Impromptu Guacamole.

27 Sep

When making my trip to the local supermarket, I intended to leave only with a bag of self-raising flour, a block of dark chocolate and an onion (don’t get too excited here – some of my recipes may be weird but that’s just pushing it) but fate, or a large sign advertising cheap food, instead led me to an enormous bucket of overripe avocados.

Normally I’m afraid of even going near avocados at the supermarket. I worry I’ll do something completely irrational – like buying one. Lately I’ve only ever seen them hovering around the $3-4 per unit mark and have subsequently avoided them so as to prevent any outlandish spending. But today, these little green beauties were only 99c each. Yeah, you heard right.

I bought three with the intention of savouring them over a few days but as I got home, remembered I had a friend to entertain tonight. I grabbed whatever we had on hand (and, although sacrilegious, used white vinegar instead of lime) and whipped up some very basic, but very delicious, guacamole.

To me, nothing gets a party started better than a giant bowl of guacamole goodness. But clearly I need to get out more.

Guacamole.

Guacamole

Serves 2-3

2 large ripe avocados

1 TBSP mayonnaise (preferable good quality whole-egg – that sugary stuff is just weird)

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 TBSP white vinegar

salt and pepper

* You can add fresh coriander, garlic and tomato to this to make it more authentic. You can also use sour cream instead of mayonnaise – I just didn’t have any lying around.

1. Scoop out the flesh of the avocados and place in a large bowl.

2. Add the mayonnaise, chilli and vinegar and mash to combine.

3. Season well with salt and pepper.

4. Serve.

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The Soup Strikes Back.

20 Sep

Following my flatmate’s bout of food poisoning (to me, minor; to her, ghastly), I was forced to forgo making a rich lasagna for dinner and instead replace it with something a little less heavy and a little easier to digest.

The brief was that it couldn’t require much effort on her part, had to involve a broth and absolutely had to contain glass noodles. The answer here was obvious: I’ve already hammered on about the healing properties of soup, and what better way to really rehash a tired argument than to blog about it again?

This time around, the soup was light and fragrant and filled with fresh ingredients. The chicken remained tender and moist and the bok choy added a nice dose of clean, natural flavour. If possible, I much prefer using fresh vegetables over tinned or even frozen. There’s something invigorating about eating pure and wholesome vegetables that you can’t really emulate in a cylindrical piece of aluminum or a plastic bag. Buy in season and, if you live near one, buy from a fruit and vegetable market, such as Paddy’s in Sydney. You save money this way and also get the most bang for your hard-earned buck in terms of freshness and flavour.

The use of fresh vegetables also really ups the healing ante with the addition of extra vitamins and minerals. It was the perfect antidote to my flatmate’s ailments and the best way to silence her cries of pain (admittedly only for a lowly ten minutes) as she noisily slurped it down.

Chicken, Noodle and Bok Choy Soup.

Chicken, Noodle and Bok Choy Soup

Serves 4

4 chicken drumsticks

1.5L chicken stock

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 tsp powdered ginger

200g dried rice sticks (also known as rice noodles)

1 bunch bok choy, washed and roughly chopped

pepper, to taste

1. Place the stock and the chicken drumsticks into a large pot and bring to the boil.

2. Reduce to a simmer and add the soy sauce, ginger and pepper.

3. Simmer on medium heat for around 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Pull a piece out and cut open to check.

4. Add the rice noodles, cover with the soup stock and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the noodles are cooked through.

5. Add the chopped bok choy and cook for another 5 minutes.

6. Check the seasoning and add more soy sauce accordingly.

7. Remove from the heat and ladle into bowls to serve.

* If you so desire, you can shred the chicken off the bones after they’re cooked and re-add it. Much to my flatmate’s embarrassment, I’m an infamous bone-gnawer and prefer to keep it on.

Ain’t Nuffin’ Bad about a Muffin.

11 Sep

I’ll admit that I’ve got a bit of a shopping addiction. I buy clothes I really don’t need (and half the time like), lip balms to add to my collection of thousands, food that I’ll never get around to eating and other things which I really can’t explain. Such as the miniature plastic skeleton currently sitting in my top drawer.

But cookbooks are the one thing that I know won’t go to waste. The most recent addition to my ever-expanding collection is the Muffin Bible by Penguin Books. It’s a cute little compendium containing simple and easy-to-follow recipes for all kinds of muffins, from healthy Oat & Orange to OTT-dessert-disguised-as-a-muffin-which-makes-it-seem-OK Self-Saucing Chocolate ones. The recipes only contain a few ingredients, making them ideal for a quick baking jaunt during study breaks. Or, if you’re anything like me, a fantastic replacement for study altogether.

