Monday, August 1, 2016

Seskoulopitta/Σεσκουλόπιττα with ginger and black sesame

This is an old, old favourite just tweaked slightly to cater for the misery that is a headcold. Sometimes I include  the thick white stalks of the σέσκουλο/silverbeet.  Sometimes I don't.  This time I did. I normally include spring onions but this time I thought the silverbeet stalks would provide quite a bit of bulk, so I didn't use spring onions.  And the real difference? Well, I added lashings of fresh root ginger to help fight my cold.  And also because I love the taste of fresh ginger and I felt like some. What is there not to relish about this combination of so many of my favourite flavours!


1/2 bunch of silverbeet
375 gr ricotta
200gr fetta
2 handfuls grated Parmesan
1 egg
1/2 tsp Sambal oelek
2 garlic cloves
3 tsp fresh ginger
Phyllo pastry
Olive oil
Black sesame seeds


Preheat the oven to 180c
Roughly chop the silverbeet, including the thick white stalks
Place the silverbeet in a steamer
Peel and crush the garlic and add
Add Sambal oelek
Chop and crush the ginger root and add
Steam on the stovetop until soft stirring occasionally
Meanwhile place the ricotta in a bowl
Crumble the fetta by hand on top and add a couple of handfuls of grated Parmesan (or to taste)
Add the egg and stir to combine
When the vegetables are cooked add to the mixture and combine well
Using a pastry brush and olive oil line the bottom of a baking dish with about six layers of phyllo taking care to oil well between each layer
Add the cheese and vegetable mixture to the phyllo
Fold the phyllo over the mixture and cover with several layers of phyllo brushing with oil between each layer
Fold in the edges and oil the top layer
Sprinkle with black sesame seeds
With a sharp knife cut the top of the pie into desired portions. DO NOT cut through the bottom of the pie
Cook for 45 minutes in 180c oven until top is crisp and golden
Leave to rest for 2-3 minutes after cooking
Then with a sharp knife cut the portions through to the bottom of the pie
Serve with salad or vegetables..

Friday, July 22, 2016

Barley soup for George IV #FLRoyalFood

This final recipe for my FutureLearn course is actually from Week 4, not Week 5.  For some reason in my local area there was a dearth of barley when I went looking for it initially - just an empty space on the shelves! The soup is essentially barley and beef stock and some greens and seasonings. We know from preserved menus that this is something that George IV ate when he was confined to his rooms at Kew Palace and only allowed to eat with a spoon.


I added spring onions and baby bok choi for the onion and greens, and pepper, garlic and ginger for the seasonings.  The original recipe suggested adding a handful of raisins, but I added dried grapes which probably did not have such a strong flavour. And the verdict?  Well, it could certainly be eaten with a spoon and it was fairly solid and nourishing. It tasted pleasantly enough, but I think I would prefer some stronger tasting greens and perhaps more ginger or chilli.  But I guess it was meant to be invalid food.



1 litre beef stock
250 gr pearl barley
4 spring onions
1 head baby bok choi
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp crushed ginger
Handful dried grapes


Place the stock in a large pan suitable for making soup
Add the barley to the cold stock and bring to a boil
Reduce to a simmer and continue cooking for 45-60 minutes until stock is reduced and barley tender
Meanwhile chop the sping onions and bok choi
Crush the garlic and ginger
Remove the grapes from their stalks
Add the greens, garlic, ginger and grapes to the soup mixture
Grind some pepper on top
Stir to combine and simmer until the vegetables are cooked.
Serve with a spoon.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Stir-fried vegetables with pickled octopus

After all the rich and rather heavy royal food I have been cooking and digesting for a few weeks, I felt like something light and filled with vegetables. This stir-fry of vegetables and pickled octopus hit the spot exactly and emerged simply because the ingredients were on hand. I ate mine with gnocchi as I had a yearning for some, but it is great with rice or noodles or alone.


3 tbs extra virgin coconut oil
1 bulb pak choi
2 spring onions
1 carrot
1 flower cauliflower
2 cloves garlic
3 tsp chopped ginger
2 tsp Thai sweet chilli sauce
150 gr pickled baby octopus


Clean the spring onion and slice
Peel the carrot and slice
Roughly chop the pak choi
Break the cauliflower into bite size flowerets
Place the oil in a pan to heat
Add the vegetables and stir to coat with oil
Add the octopus and stir to combine
Crush the garlic and add
Chop the ginger and add
Add the chilli sauce and stir to combine
Stir constantly until cooked to a crunchy consistency
Serve with rice or noodles.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Curry of chickens, à l'Indienne #FLRoyalFood

This is another recipe inspired by the FutureLearn course. Apparently curries were much favoured in Victorian times and almost always on the menu for Queen Victoria's meals. We were given a recipe for chicken curry but were able to use a modern prepared curry paste as apparently in Victorian times cooks were faced with a bewildering array of proprietary curry pastes.  As my pantry seems to have an equally bewildering array, I just chose the first one that came to hand. The major ingredient listed for this curry paste is "spices", so I am none the wiser about its major components.

