Tag Archives: sweet red peppers

slow-cooked vegetable curry with little lamb meatballs

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This one couldn’t be easier (& it helped to slightly reduce our pumpkin supply).

Halve and slice one brown onion & start it cooking gently in a few Tblsp of olive oil. Finely slice & chop a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger & add to the pan along with 4-5 finely sliced cloves of garlic. (We’ve just planted our garlic – 2 & 1/2 of our 2-m long raised beds. Should be a great crop.)Β  Continue to cook until the onion is softening & turning translucent, then add 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp ground cumin, as much chili as takes your fancy (I used 1/4 tsp) and 1/2 tsp salt). Cook a little longer, stirring, until the mix is fragrant, and then tip it into the bowl of your slow-cooker where you have already placed

1 butternut squash, peeled & de-seeded & cut into 2cm chunks; 3 medium potatoes, cut into 2cm chunks; a couple of red peppers, cut into strips; and a can of drained chickpeas – or, in my case, cannellini beans on account of I didn’t check the label before opening the can. Add 5oo mL of chicken stock, cover, & leave to cook on a low setting for about 5 hours.

At this point I tasted the curry & decided that although it smelled great it needed coconut; with no little cans of coconut milk in the pantry I added a couple of Tblsp of desiccated coconut instead πŸ™‚ Plus 3 Tblsp of tomato paste to thicken the mix. Pretty much anything goes in this recipe! (If we hadn’t eaten a lot of spinach the previous night – spinach galettes with tomato passata – I’d have sliced some thinly & added towards the end of the cooking time.)

Stir everything well and then add your meatballs. I used a cup of nice soft fresh breadcrumbs from yesterday’s loaf of beer bread, & added 1 egg, 2 Tblsp of finely chopped fresh mint, 2 tsp of garam masala, 1 Tblsp dark soy sauce & 300g of lamb mince. Mix this together really, really well & shape into small balls about the size of a walnut. They’ll be quite soft. Place them carefully in the curry & leave everything for another hour or so until the meatballs are cooked through.

You could serve with rice but we ate it on its own, with a little chopped fresh coriander sprinkled on top.

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sweet chilli prawns

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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 πŸ˜€ – 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.

pumpkin, feta & walnut ravioli

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We had several friends to dinner last night, & as one has a particular fondness for vegetarian food, I thought I’d do something with some of our plentitude of pumpkins. I decided on ravioli because I rather enjoy making pasta, & was enticed by the idea of a combination of feta, pumpkin & walnuts that bubbled to the front of my brain.

First up, the pumpkin(s) needed roasting. I picked out a big butternut pumpkin & – because you can never have too much pumpkin (had there been any excess it would have ended up in bread) – a couple of the cute yellow-&-white striped minis. Once split in half & seeds scooped out, they went cut-side down on a teflon sheet in a roasting dish, to bake at 180 C for about 40 minutes.

Then, the pasta. Traditionalists may flinch at this – but because I’d got other things on the go as well (making the dip for folks to enjoy with beer, not to mention the pastry for dessert), I decided to let the bread machine do the kneading of my flour & eggs with a littlebitta oil. I’d tried this before and with good results; you just have to keep an eye on it in case there’s a need for extra liquid or flour.

Once the pumpkins were cooked & had cooled a little, I scooped the flesh into a bowl & mashed it roughly, before stirring in about 1/2 c coarsely-grated parmesan, 150 g creamy feta (crumbled into bits about 1 cm on a side), & a cup of roughly-chopped walnuts (you want a bit of firmness to the bite, so don’t process them to the point where you have walnut flour!).

While I do have one of those little trays for making ravioli I’ve only used it the once. Instead I make use of my 4cm round ravioli cutter (a bit like a biscuit cutter but with a handle). So yesterday I rolled chunks of my dough ever more thinly through our pasta machine. With each sheet of pasta, I laid it flat on a floured bench and placed heaped teaspoonfuls of the pumpkin, cheese’n’nut mix onto half the sheet, well spaced. Then I slowly folded the other half of the sheet down over them, pressing down around each mound of filling to exclude as much air as possible, before cutting out the little pasta packets. As I made them, I dusted each one lightly with flour before placing them on racks covered with baking paper, then covering them with a dry tea towel & leaving them to dry. I ended up with over 6 dozen, but then there were 7 of us for dinner so thatΒ sounded right (although itΒ looked an awful lot!).

