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Veggie Lasagne


It’s almost spring in Sydney and the warm weather is here. A sure sign is the jasmine in bloom – sprawling over fences and permeating the air with its heady fragrance.

I thought it was time to revisit a recipe for lasagne I made a while back. It’s made with goat’s cheese, leek and tomato, no meat, so it’s a lighter option, perfect for the spring here, and for the end of summer for those in the Northern Hemisphere.

It’s pretty simple. With no white sauce, it’s easy to make. The goat’s cheese is a perfect substitute. You could change it up with the addition of different veggies – spinach, zucchini, eggplant or pumpkin would be good.

Ingredients

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 400g tin whole tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 big leek or 2 smaller ones
250g goat’s cheese
1 tbls milk
150g Greek yoghurt
Fresh lasagne sheets – enough to make 3 layers
Parmesan to grate over the lasagne
Cherry tomatoes, sage leaves
Fresh basil leaves

Method

For the tomato sauce, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium frying pan. Peel and finely slice the garlic and fry gently until softened. Add the tinned tomatoes and using the tin as a measure, add a tinful of water. Add a good grind of rock salt and black pepper and the teaspoon of sugar. Cook on a medium heat until the sauce is thick and reduced, about 20 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon occasionally as you stir the sauce.

Wash the leek/s carefully to remove any dirt or grit. Finely chop the leeks. Put another frying pan on medium heat – or you can save washing up like me and use the tomato pan after they have finished cooking! Add the other tablespoon of oil, and when the oil is hot, add the chopped leeks. Stir for a minute or two, moving the leeks around to make sure they are all starting to cook down. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes until the leeks are softened.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Break the goat’s cheese up, you still wants sine chunks so no need to blend or process. Add the milk to loosen the mix, and then add the Greek yoghurt. You are looking for a thick bit spreadable consistency. Season with a grind or two of rock salt and black pepper.

Now for the layering. Spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce on the bottom of your baking dish. Add 1/3 of the leeks.Now put a layer of lasagne sheets on top. The size of your baking dish will determine how many sheets or partial sheets you need. I used one and a half per layer. Spoon ¼ of the goat’s cheese mixture over the lasagne sheets. Now start again and layer 1/3 tomato, 1/3 leeks, lasagne sheets and ¼ goat’s cheese. Finish with the rest of the tomato, the leeks and a lasagne layer.
Spread the remaining ½ goat’s cheese mixture thickly over the top of the lasagne. Grate as much Parmesan as you fancy over the top, and scatter some cherry tomorrow halves and sage leaves.

Place in the bottom of the preheated oven and cook for about 25 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling. Remove from the oven and scatter over a few fresh basil leaves before serving.

NB You could freeze the lasagne before baking, or after cooking, freeze whole or divided into meal size portions.

 

Bolognese 3 Ways


A quick note: this recipe is great for getting your daily veg (4 out of 5 ain’t bad!) – and it’s a no-brainer that it’s fabulous for giving children their veggies in kid-friendly yummy meals!

On Easter Saturday, midway in the Easter break you might be thinking about meat, after fish Friday.

I will be cooking lamb as usual tomorrow, Easter Sunday, but I have been thinking about some easy meat recipes to break the meat fast and also because we are all looking for meals we can cook up easily, in a time of isolation, with a few standard ingredients.Nothing too fussy!

I found this recipe watching a re-run of the excellent Jamie Oliver TV series “Jamie’s Comfort Food”. I have cooked a few recipes from the book of the same name with excellent results. In this episode Jamie made bolognese ravioli. I was taken with the bolognese part of the recipe. I thought it was a really good versatile recipe that could be tweaked in different ways.

While Jamie specifies minced pork and minced veal or beef, I made my bolognese with just beef – and it was great! I mention this, since, in these isolationist days, we may all have minced beef in the fridge, but not always pork or veal.

It’s quite thick, less a sauce, more a stand alone meal. In the post I cook up a big casserole pot full.

For Bolognese Number 1, serve up a plateful, on its own, and maybe with some crusty bread to mop up the leftovers.

Then, for Bolognese Number 2, you could put it over pasta for the traditional pasta bolognese. To do this, you might like to make it more sauce-like by stirring through a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water you cooked the pasta in – adding in just enough water to thin the sauce to your liking.

And for Bolognese Number 3 I piled some of the mixture into store bought puff pastry and made pies. This was really easy and the pies baked well, were good to eat on the spot, or could be reheated later or frozen. The procedure for this is at the end of the base recipe.

Here’s Jamie’s basic bolognese recipe.

Ingredients

400 g higher-welfare minced pork

400 g higher-welfare minced veal , or beef

olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

2 onions

2 carrots

2 sticks of celery

200ml red wine

2 x 400 g tins of whole tomatoes

100g Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve

Method
Put all the minced meat into your largest pan on a high heat with a good lug of oil and a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Cook for 20 minutes, or until golden, stirring regularly.

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the garlic, onions, carrots and celery. When the mince has got a good colour, add all the chopped veg and cook for a further 10 minutes, then add the red wine and cook it away.

