The silverbeet solution

We have lots of silverbeet and rainbow chard in our garden. It’s about the only thing we grew this winter, and I kind of forgot about using it until suddenly there was so much I was a bit overwhelmed by it!

I had in mind some kind of silverbeet tart or pie, so I went looking through my recipes books. Have you tried Eat Your Books? It’s the perfect solution for someone like me, with an embarrassingly large collection of cookbooks! It’s an online recipe index with not only the recipes indexed but the ingredients in each recipe too—you add all your recipe books, magazines, even blogs, to your library and then when you are looking for a recipe, you type in the ingredients or type of recipe you’re looking for and it tells you what recipes are in what books, and a list of ingredients required! It’s fantastic!!

In the end, though, I didn’t find quite what I was looking for, so I made it up as I went along. My recipe is loosely based on this recipe, but I have changed it a fair bit, most noticeably by adding lamb! I also added a spice blend from a local middle eastern supermarket. It’s a Lebanese blend of allspice, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, fennel, anise, nutmeg, mahlep and galangal, known as Seven Spices (I know, I know, there are 10!), and it just gave the pie filling a subtle boost of flavour without overwhelming it.

It ended up being a perfect meal, served with a green salad to add some crunch. And I think it would be just as nice with chicken instead of lamb.

Lamb and Silverbeet Parcels

Serves 6

2 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500g lamb mince
1 large bunch of silverbeet or rainbow chard
300g ricotta cheese
100g feta cheese, crumbled
grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp Seven Spices blend or a similar middle eastern spice blend
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 sheets of puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten with a splash of water for the pastry wash

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Cut the silverbeet/chard leaves away from the stems. Slice the leaves into ribbons and finely chop the stems.

Fry the onion and garlic gently in about 1 Tbs olive oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until soft and golden.

Add the mince and silverbeet stems and fry until the meat browns. Then add the silverbeet leaves handful by handful, allowing it to wilt between each addition.

Stir through the cheeses and the spice blend, then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Finally stir the beaten egg through and allow to cool slightly.

Divide the mixture into 6 portions and place each portion in the middle of a square of puff pastry. Fold the corners over each parcel to fully enclose and brush with the egg wash.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve immediately.


1. Filo pastry could be used instead of puff pastry. In that case, brush with olive oil or melted butter instead of the egg wash.


Easter feast

For the first time in a few years we were home for the Easter weekend. And, as it happened, so were some of our very good friends. So plans were made to spend some time together on Easter Sunday. To make it even more fun, an old friend from our Californian days was in town for a family event, and he joined us too.

What better to serve at Easter than roast lamb? But this wasn’t just any roast lamb. I got boned lamb shoulder from the local butcher, and roasted it slowly in lemon juice, herbs and olive oil, until the meat was falling apart. A quick blast under the grill to crisp up the edges and then a scattering of creamy salty feta cheese to round it off. Yum! It was beautifully complemented by quinoa and barley salads brought by our guests, as well as baby roast potatoes.

After a week of warmer weather, we headed back to winter over the Easter weekend, and to warm us all up I made a bread and butter pudding using up some of the hot cross buns we had left over. I used chocolate hot cross buns—not very traditional but so delicious—buttered and soaked in a simple custard before baking. It was a chocolate-y oozing mess of comfort.


Slow-roasted greek style lamb shoulder

This recipe is really a combination of two Karen Martini recipes published a few years ago in The Age’s weekend magazine Sunday Life.

2 lemons, zested and juiced
large handful of fresh oregano, roughly chopped
2-3 stalks of fresh rosemary, chopped
6-4 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp sea salt
100 ml olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 lamb shoulder, boned and trimmed of excess fat
100 g feta cheese 

Preheat the oven to 160C.

To make the marinade, combine the lemon juice and zest, chopped herbs, and olive oil in a jug. Pound the garlic to a paste in a mortar and pestle with the sea salt and add it to the marinade along with black pepper to taste.

Open out lamb shoulder in baking tray and pour marinade over it, making sure you get it under all the folds. Cover the tray tightly with foil.

At this point you can let it marinate in the fridge as long as overnight or you can put it in the oven straight away. Cook for 3-4 hours until the lamb is falling-apart tender.

Remove from the oven and pour off half of the juices. Turn oven up to 250C and put the grill on and place lamb back under grill to brown for 5 minutes until the edges are crisp.

Remove from the grill and rest for 10-15 minutes, then shred into chunks using a fork. Transfer to a serving platter and scatter with crumbled feta cheese.


Chocolate hot cross bun bread and butter pudding

6 chocolate hot cross buns, slightly stale
unsalted butter
2 c milk
3 eggs
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp butter, extra 

Preheat the oven to 170C. Butter a large ceramic or glass baking dish (approx 20 X 30 cm).

Split each hot cross bun in half and generously butter each slice. Tear or cut each half into 4 pieces and place in the baking dish in one layer.

Whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla extract until well combined. Pour evenly over buns, pushing the pieces down into the mixture. Dot the top with butter.

Set the pudding aside for at least 30 minutes to allow the liquid to really soak in to the bread.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and sit for 10-15 minutes before serving with icecream, cream or even a tangy yoghurt.



1. One lamb shoulder will easily feed 4-6 people. And the pudding serves at least 8, as it is very rich and a little goes a long way!

2. You can serve the lamb with fresh pita bread, tzatziki, and a grain-y salad.

3. For a variation on the pudding,make it with traditional fruit hot cross buns instead. Try adding some orange zest to the custard mixture or scatter some chunks of 70% chocolate through the buns.