Posts by Margaret at Bottomfeeder

Overgoogling recipes. Freezing bones for stocks. Creating a turducken at age 12. Weeping emotionally at the thought of a delicious pastry and abandoning a 5 year career in advertising and art direction - these are all things I've done for my love of food. Here I'll share my latest food obsessions with a focus on healthy-ish food and letting nothing go to waste. I'm culinary school trained and have worked as a cook in fine dining and cafes.

DIY ‘Aesop’ Post-Poo Drops (Natural Mandarin Toilet Freshener)

Aesop is an Australian skin-care and self-care company, known for their high-end, well-branded (and incredibly expensive) products. And there’s no bigger epitome of this than their fabled Post-Poo Drops, a toilet freshener which elicits an understated scent of Mandarin, Tangerine, and Ylang Ylang when plopped into your toilet bowl after (and this is to quote the labelling) “vigorous activity has occurred” – far more natural than those artificially pumped up floral fresheners that you find on the supermarket shelves.

The original is beautiful, and actually has a Bottomfeder-esque origin story! “This botanical deodoriser got its accidental start when discarded essential oils from our in-house lab were repurposed to scent an office bathroom. It has since become one of our most popular products” – @aesopskincare

While I originally got these delightful drops for bathroom guests, my partner and I have fallen in love with the scent. And so rather than use it too quickly, I thought I’d have a go at making this mandarin marvel myself. Just save up some citrus skins and let time and patience work their magic. Make a larger batch and gift it to friends and family, or just store it to refill your smaller bottle. The prep time is 3 weeks, and this sounds insane, but like most good preserving projects, it’s very hands-off and mostly about letting time pass…especially something we have lots of in lockdown!

First, we create our own essential oils by steeping dried citrus peels in rubbing alcohol. Commercial versions use a distiller or cold press to extract oils, but alcohol is much more accessible way to draw these oils out at home without needing all that hi-tech wizardry. I used mandarin, orange and lemon peels leftover from eating and cooking. If you want a shortcut or have essential oils on hand you could just use them, however this can be costly and this recipe came about as an elevated way of utilising those naturally zingy smelling citrus peels.


My partner Mark and I created a really calming and chilled, but also tounge-in-cheek video which accompanies the recipe below. It was heavily inspired by the minimalist and considered Aesop brand and aesthetic, with our cheeky spin. Hope you like it!

RECIPE
DIY ‘AESOP’ POST POO DROPS (NATURAL CITRUS PEEL TOILET FRESHENER)

INGREDIENTS:

For the essential oils: (yields approx 20-50mL of each, prep time 3 wks)

  • 3 or more mandarins
  • 3 or more lemons
  • 3 or more oranges
  • rubbing alcohol

For the final mixture: (yields approx 150mL, prep time 5 min)

  • 125ml water
  • 1 tsp rubbing alcohol (can substitute for vodka)
  • 1 tsp vegetable glycerine (or substitute 1/2 tsp liquid soap)
  • Lemon essential oil
  • Mandarin essential oil
  • Orange essential oil

METHOD:

For the essential oils:

  1. Peel each of the mandarins and oranges.
  2. With a paring knife, remove the white pith for each of the peels.
  3. While you’ve got your knife out, cut the peel off the lemons.
  4. Place the de-pithed peels out in the sun to dry for approx 1 wk, keeping them separate so you know which peels are which. Turn every so often.
  5. Put each group of peels into a separate jar and cover with rubbing alcohol, shaking the jar to ensure peels are evenly covered/submerged.
  6. Place a lid loosely over each jar, and put in a cool dry place for 1 wk.
  7. Strain each oil to remove the peels, and place in jars. Optional zero waste drained peel use – Store the strained peels together in a jar – these can be used as a rubbish bin deodoriser, just shake some into your bin to keep it smelling fresh. As they’ve been sitting in alcohol they’re kind of preserved.
  8. Use paper towel and rubber bands to create a breathable lid for each oil. Then put in a cool dry place for 1 wk, shaking infrequently to stop bacteria forming.
  9. (Optional) Store each oil in eye-dropper bottles for ease of use.

For the final mixture:

  1. Measure 125mL of water out into a jug.
  2. Add the glycerin and rubbing alcohol.
  3. Use your nose to mix a balance of the essential oils to your liking. 30-40 drops total ought to be enough. Go slow and add oils bit by bit.
  4. (Optional) Store in eye-dropper bottle for ease of use.


For blending: Mixing the scents comes down to your individual preferences. It’s very subjective, so you have to use your nose to smell what’s right for you. I found that lemon is sophisticated, bright and fresh, orange verges on that musky stereotypically grandma toilet freshener smell, and mandarin is somewhere in the middle. For me, I added approximately 50% Lemon, 35% Mandarin and 15% Orange.

