Tag Archives: Pasta

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!

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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!!

A refreshing change.. .. minty, fresh meatballs

15 Mar

No tomato meatball fights today!!! No energy for it to be honest. Why is it that we ( this would actually be me) get soooo excited and inspired by many things that we always want to do everything all at once and succeed with all of  it at once, immediately?

Well… its definitely not refreshing to say that it is covered in impatience as well… and a bit of disappointment. I know it is because I have been trying to do everything at once… and doing everything at once amounts to eventually getting nowhere at all.

So after a weekend filled with doing nothing….( yes, lying on the couch eating numerous amounts of  food does amount to doing nothing.)… BUT, I was very tired and exhausted and in a lot of pain.. so I would think this is a good enough of an excuse 🙂

However, this amounted to me feeling very guilty for not taking ANY photos, writing ANY blogs or making ANY food…You read it…. my Conan, hero of the household rescued me this weekend providing me with food,, the game of throne series and copious amounts of tea  ;-p

Now, feeling slightly better, I  have decided to do a new take on meatballs… especially after my Big boy and I are the new faces of Gaviscon.. less tomato.. less indegestion. SO… it is the season of spring… and it is fresh and it is green… mint.. mint … and mint… and always, naturallly, garlic 🙂 This happy dish put a smile on big boy’s face… and as always I hear him eating out of the saucepans in the kitchen again… a very familiar sound I may add.

Creamy minted meatballs

1 onion very finely chopped ( use a food processor)

2 teaspoons of fresh mint, finely chopped

1 teaspoon of garlic

2 teaspoons of cumin

2 teaspoons of dried chives

1 pack of 250g  beef mince

1 egg

3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs

2 handfuls of mushrooms, roughly chopped

3 handfuls of mixed greens, roughly chopped ( mine was cabbage and spinach)

2 cups of orzo pasta

600ml of vegetable stock, made with one cube

2 tablespoons of olive oil

250ml of cream/soya cream/ creme fraiche

Fresh parmesan for grating

1 ripe avo,cut in pieces

Chop your onion into pieces small enough to fit into your food processor and add 1 teaspoon of the garlic and all the mint. It should be processed to quite fine, until it is just almost a paste, but not a paste.

Place your mince in a mixing bowl and add the cumin, chives, breadcrumbs and egg. Flavour with salt and pepper. Mix well. Now, make them into little meatballs. Whichever size you prefer.

When this is done, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a heated pan. Now, add your onion, mint and garlic mixture to the pan. Fry gently for about 7 minutes. Now, place your meatballs in the pan with the onion mixture. Let them brown in the pan and squiggle them about.

While the meatballs are cooking, add the remaining olive oil to a heated saucepan. Add the remaining garlic and add your mushrooms. Fry them until just slightly browned, and add your greens. Mix through. Now, add your orzo and mix through and then add your vegetable stock. Keep the heat on medium while cooking the orzo and stir frequently to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Do not put the lid on, keep it uncovered.

While this is cooking, check on your meatballs. If they are brown, add your cream and turn it down so that it simmers gently. Dont forget to check on your orzo.

This should be done when 90% of the liquid has been absorbed. Usually about 10 – 15 minutes.

When it is done, dish up the orzo, place the meatballs with its sauce on top, grind over some black pepper, add your avo and grate with a bit of fresh parmigiana,  and you’ve got yourself a winner!

What the heck, lets have pork neck

30 Aug

Unlike the flavourful dish I will talk about shortly, I would like to give you the true definition of a pig and how it is part of my morning, every morning. No, not the lovely crispy bacon, this pig is alive 🙂 PIG: A pig is any of the animals in the genus Sus, within the Suidae family of even-toed ungulates. Pigs include the domestic pig, its ancestor the wild boar, and several other wild relatives. Pigs are omnivores and are highly social and intelligent animals. As you might have realized, these pigs dress up in suits in the morning and tramp all over you to get on the train. They are also omnivores, which means, they will basically eat you alive! Their second, more well known name would be – middle aged bankers, on the overland rail.  Highly intelligent creatures, but that is about it, for an animal 🙂 For some reason when I always get angry in the morning, I always feel better when I know we will enjoy pork for supper 🙂 There is something very satisfying in teaching a piggy some manners. Marinate it, cook it properly and it is the most well-mannered taste that you will enjoy for the day 🙂

Hey, pigs have great taste ;-p  Simply put, I am not a happy camper after having to go back to work after bank holiday, so obviously there will be a bit of negativity 🙂 Well, skip that part because the positivity just came back after I enjoyed a lovely supper 🙂 This is a love and leave dish – for the pork that is. I am sure you will enjoy this and all negative spirits will disappear!

