Monday, August 23, 2010


One of the best things about this particular spanakopita was that we grew the beautiful bunch of rainbow spinach in our own little vege patch, it was so satisfying to go out into the garden, pick it, bring it in inside and turn it into this big delicious pie, making and eating this made me think of how it would be great for a picnic, spring picnics are the best of all, bring on spring.

...the spanakopita
olive oil
4 spring onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced

bunch of fresh spinach or silverbeet stems removed and sliced thinly
300g feta
3 eggs
1/2 cup grated parmesan
juice of half a lemon
packet of filo
100g melted butter

Heat the olive oil in a frypan over medium heat, add the onions and garlic and cook for a minute, then add the spinach, stirring, until wilted and tender. Remove from heat and cool in a sieve pressing it every now and then to remove as much liquid as possible.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in crumbled feta, parmesan, eggs, lemon juice and s+p. Preheat oven to 200. Melt the butter and then give your baking dish (20cm x 30cm) a light brush with it then line the dish with 8 sheets of filo brushing every second sheet.

Pour in the filling, spread it around and then top it with another 8 sheets of filo again with every second sheet brushed with butter ending with the top sheet buttered scrunch up the filo around the edges and brush them too then bake for 40 minutes or until golden. Serve with salad.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

{Vanilla Sugar Cookies}

I love the rain, you'll never hear me complain about it but it does mean the peas get bored inside, so on a rainy Melbourne Tuesday Jack made these (with minimal intervention!) really as an activity and a base for the icing which is of course the part that he loves most. 

They are sugar cookies so yes they are sweet, but they are really basic to make and so much fun to roll out, cut shapes from and decorate, they kept him busy for a whole afternoon and he is so proud of them. This morning he packed his dad about 20 of them for work! This makes enough to put one dough disk in the freezer for another rainy day.

...the cookies
4 cups sifted plain flour

1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
250g butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract juice icing
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
juice and zest of 1/2 an orange

Cream the butter and sugar using a mixer until pale and fluffy, then add the eggs and vanilla and combine, sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt and whizz it some more until incorporated.

Tip the dough onto your bench and divide and shape it into 2 disks, wrap in clingfilm (at this point I put one in the freezer for another time, double wrapped) refrigerate until firm, at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 160, roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/2 cm thickness. Cut out shapes and transfer to your lined baking tray, bake them until the edges turn golden, around 15 minutes. Let them cool on rack before decorating.

This time we made an orange juice icing, 1 cup of icing sugar with the juice and zest of half an orange, just combine and mix till smooth.


Recently we went to a really sweet little second birthday party and I spent alot of time eating the hummus and carrot sticks presumably made for the wee tots, it reminded me of the joys of homemade hummus and so upon arriving home a text was sent requesting the recipe used for that particular party hummus, I have been living on this stuff for a week now!

...the hummus
1 tin chickpeas rinsed
juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp salt
80ml olive oil
1 tbsp tahini (optional)

So basically you just whizz it all up in a little food processor and serve it with an extra drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sweet paprika, its so good with so many things but carrot sticks have been my thing this time round.

Friday, August 13, 2010

{Parmesan & Pancetta Meatballs}

These delicious little meatballs are great for the whole family and are my go to meatball, ever since I made these I've never felt the need to try anything different, if I have strayed I have always returned here.  Why don't you give them a go at your place, I come over all italian mama when I have these bubbling away in the oven.  They are quite rich so I think its always nice to serve them with a green salad, the kids love garlic bread and the grown ups always, always deserve a nice glass of vino. 

...the balls
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
100g sliced pancetta, finely diced
500g minced veal or minced pork
(or veal + pork which is what I use most often)
40g grated parmesan
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1 egg
1 cup breadcrumbs (fresh or panko)

...the sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups tomato passata

Pop a tbsp of olive oil in a frypan and gently saute the two onions until soft and starting to colour, remove half to an ovenproof casserole dish with a lid and set it aside. To the onions left in the frypan add the pancetta turning up the heat and cook them both until they become golden, remove from the heat to cool.  

In a bowl combine the mince, parmesan, egg, nutmeg, breadcrumbs, s+p and lastly the cooled onions and pancetta, mix it all together with your hands and roll into golfball sized meatballs.

Preheat oven to 180. Brown the meatballs in another splash of  olive oil and while this is happening reheat the onions in the ovenproof casserole dish adding in the garlic and another tbsp of olive oil, cook that off for a couple of minutes then add in the stock and passata, season and bring to the boil then drop in the browned meatballs, cover with foil and the lid then transfer to the oven for an hour.

Serve on spagetti with a bit of extra parmesan.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

{Crispy Pork Belly + Apple & Fennel Coleslaw}

This is by far the most viewed recipe on my blog !! By way far !!  Everyone it would seem loves pork belly, me included. This recipe came from my bestest girlfriend Jus who lives in Sydney, she was here for my birthday and together we cooked an alright twice cooked pork belly.  Not blog worthy.  She knew I was disappointed and that we still had a piece in the freezer so when she made this she rang and said we have to try it too. After hearing her talking about it I was sold.  That pork belly was out and defrosting in no time.

I am so so happy to have this recipe to add to my blog, this is the way pork belly is meant to taste, it is perfect, the meat is super tender and the crackling is ear shatteringly good, paired with the sweet star anise sauce and crunchy coleslaw it is the perfect meal. This is one of those dinners that you eat on a Sunday and are still thinking about it on Thursday! This is enough for four of your favourite people.

...the pork
1.5kg pork belly, thick end, bones removed
2 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil

...the sauce
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp honey
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
2 bay leaves

...the slaw
½ cup rice wine vinegar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sichuan pepper
3 tbsp sugar
1 small red onion
1 baby fennel
¼ savoy cabbage
1 lebanese cucumber
2 radish
1 apple
1 chilli
1/2 bunch fresh coriander leaves

Ask your butcher to score the skin of the pork belly (if you do it yourself, use a very sharp knife or a stanley). Rub sea salt into the pork skin and refrigerate uncovered for 30 minutes to dry it out. Preheat oven to 220. Wipe the sea salt off the pork skin with kitchen paper and dry thoroughly. Drizzle a large roasting dish with olive oil. Put pork belly in, skin-side down, drizzle with a little more olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven to 190 and roast for another 1½ hours. Carefully turn pork belly over and roast for another 30 minutes, or until skin is crisp and crunchy. Remove from oven, do not cover, and rest it for 15 minutes.

For the coleslaw, put vinegar, salt, sichuan pepper and sugar in a bowl, finely slice red onion and fennel and add to vinegar to soften. Then finely slice the cabbage, cucumber, radish, apple, green chilli and coriander and pop them into your salad bowl, just before serving add in the onion and fennel mixture and toss to combine (I use a mandolin for all the coleslaw ingredients).

While the pork is resting make the sauce. Place all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer gently over medium heat for five minutes, until thickened. To serve slice pork into thick slices put it onto a serving plate and pop onto the table with the sauce and the coleslaw along side.