bring-a-plate

Warrigal Green Pierogi

Warrigal Greens are similar in flavour to spinach, but like pretty much all native foods, way way more nutritious than any leafy green we're currently eating. You have to blanch them in boiling before using them because the leaves have a slightly toxic coating. I've used warrigal greens in pasta, stir fries, fried rice - pretty much any time you need a cooked green. They grow so quickly and well that a couple of months after you plant them you're pretty much guaranteed never to run out. 

Though my great grandfather was polish, my nana never really cooked polish food of any kind. The first time I had pierogi was at Golden Plains festival earlier this year. It was like, coming home maaaaan. Nah I was so fucked I would have had an emotional moment with a tin of chickpeas. Still, they're delicious. I bought a great polish cookbook called 'Polska' by Zuza Zak earlier in the year, and this recipe is based a lot on one in that. Though I think this cooking method is not particularly authentic. 

Ingredients

Pierogi Dough

350gms all purpose flour
3 egg yolks
2 cups chopped up warrigal greens
1/4 cup unsalted butter

Filling
200 grams of chopped warrigal greens, blanched in boiling water and drained
250gms feta (semi-hard, greek or 'Australian') 
1 cup buckwheat, cooked
Handful of chopped parlsey
salt and pepper to taste
Juice of one lemon 

Salad

1 Bunch of watercress
250gms soft feta (Danish or Persian. It's good if you get one of the ones in oil because then you can use the oil as a dressing for the watercress) 

Blanch the warrigal greens in boiling water for a minute or two. Strain, and then blend with half a cup of cold water in a blender.  

Mix together about half of the warrigal green juice, the flour, egg yolks and a pinch of salt and need together for ten minutes. If you're like me you're gonna think it's not coming together and the dough's fucked and nothing's working but you just have to keep kneading it for ages longer than you think. This is the first dough I've made that wasn't objectively horrible, and that's because I just kneaded the fuck out of it when usually I give up pretty quick. You can add more water if it seems too dry, but you want it to be a slightly elastic, smooth dough. Once it's reached this stage, form a ball, wrap it in a wet tea towel and leave for 10 - 20 minutes. 

For the filling, just mix all the ingredients together, tasting for seasoning. 

Roll out the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface. You want it to be pretty thin, less than a centimeter. This is not a particularly elastic or soft dough, so it might be a bit tough. But keep at it! If you've got a pasta maker I think rolling it in that would be SO MUCH EASIER. Cut out circles about 10ish centimetres in diameter using either a cup or cookie cutter. 

Place about a teaspoon of filling in each circle, then fold over to make semi-circles, pushing the edges together HARD. You can use a bit of water around the edges too if that helps it stick.

Cook the pierogi by quickly boiling them for about 2-3 minutes, then pan frying them in butter for a minute or so on each side until brown and crispy.

Toss the watercress and soft feta together. Place the pierogi on top, then dress with olive oil (or the oil from the feta container), salt and pepper. 

Miso Mushroom and Date Toasts

Makes about ten medium-sized toasts (about 20 of the size pictured)

I'd recommend using much bigger pieces of bread than I did - the smaller batons were on sale, but very hard to balance everything on/transport. 

This is a very simple recipe, but super tasty

MISO MUSHROOMS
4 Field Mushrooms
2 Tablespoons Miso Paste
1 Tablespoon Mirin

DATE AND ROCKET SALAD
200g Rocket (other bitter greens like raddichio and watercress would be nice too)
1 Tablespoon of Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon Sesame Seeds
8 Medjool Dates (they're the big yummy ones, called 'snack dates' at a lot of grocery stores I think) 
Crumbled Fetta
Loaf of rye bread

Mix the Mirin and Miso paste together so the miso is spreadable. Rub/brush the miso paste over the mushrooms and roast at 180 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes. 

Mix the rocket, yoghurt and sesame seeds together until the rocket is evenly coated (you might need some more yoghurt).

Remove the pits for the dates and slice them thinly.

When the mushrooms are done, take them out of the oven and cut them up across the top (you want to get maybe 5-6 slices out of each mushroom).

Slice and toast your rye bread. Layer it with the salad, then the dates, then the mushrooms. Crumble some feta on top and serve. 

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' 

Ingredients
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. 

'Bahn Mi' with Ginger Poached Chicken, Cucumber Salad and Pickled Carrots.

White bread. Chicken. Mayonnaise. Tangy Pickles. DON'T LEAVE OFF THE PEANUTS (Unless eating them will kill you I GUESS). 

Should make about 8 Medium sized bahn mi. Cut 'em smaller and you've got baby bahns! Fun!

Ingredients:

CHICKEN
1/2 cup chopped shallots (only the white and light green bits)
Two tablespoons roughly chopped ginger, and two tablespoons of crushed ginger. Keep the chunks of peel that you take off.
200g Chicken Breast
Two litres chicken or vegetable stock (I use stock cubes and it doesn't make much difference to me) 

CUCUMBER 
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 Lebanese cucumbers
1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek (crushed fresh chills from a jar, can find at Coles)
1 teaspoon palm sugar

CARROTS
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon palm sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Sambal Oelek
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 medium carrots
 

WOMBOK SALAD
2 Cups shredded wombok
Mayonnaise
1/2 bunch coriander, roughly chopped.

1 cup Roasted Peanuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup Sesame Seeds
Half Bunch coriander, leaves only
2 long Baguettes

Put the stock in a medium saucepan with half the shallots, chopped ginger and ginger skins. If you don't think it'll be enough to cover the chicken, add some water. Bring to the boil.

Add your chicken breast, cover and poach for about 18 - 20 minutes. If they're smaller pieces check after 15 by cutting one in half and seeing if it's cooked through. When the chicken is cooked, rub it in the rest of the shallots and crushed ginger and some vegetable oil to marinate for a while.

