Grilled  Asparagus with Sauce Vierge

I’ve had a bit of a surreal week; it’s been insanely busy at work, but the evenings are dragging a little… there’s still so much to do, so much to put away and organise, still so many boxes to get through from our recent move.

Grilled Asparagus with Sauce Vierge

Apparently, things don’t magically find a home when you move… you have to wait for other things to happen first, have to wait for things to go up, to be built, to be put in place. And if anything goes wrong, or not to plan, well, the you have to wait even longer.

I’d like for it to all be over and settled now, please. I’d like be able to read a few chapter on the weekend and not feel guilty; I’d like to be able to spend some time on cleaning up this blog without boxes staring at me, judging me; I’d like to be able to bake in the almost warm spring breeze without having to hunt for a kitchen tool.

We’re still so busy, there hasn’t really been time for long and leisurely brunches on the weekends. So when I saw a really fresh bunch of thin asparagus, I knew we were going to have breakfast for dinner, and who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?

Grilled Asparagus with Sauce Vierge

I’m hoping this week’s Fiesta Friday co-hosts do, so that way we can have breakfast, lunch and dinner, with some drinks thrown in for good measure, with Angie @The Novice Gardener,  Kaila @ GF Life 24/7 and Jenny @ Dragonfly Home Recipes.

Grilled Asparagus with Sauce Vierge

  • Servings: serves 2 for breakfast
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Grilled Asparagus with Sauce Vierge

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches thin asparagus (trimmed)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs (at room temperature)
  • 2 to 4 slices of grain bread (toasted)

Sauce Vierge

  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 1 golden shallot (finely diced)
  • 1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (coarsely crushed)
  • 100g cherry tomatoes (quartered)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chervil sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon chives (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon basil (finely chopped)

Method

  1. Preheat the grill or broiler. Place the trimmed asparagus on an oven tray in a single layer, drizzle with one tablespoon of oil, scatter with lemon rind, season to taste and grill until tender, turning once or twice for about 8 to 10 minutes
  2. Meanwhile, for the sauce vierge, heat the remaining oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add shallot, garlic and coriander seeds and stir occasionally until fragrant and tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and vinegar, season to taste and keep warm. Just before serving, stir in herbs.
  3. Poach the eggs in just simmering water until cooked to your liking, 3 minutes for soft yolks, drain on absorbent paper and keep warm.
  4. Arrange the toast and asparagus on serving plates, top each with a poached egg, spoon the sauce vierge over the top and serve warm

Recipe by Emma Knowles and Alice Storey as found on Gourmet Traveller website.

Simple Potato Salad

We have a new home. We’re in. We made it. All of our belongings made it in one piece too. The cat took five days to acclimatise to his new surroundings and now thinks he’s in charge. Again.

We have a bed. A table. The bookshelves are up but the books are still in boxes. In fact, probably a third of our stuff is still in boxes. The beautiful, enormous pantry has been built and filled but half of my kitchen items are still… somewhere…

As a result, cooking has been somewhat haphazard. Getting used to a new kitchen, a new cooktop, a new oven and finding half way through a recipe that you haven’t yet located that particular implement you need. There’s been a lot of breathing and counting to ten…

Chive Oil Potato Salad

Mum was very particular in telling me that she was taking me out for our first shopping trip… Which was her way of telling me to a list, shop for it and she will pay for it. She is just too sweet, even though I am grown ass woman and can and should pay for my own food. But more on that another time…

When I made my shopping list for our first week in our new home, I noticed very quickly that it was full of comfort foods – Pasta bake, potato salad, extra cheesy toasted cheese sandwiches with soup – I kept the potato salad to go with some crumbed fish and replaced the rest with healthier meals… I don’t think moving house agrees with me…

Chive Oil Potato Salad

Potato salad is such a versatile side dish. It can be served warm, at room temperature, and according to some, even cold. It’s lovely in winter with some fish and it’s awesome in summer as part of a picnic lunch. It can be simple yet flavourful or loaded with a whole host of ingredients that actually makes it difficult to find the actual potato. And it can be somewhat healthy if you don’t add the second dressing of mayo…

What would be ideal, seeing as I’m co-hosting Fiesta Friday #84, is to provide all you party animals with a good but basic potato salad and then a whole bunch of fixin’s to make your own little bowl of goodness.