The Muffin Bible.

I bought this book on a whim, with a huge craving for muffins. I wanted something easy and cheap, preferably using ingredients we already had. My criteria led me to the Strawberry Muffins which only required the extra purchase of strawberries. Flour, eggs, milk and its various other, very basic, constituents were sitting in the cupboard at home.

The muffins are wonderfully moist, with the strawberries becoming almost jammy in texture and taste. We used fresh ones (see sidebar), but tinned could easily work. The muffin itself is heavy with cinnamon, a delicious companion to strawberries, and not too sweet. For this reason it could almost pass as being in the same category as the aforementioned Oat & Orange. Well, at least that’s what I’m now telling myself after devouring three.

Strawberry Muffins.

Strawberry Muffins

Makes 12

3 cups plain flour

1/2 cup raw sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 TBSP baking powder (I used 1 TBSP of bi-carb soda and they were fine)

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

125g butter, melted and cooled slightly

3 eggs

1 cup milk

1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries

1. Preheat the oven to 200C and grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, baking powder and cinnamon.

3. In a separate bowl mix together the butter, eggs and milk.

4. Add to the dry ingredients and then fold in the berries. When making muffins it’s important not to over mix the batter. You don’t want the wet and dry ingredients to be completely mixed in; lumps of flour are a good sign. Don’t be scared.

5. Spoon the batter into the tin and bake for 20 minutes.

6. Serve hot or cold.

Big Quiches in Little Paris.

6 Sep

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – buttery pastry makes the world go round. Actually, come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever uttered these words. But fear not, dear friends, for the aforementioned statement is not an entire lie. I now have reason to say that, in fact, the annual complete revolution of the earth on which we live is only possible due to flaky, rich and sumptuous puff pastry making it so.

A while ago, a dear friend of mine told me about a little patisserie that has recently opened on Glebe Point Road, Glebe, with the promise of taking me there to try its delicious wares. Unfortunately various aspects of life got in the way and it wasn’t until last week (some three months later) that we finally got to go, along with another friend and fellow blogger, Eliza.

We all agreed that a patisserie was exactly what Glebe was screaming out for – sure, there are a few bread shops along its main strip, but nothing like the little piece of French cuteness that is La Banette. I believe the flagship store is in Avalon – in other words, a very distant trek – making a second shop a fantastic idea.

The adorable exterior of the shop.

Upon entering La Banette, we noticed the lack of dining space. My laptop became a makeshift table as we huddled around it on little benches. I’d estimate there’s seating for about six or seven people so advise takeaway or coming during off peak times.

However this was all remedied as we were struck by the awe-inspiring abundance of assorted sweets, cakes and pastries. There are the usual options like croissants (and its many varieties), lemon meringue tarts and eclairs but there are also a few less well-known additions: a creme caramel tart, different types of meringues and sweet brioche. Savoury options included rustic-looking sausage rolls, pies and quiches. There’s also loaves of bread which, although a little more pricey than your average loaf of Tip Top, are surprisingly affordable in comparison to those at other bakehouses.

The delicious display.

We decided sharing was the best option – more variety with less of that guilty feeling after devouring the whole thing on your own. And it makes it cheaper.

The quiches looked too good to pass up so we settled on spinach & bacon and Provencale (mixed vegetable) at $5 each. The pastry used for both was golden, buttery and absolutely exquisite. I would go as far as saying it’s the best I’ve ever had and without a doubt enough to make both the earth and my head spin. The top was crunchy and flaky, as it should be, whilst the bottom remained soft and smooth without being soggy. They were each enormous, too, making them wonderful value for money.

Spinach and bacon quiche.

The spinach and bacon quiche was my favourite – the saltiness of the bacon contrasted nicely with the mellow taste of spinach. The egg, cream and cheese mixture inside the quiche was perfectly silky and even good enough to change an egg-hater’s mind. Part of me regretted agreeing to share as I realised I could happily consume the entire thing.

Provencale (mixed vegetable) quiche.

The Provencale (mixed vegetable) quiche was also quite tasty and equally as superb in its pastry and egg-mixture qualities. It contained a generous mix of vegetables with tomato, red capsicum, zucchini and more spinach making an appearance. Sadly this one had been put in to reheat just as we arrived and, through obviously not wanting to make us wait too long, it was pulled out a bit prematurely. The inside was cold, making it a little less satisfying than the first.

