Tag Archives: Cheese

Indulging, exotic mushroom, zesty and nurturing Lumaconi pasta

11 Oct

Over the last few weeks its been one of those where you just don’t realise where the time has gone. October? That’s less than 90 days till Christmas! I have my days where I obsess about salads, veg and high protein dishes to pull me through my week at work and at the gym, but sometimes I believe you need to take some time, cook something you just really feel like enjoying, not necessarily what your body needs, but what you just WANT!

On days like these I tend to stroll lazily through the supermarket looking for something interesting, or sometimes just some veg or food I wouldn’t normally have on my weekly shopping list. I always find something that inspires me to create a new dish or even new twist on an old dish.

This week, I present to you my lumaconi.  In this case, it really IS all about the pasta!! I love it with a light, zesty sauce, and not drenched in cream. Surprisingly, I’ve received a number of compliments for this simple little dish. Today, slow down a bit, but some music on, pour yourself a beautiful glass of wine and start cooking. Take your time. Don’t rush. I believe this dish is all about the love you put into it.

Zesty exotic mushroom, spinach & feta lumaconi

exotic mushrooms

 

Ingredients

juice and zest of 1 x lemon

1 x pack of baby spinach leaves

250g mix of fresh exotic mushrooms, very roughly chopped

1 x tablespoon of butter + 1 teaspoon of butter

1/2 x glass of dry white wine

250g of soft, greek feta cheese

3 x tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan or pecorino

1/2 cup of reserved pasta water

salt & pepper to taste

exotic mushrooms

Add your butter to a heated pan and allow to melt. Gently start frying your mushrooms. Remember, if you don’t give mushrooms space, they wont brown.

exotic mushrooms

Fry your mushrooms until brown. Now remove the mushrooms from the pan and blanch your spinach in the remaining butter and mushroom juices.

mushroom & spinach

Remove the spinach and place aside. Add the teaspoon of butter and turn up the heat. Now add your mushrooms back in the pan again.

spinach and mushrooms

Add the white wine, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix through. Allow the liquid to reduce and then set aside to cool.

butter & mushrooms

Now start cooking your pasta according to the packet instructions, making sure to cook it 4 minutes less than stated on the packet.

grated lemon zest

When this is done, reserve half a cup of the pasta water, keep aside and drain your pasta.

lumaconi pasta

Add the spinach to the mushroom mixture & crumble your feta into the spinach and mushroom mixture.

lumaconi pasta

Now put it back on the heat. Add the pasta and start mixing it through gently, slowly adding the reserved pasta water.

fried mushrooms

The pasta water will mix with the feta, allowing a gentle thickened sauce.

mushroom, feta & spinach

All you need to do now is flavour it with freshly ground black pepper and a few pinches of salt.

grated parmesan

Time to dish up!

spinach, feat and lumaconi pasta

Sprinkle over the grated parmesan, take a sip of your wine and enjoy!

Porcini Mushroom Edemame Risotto

8 Feb

A perfect love affair! I’ve never met anyone that does not appreciate a good risotto. Its just always so moreish, no matter what you add to it. Its comforting, warm, creamy and it only takes 30 minutes to make! Yes, I know a lot of people tend to avoid making risotto, because they feel it takes too long and you have to “wait” for it. I don’t necessarily agree. The therapeutic part is when you stir, and that’s all you have to do. Give it the love it deserves and it will love you back three times more! Risotto is as flexible as pasta. You can add whatever you want. My favourite though, will always be a mushroom risotto. Especially with dried porcini’s it lends a slightly wild and rich, earthy taste to the dish. Whenever I have no idea what to cook and our fridge is empty from meat for a roast on a Sunday, I turn to risotto. Its always there for me in my food cupboard and it may just be the big lion’s best friend. If I have EVER seen someone eat copious amounts of risotto, that’s my man with his mouth filled to the rims! porcini

Porcini Mushroom Risotto

Ingredients

1 x pack of dried porcini mushrooms

1 cup of fresh, chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 1/2 cups of dry white wine

1 x teaspoon crushed garlic

2 x cups Arborio rice

1 pack of bacon, cut into small bite size pieces

1 x onion, finely chopped

60g butter

2 x tablespoons olive oil

juice of one lemon

salt & pepper to taste

1 x cup fresh soya / edamame beans

1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan

1/2 cup of chicken stock.

