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Haloumi & Zucchini Fritters/Patties

I have been meaning to make haloumi fritters for ages, because I keep seeing them everywhere, on menus and in magazines.  I finally got around to trying them this week.  Mine is a fairly basic recipe, to which you could add “extras” like chopped vegie bacon, sauteed onion, spring onion or sundried tomato.  Experiment with whatever you have in the fridge (that’s pretty much what I do – I’m not very organised!).

This recipe makes about 12 medium sized fritters.  They’re good hot or cold, so great for tucking in lunchboxes.  I’ve baked mine, because I don’t really fry anything, but you could certainly fry them if you prefer that method.

Ingredients

2 medium zucchinis, grated
100g haloumi cheese, grated
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
Tbs chopped dill or parsley
Tbs sumac
Salt and pepper to season
(go easy on the salt as there is plenty in the haloumi)

Method

Preheat oven to 190 C

Squeeze as much excess liquid out of the grated zucchini as you can.  Mix with haloumi in a large bowl, with breadcrumbs and beaten eggs.  Mix herbs and seasoning through the mixture.  If it’s a little wet, you can add some more breadcrumbs or some rolled oats to soak up the excess moisture.

Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Using a large spoon, drop about 1/4 cup of mixture on to tray to form each fritter.  Leave a little room for spreading.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until brown and crispy on the outside.

Serve as a snack with some herbed yoghurt and salsa, or have for brekky with a nice poached egg and some mushrooms.

Enjoy 🙂

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Beetroot Risotto with Feta and Peas

I watch MasterChef a lot.  It’s a yearly addiction and probably explains why I am always thinking about food.  Or cooking food.  Which then leads to eating food.  One of the things that is a recurring theme on MasterChef is the humble risotto.  They call it the “Dish of Death” because no one can successfully make one that the judges deem worthy of them.  So many people have tried and failed.  Mushroom risottos, chicken and asparagus risottos, cheesy risottos – they all suck (apparently).

I have never really understood this because I find risotto very easy to make (and even easier to eat, but let’s not talk about that right now).  Take this Beetroot Risotto.  Delicious.  It is totally worth the bright pink fingers you end up with (unless you wear gloves of course, like a sensible person) and is quite a visually impressive dish to create if you want to look good in front of guests.  My rather haphazard recipe is as follows :

Ingredients 

4 medium beetroots, trimmed of stalks and roots
1 litre vegetable stock
1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (or 1Tbs minced garlic)
1 1/3 cups (300g) arborio rice
1/3 cup water mixed with juice of half a lemon (or you can use 1/3 cup white wine)
Few sprigs of fresh thyme or Tarragon (I used a bit of both)
1/2 cup frozen baby peas, cooked
Crumbled feta and chopped parsley to garnish

Wrap each of the beetroot individually in foil and place in oven on a baking paper-lined tray.  Bake for approximately 45 minutes at 200 C until beetroot is tender.

Meanwhile, bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat, pop a lid on to keep it warm, and set aside.

Heat  olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic, thyme or tarragon; cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until onion softens and turns transparent. Add rice; stir to coat grains with oil.
Increase heat to medium–high.

Add reserved stock one-third at a time, stirring occasionally and allowing rice to absorb stock between additions. Add water + lemon juice in last batch of stock.

Rub off beetroot skin and discard. Dice beetroot into small chunks; set aside. Once rice is al dente, stir in peas and beetroot (the more your stir it in, the brighter red the risotto becomes).

Serve risotto topped with crumbled feta and chopped parsley.

Serves 4.

Enjoy 🙂

PS In your face, MasterChef!

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Ricotta and Kale Gnudi

Ricotta and Kale Gnudi

This is an easy and delicious dish you can make when you want something pasta-ish (cheesy, saucy) but don’t want pasta.  I don’t eat pasta at all so this recipe is a great substitute when I’m hanging out for some comfort food that won’t give me a tummy ache afterwards.  It’s fairly light, especially if you use low-fat ricotta, and really tasty.

The original recipe called for spinach, but I can’t eat that so I use chopped, cooked kale instead – works exactly the same in this dish.

Ricotta and Kale Gnudi

Ingredients

3/4 cup ricotta, drained
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 Teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup cooked kale, drained and chopped very finely
Extra flour for rolling

Method

Couldn’t be easier – just mix all the ingredients together until combined, roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls (this is the messy, fiddly bit), roll them in a little flour to prevent sticking, and then drop them into boiling water.  The gnudie will float to the surface when done (approximately 5 minutes or so).

Serve with some tomato sauce and an extra sprinkle of parmesan if you like.  I like a little side salad to go with it (but then I have a little side salad with everything. Here,  I have used rocket because I am obsessed with the stuff) but you could pair it with anything you fancy.

This recipe serves two piggly-wigglies.

Voila!  🙂

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Corn Chowder

Corn Chowder

Ah, soup.  I am such a fan.  It is easy to prepare, does not require difficult-to-get ingredients and can be whipped up in a matter of minutes (depending on the soup).  It’s filling, without being fattening, and can be flavoured and bulked-out with just about anything you have lying around the place.  Just bung it in, blend it up and hey presto! You have soup.  Or some weird-flavoured water (depending on the “anything” you bunged in).