To create an aroma that smells more like the Aesop original: The Aesop original post poo drops have an aroma blend of tangerine peel, ylang ylang and mandarin peel. My version omitted the ylang ylang. I wanted to see what I could make with what I had without buying extra first (I haven’t seen any wild ylang ylang around me either). I recommend you include ylang ylang (native to Queensland, but not as readily available wild to everyone) or something similar like jasmine. You can buy readymade ylang ylang oil if you want, but a lemon heavy version of these post poo drops is pretty darn good as is! It is just going down the toilet in the end anyway!

For storage: You can buy amber glass bottles with some form of a dropper to make dispensing the oils and storing your finished post poo drops easy. They’re available online and at health food stores, or reuse ones you have leftover. The amber glass also helps prevent the oils from oxidising due to heat and light.

Future ideas: I’m currently creating some lemongrass essential oil to hopefully add a bit of a floral note (I usually dry the tough ends and outer parts of lemongrass whenever I buy it. I add it to cooking and make my own ginger and lemongrass tea). Make it your own though! You could add in rosemary, lavender or eucalyptus and take it in a different direction to the Aesop version if that’s what you like. I find it helps to look at or google the blend of scents in perfumes and products you already gravitate towards and try to recreate blends inspired by those (wayyyy easier than becoming an actual perfumer).

Credit: This recipe was adapted from this ‘fabulous farm’ girl ‘diy poo poo spray’ recipe.
mixed with this ‘hillsbourough homesteading’ orange essential oil recipe.

Share your version by tagging me on instagram @_bottomfeeder I’d love to see what you create!

Summery Sweet! Mango Pits & Peels Make a Delicious Marinade

There’s nothing like biting into some juicy mango on a hot summer’s day. I have so many memories of cross hatching mango cheeks with a knife and inverting them to become an edible cubist echidna. But what do you do with the pits and the peels that you can’t eat? I recently came across this recipe from Cornersmith (also in the Use It All cookbook) and lowered the amount of sugar since I’d mainly use it as a more savoury marinade. Make your mango scraps go the extra mile! It’s surprising how little mango you need to get a good flavour. This marinade base tastes kind of like a subtle Weis bar with a light gingery kick – you can add other ingredients to tweak it to your taste, see the recipe below for suggestions.


RECIPE
MANGO SCRAP MARINADE BASE

INGREDIENTS:
2-3 mangoes
2 tbsp sugar (or honey)
2 cups water
A few slices of ginger (or 2 tbsp dried ginger pieces/skin)

METHOD
1. Prepare your mangoes – we need the pits and skins for this recipe. Cut off the cheeks and seperate the flesh from the skin with a large spoon. Peel the section around the pit and cut off any mango you want to utilise – reserve the mango flesh for another use.

2. Add the mango peels and pits, sugar, water and ginger to a small pot on medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a simmer.

3. Simmer for 10 mins, then turn the heat off. Let the flavours infuse for 15 mins.

4. Strain the mango marinade through a sieve pressing as much mango as you can out. Pop the mixture back on the heat on low to reduce further if you’d like it thicker.

5. To use as a meat marinade, use as is, or add salt or fish sauce, pepper, olive oil, and/or chilli to your taste. It also goes great in salad dressing or as is on sweet things like ice cream and pancakes.

MANGO MARINADE VARIANT SUGGESTIONS
Add these to the marinade base for something different
– Asian: fish/soy sauce, lime juice and zest, coriander stems and/or a bashed lemongrass stalk.
– Mango sweet chilli: chilli or sriracha and maybe a little honey.
– Mango BBQ: garlic, bbq sauce, chilli.

What would you use this mango marinade for?

Use Your (Prawn) Head! Zero-Waste Prawn Head Oil

Merry belated Christmas! I hope, like me and my family, you enjoyed bucketloads of fresh seafood and prawns or maybe you’re having some for New Years. With all those prawns, inevitably comes lots of leftover prawn heads, tails and shells. In this recipe I’m going to show you how to get the most bang for your buck from your prawns by extracting that rich flavour of the sea into a deep red hued prawn oil. Best of all you only need 4 ingredients. Freeze your prawn bits till you have 1kg or so and simply thaw out in the fridge and drain. Inspired by Christmas, but great anytime you have prawns.

This prawn oil is great tossed through pasta or noodles – use it to flavour a stir fry, curry or cook fried rice or vegetables with it. Drizzle it on soups or seafood dishes for an extra oomph of umami prawny flavour.

My partner Mark and I filmed this recipe as a video. We’re going to try do this for our recipes from now on!


RECIPE
ZERO-WASTE PRAWN HEAD OIL

INGREDIENTS
1 small brown onion, finely diced (keep the skin and ends)
Vegetable oil or other neutral-flavoured oil
1-2kg Prawn heads, shells and tails
1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional: Onion skin peels and ends 

METHOD
1. Prepare the prawn heads by tearing up the shells from the head flesh you can also bash them with a mortar and pestle. Make sure there’s no poop chutes (otherwise known as the prawn poo veins)!

2. Heat a deep pot on medium heat. Add a splash of oil, then toss in your diced onion and salt. Cook for approx 5 min, stirring occasionally until softened and translucent.

