicken stock, store-bought or home-made
3 cups (100g) baby spinach leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
1 cup (130g/4½ oz) pine nuts, toasted

Heat oil and butter in a heavy-based, deep-sided frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook onion for 3–4 minutes, until just soft. Add lamb and cook for 5 minutes, breaking up the lumps really well. Carefully drain off any pan juices.
Add spices and stir well. Cover and cook over a very low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until aromatic.
At this stage, scoop out half the spiced lamb mixture, about 1½ cups (250g/8 oz), and reserve for the Lamb and pine-nut sambusek (see recipe 2 below).
To the remaining spiced lamb mixture (in frying pan) add rice, carrot and stock. Stir and bring to the boil. Turn down heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add spinach and cook, uncovered, for a further 3–5 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid absorbed. Stir occasionally. Season well with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, toast your pine nuts
Reserve half (65g/2¼ oz) of the toasted pine nuts for the Lamb and pine nut sambusek.

Serve pilaf with pine nuts scattered on top.

  • To save time, the nuts can be toasted, and the spinach chopped, while the rice is cooking.
  • Half a 400g (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or lentils; drained and rinsed, can be added with the rice for variety. Freeze the extra half can (drained and rinsed) in a small plastic container, for up to 3 months.
  • Leftover chopped roast chicken can be added with the spinach, for the ultimate meat fest!
  • Planned-overs (reserved spiced lamb mixture and reserved toasted pine nuts) can be stored separately in the fridge for 3 days; or frozen in sealed containers for up to 2 months.
  • If you purchase 1 kilo (2 lb) of minced lamb, you can use the leftover 250g (½ lb) to make mini lamb parmesan burgers for the kid’s lunchboxes. Add 1 small finely grated carrot, ¼ cup (25g) grated parmesan, 1 egg and ¼ cup dried breadcrumbs. Mix well and shape into 6 little burgers. Fry, allow to cool, and freeze until required. Defrost overnight, and serve in dinner rolls with tomato sauce. Kids will happily devour these cold.

Lamb and pinenut sambusek

[Recipe 2] Lamb and pine-nut sambusek (Lebanese pastries)

Ingredients (makes 12):
1 quantity wholemeal (wholewheat) sambusek dough

1½ cups (250g/8 oz) reserved spiced lamb mixture

65g/2¼ oz) reserved toasted pinenuts, lightly crushed with a mortar and pestle
1 large tomato, seeds and liquid scooped out, chopped
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses (replace with lemon juice if unavailable)
Vegetable oil for brushing
Tahini sauce, to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Prepare wholemeal sambusek dough. While dough is resting, make the filling.
Place reserved spiced lamb mixture and reserved toasted pinenuts (crushed) into a bowl. Add tomato and pomegranate molasses. Mix well and set aside.
Line two large baking trays with baking paper.
Divide the pastry dough into two balls. Roll out one ball of dough (leaving the other in the covered bowl) on a lightly floured surface until quite thin, about 2–3mm (⅛-inch).
Using a 15cm (6-inch) round cutter (or tea-cup plate), cut out 6 circles from the dough.
Moisten dough edges with a little water. Place 1 tablespoon of lamb filling into the centre of each circle. Take two sides of the circle and pinch together to make a triangle. Lift the bottom of the circle towards the centre and pinch all three edges firmly together. Photo instructions below. Gather up scraps of dough and knead together as required.
Transfer sambusek to one baking tray, and brush each lightly with oil.
Repeat process with remaining dough and transfer to the other baking tray.
Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown.
Serve with tahini sauce.

  • Swap trays part-way through cooking if your oven is not wide enough to accommodate the 2 trays next to each other. Or bake one tray of sambusek, while you prepare the other!
  • Cooked sambusek can be frozen, for up to 3 months. Place baking paper between the layers. When serving, allow to defrost overnight in the fridge. Reheat in a hot oven, covered with foil, for about 5 minutes.
  • Pomegranate molasses is available from specialist food stores, large supermarkets and Middle-Eastern grocers (such as Gourmet Grocer, A1-bakery, Simon Johnson, Essential Ingredient or Oasis bakery).

Folding sambousek

The bun also rises

[Recipe 1] PORK, GINGER and BOK CHOY FRIED RICE transforms into
[Recipe 2] LITTLE STEAMED WHOLEMEAL PORK BUNS
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Pork, ginger and bok choy fried rice
is a quick and easy midweek dinner with an added bonus: by reserving some of the beautiful spiced pork mixture you can whip up a batch of fab Little steamed wholemeal pork buns for another meal! The pork mixture freezes excellently.
I love DIY Yum Cha and these little buns are super tasty, and quite healthy as they contain wholemeal flour. My boys just love them. In fact, my 4-year old has been known to need a lie-down after gorging himself on them.
The Pork, ginger and bok choy recipe contains basmati rice. Traditionally you’d use jasmine or plain white rice for a dish like this, but I love using basmati as it’s much lower GI. Here are the comparisons. Prepare to be amazed.
Low GI foods (slow energy release; ie. your best choice) = 55 or less
Medium GI = 56–69
High GI = 70 or more
Brown rice: GI 50
White basmati rice: GI 58
White glutinous rice: GI 86
White short-grain rice: GI 83-87
White jasmine rice: GI a whopping 109!

