I’ve just noticed how many different pasta dishes I have backlogged so I thought I’d just lump them all together in one post. It must be because I’ve been quite lazy these days and pasta is really quick to make and you can make it any way you want it with whatever you have in the pantry and it’s always really cheap! Win-win.
I had the strangest craving for a Chicken Fettucine Alfredo for the longest time and just had to make it. It’s really strange because I don’t think I’ve ever had it (it’s such an American dish!) but somehow I had to have it. I used this recipe but left out the tomatoes and sour cream and used more milk instead. In the end, my sauce was pretty watery but on the plus side, it was way less disgusting. You know how when you have something too creamy and you can’t have too much of it cos it grosses you out after a few bites? This wasn’t a problem with more milk instead of cream. Also, my tip is don’t use the San Remo fettucine. It was all stuck together and utterly disgusting! Gah!
Oh, and a tip: add nutmeg. It’ll make it so much better.
Another really easy dish and as you can tell, I ran out of just one type of pasta so I had to mix it up.
Tuna and Chickpea Pasta
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 large can of tuna (drained)
1 can of chickpeas
1 bottle of tomato passata
Pasta (amount up to you), cooked until al dente
1. Heat some olive oil up in a pan, add onion and sweat the onions.
2. Add the tomato passata, tuna and chickpeas. Leave a while to simmer until the chickpeas are a little more tender. Season to taste.
3. Scoop sauce up over the pasta, then squeeze some lemon juice over the top to finish.
This is one of my favourite spontaneous pasta dishes ever! Just have to remember to go really light on the salt when making this, though.
Bacon, Anchovies, and Broccoli Pasta
5 garlic cloves, diced
2 rashers of bacon, diced
1 broccoli floret, cut up and blanched in hot water for 2-3 minutes
2 anchovy fillets
Handful of Panka breadcrumbs
Pasta of choice, cooked until al dente
1. Heat oil up in a pan, then add in bacon. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, then add in the garlic and anchovies. The anchovies will melt so keep stirring so that it coats everything.
2. Add in broccoli and breadcrumbs. Quickly toss to coat everything together. Season to taste.
3. Add in pasta and mix everything together. Serve immediately.
I’m pretty sure this dish was something I created on a whim when I was starving, too lazy to head out to get groceries and was desperate to use all that was left in the refrigerator. It turned out to be pretty spectacular (if slightly greasy!) so I guess the recipe is worth sharing.
Pork & Fennel Sausage and Spinach Pasta
2 pork & fennel sausages, cased removed
1-2 handfuls of spinach, rinsed and drained (or dabbed dry with a paper towel)
5 cloves of garlic, minced
Sliced fresh chilli, or two teaspoons of dried chilli flakes (optional)
Pasta of choice, cooked until al dente
1. Heat up olive oil in a frying pan, then add in your garlic and cook until lightly browned.
2. Add your sausage meat and mince it up as it cooks to separate it.
3. Add in your cooked pasta and stir until thoroughly mixed. Season to taste, and add in the chilli if using.
4. Turn off the fire, then throw in the spinach leaves. Gently stir through and serve immediately.
Pretty fantastic for a quick weekday meal.
I lied. Here’s a final picture post of all the things I missed from 2010, before I move on. Really.
From the Christmas BBQ at Nick’s.
One of the main approaches when it comes to a BBQ for many people is to not BBQ everything. My mother was persistently reminding me to tell Nick that he had to have to get some fried noodles handy. If things can be baked off, do it. Salads, pasta, rice, noodles, garlic bread, etc. should always be on standby because it’s unpredictable how long starting up the grill would take and people might want to nibble on something else while waiting for the meats to be cooked.
This is one of my favourite things to make and it’s always well-received. It’s not some magic trick; the recipe’s right here on Kitchen Wench’s site. It involves a two-day marinade but it is well worth all that effort and space in your refrigerator.
A quick Google search by Nick gave us this gem of a recipe. It’s ridiculously good. The prawns had so much flavour and still maintained the satisfying crunch that only the best cooked prawns provide. Credit to Dennis who was the Grill Master of the day. Two thumbs up and a very enthusiastic nod of endorsement for this recipe.
Another product of a Google search was this recipe for the lamb. Ignore the skordalia bit and the last two ingredients in the lamb recipe. Basically all that was needed was the cumin seeds, parsley, lemon juice, garlic and oil. I really liked this as well. The cumin made it different and wonderful. It was nice not to be faced with yet another Worcestershire + BBQ sauce marinated meat, you know?