3. Increase the heat to medium high. Add the prawn heads, onion skin and ends and cover them half way in vegetable oil. 

4. Cook them for approximately 30-45min, until the oil is reddy/orange in colour. Stir and crush the heads/shells with a wooden spoon periodically to release flavour.

5. Strain into jars. Allow to cool and store in the fridge. It lasts for a couple of months (if you haven’t finished it before then!).

OTHER PRAWN HEAD & SHELL USES
– Prawn stock – You could also simmer prawn heads and shells with water to make a flavourful stock. Great as a base for seafood dishes, pasta sauce, tom yum soup, ramen, risotto and as a general flavour enhancer in stir fries, veggies, curries and noodle dishes. 
– Crunchy prawn heads – Season self raising flour with salt and coat the cleaned prawn heads. Deep fry for a few minutes till crisp and golden right through. Eat with a chilli sambal or sweet chilli sauce to dip.

What are your favourite uses for prawn shells and heads?

Mushroom makes a bloody good mince!

I usually make this mushroom mince when I have a glut of mushrooms that I either forgot about or overbought from the bargain bin. Semi dried out, sad looking mushrooms are perfect for this! It’s a bonus if they’re fresh, but I’ve made this with both and it’s delicious either way. It’s an umami-rich lighter alternative to mince. My go to use for this is usually a riff on Chinese san choy bao or in a rice bowl. When I don’t have much left of this I just stretch it by adding a few spoonfuls to meals on the side.

Everything is chopped in the food processor since we have it out anyway! If you don’t have a food processor you can roughly hand chop everything up with a little more time, but definitely more love.


RECIPE

MUSHROOM MINCE SAN CHOY BAO

INGREDIENTS
600 g mushrooms (any mix really, I often use a mix of field, button and swiss, whatever you have or whatever’s cheaper)
1 large onion
1 cup leftover cooked white rice
Canned bamboo shoots, sliced (approx 225g)
Canned water chestnuts, sliced (approx 227g)
3 tsp oyster sauce
3 tsp light soy sauce
2 tsp brown bean paste* (fermented soy bean and flour paste)
2 tsp kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
Pepper and salt to taste


TO SERVE
Coriander
Sesame oil
Baby cos lettuce – washed and dried
Pickles on the side (optional)

METHOD
1. Heat a large fry pan on medium with a bit of vegetable or another neutral oil. Roughly halve and quarter the onion and finely chop in a food processor, then add to the hot pan with a pinch of salt and fry for 2-3 mins or until golden.

2. Add the washed and drained water chestnuts and bamboo shoots to the food processor and carefully process with the pulse function to a rough chop. Keep some texture as this part adds a bit of crunch, so some larger bits are fine. Add to the pan with the onion and saute for 5 mins. Add another glug of oil if it’s drying out then 1 tsp each of oyster, soy sauce, brown bean paste and kecap manis – mix through well – this imparts extra flavour into the chestnuts and bamboo shoots. Cook for a few minutes, then set aside in a medium bowl.

4. Meanwhile chop the mushrooms to a rough dice, in the food processor. Work in batches (depending on the size of your food processor) so the chop is even – tear large mushrooms into smaller bits for a more even chop. Do some finely, some more chunky to get variation. Be careful not to over do it as they’ll cook down and shrink. Add more oil to the large pan on medium high heat and add your chopped mushrooms and leave them, if you overmix them you’ll coax out more liquid. Letting them sit allows them to brown and set a bit of colour on the edges. The cooking time depends on your mix of mushroom varieties. I cook them until they don’t have that raw taste anymore. Should be around 5-10 minutes. 

5. Throw in the chestnut and bamboo mixture and cooked rice with the mushrooms, mix well and warm through. Add the remaining sauces and the rice wine vinegar: 2 tsp oyster sauce, 2 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp brown bean paste, 1 tsp kecap manis and some white pepper. Taste for seasoning after each sauce addition if you’re not confident mixing and layering asian sauces then do a final taste for seasoning. 

Photography by Eric Cech

TO SERVE
Spoon warm mushroom mince into prepared lettuce cups and top with coriander (finely sliced stems or leaves) and pickles on the side – chinese pickles, kimchi, takukan (yellow pickled daikon), do chua (pickled carrot and daikon) or just sweet sliced pickled cucumbers work well). Crunchy cucumber slices and lil’ red radishes are nice too if you have some handy. Enjoy!

NOTES: *Brown bean paste: Is a fermented soy bean and flour paste. If you cannot find it substitute with extra soy sauce to taste.

There’s so many ways to eat this, how would you do it?

Photography by Eric Cech

This Filipino ‘Tomato Ketchup’ is Actually Made From Bananas! 🍌

Yes, it’s bananas! This is the homemade Filipino version of bottled ‘ketchup’, except ours is made from bananas, not tomatoes. This tropical innovation stemmed from a WW2 tomato shortage and is my favourite way to use up overripe bananas and waaaay more versatile than banana bread!