For my second outing, I’m co-hosting this week with the fabulous Angie @The Novice Gardener, who is our patron in all food blogging endeavours, and Steffi @Ginger & Bread, whose vegetable borek is on my cooking list. (Pst, did you know Steffi has met and cooked with Nigel Slater??? I’m equally happy for her and jealous of her!!)

So come and join Angie, Steffi and myself for this week’s party, and don’t forget to link up to the fiesta. Happy FF#84 people!

Simple Potato Salad

  • Servings: Serves 4 as a side dish
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Chive Oil Potato Salad

If you increase the amount of potatoes to serve more people, don’t forget to increase all the other ingredients, especially the dressing.

Ingredients

  • 6 royal blue potatoes
  • ½ a bunch of chives (finely chopped)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar (plus more to taste)

Add-ins:

  • Fine red onion slices softened in apple cider vinegar
  • Caramelised brown onion
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Crispy bacon
  • ¼ to ½ a cup of mayonnaise
  • A tablespoon or two of the adobo sauce from chipotle peppers
  • Pickles of some fashion (no thank you!!)
  • Roasted garlic
  • Roasted or raw red capsicum slices
  • Scallion slices
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Seeded mustard
  • Shredded carrot

The list goes on, and on, and on…

Method

  1. Wash the potatoes and chop them into bite-sized, even pieces. Peel them first if you really must.
  2. Place the chopped potatoes into a pot and add enough cold water to just cover them. Season with salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium, medium-low and simmer for 12 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooks but not falling apart.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a low heat. Add the finely chopped chives and stir until the chives begin to wilt. Remove the frying pan from heat and set aside to cool, stirring every now and then.
  4. Drain the cooked potatoes and immediately empty into a serving bowl. Pour the warm chive oil and vinegar over the top of the hot potatoes so that the dressing soaks into the potatoes, season with salt and gently toss to combine.
  5. Taste and add more vinegar or salt. Now that the foundation is ready you can add any fixin’s you like, including a second dressing of mayo…
  6. Serve and enjoy.

Vegetarian Polpettini Rolls

So the big move is happening in two days and my pantry items alone are filling up more boxes than expected…

There’s no point in re-purchasing pantry staples and delicacies that I have found in all the well-stocked delis in this area… So I’m packing my entire pantry and moving it with us…

For the last week, we’ve slowly been working our way though the myriad dumplings, chips, veggies and sauces that were in the freezer, but I have finally managed to empty it out. Mostly…

There are two icy poles and a bag of bao left.

Odd combination…

Vegetarian Polpettini Rolls

Earlier in the week, I did find a bag of forgotten vegetarian polpettini in the freezer, right next to a zip-lock baggie of rich tomato sauce. But the saucepans had already been picked. So when you can’t make spaghetti and ‘meatballs’, you make vegetarian meatball subs!

I’m darting in quickly and very late to Fiesta Friday #81 – this week co-hosted by all of us!! – to say hi and leave these lovely little vegetarian polpettini rolls for everyone before running away to pack more boxes.

So, see you on the flip side people, after I put my kitchen back together…

Vegetarian Polpettini Rolls

  • Servings: makes 4 subs
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Vegetarian Polpettini Rolls

Ingredients

  • Half a quantity of veggie balls
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano (chopped)
  • ¼ teaspoon red chilli flakes (optional)
  • 350g jar of tomato passata
  • 400g can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 crusty bread rolls
  • 100g provolone (grated, halved)
  • 2 handful of mixed salad leaves

Method

  1. To make the sauce, add the oil, garlic, thyme, oregano and chilli (if using) to a large, heavy-based frying pan and cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until the garlic and herbs are fragrant.
  2. Add the passata and crushed tomatoes. Stir through the balsamic vinegar and season with salt to taste.
  3. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and add the veggie balls. Spoon sauce over the top and cook for about 3 minutes or until the sauce is hot.
  4. Preheat the grill. Cut the rolls in half and add half the cheese evenly amongst the eight pieces. Grill until the cheese has melted, 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Top the bottom roll halves with mixed salad leaves, three warm polpettini and the rest of provolone. Sandwich on the top and serve.

