Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Pie in Pictures

Ilana finally sent me some pictures of her latest pie and she's included How-to pics! Yippee. Ilana taught me how to make the snail-style pie over the phone. Looking at her pictures I've noticed that I did everything the opposite to what she did. I started on the outside and went in, she started on the inside and went out. She spread innards all round. I bunched it at the end of the pastry. (Her idea makes more sense. This pastry is not hardy) It reminds me of the time we both sat our Logic exam many years ago. I answered every even question and thought it was hard. She answered every odd question and thought it was easy... and we both got the same final result. [Ok, so I'm a glass half empty kinda gal but in my glass the bottom half is empty]. We were both into soups then... and now we're both into pies.

More pictures to come...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ilana's Cauliflower Pie

So my friend Ilana makes amazing pies. This one sounds great. Ilana! I'm waiting for a picture. I'm hoping public humiliation will prompt a quick response from her. She did send me the recipe though. Warning: She is more Aries that I am so her directions are brief.

Ingredients and Directions:

I roast the cauliflower with cumin and olive oil until all caramelised and delicious.
Mash it with fork.

Mix with cheese of choice.
I used marinated goats cheese but have
used ricotta and feta before.
Put in pie.

Scatter with fresh mint.




[Follow the pastry directions for the lamb pie - It's Ilana's method anyway]

The picture below is my friend Sue's version of Ilana's pie. She used puff pastry, tasty cheese, ricotta cheese and vietnamese mint (coz that's what they had in their garden). Apparently it was a wave-your-arms-in-the-air triumph. I'm awaiting a picture of it's innards.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rebecca's Spaghetti Bollaroo

This a guest blog from my very funny friend and talented cook - Rebecca. It's a kangaroo meat bolognese:

I make a lot and use it for all sorts of things. Shepherd's Pie, lasagne, etc.


I kg minced roo
2 onions (chopped fine)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 zucchini (grated)
2 carrots (grated)
1 stick celery (chopped fine)
4 rashers bacon (chopped)
800g tin tomatoes (crushed)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
Stock (depending on what you have, beef, chicken, onion or vege all Good - I used ham hock stock the other day.. Yum!)
2 bay leaves
1 sprig thyme
A glass of red or white wine, depending of what you have opened.


Have a glass of wine, all that chopping is exhausting.. That's more like it. Saute onions and garlic, bung in bacon and stir, stir. Throw in the veges and saute until golden. Do a bit of reminiscing out your golden years. Memories.. That mustn't have been a very big pour... Just a little top up for me.. Add the roo mince in bits, as it doesn't mix in well due to lack of fat. Mush it up with all the veges. Stir, stir, mush, mush. Pretend it is someone who annoyed you this week. Keep on stirring and mushing until the mixture is well combined and the roo is browned. This will take a bit of patience.

My glass is empty again! That reminds me.. Pour as much as you can bear to part with from your opened bottle on the roo mixture. Stir, stir. A little simmer. ..And some for the chef. Lovely. Then tip in the tomatoes, herbs and stock to cover. Give it a bit of a twirl with the old spoon and let it simmer. Top it up with stock from time to time as needed. Go put your feet up and have a glass of wine, you deserve it. What's on the box?

Sporadically stir pot when it comes to mind over the next hour and twenty minutes or so. At some point decide whether you really do want tomato paste or not, and if you do add it in. Toward the end think about salt, but not AFTER you have drunk your entire bottle of wine. This will throw your taste buds out. Let it reduce till it is the consistency you would like for the accompaniment.. If you can still be bothered making it that is.

What kind of pie am I?

I love pies - savoury pies that is. I make them at least once every couple of weeks. I freeze leftovers for my lunches and eat them with a salad at work.

So, this is a lamb pie which has the ingredients of a Moroccan / Middle Eastern lamb pizza but is made in the style of a greek pie, i.e. snail-like in design. It was inspired by the lamb pizza I'm addicted to at St Ali (in South Melbourne) and my friend's lamb pie.


Minced lamb (500g - 1 kg)
Onions (1 or 2), chopped
Sweet chilli peppers, or capsicum (optional)
Flat leafed parsley, one bunch, chopped
Mint (some sprigs - you decide how much), chopped
Pine nuts (toasted)
Fresh tomatoes, grated (my lazy way of blanching) the skin stays whole, so chuck it out
Tomato paste (1 tbs or 2 or 3). My tomatoes were bland so I used 3
Juice of one lemon
1 tbs of cumin
Chilli (whatever kind and however much)
Thick filo pastry (buy from a greek or middle eastern supplier) or puff or shortcrust, or make your own. I guess thin filo pastry could work but I never use it myself.
Olive oil
Milk (for top of pie)
Sesame seeds
Poppy seeds or Nigella Seeds or both
Garlic, minced


