Tag Archives: garlicky goodness

zucchini timbales & tomato coulis


Last night we had some good friends to dinner. The main course was garlic & sweet chilli prawns, but on casting about for an entrée I decided on this zucchini dish. Mainly because we have zucchinis in the garden, & with this vegetable it seems you have either a glut or a famine. I’ve had the recipe for years but haven’t made it a lot in recent times; it’s from an old edition of the Australian Women’s Weekly microwave cookbook (we’re talking the 1980s here 😀 ).

The timbales: first, puree 8 small zucchini in a blender – you could equally well grate them; I’ve done it both ways & both work just fine. Cook the result in the microwave on ‘high’ for 5 minutes & then squeeze out as much of the moisture as you can.

Put the squeezed veges in a bowl & mix in a 250g tub of sour cream (‘lite’, if you insist, a pinch of salt, as much chopped basil as you like (the recipe says 2 Tblsp but I like more than that), 2 Tblsp grated parmesan, & 4 eggs.

Divide the mix between 6 1/2 c moulds (I love my silicone ones; if you are using another kind remember to grease them well) & cook in the microwave for around 7 minutes on med-high – check occasionally. You want them firm in the middle. (They could also be done standing in a dish of water in a moderate oven.)

The coulis: peel & chop 4 medium tomatoes & put in a bowl with a clove or more (I used more as garlic is something we also have a lot of & we all like it) & 2-3 Tblsp tomato paste. Cover & cook on high for 3-4 minutes, then blend to a puree.

Unmould the timbales onto serving plates & serve with some of the tomato sauce on the side. This is a lovely, light, summery entrée 🙂


macaroni cheese – but not as we knew it


Last night we spent a happy few hours having dinner – & watching youtube videos 🙂 – with friends. We were to have watched Cold Comfort Farm but when the time came it turned out someone else had borrowed it 😦 However, our friends had decided that in keeping with the film’s title, we’d have comfort food for dinner, & so we did. Macaroni cheese, in fact, but with a decided tweak to the recipe.

On enquiring, we found that along with the lovely creamy cheese sauce, there came… finely diced dried apricots and, ditto, gherkins. And some home-grown chili pepper. Yes, really, and it was very nice indeed, popped under the grill with sliced tomatoes on top and served with lashings of finely-grated parmesan. Everyone agreed that this recipe was a keeper.

And along with it we had a new take on broccoli – smallish florets blanched, tossed with olive oil, a little flaked chili, and lots of minced garlic, and then finished off under the grill. Very very tasty, and another recipe to add to the list of things to try at home.

And next time it’s our turn to visit, Cold Comfort Farm will be there ready 🙂

not yer usual garlic prawns


Last week the husband & I spent a very pleasant few days down in Napier. The sun shone, the wind didn’t blow, the temperature was balmy, & the food was terrific. One of several memorable dinners (memorable for all the right reasons) was eaten at Indigo, a most excellent Indian restaurant, We started off with a shared dish of vegetarian entrees, which we knew full well we didn’t need to eat but they sounded rather good & turned out to be so. I followed that with Kashmiri gustaba (a delightfully fragrant dish of lamb meatballs in a saffron & yoghurt-based sauce), & the husband indulged in jingha lasooni, which turned out to be garlic prawns & was probably the best dish of the evening (& you’ll have gathered that all of them were pretty darn good).

Anyway, ever since there have been small murmurings that perhaps I might like to make those prawns at home. So today was the day. I’d looked at quite a few recipes but, apart from prawns & garlic, they seemed more different than similar, so as usual I Made Stuff Up.

First, I minced a thumb-sized piece of raw ginger & put that in a large-ish bowl with 6 cloves of garlic, peeled & also minced. I’d have mixed them with a tub of natural yoghurt if we’d had any in the fridge, but we didn’t so I used 1/2 a tub of sour cream instead. For the spices I used 2 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1/4 tsp ground chili, a pinch of salt, & 1 tsp garam masala. Because I could, & also because I wanted a sauce/marinade somewhat runnier than things were looking right then, I steeped a pinch of saffron in 2 Tblsp boiling water for a few minutes & added that to the bowl, then mixed everything well to combine. I also added a handful of golden raisins, because I sort of remembered something in the jingha lasooni that had that same sweet mouth-feel. The final step at this stage was to add 400g of prawn tails and stir well so that each tail was well coated with the marinade.

