Cacio e Pepe with Oven-Grilled Broccolini and Asparagus

I could never follow a diet or a philosophy of eating if it does not give you the option, to at least every now and then, have a bowl full of pasta.

And I do mean pasta.

I do not mean noodles, in all of their variety – although I am partial to mung bean noodles. I do not mean spiralised vegetables masquerading as pasta; they have their place, but let’s call a spade a spade, shall we? They are vegetables, not pasta.

Maybe it’s my metabolism; I can eat a bowl of pasta for dinner and not get hungry again soon after. Maybe it’s the comfort that I seem to associate so strongly to pasta. For me, pasta is my ‘chicken soup’, a bowl full of pasta makes everything better, even for a little while.

Cacio e Pepe

 

This is not a new recipe, but it’s been all over the internet lately, which reminded me of just how yummy, how cheesy and how soothing to the soul this pasta dish is.

I wanted something green to cut through the cheese and provide some crunch and a contrasting lemon flavour, but be a purist if you like, and make this with normal spaghetti and omit the greens. Either way, you will thank yourself for both making and consuming this pasta dish. Unless of course you don’t like pepper…

Come and have a bowlful at this week’s Fiesta Friday with Angie, Lindy @ Love in the Kitchen and Liz @ spades, spatulas & spoons.

 

Cacio e Pepe with Oven-Grilled Broccolini and Asparagus

Cacio e Pepe with Oven-Grilled Broccolini and Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 375g wholegrain spaghetti
  • 2 bunches broccolini
  • 2 bunches asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • sea salt
  • ½ a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (scant) tablespoon ground black pepper (plus a little more to finish)
  • 1 ½ cups finely grated pecorino (plus a little more to finish)

Method

  1. Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water as per the packet directions until al dente, making sure to save ½ cup of the cooking water.
  2. In the mean time, preheat the oven grill (or broiler or bbq).
  3. Prep the broccolin and asparagus by trimming all woody and stringy parts. Spread them out evenly on a baking paper-covered sheet pan, drizzle with the oil and season with sea salt.
  4. Grill for to 5 to 7 minutes, or until cooked to your liking. Remove from the heat, squeeze over the lemon juice and keep warm.
  5. While the spaghetti and greens are cooking, melt the butter in a large, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the black pepper. Set aside for 3 to 5 minutes, swirling it a few times to allow the pepper to infuse into the butter.
  6. Return the butter to a medium-low heat and add in the reserved cooking water. Bring to a simmer and then add the spaghetti and the pecorino, using tongs to toss the mixture until the cheese melts into the liquid and coats the spaghetti evenly.
  7. Divide the spaghetti amongst four warmed bowls, top with broccolini and asparagus, sprinkle with extra pecorino and pepper, and serve immediately with a crisp, green salad.

 

 

Paneer Frankie

The trick to street food at home? Make it family style! It’s also fun when there’s some assembly required too… messy, but fun.

A Frankie is essentially the Indian version of a wrap or a Mexican burrito. It was created by Amarjit Tibb, ‘a self-confessed foodie who used to run a salt refinery’. He came across Lebanese pita bread wraps in his travels, altered the type of flatbread, fillings and spices used to suit the Indian palate and opened his first Frankie outlet in Mumbai in 1969.

Nowadays there are many, many different recipes out there for Frankies, stuffed with an assortment of fillings; and what the vegetarian Frankie recipes seem to have in common is paneer.

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I’ve had a list of paneer recipes I’ve been meaning to try out, but it’s taken me a while to finally figure out that the difference between making ricotta from scratch and making paneer from scratch is pressing… but more on this when I actually have time to press it!

So you could say that paneer has been on my mind lately… And then Miss Fromage Homage asked us to pair cheese with fresh herbs for June’s Cheese, Please! challenge. What goes well with paneer? Coriander! So I figured I’d be a little cheeky… did you know that coriander is a herb when its leaves are used and a spice when its seeds are used?