Tonight I had a hankering for corn chowder.  I don’t know why.  It just appeared in my brain and took hold and made me desire its smokey, corny goodness beyond all other food stuffs.  I don’t make it very often.  Pretty much never.  The first time I ever made it was in catering class in high school.  I think I have made it three times in my entire life.  But it’s so yummy!  And filling and satisfying and feels like a meal rather than some sort of dietary punishment.  It never looks very attractive though.  Corn Chowder resembles, at best, dog vomit.  In fact, I hesitated when naming this blog post.  I wanted to call it “Corn Chunder” but I am far too mature for such a title.  I apologise if you are eating right now but, seriously, was there ever a more unattractive looking soup?

So my photo below is another fail.  I’m not even going to bother blaming it on bad lighting (even though the lighting in my kitchen is rubbish).  Let’s just ignore the picture and get on with the taste.  It’s yummy.  Delish. Tasty.

So here’s my recipe.  As always, for all my soup recipes, it is a bit approximate in terms of amounts used.  Again, just bung it in. I have, as is necessary for me, made this vegetarian, but substitute (if you must) real bacon etc.

Corn Chowder 

1 large onion, diced
4 rashers of vegetarian bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 potato, peeled and diced into roughly 1cm cubes
375ml can of evaporated milk + 2 canfuls of water – one mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of stock powder + one mixed with flour
2 cups frozen (or fresh) corn kernels
Chopped parsley

Method

Saute the onion in a bit of oil (I used sunflower) in a large saucepan  until soft.
Add bacon and fry for a minute (don’t let it brown).
Add milk and extra cans of water (with stock and flour).  Bring to a gentle boil (keep your eye on it) and add potato.  Keep stirring – the milk can burn or boil over so keep it simmering rather than rapid boiling.  Keep stirring for about 10 minutes until potato is tender (but not super squishy).  Add corn kernels and chopped parsley.

Continue simmering for about 5 mins.  Take off heat and take out a ladle or two of the chunky bits.  Give the remaining soup a bit of a blend with an upright stick blender (or whatever you have).  Don’t puree it until it’s smooth – this is supposed to be a chunky chowder!  Add the removed ingredients back into the pot and stir.  If it is too thick for your liking, you can add a half-cup of water if you wish.

Serve hot in bowls – garnish with parsley if desired.

Enjoy!  (just don’t look at it and you’ll be fine) 🙂

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Lemon & Baby Peas Pasta (Pauline’s Lemon Pasta)

Lemon & Baby Peas Pasta (Pauline’s Lemon Pasta)

Firstly, a warning.  The photo below is not good.  It does not look appetising at all.  I apologise.  As per usual, I tried to take a photo at night, in my little kitchen with barely any lighting.  Secondly, I tried to do that cheffy, twisting-the-pasta-around-artfully-on-the-plate kind of thing.  Which, blatantly obviously, did not work.

However, the completed dish was quite tasty and I am glad I broke my almost decade-long boycott on pasta.  I don’t do pasta.  It doesn’t like me and I am not a huge fan of it either.  I haven’t missed it at all since I stopped eating it some ten years or so ago, but tonight I saw this recipe in the magazine Daphne’s Diary and thought I would give it a go.  I like anything with lemon in and, let’s be honest, cheese.  So here’s the recipe (in which I substituted fettuccine for spaghetti and added peas as a way of assuaging my carb guilt):

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Pauline’s Lemon Pasta – Serves 4 

300g spaghetti
1 lemon
1 onion – sliced finely
Half a red chilli – chopped finely, seeds removed
2 cloves garlic – chopped finely
250ml single cream
40g parmesan – grated

Handful of chopped parsley
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

Method

Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan with plenty of salted water. Drain

Fry onion, chilli and garlic gently in a little olive oil in a saucepan.  Don’t let onion brown.

Add zest from the lemon and juice of half the lemon.  Stir to combine.

Add the single cream and heat quickly to prevent splitting.  Mine did a wee bit (mostly because I cheated and used milk instead of cream…duh) but came back together once I’d mixed it through.

Add the cooked pasta and stir through.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with parmesan and parsley sprinkled on top.  Serve hot.

Oh, and I added the baby peas (cooked) at the end to add some more freshness and colour.

Voila.  Pretty easy. Give it a try if you’re looking for something different to the usual pasta and tomato-based sauce combo.

I’m still resting at home and trying not to eat everything in sight, but obviously failed tonight.  Sigh.  Will try again tomorrow and only eat things that are green and crispy.

🙂

Polenta Chips

Polenta Chips

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I tried a new recipe for dinner last night – Polenta Chips!  Ok, so it’s not a new recipe – every trendy restaurant and pub is making them these days – but I haven’t made them before, not being a polenta fan usually ( I think I just have had some so-so ones in the past).  Anyway, I am always looking for something I can have other than chips as I am not supposed to have a lot of potato (including sweet potato – ahh! So unfair!) because of my renal issues.  I don’t have chips very often, obviously, but it would be nice to have another alternative that is tasty and not too unhealthy.

