Porcini and Garlic pasta

I’ve been getting a bit lazy with writing my posts. But I still want to use this space to record recipes that tasted good. But I always feel as if to post, I need to write out some sort of grandmother story.

I decided that today I’m not going to, and make no apologies for neglecting the grandmother stories until I feel like writing them again.

Welcome to Lea’s recipe filing cabinet. Make yourself at home, nothing is in alphabetical order.

Porcini Garlic Pasta

Porcini and Garlic Pasta

Inspired by the funny packets of dried herbs you can get at the Italian supermarket, which you hydrate and it magically becomes a super tasty sauce. Unfortunately, we ran out and had to improvise. 

4-5 slices dried porcini mushrooms, crumbled
8 cloves garlic, chopped
10 large white button mushrooms, cubed
A small can of tuna steaks
1 teasp black pepper
Salt to taste

Fettucini for two

  1. Add the porcini and around half a cup of water to a frying pan. Heat it until the water boils off, rehydrating the mushrooms.
  2. Add a little oil and the garlic, and a bit of salt. Brown the garlic a little.
  3. Add the mushrooms and black pepper. Continue to cook until the water released from the mushrooms dries off. Add the tuna steaks and give it a swirl.
  4. Add the cooked pasta and mix it in over medium heat  so the pasta takes up the taste of the sauce.
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More Indian food that I have destroyed: Baingan Bharta (and corrupted BB pasta)

I love Indian food (the authentic spicy type). Lets get that out there and make it clear.

But for some reason I don’t seem to have the same level of horror when I corrupt Indian food versus when I corrupt Chinese food. I seem perfectly happy to make “Indian pasta” but if feel like a total weirdo if someone tells me that a certain dish is “Chinese / Thai inspired” but is actually western. No, I don’t have an explanation. Yes, I am really very sorry.

With that in mind I was debating whether or not to post this recipe.

See, I have found that authentic baingan bharta tastes really good over pasta with a shake of parmesan cheese. This was a discovery made when trying to figure out what to do with my leftovers.

Please don’t judge me. The below is a recipe for a proper baingan bharta. If you want to corrupt it by putting it over pasta, at least do it with the leftovers rather than the fresh food. That way my conscience will remain clear.

Baingain BhartaCorrupted pasta version

Baingan Bharta (Roasted eggplant ..curry? Not really curry)

Adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe

2 medium sized eggplants
2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
1/2 a red onion, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
1 teasp  ginger, chopped
1 teasp cumin seeds
1/2 teasp garam masala
1/2 teasp chilli powder
Salt to taste

Note: I’m really lazy and didn’t skin my eggplants, if you are a proper maker of Indian food and not-lazy then you should remove the skin of your eggplant before mashing it into the tomato mixture in the pan.

  1. Turn your oven (200-220 degrees C) or grill. Prick the eggplants all over and rub with a little oil, then leave them roasting for half an hour to 40 minutes. You might need to turn them halfway.
  2. Heat some oil in a pan. Over medium heat, fry the cumin seeds until they dance a little. Add the onion, and fry until the onion goes soft. Then add the ginger and green chilli, and fry for a bit longer until that’s cooked too.
  3. Add the tomato and continue frying until the tomato softens.
  4. Chop up the eggplant (I don’t bother skinning it), and throw the whole thing in the pan. Stir and mash until everything is well incorporated.
  5. Add the garam masala, chilli powder, and salt to taste. Cook a little longer so spices incorporate, then you’re done!

More bribes for my brother: mac and cheese

I know it sounds like whenever I cook for my brother it is a bribe, this is really not true. No it isn’t. This time it was only part-bribe to let us play videogames when we visited his apartment, and part-thank you for letting us stay in said apartment.

A thank you that I hope lasted at least 4 days, as it was in danger of being finished within one sitting. Please don’t eat 500g of pasta in one sitting, it somehow seems a little scary. Imagine a pasta-monster, and by that I mean a human-sized macaroni with arms and legs. Scary, right? Don’t do it. Even though the mac and cheese is tasty enough to.

