Thursday, 20 February 2014

Shortcut Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

There are a lot of "cheat" versions of cannelloni out there, often involving bottled pasta sauce. There are limits to my shortcuts, and I firmly believe pasta sauce is one of those things that are worth the little bit of extra effort to make yourself. Having said that, this is a shortcut recipe - but there is no bottled sauce in sight! This is a shortcut recipe that doesn't sacrifice flavour for speed - faster prep, less washing up, faster cooking, maximum flavour.

Serves 4

700g tomato passata - pureed tomatoes (note 1)
1/2 cup water
1 diced brown onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
Handful of basil leaves
1 tsp salt
Good grind of black pepper
700g passata (pureed tomato)
375g (1 packet) fresh lasagne sheets
250g frozen spinach, defrosted and water squeezed out
500g - 600g ricotta (low fat if desired….but won't be the same!)
1 egg
1 crushed clove of garlic
1/2 nutmeg grated or 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
1/4 cup grated parmesan (note 2)
1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper
Handful of grated cheese

1. Mix the passata, water, onion, garlic, basil, salt and pepper in a baking dish suitable to cook the cannelloni in and pop it into a 180 degrees preheated oven for about 10 minutes (while you make the filling).
2. In a bowl, use your hands to mix the ricotta, spinach, egg, 1 clove garlic, nutmeg, parmesan and salt and pepper.
3. Cut the lasagne sheets in half and spoon filling onto each sheet then roll to enclose.
4. Take the pasta sauce out of the oven and place the cannelloni into the sauce.
5. Spoon the sauce over the cannelloni, then cover with foil and place in the oven for 15 minutes
6. After 15 minutes, take out of the oven, remove the foil and scatter the grated cheese over the cannelloni.
7. Put back into the oven for 10 minutes or so until bubbly and golden.

1. You can used tinned tomatoes but it won't quite be the same unless you blend it to make a puree.
2. Cut parmesan into chunks and whizz in food processor or blender, then store in a ziplock bag in a freezer.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Steak Slices with Goats Cheese, Lemon Honey Mustard and Rocket

Adapted from a recipe by the great Bobby Flay, this is a recipe that is perfect for summer BBQ's and sharing with friends. If goats cheese isn't your thing, a creamy feta would also work. Prep time is minimal - cook time depends on how you like your steaks done! Because this is served sliced, you don't need to splurge on fillets, you can use better value cuts like T-bone, just make sure to slice the steak across the grain.

Serves 6 - 8

1.5kg/3 pounds of thick beef steaks
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 large lemon, or 2 small lemons, juiced
2 crushed cloves of garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup (total) finely chopped fresh thyme and parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Oil to brush steaks for cooking (e.g. canola)
250g/9oz soft goat cheese, slightly softened
Few handfuls of rocket
2 lemons, halved and lightly grilled

1. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking and let sit at room temperature.

2. Whisk together the honey, Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and herbs in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

3. Brush the steaks with oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Grill to your liking, then remove from the grill to rest for 10 minutes.

4. Slice steaks thickly across the grain. Serve on a bed of rocket with the goats cheese crumbled on the sliced steak and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and garnish the platter with the grilled lemon halves.

Speedy Stir Fry Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry Noodles

Convenience meets authentic! This speedy 10 minute recipe uses pre sliced fresh ingredients combined with the flavours from a recipe by Gok Wan. You can alter this recipe and use whatever vegetables and meat you have on hand. Make it gluten free by using rice noodles, or vegetarian by replacing the meat with tofu.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
400g pre sliced chicken fillets (about 0.5 cm thick strips) (note 2)
1 packet (about 400 - 500g) ready to stir fry pre-cut vegetables
3 cups of vegetables (sliced as required so they cook in the same time) such as: carrots, broccoli, zucchini, cabbage, mushrooms, snow peas, bean sprouts, green beans.
450g fresh hokkien noodles (note 1)
2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1 1/2 tbsp shrimp paste, or to taste
1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce, or to taste
½ tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
1/4 cup water
Salt and white pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon sesame oil

1. Heat half the oil in a wok over high heat. Add the strips of chicken and stir-fry for approximately 1 minute until it takes on some colour (sealed but not cooked through). Remove from the wok, and set aside.
2. Toss in the vegetables and stir fry for a couple of minutes until the vegetables just start to cook (note: time will differ depending on the size the vegetables are). Remove and set aside with the chicken.
3. Turn the heat down to medium and add the remaining oil. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for 20 seconds until softened (careful not to burn it).
4. Add the shrimp paste and stir fry until aromatic, around 30 seconds. Add the soy sauce, fish sauce, water and salt and pepper to taste and let summer for 10 seconds.
5. Add the chicken, vegetables and noodles, lightly toss and cook until the noodles are warmed through, around 2 to 3 minutes.
6. Garnish options: crushed peanuts, cashews, sliced spring onions, coriander.

1. You can substitute for any other noodles you wish. Because this is a speedy recipe, it calls for fresh noodles, but you can also use dried - just prepare the noodles per the packet instructions.
2. Can be substituted for any other meat

First Post!

This is exciting! My very first post! Why did I suddenly decide to create a blog? Well, a good friend of mine created a recipe storage app (RecipeTin App for mobile phones and iPads) and she asked me to share some of my favourite recipes so people can save them into RecipeTin (using the built in browser - it's very clever!)

I can't promise that I'll post regularly, nor that the recipes I post will follow any rhyme or reason. Somedays I just have to have something Vietnamese. Other days I'll wake up and have the urge to bake something pretty. And often I will be feeling so lazy I can't be bothered to make an effort - so you will see a lot of speedy and shortcut recipes on my blog!

Hope you enjoy it!

Ice-cream Sandwiches with Moscato Poached Strawberries - from Gourmet Traveller Australia