Spinach, Leek and Feta Tart

This savoury tart is a delicious and easy way to eat your greens. I always associate it with spring picnics (which it is perfect for!) but it is also a great midweek meal or work/school lunch.

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Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
200g Greek feta, crumbled
1 leek
20g butter
160g baby spinach leaves
½ cup sour cream
½ cup thickened cream
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons shredded basil leaves
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

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Method
Preheat oven to 200ºC. Cut the leek in half and thinly slice the white and pale green part to achieve 1 cup full.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and lightly sauté the leek over a medium heat for 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add spinach to the saucepan, cover and cook until wilted. Take off the heat and then press leaves into a strainer to remove excess moisture.

In a bowl, combine sour cream, cream and eggs. Add the feta, leek, spinach and basil. Stir will and season to taste.

Line a non-stick rectangular quiche pan (35cm x 13cm) with the two pieces of pastry, overlapping slightly, and gently push the pieces together in the middle to seal the pastry case. Trim excess pastry. Lightly prick the pastry base with a fork and place the quiche pan onto an oven tray.

Bake the pastry case for 50-10mins until it has started to colour and puff.

Pour in prepared filling and bake for 30-35mins until firm and golden in the centre.

Remove from baking tray and allow to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy!

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Adapted from Baker’s Secret

Bacon, Caramelised Onion & Thyme Piroshki

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Piroshki (also known as pirozhki or pyrizhky), literally translating to ‘small pie’, are individual-sized buns with either a sweet or savoury filling. There are many variants of piroshki across Eastern Europe, but this recipe most closely resembles the Russian version. These piroshki are baked rather than fried and stuffed with the dreamy combination of bacon, caramelised onion and thyme. We usually serve these as hors d’oeuvres but they are great for lunches and picnics as they are easily transportable and don’t make a mess.

While they do take time and effort to make, they more than make up for it in terms of flavour and I find the baking process is very rewarding. There’s something so satisfying about making things from scratch and I’m always left feeling very self-righteous (plus who doesn’t love kneading dough? So fun and therapeutic). Next time you have a free afternoon, try making a batch – your tastebuds will definitely thank you for it!

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Ingredients (makes 35-40)
60g fresh yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
315ml lukewarm milk
375g plain flour
Salt & pepper
125g melted butter
3 large brown onions, chopped
55g butter, extra
250g bacon
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 egg, beaten

Method
Combine the yeast and sugar; stir in the milk.

In a large bowl, mix flour and 2 teaspoons salt and make a well in the centre. Pour the yeast mixture and the melted butter into the centre. Beat well for 3 minutes until a smooth batter is formed. Cover with Gladwrap and leave in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Gently cook onions in extra butter until golden. Chop bacon finely and add to the onions along with a teaspoon of pepper and the thyme leaves.

Knead the risen dough lightly and then divide into 35 to 40 portions. Wrap a teaspoon of the bacon filling into each portion of the dough. Allow the buns to prove in a warm place on greased trays for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 230°C.

Brush each bun with egg and bake in the prepared oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Hors D’Oeuvres (1988) by June Budgen.

Parmesan and Fennel Seed Biscuits

These crumbly, flavoursome biscuits are perfect for entertaining. Try them on a cheese platter or serve by themselves with a good red wine. Delicious!

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Ingredients (makes ~35 medium stars)
120g parmesan cheese, roughly chopped
1 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon cornflour
150g cold butter, chopped
2⅓ teaspoons fennel seeds, plus extra for decoration
1 tablespoon milk, plus extra for brushing

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Blitz the parmesan in a food processor until finely grated. Add flour and cornflour and process until combined. With the motor running, add the butter and blitz until fine crumbs form. Add fennel seeds and milk and blitz until a dough forms.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 20 seconds. Cover dough in Gladwrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C (~160°C fan-forced). Line 3 baking trays with baking paper.

Roll dough out with a rolling pin until approximately 5mm thick. Cut out medium stars (or other shape of your choosing) and place on prepared trays. Brush each biscuit with a small amount of milk and sprinkle with extra fennel seeds.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Enjoy!

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Adapted from Donna Hay’s ‘Fennel and Parmesan Biscuits’.