Raspberry meringues.

A trio of creme caramel tart, almond meringue and cherry and almond tart.

We umm-ed and aah-ed extensively while trying to choose dessert. The range of options was enormous and having three different palates to satisfy made the job even harder. We decided on the slightly unusual creme caramel tart and almond meringue as well as the more common cherry and almond tart.

The meringue was unlike any other I’ve had before – the timeworn variety is usually a crunchy and tasteless mound that shatters upon first bite, but this one was a far cry from familiarity. The outside was still brittle and delicate and produced a few crumbs, but the inside was soft, fluffy and chewy. The flavour was a nice and subtle hint of almond.

The cherry and almond tart was pleasant, with fat bursts of slightly sour cherry punctuating the sweet almond meal base. It was nothing I hadn’t tried before but was still a satisfying sweet hit.

The creme caramel tart was the star of the dessert show – a plump and supple creme caramel atop yet another perfect pastry base. In between the two was the odd, yet surprisingly scrumptious, addition of a thin layer of sponge soaked in some kind of rose-flavoured syrup. I never would have though to pair rose with creme caramel but it worked oh so well – the floral sweetness of rose had a wonderful aftertaste.

Many apologies but I failed to write down the prices of the desserts. Most were in the $4 – 4.50 range, with the exception of the meringues and the mini-desserts (smaller versions of the originals) which started at around $1.20. When I visit again (which I undoubtedly will) I’ll find exact prices.

In total, though, we paid $18 amongst three of us. Only $6 for a tasting menu of both sweet and savoury delights and the best pastry you’ll ever try? If that’s not enough to convince you, do it for the sake of earth.

La Banette Patisserie

18 Glebe Point Road, Glebe

Ph: 02 8095 9688

Seriously Simple Soup.

30 Aug

When times get tough, soup is what’s called for. It’s nourishing, nutritional and tasty (I searched desperately for a synonym for ‘tasty’ starting with ‘n’ to keep the alliterative ball rolling but only thought of ‘nommy’, which probably doesn’t even exist and, if it did, would just be plain ridiculous. But anyway). There’s something comforting in a bowl of hot soup. Memories of bad days and general teen angst are brought back by the only cure all: my mother’s chicken and vegetable soup. Potato soup will forever remind me of my Ukrainian grandmother. Pumpkin soup will always conjure up the first time I made soup myself, as a naive 12-year-old who thought adding cheese was a good idea.

Following the bake-a-thon, which proved to be fantastically therapeutic, I decided to up the healing ante and make some chicken and corn soup for my dear flatmate. Admittedly I’ve always been wary of the stuff – finding the varieties available at local Chinese restaurants strangely comparable to glue. An excess of corn flour (and Lord knows what else) means I’m always left with that claggy mouth feeling and a bowl of unfinished gloop. But I decided to persevere, if only for the sake of household peace.

Searching through recipes for the soup, I was saddened to find that most of them contain bacon, shallots, sesame oil, ginger and chicken breast – things that, sure, probably make the dish undoubtedly delicious, but things that I certainly can’t afford for one lowly meal.

So we KISSed – and for all of you that know us, no, this does not put to rest those rumours – by Keeping It Simple, Stupid. We omitted pretty much everything and made it a very basic, but nevertheless flavoursome, dish. By all means add the aforementioned ingredients to make it even better but, if the only thing at your disposal is a few tins of corn and some low-grade meat, go with my option.

Chicken and Corn Soup.

Chicken and Corn Soup

Serves 2

2 chicken legs

1 400g tin of corn kernels

1 400g tin of creamed corn

2 cups of chicken stock

1 TBSP soy sauce

1/2 tsp ginger powder (optional)

2 eggs (optional)

salt and pepper

1. Place the chicken legs on a roasting tray and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Roast them for around 30 minutes in a 200C oven, turning occasionally for even browning.

3. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

4. In a large pot, place the corn kernels, creamed corn and chicken stock.

5. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.

6. Add the soy sauce and ginger powder and season to taste.

7. Using your fingers, tear the meat off the chicken legs and add to the soup.

8. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes and then remove from heat.

9. Ladle into bowls and stir an egg through each one.

Let’s Toast to the Roast.

24 Aug

Nothing beats a good roast dinner. It covers all the major food groups (protein, carbohydrate, vegetable… sometimes) and tastes utterly delicious. It’s easy to prepare, doesn’t require loads of time devoted to it and, best of all, stretches for days with leftovers. Beef can be used for sandwiches, stews and stocks; lamb for, well, the same; and chicken for all of the above as well as pasta and salads. The roast really is the best all rounder.

