Spinach, Egg and Chinese Sausage Pie

IMG_3892 IMG_3900 IMG_3948 IMG_3913

I woke up yesterday morning, feeling nostalgic for Easters as a child, where, if I’m remembering this correctly (it was either Christmas or Easter), Mum would always make the most amazing bacon, egg and cheese pie. It was so delicious, and such a treat for us all to sit down and share breakfast together. I’m sure Mum was trying to fill our bellies with something wholesome to prevent us from making ourselves sick on Easter eggs. I was always the type to eat as many chocolate eggs as I possibly could, running out in a couple of days, where, my little brother, would save his for so long that they would start to turn white. I’m pretty sure he did this just to annoy me.

We always had a such an awesome time on the Sunday morning Easter egg hunt. Our Mum was a genius at making it seem like the Easter Bunny had been to our house, going as far as muddy rabbit paw prints through the house and half eaten carrots on the back porch. She was also fantastic at hiding the eggs, so good that we’d be finding them in the backyard for weeks to come. I can’t wait to do this for my kids one day!

Anyway, back to this pie. Yesterday being Good Friday, nothing was open to be able to buy the necessary ingredients to make this pie as I reminder, so, I had to make do with what we had. Which turned out to be absolutely delicious!! The eggs, spinach and basil all came from the backyard, and since living up here I’ve been keeping a constant stock of chinese sausage (lap cheong) in the cupboard, as it is just so flavoursome and can add a lot to asian dishes. I had to make do with the little amount of butter that we had for the pastry, but I think the mixture of butter and olive oil worked perfectly, with the parmesan giving an extra boost. You could serve this at any time of the day, with some spicy barbecue or tomato sauce and a little side salad (or not, up to you). Just make sure you place a marker, such as a little pastry leaf, on top of the pastry lid, where you have placed the eggs, so that you can cut right down through the centre of each to serve. Just cause it looks really cool. As you can see, the chickens only gave us three eggs this day. You could replace the chinese sausage with bacon or chorizo, or even some feta or haloumi for a vegetarian pie.

IMG_3960 IMG_3973_2 IMG_3987

Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients
Pastry
270g plain flour
40g parmesan, finely grated
40g cold butter, cut into cubes
1/4 olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 tsp salt
Filling
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
120g chinese sausage (lap cheong), finely sliced
120g brazilian spinach (or any other type of spinach), roughly chopped
400g can crushed tomatoes
130g grated cheddar cheese
large handful fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
4 eggs
milk, for brushing
Spicy barbecue sauce or tomato relish, to serve

Method
In a large bowl, sift the flour, add the salt and parmesan, stir to combine. Add the butter and olive oil and, using your fingers, rub the mixture together until it resembles sand. Add the water and use a spoon to combine. Knead briefly to bring it all together, about 1 min, until smooth. Wrap in cling wrap and place in the fridge for half an hour.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and onion and cook, stirring, about 4 mins, until soft. Add the garlic and sausage and cook, stirring, for a further 4 mins, or until starting to turn golden. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, for 1 min, until wilted. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until simmering. Allow to simmer for 5mins, stirring often. Transfer mixture to a bowl and allow to cool slightly.
Add the grated cheese and basil and some salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease and line a 20cm spring form cake tin.
Take the pastry from the fridge and cut away two thirds of it to use for the base. Roll out into a 30cm circle and then carefully press into the prepared tin. Prick the base with a fork and place in the oven. Cook for 15mins, until dry. Remove from the oven.
Pour the pie filing into the pastry case. Make four holes in the mixture and crack an egg into each. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on top each egg.
Roll out the remaining pastry into a 25cm circle. Brush the edges of the case with milk. Carefully place the lid on top and press together the edges to seal. Brush the edges and all over the top with milk. Pierce a hole in the middle for steam to release. Use the pastry cutoffs to mark where the eggs are, if you wish. Sprinkle with salt.
Bake the pie for 45-55mins, until golden and crunchy on the edges. Remove from oven.
Allow to sit for about 10mins before cutting.
Serve with sauce and salad, if desired.
Enjoy!