500ml hot water

risotto Place the porcini mushrooms in a measuring jug. Pour the boiling water over the mushrooms and allow to stand. Meanwhile, add the butter and the olive oil to a wide,big pan. Gently fry the onions for until glassy. bacon Add the bacon and cook for about 5 – 8 minutes. Add the Arborio rice and mix through, making sure all the rice is glazed with the butter and olive oil. onion Pour in the white wine and mix through. When the liquid has almost been absorbed by the rice, add a little bit of the porcini mushroom liquid. lemon Stir through again. The secret to risotto is that you must keep stirring, and as soon as the liquid has been absorbed, you add some more again and keep stirring. Lemon juice Alternate your liquid with the chicken stock and the mushroom liquid. edamame beans For step by step, I borrowed a link from WikiHow to show those that might feel they’re not sure how much liquid to add at once etc. http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Risotto-Rice lemon juice When you have used half of the liquid, add the mushrooms and the soaked porcini mushrooms. edamame beans Mix through and keep stirring until all the liquid has been used. edamame beans Add the edamame beans and the lemon juice and mix through. risotto Taste the risotto and season with salt and pepper. risotto Mix through the parmesan cheese.Plate up and grate over a little more parmesan cheese, and tuck in! risotto

Tuna Melt Casserole

1 Feb

You know what they say: A good marriage is like a casserole, only those responsible for it really know what goes in it. Where in this case, I know everyone has their little special touch for their casserole. Mine? Two things, wine & cheese! Best combination, whether you use them together in food or just as is, from where I come from in SA, it is definitely a winning pair!

This was last weekend’s indulgent Sunday coach potato food. As you know, its pretty cold in London at the moment, so no one is going out. Best thing to do is have a proper lie in, coffee in hand and then when you get up start cooking a heart warming casserole! My big guy tends to have the best ideas when I ask him on a Sunday morning what he’ll like for lunch. Even if it is a very straight forward dish, I strive to make it extra yummy and extra indulgent! Lets just say there’s no shortage of cheese in this dis. It can be gluten free by using gluten free pasta, and corn flour for the béchamel sauce ( if not using cream).

For those that choose to make the béchamel sauce, you can click on this link for a step by step guide. Just before I turn off the heat, for the béchamel sauce, I add a handful of grated cheese and mix it through until melted.

onion

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-B%C3%A9chamel-Sauce

Tuna Melt Casserole

Ingredients

Rigatoni pasta ( cooked to packet instructions)

1 x onion roughly chopped

1 x handful of chopped mushrooms

1 x teaspoon of butter

1 x teaspoon of olive oil

1 x cup bacon lardons / pieces

2 x tins of chunky tuna

1 teaspoon of chopped garlic

Salt & pepper to taste

1 x cup of cream ( if not making béchamel sauce)

2x cups of mature cheddar, grated

pinch of nutmeg

2 x tomatoes, finely sliced

1 x cup of chicken soup sachet

1 x teaspoon of Italian herbs

1 x white wine

chopped mushrooms

Add the butter and olive oil to the pan. Fry your onion in the pan for about 5-8 minutes and add the bacon lardons with the mushroom. Add the garlic and mix through.

chopped garlic

Add tuna and fry together for 5 minutes. In the meantime, add your pasta to boiling water and cook according to cooking instructions.

chopped mushrooms

Now add the soup sachet and mix through. Increase the heat and add the white wine. Mix through and lower the heat again. Keep mixing, as the wine will thicken due to the soup powder.

butter

If you’re using cream instead of béchamel, add it now and mix through. Add the pinch of nutmeg and mix through. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Flavour with salt and black pepper to taste.

grated cheese

If you’re using béchamel, mix the tuna, mushroom & bacon mixture into the sauce and mix through. Add this to your cooked pasta and mix through. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish.

bechamel

Sprinkle the cheese over the pasta, distributing it evenly.

cooking wine

Place all the tomato slices evenly over the pasta. Sprinkle with the Italian herbs, season with salt and black pepper.

pasta

Cook in the oven under the grill until the cheese is super crispy!

pasta

To add a little extra indulgence, I’ve sliced over a little avocado for extra creaminess!

pasta

“Flat” out cheating lasagne

21 Apr

I have been feeling cheated. Cheated by time. Who gets home, cooks supper and goes to sleep barely having an hour or two ( in our case, none)  to chat with the one that gives you that sparkle in your eye? I feel cheated as some magic, miniature magician has been sitting on the clock and moving it with its little hands every time I look away. How unfair is this? Someone must be cheating somewhere!

By the looks of it, you can see my camera and fingers aren’t working either as I could barely remember my blog password from rejecting my little baby for so long!! No time people… no time!! 😦   Another thing that I feel cheated by is my eye cream… who is to decide to write on the label that it makes you look “fresh faced”? The only thing that makes me look fresh faced is the ever so strikingly pale colour of my skin that seems to glow from “whiteness” when I walk in the cold to the bus stop… with PUFFY eyes…yay for eyecream….

So, why not try and trick time and cheat as well?? That is what this lasagne dish is all about. Quick, tasty and happy… with loads and loads of mushrooms!!! All for mushrooms… Aye!