My homemade banana ‘ketchup’ served on a traditional Filipino longsilog plate. The pickle next to it is atchara. Quality gourmet longganisa from Tata Rods.
Sautéing the base aromatics: eschallots, garlic, ginger and tumeric.

I originally tried this recipe served with chicken adobo pies years ago to use leftover adobo. It pairs well with anything you’d use tomato sauce on, and is traditionally eaten with lumpia shanghai (Filipino spring rolls) or tortang talong (whole eggplant omelette). I like it as a snack to dip chicharon (fried pork rinds) in, as the tangy sweetness cuts through the richness.

Pat Nourse & Helen Goh in conversation via Instagram Live for #MFWFOnline

During Ottolenghi Chef Helen Goh’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2020: Online edition chat with Pat Nourse she waxed lyrical about her newfound love of Filipino cuisine. All the Filipino viewers cheered together loudly from home! She noted tortang talong as one of her absolute favourites and slipped in mention of homemade banana catsup being at the top of her ‘to cook’ list. Pat Nourse actually ended up sharing this very recipe in his instagram stories! Next day he got a special delivery from chef John Rivera! See below for Pat’s post and a beautiful show of the Filipino community spirit in Australia.

More modern serving suggestion banana ‘ketchup’ and adobo pies
Put this sauce it anywhere you’d use tomato sauce…like a bacon and egg english muffin!

For best results, use almost-black bananas that you’d usually reserve for banana bread using less ripe ones will cause your sauce to jellify at room temperature. It will still be delicious, but not quite the right texture.


RECIPE

HOMEMADE BANANA CATSUP (BANANA ‘KETCHUP’)

  • 2 very ripe bananas (almost black), mashed till smooth (approx. 1 cup)
  • 2 medium eschallots, finely diced (or 1/2 a small brown onion)
  • 1-2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 60ml cane/white vinegar
  • 60ml water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated (approx 1 tablespoon)
  • 3cm ginger, finely grated (approx 1 tablespoon)
  • 3cm turmeric, finely grated (approx 1 tablespoon fresh, 1 teaspoon if using ground turmeric)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • optional 1 birdseye chilli, finely sliced (1/4 tsp chilli flakes)

METHOD 

1. Heat oil in a medium non-stick pan on medium heat. Cook the eschallots until translucent. 

2. Add the ginger, garlic, turmeric and all spice to the pan. Cook till spices are fragrant. 

3. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute, stirring well. Follow with vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, chilli and mashed banana. Simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring often until it starts to thicken. 

4. Add 60ml of water or more as needed to reach desired consistency. It’s usually best between thick and runny, but it will thicken a bit as it cools. Taste and add extra seasoning to your liking. Take off the heat. Blend with a stick blender to get a smoother texture.

To store, allow sauce to cool and transfer to airtight sterilised jars or containers. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. It can be kept longer, but use your own judgement.

Serving suggestions:
Traditional Filipino dishes Tortang talong (eggplant omelette) lumpia shanghai (Filipino spring rolls) any breakfast silogs (rice+meat, I did longsilog further up).
More modern applications As I said…anywhere you’d use tomato sauce! I’ve enjoyed it with steak, roasted veg, on a bacon and egg roll, with marinated tofu and rice…it’s all good! 👌

SAHOG @ Home photo of me with my produce and Filipino Food Movement tee before the Instagram livestream!


This Filipino condiment was presented by me at SAHOG @ Home with Filipino Food Movement – an Instagram Live series by @filipinofoodmovementau featuring their most loved Australian Filipino chefs, cooks and food lovers. Don’t miss the next one! I also prepared burong mangga (pickled green mango) and atchara (pickled green papaya relish). I’ll post my other recipes here with more serving suggestions soon!

Filipino Empanadas are easier than you think — just follow my tips

Recently I made my first attempt at crafting empanadas from scratch — yes, even the pastry. I felt intense pressure to make them perfect…first go. I was bringing them to the Filipino Food Movement Australia community picnic in Sydney. So I didn’t have time for catfish recipes from liars, cheats and online recipe swindlers. I was tossing up between a few recipes…

Then I discovered: Angela Dimuyaga’s beef empanada recipe on NYT Cooking

A darn good looking homemade empanada!

I was sold on Dimuyaga’s recipe and after trying it and would recommend it to empanada first timers and pros alike. They’re flavoursome, straightforward, can be deep fried or baked, very economical (300g beef mince makes 40. If you, like me ‘taste test’ some filling, you’ll have a few less). One caveat — Chef Dimuyaga’s recipe was written assuming that you wanted to undertake this lengthy process all at once (read: 2 hours approx…more if you don’t want to screw it up and over google what to do – like me). No shade, but those with less cooking experience or time might find it rather daunting upfront. So after consulting several other recipes and fixing some of my own screw ups on the fly, I have a list of suggestions to troubleshoot any problems you might run into.