Advertisements

Empanadas, two ways. Ham, Cheese and Egg or Pumpkin, Basil and Ricotta.

IMG_0958_2 IMG_0971 IMG_0963_2

Empanadas….What can I say…probably one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Especially when bought from a lovely Abuelita on the streets of Buenos Aires, or ordered from the local bar, with a beer, for breakfast at 10am; breakfast of champions!

A recent catch-up with a dear friend, that has been living in Argentina for the last few years, got me reminiscing about the food I tried while I was there. Aside from empanandas; the Asados, Chimichurri, Choripan, and Dulce de Leche, were enough to turn me into a well ’rounded’ foodie. The Argeys certainly know how to relax, and eat well; you wouldn’t expect how well they are able to party after all of this…I guess that’s why you don’t go out until 3am.

The recipes here are far removed from anything typically Argentinian, but since I’ve been on a bit of a budget, I used what I had on hand; leftover christmas ham, and roasted pumpkin being the main culprits. You don’t need to make your own pastry, store bought shortcrust pastry will work perfectly, but, if you have time and you don’t mind a bit of kitchen labour, this pastry recipe is very easy to work with and turns out beautifully. I split the recipe into two bowls and added smoked paprika to one and nutmeg to the other, but, apart from giving the pastry different colours, I couldn’t really taste the spices; so i haven’t included that method here.

Check out my Roasted Pumpkin, Pistachio and Ricotta Dip; perfect for your leftover roasted pumpkin.

Salud!

IMG_0951

IMG_1004 IMG_1001

 

Recipe

Makes about 30

Ingredients

Pastry

160g butter, cold, cut into cubes

250g plain flour

250g wholemeal flour

1 tsp salt

180ml water

olive oil, for kneading

1 egg, whisked with a splash of water, for brushing

Ham, Cheese, Egg and Olive Filling

Olive oil

1 small brown onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

50g olives, roughly chopped

100g ham, roughly chopped

100g tasty cheese, grated

2 eggs, hard boiled, peeled, roughly chopped

pepper

handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Pumpkin, Basil and Ricotta Filling

1 butternut pumpkin, skin cut off, seeds cut out, cut into large chunks

4 cloves garlic, skin on, whole

olive oil

salt and pepper

white wine vinegar

large handful of fresh basil, finely sliced

1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted

125g firm ricotta, crumbled

2 tbs parmesan, finely grated

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Method

For the pastry, in a large bowl, combine the flours, salt and butter. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour, working until mixture resembles sand. Add the water and use a spoon to mix until it starts to come together into a dough. Turn out onto a clean, oiled work surface and knead for 10-15mins. Wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate for 2 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celcius.

For the pumpkin filling, place the pumpkin and garlic cloves in a roasting tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and white wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Place in the oven and cook for about 45mins or until very tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Turn the oven off.

In a medium bowl, combine 300g of the roasted pumpkin and 2 of the garlic cloves, squeezed from their skins. Mash with a fork until smooth. Add the basil, sunflower seeds, ricotta, parmesan, nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine but don’t mix too much, as you still want to have chunks of ricotta throughout.  Store in the fridge until needed.

For the ham filling, in a small frying pan, heat a little olive oil over medium heat. Fry the onion, stirring, for about 8mins, or until soft, add the garlic and fry for a further 2mins. Transfer to a medium bowl and allow to cool for 10mins. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Store in the fridge until needed.

To fold the empanadas. Working with half the dough at a time, on a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the pastry to approximately 3mm thickness. Use a round cutter, about 12cm across, to cut circles out. Keep them covered with cling wrap as you go to avoid them drying out.

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Place a heaped tablespoon of mixture into the middle of a circle of dough. With wet fingers, moisten the edges of the circle. Fold the pastry over the mixture to make a half moon shape. Press the edges together to seal. Use a fork to make a pattern on the edge, or use your fingers to fold along the edge for an alternative pattern. Or do whatever pattern you like.

Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Evenly space the empanadas out on the trays and brush with the egg mixture. Bake for about 30-40 mins, or until golden and crisp on the edges.