Coming up to dinner time, I melted 50g butter in a heavy frying pan with 1 Tblsp oil, then added 2 brown onions (peeled and finely chopped – oh how I love my slice-y dice-y mandoline!) and cooked them, stirring occasionally, till they were softened & golden. Then I tipped in the prawns & their marinade, raised the heat, & simmered it all together until the prawn flesh was white & cooked through. (I cheated with the accompaniments: the rice was ‘Uncle Ben’s & the naan – this time – were some that I’d bought at the market a couple of weeks ago & frozen.)

Served over rice, with chopped coriander leaves on top & with naan on the side, it looked – & smelled – pretty good really, albeit quite a different meal from that Napier dinner 😀

sweet chilli prawns


The daughter was away over the weekend. While she is an obliging offspring, there are some things she’d prefer not to see on her plate, & so we like to take advantage of these absences in order to indulge ourselves. Thus on Saturday, as we did our supermarket shop, the husband earnestly besought me to make ‘nice tasty prawns’ for dinner. And so we picked up 400g of raw frozen prawns as we passed the chilled/frozen seafood section, & went on our way to the checkout.

When dinner time rolled around, I decided that some noodles would be good – I try to keep a few packets of udon noodles in the pantry, so grabbed a couple of packets & transferred their contents to a bowl before putting the kettle on to boil. (These are the Trident noodles from the supermarket ie soft & longlife.)

Then I got everything else together: a thumb-sized piece of raw ginger, very thinly sliced (I love my slicey-grate-y mandoline-y thing that I bought at Fieldays) and then chopped even finer; 8 cloves of garlic (because that was how many there were in the small head of garlic in the kitchen; no vampires at our place tonight!); a long sweet red pepper, also very finely sliced; freshly squeezed lime juice, & the bottle of sweet chilli sauce. And the prawns, which I’d left out to defrost.

I sloshed a bit of olive oil into my heavy-based frying pan & brought it to a medium heat before adding the ginger & garlic, shaking it around so they didn’t burn. The prawns, once drained, went in next. It took 4-5 minutes, stirring often, for their flesh to go from translucent to white and their tails to that nice pink that tells you they’re done. After they’d been cooking for about 2 of those minutes I added the red pepper slices.

At that point I also poured the hot water from the kettle over my noodles, stirred them around to separate them, and microwaved on high for 60 seconds.

By this time the prawns were done, so I added the lime juice and a decent slug (ie to taste 😀 – about 1/4 c in my case) to the prawns & mixed so that everything was coated, then drained the noodles & yelled that dinner was ready.

I regret to report that between the two of us we ate the lot.

red pepper sauce for pasta & the like


Well, I guess I’ve been living up to the ‘occasional diary’ party lately 😦 Apologies for this; my life has been hectic & while I’ve still been cooking, finding the time/motivation to sit down & write about it has been difficult. Hopefully things are looking up 🙂

Anyway, we’ve managed to keep our vege garden going through the drought (so far, anyway) with some judicious hand-held hosing. One result has been an abundance of red peppers, so this morning I thought I’d turn the latest pickings into sauce. Not least because a friend of ours is allergic to tomatoes – this way I can still put a red sauce on pizza when he visits.

First up I put 50g butter & 3-4t Tsp of olive oil in a heavy frypan over a low heat, & while that was warming up I peeled 3 onions – 2 red & one brown, as it happens, because that’s what came to hand – and sliced them thinly before adding them to the pan. Kept the heat low because I wanted them to soften & begin to caramelise but definitely not to burn. While they cooked I peeled & sliced half a dozen large cloves of garlic & put them to one side – I don’t like to add the garlic too soon as it can sometimes catch & burn.

Then I turned to the dozen or so lovely ripe red peppers I’d picked. (These are the long pointed ones, not the more common short fat kind.) I cut off the stem end, sliced the peppers in half lengthwise, & picked out & discarded pith & seeds before slicing them into thin strips. A dozen peppers gave a rather large pile!

