Sunday, 26 July 2009

Three Cheese Pasta & Spinach Bake

450gms cooked pasta (tubes or spirals are great for this, I used gluten free pasta, for a gluten free dish)
350gms ricotta
120gms grated Tasty cheese
85gms grated Parmesan cheese
250gm packet of finely chopped spinach (defrosted and drained, ends up being about 120gms of spinach)
6 large eggs (lightly beaten)
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Place pasta, cheeses, spinach, salt, pepper and eggs in a large bowl, and mix thoroughly ensuring that the pasta does not break up too much.
  3. Grease a deep non stick pan and pour mixture into the pan.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes.
Bean, Potato & Caramelised Onion Salad

260gms boiled potato cubes
190gms cooked flat beans
2 large onions sliced
1/4 red capsicum
1/2 yellow capsicum
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbs sugar

  1. Place balsamic vinegar in a small pot with the sugar. Bring to the boil, and then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool. It will have a syrupy consistency.
  2. Cook beans in boiling water, I like mine to be a little crunchy. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a fry pan and cook onions until they are caramelised. Set aside.
  4. Grill capsicums and remove skin, slice thinly and set aside.
  5. Place all ingredients in a bowl and toss together. Serve with vinegar reduction.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Pasta Frola con Dulce De Batata - Sweet Potato Tart

Pasta Frola is a tart made traditionally with quince jam. It is very common in Uruguay and Argentina. In Uruguay we also have bastardised this tart and make it with other types of jams.

We have many so called jams in Uruguay, which are so different to what is regarded as a jam in Australia. We have milk jam, tomato jam, sweet potato jam, quince jam, pumpkin jam.

Milk jam is basically a thick rich caramel which we use for many of our desserts. It is a staple in our celebration cakes which normally consist of a sponge or butter cake filled with dulce de leche (milk jam) , Chantilly cream, and sometimes pieces of peach. Mostly these cakes are covered in a beautiful cooked soft meringue.

We eat dulce de leche on bread or on our lovely "tortas fritas" (which I will blog about another time). It is delicious on creme caramel and we also use it to fill these tarts. YUMMY. But I digress, today is not about Dulce de leche.

The texture and consistency of the quince, sweet potato and pumpkin jams is very similar. They are more like thick pastes which can be cut into slices, and eaten on bread or with cheese. They are all very different in flavour but all so delicious. All of these can be used as a filling for this tart. The traditional filling for a "Pasta Frola" as previously mentioned is the quince jam or "Dulce de Membrillo".

Yesterday my mum gave me a tin of "Dulce de Batata", or sweet potato jam. I love it!! I guess it must be an acquired taste, neither mum or dad are big fans of it, but they will eat it if they must.

Today we had lunch at mum and dad's. Mum made stuffed capsicums and a pasta sauce. I brought home made egg fettuccine and a Pasta Frola which I made with the sweet potato jam.

The recipe for the Pasta Frola that I used is an old family recipe that we have had for over 30 years, and possibly my mum has had since before I was born. It came from a little booklet which came with our "Royal" which is the brand of Uruguayan baking powder.
Anyway here is the recipe for the tart

Pasta Frola
125gms softened butter
100gms white sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
240gms plain flour
2tsp baking powder
1tsp grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp salt
300gms Quince Jam (please note that I did not use quince, i used sweet potato)
2 Tbs water(for softening the jam)

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Cream butter and sugar.
  3. Add egg & yolk one at a time beating well after each addition.
  4. Mix in lemon rind
  5. Add flour, baking powder and salt (sifted together) to the first mix, forming a soft dough. Do not over knead or the dough will become tough.
  6. Roll out 2/3 of the dough and place it in a 23cm tart pan.
  7. Spread the filling over the dough and use the remaining pastry to decorate the top of the tart by cutting out strips of dough and placing it in a lattice pattern on top.
  8. Bake at 180 for 30 minutes.
I sometimes make the recipe with margarine instead of butter, I did so today. For the filling as I specified before I used the sweet potato, I just used a whole tin like the ones pictured above, and placed the contents into the food processor. This made it really easy to get a really smooth filling.

This dough is also lovely to make cookies with, and it's also the same recipe I used for these Lime Meringue Tarts which are gluten free

It is very easy to convert this recipe to gluten free, you just swap the flour and baking powder for Orgran Gluten Free Self Raising Flour.
The recipe for the lime curd is here

Friday, 17 July 2009

Fettucini and Pancakes

Boone and I had dinner at an Italian restaurant last week. The main that he had was spaghetti with pesto and potato. It was delicious. He wanted me to try to make it for him.

