Since the start of the World Cup, I have been taking part in the cook-off-before-kick-off on Lorna Milton’s show on BBC Three Counties Radio. The idea is that I cook a recipe from one of the teams playing in the coming weekend. If Lorna and Luke Ashmead like what I have cooked, that country’s team will win at the weekend. Simple!
Last week I cooked a Serbian Burek recipe. Serbia lost the following day!
Yesterday I cooked ANZAC biscuits as both Australia and New Zealand were due to play this weekend. The biscuits went down well – and so far, Australia have drawn today, so my strike rate is improving!
You can hear yesterday’s appearance by clicking here. We start at 2h12 on the recording.
Here are the two recipes.
This is the recipe for a traditional Serbian Burek – a filo pastry tart. It is also exactly the same recipe for a Greek Spanakopita, which is convenient as they are also playing in the World Cup this weekend. In fact, filo tarts like this are common throughout the Balkans and Greece and Turkey. They are fun – and very easy – to make. The only thing you need to be careful with is the filo pastry. It is fairly fragile and you need to keep a damp cloth on top of the pastry you are not using while you make the tart. All the brushing and assembling also makes this a fun tart to make if you have a kid helping in the kitchen with you.
Serves 6 for lunch or 4 for supper
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes
Preheat your oven to 180C/ 350F/ Gas Mark 4
1 pack of filo pastry (available in all supermarkets)
400g feta cheese. It’s worth getting the barrel aged Feta if you can find it.
200g soft cream cheese
A big handful of flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
A small handful of dill, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
125ml olive oil
- Mix together the two cheeses in a bowl until relatively smooth. Mix in the two eggs, then the parsley and dill and then season well with salt and pepper.
- Melt the butter in the microwave for 40 seconds until liquid. Mix in the olive oil.
- Generously brush an 30cm x 20cm baking tin with the butter/oil mixture.
- Take 1 sheet of filo pastry. Cover up the remaining sheets with a moist cloth so they do not dry up. Cut the sheet in half, widthways. Put one half of the sheet into the tin, scrunching down the edges if it is too big. Generously brush with the butter mixture, then place the next half sheet on top and, again, brush generously with the butter mixture.
- Spread a thin layer of the cheese mixture all over the filo sheet.
- Take another sheet of pastry, cut it in half again and layer it on top of the cheese mixture, brushing each layer generously with the butter mixture.
- Continue to alternate 2 generously buttered halves of a filo pastry sheet with a layer of the cheese mixture until the cheese mixture runs out. You will probably get three layers of cheese.
- Put two final layers of filo pastry on top of the last layer of cheese, brushing both generously with the butter and prick the surface a little with a fork.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Best served warm out of the oven or at least at room temperature.
With Australia and New Zealand both playing over the week-end, I have gone for a traditional recipe from both countries this week. History says that these biscuits were made by Australian and New Zealand wives for their husbands going off to war during World War 1. They are high in sugar and last a long time, so you can see why they would have been popular with soldiers on their way to the front. I actually managed to mess my first batch up because I underestimated quite how much the biscuit mix flattens and spreads when the biscuits bake. Make sure your biscuits are placed well apart on the baking tray!
This mix will make about 25 biscuits which you will need to cook in two batches.
Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 10 minutes per batch
125g plain flour
100g plain rolled oats
75g desiccated coconut
1 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp boiling water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Preheat your oven to 170C/ 325F/ Gas Mark 3
- Melt the butter and the golden syrup in a saucepan on a low heat.
- While the butter is melting, mix together all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
- Once the butter is fully melted, add the hot water and the bicarbonate of soda. The buttery mix will froth up at this point.
- Mix the liquid in with all the dry ingredients. Make sure all the dry ingredients are well covered.
- Roll tablespoon sized balls of the biscuit mixture in your hand. Place them on a greased, non-stick baking tray and gently push down a little on each to flatten the top and bottom. Make sure the biscuits are well spaced out (you will likely get 12 on a normal baking tray).
- Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, until the biscuits are golden.
- Take out of the oven and leave to cool down completely before removing from the baking parchment.