I found this recipe in a free magazine (you know the ones you get at the supermarket when you’re at the checkout?) and thought I would give it a go.  Seemed simple enough and didn’t have any difficult-to-get ingredients.  The results were delicious and moreish and I will definitely make them again.  In fact, I have a gathering at my house in a couple of weeks (a video night with friends), so I might make these again then.  Share the love! 🙂 Basic Polenta Chips (serves 4 as a side dish)

2 cups stock (I used vegetable)
1 Cup instant polenta
20g butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan

Method : Bring the stock to the boil in a medium saucepan then add polenta, stirring briskly to prevent lumps.  Take off the heat, add butter and cheese – stir until smooth.  Mixture will thicken and be quite firm.  Turn out into a 20cm square baking pan lined with baking paper.  Smooth top down to make it nice and even and flat if possible.  Chill in fridge for 30 minutes.

When cold and firm, cut polenta into “chips”.  Season with salt and pepper if you like (the stock I used had plenty of flavour so I didn’t need any extra seasoning). Fry in a pan with a little oil until golden on all sides.  Serve!

I don’t fry anything if I can help it so I actually did mine in the oven – baked at about 200 c for 40 minutes or so – which of course takes longer but gives a nice crispy finish and less guilt ha ha.

Give them a go – really easy, very delicious and not expensive either.  Next time I am going to add some herbs and maybe a little paprika or chilli to the basic mixture, just to add some extra flavour and oomph.  But you can dress them up or down in any way you like 🙂

PS As per usual, I took bad photos in the equally bad light of the kitchen.  This one is the best of the bunch.

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Carrot, Ginger and Honey Soup

Carrot, Ginger and Honey Soup

Another Sunday night has rolled around and I am in my usual state of panic about all that I haven’t achieved over the weekend.  I had such plans but they fell by the wayside as I ended up spending time with friends instead.  Which was lovely and I am by no means complaining.  At all.  But I sometimes despair at my lack of organisational skills and inability to follow plans.  Or to even make them to begin with.  Never mind, time spent with friends as wonderful as mine is never a waste of time and I have done lots of well-needed talking, venting and just interacting with other human beings.  It’s been a bit of a emotionally heavy week and by Friday I was not in a good way.
When you find yourself sitting on the floor, sobbing your eyes out whilst watching a movie, you know that maybe you need some emotional support and care.
When that movie is something as dreadful as “Eat, Pray, Love”, there is no hope for you and you must seek help.  Quickly.  Go now!

But I tried hard to get a few things done this weekend so I wouldn’t feel guilty by Monday morning.  I painted and varnished a few more of the little blobby wooden brooches (which seem to get worse the more I paint so I am stopping now and relinquishing all hope of ever being good at painting. Even if it’s just blobs of paint, I still manage to make them messy blobs).  I made some earrings and finished off a bracelet for my friend K, worked on some sketches for another project I have in the works, and started putting together a few bits for a craft swap I am doing.

This evening I thought it would be a good idea to make some dishes that I could divide up and freeze, to see me through the week at work so I never have that late night panic about what I am going to eat the next day.  I made Tofu Burgers, a mushroom and eggplant risotto (based on the recipe HERE) and this yummy soup (recipe courtesy of Real Living magazine) which was very simple to make and surprisingly delicious.  Well, not THAT surprising – I mean, what’s not to love about carrot, ginger and honey as a combination?  Yum!  Anyway, the soup simmered away as the burgers and risotto baked in the oven and now all I have to do is clear the kitchen up.  Ugh.  That’s the worst part about cooking – the mess that comes with it.  Never mind, you should try this soup as it is basically a one pot wonder and very tasty, healthy and doesn’t have too many ingredients.

Carrot, Ginger and Honey Soup

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
2 tbsp grated fresh root ginger
500g carrots, peeled & chopped roughly
1 tbsp mild-flavoured honey
1 lemon, juiced (I must admit I didn’t use lemon in mine – I didn’t have any!  I put a tablespoon or so
of white wine vinegar in instead to add some zing – it seemed to work well but next time I will use lemon…)
Salt & ground black pepper
400ml boiling water (I used vegetable stock and omitted the salt above)
40g butter, diced
Handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

METHOD

Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 5 mins, or until soft and translucent.

Add ginger and cook for a further 2 mins. Stir well. Add carrots, honey, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Stir.

Add boiling water to soup ingredients. Reduce heat to low and cook for 35 mins.

Transfer to blender. Drop in butter cubes and blend until smooth and creamy.

Serve in mugs or bowl with a sprinkling of chopped parsley on the top.

Enjoy!
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PS The bowl was one of a set I bought at the op-shop yesterday (more on that later) for only 25 cents a piece.  Crazy price but lovely little bowls (which will help me with my portion control which has, of late, become rather uncontrolled).  I wasn’t going to keep them for myself but I rather like them and they’re my favourite combination of colour – blue and brown – so they will most likely stay with me.
Hope you all had a lovely weekend, spent with friends and family and yummy things to eat 🙂