Serve with tomato chutney or caramelised onion on the side. You can find a recipe for caramelised onion here.

Enjoy!

M

Easy Christmas Lunch. Spiced Rum and Marmalade Glazed Ham, Citrus and Fennel Salad and Crispy Sweet Potato Bake

DSC_0969

DSC_0027 DSC_0058 DSC_0051 DSC_0985

Here are a couple of easy recipes for Christmas Day if you don’t feel like slaving over a hot stove but still want to impress. Everything is really easy, and really tasty; each dish complements the other and when it’s all put out on the table, looks festive and exciting. I made these dishes for a last minute Christmas dinner with a bunch of our friends here in Newcastle before we head back to Darwin; to a very quiet Christmas day, consisting of just the two of us, three dogs, twelve chickens and hopefully a yummy seafood lunch.

You could serve these dishes as part of a bigger feast (we also had two roast chickens, a greek spinach pie, and multiple salads, all brought by our beautiful friends), but it is also nice just to have a few key dishes and really appreciate them. I find that sometimes at Christmas there is just so much to choose from that the flavours in each dish get hidden by one another; or maybe just by a big slosh of gravy.

I hope you’re all excited for Christmas and have some time off work to enjoy with your friends and family. Happy cooking!

DSC_0066 IMG_0822

 

Recipe

Spiced Rum and Marmalade Glazed Ham

Serves 6

Ingredients

5kg smoked ham leg

2/3 cup spiced rum

1 cup honey

1/3 cup molasses

3/4 cup marmalade

1 tbs fresh ginger, grated

handful of cloves

pepper

Grain mustard and fresh white bread, to serve

Method

Combine all ingredients apart from the ham, mustard and bread in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Bring to the simmer and reduce heat to low. Continue to simmer for about 20mins or until thickened (be careful as it may foam up). Remove from heat to cool slightly. Strain through a sieve, reserving both the strained part and the unstrained.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line a large baking dish with baking paper.

To prepare the ham, cut through the skin around the bone in a zigzag pattern. Use your fingers to separate the skin from the fatty layer underneath (you need this fatty layer to hold the glaze so try not to remove it).

In a criss-cross pattern, score the fat in lines about 2cm apart. Press a clove into each cross section. (traditionally they are pressed into the centre of each square but I think more flavour gets into the ham like this).

Brush the ham with some of the strained glaze and place in the oven. Cook for about an hour, brushing with the glaze every 10mins.

Remove from the oven and cool for 15mins or so before carving. Serve warm or cool. Combine any leftover glaze with the chunky parts left from when it was strained; serve this alongside, as well as the mustard and bread.

Citrus and Fennel Salad

Ingredients

2 baby fennel bulbs, thinly sliced

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

6 baby radishes, thinly sliced

1/2 a spanish onion, thinly sliced

3 oranges, peeled and sliced (a mixture of regular and blood is good, if you can get them)

1 red grapefruit, peeled and sliced

A few big handfuls of mixed mescaline leaves

A handful of mint leaves, torn

Seeds from 1/2 a pomegranate

Olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper for dressing

Method

Combine the fennel, lemon juice and pinch of salt in a bowl and toss to combine. Add the radishes and red onion and lightly toss, but don’t mix too much or the colour will leach out of the radishes.

In a large shallow bowl, arrange the mescaline leaves and most of the mint. Top with half of the fennel mixture, then half of the orange and grapefruit, then the rest of the fennel mixture and rest of the orange and grapefruit. Top with the pomegranate seeds and the rest of the mint. Very lightly drizzle with the olive oil and the red wine vinegar, season with salt and pepper.

Crispy Sweet Potato Bake

Ingredients

1-2 large white (purple skinned) sweet potato

6 red rascal potatoes

4 cloves garlic

Handful of fresh herbs, such as oregano, basil, parsley or sage

2 tbs dried mixed herbs

1/2 cup olive oil

3 tbs butter, melted

salt and pepper

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Thinly slice the sweet potato, potatoes and the garlic on a mandolin. (or just thinly slice by hand if you don’t have one, but take your time as the slices need to be very thin).

