Vine Leaf Pie with Chermoula

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

I got the idea for this from Ottelengi's Plenty - staple favourite cookbook of middle-class middle-aged ladies and pretty much everyone else. His had parmesan and breadcrumbs on top, but I had really no idea what the flavours would be like so put Chermoula on mine (a kid of sweet North-African chutney) to make sure it was at least sort of delicious, and it turned out to be VERY delicious, which is cool. 

Chermoula Ingredients: 

3 zucchinis, cut into small cubes
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 capsicum, cut into thin slices
400g chopped tinned tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Splash of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey
Handful of raisins

Turn the stove on high and fry capsicum on high for one minute. Turn the stove down to medium and add the zuccini, garlic and onion and fry until the zucchini is soft. Add the spices and stir fry on high for 2 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes and raisins turn the heat down and let it simmer for 5 - 10 minutes. Finish with honey and vinegar, making sure you taste to get the right sweet/vinegar-y balance.

Vine Leaf Pie Ingredients:

300g packet vine leaves (you can get these from most European delis - of pick your own. I think you'd need about 20 fresh vine leaves for each pie) 
4 shallots, finely chopped
50g butter, melted
2 zucchinis, chopped into small cubes
4 tablespoons greek yoghurt
Handful of pine nuts
Half a bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
Half a bunch of dill, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of mint, roughly chopped
1 lemon
1 tablespoon rice flour

Fry zucchini until it's soft with a big splash of oil and the shallots and pine nuts. Leave to cool and then mix with the yoghurt, herbs, rice flour and a squeeze of lemon.

Brush (you can use your fingers, you don't need a pastry brush or anything) the bottom of your pie tins with butter, then lay out enough vine leaves to cover the bottom and edges of the tin, with some draping over the side (if you're using fresh vine leaves you'll need to blanch them in hot water first). Brush the vine leaves with butter, then spoon out the zucchini and yoghurt mixture on top. Fold the overhanging leaves over the filling, then cover the tops with more vine leaves. Brush the tops with butter, and put in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the vine leaves on top are crispy and dry. 

Top with the chermoula and serve. It will be pretty hard to cut up, but what can you do. 


Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

'Fruit Toast' Crackers & Labne with honey, fig and pine nuts

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Making labne is very easy (there's one ingredient and it's greek yoghurt) and way cheaper than buying it - but you'll have to start the day before you want to serve it cause it takes at least 12 hours to hang and get less watery.

These crackers are similar to the ones I made for the cheese board dinner, but I added fruit and cinnamon to give them a kind of 'fruit toast' vibe. Fruit toast is one of my favourite childhood breakfasts, but there's no way I would have been able to make it. 

Makes a couple of bowls of crackers and like HEAPS of labne.

Labne Ingredients:
500g Greek yoghurt
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/ cup finely chopped dried figs
1 tablespoon of tahini

Put a sieve on top of a saucepan (so it's not touching the bottom). Line the sieve with a chux, 'cheese cloth' or other kind of clean fabric. Put the yoghurt in the sieve and leave to 'hang' for at least 12 hours, so most the liquid gets sieved out. 

Mix the chopped fig with the tahini, then stir it through the labne. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top, and drizzle with honey before serving. 

Cracker ingredients: 

250g Plain flour

150g linseeds
175g Sesame seeds
150g sunflour seeds

1/2 cup dried figs, finely chopped
Handful of dates, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
500ml cold water
1 tablespoon of sugar

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Mix together all the ingredients except the sugar. It should be the consistency of wet cement, so add more flour or water if the ingredients aren't holding together properly. 

Line a large oven tray with baking paper. With a spatula, spread the mixture out on the paper as thin as you can (you may need to do a couple of batches if you have too much mixture). Don't worry if you get a few holes, you're going to  break them up into rough crackers anyway. Sprinkle sugar evenly over the dough. 

Bake for about 20 minutes, then turn the big sheet of cracker over, peel off the baking paper, and bake on the other side for about 10-15 minutes, until it's completely dry and crispy. Leave to cool on a cooling rack. 

