Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Red Tuna Pasta

When I was a teenager, I was responsible for cooking dinner once a week for the whole family. I think the first meal I learned to cook was spaghetti bolognaise (which I think was the same for everyone!) I used to get very frustrated because my parents wouldn't give me exact amounts. "Put some basil in", they would say. "Exactly how much?" I would plead, knowing the answer in advance. "Some", would be the helpful response!

Now I am the one with the dodgy measurements. While I have included measurements in the following recipe, don't trust them! If they seem like too much, or too little, go with what you think suits you and your audience. I have made this hundred of times since I was a teenager, and I never use a recipe so I daresay it changes every time I make it.

This is one of my absolute favourite every-day, weeknight, easy pantry meals. I always have tuna, tomatoes and pasta in the pantry, and the vegetables can be changed to whatever you have in the fridge. (You might notice, however, that there is a mixture of penne and trivelle because I didn't have quite enough trivelle. And no backup bag in the pantry! The horror!)

As you can see, there is a dirty big pile of vegetables there, so this meal makes me feel quite virtuous. Lots of healthy veges, low GI pasta, omega-3 rich tuna, and a cheesy calcium boost. I would even recommend this tuna dish for non-seafood eating people, because the tuna flavour doesn't stand out. I asked GKGK about this, (he is quite happy to eat tuna) and his problem was more about the vegetables standing out! I think he would be quite happy if it just had mushrooms and cheese in it. Hopeless. My kids love it too - although that's not really saying much, because they love all food. Anyway, give it a go. You won't be disappointed!
Red Tuna Pasta

1 tbs olive oil
440g tin tuna in springwater
2 x 400g tin tomatoes
1 tbs dried oregano
2 cups trivelle (spiral pasta)
½ cup grated tasty cheese
1 small onion, chopped

Other vegetables as desired, for example:
2 sticks celery, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
3 mushrooms, sliced
2 yellow squash, chopped
1 red capsicum, chopped
½ cup broccoli, chopped into small-medium florets
½ cup cauliflower, chopped into small-medium florets
Handful of beans, topped and tailed and chopped in half
Cook pasta in plenty of salted boiling water
Heat oil in wok or large frying pan.
Stir fry onions until translucent
Add remaining vegetables. Stir fry until almost cooked
Add tomatoes
Season with salt and cracked black pepper
Add oregano
Mix through. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Add tuna, mix through
Once pasta is cooked, drain and add to wok.
Mix through.
Add grated cheese and mix until cheese is melted

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Assorted Sweetlings!

We were having a quiet at-home day yesterday, and I knew I was going to be having some friends over for morning tea today, so of course, it was time for lots of baking! Any excuse, and my friends aren't exactly going to complain!
I got busy with three new sweet recipes. On the left are some coconut macaroons. I have tried a few different macaroon recipes, and none seem to be quite what I want. The only small problem is that I don't actually know what it is that I want, which makes finding it quite difficult. I'm sure though, that once I do find it, it will knock me over with its fabulousness. These ones are different to the dense macaroons you can get. They are pretty much just a meringue with coconut mixed in. Not that that is a problem considering my meringue addiction issues. Some macaroons just get made by randomly mixing the ingredients together. For these, I had to whip egg whites and then gradually add sugar - blah blah blah - all that normal meringue stuff. They turned out pretty well though, and they got good reviews from a tough audience. (ummmmmm.... that's not quite true. That audience will scoff ANYTHING!)

In the middle of the photo you will see some Brownie Roll-out Cookies. I have been eyeing these off for a while now. The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, one of the many food blogs I am addicted to. I used unsalted butter, and then forgot to put some salt in, so they weren't quite as good as they could have been, but I still give them 9/10. They were really really good. My friends were lucky there were any left. Straight out of the oven, salt or no salt, they were irresistable!

Last but not least, we have some almond bread. I am not familar with the site the recipe came from - I just typed almond bread in google and that's one that came up. I have always liked almond bread, which I thought was the same as biscotti. I tried to make some a little while ago, using a biscotti recipe, and I was quite disappointed. I have since found out that almond bread and biscotti, are in fact, quite different. They use the same twice-baked technique, but biscotti use whole eggs and almond bread has only egg whites. This is actually quite convenient for me because my freezer is full of containers of 3 egg whites. Every time I make ice-cream, it uses 6 egg yolks, so I freeze the whites in batches of 3. Why 3? This makes the perfect number of meringues to fit on one oven tray! And look at that recipe! 3 egg whites! It was meant to be!

I was pretty happy with this almond bread. The cloves and the orange peel really made it great. (although 1/2 tbs cloves seemed like too much so I only put in 1 tsp). I once heard Jamie Oliver say something along the lines of "You can put one of these in the top of a dessert, and you can then charge £8 for £4 dessert". So if you come to my house for dessert, these will now be in the top of everything and you can pay by cheque or cash.