Paneer Frankie

  • Servings: makes 6 frankies
  • Print

Frankie Paneer

Ingredients

  • 40g butter
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 1 long green chilli (finely chopped)
  • 450g paneer (cut into 2.5 cm cubes)
  • 1 tablespoon chaat masala spice*
  • 1 lime (zested and juiced)
  • 1 cup coriander leaves (roughly chopped, plus extra to serve)
  • 6 pieces paratha**

To Serve (optional):

  • 1 telegraph cucumber (cut into 12 batons)
  • 2 carrots (cut into 24 batons)
  • Red onion (thinly sliced)

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the onion, garlic and chilli and cook for 2 minutes or until the onion is lightly golden.
  2. Add the paneer and chaat masala and cook, tossing occasionally, for 4 minutes or until the paneer is golden.
  3. Add lime zest, lime juice and the coriander leaves and cook for a further 2 to 3 minute or until combined. Season with salt and pepper, top with extra coriander and set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Heat or toast the paratha and serve with the herbed paneer, cucumber and carrot batons and raw red onion slices.

* Chaat masala is a sweet-sour spice from Indian food shops. Substitute equal quantities of garam masala and crushed coriander seeds.

** Paratha is a type of Indian flatbread. It is available from supermarkets in packets or in the frozen section of Indian food shops

Recipe from the SBS Food website.

Mushroom, Sage and Chilli Pizza – A Cheat’s Pizza for a Friday Night

Some Fridays, I’m itching to get home from work and cook something a little more extravagant for a weeknight dinner; obviously it’s something I googled during the workday… Other Fridays, I just shrug and order take out, or grab something on my way home from the many cafes and restaurants that I pass.

Growing up, Friday-night takeout with my family was pizza, not fish and chips. So some Fridays, I still crave/want/expect pizza. And it doesn’t matter if it’s pizzeria pizza, homemade pizza, fresh toppings on a store-bought base, pita bread pizza or puff pastry pizza. As long as it can still be labelled as a ‘pizza’ it’s all good. I do draw the line at frozen pizza though…

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But making pizza dough from scratch on a weeknight is a non-starter for me. So if you are looking for a pizza dough recipe, you might like to check this Sweet Potato and Goat’s Cheese Pizza recipe out instead.

This is a versatile topping recipe. You can swap out the sage for thyme, parsley or tarragon, and you can either use more chilli or take it out completely. Best of all, you can mix and match the mushrooms to your heart’s content – I used a mix of Shitake, King Oyster, Oyster, Swiss Brown and Enoki mushrooms.

But the best thing of all about having pizza on a Friday night is sharing it with everyone at Fiesta Friday #19, hosted by Angie over at The Novice Gardener.

Fiesta Friday Badge Button I party @

Mushroom, Sage and Chilli Pizza

  • Servings: makes 2 pizzas
  • Print

Mushroom, Sage and Chilli Pizza

Ingredients

  • 2 pre-prepared pizza bases
  • 1 cup pasta/pizza sauce (divided)
  • 400g mixed mushrooms (roughly chopped, divided)
  • 10 fresh sage leaves (finely sliced, divided)
  • 2 fresh, long red chillies (deseeded, finely sliced, divided)
  • 200g havarti (grated, divided)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Heat two baking trays in the oven for 10 minutes and then remove.
  3. Set one pizza base on each heated baking tray.
  4. Spread half of the pasta/pizza sauce over one of the pizza bases. Top with half of the mushrooms, half of the sage, half of the sliced chillies and half of the grated havarti cheese.
  5. Repeat with the second pizza base and the remaining ingredients.
  6. Bake, swapping the trays halfway through, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the havarti melts and the pizza bases are heated through and crispy.
  7. Slice, serve and munch.

Leek and Cheese Stuffed Buckwheat Crêpes – Parcels of Cheesy Goodness

Have you noticed how most crêpe recipes make A LOT of crêpes?

I live in a very small household, and well, I don’t want to stand in front of the stove for ages making way more crêpes than I need. Yeah, yeah, I know they freeze well, but I can guarantee you that I will forget that they’re there and then they’ll have to be thrown out.

Both buckwheat crêpe recipes that I had flagged would have made between 16 and 20 crêpes. I also noticed that they both combine buckwheat flour with regular flour. Enter Gluten-Free-Girl and the Chef. Not only do they provide the ratios for perfect crêpe batter, so you can make as many as you want, they offer up a cute little how-to video and their recipe uses only buckwheat flour.

