Friday, February 24, 2006

Day 25 - Macaroni Cheese and something just for Blackbird

Blackbird had a meal as show and tell this week, I simply deferred her to this site as my contribution. But then felt slack and offered a pasta recipe I would normally turn my nose up to had I not seen Jamie cooking it on TV and it looking sublime. Yes, another Jamie Oliver recipe but adapted to not have the fancy name or tasteless, stringy mozzarella...

Rigatoni w/ tomatoes, eggplant and bocconcini
500g rigatoni

1 firm, ripe eggplant cut into 1cm dice sized pieces
extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smooshed
1 onion, finely chopped
2x400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 tblsp balsamic vinegar
bunch of fresh basil - stalks sliced, leaves ripped
4 tblsp double cream
200g bocconcini, or mozzarella

Heat a few big glugs of oil in a frypan
Add eggplant and stir as you do so it all gets coated with oil
Cook for about 8 minutes
Add onion and garlic and cook until they start to colour
Add balsamic, tomatoes and basil stalks
Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
(You can add some crumbled up dried chillies at this stage)

Simmer for around 15 minutes
Cook the pasta during this simmer stage

Drain pasta (at this stage, Jamie 'dresses' the pasta with some of its cooking water and a drizzle of oil - while this is, naturally, delicious, I hardly ever bother)
Add cream to sauce
By this stage, the eggplant is reduced to this tomatoey, creamy pulpy sauce that is simply divine. No big chuncks of eggplant to gag on, no bitterness, just this kind of infused flavour.
Add pasta to sauce
Stir through bocconcini and basil leaves for the leaves to wilt and the cheese to start melting.
Serve w/ freshly grated parmesan


But tonight, as Chef got carried away making bechamel for the lasagne earlier in the week, we're having macaroni cheese. Hardly the most nutritious of dinners, but in light of my chronically crying state, highly suitable. He's even added some leg ham, off the bone, from Christmas that I had stored in the freezer.

Day 24 - Choc chip cookies for afternoon tea

There has to be an upside to working from home above and beyond being able to wear daggy clothes and use your own toilet. Making afternoon tea for the boys was it yesterday.

This biccie recipe has been a foundation stone of my baking repertoire since around 1986. So in honour of their 20 year anniversary, here they are: (btw: it's a failproof Women's Weekly recipe)

125g butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 3/4 SR flour
125g choc chips
65g nuts

Preheat oven to 160C
Cream butter with sugars
Add egg and vanilla
Stir in flour
Fold through choc chips and nuts

Roll into teaspoon sized balls
Bake for 10-12 minutes.

They are, as easy as that.

Options: yesterday I didn't do nuts, couldn't be bothered and didn't have any (milk choc with walnuts, white choc with macadamias is the standard rule). I did, however double the recipe and make half white choc and half with milk choc.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Day 22 is followed by day 23. I think

Day 22 was spag bol as Chef is still working on the restarant opening ie, still at home.
Day 23 follows Day 22 and if Day 22 was spag bol, Day 23 MUST be lasagne.
And it was.
Followed by icecream with a very big spoon of milo.
And a few little spoons of icecream dipped directly into the milo tin...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Did you plan ...?

"Did you plan to have such a social weekend?" said The Prof, after a Saturday with an extra child (the lovely Morgan who we are about to lose back to the Land of the Long White Cloud), a fabulous visit from the Palmer Berrys on Saturday afternoon, an evening out at the movies after babysitter Ben forgave the Gorgeous Boy for pooing all over him a year ago and came back to us, and then realising that I'd asked our favourite neighbours over for dinner on Sunday...

Consequently we have a fridge full of leftovers including:
  • Tarama from the deli closest to us, Before I lived in Greeksville I used to call it taramasolata - that is SO not cool with the Greeks.
  • Roast chicken bought for the children and babysitter. This too comes from Marrickville Road and a place that may or may not be franchised called "Munch".
  • The brown rice salad from the weekend magazine but minus the chillies because I wanted the kids (on Sunday) to eat it, which they mostly did, with GB declaring "Cos I'm your doodest rice-eating boy aren't I Mummy?" Yes, GB, yes you are.
  • Neil Perry's Morrocan Eggplant. This recipe must be googleable by now but I will endeavour to post it because it is So Damn Good. Plus, it made my vego guests very happy indeed.
  • Just two slices of Kim's Christmas fruitcake which is eerily resembling the fruitcake I dreamt of as a child: ie, MOIST and No Peel!