Have a read before your fingers are covered in flour and you’re wondering why the heck you started this so late in the day (also for my own reference next time). I’m specifically referring to Dimuyaga’s recipe, not to say it’s not a great recipe — but I just made some realisations that weren’t detailed in the recipe. If you’re following another recipe a lot of these tips might apply to that too (compare them before you blindly trust me). I’ve noticed similar questions that I worked through myself in the recipe comments of this very recipe too. You can begin prep 1-3 days ahead to break the 2 hours up, especially if you only have a small window of time after work each day or something real life realistic like an actual life and responsibilities to work around.

Some of these changes might be obvious to some pastry pros, but if you’ve never made pastry from scratch before or handled it you might not be sure what you can and can’t do to suit you. Don’t let that discourage you! This list of tips will hopefully answer your questions (if you have more post them in the comments!) as you try to google answers with your floury fingers. I made these empanadas and googled as I went. Below is a collection of my learnings and observations.

My tips for avoiding common empanada mistakes:

EMPANADA FILLING
– Cook it a day ahead and refrigerate (then you’re not waiting for it to cool)

Is my filling too salty? – When you taste the filling by itself it might seem a bit too salty. However, once it’s in the pastry it mellows out a little and becomes perfect…the resulting empanada is tasty even when eaten cold! If you’re really unsure you can create and cook one 1 test empanada in the oven before you go ahead and make all 40.

Tasty, tasty filling. I made the potato a bit too chunky the first time.

Don’t make the cubed potato or veggie pieces too big…I did a little larger than a 1cm dice. Some potato pieces ended up piercing a few bits of pastry as I folded it over (if your pastry hasn’t been chilled for long enough this can cause it to break too easily – I was also just impatient). No big deal though.

Meat choice – Using the beef mince suggested in Dimuyaga’s recipe created a great flavour similar to Filipino beef menudo or adobo. Some other pork and chicken empanadas felt a bit bland in comparison to be honest, but give them a go if you prefer.

EMPANADA PASTRY

How good is this angry pastry chef brush?!

Using pre-made pastry for empanadas
– Use frozen shortcrust pastry if you cbf (no shame, get a fancy brand like careme if you REALLY want) and assemble empanadas on the day. Sure, they won’t be as authentic, but sometimes you just need a balance of life and homemade empanadas. They’ll still be delicious!

Cutting frozen pastry into rounds – Cut into rounds with a bowl/baking tin or cookie cutter (find a similar diameter to the one your chosen recipe calls for). Consult your frozen pastry packet directions, but generally pastry can be refrozen once empanadas have been assembled, it’s the filling that shouldn’t be frozen and refrozen for food safety reasons.

Chilling dough rounds – To freeze pastry rounds as you make them – put them on a tray lined with flour dusted baking paper. Layer as required, baking paper has to be between each layer of empanadas otherwise they’re more likely to stick and that’ll undo all your hard work. Cover the top layer with baking paper too to stop the pastry drying out.

Making Empanada pastry from scratch
– Make the pastry up to 3 days ahead. It should keep for 3 days tightly wrapped in cling film, so it doesn’t dry out.

Cold dough is harder to screw up – The dough is easier to work with and more forgiving the colder it is. You can tell when it’s not cold enough because it will stretch and break more easily. It’s a nightmare, especially for a first timer or someone that hasn’t handled pastry very much. If you’re finding it hard to mould your pastries  and they keep breaking or the filling is piercing the dough, then put your pastry rounds back in the freezer to chill further and take a breather, you’re halfway there!

Freeze the pastry rounds as you roll them – it takes forever for them to cool down in my at home fridge. Freezing it till they’re quite cold but still pliable will give you more time to work with them. I roll a stack of 6 or so before transferring them to a baking paper lined tray. Take them out of the freezer one sheet at a time so you don’t warm up the entire tray and have to wait for them to chill all over again.

I think my pastry looks wrong….how do I check it?
I’d create 1 or 2 test empanadas to test out both your finished pastry and the filling. The oven method might be quicker if you just want to test a couple.

Cooking empanadas – frying versus baking
Now that you’ve spent hours making these babies you don’t want to screw them up, right?! Dimuyaga suggests deep frying them, I was down for that because I didn’t want to screw with perfection….till I thought about how much active cooking time it would take to fry them in smaller batches (yes, this is what I think about in my down time)…

5 mins per batch
Each batch is about 7 empanadas or so (large pot, without overcrowding)
Total empanadas is 40 divided by 7 (the amount in a batch) = 5.7 batches.
5.7 batches x 5mins = 30 mins….not too bad, but in an oven I don’t have to stress about bubbling hot oil, cleaning it up, straining it and my cholesterol.

I tested this and you can cook Dimuyaga’s beef empanadas in the oven from fresh or frozen. I suggest 190°C for 20-25 mins, put in 2 trays at a time and switch the trays halfway through so they cook evenly.