The filling takes a bit more work than the standard ham and cheese, but I promise it’s worth it. The caramelised leeks and the smoked cheddar combine to create such a sweet but smoky flavour that even carnivores won’t miss the ham or bacon in these crêpes.

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Speaking of, smoked cheese is this month’s Cheese, Please! Blog Challenge over at Fromage Homage. If you haven’t visited this awesome blog yet, you are missing out!

Fromage Homage

Leek and Cheese Stuffed Buckwheat Crêpes

Buckwheat crêpe recipe from Gluten-Free-Girl and the Chef. Depending upon the size of your frying/crêpe pan, this recipe will make 4 to 6 crêpes.

Notes about crêpe making: The first one is usually crap and full of oil. But don’t get discouraged, crêpes are really easy to make once you find your own knack for making them. Also, depending on the size of the pan, you may need to add more or less crêpe batter in order to coat the entire surface of the pan – start with a 1/3 cup and add more if needed.

Ingredients

  • 240ml milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 113g buckwheat flour
  • Good pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (you can also use butter or olive oil)
  • 20g butter
  • 1 leek (white and pale green parts only, halved and sliced thinly)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried sage
  • Good pinch sea salt
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 2 heaped tablespoons ricotta
  • 100g smoked cheddar (grated)

Method

  1. First, prepare the buckwheat crêpe batter. Whisk together the milk and eggs. Add the buckwheat flour and salt. Whisk together fully. Set aside for the flavours to mingle fully at room temperature while you make the filling.
  2. In a large, heavy-based frying pan, heat the butter over medium-low heat. When the butter just begins to sizzle, add the sliced leek, thyme, sage and salt and stir to coat. Allow to cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, or until they begin to soften.
  3. Add the frozen peas and the ricotta and stir to combine. Allow to cook for another 2 minutes or so, or until both the peas and the ricotta have heated through. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Quickly re-whisk the crêpe batter. The starches in buckwheat flour tend to sink to the bottom so the batter must be whisked before cooking each crêpe.
  5. Set a cast-iron skillet or crêpe pan over low heat and slowly bring it up to medium-high heat. Add some of the coconut oil.
  6. When the oil has melted, add a 1/3 cup of the crêpe batter and immediately swirl the pan until the batter covers the entire surface.
  7. When the edges are set and starting to curl up from the pan, about 30 seconds to 1 minute, run a metal spatula under all the edges of the crêpe. Flip the crêpe. Cook for 30 seconds then turn the crêpe out onto a baking paper covered surface.
  8. Repeat with the remaining crêpe batter, making sure to separate each crêpe with baking paper.
  9. When all the crêpes are cooked, add about a ¼ cup of the filling to the middle of each crêpe, top with a generous portion of smoked cheddar and fold into rolls or quarters.

Capsicum, Corn and Manchego Migas – A Tex-Mex Version

So back to my recipe bucket list…

I had some leftover filling from my empanada mix from the day before when during my Sunday morning googling, I came across a migas recipe again. Yep, breakfast was sorted.

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Traditional Spanish migas, which translates to ‘crumbs’, was apparently a very common dish among shepherds while they were away tending to their livestock. They would essentially moisten stale bread with water, throw it in a pan over a campfire, add whatever herbs they had on hand and allow the bread to cook slowly until it reached a crumbly and almost fluffy-like consistency. These crumbs would then be served with whatever protein or vegetables the shepherd happened to have left.

The Tex-Mex version of migas is essentially an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ kind of deal. You can use whatever ingredients you want to create your ‘salsa’, then add to that some tortilla chips, eggs, cheese and you are pretty much set to go.

True, I began this recipe with leftovers, so of course I continued with the Spanish flair by adding more manchego cheese, this month’s Cheese, Please! Recipe Blog Challenge from Fromage Homage. However, you can substitute, if needed, with a cheese that melts well but has some bite; yes, you can use cheddar, but pecorino would be so much better.

Fromage Homage

The migas recipe below is not a leftover recipe, so no, you don’t have to make empanadas first.