Zingy pork

One pack of pork neck steak

One whole garlic’s cloves, lightly crushed

2 tablespoons of olive oil

salt & pepper

1 twig of fresh rosemary

handful of twigs of fresh thyme

30ml dry white wine

1 tin of tinned, chopped tomatoes

30ml balsamic vinegar

juice of half lemon

4 spring onions, snipped

1/2 leek, roughly chopped

2 handfuls of mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 red pepper finely chopped

1 teaspoon crushed garlic

1 teaspoon of olive oil for the sauce

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Place your pork on a non-stick baking tray.

Flavour with salt and black pepper. Toss around your garlic. Sprinkle your thyme and rosemary over the pork. Drizzle with your olive oil. Now place in the oven and cook dor 30 – 35 minutes, or until golden and cooked. While this is cooking, add  the remaining olive oil to a frying pan.

Add your crushed garlic, leeks, spring onion & red pepper to a frying pan. Now fry for about 8-10 minutes. Add your mushrooms. Fryn until almost done and flavour with salt. Add the white wine. Mix through and allow to simmer.

After 10 minutes, add your tinned tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Flavour with salt according to your personal taste. Meanwhile, you can cook some pasta, I used orzo pasta, as your base for the pork and sauce.

When your pork is done, take it out of the oven. Place your orzo in your plate. Place the pork on top of that and top it off with your lovely sauce. Enjoy with a simple veggies or a side salad 🙂

Pantry pasta & kitchen madness

28 Aug

It really, truly is when I am in the kitchen. I might love cooking, but it’s as if there is a 3 year old child in the kitchen and it is even worse when baking. After my little knife in the arm incident, with my friend the dishwasher, the hubby behaves like a prowling, protective lion – he is too scared to leave me alone. Now, if he hears something falling, it takes him 2 seconds and he is in the kitchen! As I was baking yesterday to fill up my cookie jars, he must have been tired, as I kept on dropping tins and wooden spoons and basically everything a 3 year old drops, breaks and destroys when in a kitchen. So you can imagine how many times he ran up and down! What can I say, I am a VERY clumsy lady!

Also, a trait that I got from my mother, I have a distinct way of moving my nose around and up and down at “shop bought” cookies. Of course, my mother always made them herself as it was also too expensive to buy them in the shop, so naturally I would be a “cookie snob” 🙂 I completely went off the rail yesterday! I baked finely chopped, dark chocolate oat cookies and biscotti. The biscotti recipe is my mother’s, so I knew it would be perfect.  My neighbour also enters my post today. She is italian. Many times we talk over the fence and share tips about growing vegetables and flowers.

Come to think of it, while I was outside, waiting for the biscotti to finish baking, she handed me a handful of cherry tomatoes, obviously grown by her. This is what brings me to “pantry pasta”. We also went out last night, so I had to cook something that I had available, while still covered in flour all over!  Having a handful of fresh and sweet cherry tomatoes gave me the idea of plain, natural flavours.

Back to the biscotti,  the following compliment, I give credit to my mother – My neighbour Ave, told me this morning, that they call it “cantucci” and it is her husband’s favourite. She said it was absolutely delicious and her being Italian can’t find fault with it, and will have to ask me for MY recipe! Proud daughter with a very big smile!:-) So there you go mum, you know you are the perfect woman 🙂 So let’s start with the pasta, then we’ll move onto the biscotti and I think I will leave the dark chocolate oat cookies for another day 🙂 Don’t worry, I WILL add it 🙂

Pantry Pasta

Linguine pasta

handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

2 teaspoons of crushed garlic

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 pack of bacon, cut into bite size pieces

1 cup of freshly grated parmesan

50ml of dry white wine

6-7 slices of jalapeno, pips removed and finely sliced

2 handfuls of slices mushrooms

Put some water on to boil for your pasta. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the olive oil, garlic and jalapeños. Mix through. Add the mushrooms. Allow them to brown. Add your pasta to the boiling, salted water and cook till al dente. Now add the bacon and the tomatoes. Toss lightly while the bacon is cooking.

When the bacon is done, add the lemon juice and white wine. Simmer for 5-7 minutes.