There are so many different flavour options when roasting meat. You can go Moroccan or Indian with spicy marinades and rubs, Italian with herbs like basil and oregano, French with garlic or tarragon, or Australian with funky brown lacquer and bready stuffing. But I like to keep it simple with garlic, lemon, salt and pepper. Again, the roast’s diversity makes it an almost perfect meal.

Now when purchasing your chosen meat, don’t be daunted by the seemingly expensive price tag. Sure, the meat might set you back 10 to 20 dollars, but when considering its long life and versatility, it really is worth it. You can always pick up meat on special and, if you’re really desperate, buy one of those two-chickens-for-5-dollars deals. I did once, and, although they were tiny and the meat almost non-existant, bar the chewy scraps found on the thighs, they managed to satisfy my roast craving.

But do go for the best you can afford. On this particular instance, we were lucky enough to have two other people putting in for the chicken and decided to go free range. The quality of the meat is considerably better – producing a more tasty and moist end result. It’s also a more ethical, chicken-friendly way to go.

As a side note, I apologise for the retro, ’70s era-looking photo. Fixing up the effects of bad fluro lighting is quite hard.

Retro Garlic and Lemon Roasted Chicken.

Garlic and Lemon Roast Chicken with Herbed Potatoes

500g potatoes, washed and chopped into quarters

2 TBSP olive oil

1 TBSP dried mixed herbs

1 medium-size whole chicken

1/2 a lemon

7 cloves of garlic

50g butter

salt and pepper

1. Fill a medium saucepan with cold water and add the potatoes.

2. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer, covering the saucepan with a lid.

3. Once the potatoes are almost fully cooked (there should still be some resistance when pierced with a fork), remove from the heat and drain.

4. Place back in the saucepan with the olive oil and herbs and season well with salt and pepper.

5. With the lid on, shake the saucepan around to coat the potatoes. This will also give them a rough surface for roasting, which produces a crisper exterior. But seriously, make sure you hold on tight to that lid. A hot potato to the face can hurt.

6. Preheat the oven to 200C.

7. Place the chicken in a roasting pan and squeeze the lemon juice all over it.

8. Place the squeezed lemon inside the cavity, along with the cloves of garlic.

9. Peel back the skin on top of the breast and stuff half the butter down each side. Basically the butter will be between the skin and the meat.

10. Rub the remaining butter all over the chicken. As well as producing a nice crisp skin, it’s very therapeutic.

11. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

12. Scatter the potatoes around the chicken and place in the oven.

13. Roast for around 45 minutes to an hour, or until the skin browns and the potatoes are crisp.

14. Serve.

Bake Away Your Blues.

16 Aug

I get emotional a lot. No, don’t worry. This won’t be a rant about the perils of student living and the amount of work it seems to take to keep things afloat – uni work, work work, social work (and not the kind that benefits society), love work and all that other mundane work – but I just thought I’d establish that sometimes life gets too much.

I could take the easy way out and drop out of uni, waste glorious amounts of time and eat myself stupid, whilst being a full time blogger that earns zilch from her craft but does it anyway to entertain her one reader – but that doesn’t seem all too far removed from what I do already. And there’s an easier way to do away with student blues.

I know I’ve harped on about it before but I’ll torture you all and do so again.To me the best way to distract myself from all that’s gettin’ me down is to bake my little heart out.

Today I had a strong urge to make choc chip cookies. There’s something nostalgic and cheerful about them that is the perfect antidote to, well, life. Most recipes call for actual chocolate chips but a look at the price of even the smallest packet was a very rude awakening. To me they’re poor value for money unless you buy a generic brand, which I’m often wary of. So instead I say take the cheaper way out and buy a large block of chocolate. Not only is it more affordable, you can also get a bit of variety to spice up your biscuits – hazelnuts, almonds, and other types of nuts make wonderful additions.

Following my bake-a-thon my emotions are a little more stable. The therapeutic nature of baking lies in its rhythmic calm: sifting flour, measuring things and mixing and pouring and licking the bowl. There are no mentions of Foucaultian theories or global economics or the human anatomy. No customers to pester you with ridiculous questions. No drama, no fights, no plot lines to rival a bad daytime soap. The only work involved is easy and makes perfect sense and produces a delicious end result. Not only will you cure your own bout of doom and gloom but you’ll probably make someone else’s day a little sweeter, too. Naw.

Hazelnut Choc Chip Cookies.