Capsicum, Corn and Manchego Migas

Inspired by gimme some oven.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 1 red capsicum (sliced into thin strips)
  • 1 corn cob (unhusked)
  • 1 clove of garlic (unpeeled)
  • 1 small red onion (unpeeled, cut into quarters)
  • 2 firm-ripe red tomatoes
  • 150g Manchego cheese (grated)
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 corn tortillas
  • 1 canned chipotle in adobo sauce
  • ¼ cup fresh coriander leaves (roughly chopped)
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 4 corn tortillas to serve (optional)
  • Avocado to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Place the capsicum strips on a baking tray, drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil and thyme and bake for 15 minutes, tossing once half way through.
  3. Place the unhusked corn cob on another baking tray and bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before peeling back the husk, removing the silk and cutting the kernels off the cob with a sharp knife.
  4. Lower the over to 180°C.
  5. Cut the two tortillas into small triangles, and lay them out on a baking sheet, making sure that the pieces are not touching. Drizzle over one tablespoon of oil and the garlic salt. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, keeping a close eye on them. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  6. Meanwhile, Place a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat but do not add any oil.
  7. Add the garlic, onion, and tomato (all with their skins) in pan and roast, turning, as needed, with tongs, until blistered and charred all over.
  8. Let vegetables cool slightly, then peel off skins.
  9. In a blender, combine vegetables with chipotle chile and coriander leaves. Pulse until coarsely pureed and empty into a mixing bowl.
  10. Add ¾ of the shredded manchego cheese and stir to combine with the salsa.
  11. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the remaining oil.
  12. Thoroughly whisk the eggs in a bowl and add them to the pan. Allow them to cook for a couple of minutes before scrambling.
  13. While the eggs are still wet, add the salsa, roasted capsicums, corn kernels and tortilla chips. Stir gently to combine.
  14. Sprinkle with the remaining manchego cheese, top with avocado pieces and serve in heated tortilla wraps.

Note: You could just add the chopped up capsicum and corn kernels to the pan before scrambling the eggs, but you do get a much richer, almost caramelised flavour if you roast them in the oven… it all depends on how much time you are willing to invest…

Capsicum and Corn Empanadas with Roasted Tomato and Chipotle Hot Manchego Dip

The lovely Fromage Homage has done it again! You see, like many, many other people, I have a recipe bucket list. Books, movies, food shows, food magazines, blogs… there is a never-ending supply of inspiration. An idea is planted, google gets a workout, and so, my list grows…

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Manchego has been a cheese I’ve wanted to try and to cook with for a while now. It’s a Spanish hard sheep’s milk cheese, which is this month’s Cheese, Please! Recipe Blog Challenge. It is similar to pecorino, but smoother, sweeter and with less bite.

Fromage Homage

Depending on how long it has aged for, manchego cheese’s taste and texture changes quite significantly. Young manchego is aged for about three months, making it lightly coloured, moist and tangy; it melts extremely well. Curado manchego is aged for six months, is acidic but develops a smooth almost caramel flavour. Viejo manchego is aged for a year or longer and becomes a very crumbly cheese with a sweeter taste and a butterscotch colour.

Produced in La Mancha, manchego is a perfect cheese for cooking Spanish cuisine. Unfortunately, I am no where near Spain, so it was a little difficult to get my hands on young manchego, kind of like the Raspberry Ale BellaVitano cheese, but that’s another story…

Capsicum and Corn Empanadas with Roasted Tomato and Chipotle Hot Manchego Dip

Empanada dough recipe (and tips!) from Laylita’s Recipes. Hot Manchego Dip inspired by Tori Ritchie.

Ingredients for the Empanadas

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 170g unsalted butter (chilled and cut into 12 pieces)
  • 1 egg
  • 4-5 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (halved)
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 1 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 red capsicum (sliced into thin strips)
  • 2 corn cobs
  • 100g Manchego cheese* (grated)
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle powder
  • ½ teaspoon of sweet or smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)

Ingredients for the Hot Manchego Dip

  • 200g Manchego cheese* (grated)
  • 2 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
  • 1 small red onion (unpeeled, cut into quarters)
  • 4 firm-ripe red tomatoes
  • 1 canned chipotle in adobo sauce
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves (roughly chopped)
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt to season

