Saturday, July 31, 2010

Carrot pesto for pasta

This is my first post for many months! We went overseas in September and I came back pregnant, sick and in no mood for cooking! I couldn't even look at my foodie magazines for months! They would come in the mail and I piled them up to read when I was feeling better. Then there was late pregnancy and I felt too tired to cook, then the birth and the crazy tired 12 weeks that followed! Now my daughter Lennox is only waking once in the night I feel a bit more human and ready to experiment again....

This raw carrot pesto is a great dish - so tasty while being quick and easy to prepare. It's great for busy mums as the pesto can be made in advance and then all that's needed is to cook the pasta and stir it through! I use wholemeal pasta as it gives an extra nutty depth of flavor to the dish.

I've given measurements for the ingredients, but as with all pestos taste as you go and adjust the garlic, cheese, oil etc as you see fit.

I'm entering this dish in Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by Once Upon a Feast.

Carrot pesto pasta

2 carrots
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c roasted cashews
1/2 c parmesan
1/2 c parsley
1/4 c rice bran oil

1. Peel and chop the carrots and put in a food processor with the chopped garlic, cashews, grated parmesan, and chopped parsley.
2. Process then add rice bran (or other mild) oil to form a chunky paste.
3. Add salt to taste and extra garlic/cheese/cashews etc as required.
4. Cook wholemeal pasta,drain then stir the pesto through.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pumpkin, chickpea and spinach salad with tahini dressing

Less than two weeks now until our trip to Europe, so excited!  MD has been away for 10 days snowboarding down south, I thought I would be doing all sorts of experimenting while he was away but seems that it sucks to cook for one and I was much more inclined to scramble a couple of eggs or eat toast!

I saw this dish in Dish, the magazine.  I get Cuisine, Taste and Delicious. magazines, but haven't been that keen on Dish.  But since I can get it for free from the library, why not?

Pumpkin, chickpea and spinach salad w tahini dressing

1.    Slice ½  a medium pumpkin into slim wedges and place on a baking tray.  Spray with oil and season with salt.  Bake until tender.

2.    Heat oil in a pan, add a chopped onion,  3 cloves chopped garlic, 1 ½ tsp ground cumin, 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon,  and ½ c raisins.  Season and cook until the onion is tender.

3.    Add 1 T tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.  Add equivalent of a tin of chickpeas and a bag of spinach and cook for a few more minutes.  Stir in the juice of one lemon.

4.    Make the dressing: whisk together ½ c plain yoghurt, 3 T tahini, 2 cloves crushed garlic, finely grated zest of a lemon and the juice.  Whisk in enough water to make a pourable dressing.

To serve:  arrange pumpkin on a platter, spread over chickpea mixture, drizzle with dressing and scatter with ¼ c toasted flaked almonds and a sprinkle of paprika.

FROM:  Dish 24 June-July 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

South Pacific banana meringue pie

I've been wanting to make this dessert for the last couple of months since I cut it out from Sunday magazine in the Sunday News.  I made a couple of batches of custard awhile back and had egg whites lurking in the dark corners of my freezer - if you didn't know you could freeze egg whites, now you do!  Easy - just remember to label the container with how many you've put in there!  Not sure how long they last but mine were sweet and they had been in there for a least 2 months (and knowing my memory, probably much longer!).

Anyway, I had invited my friends S+M and their 3 adorable kids for dinner last Friday night and planned to make it then.  In order to get as much prep done before they got to our house I mixed up the topping ingredients and defrosted the eggwhites so I was already to go.  I asked the boys when they wanted dessert and there was a bit of mis-communication resulting in me thinking that they didn't want dessert at all!  By the time I discovered that they did in fact want some it was already 9 o'clock and I didn't want to be beating the eggwhites with sleeping children!

No matter, since I had the ingredients ready, just meant I got to make it on Saturday night instead and only had to share it with MD! 