Next the garlic went into the pan, together with 1/4 tsp ground chilli (I don’t like sauces to be too fiery; I just wanted a bit of ‘bite’), 1&1/2 tsp smoked paprika, & 1 tsp salt. I stirred this around for a couple of minutes, then added the peppers & mixed everything well. Then I covered the pan with a lid & left everything to cook down for about 20 minutes, on a very low heat. On tasting the mix I decided to add a couple of tsp of brown sugar, just to give a slightly richer flavour.

And now the sauce is cooling, awaiting a quick tryst with the blender before I freeze it for later use. And the kitchen smells like summer.

feeding the many with a few pork sausages


Last night I had 7 pork sausages and 5 (3 of them big eaters) to feed for tea. Eeeek! So I looked in the pantry & garden: fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic & peppers; tomato paste; tinned cannellini beans; stock; & spices. And in the fridge, sour cream & tasty cheese. So I sent the daughter off to get some corn chips from the dairy (she came home with Doritos) & got cooking.

First I chopped a couple of onions & set them frying gently in a couple of Tblsp of olive oil. While they softened I peeled & chopped the cloves of a couple of small heads of garlic & added them to the pan, along with a couple of sliced long sweet red peppers.

Then came the sausages. I snipped the end of each one, held it over the pan, & squeezed out walnut-sized balls of sausage meat – I got 6-7 little balls per sausage. I stirred everything around & let the sausage meat brown a bit, before adding 1 tsp of smoky dried paprika and 1/4 tsp of chilli powder. (That last mightn’t sound much, but the chilli powder they sell in the local supermarket is HOT!)

After that I added 2 c of peeled**, chopped tomatoes, 250 ml stock (it was chicken stock, because that’s what was in the cupboard, but vegetable stock would have been good too), & a small tub of tomato paste. I seasoned it to taste & then simmered for 20 minutes or so until it was all nicely thickened.

And then I served it, along with the corn chips, a bowl of grated tasty cheese, the sour cream, a lettuce/cucumber/tomato salad (we are having trouble keeping on top of the lettuces & cucumbers at the moment!) & some lovely fresh sweetcorn, picked about 10 minutes previously & cooked quickly in a pan of boiling water.

Rather to my surprise, there was enough over for a couple of people to share for lunch.

** If you put the tomatoes in a bowl & pour boiling water over them, then stand them for a few minutes before tipping the hot water off & flushing with cold water, the skins will split & slip off really easily  🙂

garlic prawns & fried rice


When I went past the ‘fish’ section of the supermarket the other day, I noticed that they were selling raw prawns for $9.99 a kilo. (I can’t for the life of me see why they don’t just make it $10 or whatever; is anyone really fooled by the .99???) Now, the daughter dislikes prawns intensely but she was away in Taupo, so I bought a kilo & popped the bike saddlebags along with the things I’d actually gone there to buy. (At this point I must say that I hadn’t really thought about the effort entailed in peeling the things, but anyway 🙂 )

It’s been barbecue weather here for what seems like ages, so that’s how I intended to cook my little crustaceans. After shelling them – there were rather a lot but everyone seemed hungry – I mixed together: 2 egg whites (left over from the brioche the other day), 2 Tbsp cornflour, a good grind of salt & pepper, & several (small) heads of garlic, crushed. That was then stirred through the prawns, & I left them in the fridge to soak in that garlicky goodness while I contemplated the rest of dinner.

Salad? That went without saying; we have lettuce & cucumbers & tomatoes in abundance, & there was still a nice avocado from last weekend’s market trip. I decided on a fruity, spicy dressing as that would go well with both salad & prawns: into the blender went the contents of a 450 g tin of peaches in fruit juice, along with 3-4 Tbsp of sweet chilli sauce. (It would have been mango dressing but I only had peaches in the cupboard.) Yum!

We also had about 2 c cooked rice in the fridge, left over from the previous night’s dinner. So I chopped a red bell pepper into eensy little pieces & added that to the rice with a handful of chopped garlic chives & a Tbsp or so of grated root ginger before beating in a couple of eggs.

At which point the husband fired up the barbecue: the rice/vege mix went onto the hot plate in large spoonfuls (I got about a dozen little cakes from that quantity) & the prawns went in batches onto the grill until their heads & tails were pink & their flesh white & cooked through. It took us a while to get through them all, but somehow we managed it 🙂 And the peach-&-chilli dressing went so well with everything.