Spinach and feta coils by Jack Sages
These are a wonderful and impressive pastry to serve as a light meal, but are so simple to make. Serve hot alongside a simple green salad for lunch. It’s best to take the filo out of the fridge at least 2 hours before making to allow the coils to be rolled more easily.
- 8–10 sheets filo pastry
- 1 bunch English spinach, about 180g leaves
- 250g feta cheese
- 100g pecorino cheese, grated
- 100g parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 tablespoon plain (all-purpose) flour
- 2 eggs
- 100g butter, melted
- 100ml vegetable oil
- 1 egg, lightly beaten, for glazing
- sesame seeds
Take the filo pastry out of the fridge at least 2 hours before starting the recipe to minimise cracking when shaping the coils.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6). Line two baking trays.
Wash the spinach, remove and discard the large stems and chop the leaves. Blanch in boiling water, then drain thoroughly. Leave to cool slightly, then squeeze out as much excess water as possible. The cooked spinach should weigh about 85g (3oz).
Crumble the feta into a bowl, add the other cheeses, flour, eggs and spinach and mix well.
Combine the melted butter and oil in a bowl.
Place 1 sheet of the filo in front of you vertically on the benchtop.
Cover the remaining sheets with a damp cloth. Lightly brush the butter mixture over the filo sheet, ensuring the entire surface is covered. Make a 4cm (1½ inch) fold at the short end of the pastry sheet, then spread a 2cm (¾ inch) thick layer of the spinach filling over this fold from left to right, leaving about 2cm (¾ inch) space at both ends.
Fold both the long sides of the pastry inwards to prevent leakage, then roll the pastry up from the bottom to the top to make a cylinder.
Wrap the cylinder into a coil shape and place on a prepared tray. Repeat the process with the remaining filling and filo sheets until you have 8–10 coils. Brush the tops with beaten egg and sprinkle over the sesame seeds. Bake for 25–30 minutes until golden brown. use a paper towel to remove any excess oil before serving.
Beef bourguignon by Paul Gordon
This recipe takes me back to the taste of France. It was taught to me by Caroline, the owner of a bed and breakfast we stayed in while travelling through Burgundy. I’ve subsequently made a few changes, but the core of the recipe stays the same. While the ingredients may seem simple, they work beautifully together. This dish is best served with a glass of French red and good friends.
- 4 tablespoons plain (all purpose) flour (enough to coat the beef)
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 60ml (¼ cup) olive oil
- 1kg (2lb 4oz) gravy or stewing beef, cubed
- 8 French shallots, peeled and halved, or 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup (120g/4oz) small button mushrooms
- 400ml (1⅔ cups) red wine
- 400ml (1⅔ cups) best-quality beef stock
- 1 large bouquet garni (see note)
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- freshly ground black pepper
Mix the flour, paprika and salt in a large shallow dish, and toss the beef in it to coat.
Heat a little of the oil in a heavy-based flameproof casserole dish over medium heat and brown the beef, in batches, until golden brown.
Set aside. Add more oil to the dish, and fry the shallots or onion until soft and translucent, stirring frequently, scraping up any caramelised bits from the bottom of the dish.
Add the mushrooms and toss through.
Return the beef to the dish and add the wine, scraping the bottom of the dish again if needed. Bring to the boil for a minute, then add the stock, bouquet garni and bay leaf.
If necessary, add more water or stock to barely cover the beef.
Return to a simmer, cover and cook for 2½ hours, turning once or twice, until the meat is soft and fork tender.
You can also cook it in the oven at 150°C (300°F/Gas 2) for the same length of time.
Top up with water or stock if and when necessary, or if there is too much liquid, remove the lid for the last 15 minutes of cooking.
Season to taste. Serve with mashed potato or potato and onion gratin.
NOTE: Bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs that usually includes thyme, parsley and bay leaves. It can be bought as an infusion bag in the spice section of food stores.
Little honey cakes by Merelyn Chalmers
Makes 50–55 mini cakes
These bite-sized cakes are actually biscuits dipped in honey syrup. They take a bit of patience to make but keep for ages, so you can make them the week before Rosh Hashanah. They are perfect as a gift or to serve for afternoon tea.
- 450g (1lb/3 cups) plain (all purpose) flour
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- pinch of sea salt
- 250ml (1 cup) light olive oil
- 165g (5¾oz/¾ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 60ml (¼ cup) sweet sacramental wine or port
- finely grated zest of 1 orange
- strained juice of 1 orange, about 80ml (⅓ cup)
- 50g (⅓ cup) pistachio nuts, toasted and finely chopped
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthways
- 350g (1 cup) honey
- 100g (½ cup, firmly packed) light brown sugar
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon
- 1 cinnamon stick
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6). Line two baking trays.
For the honey syrup, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into a saucepan, add the bean and the remaining ingredients. Slowly bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt into a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk the oil and sugar until well combined, then stir in the wine or port and orange zest and juice.
Gradually pour the oil mixture into the dry ingredients and mix to form a rough dough. Place in the bowl of an electric mixer and, using the dough hook, beat for 5 minutes until smooth, shiny and glutinous, adding extra flour if the dough is too sticky.
Roll the mixture into small walnut-sized balls and place 3cm (1¼ inches) apart on the prepared baking trays. Lightly flatten each ball with the back of a spoon to make a slight indent and bake for 12 minutes, or until firm.
Remove the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick from the warm syrup, pour into a shallow dish and soak the cakes in the syrup for 30 seconds on each side. Using two forks, lift the cakes from the syrup and place on a wire rack positioned over a tray. Sprinkle with the pistachios and allow to stand for 1 hour.
The cakes will keep in an airtight container for 2–3 weeks.
This is an edited extract from The Feast Goes On by Monday Morning Cooking Club, HarperCollins, $49.99.
The Monday Morning Cooking Club will be holding a cooking demonstration at the SMH Growers' Market in Pyrmont on Saturday May 2. They'll be onstage at 8.30am and 10am.