Hazelnut Choc Chip Cookies

Makes 20

150g butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla essence

3/4 cup caster sugar

3/4 cup plain flour

1/4 cup corn flour

200g hazelnut milk chocolate (any type of chocolate is fine), roughly chopped into choc chip-sized pieces

1. Preheat oven to 180c/160C fan forced. Grease an oven tray and line it with baking paper.

2. With an electric mixer, beat together butter, vanilla and sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy.

3. Sift the two flours into the butter mix and stir well to combine.

4. Add the chopped chocolate and combine.

5. Using your hands, shape the dough into tablespoon-sized balls and place 5cm apart on tray.

6. With your fingers or with a fork, flatten the balls slightly.

7. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown.

8. Remove from oven and cool on trays.

Heaven for a Choco-Nut.

8 Aug

I love peanut butter and I love chocolate. But what do I love more? The two combined and melted in a thick vat of dark hot chocolate.

Before a few days ago, I didn’t think this combination was possible – instead merely existing in my dreams or, at best, being concocted at home by smearing a piece of chocolate with peanut butter and putting it in the microwave. Pleasant, yes, but nothing compared to my new favourite chocolate beverage. Sorry, Mr. Brenner, your Italian Hot Chocolate is wonderful and amazing and delicious, but this one has the added (and probably unnecessary if we’re talking calories) benefit of a large dose of peanutty goodness.

When dining out with friends who still live at home, often it’s difficult to match them dollar for dollar in terms of menu choices. Most of the time I do, but subsequently forfeit lunch the next day or paying the energy bill on time. I advise against this, as there are many options on most menus that, although maybe not as decadent or elaborate as your friends’ choices, won’t break your credit rating. This hot chocolate is one of them.

At only $6.50 including a chocolate-peanut butter spoon, the San Churro Spanish Hot Chocolate is fantastically affordable. Sure, the average hot chocolate is probably half that, but I find most of them to be disappointing, either too weak (instead deserving the title, ‘hot milk’) or thin and watery. But this one fills all the criteria of a good hot chocolate: it’s thick, sweet and oh so chocolatey. The practically gargantuan cup that they serve it in further ensures that the price is justified, with its bulbous shape allowing a very generous serve.

And now to the spoon. It’s basically a teaspoon of peanut butter covered in chocolate which, if you’re not familiar with this delectable combination, may not sound too exciting, but is definitely something worth trying. I have friends who believe the two should never mix (much like I adamantly believe Surf ‘n’ Turf to be the most unappetising menu option around) but if you haven’t before, do try it. It caters to all tastes with a choice of milk, dark or white chocolate, and can be added to any hot drink. It melts gloriously in the dense hot chocolate, adding to it a tiny hint of nuttiness.

Spanish Hot Chocolate with a Dark Chocolate-Peanut Butter Spoon.

My friend chose the Hot & Cold hot chocolate ($5.90), upon rumours that it was the most amazing thing ever. She wasn’t disappointed by the mix of the same Spanish Hot Chocolate with the addition of white chocolate ice cream. Like my chocolate-peanut butter invention, I’ve tried to combine hot chocolate and ice cream at home, failing rather miserably. Although I didn’t try her choice (I’ll blame the flu season for that), I hear it lived up to those rumours. Her cries of ‘wow’ and the slightly less intelligible ‘gawwwfff’ pretty much said it all.

Another friend had the hazelnut hot chocolate ($5.90) which, she said, tasted strangely like liquorice. Again I didn’t try it (see above) but the smell was enough to tell me it had that they’d maybe gone a little overboard on the artificial hazelnut. Much like almond essence and sesame oil, to me fake hazelnut is something that should be added with caution. Her verdict was that she should have gone with the Hot & Cold, especially after hearing our other friend rave about it in incoherent cries of excitement.

A blurry trio of (from left, clockwise) Hot & Cold, Hazelnut and Spanish Hot Chocolates.

Chocolateria San Churro

47 Glebe Point Road
Glebe NSW 2037
Ph: 02 9692 0119

Monday to Thursday: 10am-11pm
Friday: 10am-Midnight
Saturday: 9am-Midnight
Sunday: 10am-11pm


Tipples for Tight-Asses.

3 Aug

I love a good cocktail. Whether it’s fruity, milky, delightfully refreshing or enough to rival a huge bowl of ice cream, if it’s served with a fancy garnish in an overly ornate glass, I’ll drink it.

