Monthly Archives: September 2013

macaroni with broccoli pesto

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We had my mother-in-law to tea last night & I wanted to make something a bit different that would tickle her taste buds. Looking in the fridge I found we had quite a lot of broccoli (the result of me buying some at the market before I found the first big head of the season growing in the garden). And in the cupboard we had dried macaroni, so I decided to make a variation on a recipe in the Saturday paper. (A variation that was necessary because I didn’t have basil & I didn’t have pine nuts & I didn’t have the fancy pasta, just the macaroni 🙂 )

First I set water to boil in a large saucepan, prior to adding the macaroni (about 1&1/2 cups). Then I cut a large head of broccoli into florets before cooking them until just tender. The recipe said just to blanch the veges, but Mum is not a fan of crispy greens unless we are talking lettuce.)

While the broccoli cooked I pulsed 1/2 walnut halves (I know you don’t like them, Annette, but you could use cashews instead – or the original pine nuts!) in my stick blender’s chopping attachment until they were like largeish breadcrumbs, put them in a bowl, & chopped a cup or so of basil mint leaves (new addition to my herb garden & it’s a very vigorous grower) before adding them to the bowl as well. Then I did the same with the broccoli, until it was a rough paste, & added it to the bowl with 1/2c olive oil & a good grinding of salt & pepper.

By that time the pasta was nicely al dente, so I drained it & returned it to the pan along with the broccoli pesto, mixed it all together, & served with grated parmesan atop and alongside some carrots & nice crumbed pork schnitzel.

Mum was very taken with this offering 😀

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a very nice cheesecake

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This is a dessert I make quite often when we’re having friends over for dinner. It’s quick to make, requires no baking, & if you make it with ‘lite’ dairy products you can almost kid yourself it’s healthy 🙂 This recipe’s our current favourite variation on the original Edmond’s Cookbook version.

First, crush your biscuits** – for this version I use chocolate thins. (You can either put them in the blender until you get coarse crumbs, or put them in a reasonably sturdy plastic bag & beat them with a rolling pin; this can be quite cathartic.) Then mix in 70g melted butter & press the crumb crust into a 20cm-diameter dish. These days I use a spring-form pan – while it’s non-stick I still line the base with baking paper – but a ceramic pie-dish served us well for years. Put that in the fridge to chill & set while you make the filling.

Wipe the blender to get rid of the worst remaining crumbs & then into it put: 250g cream cheese (lite if you prefer); 250g sour cream (ditto); 1/4c white sugar; and the juice & zest of an orange (because this goes particularly well with the chocolate base. But you could use a lemon or lime instead). Blend till smooth.

Soften 4tsp gelatine in a couple of Tblsp water, & then briefly microwave to dissolve. Blend that into the cream mix & pour the whole lot into the prepared tin. At this point I sometimes add blueberries (though not with the chocolate version) or other fruit.

Chill till set, & serve 🙂

** If using plain biscuits (eg wine biscuits), then some crumbed macadamia nuts would be nice in the crust too.

mrs fordyce’s (gluten-free) gingernuts

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Back when I was in secondary school (a loooong way back!), my friend Ali F’s mum made the most wonderful gingernuts. We raved about them, & luckily she was only too happy to share the recipe. I found it again today – written in my school-girl scribble – when looking for something to make for morning tea. And because we had a couple of gluten-intolerant friends coming over, I tweaked the recipe a little to make it gluten-free. So…

Cream together 150g butter and 250g sugar. Once it’s pale & creamy, beat in 1 large egg and 1/4 c golden syrup. (I’ve made them before with honey & that’s worked well too.)

Sift together 2&1/2 cups GF flour, 3 tsp powdered ginger**, 2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt & 3/4 tsp guar gum, & mix this into the wet ingredients. It should give a firm, not too sticky, dough.

Roll walnut-sized pieces of dough into balls, then roll the balls in white sugar before placing on a greased baking sheet. (Or use a silicone sheet, or baking paper.) Bake at 150 Celsius for about 8 minutes – the original recipe said 180 C, but I could see early on that this was going to be a bit too hot. Cool a little on the tray before transferring to a rack.

I’ve had GF cookies before & found them very crumbly, but these were great: crispy outside, soft & chewy inside.

** I was really ticked off when I discovered that the commonly available commercial spices almost all have the words ‘contains wheat products’ on the packet! This is totally ridiculous – I’m assuming the wheat flour’s there to stop the stuff caking, but I’m paying for spices, not flour. Happily, you can buy a limited range of GF spices at our local supermarket; I’m hoping the market expands, not least so that I can still make a decent curry when our friends visit.