(It looks a lot more complicated than it is)
  1. Cook onions and garlic till transparent. Add peppers. Cook till soft.
  2. Add minced lamb. Try to separate the meat so that it's not clumpy.
  3. Add all spices. Throw in them herbs and lemon, salt, pepper, pine nuts and chilli (see not so hard?) and cook until the meat is cooked through thoroughly (about 20 minutes, longer the more meat you have)
  4. Grease a pie dish with olive oil. I prefer a round dish for this.
  5. Open up one layer of thick filo pastry. (The one I buy is round... sorry I don't have pics... I started the blog after I made the pie!) Imagine that you are about to turn the flat sheet into a sausage roll. So do what you think you have to do to make that happen. I folded the edge of the pastry significantly to make it sturdy enough to hold the hot meat without ripping. Others put less innards in to avoid the rip but I prefer less pastry and more innards. So scoop a ladle's worth of meat onto the pastry... flatten the meat out if the pastry can't handle it in a big clump and roll into a sausage like shape. Make sure there is enough meat to go all the way to the edges.
  6. Place your sausage of lamb pie into the edge of the dish. Keep doing this with the rest of the meat and pastry spiraling in as you go.
  7. Brush the top of the pie with milk. Scatter sesame/poppy/nigella seeds on top. I know it's overkill but I put all three on top. (There aren't any poppy in the photo coz I ran out).
  8. Throw, splodge, scatter? What's the word? some olive oil on the top. Bake in an oven till the top is a nice crispy brown colour (about 25 mins)
  9. Serve with tzatziki (yoghurt with dill, garlic and cucumber) or just plain yoghurt; and a salad.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Poor Person's Gigantic Beans - Gigantes

So the reason I'm posting this recipe is coz my friends asked me how to cook beans. The beans above are about an inch or so in length.

They taste very much like a healthy baked potato - good for people who like potatoes but have an aversion to beans.

  1. Lima beans - cooked until they are firm. (In boiling water) They look white in the middle when they are not cooked. They tend to darken in colour as they cook and absorb water. Don't over cook! Cooking time depends on the freshness of the beans.
  2. Olive oil (The darker the colour, the better)
  3. Salt and pepper
  4. Dill

Mix gently as you would a salad. Add some crumbled feta if you have some. Unfortunately I didn't have any. Some people (like my mum) add vinegar. I don't. You could also add garlic and freshly grated tomato. I ate like a pig last night, so I was going for the pauper version.

[Re quantities: I just add whatever amount tastes good. I will post amounts when it's crucial to the recipe (ie a cake). Also, as all of my recipes are accidents, I'd only be guessing the amounts I used anyway.]

You many as well learn some greek as we go. "Thea" means aunt. Everyone who is a generation older than you is referrred to as aunt or uncle, I guess it's meant to show respect or something. Thea Poppy is a family friend and great cook. Everything she makes is delicious. This is my version of Thea Poppy's baked beans.

[I was about to make the following recipe, but when I made the beans and then tasted them to see if they were ready be napolied... I found that they were so delicious I couldn't bear to sauce them. The beans must have been really fresh... which doesn't surprise me as they only took about 15 minutes to cook. I'll keep the remaining beans in the fridge, if I'm inspired to make my greek baked beans recipe - I'll post it later.]

1. Cook lima beans (or gigantes if you can find them)... actually it works with any bean.
2. While they are cooking, make your favourite napoli sauce.
3. When the beans are almost cooked (say 80% cooked) drain them. I like to do this so that they absorb the napoli as they cook further in the oven.
4. Add the beans to your napoli sauce and bake them in the oven until they get a little crisp and brown on top and are ready to be eaten. (20-30 minutes?) Yum.
5. To make them more authentically Greek, add dill instead of basil as your main herb.

NOTE: My background is greek, so you'll find a greek influence in my cooking. Gigantes is the greek word for the bigger lima-type beans. My direct translation would be "gigantics". If you can find them - fantastic! In Melbourne I can only find largish lima beans (in Oakleigh) or medium sized lima beans in supermarkets - they're not genuine gigantes but I don't think you can get them here. I've never tried the real thing. Have you?

To soak or not to soak

Rather than rant to people who couldn't care less what I think. I'll rant to an electronic network of light and letters. This blog is basically an electronic recipe book for me... and if you come across one of my recipes, try it and like it... well yippee for the two of us!!!

So... to soak or not? Simple. The scientist and Aries in me has done the following experiment many times: cook beans without soaking. Eat beans. Verdict? No problems. What's the big deal about soaking? I've heard all manner or conspiracy theories:
1. It's just better.
2. Cooking time is shortened. (What? 20 minutes is too long?)
3. It causes less flatulence.
4. It reduces sugars that are bad for your digestion.

Most of the people who have lectured to me about the merits of soaking beans never do it themselves because it takes too much forward planning. Their solution? Canned beans. Canned beans!!!! Ugh. Yuk. Blechhh. Soggy and soft mushy yuckiness. Yes if I was desperate... on a deserted island and all I could eat was canned beans then YES I would eat them... but at NO other time. Canned beans are already cooked so they don't absorb the flavour of the juices, sauces, dressing you should be placing them in. Don't buy canned beans, it's like buying canned pasta.

And to respond to the above arguments for the soaking of beans:
1. It just isn't. Soaking the beans toughens the skins and makes them chewy.
2. It depends on the freshness of the beans. They are so easy to over cook - why bother making it more difficult to monitor their cookededness by reducing their already short cooking time.
3. Has anyone done a controlled experiment to prove this? My flatulence seems to be appropriate to the food I've eaten. It's a little reminder that you've been eating healthfully.
4. At least I'm eating beans and not chocolate. I can tolerate bean sugars.
5. And another thing... soaked beans often start to sprout or split. This looks bad and unappealing.

So how to cook beans? Boil them in plenty of water... and monitor them.