Method for the Empanadas

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Mix the flour and salt in a food processor.
  3. Add the butter, egg and water until a clumpy dough forms.
  4. Form a ball, flatten slightly, and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, place the capsicum strips on a baking tray, drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil and thyme and bake for 15 minutes, tossing once half way through.
  6. Place the unhusked corn cobs on another baking tray and bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before cutting the kernels off the cob with a sharp knife.
  7. Preheat the remaining oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for five minutes, or until the onions begin to soften.
  8. Add the roasted capsicum strips, corn kernels and manchego cheese, stirring to combine. Take the pan off the heat once the cheese begins to melt.
  9. Roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round moulds or a small plate).
  10. To assemble the empanadas, place a spoonful of the capsicum-cheese filling on the middle of each empanada disc. (The amount of filling will vary based on the size of the empanada, but in general, it’s easier to seal an empanada that isn’t overstuffed. Also, the more you make empanadas, the easier it becomes to stuff them to the max and still seal them properly.)
  11. To seal the empanadas, fold the disc and seal the edges by pressing the dough with your fingers. (If you’re having a hard time sealing the edges, you can use brush the inside edges with egg white, it will act as a glue for the empanadas. You can also use a fork to help seal the edges, just press the top of the fork against the edges.)
  12. Refrigerating the finished empanadas for at least 30 minutes before baking as this helps them seal better and prevents the filling from leaking out.
  13. Brush the empanadas with an egg wash and bake for 18 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the empanadas, or until golden brown.

Method for the Hot Manchego Dip

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C
  2. Place a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat but do not add any oil.
  3. Add the garlic, onion, and tomato (all with their skins) in pan and roast, turning, as needed, with tongs, until blistered and charred all over.
  4. Let vegetables cool slightly, then peel off skins.
  5. In a blender, combine vegetables with chipotle chile and cilantro leaves. Whirl until coarsely pureed and empty into a mixing bowl.
  6. Squeeze lime juice into salsa, then stir in oil. Taste and season with salt if needed.
  7. Add the shredded manchego cheese and stir to combine with the salsa.
  8. Pour the cheesy salsa into a large ovenproof serving dish or individual ramekins and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the cheese has melted. Serve immediately.

* A young or a Curado Manchego is recommended for the Hot Manchego Dip, but an aged Manchego works very well for the empanada filling.

Cheddar Gougeres – Where Pastry and Cheese come together with Surprising Simplicity

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Apart from enjoying the stories Fromage Homage shares about her ongoing cheese journey, and being in awe of her every time she tackles cheese making, I enjoy taking part in her monthly Cheese Please! Recipe Blog Challenge as it does just that – it challenges me. It also gives me the incentive I need to finally get around to making all these different and more uncommon cheese recipes I’ve come across and filed for future cooking adventures.

Fromage Homage

This month’s Cheese Please! is cheddar, and I instantly thought of Gougeres, tiny and delicate balls of pate a choux pastry infused with cheese. They are usually served warm as a pre-dinner snack, in place of bread rolls with dinner, as part of brunch, or cold as snacks and as part of wine tastings. You could even cut them in half and then sandwich them back together between ham or sautéed mushrooms.

Traditionally, Gougeres are made with Gruyere, Comte or Emmentaler cheeses. I have had Gruyere Gougeres before, and the cheese just didn’t stand up to the pastry. I think that cheddar is a perfectly suitable alternative – provided you are not dealing with a cheese snob – as its flavour manages to stand out but also doesn’t overpower the pate a choux pastry.

There are many, many Gougeres recipes out there, using a variety of cheese and herb mixes. However, since this was my first time making pate a choux pastry, I thought I would go with a master’s recipe.

Cheddar Gougeres

Recipe by David Lebovitz, which can be found here.