Team baked empanada – don’t forget egg wash for a golden colour!
Egg wash = 1 egg whisked thoroughly with a few drops of milk.
If baking from frozen – put your empanadas into the oven and then once slightly defrosted (but before they start browning) brush them with egg wash. Some suggest doing the egg wash before freezing, but that just sounded like a headache, because that means waiting for the egg wash to dry so they don’t stick to the baking paper.

What’s with cracked empanadas?
That’s either a result of the pastry not being chilled enough before baking or a really fragile delicate pastry. Dimuyaga’s recipe is pretty forgiving, but I froze my empanadas overnight. I didn’t want to take any chances and they turned out really well! The few empanadas I allowed to thaw out did crack a bit.

Not even half the spread at the last Filipino Food Movement Australia picnic!
My empanada contribution is bottom right, they went down a treat!

I hope this guide was helpful! If you have any further empanada questions or your own tips I missed, please post them in the comments! I’m not an expert by any means, but I wanted to record these learnings so I can apply them next time!

Long live Condimental! Quirky, long-life pickles, preserves & sauces curated seasonally

#NOTANAD: Condimental have been on my radar for a while now – a local Sydney-based business putting out limited edition, seasonally curated boxes of elevated condiments (they also produce their own label items). Definitely a ‘first aid kit for boring food’ as you’ll see from some of my recipes below. From vinegars, hot sauce, miso and pickles to chutneys (ones you’ll actually use, not like the shit re-gifted xmas type) and fancy finishing salts – there’s a box for everyone (they also sell single products if you just want to dip your toe in). As the runs are quite small batch, some of the really good gems are only available in the seasonal boxes!

I couldn’t stop thinking about their ‘Summer Box‘ in particular. It’s the perfect mix of special and more everyday (only in use, not in quality!) items in my opinion. The Summer Box (the fourth curated box so far) includes these condiments: a red wine ‘field blend’ vinegar from Chef Hugh Piper at Dear Saint Eloise in Potts Point, Two Good Co head Chef Megan’s eggplant kasundi (a nice eggplant chutney of sorts packed with an Indian-style spice blend and flavour), pineapple chilli chutney by Condimental themselves (this one is a banger!), red gum smoked salt from Olsson’s in the cutest ceramic thingy with a lil wooden spoon (the smoky flavour is unreal), myrtled fennel pickle – another own brand creation from Condimental. I love Cornersmith’s pickled fennel, so I figured I’d be into a version with a lil’ sumthin’ sumthin’ extra.

How the hell did I use these new found flavour-bombs? I had some sloppy (but really tasty, tasty) toasties and rice bowls in the privacy of my own home…but I took photos of my greatest hits to share here. Keep scrolling to see what was in the box, and how I used it.

How good is this packaging

PINEAPPLE AND CHILLI CHUTNEY – CONDIMENTAL
My fave condiment in the whole box so far

Ham, cheese and pineapple toastie with pineapple chilli chutney (crispy ham rind garnish)
Ploughman’s plate with pineapple chilli chutney (top left)
Close up of the pineapple chilli chutney with ham

RED GUM SMOKED SALT – OLSSON’S
Versatile for sweet and savoury use and deeply smoky.

Fig, nectarine, goat’s cheese and basil salad dressed w/ evoo olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Olsson’s red gum smoked salt
Kale stem pesto toast with a fried egg and a sprinkle of Olsson’s smoked salt

☝️See my recipe for kale stem pesto here

Country style ham hock beans (using xmas ham bone meat leftovers) finished with smoky red gum salt to enhance the ham
Smoked trout on toast sprinkled smoky salt and served with a chunky tabouli (lemon juice and evoo on the side to sprinkle on top)

MEGAN’S EGGPLANT KASUNDI – Two Good Co

A rice and veg bowl with an egg. Eggplant kasundi added for a flavour punch!
Leftover lamb, roasted sweet potato and eggplant kasundi sandwich

The products remind me of produce you’d get at a fancy grocer or farmer’s market, if you do the math (I did, haha) it’s often not as pricey.

There’s always a nice mix of condiments. The best part being that most of them are long life items, so you can take your sweet time getting through them (not that I’ve had much success with that…I only have 3/5 items left and one is a smoky salt I’m using sparingly).

I’m saving the pickled fennel for good ideas and have a lot of red wine vinegar to use before I open this special one. I will update this post with the ideas I have for using both those eventually, I promise!

Each seasonal box comes with a card like this to inspire and explain

Here’s the Condimental Summer Box in all its glory. If you want your own, be quick, as there’s only 16 left at the time of writing. Shop now.

Cauliflower stem and leaf pizza with egg

Cauliflower leaves make an excellent pizza topping

Cauliflower leaves are quickly becoming my go-to zero-waste staple. This non-traditional pizza recipe came about when I ran out of baby spinach but was craving a spinach and egg pizza. The closest thing I had in the crisper was a whole cauliflower + extra cauliflower leaves (everyone left them behind at the grocers, so I sneakily grabbed a handful and put it with my cauliflower bag hehe). I thought…I COULD USE CAULIFLOWER LEAVES!