Pour in the tomatoes, breaking them up with a spoon, and add half a tin’s worth of water. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 1 hour, or until the meat is tender and the sauce is super-thick. Remove from the heat to cool, then finely grate and stir in the Parmesan.

For Bolognese Number 3 pies:
You will need puff pastry, either in sheet or block form. How much you will need depends on the number of pies you make. I made 4 hearty individual pies from 3 sheets of puff pastry if that’s any kind of guide with lots of trimmings left over.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

Cut out some rounds of puff pastry from pastry sheets, or roll out some pastry from a block, if that’s how your pastry comes. You will need 2 rounds, one for the top and one for the bottom of the pies. Use something like saucers or glasses as a guide for cutting the rounds. The bottom round is smaller, the top round covering the filling is bigger. So I used a glass as the cutting guide for the bottom and a larger diameter saucer for the top.

Pile some bolognese filling onto the bottom round leaving  1-2 cm edge on the round. Brush a little water on that edge of the round, then cover with the top round, pinching the edges to seal. You could score a few decorative lines on the pastry top, making sure not to cut the pastry all the way through. I like to have a go but I’m not very good! You could also egg wash the pies all over using a beaten egg. That’s if you like that eggy shine to your baked pie.

Place the pies on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is lovely and brown and puffed up. Serve piping hot as is or dress up with a green salad.

Jamie Oliver’s Fettuccine with Smoked Trout, Asparagus and Peas

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Another great dish from Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/category/books/jamie-s-15-minute-meals

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The sauce is very easy, no fuss, for maximum results. Hot smoked trout really lifts the flavour, adding piquancy. You could smoke the trout fillets yourself, using the process I have written about for salmon. I have perfected the method over the last few months. Incidentally, the basic concept came from a Jamie Oliver recipe!

https://thequirkandthecool.com/2014/03/26/hot-smoked-chili-salmon/

Or just buy the trout if you want to keep it simple!

Ingredients

1 tbsp oil
1 small bunch spring onions, roughly chopped
300g asparagus (small bunch), trimmed and chopped leaving the stalks whole
300g frozen peas
1 bunch fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 tbsp plain flour
500ml milk (I used about half that amount – 250ml – as I wanted a thicker, “greener” sauce)
300g dried fettuccine
250g hot smoked trout
Juice 1/2 lemon
Parmesan for grating

Method

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

Heat a large frying pan and add the oil. Add the spring onions, asparagus and peas and cook for a couple of minutes, add the mint. Then sift in the flour, pour in the milk and bring to the boil, simmer for 10 minutes.

Using a stick blender, puree the asparagus sauce until fairly smooth, turn the heat down to low and flake in some of the smoked trout. Add the asparagus tips and simmer for a few more minutes. Squeeze in the lemon juice and season.

Drain the pasta reserving some of the pasta water, then toss the pasta with the sauce, loosening with a splash of the cooking water if needed. Grate some parmesan over the top and then serve. I left some of the flaked trout to scatter over the dish before serving.

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Ravioli with Thyme, Taleggio and Walnuts and Ravioli with Pecorino and Sundried Tomato

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Last weekend I decided to make fresh pasta. I hadn’t made pasts in ages, and I was a little apprehensive about setting up the pasta machine and actually using it again.

Of course I had forgotten how easy it was…even if I had to be reminded how to to use it via a YouTube video…

I followed faithfully a recipe from Jamie Oliver ‘s Cook with Jamie. I am a huge fan of Jamie Oliver and have every cookbook. I think that Cook with Jamie is a really great book with its no nonsense approach to basic cooking skills.

I will therefore refer the reader directly to the link for the recipe: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pasta-recipes/a-basic-recipe-for-fresh-egg-pasta

This recipe makes quite a lot of pasta dough. I suggest halving the quantities to make about 12 large ravioli.

I mixed in fresh thyme leaves to half of the dough before the kneading stage to make the Thyme, Taleggio and Walnut Ravioli.

For each kind of ravioli, use the pasta machine to roll the dough so you have 2 thin sheets. It’s important to roll the pasta sheets so they are very thin; I didn’t quite get the sheets thin enough so the pasta was a little thick.

Thyme, Taleggio and Walnuts Ravioli

Combine a small handful of fresh thyme leaves,100 gms or so of taleggio and a dozen or so walnuts chopped.

Ravioli with Pecorino and Sundried Tomato

Combine 100 gms or so of pecorino and a small handful of chopped sundried tomatoes.

For each kind of ravioli, place 6 small spoonfuls of each mixture on one pasta sheet, allowing for a border when you come to cut the ravioli. Moisten the exposed pasta and put the other pasta sheet on top. Press down to divide the sheets into 6 and, making sure you don’t trap any air with the filling, seal the ravioli edges.

Cut pasta into shapes using a pastry cutter or a sharp knife. I dusted the ravioli with a little flour to help them keep their shape as I wasn’t cooking them for an hour or so.

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Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and put the ravioli in. Cook for 5 minutes until al dente.

For a quick sauce, heat a little butter in a frying pan until the butter foams; pour over both kinds of ravioli and serve with additional shaved pecorino.

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