6-8 lasagne sheets ( or more, your own preference)

1 large punnet of small button mushrooms, some halved, some whole

25g salted butter

1 teaspoon of crushed garlic

1 brown onion chopped

150ml of chicken stock

30ml of dry white wine

5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme

150ml cream/soya cream

parmesan cheese to grate

big ball of buffalo mozzarella

salt and pepper to taste

Place your butter in a heated saucepan and allow to melt. Add a drop of olive oil and this will prevent the butter from burning. When the butter is melted, add the onions. Allow the onions to “carmelize” over low heat. As the onions seem to become softer, add your mushrooms and garlic.

Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes over low heat. Now, turn the heat up and add your chicken stock and white wine. Leave uncovered and allow to simmer down for about 10 – 15 minutes, until the liquid has halved.

Taste and season with salt if needed. Now, add half of your thyme ( take the leaves off the little twigs). Mix through with love and add the cream. Allow to simmer for about 7 minutes to allow the thyme to infuse in the mushroom mixture.

While it is simmering, place your lasagne sheets in salted, boiling water. It should cook in about 8-10 minutes, depending on how you like the texture. When this is done, you’re just about ready 🙂

Place one lasagne sheet on a plate. Dish over some mushrooms and tear some mozzarella and place on top of the mushrooms. Now place a lasagne sheet over this again. You will keep going until you are happy with your “tower”. Just like layering normal lasagne.. this just doesn’t go in the oven.

When this is done,drizzle some of the sauce on it and top it off with some freshly grated parmesan and black pepper. Easy peasy, cheaty weasy!!

Pièce de résistance … Home Grown Tomato tart

25 Aug

We should actually have a whole chapter on tomatoes, as my crop just keeps on giving and giving.. in the most famous and often used words of themost critical and only food taster in this house “The gift that keeps on giving”! However, there is something about tomatoes – the possibilities with these bright and beautiful red fruits are just endless! I read somewhere ( don’t ask me where, my memory is getting rusty)  something that actually just made my day – “It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato”. Don’t you just love that, I feel like I am living on my own farm already!!

After talking about this tomato tart for quite a few weeks, I decided to actually just go for it!! After all, there will always be more tomatoes, and since we haven’t had tart within a week, I suppose, why not? I think it turned out so well, I heard new “hmmmmmm” noises from my hungry tiger that I haven’t heard before, and as always, the very famous ” beauuuuuuutiful”! I don’t actually know in what type of category it will fall in, because it has egg and cream, but just a touch, and it has 2 different cheeses. Maybe we should just call it “my french tart” since, it is after all, the Pièce de résistance!! It’s a real beauty, and why not, it is even my favourite colour!! There is always something exciting and daring about red! ;-p

Home Grown Tomato Tart

14 medium tomatoes, finely sliced / 10 large tomatoes

Olive oil for drizzling

salt & pepper to taste

1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 cup of feta cheese

2 red onions, sliced in rounds

25g of butter and extra for greasing

1 teaspoon of crushed garlic

2 twigs of thyme

1 pack of short crust pastry

Flour for dusting

1 fluted tart tin

45ml cream/soya cream

1 egg

Spread your tomatoes out in a tray. Drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven for about 15- 20 minutes. While this is roasting, melt your butter in a pan, add the garlic and slowly fry your onions on a low heat.

You just want them to slowly and slightly carmelize and turn soft, juicy and sweet. When your tomatoes are ready, your onions will be ready 🙂 Dust your surface with flour and roll out your pastry. Grease your tart tin. Place your pastry in the tin and prick with a fork. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Take half of your parmesan cheese and sprinkle on the pastry. Now, layer it with your onions. Sprinkle half of your feta cheese over the onions. Now place your tomatoes over the feta and layer them properly. Crumble the remaining feta over the tomatoes.

Layer the remaining tomatoes over the feta. Sprinkle with the thyme. Beat your egg and cream together. Pour it over the filling. Now sprinkle over the rest of your parmesan and place in the oven for 15- 20 minutes or until golden brown. What a lovely little surprise!! Enjoy with a crisp and fresh green salad 🙂 Just a thought…. my camera’s battery died, so these are dirty, disgusting blackberry photos, apologies, I know, it will NEVER happen again!! 😉

1st Date Pasta

3 Jun

yes, this sounds very funny, I know, but then again, I cant think of a time that I didn’t have a ridicilous title for my posts.I read about a girl today that has dyslexia and everyday she opens the dictionary and chooses a word. So I thought about my word for the past WEEK -Frustration: Frustration is a common emotional response to opposition. Related to anger and disappointment, it arises from the perceived resistance to the fulfillment of individual will. The greater the obstruction, and the greater the will, the more the frustration is likely to be.