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I was going to use tomato paste on the base but decided to use kale stem pesto because I had some fresh. I usually make a big batch and keep some in the fridge, then freeze the rest in sheets so I can break off the amount I need. You can also just use readymade, but if you want to give it a go here’s my recipe for kale stem pesto.

Kale stem oesto spread on a pizza base

It’s pretty easy. Seperate the leaves and stems, cut the stems into small pieces and baked quickly to soften a bit, then pop it on a pizza base spread with kale stem pesto (my recipe here, you can also use store bought). Add a few other bits and pieces, pop it back in the oven, add your egg towards the end and there you have it! YOUR OWN. PERSONAL. PIZZA.

All the ingredients below can be subbed for whatever you have available…I just used what I had for this very last minute pizza. For the cheese go ahead an use something fancier like mozzarella or bocconcini (it’ll be better, obviously, but sometimes you just need to offload a few slices of cheese) or scale it back to the tasty cheese slices…nobody will know, not even Instagram. If you don’t have pistachios, almonds or hazelnuts would work just as well. The pizza base I tried happened to also contain cauliflower (Picasso kitchen cauliflower base – a regular base with cauliflower added to up the veg content). It wasn’t bad! I’d buy it again for quick meals like this. It was thin and became nice and crispy. I’d usually have less toppings but my slight distrust of the pizza base and hunger meant I piled it on a bit more.

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RECIPE

EASY CAULIFLOWER LEAF & EGG PIZZA

INGREDIENTS
Cauliflower leaves, 4 large pieces, stems attached
Pre-made pizza base
2 tbsp kale stem pesto (or pre-made pesto alternative)
10-12 kalamata olives, drained
1 tsp capers (optional – can just use a pinch of salt instead)
2 slices gouda cheese, torn into pieces (or whatever cheese you have)
100g pistachios, shelled and chopped
1 large egg
Salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD
1. Pre-heat a fan forced oven to 180°C. Rinse and trim the cauliflower leaves. Pat dry. Line a large oven tray with baking paper and set aside.

2. Pull leaves off cauliflower stems, keeping leaves and stems seperate. Tear the leaves into bite sized pieces. Chop stems into 1cm pieces, halving any large ones, then pop onto your lined baking tray with a drizzle of olive oil and 1 tsp of capers and pepper. Toss to coat in oil, place tray in oven for 2 minutes or till stems are beginning to soften slightly (this pre-cooking ensures they’re not undercooked at the end).

3. Spread pesto evenly onto your chosen pizza base using a spoon leaving a bit of a border for the crust edge. Scatter the cauliflower stems and capers, cauliflower leaves and pistachios on top making sure to leave an egg-sized bare circle on the middle of the base for the egg later on (one or two leaves on the circle are ok you just don’t want a mound of things there messing with the egg and popping the yolk). Top with cauliflower leaves and put back in the oven following the packet directions for the pizza base (my thin one required 8 minutes). Halfway through add your cheese on top (still avoiding the middle bare bit).

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4. Meanwhile crack your egg into a ramekin so it’s easier to place it. Take out your pizza and drizzle with a little olive oil (the cauliflower leaves should be crispy, this addition of oil just ensures they don’t burn).
Carefully slide the egg out of the ramekin into the middle ensuring the yolk doesn’t break (no biggie if it does, it’ll just cook quicker). Use a spoon to spread out the egg white slightly to fill any gaps between it and the fillings. Place the olives anywhere the egg isn’t and put back into the oven for 2-3 minutes or until your pizza crust is golden and the egg is just starting to turn white on the edges (without clear bits).

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5. To serve sprinkle with some chopped pistachios, fresh basil leaves and pepper (there’s probably enough salt with the capers and olives). Season the egg with salt and pepper. Cut into 4 slices, ensuring all bits get a bit of egg/yolk and enjoy!

I’d love to hear your spin on this pizza! What did you add?

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MORE OF MY CAULIFLOWER LEAF RECIPES:
Easy Cauliflower Stem Breakfast Salad

WHAT ABOUT KALE STEMS, YOU SAY?
Save your stems! Easy raw kale pesto

Zero Waste veggie peel fritters

How often do you peel a carrot or a potato and chuck away the skin? Imagine if these nutritious strips could be turned into a whole ‘nother meal.

Well dream no more.

Recently I was cooking a bunch of carrots and parsnips, and didn’t have the heart to bin the peels — so I developed this frugal fritter recipe to make the most of them. It actually transforms them into caramelised discs of savoury goodness, with a subtle earthiness. You’ll never bin a peel again.