Pork and ginger rice

[Recipe 1] Pork, ginger and bok choy fried rice

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1½ teaspoons sesame oil
½ cup (125ml) hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons peanut oil
750g (1½ lb) minced (ground) pork
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
tablespoons grated fresh ginger
5 spring onions (scallions), white parts only, thinly sliced (reserve green parts for serving)
Note: you’ll reserve
of the above ingredients, cooked, for the buns in recipe 2.
1 tablespoon soy sauce, extra
1 bunch bok choy (or choy sum), leaves trimmed and thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, chopped into small match-sticks
4 cups cooked basmati rice, cooled (you’ll need 1⅓ cups uncooked rice)
½ cup (50g) bean shoots (bean sprouts)
1 small red birdseye chilli, de-seeded, finely chopped*
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves, to serve

Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and hoisin sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat oil in a wok over high heat until just smoking. Add pork, garlic and ginger and stir-fry until golden brown and just cooked, about 2 minutes. Carefully drain off any liquid – hold back the ingredients in the wok with a large pan lid, while you pour. Wipe any dribbles off the side of the wok so they don’t ignite!
Add the white spring onions and hoisin mixture and stir-fry for 1–2 minutes.
Remove wok from the heat.
With a large spoon or soup ladle, remove about ⅓ of the ginger pork mixture, or 1½ cups (325g), for the little steamed wholemeal pork buns. Set aside (see storage tips below).
Return wok to heat. Add the extra tablespoon soy sauce, bok choy and carrot, and stir-fry for 1–2 minutes, until bok choy wilts.
Add cooked rice, bean shoots and chilli* and toss over medium heat for 2 minutes until rice is heated through. Season to taste.
Divide amongst four bowls, scatter with coriander and chopped green ends of spring onions and serve hot.
*Chilli can be added separately, to adult serves only.

  • Cook double the rice and freeze half for next time. Cooked rice freezes really well, for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge, and break up with a fork before using.
  • Rice should be well-chilled before using in this recipe; and preferably made the day before and refrigerated (or defrosted overnight). If you have time, spread the rice out on a tray before using, and place in the fridge, uncovered, for at least 1–2 hours, to dry it out a bit. This will ensure your fried rice retains separate grains, and is not too gluggy.
  • Planned-overs (reserved ginger pork mixture) can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months, so you can make the buns another time.
  • Fussy child tip: I find both my boys will happily scoff this rice if it’s served without bean shoots, so I scoop out their serves before adding the bean shoots to the wok.

Little steamed wholemeal pork buns

[Recipe 2] Little steamed wholemeal pork buns

Ingredients (serves 4–6, makes 15 buns):
1 tablespoon corn flour (cornstarch)
2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
♦ 1½ cups (about 325g) reserved ginger pork mixture
Bun dough:
½ cup (125ml) warm water + ½ cup warm water extra
4 teaspoons (2 x 7g sachets) dried yeast
¼ cup caster (superfine) sugar
1½ cups (225g) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 cup (150g) wholemeal plain (wholewheat all-purpose) flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon peanut oil
Sweet chilli sauce, to serve

Mix corn flour and water together. Place into a small pan with the Chinese 5-spice powder.
Add reserved ginger pork mixture to pan.
Bring to the boil. Turn down heat and simmer until mixture thickens, about 2–3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, make bun dough. Combine ½ cup warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Stand in a warm place for 5 minutes until frothy.
Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir. Add yeast mixture, extra ½ cup warm water, salt and oil. Stir to form a soft, sticky dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth. Place the dough in a large, oiled bowl. Cover and put in a warm place (see tips below recipe) for an hour or until the dough doubles in size.
Divide dough into 15 pieces (cut dough into 3 large pieces first, roll each into a fat log, then cut each of the 3 logs into 5 portions). Pop the dough pieces back into the covered oiled bowl as you work, to prevent them drying out.
Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, shape and flatten each dough portion into a 7cm round, about ½ cm thick.
Place a heaped teaspoonful of pork mixture into the centre of each round. Stretch dough up around the filling by pleating along the edges. Bring the pleats up and twist and seal them together at the top. This lovely, noisy little youtube clip illustrates the technique. Repeat the procedure until all buns are ready, popping them on a tray covered with cling film as you go.
Line a bamboo steamer with 5 individual squares of baking paper, or waxed cupcake paper liners (one per bun).
Place the first 5 prepared buns (these will have rested sufficiently while the others were prepared), smooth side down, into the steamer. Don’t overcrowd your basket or they’ll stick as they expand. Cover with steamer lid. Place steamer over a wok or pan of boiling water. Make sure the steamer doesn’t touch the water.
Cover and cook for 8–10 minutes, until puffed, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a bun comes out clean. Repeat with remaining buns. Serve with sweet chilli sauce.