Anyway this was a pretty easy recipe which I later passed on to my bro (I was expecting it to be much harder!)

Pasta monster's lair

Easy Mac & Cheese

Adapted from the Kitchn

  • Note the basic ratio of milk to cheese is around 1:1.5 to 1:2, with a couple of tablespoons of flour (any type – corn or normal). 

A 500g bag of pasta – small shapes are better because they hold the sauce
1.5 cups milk
2 – 3 cups cheese – cubed is fine, or grated, it just needs to melt.
2 tablesp flour – corn or all purpose
0.5 – 1 teasp black pepper, to taste
Salt to taste
A dash of chilli flakes
Mix-ins:  see below. I used leeks and lamb sausage.

  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Warm 1 cup milk over medium heat in a pot.
    Mix flour into the remaining ½ cup of milk
    When steam starts to rise from the hot milk in the pot, pour in the rest of the flour-milk mixture.
    Whisk / stir until it thickens to the consistency of cream / custard.
  3. Drop the heat to low.
    Stir in the cheese, pepper, salt, and chilli flakes. Mix until all the cheese is melted.
    Taste and season as needed.
  4. Turn off the heat and dump all the pasta + additional mix-ins into the pot.
    Stir well until the sauce coats the pasta.
    (Eating can start here J )
  5. Optional: Put into an oven proof dish and top with more cheese – parmesan works nicely.
    Put it in a toaster oven / oven at around 200 deg C for 20 minutes or so until the cheese topping crusts and browns.

Mix-ins:

In terms of mix-ins, I added the following:

  • Leeks
    • Wash leeks. Slice and fry in a little oil until soft and a little charred at the edges.
  • Lamb sausages
    • Fry lamb sausages and slice. Set aside.

You can really add anything you like though.

Yet Another Lazy Pasta

Lazy pasta needs no introduction, it’s the staple of quick weeknight meals. Using only one pot and requiring only one ingredient to be chopped. If you eat it out of the pan, you don’t even need to wash a plate (I definitely don’t eat out of the pan *cough*). What more can you ask for on a busy day?

Well, I’d also ask for a single serving sized tub of chocolate mousse. Oh but yes.

This pasta is like the comforting old house slippers of the pasta world – easy, quick, warm, and makes you feel happy. I don’t think I’d want stilettos for dinner every night, but that’s another story.

Not so appealing, but beautiful all the same.

No shoes were harmed in the making of this dish.

Spinach and Cheese Pasta

A riff on this pasta, but slightly less sophisticated and more spicy. And based on what I had in the cupboard/freezer. Takes all of about 15 minutes to come together.

5 cloves garlic
A generous handful of spinach, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup grated cheese – I used cheddar is fine, if you use something stronger you can use a less. It’s really up to you.
2 teasp chilli powder – I probably used more than this
1/2 teasp basil
A pinch of salt

Pasta for one – I used macaroni

  1. Cook the pasta, set aside. Drain but let the pasta stay a bit wet – this helps the sauce come together later.
  2. Chop the garlic, and cook over medium heat in a little oil with a pinch of salt. After the garlic starts to brown, add the chilli powder and basil, and stir.
  3. Dump in the spinach (mine was still frozen and it defrosted in the pan). Stir until it warms up and wilts.
  4. Pour in the pasta and the grated cheese, stir until the cheese is melted and everything is nicely mixed together.

Leeks and Bouncy Prawns

Sometimes you want real food, and sometimes you make pasta. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying pasta isn’t food. All I’m saying is that the times I make pasta don’t seem to be the times when I’m exceptionally excited / ambitious about cooking. Pasta fulfills a very important role as “standby food”.