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RECIPE

ZERO WASTE VEGGIE PEEL FRITTERS

Serves 2 with leftovers. Cooking time: 30 mins

INGREDIENTS

  • 2.5 cups parsnip and carrot peels*, chopped finely (peels of approx 5 carrots and 4 small parsnips)**
  • Half a brown onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup self raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp ground tumeric
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp whole fennel Seeds
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • For serving: Greek yoghurt, salsa or chutney

METHOD

  1. In a biggish bowl mix together the eggs, onion, parsnip and carrot peels and any other veg. Add the flour, turmeric, cumin, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix well.

  2. Heat a little vegetable oil in a non-stick fry pan on medium heat. Add heaped tablespoonfuls of the fritter mix in the pan pressing it flat into 1cm thick fritters before the mixture sets. Cook in batches for 2-3 mins per side or till golden.
  3. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and keep warm. Serve fritters with salad and greek yoghurt, salsa or chutney.

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COOKING NOTES

* You can swap in and out any of the following veggie peels with this recipe: potato, sweet potato, beetroot and zucchini (if you weirdly were peeling zucchini for some reason, though it might make the mix watery so add flour to counteract).

** If you’re peeling veg but don’t feel like fritters, the peels will store well in a ziplock if used within a few days.

Supercharged Instant Ramen (feat. old mushrooms)

So late one night, my partner and I were watching a Bon Appetit video – the one where Claire painstakingly recreates a gourmet version of instant ramen – and suddenly we felt super-inspired to pimp up some packet ramen for ourselves.

We found some ageing mushrooms holding on for dear life at the bottom of the fridge. Usually I’d just throw them in with something meaty to add flavour, but I figured adding them to ramen would be a far more interesting way to use them up and extract their umami goodness.

But for any good ramen you need a good broth — and given its vital role, it’s preferable to use a homemade stock. It’s nicer than the salty store-bought versions — but in a pinch you could easily use a good quality liquid stock (with added pan-fried mushrooms), or even a stock cube or flavour packet if you really cbf.

Luckily, in the freezer, we rediscovered some frozen homemade chicken & miso mushroom stock that we decided would be an easy and tasty base. I won’t go into the detail now (of how this stock was made), but the short of it is, I’d made a regular chicken stock a few months ago, and just for the heck of it added some rich umami juice obtained from roasting huge miso-covered mushrooms. If you’re interested in the full recipe, please comment below!

From there, we got way too enthused — the resulting ramen was so light and satisfying, and although it wasn’t a thick, 24-hour tonkatsu broth, it was super flavourful for the amount of time we put into it. Enjoy!

IMG_20181202_085156_body.jpgRECIPE

SUPERCHARGED INSTANT RAMEN

Makes 2 servings. Cooking time 15-20 minutes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 litre of chicken and miso mushroom stock (or good quality liquid chicken stock)
  • 2 bricks of instant ramen
  • 300g almost-bad mushrooms, halved and sliced thinly*
  • 2cm piece of ginger, sliced
  • Few pinches roasted ground Szechuan pepper (or white pepper)
  • 2 tsp neutral flavoured oil (like rice bran, vegetable or grapeseed)
  • Sesame oil (to serve)
  • 1/3 cup dried seaweed (miyeok or wakame)
  • 2 tbsp dried diced porcini mushrooms
  • 3 eggs

METHOD

  1. Put 3 eggs into a small pot and cover with cold water on medium heat. Once boiling turn heat down to medium-low and start a 5 minute timer for slightly set (not runny) soft boiled eggs. Once done run under cold water till eggs are completely cool to stop them cooking.**
  2. In seperate small bowls, rehydrate dried porcini mushrooms and seaweed with boiling water. Reserve the liquid from both to add more umami flavour to your stock in Step 4.
  3. Heat a medium fry pan on medium heat and add 2 tsp neutral flavoured oil. Throw in sliced mushrooms with salt and ground Szechuan pepper to taste. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes or till roasty and slightly golden. Take off the heat and reserve.
  4. Meanwhile in a medium saucepan, bring your frozen stock to the boil – adding in the sliced ginger plus the reserved liquid from both the rehydrated seaweed and porcini mushrooms. Taste your stock – if it needs more flavour add soy sauce to taste, but keep in mind when soup’s too salty you get sick of a whole bowl. Break both bricks of ramen in half (they’re probably too wide for a small pot) and drop into the pot to cook ensuring they’re submerged in the stock. Stir to ensure even cooking. Allow to boil for 3-5 minutes or till ramen has reached your desired doneness. ***
  5. Peel eggshells off the eggs and cut each into halves. To serve tong the noodles into 2 deep bowls and pour over the soup. On top of the noodles in each bowl place half the seaweed, mushrooms and 3 egg halves. Sprinkle with a dash of sesame oil to taste.

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COOKING NOTES

* If your mushrooms are slightly dried out and look a bit worse for wear we can work with that – new ones are totally fine too but I just had sad ones!

** To level up your eggs: make soy sauce eggs (shoyu tamago) the day before. This Momofuku recipe sounds great!

*** I took the ramen off when it was al dente, with a bit of bite. This is okay as they’ll sit in the stock for a few minutes while you prepare everything else, so they’ll cook further without going too soft.