Proportions in the original recipe were a bit obscure, though they did call for two heads of celery and three onions. I used less of the onions and celery and more of the stock, garlic and curry paste. The extra stock and fewer vegetables as well as the fact that I didn't sieve the resultant sauce meant that my sauce was quite light.  It tasted very nice, but for the authentic look and taste I should have sieved (or food-processed) the sauce. Maybe next time.  However, the overall exoerience and taste was very pleasant, if not correctly authentic.


750 gr chicken thighs
2 onions
1/2 head of celery
2 cloves garlic
Clove powder
1 tbs flour
2 tbs curry paste
1 litre chicken stock


Melt butter in pan
Chop onions and parsley roughly
Add to butter and stir until coated
Chop parsley and add
Add mace and clove powder
Stir all to combine and continue cooking until the vegetables have softened
Add the curry paste and stir to combine, likewise the flour
Pour over the chicken stock and stir
Bring the mixture to the boil
Meanwhile chop the chicken thighs into bite size pieces
Melt butter in another large pan
Lightly fry the chicken turning regularly until the pieces are sealed
Add the sauce mixture to the chicken and combine
Bring to the boil and along to boil for a short period
Then reduce to a simmer and simmer until all is tender and the flavours are combined.  

Monday, July 11, 2016

Chocolate with almond, ginger and cayenne #FLRoyalFood

While I continue my hunt for stocks of barley for the Week 4 Barley soup experiment, here's another experiment in Georgian chocolate. Although I enjoyed the one I made last week, I really could only drink it as a special treat as I found it so rich.  This one is simpler with fewer flavours and no cream.  It is simply water, chocolate, almond meal, ginger and cayenne.  But what a delicious combination!  The chocolate does have some vanilla and sugar in it so that is part of the mix.  It is certainly a nice mid-morning drink for a chilly Melbourne winter day.


30 gr Lindt 90% chocolate (with sugar and vanilla)
1 tbs almond meal
1/2 tsp chopped ginger root
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 cup boiling water


Place the almond meal in a small dish
Add chopped ginger root
Sprinkle with cayenne
Stir to combine and leave to absorb flavours
Break the chocolote into pieces and set aside
Boil the water in a briki and turn down the heat
Add chocolate and stir until dissolved
Add the almond meal mixture
Stir to combine well
Whisk and pour into a teacup to serve.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Anne's "Georgian" chocolate

My Futurelearn course this week is focusing on the time of George I and one of the topics under discussion has been his personal chocolate maker and the role of chocolate, that exotic import, in royal and palace life. I have many pictures in my mind of languorous women in Georgette Heyer sipping chocolate in their beds of a morning, albeit maybe in the time of a later George.

Chocolate was often mixed with wine or port to make a drink and we were shown a demonstration of how to make that.  However, I explored a bit further and found various recipes made with water and/or milk (rather than alcohol) and spices.  I particularly liked one where the sugar was first soaked in rosewater. There are also examples of spices like cardomon and cayenne being used, and I may try a combination like that another time.

So this is just one I came up with as a result of my reading and using, on a whole, things I had in the house.  I did buy some chocolate! I got a Lindt 90% cocoa which had sugar and vanilla in it, so I didn't add sugar as would normally have been done in the time of George I. And I made it with a combination of water, rosewater and cream as I don't like milk. I used aniseed essence, but you could make it with ouzo though I doubt that it was drunk at the court of George I. I made it in my briki, but you could do it in a saucepan. Enjoy!


30 gr Lindt 90% chocolate (with sugar and vanilla)
2 tbs almond meal
1 tsp aniseed essence
2 tbs rosewater
1 cup boiling water
2 tbs thick cream


Place the almond meal in a small dish
Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg
Add aniseed essence and rosewater
Stir to combine and leave to absorb flavours
Break the chocolote into pieces and set aside
Boil the water in a briki and turn down the heat
Add chocolate and stir until dissolved
Add the almond meal mixture and stir
Add the cream  and combine well
Whisk and pour into a teacup to serve.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

"Elizabethan" vegetable tarte

A couple of days ago, I blogged about an Elizabethan pea tarte which I made for my current Futurelearn course. Whilst I liked the outcome, I have since reflected on what worked or didn't work and how it might be improved.  In this case, I chose to use a mixture of vegetables.  I put the vegetables (apart from the peas into the microwave at full pelt for one minute.  If you don't want to use a microwave you could steam them briefly.

I chose not to microwave the peas this time as I felt with the other recipe that modern frozen baby peas simply didn't need the extra cooking. So next time I make the pea tarte I won't do pre-cooking of the peas. I also chose this time to add the verjuice to the vegetables at the beginning and to have a closed pastry top and not to do two stages of cooking.  I found that this worked well and the vegetables probably stayed a bit moister.  But maybe this is my modern taste speaking.


Sweet potato
Green peas frozen
Unsalted butter
Puff pastry


Preheat oven to 180c
If pastry frozen, remove to thaw
Slice sweet potato into fairly thin rounds
Break cauliflower into small flowerlets
Place cauliflower and sweet potato in souffle dishes
Sprinkle with pepper, cayenne and cummin
Place in microwave for one minute
Remove from microwave and add frozen peas
Add about 2 tsp sweet i.e. unsalted butter to each dish
Sprinkle verjuice into each dish
Cut the pastry into size for each dish

Place the pastry on the top of each souffle dish
Cook in the oven for 45 minutes


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