Now sadly most cocktails in Sydney cost enough to rival eight bowls of ice cream – and admittedly don’t give you the same sickly satisfaction. I’ve seen them rise even to $25 a pop which is often how much I’ll spend on a month’s worth of alcoholic beverages. As much as I love cocktails, I simply can’t justify their ridiculous price.

But there is hope for the less financially stable among us! Quite a few places do happy hours or student nights where the price of various drinks – often including cocktails – comes down considerably. Two for the price of one deals, half price drinks, buy one get one free… look out for them. They’re definitely worth it. And yes, I realise they’re all the same thing.

My flatmate and I particularly love the $8 cocktails at The Sackville Hotel in Rozelle. The list isn’t as varied as other places I’ve been (there’s a sad lack of the creamy cocktails I love so dearly) but it contains things a little more obscure: gone are the usual mojitos and Cosmos, replaced by the unusual Pear Collins and Russian Gimley. Check out the cocktail list for a comprehensive description of each one.

The night we went, I chose the Berry Jewel, a mix of fresh berries, Bombay sapphire, blueberry liqueur and ginger ale. It wasn’t the best cocktail I’ve ever had – it had a slightly too sour tang which wasn’t tempered by the ale or liqueur. The berries were almost redundant with their lack of flavour and were difficult to drink through a straw. To give it some merit, it was definitely fresh and vibrant and cooling, just a little lacking.

The Berry Jewel.

My flatmate chose a cocktail called ‘Below the Pacific’, a tropical concoction of lychees, passionfruit and pineapple. Hers was the star of the night – sugary sweet and delicious. It was what a cocktail, to me, should be. If I want sourness, I’ll go for beer, but when that hit of sugar is all that’s needed, a cocktail is where it’s at. The mix of passionfruit, lychee and pineapple go so well together and, although I wouldn’t have thought of peach as the ideal match for fruits found in the tropics, it worked really well.

Below the Pacific.

Check out your local – most of them do good discount nights with a decent array of cheap cocktails. It’s a champagne (sort of) lifestyle on a sack wine budget.

The Sackville Hotel

599 Darling St

Rozelle NSW

Ph: 02 9555 7555



The Very Humble Pie.

25 Jul

I liken this pie to a Picnic bar. No, it doesn’t contain chocolate. Nor does it contains caramel, rice crisps or nuts. And OK, it’s not even sweet and, instead of being unquestionably bad for you, it actually contains a good dose of daily vitamins and minerals. You’ll throw my comparison back in my face now and tell me that this pie is nothing like a Picnic bar, but I assure you, dear reader (singular, for I am convinced my flatmate is my only regular), that it certainly is.

It’s ‘Deliciously Ugly’.

For those of you outside of Australia (and you probably aren’t. See previous brackets), this was the slogan attached to the scrumptious yet clearly aesthetically displeasing chocolate bar some years ago.

Look at the photo below and you’ll see, in all honesty, a pretty ugly pie. But don’t be put off by its appearance. In a rare moment of expanding the number of her food-related adjectives from one to two, my flatmate described this pie as ‘very tasty’. I’m not sure and could easily be mistaken, but she may have even slipped in a ‘so’.

If you break down the cost for this pie, sure, it’s a little pricey. But it lasts for days, making fabulous lunches and quick dinners for when you really couldn’t be bothered to even order in takeaway. Stow it in the fridge and heat it up, or eat it cold – it’s actually better this way.

Spinach and Three-Cheese Pie.

Spinach and Three-Cheese Pie

1 TBSP olive oil, plus extra to grease the pie dish

1 medium brown onion, roughly chopped

5 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped

750g frozen spinach, defrosted

1/2 cup water

100g smooth ricotta

1 cup grated tasty cheese

2 TBSP parmesan cheese

2 sheets puff pastry

salt and pepper

1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-based pot over medium heat.

2. Add onion and garlic and fry until soft.

3. Add spinach and water, stir, and leave on medium heat until spinach has broken down.

4. Add the three cheeses and stir to combine.

5. Season to taste and leave to cool completely.

6. Preheat the oven to 220C.

7. Using a 22cm pie dish as a guide, cut two circles from the pieces of pastry. One that is the same diameter as the dish and a circle that is one inch wider around. Basically the pie dish will be a smaller circle sitting inside a bigger one.

8. Grease the pie dish and line it with the larger circle of pastry so that it comes up the sides.

9. Place the spinach mixture inside the pie dish, on top of the pastry.

10. Place the smaller circle on top of the spinach mixture and pinch together with the base to seal.

11. Pierce the top of the pie with a knife to let out excess steam.

12. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden.

13. Cut into wedges to serve.