I make pasta when:

  • I’m tired and I can’t be bothered to cook
  • There is nothing in the cupboard and I don’t feel like shopping
  • I’m being cheap because I just bought something fancy and used up the rest of my food budget for the month
  • I want to do as little washing up as possible because it’s cold outside and I’m cold and washing up makes me cold (yes, I hate the cold)
  • I’m not really hungry but it’s dinnertime and the auntie who lives in my brain is forcing me to have a so-called square meal

Some like it hot Leeks are quite pretty somehow Bathing in icy water Yes chilli please And next the leek And the lightly cooked bouncy prawns Also tastes good cold, and for lunch tomorrow

I’m totally misjudging pasta here because it’s really quite satisfying. Especially when it has bouncy bouncy prawns in it.

boing boing boing

Chilli, Leek, and Prawn Pasta

Inspired by a combination of Taste.com.au, and The Age. Neither of them did exactly what I wanted though, much editing ensued.

3-4 servings of pasta – spaghetti or similar is better
2 leeks
5 cloves garlic
2 chillies
200g prawns – shelled
1.5 tablesp lemon juice, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan to sprinkle, I like lots

  1. Peel the prawns and let them sit in a bowl of icy cold water to ensure optimum bounciness while maintaining laziness. For a true bouncy prawn you apparently need to marinade at pH9.
  2. Cook the pasta. Drain and set aside. Keep a little cup of the pasta water.
  3. Dump the peeled garlic and chilli (with the stem and end cut off) into the chopper for a quick whiz. Start frying in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt too.
  4. Slice the leek into rounds. Throw away the super hard green part. When the garlic goes golden, throw the leeks into the pan.
  5. Once the leeks soften, add the prawns. Keep going until they’re just cooked.
  6. Put the pasta into the pan and mix it all up. Add a little pasta water to get the sauce moving.
  7. Season with lemon, salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Remove from heat and sprinkle with parmesan. Toss and enjoy for dinner, and tomorrow’s lunch.

Aglio Easio Pasta-o

Me and complicated food… We’re alright. Our relationship is somewhat like the one between you and that one friend you have, the too-cool friend, that you aren’t super close to, but when you hang out you have a pretty good time. But you don’t want to meet up more than occasionally. Because it’s tiring. It’s fun.. but being honest with yourself, you are a bit too lazy to meet up with them every day. Every week even. Perhaps once a month or so?

A healthy meal, ish

Don’t judge me. I like drinking tea in the afternoon and eating cheese and cake. And being a bum. This is a very cute place that Shobie and I went to, that serves good tea, and cheese, and apparently cake.

Eat all the pasta! Salad yums

Anyway. These recipes are more like your best, comfortable friends, the ones you don’t mind meeting up with loads of times, for tea, coffee, or random snacks. The ones that you don’t have to entertain or make awkward conversation with. You can just be (your weird self). I wonder what this says about me.

Aglio Olio e Pepperoncino

Yeah so I don’t have a source for this recipe, it was one of the first things I learnt to cook, and I kept trying until it worked. I think everyone makes this a bit too complicated.

Pasta for 2, boiled and drained – Spaghetti or linguine is best
4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
Chilli – either a spoonful of flakes, or 1 or 2 fresh chopped red chilli. Both are fine, depending on what you have and how hot you want it.
Approx 1/4 teasp salt

Black pepper
A bit of hard cheese, like parmasan

  1. Get a big wok, and heat up a few tablespoons of oil. I use about 3-4 tablespoons for 2-3 portions of pasta. Turn the heat to medium, and let it get hot. If it starts smoking, turn take it off the heat for a bit and make the fire smaller.
  2. Put the salt into the oil. Sounds weird, but it makes the garlicky taste come out better.
  3. Drop in a piece of garlic. If it sizzles on impact, that’s good, put the rest in. If it sizzles then turns black and turns into charcoal, take the pan off the heat for a bit and turn it down. If nothing happens, and the heat is already on medium, DON’T TOUCH! Just wait a few minutes longer until it starts sizzling and dancing around in the oil. Then put everything else in (garlic + chilli).
  4. Keep the garlic on the heat until it turns golden, not brown. Then dump in the pasta and stir it around, still over the heat.
  5. Stir stirrrr, keep going until the pasta is all coated. If it looks dry, add a couple of tablespoons of water and keep mixing.
  6. Remove from heat, grind some black pepper on, and add a little cheese. Tadaa! Dinner in 15 minutes.

