Back in the day, my mum was a factory worker, so she’d be home by 3.30pm and would usually spend an hour or two preparing dinner. We had the best times during those magic hours and, when we were lucky enough, Mum would even whip up a dessert or cake.
Fast forward to the next generation. My wife and I both work full time and we have often struggled to find ways to recreate that special bonding time of our childhood dinners. These recipes help ease the dinnertime pressure, to make this time as relaxed and golden as it was during my childhood.
Burek is my favourite Macedonian street food. My cheat’s version is inspired by the Burek Brothers in Sydney’s Rockdale, who generously shared their family recipe with me. It dates back to 1926!
3 cucchiaio di olio vegetale
375g packet of frozen filo pastry, just thawed
250g smooth ricotta
You can cook the burek in an air fryer or the oven. If cooking in the oven, preheat it to 190C. Grab a 30cm round baking dish or something similar – you can even use a cake tin.
Using a pastry brush, lightly grease the dish with a little of the oil, then drop in two sheets of filo. Brush the pastry with oil and lay two more sheets on top. Spread half the ricotta all over the filo. The filo is fragile but don’t stress if you tear it – it’s all good.
Crumble half the feta over the ricotta and add two more sheets of filo. Gently scrunch and bunch up parts of the filo to the give it some height. We want to create air pockets and fill the dish.
Brush the top of the scrunched filo with a little more oil and top with another sheet, but leave it flat, tucking in the edges around the scrunched filo. Add the rest of the ricotta and feta, then add a final two sheets of filo to cover it all and brush generously with the balance of the vegetable oil.
Bake the burek in the oven for 25 per 30 minuti, until golden and crisp. If using an air fryer, cook at 180C for 15 minuti. Slice it up and watch it disappear.
I have a massive sweet tooth, so when I eat sticky–sweet Asian dishes I feel as though I’m doubling up by having a sweet main followed by dessert.
3 x 90g packets two-minute noodles
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1 tbsp garlic, grated
500g pork mince
300g packet mixed Asian vegetables
80ml hoisin sauce
80ml soy sauce
Coriander leaves, per servire
Cook the two-minute noodles according to the packet instructions. You probably won’t believe this, but this only takes two minutes. Drain and set aside.
If you have a wok, it’s time to wok’n’roll; altrimenti, grab a large frying pan. Add the sesame oil and heat over high heat, then add the ginger, garlic and pork mince, breaking up any lumps with the back of a wooden spoon. Move the mixture around quickly, tossing and flipping the ingredients. Cook the pork for five to six minutes, until white, then add the vegetables, hoisin sauce and soy sauce and keep stirring.
Add the noodles to the wok or frying pan and flip or stir them through – the smell should be filling your kitchen and I’m sure you’ve already tried some. Nice, Hey?
Divide the sticky pork noodles among serving bowls and scatter some coriander leaves over the top.
It’s like a paella with a touch of Macedonia and a lot of love. My local butcher sells the most awesome homemade cured chorizo sausages. Get to know your local butcher and ask their name, then the next time you pop in you can say, “Hi, Bob.”
They’ll hopefully share some special secret-stash sausages. It works for me.
1 supermarket whole roast chicken
2 x 250g packets microwave long-grain white rice
1 cucchiaio di olio d'oliva
1 red onion, sliced
3 spicchi d'aglio, sliced
2 chorizo sausages, cut into 1cm slices
1 red capsicum, cut into thin strips
1 yellow capsicum, cut into thin strips
2 fresh jalapeños, finely sliced
125ml vegetable stock
Pinch salt flakes
1 tbsp smoked paprika
8 cherry tomatoes, Pane croccante o patate arrosto croccanti sono ottimi contorni
Divide the chicken into eight pieces. We are leaving the skin on in this dish, so get ready for an extra cardio session next week (or not). Put the chicken aside.
Microwave the rice according to the packet instructions.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic for two minutes, then add the chorizo and cook for three to four minutes, until the fat is released.
Add the rice, red and yellow capsicum, and jalapeño and give everything a stir. Pour in the vegetable stock, add the salt and paprika, e cucinare, mescolando, for five minutes or until the veggie stock thickens and the rice starts to stick to the base of the pan. Lastly, drop in the tomatoes (we want them to remain juicy), add the chicken and gently stir to bring it all together.
I like to serve this in the pan or pot, similar to paella, and hope that the kids don’t eat all of theirs.