Everyone goes mushroom mad sometimes. This recipe is perfect for when you’ve bought or foraged a few too many of mother earth’s favourite umami cups. It features the usual pickling spices, plus the Filipino zap of coconut vin – a taste which pairs well with the meaty mushrooms and reminds my inner child of mum’s chicken adobo. Mmm. I used Phoenix Oyster Mushrooms sourced from a lovely small-scale grower @maximushrooms (DM Maxim via instagram to order), based out the backdoor of Sydney – but you could easily get ‘em (or other varieties like shimeji, king oyster, shiitake, saffron milk caps or pine) from a good grocer (especially Asian ones) or grow-at-home kit and it’d be lightyears better than the supermarket. Pro tip: Char the mushies before pickling for bonus smokiness.
(A brief aside on coconut vinegar before we commence – Coconut vinegar doesn’t taste particularly coconutty. I used the type made by fermenting coconut water (suka ng niyog). Generally, the brown-tinged variety is made from coconut sap (sukang tuba).)
No more ado – here’s my recipe for Filipino Adobo Pickled Mushrooms:
INGREDIENTS Oyster mushrooms Coconut vinegar (Filipino brand preferred, like Datu Putti) Bay leaves Whole black peppercorns Small garlic clove, thinly sliced Non-iodised salt, a pinch
Sterilise your jars and lids by placing them on a tray in a cold oven, set to 100ºC (212°F).
Clean your mushrooms – by gently pulling them apart (if joined to a big mushroomy mass), and tearing larger ones in half. Wash them lightly (no gritty gills here), and allow to dry in the sun.
Sear mushrooms – Heat an aluminium or cast iron pan on medium high heat and dry-sear the mushrooms till lightly charred (ie. no oil for max char). Don’t overcrowd the pan, otherwise they’ll stew, so doing this in batches is best. Press down the mushrooms with another pan to get an even sear. Flip and do this for all mushrooms on both sides. Set aside mushrooms. Don’t wash your pan! Add some water and boil on medium while scraping all the smoky char add this water to the water portion of the next step.
Make your pickling brine – Make enough pickling brine to fill your jars. Simmer equal amounts of coconut vinegar and water(add your smoky mushroom pan liquid here) in a small pot.
Take your jars out of the oven with tongs.
Assemble – Add 1-2 bay leaves, 4-6 black peppercorns and 2-3 THIN slices of garlic (these pack a punch) per 200ml jar (scale this up or down depending on the bigness of your jars and your flavour preferences). Add your seared mushrooms to the sterilised jars. Pour over the hot hot brine, leaving 1cm headroom. Run a knife around the inside edge of the jar to release air pockets. Tap the jar a few times and repeat. Add more brine if required and pop a lid on.
Storing – Store in a cool, dark place out of sunlight for at least 2-3 weeks to let the flavours develop. Should keep for a minimum of 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.
This recipe is featured as part of a fermentation community celebration for Sandor Katz’ new book ‘Fermentation Journey’s (published by Chelsea Green). This screened as part of a livestream on October 10. Register here to access the videos that were shown, hosted and curated by Cultures Group. You can see me demo this recipe step by step! Thank you to chef Ken Fornataro from Cultures group for bringing together the fermentation community! It’s a joy to share and document our recipes, pickles and ferments in honour of Sandor’s own journey and learnings alongside many that I admire and learn from myself.
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.
With a paring knife, remove the white pith for each of the peels.
While you’ve got your knife out, cut the peel off the lemons.
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.
Put each group of peels into a separate jar and cover with rubbing alcohol, shaking the jar to ensure peels are evenly covered/submerged.
Place a lid loosely over each jar, and put in a cool dry place for 1 wk.
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.
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.
(Optional) Store each oil in eye-dropper bottles for ease of use.
For the final mixture:
Measure 125mL of water out into a jug.
Add the glycerin and rubbing alcohol.
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.
(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).
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…
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.
– 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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
EASY CAULIFLOWER LEAF & EGG PIZZA
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
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).
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).
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?