Spiced Haloumi and Pea Fritters and a Tribute to Selma

It seems that every other person has a blog nowadays.

Some start up because they need a creative outlet. Others are looking for notoriety. Still others just want a little piece of space, carved out just for them and their thoughts.

I started my little food blog at a time when they were already a dime a dozen. I had no new idea, not fantastic, paradigm-shifting approach to creating or sharing recipes. I just wanted a little creative outlet and a place to keep track of my efforts, achievements, and which recipes in the mounds and mounds of magazine cutouts, cook books and web links were the ones worth cooking again.

What I never thought I would encounter when I started was a community of like-minded people who were so sweet and nurturing. A group of people that were unbelievably kind and supportive, even to one who mostly just lurked in the shadows and only popped up every now and then to shyly say hi before going into hiding again.

Spiced Haloumi and Pea Fritters
Amongst this beautiful community was a lady who I formed a bond with over haloumi, of all things. Selma @Selma’s Table was always there, encouraging all of us with her kind words and sweet nature, and we’re all deeply saddened to hear of her passing. I will miss her wicked sense of humour and her heartfelt advice.

These haloumi fritters are not the ones we first bonded over, but they are the ones I’ve made to honour Selma. A huge thank you (and even bigger hugs) to Angie @Fiesta Friday, Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook, Elaine @Foodbod and Sue @birgerbird for putting together this space for all of us to remember Selma.

Spiced Haloumi and Pea Fritters with Avocado Salsa

  • Servings: makes 12 to 16 fritters
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Spiced Haloumi and Pea Fritters

Ingredients

  • 250g frozen peas
  • 125ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 30g cornflour
  • 100g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 180g haloumi (half finely grated, half cut into 1cm cubes)
  • 3 scallions (finely sliced)
  • Zest and juice of half a lime
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • Vegetable oil (for shallow frying)
  • 1 Avocado
  • ¼ cup fresh coriander (finely chopped)

Method

  1. Boil the peas in salted water for 2 minutes, then drain. Refresh under cold water, then drain again. Roughly mash half of the peas with a fork and then set aside.
  2. In a different bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, flours and baking powder until combined and smooth. Fold in the peas, haloumi, scallions, lime zest, coriander and chilli flakes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick frypan over medium-high heat. Add 4 tablespoonfuls of the mixture to the pan, pressing down to flatten slightly, and fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all the mixture has been used up.
  4. Meanwhile, halve, de-pit and roughly chop the avocado flesh. Mix in the chopped fresh coriander, and then add the lime juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, to taste.
  5. Serve the fritters hot or at room temperature with the avocado and coriander salsa.

Recipe adapted from Delicious magazine.

Salad and Burrata Piadina Wraps

For a little over a year now, I have been waiting for quinces to come back into season so I can make a version of Philippa Sibley’s Hansel and Gretel dessert.

Last month, I bought some quinces and some apples, and I poached and I baked and I churned and I caramelised and I made a seriously tasty dessert.

But all those little notes, change and tips that we all make to recipes are messily scrawled across multiple bits of paper. Bits of paper that I do not have the time to transcribe at the moment.

You see, things are happening… things that require boxes, and tape and bubble wrap…

I have only done it twice, but I know that I do not like moving. It’s messy, dusty and my usual method of ordered chaos has disintegrated into pure disorganisation. I don’t think it helps that the cat jumps out at me from behind boxes like a ninja.

