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 Salad with ginger & lime syrup

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

I feel a bit silly writing out a recipe for this cause it's just a fruit salad - but I didn't fully know how to make a syrup until recently, so maybe this will be useful.

I think this syrup would be delicious over a stone fruit salad - peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries. However even though it was STONE FRUIT SEASON when I made this my supermarket didn't have any except for a couple of plums. So I panicked and bought the weird assortment of fruits you see in this picture. 

Makes about a cup of syrup

Syrup ingredients: 
1 cup sugar
Half a cup of water
1 lime, zest cut off.
Thumb sized piece of ginger,
half thinly sliced, half crushed. 

Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan on high until boiling. Reduce the heat and add the ginger and lime zest and a couple of thin slices of lime. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes, or until it's a dark syrup-y consistency. 

Take out the whole slices of ginger if you don't want too-strong a ginger flavour. Leave to cool, then pour over your fruit salad. If the syrup gets too solid when it cools down, add a bit more boiling water and stir vigorously until it is liquid enough to pour. 

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Pickles! (Cucumber and radishes)

Pickles and kimchi and all that are getting more popular cause of the 'probiotic' health benefits and stuff (something to do with 'gut health'??? Fermentations??? I'm an expert.) - so go on and load up on the cheeses and breads. Pickles are there for you.

You can use the brine in this recipe to pickle almost anything - I did classic cucumber and some baby radishes because they look good. You can leave out the salting and draining step for veges that don't have a high water content like cucumbers do though. 



6 Lebanese cucumbers
500ml white wine vinegar
250ml water
125g caster sugar
2 teaspoons tumeric
2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1 small brown onion, sliced as thin as you can
1/2 cup dill, pulled off the stalks
Small pinch of peppercorns

8 baby small radishes

Cut the cucumbers into thin circles (about 1 cm), sprinkle with salt and leave to drain in a collander/sieve for an hour or two. Make the brine by boiling up the water, sugar, vinegar and tumeric until the sugar is disolved, then leave it to simmer for a couple of minutes after that.

Mix the cucumber together with the onion, peppercorns, dill and coriander. 

Put the cucumbers into a jar - packing them down firmly. Then tip the brine slowly in, making sure there's no air bubbles (tap the side of the jar until they all bubble out. Refrigerate.  

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.