Salad with Balsamic Caramelised Onions

So this is the actual first thing I ever learnt to cook, because one of my jobs while cooking in uni with my friend Bar was to make the salad dressing. I couldn’t really be trusted with anything else. I distinctly remember a conversation with her in which I complained that it was not working, and she told me to turn down the heat and be patient because I was burning the onions. My impatient cooking philosophy in a nutshell: heat higher = cook faster, but try not to burn it.

Half an onion
2 tablesp balsamic vinegar
1 teasp sugar
Some oil to fry the onions

  1. Chop the onion into long strands.
  2. Heat oil in the pan – put it on medium.
  3. Dump in the onion and let it cook a bit.
  4. Throw in the balsamic and sugar.
  5. Stir and keep going until your desired level of caramelisation is reached.

Mum’s Homemade Lasagne

A firm favourite in my house when I was young was always homemade lasagne. I’m not entirely sure why my mother always chose to make lasagne, seeing as she doesn’t like to cook – it’s really quite involved. I’m not one to complain though.

I’m trying something new today. I’ve added this recipe in pictorial form. I find recipes like this easier to follow. Not sure if that holds true for everyone though. In case you don’t like it, here’s a cute picture of my dog. Feel better now?

This is one of my favourite things to eat at home, but you can enjoy it without me this time. I’m still slightly traumatised by a story I was told recently about how cows are slaughtered for meat, and how they jerk afterwards and kick their legs. Sigh. I guess in a couple of weeks or so I’ll come back to the second lasagne stashed in the freezer.

Mum’s Homemade Lasagne

I’m not sure where this recipe originally came from. I collected it by following my Mum around the kitchen with a notebook and a camera. This recipe makes 2 trays of lasagne. You can adjust the proportions of meat to vege, and the cheesiness of the sauce. It will still work. Not like it has to rise like a cake or anything. Creativity food!

Beef Mince

800g beef mince
2 carrots
6 tomatoes
2 peppers – red or green is fine
3 sticks of celery
2 yellow onions
2 whole heads of garlic
Chilli powder – optional
Salt & Pepper
1/2 bottle of Prego or another pasta sauce, OR
1 can of crushed tomatoes, and
3 bay leaves
1 teasp basil
1 teasp thyme
1/2 teasp rosemary
– Add more herbs as you like. You might need a bit more basil.

Cheese Sauce

1 litre milk
2 tablesp butter
3/4 of a block of Philly cheese / other cream cheese
400g grated cheddar
1/2 to 1 cup of grated parmasan
Any other cheese you like, these proportions aren’t fixed 🙂

A box of lasagne sheets
1/2 cup grated parmasan – to sprinkle on top
1/2 cup breadcrumbs – to mix with parmasan and sprinkle on top, optional

 1.

  • Dice the veges, garlic and onion.
2.

  • Defrost the meat.
3. 

  • Fry garlic until fragrant.
  • Add onion, fry until soft. Add a pinch of salt.
  • Add the meat, break it up and add salt, pepper and herbs (if using).
4. 

  • Keep frying the meat until it goes about this brown (see pic).
  • Add the vege and tomato, and stir it around.
  • Add the pasta sauce. Stir it around and keep cooking for a bit until the sauce boils down and the meat isn’t too wet. You can substitute for crushed canned tomatoes, use all fresh tomatoes (tell me how, I haven’t figured it out yet…)
5. 

  • Mix milk, butter, and cornflour in a pot over low heat.
  • Keep stirring, and take it off the heat when it reaches the consistency of thick cream.
6. 

