Spicy Pumpkin and Feta Filos

Easy snacks with some interesting flavours with the mint and ginger. You could use spinach instead of pumpkin if you'd like, I just liked the 'warm' sweet flavour with the sumac. 

Makes about 16 - 20 'fingers' 

2 cups of pumpkin, cut into small-ish cubes
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon crushed ginger
500 grams of fetta
Half cup chopped mint
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon sumac
1 packet filo pastry sheets
1 Teaspoon black or white sesame seeds
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, put the pumpkin and garlic onto a baking tray and rub with oil. Bake for around 15-20 minutes, until the pumpkin is very soft.

Take the pumpkin out of the oven to cool completely.  When it's cooled, mix together with the rest of the ingredients (except the pastry). 

To roll the filos into finger/cigar shapes, just place a heaped teaspoon of the pumpkin and feta mixture on one end of a rectangle of filo pastry, and roll away from you, tucking in the outside edges as you go to seal up the edge. Use more than one sheet of pastry if it looks a bit thin/wet. Brush the top with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. 

Bake the filos at 200 degrees for about ten minutes, or until golden brown. 

Empanadas for idiots (pumpkin and blackbean pastries with mole verde)


Part three in the 'Maddy fucks up dough' series - these were originally going to be empanadas, but I fucked up the (cornmeal) dough. I either bought the wrong kind of cornmeal, put the wrong amount of water in it, or left out another flour I should also have added - it's a mystery for the ages. As such, these are now blackbean pastries with green mole. So they're in no way 'right' but they were 'good'.

Makes about 20 pastries


200g Dried Black Beans
500g Pumpkin
3 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
One brown onion, finely chopped
One big red chilli, finely chopped (with or without seeds - do you)
Couple of handfuls of corriander, finely chopped
2 cups roughly chopped baby spinach
1-2 packets (6 - 8 sheets) puff pastry
Salt and pepper to taste

Mole verde:

1/2 Bunch coriander
1/4 bunch mint
1/2  cup sunflowerseeds
1/2 cup pepitas
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 Cup green tomatos, chopped roughly (if you don't know someone with a tomato plant that you can grab the unripe ones off, red ones would probably do, it just wouldn't be as aggressively GREEN as mine).
2 cups spinach
1 Lemon
1 Cup olive oil
a lot of salt

Cook the black beans according to the instructions on the pack (generally you boil them for like 30-40 minutes. You can also soak them overnight THEN cook them. I'm sure this has some benefit. But what?). Roughly chop and cut the skin off the pumpkin, then boil until soft (it needs to be quite soft to hold everything together).

Cook the onion, garlic and chilli in a pan with some oil until the onion is translucent, then add the cooked blackbeans and pumpkin. Mix everything so it all comes togther into a bean-y paste. Add the spinach and the coriander. 

Let the pastry defrost for 10-15 mins, then cut some circles out by going around the edge of a saucer (you want the circles to be about lady palm-sized). You're aiming for about 4 circles out of every sheet (I did some big and some small circles cause by this time I was so mad about the empanada dough that I'd p much given up). Put about one teaspoon of blackbean and pumpkin mixture in the middle of each circle. Fold over the top to make a semi-circle, then seal the edges by pinching the pastry and folding it over (I didn't really describe that well but you'll work it out).

Now, make the weirdest most inauthertic mole ever. I just read the 'mole verde' section of this article and winged it from there, so I have no idea if it tasted right. It was kind of like a salty green-juice, so if you just wanna go with hot sauce or leave them plain I won't blame you. 

Toast the seeds in a fry pan. When they're toasted, blitz (you will need a blender or food processor for this one) together with the herbs, spinach, tomato and olive oil to form a kind of 'smoothy' consistency. Add the juice of the lemon and taste. Add salt, more lemon and oil until it starts talking less like a juice and more like a sauce. 

Prawn salad rolls & chicken meatball subs

Prawn Rolls:

This would also work with crab or lobster pretty well if you wanna get even more impressive. This is a very quick and easy recipe, but excellent. Probably goes without saying, but god I love mayonnaise.

Makes 6 rolls


750gms cooked prawns.
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
Half a bunch of dill, off the stalks
3/4 of a large cucumber,
chopped into rough cubes
Cracked pepper
6 bread rolls/ hot dog buns. 

Shell the prawns and cut them in half. Mix in the mayonnaise, dill, mustard, and cucumber. Season with cracked pepper and keep refrigerated until you're ready to stuff it in the bread rolls/hot dog buns.

Chicken Meatball Subs (with tomato sauce):

If you've got a little more time on your hands, these meatball subs are super filling and good for more carniverous mates. If you wanna make it even easier, you don't have to make your own tomato sauce - mine probably isn't THAT much better than the jar stuff....

Makes: about 8 subs


500g chicken mince
150g breadcrumbs
3/4 cup of milk
1 egg
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 cup shaved parmesan

1 can crushed tomatoes
1 large onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons fennel seeds

Worcestershire sauce
Balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves. 

8 Bread rolls


Get the tomato sauce going first so it has time to thicken. 

Heat some olive oil in a pan and cook the onion until it's soft. Add the garlic and the fennel seeds and cook for a few more minutes. Add the tin of tomatoes. Fill the tin up with water and add that too. Add the rest of of the sauce ingredients (put a splash of both the balsamic and Worcestershire sauce in, then taste to see if it needs more of either) and simmer until it's thick and rich. Add the basil leaves at the end.

