It feels like food has been an important part of my family for as long as I can remember. While most kids were in the backyard sandpit, I was more often than not on the floor of my parents' fish and chip shop, being pulled away to lend a hand. Work ethic and food was never in doubt.
- 1 bunch spring onions, finely chopped
- 50 g butter
- 50 ml olive oil
- 1 bunch silverbeet, washed and chopped
- 100 g great-quality feta (I like Over The Moon)
- 50 g Kefalograviera (or haloumi if you can’t find any), grated
- 5 eggs, lightly beaten
- 8 sheets brik pastry
- 1 egg, beaten
- 5 litres canola oil
- 300 g veal mince
- 1 cup mint, finely chopped
- 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 large brown onion, grated
- 4 large ripe tomatoes, grated
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 400 ml canola oil, for shallow-frying
- 300 g stale white bread, crusts removed
- 1 x 100 g can white tarama (salted, cured cod roe, available from most good delis)
- ¼ brown onion, roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- juice of 2 lemons
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 cup olive oil
- ground white pepper, to taste
- 1 cup water
- 3 small Lebanese cucumbers
- 6 pieces of fresh pita bread
- 200 g Kalamata olives
- handful of small, ripe tomatoes
- good-quality olive oil
- a good few dollops of Greek yoghurt
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the mini spanakopita, in a large saucepan on a medium heat, lightly sauté the spring onion in the butter and olive oil until soft. Add in the silverbeet and cover the pan with a lid. Once the mixture has reduced by half, remove the pan from the heat, add the cheeses, eggs and freshly ground pepper to taste. Give everything a stir and set aside to cool.
Heat the canola oil to 180°C in a deep-fryer or a heavy-based pot. Take a sheet of brik pastry and place it onto a clean, damp tea towel. Brush the surface with a little beaten egg and then spoon a little of the mixture down the centre of the pastry sheet. Fold in the ends and roll the pastry like a cigar. Set aside on a tray in the freezer, and repeat until all of the pastry has been used. Freeze these filled pastry cigars for around 10 minutes prior to frying. Fry the cigars for about 2 minutes or until golden-brown and drain on paper towel.
To make the keftedes, in a large mixing bowl, combine the mince, mint, parsley and grated onion and tomato, along with a good pinch of salt and pepper.Add about half a cup of water to the mix and then a ¼ cup of flour.
Mix thoroughly. You can add a little more water or a little more flour depending on the texture of the mix – it should be slightly wet in the hand, but not sloppy. Form small, bite-sized patties and set aside until ready to cook.
To a heavy-based frying pan on a medium to high heat, add some canola oil and fry the patties for 2 minutes each side or until dark brown. Don’t be scared of the mix going crispy – this adds a lovely texture to the keftedes.
Best eaten with Greek yoghurt (naturally!), these are fantastic consumed cold the next day.
To make the taramosalata, briefly soak the bread in water and gently squeeze out excess liquid. Blitz the tarama, onion, garlic and softened bread in a blender. Add in most of the lemon juice and half of the oil and a good pinch of white pepper. Blitz again on a slow speed. Gradually add the rest of the oil, until smooth. Taste for seasoning, adding lemon or pepper as needed.
To serve, peel the cucumbers, quarter lengthwise and season with salt flakes. Serve the mini spanakopita, keftedes and taramasalata on a big platter with fresh pita bread, olives, halved tomatoes, cucumber and yoghurt. Drizzle the lot with olive oil, salt and ground pepper.
Oh – and don’t forget the ouzo!
Recipe and image from The Great Australian Cook by Helen Greenwood & Melissa Leong (Five Mile Press) $49.99 available now.