So, seeing as though the majority of my spare time is now devoted to boxing up my life, I offer you all not the beautifully poached quinces and apple crumble ice cream that has been the plan for two weeks now; instead, I present a quick (plus resting time!) and easy recipe that can be adapted according to your mood, cravings, time and whatever it is you have in the fridge.

Salad and Burrata Piadina

Piadina is Italy’s lesser-know flatbread, after pizza and focaccia, can be just as tasty – there’s a lot of bad pizza out there – and is much easier to make. It’s great as a snack or as a base to top with a variety of ingredients from cheeses to cold cuts to vegetables. I love them folded over and stuffed with pesto, rocket, tomato, avocado and lots of burrata.

And I promise to share the poached quinces and ice cream dessert very soon. But until then, grab a piadina and enjoy this week’s festivities at Fiesta Friday #76 with Angie @The Novice Gardener, who is this week encouraging all of us to slow down, pause, and to appreciate and value each other.

Salad and Burrata Piadina Wraps

  • Servings: makes 6 piadina
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Salad and Burrata Piadina

Ingredients

  • 500g plain flour (plus extra to dust)
  • 250ml milk
  • 100g vegetable oil (or half vegetable oil and half extra virgin olive oil, or lard or duck fat)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 tablespoons pesto (your favourite kind is the best choice here)
  • 100g rocket (or any salad leaves)
  • 3 tomatoes (finely sliced)
  • 1 to 2 avocados (flesh sliced)
  • 1 burrata ball (sliced as neatly as possible)

Method

  1. Combine flour, milk, vegetable oil, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Divide the mixture into 6 balls and, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out each ball on a lightly floured work surface until 2mm thick.
  4. Heat a large frying pan or chargrill pan over medium heat and cook each flatbread for 2 minutes each side or until golden.
  5. Spread each piadina with a tablespoon of pesto, top with rocket, tomato, avocado and burrata, fold over and serve.

Recipe by Matteo Carboni via the SBS Food website.

Maple-Baked Nectarine Crostini with Mozzarella, Basil and Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar

How do we really feel about imported fruit and vegetables?

Do we really and truly buy fresh produce because we want to support the community and our local growers? Because it is better for us? Because it’s better quality? Because it’s the right thing to do?

Yep, these are all good reasons. Personally, I prefer to buy local produce so that I can cook seasonal meals, from the comfort foods of winter to the beautiful fruit-inspired summer mains and everything in between.

And to be perfectly honest, the wait for seasonal delicacies is part of the appeal.

Baked Nectarine Crostini

I did buy imported nectarines the other day. I saw them and instantly remembered all of the summer dishes that I never got around to making before the stone fruit season had come to an end.

They weren’t great like middle of the season nectarines, but they weren’t bad either. And since I knew I was going to bake them, I only felt the tiniest, teeniest bit guilty for buying imported fruit.

So, moral of the story, it’s pretty much in everyone’s best interest to buy fresh and local produce. But if it’s available, and it’s tasty, and you really, really want to make something, it’s okay to sometimes buy some imported goodies.

I’m sharing these baked nectarine crostinis with the Fiesta Friday #73 gang, created by Angie @The Novice Gardener, and this week co-hosted by the lovely Michelle @Giraffes Can Bake and very sweet Juju @ cookingwithauntjuju.

Maple-Baked Nectarine Crostini with Mozzarella, Basil and Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar

  • Servings: makes 8 crostini
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Baked Nectarine Crostini

Ingredients

  • 4 nectarines (stone removed, quartered)
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 8 pieces of sourdough bread
  • 2 fresh mozzarella balls (cut into 8 thick slices)
  • 8 large basil leaves
  • Raspberry balsamic vinegar to drizzle (or balsamic vinegar)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Place the nectarine quarters cut side down in a baking dish, drizzle with maple syrup, and bake for 15 minutes or until just tender.
  3. Meanwhile, lightly toast the slices of sourdough.
  4. Top each piece of sourdough with a slice of mozzarella, a basil leaf and two pieces of baked nectarines. Drizzle with raspberry balsamic vinegar and serve warm.

