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Shakshuka with misc. leaves

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Shakshuka is the king of baked eggs. These are probably not as good as any you'll get at a fancy brunch place but definitely worth making yourself. 

If you're making this for more than 10 people, you may need two fry pans/ baking trays to fit all the eggs in.

Serves 12 - 15

Ingredients:
2 small capsicums, thinly sliced
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
handful of thyme

2 Onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup chopped coriander

800g chopped tomatoes (tinned)
Pinch of saffron/ a few saffron threads
3 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 Lemon
15 eggs
Misc Leaves (Used beetroot leaves, radicchio, snowpea shoots, and rocket)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and roast the capsicum, cherry tomatoes and thyme for 15 minutes.

In a fry pan that you can also put in the oven (with a metal handle, but if you don't have one of these you can transfer the sauce into a baking tray before you bake the eggs) fry the onions with a splash of olive oil until they go soft but not brown. Add the spices and fry for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, sugar, and capsicum and cherry tomato mixture and bring to a fast simmer. Turn the heat down and leave to simmer slowly for 15 minutes. Finish with the herbs. You can make the sauce a few days in advance, or add the eggs straight away and serve.

 If you're transfering the mixture into a baking tray, do it now. Otherwise crack the eggs into the hot sauce. Put the saucepan into the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes or until the eggs are cooked through. To finish, toss the leaves in a hot pan with some salt for a couple of minutes until slightly soft, then lay on the shakshuka. Serve with any kind of bread, but the sweet and soft Israeli challah is traditional and delicious. 

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

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

Confit fennel & leeks

I ripped this from Rita Sodi and Jodi Williams' much more refined and delicate recipe for leek confit in Lucky Peach - my favourite food magazine. If you're only cooking for a few people, their recipe would definitely be preferable (though they do use celery, and I'll be dead in the ground before I go near that shit). Mine has less ingredients and also uses leeks as well as fennel cause they go together so well and buying that many fennel can get pricey. 

Serves 12 as a side.

4 fennel bulbs
6 leeks
1 bottle cheap white wine (dry is better than sweet - so like a Chardonnay or a sav blanc or something)
1/2 bunch of thyme
5 bay leaves
3 tablespoons of peppercorns
2 Oranges
2 lemons
1.5 litres of olive oil
2 litres of water
2 heads (not cloves) of garlic
 

Serves 12 (with leftovers) 
Cut the left green bits off the leeks, then cut the white bit in half through the middle. Wash the pieces well to get any grit out. Cut the leafy green bits off the fennel (you can save the herb for garnish if you like) and slice it vertically - into slices about 2-3 centimetres thick. Peel the garlic.

Now you've got to make little parcels for your herbs - if you've got cheesecloth/linen(???) use it, but I used new clean chux. Wrap the thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns in the material, and tie it together at the top with some string or a rubber band so nothing can get out. 

Get your biggest pot out and put in the wine, water, and garlic. Cut the lemon and orange in half and sqeeze the juice into it, then chuck the rest of the fruit in too. Add your herb parcels. Bring this to boil with a bit of salt.

(I had to put mine in two pots with half the ingredients in each because it was too big for one, but if you're cooking for less then ten people you could almost definitely fit it all in one big one)

Once they're boiling, turn the heat down so it's just gently simmering, Add the oil, and the leeks and fennel. Taste the liquid and adjust the ratio to taste (if it's too acidic, add oil or water). Simmer until soft, take the herb-parcels and lemon and orange out, and serve. 

 

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.

INGREDIENTS 

- 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.