Flavour with salt and pepper. Add half of your parmesan to the mixture and toss. Now, drain your pasta, allow at least 1 tablespoon of pasta water left in the pan with the pasta. Spoon the pasta in the pan with the bacon & mushroom mixture. Toss lightly.

Cover with a lid and leave to stand for 5 – 10 minutes. The pasta will absorb the flavours and the juices. When done, dish up and sprinkle each bowl of pasta with the remaining parmesan, plain, simple and lovely!

Mom’s biscotti or Biscotti Della Nocciola

500ml plain flour

250ml caster sugar

100g roasted hazelnuts

5ml vanilla essence

pinch of salt

5ml baking powder

2 eggs

zest of two lemons, finely grated

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Sieve your flour,sugar,baking powder & salt in together in a large mixing bowl and put aside.

Beat your eggs, zest & vanilla essence together in a separate bowl.  Add this to your flour mixture, along with the nuts and mix with a wooden spoon to a soft,but  manageable dough.  Divide the dough in two. Roll in cylinder forms. Place fairly far apart on a butter greased baking tray as they rise a fair amount. Sprinkle with flour and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Take out of the oven and allow to cool slightly. Now, cut in thin to medium slices. Place them back on the baking tray and allow to “dry” on a cooling rack in the oven at 100 degrees Celsius for 3o minutes. Take out of the oven and enjoy  🙂

Cheery Chicken

5 Jul

What can possibly be cheery about chicken…. or for normal (not me) people, even food…. Well, I recieved quite a few emails from a very dear friend of mine today. I have known her for about 9 years, which still amazes me. She is probably my first foodie fan!! Whenever I had a dinner party back in South Africa, I knew she would be the first guest to confirm, well and her hubby that is, but since I see them as one person, I don’t think I have to mention him ;-p

If possible, it would be them that might have invented the “hhhhmmmmmmm” sound effects when one enjoys a great meal! It is quite possible that there might have been times where the food wasn’t that great, but I like to believe it was my cheery personality that made them forget about that ;-p Something that I admire about my friend Nikki, is that she is always cheery, enjoys to chat with me over a glass of wine about the ” terrible, hard and emotional” life of a artist – the “no one understands us” trait ! Dramaqueen no 2! ;-p  Add to this, that she always appreciates the small things in life and realises the beauty in it, makes me miss her terribly! So, after speaking to her today, I know she has had a hard day and would love a nice, warm, home cooked meal!

This is where I will start moving over to my infomercial voice – If you sign up to my blog now, you will recieve lovely and hearty FREE recipes, which no other individual will supply….. BUT there is more!! By reading this blog, you will recieve a recipe today to put everything together in only 5 minutes, put it in the oven, sit back, relax and wait for it to develop into a lovely, hearty and cheery meal! But.. there is MORE! By reading this recipe, it will also supply you with a slight smile of completely how ridiculous it is that you are finding it entertaining, for FREE!

Enough with all the bull, this recipe is dedicated to my friend Nikki, if I could, this dish would have waited for her at home already to enjoy when she walks through the door. So, this is a quick, all in one casserole, whole chicken recipe. Simple, tasty and cheers you up in no time!

1 whole chicken

juice of one lemon

3 tablespoons of malt vinegar ( if you dont have this, take redwine vinegar and mix it with a teaspoon of sugar)

1 1/2 cup of Orzo ( small grainy type of pasta)

Butter for basting

1 whole Garlic clove,broken into their normal individual cloves, skin still on

Olive oil

1 red onion, cut in quarters with skin still on

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1 teaspoon of cumin powder

salt & pepper

Tinned broad beans or fresh beans

1 glass of dry white wine

Get a nice deep casserole dish that you can use on the stove, as well as in the oven. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius. Drizzle your casserole dish with olive oil and fry your onions, garlic and cumin seeds for about 5 minutes. Now, place your chicken on top of the onions and garlic etc. Rub the top of the chicken with butter, almost massaging it. Now sprinkle your cumin over the chicken. Squeeze over your lemon juice and add the white wine. Flavour with salt and pepper and put in the oven to cook for about 40 minutes.

Remove the lid now and cook for another 10 minutes.

Now, take it out of the oven, and add your vinegar, beans and orzo and mix through. Should you need more liquid, add more white wine. Mix through.  Cover with the lid and cook for another 9 minutes. Remove from oven, cut your chicken and serve up with your beans and orzo!