Yes, this is me ( typing it all with one hand, which might even increase the frustration),feeling uesless. So you can imagine what it must be like for that man of mine. My mother always said to me, even if you start feeling sorry for yourself, think about everything that is wonderful. I have a lot of these happy-filled bubbles 🙂

So, as I was sitting outside on my deckchair (desperate housewife-style), I looked around at my beautiful flowers, listened to the birds singing, and just the normal sounds that I have become familiar with ( Siren of a ambulance every 5 minutes ;-p)I fell instantly blessed -smelling a scent of a flower that I remember from my first date with my hubby…… the mischievous face of the fierce lion cub entering my mind, which still makes me smile. 🙂

It was a hot day, filled with the scent of flowers and our date was in Stellenbosch, in the courtyard of a beautiful restaurant. I remember when I walked in as he was waiting for me, looking up, thinking what a beautiful man, and what a terrible mistake. There and then I knew I was in love already and he was flying back to another country and my heart will be broken forever,dramaqueen!! The other part of the story was that I already looked at the menu earlier that day and decided I was having the Salmon pasta with cream, feta and roasted tomatoes. Coincidently, the hubby put the same order in for himself, so this is how the scent of a flower brought me to the memory of our first date, more so, a very similar dish that I made and never blogged about. So clearly, you know by now that this recipe is dedicated to my lovely, ever so handsome, mischievous hubby, because I still love him more that words can dare to describe,every day.

1st Date Pasta

2 salmon steaks

2 handfulls of cherry tomatoes

juice of 1 lemon

4 pieces of bacon cut into medium sized pieces

1/2 leek chopped

1 cup frozen peas

1 block of feta cheese

handfull of fresh thyme

1 teaspoon garlic

250ml cream / soya cream

salt/pepper

2 cups of rigatoni/penne pasta

handful of freshly grated parmesan

Place your salmon and cherry tomatoes on a baking tray. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and grind over some black pepper and salt. Put in preheated oven of 200 degrees celcius. Cook the salmon for 15 minutes and roast the tomatoes for 20 minutes. While this is cooking, heat a pan on the stove and add your garlic to the pan and pour in some olive oil. Fry your leek until soft, but stil firm and add your bacon.Fry until the bacon is almost cooked and add your lemon juice,thyme and peas.

Start boiling water for your pasta and remember to put salt in the water. When your salmon is done, rougly break it into pieces and add to your bacon mixture. Now add your cream and feta roughly broken into pieces and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Lastly, add your cherry tomatoes and mix it through gently. When your pasta is done, toss it with your salmon sauce and sprinkle with parmesan, plenty of love and enjoy!

Broccoli chicken for a broccoli head ;-p

18 Apr

Today I had to manage my patience wisely. Sometimes you get people that just really get on your nerves!! That is why my head felt like an overcooked broccoli by the time I got home!! After watching Karate Kid with the hubby, the only thing that goes through my head – “Focus Daniel San!” “It ok to lose to enemy, it not ok to lose to FEAR!” So I am not losing! ;-p This is what inspired me ;-p …. and the hint hint, wink wink from the hubby!! This is one of his favourite dishes that my mother in law makes for him, which doesn’t happen often as we are in a different country?! Sad to say, but I don’t think that my chicken broccoli comes close to hers..Mum’s food is always the best!! One thing I can say – when she serves him his chicken broccoli, he is very quiet and you won’t hear one eeny, teeny bit of complaint out of his mouth, besides the compliment of how much he loves it!

So here is my take on broccoli chicken… be warned, this is NOT a low fat dish!

3 chicken Fillets

1/2 cup mayonaise

1 cup of cream / soya cream

3 tablespoons of crushed garlic

1 leek, roughly chopped

6-7 mushrooms, roughly chopped

Olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

salt & pepper to taste

3 cups of broccoli

1 cup of cheese, grated

2 heaped teaspoons of horseradish sauce

8 bacon kips

Steam your broccoli in a saucepan. Not too much, the broccoli should be soft, but still firm. Now, add your olive oil, garlic and leeks to a heated frying pan and fry until the leeks are soft. Now add your mushrooms and brown slighty. Season with salt & pepper

Now add your horseradish sauce and mix through. Add your chicken and pour in your lemon juice. Mix through. Cook for about 5 – 8 minutes. Mix your cream and mayonaise together and add to your leek mixture. You will now be poaching your chicken in the cream mixture.

In the meantime switch on your oven at 180 degrees celcius. Now, as your chicken is simmering, add your broccoli and mix through.

Put in a casserole dish, sprinkle over your cheese, grind some black pepper over it and now break your bacon kips in fine bits over the dish. Put in the oven and allow the cheese to melt and your bacon kips to brown.

Njummy, njummy njjummy!!!!! I served it with basmati rice and, naturally, salad. Serve up any delicious food for the hubby without a salad and he always feels like there is something missing! So, of course he gets his salad! Hope you enoy it! Lots of love xx