Culinary Hotline - 10 August 2022

Celebrating women in the food industry, we’re joined by the one and only Mama Bongi, the woman behind the best cookies in town!

Mama Bongi’s Spinach and Feta Phyllo Pie
Makes: 1 pie
Time: 40 minutes
Recipe by: Mama Bongi

100 g pine nuts (optional)
5 large free-range eggs
300 g feta cheese
50 g Cheddar cheese
dried oregano
1 lemon
olive oil
1 knob of unsalted butter
400 g baby spinach
1 x 270 g pack of filo pastry
cayenne pepper
2 cloves of garlic


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
Toast the pine nuts in a large ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden and smelling fantastic, tossing occasionally.
Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl, crumble in the feta, then grate in the Cheddar. Season with a pinch of black pepper and a couple of pinches of dried oregano.
Melt the butter in the frying pan over a medium heat with a drizzle of oil, add half the spinach, stirring until wilted, then when there’s space, add the remaining spinach, stirring regularly until wilted.
Lay a 50cm strip of greaseproof paper out on a clean work surface, rub lightly with oil and scrunch up, then flatten out again.
Arrange 4 sheets of filo in a large rectangle on the greaseproof paper, overlapping at the edges, so that it’s almost covering the greaseproof. Rub the filo with a little oil, sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Repeat until you have 3 layers.
Stir the wilted spinach into the egg mixture, then grate in half the nutmeg and mix well. Slide the greaseproof and filo into the empty frying pan, so that the edges spill over, then push down into the sides of the pan.
Pour in the spinach mixture and spread out evenly, then fold the filo up over the filling to cover.
Place the pan over a medium heat for 2 minutes, just to get the bottom cooking, then transfer to the top shelf of the oven for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Delicious served with a fresh seasonal salad.

Mama Bongi’s Poppy Seed Bread
Makes: 1 loaf
Time: 1 hour
Recipe by Mama Bongi

2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
4 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ Cup (150g) granulated sugar
1/3 Cup (80ml) vegetable oil ·
1/3 Cup (80g) sour cream (or plain yogurt/Greek yogurt)room temperature
2/3 Cup (160ml) whole milk, at room temperature
½ Cup (45ml) lemon juice
3 Tablespoon lemon zest

½ Cup (60g) confectioners’ sugar
1 Tablespoon (15ml) lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
Whisk the flour, poppy seeds, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and granulated sugar together until combined.
Whisk in the oil, sour cream, milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then whisk to completely combine. Avoid overmixing; a few small lumps are OK.
Pour/spread the batter evenly into prepared loaf pan.
Bake the bread for 50 minutes to 1 hour, covering loosely with foil about halfway through to help the loaf bake evenly. Poke the center of the bread with a toothpick.
If it comes out clean, the bread is done. Oven times will vary between ovens. My bread usually takes 55 minutes. Cool bread completely in the pan set on a wire rack. Feel free to drizzle with glaze (next step) while the bread is still warm. The glaze seeps down into the warm bread this way, adding extra moisture.
Make the glaze: This doesn’t yield a lot of glaze– just a light layer. Feel free to double the glaze if you want more.
Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice together. Drizzle over bread while it’s still warm in the loaf pan or after it cools. Slice and serve. Cover and store leftover plain or glazed bread at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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