The sauce was easy as I have rather a lot in the freezer πŸ™‚ Just needed to defrost a couple of packets & then heat them through in the microwave, while boiling the water to cook the ravioli. Which, once the water’s boiling, don’t take long to cook. Pop them carefully into the pot, & then once they’ve come to the surface & the water’s returned to the boil, they should need only 2-3 minutes more – fish one out & try it to be sure.

To serve, I layered the pasta with the sauce in two large oblong dishes, and brought them to the table along with a bowl of finely-grated parmesan and a big salad of lettuce & finely-sliced red pepper from the garden.

The daughter swears she hates pumpkin. But we noticed that last night, she had two helpings πŸ˜€

sweetcorn salsa

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Recently we’ve been trying to eat our sweetcorn crop before the drought dealt to it. (Sweetcorn sucks through the water & we feel there’s a limit to how much hosing we should do.) We usually just boil it & eat with a littlebittabutter, but casting about for something different, I came up with this. You could vary the quantities & the other ingredients too; I really don’t think it would matter πŸ™‚

I husked and removed the silk from 5 largish ears of corn before popping them in a large pan of boiling water. While they simmered for 5 minutes before being cooled in a sink of cold water, I de-seeded a couple of our long red peppers & cut them into small dice (about the size of corn kernels; funny, that), then added them to a bowl along with 3 finely-sliced spring onions.

When the corn was cool enough to handle, I used a sharp knife to slice the kernels from each cob, & tipped those into the bowl too – stir everything up as this will help to separate the kernels.

The final step was to slosh in some sweet chilli sauce (as much as you like, really) & add salt & pepper to taste.

And the salsa went down a treat as a side dish for a barbecue dinner.

a very nice risotto

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This morning I got a pack (around 600g) of rump steak out of the freezer to defrost, before heading off to work. I’d originally intended a warm salad (there are still a lot of lettuces in the garden & some tomatoes too), but by the end of a trying day I was thinking “comfort food!” So I stopped off at the supermarket – we needed milk anyway – & picked up some button mushrooms & a 200g packet of marscapone. And although I’d been contemplating beef stroganoff (my version of it, anyway), this is what I came up with.

First I put some dried mushrooms (what the husband calls ‘fancy’ mushrooms, ie porcini, shiitake & so on) to soak in a bowl, covered with boiling water. While they softened, I started 50g of butter melting in one of my stockpots and added a peeled, thinly-sliced brown onion &, after that had been cooking for a few minutes over a low heat, several cloves of minced garlic. (I have a garlic crusher but I usually can’t be bothered with using it; it’s so fiddly to clean afterwards!)

Next, I added 2 c of arborio rice to the pan & stirred everything so that all the rice grains glistened with melted oniony butter. Once the edges of the grains had started to go translucent I poured in the first cup of liquid. Usually I use white wine for this (a glass for the risotto, a glass for me…) but we’d none opened. For some reason the husband wasn’t interested in opening one; “aha!” he said, “what about your cider?” I thought, hmmmm, & used a cup of apple cider, then stirred everything & left the rice to absorb all the liquid while I went on to the next step: draining the mushrooms – don’t discard the liquid! you’ll need it – & slicing them (not too thinly).

By this time the first lot of liquid had disappeared, so I tipped in the mushroom liquor, opened a 1 litre tetrapak of vegetable stock & put a cup of that into the microwave to heat, & started cutting up the little button mushrooms from New World. And also one of the long ‘sweet point’ red peppers from the garden. And in went the next cup of hot stock, followed by mushrooms & pepper. It’ll take another couple of rounds of heating stock, adding it, stirring well & leaving to cook on a very low heat before the stock is all absorbed.

After the 2nd cup of stock sloshed into the pan,Β  I trotted off outside & fired up the barbecue, then brushed the steak with a little oil & put it on the grill – 2-3 minutes on each side – before taking it back to the kitchen, serving the risotto another helping of stock, & then slicing the meat thinly across the grain. It was still quite rare, but I knew the heat of the rice would get the meat to a state that the rest of the family would tolerate πŸ™‚

Finally, I opened the marscapone, stirred that into the risotto, then added the meat & stirred again before checking the flavour & adding a good slosh of soy sauce. And served the meal with a bowl of finely-grated parmesan & a side of what I suspect are just about the last of the season’s runner beans, finely-sliced & steamed.

And yes! even after everyone had had seconds, there will be leftovers for lunch πŸ™‚

red pepper sauce for pasta & the like

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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 πŸ™‚

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.

blue cheese wontons? i’d never have thought of that!

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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 πŸ™‚ ) 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 Β – 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 πŸ™‚