  • If yeast mixture doesn’t thoroughly froth it should be discarded, as it’s well and truly deceased. Try again with new yeast.
  • ‘A warm place’ to put your bowl of dough can be in a sink of warm water, in the laundry when your dryer is on, or even in a warm car!
  • Leftover little steamed buns can be stored in the fridge for up to two days. They are fab for lunch boxes.

A spicy Christmas

[Recipe 1] FRUIT MINCE PIES with ORANGE AND CRANBERRIES
transform into [Recipe 2] FRUIT MINCE CRUMBLE SLICE
……………..
Nothing beats a plate of slightly wonky, buttery home-made Fruit mince pies with orange and cranberries. Making fruit mince is surprisingly easy. My recipe contains no suet (shudder) and no alcohol; just lashings of dried fruit with a hint of orange zest, soaked in orange juice and spices. Yum.
Half the fruit mince is reserved as planned-overs (look for the orange diamonds) for recipe 2, my moreish Fruit mince crumble slice; which, if you have good self-control, you can put in the freezer for the kid’s lunchboxes in January!

Cranberry Christmas mince tarts

[Recipe 1] Fruit mince pies with orange and cranberries

Ingredients (makes 36 little pies, plus extra mince for Recipe 2):
½ cup (85g) craisins (sweetened dried cranberries)
2 cups (300g) raisins, chopped
1 cup (150g) sultanas (golden raisins)
1 cup (150g) pitted prunes, chopped
2 large green Granny Smith apples, peeled, grated
½ cup (100g) firmly-packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon orange zest, finely chopped (1 large orange)
½ cup (125ml) orange juice
1 quantity sweet shortcrust pastry
1 egg, whisked with 1 tablespoon milk, for brushing pastry
Icing sugar, to dust

Combine the craisins, raisins, sultanas, prunes, apple, brown sugar, spices, zest and juice in a bowl. Set aside, covered, in the fridge for at least 2 days (or up to one week) for flavours to develop. Stir once a day.
Remove 1½ cups of the fruit mince and blend until smooth, with a stick blender or food processor. Return to the bowl, and mix thoroughly into the fruit mince.
♦ Reserve half the fruit mince (1½ cups – about 450g/just under 1 lb) for the fruit mince crumble slice.
Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Roll out the shortcrust pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper until 3mm (⅛-inch) thick thick. Use a round 7cm (2¾-inch) diameter pastry cutter to cut 36 discs from the pastry. Lightly oil 3 x 12-hole shallow, round-based patty pans. Line the 36 patty pans with the pastry circles. Prick the bases with a fork. Bake for 8 minutes, until dry.
Re-roll leftover pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper until 2–3mm (⅛-inch) thick. Use a star-shaped 5cm (2-inch) diameter pastry cutter to cut 36 stars from the pastry. Spoon 1–2 heaped teaspoons of fruit mince into each pastry case. Top with pastry stars. Brush with egg wash. Bake for a further 12 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

  • Fruit mince can be stored for up to one month in the fridge.
  • Fruit mince tarts can be frozen for up to 3 months, layered between sheets of baking paper in an airtight container. Thaw overnight at room temperature. Make and freeze them in October and be well-prepared for Christmas!
  • 
If you run out of fruit mince filling, and are facing a few empty pastry shells, make little jam tarts. Simply spoon chunky jam into the empty pastry shells and top with pastry circles.

Christmas mince slice

[Recipe 2] Fruit mince crumble slice

Ingredients (makes 24 squares):
Oat base:

250 grams (8 oz/2 sticks) butter, melted
¾ cup (150g) firmly-packed brown sugar
2 cups (300g) plain flour
1 cup (100g) rolled oats
1½ cups (about 450g/just under 1 lb) reserved fruit mince
Crumble topping:
⅔ cups (185g) reserved oat base mixture (explained below)
¾ cup (75g) desiccated coconut
½ cup (70g) sunflower kernels, lightly crushed in mortar/pestle
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Make the oat base by placing the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add the flour and rolled oats and mix well.
Reserve ⅔ cups (185g) oat base mixture for the crumble topping.
Press the oat base mixture firmly into a lined 23cm (9-inch) x 33cm (13-inch) slice tin. Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until light golden. Allow to cool slightly.
Spread the reserved fruit mince over the base.
To make the crumble topping, stir the coconut, egg and sunflower kernels into the reserved oat base mixture. Scatter the crumble topping over the fruit mince. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until golden. Cool in the tin.
Cut into squares, and store in the fridge.

  • Fruit mince crumble slice can be frozen for up to 3 months. Layer squares between sheets of baking paper in an airtight container. Thaw overnight at room temperature.
  • My boys love this slice for morning tea at school, and using sunflower kernels keeps the slice nut-free (our school has a no-nuts policy); whilst adding nutty flavour and texture. Sunflower seeds rock as they’re packed with protein, fibre and vitamin E.