Vanilla Scones with Strawberry Cream

Have you ever thought about how many different kinds of scones there are? There are sweet scones, like white chocolate and strawberry, herb and cheese savoury scones, fruit-filled scones, butter scones, pumpkin scones, lemonade scones, buttermilk scones, lovely sounding crème fraiche scones that Kitsch n flavours just posted… I could continue for days…

Scones have never really liked me. I can make soufflés and bake croissants, but every scone recipe I’ve tried has ended in disaster.

Vanilla Scones

I have a friend who can speedily and effortlessly whip up a batch of scones without thought. Whilst also cooking lunch. And bread. And happily chatting and drinking wine. She is very skilled at multitasking…

She’s even walked me through her recipe and watched me make it and still has no idea how I messed them up time and time again.

They tasted fine, but boy did they look awful.

Recently, I had to take a morning tea/afternoon tea type treat to an event, and I figured it was the perfect time to try making scones again, and shock horror, they actually turned out pretty well! They tasted great and rose beautifully and evenly, and because these particular scones contain no butter or milk, they were still great the next day.

So seeing as how I am now free from the scone curse, I’m off to experiment with other types of scones and offer these ones up to the Fiesta Friday #70 party. Angie @The Novice Gardener, Dini @Giramuk’s Kitchen and Mollie @The Frugal Hausfrau are your co-hosts this week so it should be a great get-together.

Vanilla Scones with Strawberry Cream

  • Servings: makes 20 to 24 scones
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Vanilla Scones

Ingredients for Vanilla Scones

  • 4 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 cup thickened cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla essence)
  • A few tablespoons of milk
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar (to serve)

Ingredients for Strawberry Cream

  • ¼ cup strawberry jam
  • 1 ½ cups whipped cream
  • 150g fresh strawberries (roughly chopped)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
  2. Sift flour, sugar and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Create a well in the centre and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine cream, milk and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with a flat-bladed knife to combine.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth.
  5. Pat the dough out to a 2.5cm-thick round. Using a 5cm scone cutter, cut 12 scones from the dough. Gently press the remaining dough together and repeat.
  6. Place the scones on the prepared tray, allowing a little room for spreading. Using a pastry brush, gently brush some milk on the tops and sides of the scones and then bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.
  7. Remove the scones from the oven, cover with a clean tea towel and stand scones on tray for 10 minutes.
  8. To make the strawberry cream, stir the jam in a bowl until slightly softened. Add the cream and half the strawberries and gently fold through until just combined.
  9. Split scones in half. Top the bases with a dollop of strawberry cream, the remaining strawberries and the scone tops. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Recipe by Julie Jansen from taste.com.

Spaghetti and Veggie Balls

It’s not the taste of spaghetti and meatballs that I miss, it’s more the concept of the dish, the comfort and the familiarity that it offers on a cold night.

I honestly cannot remember ever having spaghetti and meatballs growing up, and if I did, it would have been a heavily herbed Mediterranean version. I vaguely remember some chicken (?) meatballs in soup…

But it’s a kind of dish that you instinctively recognise. Meatballs are meatballs, right?

Spaghetti and Veggie Balls

Put your pitchforks down, I know that every carnivore out there has their own meatball or patty or rissole recipe that they guard fiercely. The type of mince, the add-ins, the herbs and spices, breading, no breading, panko, eggs, no eggs… All the little differences lead to very different meatballs in both taste and texture.

And it’s the same with veggie balls; there may be more variety in the base ingredients and flavourings that can be used, but all veggie balls are not created equal.

That’s why I like The Meatball Shop’s lentil-based veggie ball recipe – you can drench them in sauce and they will still hold their shape, making them perfect for spaghetti and veggie balls, or for vegetarian polpettini rolls.

Veggie balls usually require more ingredients and time to prepare, but they really are worth the effort.

I’m sharing this yummy pasta dish with the Fiesta Friday #69, created by Angie @The Novice Gardener, and co-hosted this week by Juju @cookingwithauntjuju and Amanda @The Chunky Chef, so come say hi and check out all the great recipes.