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup water
  • 40g butter (cut into cubes)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Big pinch of chilli powder
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs (not extra-large or jumbo)
  • 12 chives (finely minced)
  • ¾ cup grated sharp cheddar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  2. Heat the water, butter, salt, and chilli powder in a saucepan until the butter is melted.
  3. Dump in the flour all at once and stir vigorously until the mixture pulls away from the sides into a smooth ball. Remove from heat and let rest two minutes. (You must allow the mixture to rest or cool at this point.)
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring quickly to make sure the eggs don’t ‘cook’. The batter will first appear lumpy, but after a minute or so, it will smooth out. (You can transfer the mixture to a bowl before adding to eggs to cool the dough, or do this step in a food processor or electric mixer, if you wish.)
  5. Add about 3/4s of the grated cheese and the chives, and stir until well-mixed.
  6. Scrape the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a wide plain tip and pipe the dough into mounds, evenly-spaced apart, making each about the size of a small cherry tomato. Or simply use two spoons to portion and drop the dough onto the baking sheet, which gives them more of a rustic look.
  7. Top each puff with a bit of the remaining cheese, then pop the baking sheet in the oven.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 190°C and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re completely golden brown.

Note: For extra-crispy puffs, five minutes before they’re done, poke the side of each puff with a sharp knife to release the steam, and return to the oven to finish baking.

Scrambled Eggs with Fetta on Parmesan Toast – Fluffy, Cheesy Goodness

Excuse the long post… There seems to be quite a bit to cover for a dish that many of us consider to be elementary. The amount of scrambled eggs that are served rubbery, watery, tasteless and frankly, inedible, is quite shocking. This is why I never order scrambled eggs when having breakfast out.

There is a lot of conflicting information about something as simple as scrambled eggs. Everyone seems to have their own preferred way of making scrambled eggs, the feelings and opinions run strong and deep, just like with cooking rice. The only common denominators are that scrambled eggs so indeed require eggs and butter, and that there is some sort of stirring involved.

Two of the biggest arguments appear to be when to season and whether or not to add milk or cream. To see what some of the biggest names in the culinary world have to say on the matter, click the links: Maggie Beer; Alton Brown; Auguste Escoffier; Bill Granger; Gordon Ramsey; Delia Smith.

The main points to consider when cooking scrambled eggs:

Preparation – Have everything ready to go before you start. Butter in the pan (but no heat yet), eggs in a bowl (but not whisked yet), and additional ingredients you are going to add at the ready.

Heat – Scrambled eggs should be ‘scrambled’ over low heat. This enables you to control the consistency of your eggs, as well as reducing the risk of overcooking.

Whisking – Whisking is key to making perfect scrambled eggs every time. Whether you use an actual whisk or a fork doesn’t matter. What matters is that you whisk the eggs for long enough to completely incorporate the egg yolks and whites. Your mixture should not have streaks of egg whites. And the more you whisk, the more air you create, leading to fluffier scrambled eggs.

Timing – The eggs should be whisked just before you add them to the pan. If you whisk them and then leave them standing while you find the right pan and melt the butter, you’ll lose all of the air you incorporated into the mixture.

Cooking – Scrambled eggs should never be left in the pan long enough to brown. If they’ve reached this stage, they are burnt and will be quite flavourless and very chewy. Not a great combination… Eggs continue to cook after they have been removed from heat; this means that scrambled eggs are ready when they are still soft and a little wet looking, but not runny.

Additions – If you want to add cream, milk, ricotta, fetta, cottage cheese, crème fraiche, cheddar etc. do so just before the eggs are ready. This will allow enough time for additional ingredients to heat up, but not enough time for them to allow the eggs to separate from the excess liquid and overcook.

Seasoning – Salt especially can cause eggs to break down and turn watery, which once again leads to overcooking. It is best to season scrambled eggs while they are still a tad runny, just before they set and are ready to be removed. This includes seasoning with fresh herbs as well.

So why am I sharing a recipe about scrambled eggs? Well, if you’ve never had scrambled eggs with fetta, I’d like to encourage you to do so. You won’t be sorry! And the parmesan toast is just a bonus.

