Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page

Cheap (er) than chips

In Recipes on April 19, 2012 at 3:44 am

Last week in Brunswick a friend and I were looking for a cheap place to eat.  We didn’t have to go far to find the AI Bakery at 643 – 645 Sydney Road, Brunswick.  This down to earth little place serves up Lebanese pizzas and other dishes, starting at $3.00 each.  You can choose from the tangy meat pizza, the cheese pie (a bit like an Italian calzone) or the cheese and spinach pizza.  Whatever you choose, two people can dine quite well for under $15.00.

For those who don’t live near such a wonderful place as AI, it is pretty easy to make something like them at home.  My version are a bit of a cross between a Lebanese pizza and a Turkish pide.

‘Lebanese’ Pizzas

Delicious lamb pizza


For the dough:

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup semolina

1 sachet dried yeast

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 tbs oil

enough warm water to form a dough

For the cheese and spinach topping:

grated haloumi cheese (150-200g makes about 3 or 4)

3 cups washed spinach leaves (finely chopped)

2 tbs finely sliced spring onions

dried mint

chilli flakes


freshly ground black pepper

For the meat pizza:

500g lamb mince

1 large onion (roughly chopped)

1 tbs fresh mint (finely chopped)

1 tbs fresh coriander (finely chopped

2 tsp sumac

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

chilli flakes and lemon to serve


For the dough:

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add oil, then warm water in 1/2 cup amounts until it forms a firm dough.  Knead in the bowl for a few minutes until smooth.  Oil the bowl and place the dough, covered, in a warm place to rise for 1- 2 hours.

Place the meat, onion, herbs ans spices in a food processor and blitz until a smooth paste is formed.

Portion the dough into four pieces.  Roll out on a floured board until quite thin (about 3 – 4 mm).  Place on an oiled tray.  Pre heat oven to 250c.  For the meat pizza, press meat mixture in a thin layer onto the dough, sprinkle with chilli flakes.  Fold over edges to form an open ‘pie’ (pictured).  Bake in a hot oven for twenty mins. or until the dough is lightly browned.  For the cheese pizza, cover the base with shredded spinach, spring onions and herbs.  Sprinkle generously with haloumi cheese, sprinkle with sumac and chilli flakes.  Bake in a hot oven for twenty mins. or until lightly browned.  Serve with a squeeze of lemon and some yoghurt (if desired).

Cheese and spinach pizza

A taste of Morocco

In Recipes on April 9, 2012 at 2:51 am

Moroccan food is spicy with cumin, coriander and sumac but it is not usually searingly hot with chilli, this makes it a good choice for those who are not fans of hot food.  Another favourite seasoning is preserved lemons – these can be easily and cheaply made yourself if you have a lemon tree or you can buy them.  When using preserved lemons the flesh is discarded and the rind and pith are finely chopped – use them sparingly as they are very strong.  Most Moroccan meals are incomplete without the staple starch cous cous, once made from millet but now made with durum wheat.  This is generally steamed for hours in a special vessel  known in French as a couscoussiere.  The instant cous cous that is widely available in shops has been pre-steamed which means it only takes five minutes to prepare.  This makes it a quick and easy side dish to accompany a meal.

Moroccan chicken with roasted vegetables and cous cous

Moroccan chicken with cous cous


1 free range chicken portioned into eight pieces

For the marinade:

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 1/2 tsp coriander

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp sumac

1 tsp chilli flakes

1 tsp ras el hanout*

1 tsp dried mint

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp sea salt

juice of 1 lemon

2 tbs sunflower oil

1 tsp honey

For the vegetables and cous cous:

2 zucchinis (thickly sliced)

1 sweet potato (cubed)

2 carrots (cubed)

2 tbs sunflower oil

1 cup instant cous cous

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp sumac

1 tbs sunflower oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup boiling water

2tbs chopped fresh mint

2 tbs chopped coriander

2 tbs finely sliced spring onion (green part only)

rind and pith of 1/2 a preserved lemon (finely chopped)

knob of butter


In a large bowl mix all the marinade ingredients together.  Add the chicken pieces and make sure they are all well coated with the mixture.  Refrigerate for at least two hours.  Heat the oven to 220c.  Place the chicken pieces on a rack in a large baking dish, spoon over any remaining marinade.  Roast for 20 mins on the top shelf of the oven.   Meanwhile, toss the vegetables in 2 tbs oil and season well with salt and pepper and tumble into a baking dish.  Move chicken pieces down to second shelf and cook the vegetables on the top shelf for twenty minutes.  Reduce heat to 180c and move the chicken back up to the top shelf, placing the vegetables on the second shelf.  Cook for a further 20-25 mins or until chicken is cooked (the juices run clear) and vegetables are tender.  Mix the cous cous with the dried spices and 1 tbs oil, add boiling water and allow to stand, covered for 5 mins.  Remove cover, add the knob of butter and fluff the cous cous with a fork until all the grains are separate.  Add the fresh herbs, preserved lemon and spring onion.  Serve on a large platter in the middle of the table and allow guests to help themselves.

* see in June The Road to Morocco for ras el hanout recipe