Spaghetti and Veggie Balls

  • Servings: makes 2 dozen veggie balls and serves 6
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Spaghetti and Veggie Balls

Ingredients for the Veggie Balls

  • 2 cups puy lentils
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 carrots (finely chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 220g swiss brown mushrooms (wiped clean and finely chopped)
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese (plus extra to serve)
  • ½ cup panko
  • ½ cup fresh parsley (chopped)
  • ¼ cup walnuts (finely chopped)

Ingredients for the Spaghetti and Sauce

  • 500g thin spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano (chopped)
  • ¼ teaspoon red chilli flakes (optional)
  • 350g jar of tomato passata
  • 400g can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Method

  1. Combine the lentils and 6 cups of water in a medium stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft (but not falling apart), about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the lentils if needed and set aside to cool.
  2. Add ¼ cup of the olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onions, carrots, garlic, thyme and salt over medium-high heat, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 more minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. When cool, add the lentils to the vegetable mixture.
  3. Add the eggs, parmesan, panko, parsley and walnuts to the cooled vegetable mixture and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. Place in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  5. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil onto a baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.
  6. Roll the veggie mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs, making sure to pack the vegetable mixture firmly between your hands. Place the balls evenly in the prepared baking dish, allowing a bit of space between the balls.
  7. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the veggie balls are firm and cooked through. Allow the veggie balls to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish.
  8. Meanwhile, cook the pasta as per the packet directions. Drain and keep warm.
  9. To make the sauce, add the oil, garlic, thyme, oregano and chilli (if using) to a large, heavy-based frying pan and cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until the garlic and herbs are fragrant.
  10. Add the passata and crushed tomatoes. Stir through the balsamic vinegar and season with salt to taste.
  11. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and add the veggie balls. Spoon sauce over the top and cook for about 3 minutes or until the sauce is hot.
  12. To serve, divide the pasta among six bowls, spoon over some sauce, add the veggie balls and sprinkle with parmesan. Serve with a crisp, green salad.

Recipe adapted from The Meatball Shop Cookbook by Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow with Lauren Deen.

Smoked Salmon and Quinoa Lettuce Cups with Lemon Crème Fraiche Sauce

Whether you were celebrated or helped to celebrate, I hope everyone had a lovely Mothers’ Day last week.

A friend’s mum is actually the inspiration behind these lettuce cups.

Lettuce Cups

We were having a grazing lunch a while ago of freshly-baked bread, salad, crisp vegetables and lots and lots of cheese. After trying to force more food on everyone, she ended up wrapping the leftover bits and pieces in a huge piece of cos lettuce. She looked so cute munching on her lettuce parcel, even while the rest of us good-naturedly teased her for it.

So I made a note in my phone to make some lettuce cups of my own, and here they are. You could pretty much use whatever combination of veggies that you like or have on hand, throw in some protein – tofu, smoked salmon, smoked chicken – and, to keep the boys happy, add some quinoa or couscous. Dollop on the crème fraiche sauce, fold into a parcel, and enjoy.

I’m sharing these with the Fiesta Friday # 68 lot, created by Angie @The Novice Gardener, and this week c-hosted by Justine @Eclectic odds n sods and Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook.

Smoked Salmon and Quinoa Lettuce Cups with Lemon Crème Fraiche Sauce

  • Servings: makes 8 lettuce cups
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Lettuce Cups

Lettuce Cups Ingredients

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • ¼ cup mixed fresh herbs (finely chopped)
  • 8 of large, curved lettuce leaves (cos, little gem, iceberg)
  • 1 bunch asparagus (woody ends trimmed)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 100g smoked salmon
  • 1 Avocado
  • 12 baby bocconcini

Lemon Crème Fraiche Sauce

  • ½ cup crème fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Juice of a ½ a small lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil or 1 tablespoon fresh dill (finely chopped)