  • Add the cheeses to the milk, and mix well. Don’t worry if there are still a few lumps, they’ll melt away in the oven.
  • Pour a thin layer of cheese sauce into an ovenproof dish.
7.

  • Add a layer of meat, then a layer of instant lasagne sheet.
  • Repeat! Try to get at least 3 layers of lasagne sheets, it’ll taste better
8. 

  • Finish it off with a layer of cheese sauce, and a layer of grated parmasan. You can mix the parmasan with some breadcrumbs if you’d like a bit more crunch.
  • Bake at 180 degrees C for about 45 minutes, or until the top goes nice and brown and the inside of the lasagne is piping hot.

Then… take a plate, and a big spoon, and enjoy 🙂 I like mine with lots of chilli flakes.

Also, this freezes really well in the bowl (just stick it back in the oven for a bit to heat up and crisp). Make sure you cool it to room temperature before putting it in the freezer, and defrost it to room temperature before putting it in the oven – so that your bowl doesn’t crack. I speak from experience.

Shrek Pasta for Hot Days

Ok so this isn’t really Shrek pasta, I didn’t mash him up and put him in a bowl. Stop being so morbid. It just struck me that the creamy yet refreshing  avocado sauce was same shade as said ogre. You can’t un-see that colour. No, the red tomatoes don’t represent mashed donkey. You really are disturbing sometimes.

Yes, I know I’m scaring our very small readership. Sigh. But you know, that’s the deal when you don’t go back over your posts later for a sanity check, all kinds of rubbish gets posted. I’m sure lots of other websites operate that way too.

So, the deal is: it was a hot day, I wanted something cool and refreshing, and I was being lazy. And avocado pasta has a raw sauce. Raw sauce! It’s almost a pasta salad! Pasta, and raw vegies? I’m certain it’s a pasta salad. That means you can eat more and it’s considered healthy because it’s not pasta, its salad.

I try to delude myself because I haven’t been going to the gym recently.

Avocado Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes 

Borrowed from Eats Well With Others

2 small avocados (or one medium/large avocado)
1/2 a lemon – I used a whole tiny lime as I didn’t have a lemon. I think it’d be even better with lemon, though the lime did an upstanding job considering its lime-y-ness
4 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup basil – I used about a 1/4 of a cup of dried basil, I’m sure fresh would be fantasticker, but I didn’t have any
2 portions of pasta – portion size is really up to you, I’m not telling you how much I used *burp*
A handful of pine nuts – if you have them 🙂
Salt, black pepper, and chilli flakes to taste
A large handful of cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved

  1. Boil your pasta how you like it. Drain, but not too dry! Keep the pasta a bit wet so that the sauce will mix in easily.
  2. Toast pine nuts in a dry pan until they’re a bit brown and taste nice. Don’t burn your fingers picking them off the pan, yes I do that.
  3. Blend the garlic in your chopper/food processor.
  4. Add the avocado, peeled of course, in to the chopper. Whiz it for a bit until it’s a paste.  Add the basil and whiz again.
  5. Tasting time! Add lemon to taste. I used a whole lime, which is probably about the same as the juice of half a lemon, or slightly less than that.
  6. Add salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste, then blend until it’s mixed in. As a guide, I used about a quarter of a teaspoon of salt, half a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper (ha ha I wish, mine’s from a bottle), and about a teaspoon of chilli flakes. As you can see, I like it spicy but not salty. Adjust to your liking.
  7. Mix the sauce into the (hopefully still warm) pasta, and add the pine nuts that you casually toasted earlier.
  8. Add as many tomatoes as you like, but do share with your co-eater.

You can also add a little hard cheese if you like, just before eating, but it really isn’t necessary.