South Pacific banana meringue pie


6 bananas

1/2 grated palm sugar

25 g diced butter

zest and juice of a lemon or lime

1/4 c coconut

4 egg whites

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 c caster sugar

Thick coconut cream to serve


1.  Cut up the bananas into chunks and fit into the bottom of a casserole dish.  Sprinkle with grated palm sugar, diced butter, zest and juice of lemon or lime, and coconut.  Place in 200 degree oven and bake 10-15 minutes until golden.

2.   Meanwhile make meringue:  Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff but not dry, slowly add caster sugar, beating until it’s all used up.

3.   Pile the meringue on top of the banana and bake 3-4 minutes until golden.

4.   Serve immediately with coconut cream.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Muesli Bar

We had a great week of sunshine and relaxing in Tonga - not so nice to be back to cold winter! The first daffodils are out though, only one month left of winter, yah!

The food in Tonga was delicious - fresh fish everyday!  Mmmmm, tuna.... Yummy fresh fruit salad for breaky and tropical fruit smoothies for lunch. And bonus, even though I LOVE cooking it was great to have someone else do it for me for a week (meals were included in our resort price), and not knowing what was going to come out each night was a good experience too!  Even when MD does cook I still have to 'suggest' what he should make as he 'lacks inspiration' - his excuse!

I want to share my favourite mueslie bar.  I make a batch every week, slice it up then put it in a ziplock bag in the freezer for MD to take for his work lunches - if I don't he's off down to Subway for chocolate chip cookies!  At least this way he gets some healthy ingredients!

Muesli bar
1 c flour (wholemeal or white or a mixture)
1 c oats
1/2 c coconut
1 and 1/2 c mixed dried fruit, seeds and nuts (I use chopped dates, sultana's, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds and chopped walnuts or almonds)
1-2 tsp ground ginger
125ml flavourless oil (I use rice bran)
1/2 c honey

1.  Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2.  Melt together the oil and honey.
3.  Pour the oil mixture into the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
4.  Place in a slice tin lined with baking paper.  Bake at 180 degrees (350F) for 25 minutes or until golden on top.
5.  Remove from oven, allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pea & zucchini zuppa

I'm not sure if this dish is a soup or more a risotto - anyway who cares, it tasted good!  I saw in it the July issue of Delicious. magazine and it seemed perfect for a quick weeknight meal using cupboard/freezer ingredients I had on hand.  We're off to Tonga on Saturday (YAH!) so I wanted to use up some of the food we have rather than going to the supermarket.  

Which reminds me of a conversation I had with M the other day about swine flu. The newspaper was advising that we have 7 days of food on hand in case we had to go into isolation.  Hmmm, do we have 7 days worth of food I pondered?  More like enough for a month or two!  I bought a huge freezer off trade me last year and have stocked it up with excess garden produce and bits and pieces i've found on special.  And as for the pantry - what can I say, i'm my mother's daughter!  It helps being mostly vegetarian - with loads of dried pulses on hand.

Anyway, on to the recipe......

Pea & zucchini zuppa

1.  Heat oil in a large saucepan or stockpot.  Add 2 chopped red onions and cook over low heat until softened, around 5 minutes.

2.  Add ¾ c arborio rice and stir to coat in the onion mixture.  Add 5 c vegetable stock and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to low and cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes until the rice is almost cooked.

3.  Add 1 and 2/3 c frozen peas, 1 large or 2 small zucchini, thinly sliced, 2 T chopped mint leaves, and 2 T grated parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper and cook a further 3-5 minutes until everything is hot.

Serve in warm bowls with extra parmesan to sprinkle.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Making marmalade!

I love growing my own fruit and veggies, and even though I LOVE our house 'cos it's so close to the beach, the one downside is we only have a 500 m squared section. While I have quite a bit of room for my veggies (I don't think i'd ever say I had enough no matter how much space I had!), I have pretty much reached my limit on fruit trees. I managed to squeeze a few more in last winter but this winter I haven't even been near the garden centre - best to prevent any temptation!  