Monday, 16 June 2008

BBQ Lamb Lump

Wow! Happy Birthday Chocolate Potatoes!! It certainly doesn't seem like it, but I have now been doing this blog for 1 year. Scary!

In order to celebrate this blog's birthday, we decided to get a new BBQ. Actually, that's not even remotely true! The last one started shooting flames out the front so it had to go! The new one is a schmick stainless steel number, and we got a bit excited and got the rotisserie and also a smoker box and some hickory chips. I think we've had a BBQ almost every day since we got it, and I have used it more often than GKGK. We've done all the usual stuff, which in this house is steak and then steak with a side of steak (with some sausages for the kidlets), which have all gone well, and I've also done some chicken pieces and even a whole snapper.

GKGK insisted we try a roast on the second night we had it, so we put half a leg of lamb on a rack, and I put together a mix for the basting/drip tray to go underneath it, with high hopes for some tasty gravy. We were quite unrealistic though, because we expected that the thermometer on the lid would actually be accurate. Outrageous! After about half an hour, I went to check on everything. The thermometer read 180ÂșC, and I was expecting some good looking, half-cooked dinner. Instead, I found a good load of CHARCOAL! I grabbed my oven thermometer to see what on earth was going on, and it appears that the temperature inside the BBQ is about 50-70 degrees higher than what the gauge on the lid says. Great.

So the veges were pretty much burnt and inedible, but the outer two thirds of the meat were pretty good. (The inside was totally raw!) A quick inspection of the dripping tray saw nothing but charcoal so the gravy came from a packet! Even so, we weren't totally disheartened by this, so the following weekend, we decided to take the plunge and go for the big rotisserie.

I went to the butcher to work out what lump of meat we should do, while GKGK put the rotisserie together. I came home, very proud owner of a 2kg leg of lamb that the butcher had tied so it would cook evenly, only to find that there was a piece missing from the rotisserie, so we had to go back to the BBQ shop to get it. I was starting to think that the oven was the only way to go for roasts. But GKGK finally fixed the rotisserie, we got the lamb going, and from there, everything went swimmingly!

My one complaint with GKGK’s bbqs in the past, is that he never bastes. Well, with the rotisserie, he has finally started, so now he calls himself “the master baster”!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Passionfruit Slice

When we were on holidays a while ago, I went to a bakery, probably just to get some bread, but I was easily distracted by a fabulous looking passionfruit slice in the display. I asked them whether it was like a cheesecake, or like a custard and they actually told me it was condensed milk. I was so surprised. Firstly, because bakeries are pretty cagey about what's in their products - probably because it's just trans fat and processed sugar and they don't want you to realise just how bad it all is. Secondly, because if it was any good, the condensed milk would probably make it very easy to make. So I gave the slice a try and it was beautiful! (Condensed milk - of course it was!)

When I got home, I was straight to google to find a recipe! It would appear that there are quite a few passionfruit slice recipes using condensed milk, but this one looked the easiest. And it really is very very easy. The ratio of reward to effort here is massive! As you know, I am normally an advocate of using from-scratch ingredients, but the few times I have made this, I have been extra lazy and have used not only tinned passionfruit, but also bottled lemon juice. Oh the shame of it all! But who cares! It's great!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

People and Vehicle Cookies

What a slacker! It's been a month since I have posted. I'll churn out a couple over the next few days to keep you well fed.

The other day I was out shopping at Kids Central (cool toys! sale! woohoo!) looking for a present for Boof's upcoming birthday. In my wanderings I came across the playdough section. Normally I would walk straight past, because I really hate playdough. All that supervision and cleaning just drive me crazy. But for some strange reason, my eye was caught by a tub of cutters. Maybe I didn't actually realize it was the playdough section. All I saw was cutters and my skewed brain immediately thought... COOKIES!!! Now some of you may think I couldn't possibly need any more cookie cutters, but you could not possibly be more wrong. Everyone needs more cookie cutters. Anyway, these ones were special and different! And they were only $1.99 for 15 cutters! Well, not really, but anyway.
As you can see from the photos, the cutters leave an indent in the top of the cookie so you actually get some features. Most cutters I have seen just have the outline. It's very cool. Boof helped me make them, but I think he was more excited about eating large quantities of both dough and baked cookies. Shapes are irrelevant. JUST GIVE ME COOKIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The people were interesting. The set has mum, dad, the kids and the grandparents. I think there is no mum in the photo because the facial features didn't stay in the cookies once I baked them. You have to roll the dough pretty thick in order to get some of the features and the mum ones were the hardest. (I just used the Wilton roll-out cookie dough recipe)
You could probably dress them up with icing - after all, the lines are already there for you to follow! I just left them plain though. I like the idea of having home made cookies hanging around to give to the boys, although they never really seem to hang around that long!