There’s a joke in here somewhere about, ogres, onions, and how this pasta doesn’t have onions in it. That’s probably in bad taste though so I’ll just leave you to enjoy your pasta salad 🙂

The Spinach Flu

So today I’m sick. I thought I wasn’t, and happily trundled into work this morning at 9. Well 9.30, given train delays – it was madness this morning I don’t know what happened! Well, once I got into work I was promptly shoo-ed off to the doctor by my colleagues. I guess they were concerned for my health… and also my potential to infect them. In any case, I won’t complain about a free holiday. Despite not feeling that unwell, the Dr instructed me to go home as apparently I had a fever. I guess he turned out to be right in the end, as by afternoon I wasn’t feeling so chirpy anymore.

So, sick people food. Chinese porridge always comes to mind. But that takes a bit of work. I wasn’t willing to stand over the stove sweating this afternoon. Sometimes when I’m sick, I get really inspired to make Chinese porridge (I firmly believe it is a medicine don’t you know). But, the last time that happened was when I was in London, and it was really cold, so it could also have been a warmth-seeking-exercise. Also soup. I did have leftover mushroom soup, which I ate for lunch, but unfortunately one has to eat dinner as well even if one’s too lazy to cook it. I suppose I could have just ordered pizza or something. The trials and tribulations of eating healthily.

I rummaged through my fridge (mentally, its cold in there, I don’t like cold), settling on frozen spinach. Spinach is supposed to make you strong! Like Popeye! Inspired by the saag I had at Bel’s house last weekend, I set to work making easy-food. I also wanted something without chilli for my poor throat. That was a rather tall order, especially for me.

I don't think I want arms that big though

Of what I could taste, this tasted pretty good. The sharpness of the lemon went nicely with the cheese, and the spinach was infused with a charred garlic taste. I need to try this again when I can smell properly.

Spinach and Pine nut Pasta

Serves two

200g pasta – I used tricoloure, because I like the colourful sqiggles
5 cloves of garlic
1 cup of spinach – frozen is fine, fresh would probably be nicer
1/2 cup parmesan – real cheese please! Any other hard cheese would also probably be nice
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts – optional
2 tablesp lemon juice
salt + black pepper

  1. Boil your pasta, set aside
  2. Chop and fry the garlic in about a tablespoon of oil. Keep going until it’s brown. You should add a pinch of salt at this point, it seems to make the garlic/oil mix more fragrant.
  3. Add the spinach, and cook for a while until the garlicky taste seeps in. I actually dumped mine in frozen and let it heat up together.
  4. Mix mix! mix the spinach with the pasta, finely grated cheese, and pine nuts. Add the lemon juice and as much black pepper as you like, and stir.

Spinach and Pine Nut Pasta

Mentaiko Pasta

Bel and I frequent Sakae Sushi quite regularly, and on one of those visits we tried the magnificent Hotate Mentaiko. I suspect, primarily because of its exciting name. It’s a thick layer of mentaiko (cod-roe with japanese mayo, for the uninitiated like us), on top of a fried scallop with breadcrumbs. It’s one really really large bite size. Every time we ate it, that was the end of the meal. We always felt sick afterwards. Though very tasty sickness during the first couple of bites I must admit.

In any case, being the overly ambitious people that we are we thought we could do a better job. Specifically at mentaiko pasta. Maybe next time there will be hotate 🙂

There are a lot of mentaiko pasta recipes floating around the internet, we picked the one that seemed the least rich. A word of caution, mentaiko is kinda gross when you buy it from the Japanese supermarket – it smells kinda strong and makes you feel like you doing serious fish surgery. Also it looks like a finger.

 Mentaiko Pasta with Shimeji Mushrooms

Linguine – enough for two
Mentaiko – one egg sac, fresh from mummy fish’s belly
Butter – one tablespoon
Kewpie Mayo – one squirt
Shimeji Mushrooms – a handful
Garlic – a couple of cloves (we used about 5 for 2 people, not everyone is as bold)

  1. Fry mushrooms with a generous helping of chopped garlic.
  2. Boil linguine in salty, oily water.
  3. Remove the Mentaiko from the egg sack. Mix mentaiko, softened butter and kewpie mayo.
  4. Dump everything into the pasta and stir.
Fit for the samurai that we are.