I wanted to make fettucini instead of spaghetti and wanted to use a vegetable in the dough in order to give the fettucini some extra color to contrast with the green of the pesto.

I decided to use some carrots, but it didn't work so well for adding color, better luck next time. Anyway I put two carrots in the juicer, and used the pulp that is normally discarded to add to the dough.

Carrot & Cracked Pepper Fettucini
460gms plain flour
3 large eggs
80gms carrot pulp
Cracked pepper
Pinch of Salt

Place all ingredients into the food processor, and process until the mix resembles fine crumbs. If it has all come together into a dough, then your carrots had too much moisture and you need to add a bit more flour.

Knead mix until nice and smooth on a lightly floured surface. I like to just knead it enough till it comes together and then run it through the pasta machine a few times until the dough is at the right consistency. It really saves my arms from the kneading :)

Roll them out with your pasta machine and cut them with the fettucini cutter.

Cook in boiling salted water for about 10 minutes.

Pesto & Potato Fettucini
3 medium potatoes cut into cubes
2 bunches of basil
olive oil
60gms of butter
50gms toasted pinenuts
Crushed garlic
freshly grated parmesan
Cooked fettucini

Boil potatoes in salted water and set aside
Place basil, pinenuts, butter and salt in the food processor and process to a chunky consistency.
Heat some oil in a frypan and cook 2 cloves of crushed garlic for a few seconds, add enough pasta for one person, one heaped tablespoon of pesto mix and 100gms of grated parmesan. Toss together until the butter in the pesto is melted. Serve immediately.

Coconut Cream Strawberry net Pancakes with Chantilly Cream

1/2 cup plain flour
1 cup of coconut cream
2 tsp castor sugar
1 large egg
1/2 a cup of water
Mix all ingredients in a blender. Place mix in a sauce bottle.
Heat a non stick fry pan and using the bottle pour batter onto the pan in a net pattern. Once cooked on one side, turn net over and cook lightly on other side

1/2 a punnet of strawberries
4 tbs caster sugar
1/4 cup of coconut cream
Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Cook for 10 minutes in a heavy based saucepan.

Chantilly Cream
300mls of thickened cream
2tbs caster sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
Beat all ingredients together until the cream is very light and thick in texture.

Assemble by placing a net on the plate, then place three tablespoons of chantilly cream in a line in the middle of the pancake. Place three sliced strawberries on top of the cream and close the net over them.
Serve with strawberry sauce.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Scones, yummy, moist delicious scones....

I have spent the great majority of my life not being able to make scones. I can make all sorts of cupcakes and cakes, but scones?? Nope. They mock me, they hate me, they turn out like rocks.

Last Saturday my nephew was over and asked me if I had made the scones from Master Chef. Of course I hadn't, I suck at making scones. But Paul wanted to eat scones, so I decided to try again, for the gazillionth time. I took a look at the Master Chef recipe and it just didn't call out to me to make it. I decided to turn to Google to find a recipe.

I found this recipe. It looked so easy, there were great reviews about it. So it had to work right??

Problem was that I had no lemonade and no self raising flour. But decided to try it anyway. So I used these ingredients instead.

Easy Peasy Scones
3 cups of plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
3 tbs sugar dissolved in the juice of half a lemon
Enough mineral water added to the above mix to make one cup
1 cup of thickened cream

Sift flour and baking powder and place in a bowl. Make a well in the center.
Pour mineral water mixed with lemon mix and thickened cream into the flour, and mix with a flat knife until it all comes together. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead just enough till it comes together. Roll out to about 3cm thickness (1 inch) and cut with a floured cutter.
Bake for 10-12 minutes in a hot oven (200 degrees)

We ate a couple of these each hot out of the oven. They were delicious!!!

I decided to try them a few days later as savory scones. YUM!!

Cheese & Chive Scones
100gms of grated Parmesan
3 tbs dry chives
3 cups of self raising flour
1 cup of mineral water (not flat)
1 cup of thickened cream
Pinch of salt
Mix flour, salt, chives and cheese together, make a well in the center. Same as previous recipe.

Chocolate Chip Scones
3 cups self raising flour
100gms of chocolate chopped coarsely
60gms of unsweetened cocoa
60gms of caster sugar
3 tbs Frangelico
1 cup cream
1 cup lemonade
Mix all dry ingredients together, then process as previous recipes.