Another byproduct of a Google search. I never understand why people think I’m pulling their leg or trying to be secretive when I admit that I usually Google my recipes, not having to rely on a heavy endorsement from someone I know personally. Google does not lie!
Recipe here but in all honesty I could do without the shallots. I liked it fine with, and everyone seemed to love it with so I may be in the minority on this, but I thought it tasted so much better without the shallots. A really useful recipe for anytime of the year, to be honest. This recipe I’m going to store in my repertoire of To Be Used Forever And Ever because it’s fuss-free and bare-pantry-friendly.
Yosa is an amazing, amazing cook. Seriously. Look at that gorgeous salad! It disappeared with absolutely no trace by the end of the day. I still can’t get over her delicious ham from Christmas Eve dinner. She took the leftovers home and returned with… pea and ham soup! Seriously, how awesome is that? I was more than happy to have it with some crusty bread on one of the miserable rainy days that followed the sunny Christmas day.
There was also a ton more food at the BBQ; a healthy heap of steaks, fried kuey teow, fried noodles, fried rice, and fried mee hoon. There’s a very good reason why we had leftovers to feed us all for a few days after!
And from my kitchen, the last few dishes before the year ended.
I decided to try my hand at macarons again. I’ve still yet to try the aged egg whites method, which I intend to soon. I keep saying that but I’m a terrible procrastinator. I’ve learned a little more about the little nuances about macarons now that I’ve made them again and the first two trays were a little bit sadder than I’d have liked them to be.
So my tip when it comes to macarons is:
1. Don’t be afraid to leave them in the oven a little longer because I always had a problem with hollowed out centres and I thought I messed up during the macraronage process but nay, it’s the cooking time. My subsequent macarons were perfect!
2. Bake off almond flour in the oven for 5 minutes or so before using. There’s a possibility that almond flour that’s from the supermarket may be a little old and there’s a little too much moisture (oil) that’s been excreted so a quick bake off in the oven ensures that it’s drier and therefore, fresher. Or so my logic claims is a reasonable deduction.
3. Grind almond flour with sugar THEN sieve them all together. Always, always sieve. I didn’t this time around and suffered with the annoying bumps in my macarons.
I have no other tips. I don’t really count how many times I fold my batter before piping them out, I don’t age my egg whites (I use the Swiss Meringue method), and I don’t know what does and doesn’t make feet because I’ve always managed to get feet on mine. And I’ve also always gotten a glossy finish so I’m not sure what exactly I’m doing right here. I guess I’ve been lucky because I’ve never failed at making macarons before. They were not store-perfect but they always had the characteristics of what a macaron should be. Kitchen luck!
But as you can see, the consequences of not sieving your almond flour and sugar is the lumps that make for horrible uneven surfaces. Preferably, this tower of macarons would be straight!
For the buttercream, I whipped up a batch of French Buttercream with some lemon juice added. Unfortunately it became a little too runny for my liking so I decided to whip in some raspberry jam. This created a gorgeous red marbled effect in the otherwise cream coloured buttercream, which I kinda loved. The lucky coincidence was that it went perfectly together.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I ended up consuming a lot of this batch of macarons by myself. They were addictive! Plus, macarons are SO ridiculously cheap when you make them yourself. They’re definitely not worth $4 per macaron!
I also recently dabbled in making my own pasta. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. This was a semolina pasta and didn’t require any drying time, which was nice. Unfortunately my stupid el cheapo pasta machine didn’t have a spaghetti cut setting, just angel hair and fettucine so I ended up with what looked unimpressively like Chinese egg noodles!
It was a lovely dish with white wine, barramundi fillets (which I destroyed because I simply cannot cook fish perfectly!), prawns and capers. I loveloveloved this dish despite its sad appearance.
I also tried my hand at cooking with rabbit. Melbourne had been unseasonably cool in December and it was actually perfect weather for a hearty ragu! The rabbit was delicious and I loved it, my only complaint is that it is so full of tiny bones! Deboning it was an arduous and slow task that has me second guessing my desire to ever cook this dish again.
However, it is supremely delicious and tender. There was a tiny hint of spiciness to it and just… mmm. The recipe was from the Gourmet Traveller Annual Cookbook, as was the spaghetti dish above.
And now, we’re done with 2010! Whew!
I actually have plenty to blog about. I have a few posts to put up when I actually stop feeling lazy and get to writing up the words to accompany the pictures. So here’s a sneak preview…
All in due time! I promise!