While the chicken's cooking, make the pickles. Cut the cucumbers in half longways and scoop out the seeds. Give them a wack with a rolling pin/flat side of a big knife etc. so they're a bit battered and split. Roughly chop them into couple of centimetre slices. Mix with the rest of the ingredients and leave to sit. 

Julienne the carrots, or grate them if that's too annoying (I found out most basic vege graters have a mandolin peeler that makes thin slices that you can then slice into match-stick pieces. Really improved my life). Mix the carrots with the rest of the pickle ingredients.

Mix the wombok, coriander and mayonnaise (it's between you and whoever you choose to tell how much you want to put it - you want it to balance out the chicken cause poached it can be a bit dry) together.

Toast the sesame seeds in a hot pan on the stove. Mix together with the chopped peanuts. 

To assemble, either cut or tear up the chicken, put it in a halved piece of baguette and layer with the salad ingredients. Top with fresh coriander leaves and peanuts and sesame seeds. 
 

 

 

'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
Honey

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

(Shoulda been) Soba Salad

If you look closely (or like, at all), you’ll notice that the noodles in these salads are definitely NOT soba. One is vermicelli (fine, gotta cater for my legit celiac friend Laurel) and one is Udon. NOT FINE. Udon noodles are great in soups or stir fries because they’re substantial and salty – not at all right for ‘delicate’ (as close as I ever get anyway) salads.

But when you’re rushing around the supermarket trying to get ready to feed 20 people, it’s very easy to pick up the wrong packet – and then what was I gonna do, walk back to the shops? In the middle of the day in summer? Nah. But please don’t make the same mistakes as me. For the love of god get the soba.

You could also definitely make your own sesame sauce (I’ve made one before with mirin, light soy, a little sugar and tahini that was pretty good) but the ready-made stuff is generally a much better consistency. It’d be worth going to a Japanese grocer to get the real deal (Genki Mart in Alderly is terrific if you’re in Brisbane) but the Kewpie brand one is available in most supermarkets.

Serves 12 + as a side

Ingredients:
2 packets soba noodles
4 shallots, finely sliced
2 Lebanese cucumbers
1 packet tomato medley (if the multi-coloured tomatoes aren't in season regular cherry tomatoes are fine)
Sesame-soy sauce (see above)
1 Carrot
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
Couple of handfuls of mixed lettuce leaves
thumb-sized peices of ginger
500g raw salmon fillets (should be about 2 - 3 fillets) 

Wrap the salmon fillets individually in baking paper with the ginger, a splash of soy sauce and half a teaspoon of butter for each fillet. Cook at 180 degrees for 5 - 10 minutes, until the salmon is just cooked. Leave to cool.

Cook the soba noodles in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Leave to cool completely. 

Cut the carrots into matchstick-sized 'julienne' pieces (you can grate them if you want, though it tastes different). Slice the cucumber in 1-2cm slices, then cut them in half into semi-circles. Cut the tomatoes in half (or smaller if you're using big tomatoes. 

Mix the cucumber, carrot, tomatoes, lettuce, shallots, soba, sesame seeds, and the sesame dressing of your choice together. Flake the cooked salmon over the top and serve.  

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

Ingredients:

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. 


Mini Chicken Bastillas

Photo by Savannah Van der Niet

Photo by Savannah Van der Niet


This recipe is pretty much a tweaked version of the one off this GREAT Moroccan cooking website called ‘Cooking with Alia’.  If you wanna do it right, follow her recipe (and check out a few more, while your there). Mine’s just a bit simpler, for lazy motherfuckers.

Real bastillas often have cinnamon and/or sugar dusted over the top – I bloody love them, but I thought it might be a bit much for some of my guests (sweet/savoury is a thing but some people hate it. Personally I hate fruit in savoury salads. Unrelated but I’d really like it to stop). If your mates are on board the swavoury (sorry) train though, definitely give it a go. You don’t HAVE to put the butter in at the end, but as my chicken mixture had been sitting in the fridge since the day before I was worried they’d be dry. And it worked, they were pretty perfect. Plus, fat’s good for you now. Everyone says so.

Makes about 20 pastries

Ingridients

750g chicken breast
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tabelspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 tspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1 Onion
4 Cloves of garlic
½ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
5 eggs
100g butter
2 packets filo dough
250 grams almond meal

Put the chicken, tumeric, cumin, coriander parsley, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and a few splashes of olive oil in a pot with a lid. Make sure the chicken in covered in spices and oil, then cook for about 5 minutes, until chicken is starting to colour all over. Add 1 cup of water, cover with the lid and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until all the chicken is cooked through. Take the chicken pieces out of the sauce and break up into small pieces. Reheat the sauce (add a bit more water if it’s more solid than liquid) and add FOUR of the eggs, mixing until they’re cooked through. Mix this egg mixture with the chicken.

Fry the almond meal with some olive oil, cinnamon, cloves and sugar until it’s browned and tastes toasted.

Beat the remaining egg in a bowl. Cut up the butter into small (about 1cm square) cubes.

Get one square filo sheet on your bench. Put about 1 heaped tablespoon of chicken and egg mixture in the middle. Put one square of butter on top, and sprinkle with almond-meal mixture (about 1 teaspoon in each pastry). Fold up the sides, using the beaten egg to stick the pastry down. Put another piece of pastry on top of your parcel, then flip it over and fold up and stick down the sides again, so it’s wrapped in two layers. Brush the flat top of the pastry with egg, and sprinkle black sesame or poppy seeds on the top.

Cook at 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until the pastry is brown.

Photo by Savannah Van der Niet

Photo by Savannah Van der Niet