I took a bit of time out from the hectic busy-ness that is enrolment-in-person week & wandered over to one of the uni cafes for lunch. We are lucky to have not one but two Momento cafes on campus, and my favourite is the one down by the Management School. (Not least because of the lovely staff, who are never too busy to talk about cooking 🙂 ) Today I needed a pick-me-up & so I treated myself to something that had caught my eye on their new menu: blue-cheese wontons.
I’ve not long ‘converted’ to blue cheese, so I was interested in what these would be like. They.Were.Delicious!
What I got was a lovely serving of fresh salad veges: baby spinach & beets, sliced red capsicum & red onion, halved cherry tomatoes & a sprinkle of cashew nuts, with a tasty dressing (balsamic vinegar was involved, I think). And atop it, half a dozen big crisp wontons, each with blue cheese & (I think) honey hidden meltingly inside. Oh boy, that was so nice!
And so – of course! – I’ve started thinking about how to re-create that memorable meal. I don’t do deep-frying at home, but I rather suspect that squares of filo, layered into muffin tins & wrapped around morsels of blue cheese & a leetle honey before being baked, would give something quite similar. I’ll have to get the doings when on the weekend grocery shopping trip.
Thank you, Momento 🙂
Something else that we seem to have a lot of in the garden – as well as all those tomatoes – is pumpkins. While the daughter dislikes them, the husband & I are rather keen on pumpkins, but even he agrees that he might have got just a little carried away in his plantings last year. With reason, mind you – after growing the usual butternuts & crown pumpkins & a few supermarket squash last year, we found ourselves with an awful lot of the things: far too many for the two pumpkin-eaters to take care of. So when we came across some small-fruit varieties, we thought we’d try them out. Well! Small the fruit may be, but the plants still sprawl everywhere, & they’re amazingly prolific given that the seed packets usually said ‘2-3 fruit per plant’. And some of them are already ripe.
So, since I had freshly-made tomato sauce to hand, I decided on vegetable lasagne for tea. (I’d like to say that I made the pasta for it, but honesty compels me to admit that I didn’t; I used a packet of fresh lasagne sheets from the supermarket.)
First I split a couple of our cute little pumpkins in half, removed the seeds, brushed them with oil & put them in the oven (180 C) to bake. Once they were cooked & cool enough to handle, I scooped the lovely rich, dry-ish flesh into a bowl. In another bowl I mixed 500g of cottage cheese with one large egg & a decent handful of chopped parsley & garlic chives. And I set the first of our spinach to cook in briskly boiling water. Then I assembled the lasagne, using a largish roasting dish as I had 5 hungry mouths to feed.
On the bottom of the dish went about a cup & a half of sauce. Then I laid half the pasta sheets on top of the sauce, & topped them with the pumpkin, the spinach leaves, & some more sauce. Atop that went the rest of the pasta, followed by the cottage cheese mix. More sauce over the top of that, sprinkled with grated tasty cheese, & then the lasagne went into the oven (180 C again) for about 30 minutes until it was bubbling & the cheese was golden.
We had it with salad, & – some time later – blackberry & apple crumble for dessert.
After a slow start to the season, our tomatoes are really beginning to bear fruit. And the husband planted quite a few this year: the usual beefsteak & cherry tomato varieties, but also – because I asked nicely – a type called Long Tom. Which are big plants with big, elongated, fleshy fruit. Lots of them. So I’ve been making sauce – not the kind you’d put on sausages & pies, but the kind you’d use with pasta, or cook down to make a thick pizza sauce.
I tend not to use a fixed recipe for these. (Poor daughter 😦 ) I always begin with about 50g butter & a slosh of olive oil in one of my Really Large Pans, in which I set a couple of peeled & chopped onions to soften gently over low heat. After that I tend to add what’s available. The tomatoes are obviously a given 🙂 This time round I had a couple of kilos, which began their journey to sauce-dom by being put in a bowl & covered with boiling water, to make them easy to peel. While they sat there I peeled and sliced several smallish heads of garlic & added them to the onions, followed by half a dozen sliced ‘bulls horn’ red peppers (seeds removed). The peeled & chopped tomatoes joined everything else in the pan and then, because we have a lot of them as well, 4 thinly-sliced courgettes. (After all, I told myself, no-one – not even the courgette-averse – will know they’re there, once I’ve blitzed everything with the blender.)
Pot covered, I left it all to simmer over a low heat for about 20 minutes & then added a cup of chopped basil & about 1/2 c of fresh oregano leaves. A taste indicated a certain need for salt (1-2 tsp), & this time I also added 1 tsp of the lovely smoked paprika that my friend Annette gave me a while back. The final step when I’m making sauce is to add baking soda (1 tsp for this quantity of sauce): it cuts out most of the acidity & you’re left with a lovely, sweet, well-rounded sauce 🙂
The stick blender is about on its last legs, but it just managed to puree the vegetables, & once everything had cooled a bit I poured it into zip-lock bags & froze it for a less fruitful time of year. (Apart from that which I used in last night’s dinner, that is!).