These are not too sweet and have a beautiful texture!!!! YUMMY YUMMY!!!

This recipe can be modified easily to make all different flavors. WOOHOOOO I CAN MAKE SCONES!!!!! The curse has been lifted. YAY!!!!

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Polenta with Mushroom and Blue Cheese Sauce

Boone and I went to dinner at Il Tempo last night. What a delightful little restaurant. In one meal (where we ordered 6 dishes, they were small ok!!) this restaurant quickly became one of our favourites.
I digress. One of the dishes we had was this one. Well not exactly this one, but one similar to it. I decided to try it at home. The polenta at the restaurant was cut as a big triangle, i decided to make rounds that i fried in olive oil. hmmmmmm


2/3 cup of polenta
2 tbs chopped parsley
100gms button mushrooms (cut into 4's)
45gms blue cheese (I used Castello YUM)
1/2 cup of thickened cream
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Cook polenta as per instructions on packet. Towards the end of cooking add two cloves of garlic which have just been cut in half. Stir through the polenta which at this stage should be getting quite firm. Pour the polenta into a baking paper lined tray, and spread it to a 6ml thickness (about 1/4 of an inch), put it in the fridge to set.
  2. Prepare your salad. (instructions below)
  3. When the polenta is fully set, remove from the pan and using a cookie cutter, cut the polenta into rounds (6 rounds). Heat it up by frying it on both sides in some olive oil.
  4. Sautee mushrooms in olive oil, when they are almost done, lower the heat, and add the cheese, cream and two cloves of garlic cut in half. Stir through until the cheese is melted. Remove the pieces of garlic. Add parsley.
  5. Place three polenta rounds on each plate and pour half of the sauce over it. Serve with salad.
Side Salad
1/2 small red capsicum (cut into small squares)
1/2 small yellow capsicum (cut into small squares)
1/2 carrot (cut into small squares)
1 tabs lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbs olive oil
  1. Mix all ingredients and serve with polenta

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Vegetarian Dumplings

I am a big fan of the chinese style vegetarian dumpling. I have Carolyn to thank for this obsession, as I had never tried them prior to her introducing me to them many years ago.

I have since tried them in a few different restaurants, and I've found that quite a few of them refuse to fry the vegetarian ones. In my opinion they're not as nice if they're not fried. You don't get the crispiness that makes them oh so good!!

So my favourites are from Shanghai Village in China Town. They cost something like $5.50 for 15 of them. They are fabbo!!! And yes, they're fried!!!

Anyway a while back I decided to try making these delightful little morsels. My main problem is that I don't know much about Chinese Cuisine (apart from eating it!!).

And of course I'm too lazy or too silly to google these things to find the right way to do them. DOH!!!

So i went out and stupidly bought won ton skins. Made the dumplings, and they were so tough!!! They took ages to cook and they still had a very rubbery horrible texture. Of course my hubby ate them anyway.

Yesterday I tried again with Gow Gee Pastry, and they were fab. I decided to make them again today with a few modifications. Apart from the shape not being a true dumpling shape, they are so gooooood!!!!


140gms Chinese Broccoli
140gms Firm Tofu (I used Silken by mistake, best to use just regular firm tofu)
100gms Water Chestnuts
50gms fresh Shitake Mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic
5 Spring onions
1 large egg
1 tablespoon of flour
1.5 packs of Gee Gow Pastry
Salt to taste


  1. Cut off the leaves from the chinese brocolli, shred the leaves and chop the stalks coarsely. Place chopped stalks in the food processor, with the tofu, egg, crushed garlic and flour. Process till all thoroughly mixed.
  2. Chop spring onions, mushrooms and water chestnuts, add to mixture above, and pulse a couple of times to combine. You don't want to lose the texture of the veggies, so don't be tempted to process them too much. Add salt to taste.
  3. Fill each pastry round with about 1 tsp of filling. Moisten the edges with water and seal firmly. Set aside until you have all of them filled.
  4. Prepare a pan with boiling water, and steam your dumplings in batches of 5 or so. Drain them and fry them right away in a small amount of oil. You only fry one side.
  5. Serve hot with dumpling dipping sauce. I bought Lee Kum Kee Seasoned Soy Sauce for Dumpling, it is delicious. Once this runs out, I am going to attempt to make my own.

Makes about 40 dumplings