Turkish-style bread topped with lamb, spices and pine nuts

Serves: 4 – 6

This is really special, really easy street-food, perfect for a Saturday afternoon when friends come round.

The lamb mince can be prepared ahead of time meaning you only have the dough to do as people start walking through the door. Of course, when they see that you have made your own dough, they’ll know something clever is coming.

They’ll also think you’re a genius.

The taste – and the heat – is classic Middle Eastern.

And goes to show that the simplest things really can be the best.

Ingredients

175gm Greek feta, coarsely grated
250gm minced lamb
3 long red chillies, chilli and seeds coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 tsp cumin seed, dry-roasted and and finely ground in a mortar and pestle

Flatbreads

1/2 tsp dried yeast
2 1/2 cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting

To serve

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Toasted pine nuts
Thinly sliced mint
Pickled long green chillies

Method

  1. For the flatbreads, dissolve the yeast in 300ml of lukewarm water.
  2. Combine flour and a large pinch of salt in an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the yeast mixture and knead until a soft dough forms. Around 6 – 8 minutes.
  3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 6 balls. Place balls on a floured tray, leaving 10cm between each and set aside for 1 hour to prove.
  4. Preheat the oven to 250c. Combine the lamb, chilli, garlic and cumin in a bowl. Roll out dough to 5mm-thick rounds on a lightly floured surface, then even top with the lamb mixture, leaving a small border. Transfer to oven trays lined with baking paper, drizzle with olive oil and bake (in batches if necessary) until crisp at the edges but soft in the center. Around 15 minutes.
  5. Serve scattered with pine nuts, mint and pickled chillies at the side.

Prawn Börek

Makes: 8

Lordy.

These little numbers are absolutely incredible; like two-hat Middle Eastern incredible.

The egg, the melted cheeses, the prawns and especially the heat from the chilli. And then the nigella seeds.

I cannot overstate the importance of trying these at home as part of a bigger Middle Eastern feast.

You’ll smirk as you present them, comfortable that all remaining courses will be in your shadow with another family cook-off comfortably won by you.

Amazing.

(The original recipe from the wonderful Gourmet Traveller with only a few minor changes from me.)

Ingredients

6 large uncooked king prawns, peeled, deveined and finely chopped
100gm haloumi, finely grated
100gm Greek sheep’s feta, finely grated
2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp isot pepper*
2 egg yolks
8 filo pastry sheets
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
Melted butter
1 tsp nigella seeds**

Method

  1. Combine prawns with cheeses, parsley and isot pepper, then fold through the egg yolks.
  2. Take a sheet of filo pastry, brush butter on one half lengthways and then fold the filo in half lengthways. Place 2 tbsp of filling at one end, then fold o corner of pastry over filling to form a triangle. Repeat folding from side-to-side in a triangle shape until there is one fold left. Brush with butter and make the last fold, pressing to seal the triangle. Trim any excess overhanging pastry.
  3. Repeat for the remaining pastries and refrigerate for 1 hour uncovered to dry.
  4. Heat oil in a large deep saucepan to 180c. Deep fry the börek in batches, turning occasionally until golden and cooked through: 3 – 4 minutes.
  5. Drain on paper towels, spring with nigella seeds and serve.

* Substitute chilli flakes.
** Substitute cumin seeds.

Tobie Puttock’s Spiced Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki

Serves: 4

We have cooked a number of dishes from Tobie and Georgia Puttock’s The Chef Gets Healthy and we have never been let down.

I wouldn’t crash-diet on the book a week before your wedding because all of the recipes remain wholesome: more like the Chef Gets Healthier.

Though this is the appeal to me.

You’re eating great food that is easy to prepare and throw in a good walk with the dogs before dinner like we do and it’s almost as if you didn’t have dinner at all.

These particular lamb burgers are great: we dialed up the chilli which is a must and then doubled the recipe so we had more burgers for lunch.

Save time by buying a good Tzatziki rather than making it, get the leashes on the dogs and enjoy a cracking, healthy-ish mid-week meal.