Break up into roughly-cracker shaped bits, and serve with the labne. 

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Pistachio Trifle with Pomegranate Jelly and Rosewater Custard

Lately I’ve been really obsessed with this cookbook called Honey & Co. The Baking Book, from an incredible-looking Middle Eastern restaurant in London. I’ve actually baked things from it that turned out ok - a certified miracle. I don’t know if the right way to show my appreciation was to butcher their trifle recipe (they used quince, almonds and vanilla in their way more refined version), and I fucked up the sponge pretty bad on mine, but this was pretty delicious still.


14 Leaves of gelatine (there are plenty of vegetarian setting agents you can use, but I haven’t used them before and didn’t want to risk it, even though, yes, gelatine is really gross).
450ml water
800ml pomegranate juice (if pomegranates are in season, get a few fresh ones too and throw some of the jewels through the jelly and then on top of the trifle cause that would be very nice)

900mls milk
200g caster sugar
9 egg yolks
2 teaspoons rosewater
75g plain flour

6 eggs
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup ground pistachios
1 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

200g Mixed crushed nuts
3 punnets of strawberries, cut in half (or use whatever fruit is in season – when I made this strawbs were like $2 a punnet)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Make the jelly first cause it’ll take at least a few hours to set – overnight it probably best.

For the jelly, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water until they become soft. Meanwhile, heat the water and pomegranate juice in a large saucepan, until almost boiling (don’t let it boil). Turn off the heat and add the gelatine, stiring until the gelatine leaves are all desolved. Pour the mixture into whatever container you’re going to set it in – if you’re just cooking for a few people, individual glasses look better. I poured mine into two big glass bowls. Throw in some halved strawberries to set in the jelly. Put in fridge.

Mix the egg yolks and flour together in a large bowl. Heat up the milk and caster sugar until it’s just bubbling, then add it slowly to the egg and flour mixture, stirring quickly and continuously. Put it back in a saucepan on the heat, stirring constantly until it starts to thicken up. Add the rosewater, then keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Do you know a good sponge recipe? If so, make that and substitute half a cup of the flour for a cup of ground pistachios. Also send it to me, cause this one I adapted from one on the Coles website and it wasn’t so hot.

Beat eggs hard until they’re fluffy and aerated. Add the sugar slowly, continuing to beat the mixture constantly. Sift the flower and baking powder into the eggs, and mix lightly to combine (you don’t want to get rid of all the air). Add the ground pistachios, and pour the mix into a baking tray, bake for about 20 minutes, until it’s springy to touch and if you put a knife in it comes out clean.

When you’re ready to serve, take your jelly out of the fridge, and top with broken up pieces of sponge. Cover that with custard, then scatter the strawberries and crushed nuts over the top. 

Macadamia sandwich cookies with fig and white chocolate filling

Makes 8 Cookies


200g butter, softened
200g sugar
300g flour

1 teaspoon vanilla essence
200 ml cream
100g roasted macadamias, roughly chopped
300g white chocolate, chopped into small bits.

100g dried figs, chopped as small as you can (blitz them in the food processor if you have one)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. 

Whip the butter and sugar together with a fork or a whisk. Add the flour, vanilla and macadamias and combine. Roll about a tablespoon of mixture into a ball with your hands (use some flour on your hands if they're too sticky) and flatten to a disk shape and place on an oven tray covered with baking paper. Repeat with the rest of the mixture - try and make them all a similar size so they fit together ok. 

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until they're lightly brown.

Meanwhile, put the chocolate in a medium sized bowl. Heat the cream in  a small saucepan until it's simmering. Take off the heat and pour over the white chocolate, mixing it well so the chocolate melts. Add the chopped figs and cool in the fridge.

When the biscuits are done let them cool. When the white chocolate mixture has cooled into a thick spreadable paste, spread it on one of the biscuits and sandwich another on top. Leave the sandwich biscuits in the fridge until you're ready to transport them (fairly delicately).