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Scrambled Eggs with Fetta on Parmesan Toast

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 50g fetta (crumbled)*
  • Pinch or two of garlic or sea salt*
  • 85g butter (divided into 10g and 75g)
  • 4 slices of bread
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 90g parmesan cheese (preferably freshly grated or pre-packaged shaved parmesan, NOT the pre-packaged grated variety)

Method

  1. Preheat grill to medium.
  2. Soften but don’t melt 75g of butter and combine with the minced garlic, mixing well.
  3. Place the bread slices under the grill and toast one side until golden, about 2 to 4 minutes.
  4. Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan over low heat.
  5. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk for at least two minutes or until the mixture is hemogenous. Pour mixture into the pan and allow to sit for a minute or two.
  6. Remove the bread from under the grill. Flip them over, lather them with the garlic butter, sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and put back under the grill for another 2 to four minutes, or until they are golden brown and the parmesan has melted.
  7. With a flat spatula or wooden spoon (your personal preference) begin to gently scrape and fold the eggs. Do not break them though; you just want to move them around as they cook. (The more you stir the smaller curds you will have. If you’d like longer curds, you can stir less frequently.)
  8. Remove the parmesan toast from the grill and set aside.
  9. When the eggs are only slightly runny, add the crumbled fetta and fold gently to incorporate and then season with garlic or sea salt.
  10. Once the eggs are no longer runny but still wet, remove the pan from the heat, divide the scrambled eggs between each piece of parmesan toast and serve immediately.

* Depending on the saltiness of the fetta used, you may not need to use any additional salt.

Spinach, Fetta and Ricotta Quiche – A Traditional Dish Made my Way

Spinach and fetta have been a constant throughout my entire life. You see, you could never go to a family function without coming across spanakopita, a spinach and fetta pie. And right next to it was the tiropita, a cheese pie.

I very quickly learnt which aunt’s spinach and cheese pie I would eat and which I wouldn’t. For something that seems to have a pretty standard recipe, they all tasted different.

One used too much spinach, one used not enough. One used the wrong cheese for my liking. One had something weird in it. One had a thick pastry that was truly horrible and one had a nice, thin, crispy pastry but was so-so in every other respect. I’ve eaten enough of these spinach and cheese pies to know whose I eat and whose I politely decline.

These pies also changed, over time, within my own immediate family. My mum started experimenting with different doughs and filling. Well more like shapes and cooking techniques… the dough is still a filo pastry dough that she continues to make from scratch.

My sister, who has always preferred the cheese pie, has also started recently making her own lighter and lemon thyme-infused version, for which she uses ready-made filo pastry sheets.

I on the other hand took the traditional filling, added eggs and cream and turned it into a quiche.

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This is my submission for this month’s Cheese Please! recipe blog challenge as the cheese of the month for August 2013 is fetta. Fromage Homage’s blog is fantastic, and I love reading the cheese reviews every Friday – I’ll even excuse her for writing about cheeses I can’t get here…

Fromage Homage

Spinach, Fetta and Ricotta Quiche

Ingredients for the Shortcrust Pastry

Note: The below ingredients make enough dough for two pastry shells for two shallow, 20cm quiche tins. I you don’t want to halve the dough and freeze it for next time, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients a little at a time until you achieve the required consistency. If it becomes too sticky, add some flour, a little at a time.

  • 200g plain flour
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 100g unsalted butter (chilled, cut into small cubes)
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons of water

Ingredients for the Quiche Filling

  • 500g English spinach, or baby spinach or silverbeet (washed and patted dry)
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g fetta
  • 200g ricotta
  • 100ml thicken cream
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper

Method for the Shortcrust Pastry

  1. Sift the flour and the salt together into a large bowl.
  2. Add the butter, and using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the egg and the water. Make a well in the centre of the flour and butter mixture and pour in the combined egg and water.
  4. With a palette knife (or a butter knife), slowly work the mixture together until it forms a rough ball.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough gently, for no more than 20 seconds, until just smooth.
  6. Wrap the pastry dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 20 minutes before using.

Blind Baking the Shortcrust Pastry

  1. Preheat the overn to 200°C
  2. Grease a 20cm loose-bottomed quiche of flan tin.
  3. Roll out the chilled shortcrust pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 3mm thickness and line the prepared tin.
  4. Prick the raw pastry all over with a fork.
  5. Cover the top of the pastry with crinkled then flattened out baking paper and top with baking beans or rice to weight the paper down and keep the dough from rising.
  6. Blind bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the beans/rice and baking paper and then bake for a further 10 minutes, or until dried and golden.