Method

  1. Rinse and drain the quinoa and then cook it following the packet directions, adding the mixed fresh herbs to the cooking liquid. Set aside to cool.
  2. Wash the lettuce leaves, then dry them thoroughly between absorbent towels. Set aside.
  3. Toss the asparagus spears with the oil and lemon juice, season with salt, and grill until slightly charred, about 5 minutes.
  4. While the quinoa and asparagus are cooking, prepare the smoked salmon by portioning it into 8 slices and rolling them into 8 individual rolls. Halve and pit the avocado and cut four slices out of each half. Quarter each baby bocconcini into quarters.
  5. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, whisk together the crème fraiche, mustard and lemon juice until smooth and combined. Fold through the basil or dill and season with salt.
  6. When everything is cooked and ready, lay out the lettuce leaves on a serving tray. Top with a full tablespoon of quinoa, add a roll of smoked salmon, a couple of asparagus spears and a slice of avocado. Top with some baby bocconcini, drizzle some crème fraiche sauce over the top and serve warm or at room temperature.

Mushroom and Poached Egg Spaghetti – Or Faux Spaghetti alla Carbonara

It’s been a long, long, LONG week.

But two things have made this seemingly never-ending week bearable: Co-hosting Fiesta Friday #65 and #putaneggonit.

Co-hosting Fiesta Friday with Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook was great fun, and we should all send lots of yummy care packages full of food over to Angie @The Novice Gardener for continuing to create a great space for us all to share, laugh and eat.

And speaking of laughing, I love the putaneggonit hashtag on Instagram, such great recipes, funny comments and some very silly people who should maybe consider keeping their opinions to themselves once in a while… you’ve got to love social media… If you don’t like it, unsubscribe.

But the hashtag did remind me to post this recipe. It’s a mashup of an alfredo and carbonara sauce. With mushrooms. And a bit of thyme.

Mushroom and Poached Egg Pasta

I love spaghetti alla carbonara, but I only ever eat it at restaurants (without the bacon, obviously). I’ve never, and probably will never actually make it at home as I would ruin it. I would ruin any dish that has uncooked egg in it.

Warmed is not cooked, people.

But ordering carbonara at a restaurant means that it appears in front of me all twirled up high and fancy looking, and I don’t have to mess around with raw eggs and hope there was enough residual heat to cook them… (Commercial kitchens are hotter, okay? Let’s just leave it at that!)

So, here’s the best of both worlds… a lovely, creamy alfredo sauce with a poached (cooked) egg on top that when pierced, adds another layer to the sauce.

For me, it’s the best of both worlds.

I’m sharing this yummy pasta dish with Fiesta Friday #66, which is this week hosted by Anna @Anna International, so don’t forget to come along and say hi to everyone.

Mushroom and Poached Egg Spaghetti

Mushroom and Poached Egg Pasta

Ingredients

  • 500g spaghetti
  • 30g butter
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or one teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 200g swiss brown mushrooms (thickly sliced)
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 50g to 100g parmesan cheese (to taste, finely grated)
  • Splash of vinegar
  • 4 eggs

Method

  1. Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of salted boiling water as per the packet instructions. Drain and keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and thyme and stir until fragrant.
  3. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until they start to soften. Season with salt.
  4. Stir in the thickened cream, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  5. Add the parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Remove from the heat.
  6. Add the cooked pasta to the alfredo sauce and toss gently until combined. Divide amongst four bowls and keep warm.
  7. Meanwhile, bring a large sauté pan or shallow pot full of water to a light simmer over medium heat and add the splash of vinegar.
  8. Crack each egg into a separate coffee cup and set aside.
  9. Once the water is simmering, gently pour each egg into its own section of the pot in one fluid motion, dropping the egg yolk in as close to the water as possible without burning yourself.
  10. Cook the eggs for two and half minutes or until they are softly poached – you want them to be cooked but runny when you serve them.
  11. Gently drain each poached egg on some kitchen paper, add one to the top of each bowl of spaghetti and serve immediately.

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