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’.

Mini Quiches

These delicious quiches are perfect for picnics, high-teas or parties. Here I’ve provided the recipe for cheese & bacon mini quiches, which are probably the biggest crowd pleaser, but you can add anything you’d like to your quiches – I love spinach and semi-dried tomato as a vegetarian option.

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Ingredients (makes 36)
2 sheets puff pastry
5 rashers shortcut bacon, with fat removed
185g shredded cheese
3 eggs
½ cup thickened cream

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Method
Defrost pastry sheets at room temperature for approximately 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 190°C fan-forced. Spray three 12-hole round-bottomed patty-pan/yorkshire pudding pans (see picture below) with cooking oil. Otherwise, muffin pans will work fine but you may need to adjust the size of your pastry rounds.

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Image Credit: Amazon.com

Dice bacon into 1cm squares. Cook until crispy (I tend to be lazy and use the microwave, but by all means cook in a frypan).

Once pastry has defrosted, cut out rounds with a 6cm cutter and press into prepared pans.

Divide bacon pieces evenly among quiche bases. Top with approximately 1 teaspoon of cheese per quiche.

Whisk together eggs and cream in a small bowl. Transfer into a small jug for easy pouring. Pour approximately half a tablespoon of egg mixture into each quiche base.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Let the quiches cool for 2 minutes in pans, then transfer to wire cooling racks.

Quiches can be served warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

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NB: Quiches keep for 1-2 days in an airtight container in the fridge, but are best eaten on the day they’re made so the pastry is crisp.

Recipe from my Mum, Anne Bills.

Quick & Easy Indian Flatbread (Roti)

This recipe really gets a workout in our household because 1. we love Indian food, 2. we especially love having it with bread to soak up all the curry sauce deliciousness, & 3. this recipe is incredibly quick, easy & non-scary as it doesn’t involve yeast. We make rotis particularly when having butter chicken, but it’s great with all kind of curries. Thankfully, it only takes about 15-20 minutes from start to finish so is perfect for while your curry is simmering away.

It also travels really well as I discovered last week when we took butter chicken & rotis over to my grandparents’ house for dinner (see pic below), and will keep in cling wrap at room temperature for a couple of days (perfect for any leftover curry!)

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Ingredients (makes 12 rotis)
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
200ml water

Method
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, salt, water and oil until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a flat, floured surface and knead until smooth and pliable (around 10 minutes).

Preheat frying pan on medium-high heat.

Divide the dough into 12 equal parts, form into rounds and then roll each out to 15-20cm rounds with a rolling pin.

Cook the roti for about a minute on each side, or until it has some dark brown spots on each side. Serve warm.

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Recipe adapted from ‘allrecipes.com.au’.