In a large bowl combine the sliced sweet potato, potatoes and garlic with the remaining ingredients. Use your hands to mix, making sure everything is well coated.

Use your oily hands to grease a baking dish. Arrange the slices of potato in a vertical position, like books on a shelf, filling the gaps with smaller slices and arranging so that the tray is evenly filled.

Sprinkle with a little extra salt and pepper and bake for about 45-60mins or until tops are brown and crispy and underneath is tender.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Pork and Fennel Pie with Brussel Sprout Salad

DSC_0417 DSC_0428 DSC_0432 DSC_0438

I love making pastry and this savoury shortcrust was one of the best I’ve ever worked with. It was so smooth and easy to roll and lift into the dish. And once I finally got to eating the pie, it was delicious! The fennel seeds worked really well.

I was so excited to make a pie in my new pie dish, I love the little bird steam release and the blue colour is beautiful. It’s also the first time in my last 10 years of baking that I have real baking weights instead of rice! So exciting!

I had such a nice day preparing this pie, it was a cold but sunny winter day and I took my time preparing the pastry, slow cooking the pork and taking lots of photos. I’m still figuring out the best time of day to take photos in my new house.

I haven’t eaten brussel sprouts since i was a kid and I don’t have the best memory of that experience so I wanted to try them again but in a fresher way. I love eating a fresh crunchy salad with rich hot foods so I thought this would work well. And it did! I used roasted almonds in the salad because that’s all I had at home but I would have rathered pecans. I also made a swede and potato mash to go with it, delicious!

DSC_0444

DSC_0447 DSC_0453 DSC_0457 DSC_0466 DSC_0472 DSC_0478 DSC_0499 DSC_0502 DSC_0509 DSC_0527 DSC_0533 DSC_0535 DSC_0540 DSC_0555

Ingredients

1kg diced pork neck

1/3 cup (50g) plain flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large leek, white and pale green part chopped coarsely

1 large carrot, chopped coarsely

1 stick celery, trimmed, chopped coarsely

1 large fennel bulb, sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

11/3 cups (330ml) chicken stock

2 tablespoons chopped fennel tops

1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard

1 egg, beaten lightly

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

Fennel Pastry

3 cups (450g) plain flour

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

200g butter, chopped

2 eggs

1/4 cup (60ml) iced water, approximately

Brussel Sprout Salad

About 10 brussel sprouts, thinly sliced on mandolin

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced on madolin

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced on madolin

Handful of parsley leaves

Handful of dill sprigs

Handful of roasted and chopped nuts such as pecans, walnuts or almonds

 Dressing

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

Salt and Pepper

Method

1. Toss pork in flour; shake away excess. Heat oil in large saucepan; cook pork, in batches, until browned; remove from pan.

2. Add leek, carrot, celery and fennel to pan; cook, stirring, until softened. Add garlic and thyme; cook, stirring, until fragrant. Return pork to pan with stock; bring to the boil. Simmer, covered, 11/2 hours. Simmer, uncovered, about 20 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened. Stir in fennel tops and mustard; season to taste, cool.

3. Meanwhile, for the pastry, process flour, seeds, butter and salt to taste until crumbly. Add eggs and enough of the water to make ingredients just come together. Knead pastry on floured surface until smooth, enclose with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Oil a deep 24cm pie dish (1.5 litre/6 cups).

5. Roll half the pastry between sheets of baking paper until large enough to line dish. Press pastry into side; trim edge. Prick base with fork. Cover pastry with baking paper, fill with dried beans or rice. Bake 15 minutes. Remove paper and beans, bake a further 10 minutes or until browned. Cool.

6. Spoon pork mixture into pastry case. Brush edge of pastry with egg. Roll remaining pastry until large enough to cover top of dish, place over filling; pinch edges together, trim. Brush with egg; sprinkle with seeds. Cut several steam holes in pastry.

7. Place pie on oven tray; bake about 30 minutes or until browned.

8. For the salad combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine. Pile all the salad ingredients on a plate, pour over the dressing and sprinkle over the nuts. Serve.