What I'm cooking and eating

Friday, 24 June 2011

Pasta with more bits!

I think this technique of slow-frying (I can't think what else to call it!) is seriously brilliant; I do wish I'd discovered it long since. I've never cared for cabbage when it has been sautéed, always finding it too bitter, too raw-tasting, and have always steamed or microwaved it. But done this way, it was superb! I can see myself cooking more and more vegetables in this way, although I'm not too sure one could cook broccoli like this?

1 packet Lardons
1/2 sweetheart cabbage
1 large onion
Chunk of fresh goats' or similar soft cheese
100 g pasta

Put the lardons in a large saucepan or lidded frying-pan and heat gently until they start to render. Add the chopped onion and cabbage, and stir thoroughly. Cover, and cook over a gentle heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly. Then lower the heat as low as it will go and let it sit and finish cooking for another 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta as per usual, and then mix into the bacon and cabbage mix. Stir in the goats' cheese, if using (or you could add some grated Parmesan afterwards, or leave it out), and adjust the seasoning.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Tomato tart

This is adapted from David Lebovitz' recipe, and if you use bought, ready-rolled pastry it simply couldn't be easier!

1 packet pre-made pastry (I used pre-rolled puff, but you could use shortcrust if you prefer. Or you could make your own, but only if you are good at making pastry, which I'm not!)
1 quantity pesto.
1-2 really large and good quality tomatoes
1/2 roll goats' cheese (Lidl's Petit Chebra is perfect)

Grease a 9" tart tin, and cut the pastry to fit. Keep the trimmings - they can live to fight another day. Spead the pesto on to the pastry base, then slice the tomatoes and cover the pesto with the tomato slices. Put a slice of goats' cheese on the top of the tomatoes.

Bake in a hot oven - Mark 7, 220 C - for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Pesto

1 quantity basil leaves (I grab a pot of growing basil from the supermarket and give it a serious haircut!)
2 large cloves garlic
2 tbs nuts (pine nuts are traditional, but expensive; use any unsalted nuts. I have been known to use salted cashews in a pinch!)
2 tbs olive oil

Put this all in a food processor and whizz until it's as smooth as you can get it!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Pasta and bits

Food this month has been a lot of experimenting, ever since I came back from France with one of those cookery magazines that you pick up in the supermarket. This one was all about using fresh cheeses on seasonal vegetables - lots of fresh goats' cheese, but also ordinary cream cheese, or even fromage blanc.

I've always made a "sauce" to go with pasta, and, of course, often have baked it in the oven as some variation on macaroni cheese. It's been a revelation to discover you don't actually have to make a specific sauce - you can just sauté, or I suppose even steam, your vegetables, add some fresh cheese, and you're laughing!

One of my favourites was based on a recipe in the magazine which called for you to stuff canneloni or similar with a mixture of fresh goats' cheese and chopped mint, and serve this on a bed of aubergine, which you have diced very small and cooked in a frying-pan with a lid for about 20 minutes with garlic, salt and pepper. This is a lovely way of cooking aubergine, which I had thought I didn't really like all that much - okay for a "filler" in a vegetable stew, but not so nice on its own. But this is lovely:

1 aubergine (size depending on how many people you want it to feed - 1/2 small one is fine for 2 people, I find), diced.
1 tbs olive oil (and it will ask for more, but don't let it be greedy!)
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
salt and pepper

Put everything into a frying-pan or wok that has a lid, and fry gently for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Now lower the heat as low as it will go, cover, and let it cook in its own steam for a further 10 minutes. Serve with pasta and fresh cheese of some kind (cream cheese, fresh goats' cheese, Boursin, ricotta, cottage cheese, even Paneer might be nice) which you have stirred through and heated gently. Chopped fresh herbs add greatly to this, too.