Method for the Spinach, Fetta and Ricotta Filling

  1. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a deep frying pan. Add the spinach and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted and the water has evaporated.
  2. Place the wilted spinach in a strainer and allow to cool.
  3. Combine the fetta and the ricotta, using a fork to break down the fetta.
  4. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the now cool spinach and finely chop, adding it to the cheese mixture.
  5. Add the thicken cream and eggs and stir to combine – keep stirring, this one take a while to come together.
  6. Season with nutmeg and salt and pepper.
  7. Pour into the blind-baked pastry shell and back for 30 to 35 minutes, or until set and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  8. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before removing the quiche from the tin.
  9. Serve with a snowpea and cucumber salad, or your favourite salad.

Sidenote: Depending on the size of the quiche tin used, there may be some filling mixture left over. If so, you can store it in the fridge overnight to make scrambled eggs the next morning – just add a couple of extra eggs, mix it all up and you are good to go.

Summer Vegetarian Lasagne – Jamie Style

So a friend and I are trying to find the best vegetarian lasagne.

I’ve cooked a lot of vegetarian lasagne before, but they’re usually a vegetarian bean-based bolognaise sauce turned into a lasagne filling… not exactly inventive. And why go to the effort of making lasagne from a bolognaise sauce I could just put on top of pasta?

So I decided to try out Jamie Oliver’s Summer Veg Lasagne. If you’re not familiar with the concept, Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals cookbook provides you with an entrée or salad course, a main and a dessert that can all be made in 30 minutes. The Panzanella Salad I posted recently was the salad that accompanied the Summer Veg Lasagne.

Again, my disclaimer regarding Jamie Oliver’s recipes apply… He makes this dish differently in the book and on the 30-Minute Meals television show. He once again used ingredients that I prefer not be present in my food, namely the anchovies (again) and the cottage cheese, so I mixed in a few different things and made my own cheesy topping.

I have to rate this in my top five favourite vegetarian lasagnes. My guinea pig friend on the other hand discovered that he’s actually not at all fond of broad beans… so if you don’t like broad, this is not the lasagne for you.

Summer Vegetarian Lasagne

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Ingredients

  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • 6 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 700g asparagus (rinsed, sliced into small bits; tips left whole and set aside)
  • 500g frozen peas
  • 300g frozen broad beans
  • Large bunch of fresh mint (chopped finely)
  • 400 ml of single cream (divided into 300ml and 100 ml)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 300 ml of vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you don’t follow a vegetarian diet)
  • 250g ricotta
  • 200g grated cheese (I used a mozzarella/cheddar blend)
  • 500g fresh lasagne sheets
  • Parmesan cheese (to grate between layers)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme)
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

Special Equipment

A large roasting pan that is suitable for using on both a stovetop and the oven is required.

Method

  1. Set the grill on high.
  2. Place the whole asparagus tips into a bowl, season with thyme, salt and olive oil and set aside.
  3. Add the oil to a frying pan over high heat. When hot, add the asparagus slices and chopped spring onions. Stir and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the garlic and lemon zest. Stir to combine and then add ¼ cup of hot water.
  5. Add the frozen peas, frozen broad beans, mint, 300ml of cream and chicken stock to the asparagus mixture. Stir to combine.
  6. Cover and bring to the boil, then remove the lid and allow to simmer for five minutes.
  7. Add the ricotta and stir. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.
  8. While the filling is simmering, mash about half of it with a potato masher to release a more vegetable taste and to slightly thicken the sauce.
  9. Place a roasting pan on the stovetop over a burner set to high heat. When it’s hot, add one quarter of the asparagus mixture.
  10. Add a layer of fresh lasagne sheets on top, followed by some parmesan cheese.
  11. Continue to layer the filling, lasagne sheets and parmesan cheese another two times, ending with a layer of lasagne sheets.
  12. Add another ¼ cup of hot water around the edges and turn the heat up to bit more so it all starts bubbling. Push down slightly so that some of the liquid seeps through to the top of last lasagne sheet layer.
  13. While the lasagne is bubbling away on the stove top, mix the grated cheese and remaining cream in a bowl. Add the cheese and cream mixture to the top of the lasagne and spread evenly, and then top with the asparagus tips.
  14. Place the roasting pan under the grill to gratinate for approximately ten minutes.
  15. Remove when the cheese and cream mixture is golden brown and serve with a non-soggy salad.

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