Too tired to do more right now, it's kind of a leftover life this week, of which, I can say only, moretocome.


Monday, February 20, 2006

Day 21 - a very basic day

Breakfast - tea in one of those hideous thermos-cup thingys that Chef made for me.
Lunch - salad sandwich on multigrain.
Dinner - two bowls of Chicken , corn and rice (at this rate probably a deserving name of this entire blog), and a spoon of ice-cream.
(Boys dessert: jelly and ice cream.)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Day 20 - Pancakes

There is a bit of an institution in this household for Sunday breakfasts to be a little bit spesh. I have gone through the waist-expanding cinnamon scroll phase, am gearing up for the annual Hot Cross Bun phase (I glaze them and everything) but normally it is either a bacon and eggs kind of morning or a pancakes one.

I've followed this pancake recipe since the early 90s. It comes from Pancakes on The Rocks - an ill-fated outlet of which (Pancakes at The Movies) was one of my first jobs and also the catalyst for meeting my first boyfriend. Ahh, the first in so many ways.

Anyway, it appeared I believe in an early edition of a weekend newspaper magazine and is one of the few recipes cut out and stuck into my recipe book (only recipes made several times and loved make their way, handwritten, into the recipe book) and is on about page 5, so as I said, its been on the cooking scene since around 1992. It has slightly modified over the years, I got rid of the oil and simplified it by using SR flour rather than plain (although this does make them even fluffier). Afterall, Sunday morning cooking shouldn't be hard.

2 cups buttermilk (it works equally well with milk or milk with a squeeze of lemon juice in it and left to sit for a minute or two)
2 eggs
2 cups SR flour (alternate: 2 cups plain flour, 3tsp baking powder, 1tsp bicarb)
2 tblsp caster sugar

Beat the milk and eggs together
Whisk in the flour and caster sugar

It should be quite thick and lumpy.

Ladle some into a hot frypan in which you've melted a little knob of butter.
Cook over a moderate heat.
Turn when bubbles appear.
Cook for another minute or two.

Serve with:
lemon juice and caster sugar (the favourite way of me and the boys)
maple syrup (Chef's fave)

Sometimes I put some blueberries in as they cook, or sliced banana.

Today I had thinly sliced white peach between two pancakes and maple syrup. If the boys knew nutella or chocolate sauce was an option there would be no return to normal breakfasts I am sure.

If there is any batter left over I make some pikelets to have with a bit of butter and jam for morning tea. Sometimes my ability to channel the Country Womens Association astounds even me.

Day 19 - Quick and tasty almost copycat pasta

Today was a scorcher which we weren't really prepared for. The day before had been hot as well, but somehow we'd missed it until we got in the car to pick the kids up from school and the air in the car was molten.

Anyway, we hauled our emotionally wrecked collective carcass over to Bec and the Prof's place to hang out, eat, drink and really, just share the joy that is parenting on the weekends. First challenge - roadworks. A 50-60 minute car trip to about 90. The boys were angelic in trying conditions and it also meant they got a decent sleep on the way there as a good approach to reducing potential feralness.

But man, it was hot. It felt cruel watching the Winter Olympics and all that snow, all those layers.

We had an exquisite spread of greek cheese, stuffed peppers, pate, dips, and awesome bread (I am a bread freak - give me fresh artisan bread with butter or a dish of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and I am one happy little vegemite) and just chilled as the kids demolished Bec's house. Sweet.

I fell asleep in the car on the way home.

Dinner therefore had to be quick, easy and palatable to all. Bec's puttanesca provided the inspiration.

1x500g packet of Barilla Tortiglioni (big penne with grooves in it. I intensely dislike smooth penne, almost as much as Chef thinks Fusilli tastes different to other pasta. I know.)

1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, smooshed
handful salted capers, rinsed
glob of tomato paste
tin of chopped tomatoes
few handfuls of kalamata olives, pits removed, cut into quarters, or you know, however you like.
heaps of fresh basil

Saute the onion, garlic, capers in some oil
Add paste, cook off a little
Add tomatoes and a can or two of water
Add olives and basil

Simmer for as long as you have.
Cook pasta
Mix together

Very tasty, comforting, relatively few pans to wash up, not to hot to cook on a hot day and just very satisfying.