Tag Archives: tomatoes

a sort of cassoulet

Standard

Yesterday, when we did the shopping, there were nice meaty pork bones in the supermarket butchery. So I bought them, along with a packet of 3 chorizo sausages & also the things that were actually on the shopping list. And today I made a sort of cassoulet. It’s based on a recipe in Alison Holst’s collection of crockpot & slow=cooker dishes, but as usual I tweaked it a bit to suit what was in the herb garden & pantry.

You’ll need to start this off in the morning if using a slow cooker as it takes 6-8 hours on ‘low’ to get the meat nice & toothsome & the sauce thick & rich.

First I sliced a couple of brown onions & softened them in olive oil on a medium heat, along with 4 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced. Then I tipped them into the bowl of my trusty slow-cooker, and added a tin of chopped tomatoes in juice, a tin of cannellini beans, 3 Tblsp of tomato paste, the leaves of several sprigs of time, a couple of Tblsp of chopped fresh marjoram, 1/2 tsp salt and a couple of bay leaves, & mixed everything together. (The original recipe calls for sage, but I haven’t had a lot of success with sage. If we enlarge the courtyard garden I’ll try growing it there as it doesn’t seem to like life in pots. Not at our place, anyway.) The chorizos I sliced about 1cm thick before adding them to the dish, and then the pork bones, and mixed again so the meat was well covered in sauce. Then I left it all to its own devices.

After a couple of hours I gave it all a stir. The mix looked a bit dry so I dropped in the half-dozen small tomatoes from the bowl on the bench, added about half a cup of water, & went away again.

A little before dinner time I fished out the pork bones & separated the now meltingly-soft meat from the bones & skin, popping the meat back in the cooker bowl & wrapping the other bits for the rubbish. Check to see if it needs seasoning – ours didn’t as the chorizos were pleasantly spicy – before sprinkling with chopped parsley & serving. Or you could use gremolata. The dish would go well with steamed greens and baked potatoes (or mash), but we had it with slices of beer bread (the recipe for which I will provide shortly 🙂 ).

It might not have been authentic, but it was certainly tasty.

Advertisements

zucchini timbales & tomato coulis

Standard

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 🙂

cheese-filled cannelloni

Standard

The other day I found a packet of dry cannelloni tubes in the pantry, & decided we’d have cannelloni for tea. The sauce was going to be easy: we’re slowly working through the packets of tomato sauce that I froze last summer, so out came one of those, plus there was a 450g packet of beef mince in the freezer. So I turned the oven to heat to 180 C and next, once the meat was defrosted (microwaves are a wonderful invention) I browned it in a frying pan over medium heat, stirring to break it up, & then added a packet of sauce & left it to simmer very gently. But what to put in the tubes of pasta?

In the fridge were eggs, a block of parmesan cheese, and 250g tubs of ricotta cheese & sour cream. I emptied the 2 tubs into a bowl & beat them together with a wooden spoon, before beating in the egg and some grated parmesan. Next I chopped together fresh parsley, basil mint (because I still don’t have any basil) and lemon thyme & mixed that into the cheese mixture. I used a teaspoon to fill the pasta tubes, standing each on its end to do this. In retrospect I could have used a piping bag, but oh well…

I spooned a little of the sauce over the base of an oblong casserole dish, then arranged a layer of filled cannelloni over the top. More sauce on the pasta, and then the next layer of cheese-filled tubes, and finally the rest of the sauce. Because I felt like a cheese overload I sprinkled a little more parmesan over the top before putting the dish into the oven – it took about 35 minutes to cook, by which time the sauce was bubbling & the cheese golden. (You can check that it’s cooked by pushing a skewer into the pasta – there should be very little resistance.)

We had it with salad & some steamed broccoli from the garden – there was plenty for 4 with leftovers for lunch the next day.

 

pumpkin, feta & walnut ravioli

Standard

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 that sounded right (although it looked an awful lot!).

The sauce was easy as I have rather a lot in the freezer 🙂 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 😀

oyster mushrooms with pasta

Standard

This morning at the farmers’ market a lovely young chap from Raglan was selling oyster mushrooms, both fresh & dried. I asked about cooking them & he made them sound so delicious that I just had to buy a bag of fresh mushrooms (about 100g) & put them in my saddlebags, to be joined by all manner of other nice things (including cherry tomatoes, dwarf beans (our runner beans are still going, but the dwarf ones we put in were a bit of a disappointment), Purple Heart spuds, peppers, blueberries, & Guide biscuits). And as I biked home, I considered dinner…

… and decided on pasta with mushrooms, roast tomatoes, & beans.

First, I put the cherry tomatoes into an oven dish & tossed them with salt, pepper & a little olive oil before leaving them to roast at 200 degrees Celsius. Next I sliced the beans (using my nifty little bean-slicer-thingy) & put a big pot of water on to boil for the spaghetti. Because I was using the bought, dried variety I figured the pasta should be cooked at the same time as the beans (this is important as the husband doesn’t like his beans ‘squeaky’).

Once the beans were also set on the heat, I melted 50g butter in a heavy frying pan & – as instructed by the grower 🙂 – tore the mushrooms into smaller pieces: you tear along the line of the gills so that the texture is retained. They softened quite quickly, at which point I added 125g sour cream and the leaves from 3-4 sprigs of lemon thyme; the mix needed thinning with a little water.

Everything was done at the same time (doesn’t always happen!). I drained the pasta & returned it to the pan, then poured in the creamy oyster sauce & mixed everything together quickly before dividing it between 4 plates (along with the drained beans) & topping each mound of pasta with some cherry tomatoes, the juice from the tomato dish, & a goodly helping of finely grated parmesan.

Delightful! I’ll be buying more of those mushrooms sometime Real Soon!!

 

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

Standard

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 🙂

using more of the garden’s bounty: vegetable lasagne

Standard

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.