Come to think of it, you could probably have a wine or two with dinner as well and still not look back.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbsp dried mint leaves
500gm minced lamb
Small handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Small handful of dill, roughly chopped
1 egg, lightly whisked
100gm reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Tzatziki to serve

Method

  1. Heat the olive in a small frying pan over a medium-heat, add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes, until slightly softened though not coloured. Stir in the allspice, coriander, cumin, chilli flakes and mint leaves and cook for a further minute or so.
  2. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Place the lamb in a large bowl and add the cooled onion mixture, parsley, dill, egg, feta, salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix everything well.
  4. Shape the mixture into four patties, place on a tray and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  5. Preheat a grill plat or fry pan on high. Drizzle with a small amount of oil and cook the patties for 3 – 4 minutes each side or until just cooked through.
  6. Serve the burgers with a dollop of Tzatziki and this Roast Cauliflower with Chickpea Salad.

Spinach and Feta Chicken Sausage

Serves: 4 – 6

If you have a Kitchenaid mixer, do yourself a favour and get the mincer and sausage stuffer accessory.

Because homemade sausages are a win on all levels.

They’re fun to make and you can involve the kids. You know what is going into your sausage; and what isn’t going into your sausage: snouts, sawdust, car parts.

And suffice to say, you can make some pretty crazy, pretty amazing sausages.

Nobody doesn’t love sausages. Master one of the greatest food types there is and never look back.

Ingredients

1.5kg chicken breast, chopped
280gm frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp marjoram
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp fine ground black pepper
2 tbsp minced fresh garlic

Method

  1. Combine, mince and stuff.

Spinach and feta muffins

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With some melted butter, served warm? Heaven.

Spinach and feta muffins

Serves: 12 – 15 muffins

The boys have loved these muffins ever since Oliver – and then Tom – were capable of eating muffins.

Until last weekend however, it has been awhile since I’ve cooked a batch.

The good news is that good things never change and the boys were just as enamoured with them as they were the first time they had them; warm with some butter and they are literally savoury heaven.

They’re great the next day either and tick all the boxes as a healthy, filling, lunch-box treat.

And they certainly aren’t just for kids.

Try them and enjoy.

Though do yourself a favour and have at least one warm with butter.

Ingredients

Canola oil/spray, to grease
2 ½ cups self-raising flour
250g chopped baby spinach
150g low-fat feta, crumbled
½ cup chopped semi-dried tomatoes
2 tbsp finely grated parmesan + 2tbsp to sprinkle
330ml (1 ⅓ cups) milk
90g butter, melted
1 egg
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Brush/spray 12 muffin pans with canola oil to lightly grease
  2. Sift the flour into a bowl. Add shredded spinach, feta, tomatoes and parmesan and stir to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, using a fork, whisk together the milk, butter, egg and dill until well combined, Add milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir gently until just combined.
  4. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin pans. Sprinkle with extra parmesan and bake for 20 – 30 minutes until golden and cooked. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

 

Cucumber and Feta Dip

Serves: 8 snacking guests

There is something special about arriving at someone’s house and being presented with a few homemade dips. It says something nice about your host and it tells you how they feel about you.

I’ve been making my own skinny hommus of late, though I really should get into the habit of making more and more dips; a few dips on hand and a box of chopped carrot sticks in the fridge would be all I needed to bridge the lunch to dinner gap and it would be far more interesting than a boiled egg or an apple!

This wonderful dip is courtesy of my mother. I made it over the weekend with low-fat feta and geez it’s good with brown rice crackers and a glass of wine before dinner.

Get on it! Make your guests feel special!

Ingredients

2 large Lebanese cucumbers, peeled, deseeded and finely diced
Salt and pepper
225gm feta, crumbled
1/8 + cup olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp water
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 tbsp finely chopped mint

  1. Place the diced cucumber in a colander, sprinkle with salt, allow to drain for 30 + minutes, and then rinse and pat dry.
  2. Mash together the feta, olive oil, lemon juice, water and some pepper, and then mix in the cucumber, onion and herbs.