In a medium bowl, pour the milk over the breadcrumbs and leave to sit for a minute until it's soaked in. Add the chicken mince, egg, thyme and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

Oil an oven tray. Roll the chicken mixture into balls (you may need to oil  your hands if it's too sticky) and place on the tray, covering lightly with a bit more oil. Cook for about 20 minutes until golden brown (cut one open when you take them out to make sure they're cooked through).

Add the meatballs to the sauce mixture. Cool and then put in a container if you're transporting them, otherwise stuff as many as you can into a bread roll and go nuts. 




Hot and rich fish and vege pies

To me pastry is super hard - it's more like maths than cooking and you can't really do it by feel - you have to stick to the recipe and measure everything out and that's very boring. So go ahead and just get store bought pastry for these pies if you want - no one's gonna care.

But if, like me, you're single and there's nothing on at the movies and you've got a Saturday to kill, give making it from scratch a go. People will be way more impressed. It's only really worth trying in winter if you live in Brisbane cause the butter just gets way too melted to work with. Unless you've got air conditioning in your kitchen. In which case get just your butler to do it instead I guess?

I only made the short crust bases myself - and honestly they were a bit shit. The puff pastry tops were store bought and much tastier. I used this recipe from the BBC cause I thought English people should know something about pies? I'm sure they do, I'm the problem.

The most important part of these pies is the filling, not the pastry. While on Masterchef or whatever it's a fucken disaster when the pastry is a little raw or a little burnt on top, for most people it just needs to be hot and a bit crunchy and hold something delicious. 

To make a vegetarian version of this, do pretty much the same thing but leave out the fish

Makes two medium-sized pies, so probably enough for 10ish people, less if you're not having sides.


3 Carrots
3 leeks

1/2 a head of cauliflower
1 bulb of fennel
1/4 bunch of parsley
1/4 bunch dill
500g of white fish (get whatever's on sale or tell the fish person you want a 'meatier' white fish so it'll stay together better.) cut into bite-sized chunks.
400mls of cream
500mls of milk
1 cup white wine
2 bay leaves
500gms cheese (grated)
500gms of butter
Puff pastry
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees

Cut the green bit off the leek and slice it vertically into circle shaped slices about 2-3 cms thick (makes sure you wash these thoroughly to get the grit out). Cut the carrot in the same way, then roughly cut up the cauliflower, and cut the fennel bulb vertically and then horizontally - nothing should be cut much bigger than the leek and carrot slices. 

Saute these vegetables with 250gms of the butter in a big wok/frypan until they're getting soft.

Meanwhile, put the milk, rest of the butter, white wine, and bay leaves into a large saucepan. Add the fish, and poach until it's just cooked. Add the cream and the vegetables and combine. Add the cheese and when that's melted and the vegetables are soft, add the chopped herbs and season with salt and pepper. 

Line your pie tin/s with pastry (if you hand made it, you may have to bake the bases for 5-10 minutes before you put the filling in) and add the fish and vege filling. Cover with puff-pastry - crimping the edges closed if you know how to do that (I don't).

Cook for 15-20 minutes until pastry is golden brown. If you're oven is really fucked it will probably cook the pastry unevenly, so make sure you keep an eye on your pie in case you need to turn it around in the oven so some bits don't get burnt. 





Red Robin Ripoff Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Red Robin Supper Club is this great series of pop-up restraunts that Brisbane chef Rory Doyle (who now runs Red Robin Supper Truck at South Side Tea Room) used to do a couple of times a year in Brisbane. I've had his version of this salty-sweet cheese course sandwich twice, and it's goddamn spectacular. This is me trying to do it myself - I didn't quite get the rich stickiness in the onions that he did, but I reckon it still turned out okay. 

Quantity: As a snack or starter you want about half a sandwich per person, and as a meal with vege sides more like 1 sandwich per person - this recipe serves 12 people as a starter.


- Swiss cheese (you could go a cheaper cheddar or tasty too if you want a stronger salty sweet vibe) - 2 slices per sandwich (I had 18) 
- 6 Large white onions (one per sandwich)
-Olive Oil
- 2 cups Red wine vinegar 
- 1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar - half a cup (use more balsamic to red wine ratio for a stronger flavour) 
- 2 cups brown sugar 
- Half a bunch of thyme leaves, pulled off the stalks
- 200gms of butter
1 loaf fruit toast (as cheap or fancy as you want)
- Salt and pepper to season 

Peel and slice the onions thinly so they're round slices. Break up the individual rings into a large frypan and lightly cover with olive oil

Cook the onions, stirring often, until they're soft - try not to let them get too charred. Add the vinegars, sugar and thyme, and turn the heat down.

Cook for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid is gone and the onions are soft and sticky. If it's taking a long time for the liquid to reduce you can turn the heat up a bit, but be careful they're not burning on the bottom. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

When it comes time to make the sandwiches, put one slice of cheese on a piece of fruit bread, put about 2 tablespoons of onion jam on top, then another layer of cheese, then the other layer of bread.

Melt the butter in a large fry pan, and fry your sandwiches, flipping over when they start to get brown. You may have to do a few batches, but each sandwich shouldn't take that long. Serve hot and cheesy straight away.