Anyway, what i'm getting to is our friends bought a house with a HUGE backyard, full of established fruit trees - guava, tamarillo, apple, lemon, nectarine, and grapefruit. And they don't even particularly care for fruit! Foreign to me who eats fruit at breakfast, for morning snack, at lunch, for afternoon, snack, for pre-gym snack (you get the picture!).  Luckily they are happy to share and i'm allowed to raid the garden whenever I like.  You can find my guava jelly (jam) recipe here, and now for the marmalade.....

Grapefruit marmalade

3 large or 4-5 small grapefruit
1 orange
1 lemon
white sugar

1.  Remove green stems then roughly chop grapefruit, orange and lemon and put in a blender. Puree until you have your desired consistency - chunky or smooth.  At this point you can freeze the mixture to defrost later to use in step 2 (handy if you're overloaded with fruit and over making jam!).

2.  Place the puree in a pan and cover with water, bring to the boil and cook 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and pour into a big bowl, then add back to the pan via a measuring jug to see how much liquid you have.

3.  Add the same amount of sugar as liquid (make sure it's white - brown doesn't look so good, been there done that!) and bring to the boil again.  Cook, stirring occasionally until setting point is reached - around 20-30 minutes.  You'll start to see the mixture thickening on the back of the spoon if you rest it on the pot. Test by placing a small amount on a saucer that has been in the freezer - it will start to get a 'wavy' appearance when it's been left for a minute or two.

4.  Pour into jars that have been sterilised in a low oven for 20 minutes. I boil the lids in water to make sure they're sterile too.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Baked potatoes Mexi style

Monthly Mingle: Mexican Fiesta is my first blog 'event', quite exciting!  I was playing around on the net last night and bookmarked a few Mexican recipes that sounded good - ceviche filled avocados, Mexican layered dip, spicy fish tacos....among others.  I was discussing what I might make with my partner and as soon as I got to Mexican baked potatoes he was all like "yes, yes I want those!".  I didn't even get to read the rest!  Poor boy doesn't get many potato dishes - I grew up in a traditional 'meat and three vege' house where potatoes were on the menu EVERY night.  Yes, even if we were having pasta!  You can understand why i'd rather have kumera or pumpkin when a starchy vegetable is required!  Plus I find these two a lot more interesting flavour-wise.  

Anyway, since I discovered THE BEST way to bake potatoes we've been having them occasionally - especially since, with a tin of beans or tuna it's a meal MD can make easily if he's on dinner duties. Don't worry about the amount of salt you coat the potatoes with - you won't be eating it as it gets brushed off later. Coating the potatoes like this helps to draw the moisture from them giving a fluffy dry inside...mmmmm......

I'm still working things out in blog-world, hence the full Reminder notice down below as I couldn't work out how to just include the Monthly Mingle badge! 

Mexican baked potatoes 

1-2 large floury potatoes per person (I use Agria)
Rock or sea salt
1 tin of chilli beans (make your own if you have time!)
1 grated carrot
1/2 c frozen corn, defrosted under running water
1 chopped red onion
10 button or swiss brown mushrooms
Plain unsweetened yoghurt, avocado and grated cheese for topping

1.  Scrub the potatoes under warm water until they are clean then pierce several times with a sharp knife.  Place salt in a bowl (if you're using rock salt bash it up a bit first in a mortar and pestle).  Roll the potatoes in the salt, coating them all over. 
2.  Place the potatoes on a rack in the oven.  Place a baking tray on the rack below to catch any salt. Bake at 180 degrees (350 F) for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, turning once.
3.  Heat the chilli beans with the grated carrot and corn in a saucepan until hot.
4.  Fry the red onion and mushroom in a pan until the mushrooms are cooked.
5.  When the potatoes are ready (use the full 1 1/4 hours for large ones) remove from the oven and brush the salt off.  Split open and fill with the chilli bean mixture, top with the mushrooms then add your desired toppings.
Enjoy with a green salad.

Serves 2-3