Mussels in Tomato, Chilli and Basil Sauce

31 05 2010

I ended up cooking mussels two ways the other night because, gripped by indecision, I could not choose between a Jamie-inspired Mediterranean version in a tomato-based sauce, or Nigella’s more rustic French recipe with white wine. They both equally deserved their moment in the spotlight, so I was left with little choice but to indulge their little nagging voices. In case you’re wondering, Rob took having two different meals for dinner perfectly in his stride. Read the rest of this entry »

Clock Watchers Chicken Lasagne

26 05 2010

Now you may have noticed by now that I am a bit of a pasta-junkie – and the list would most certainly be incomplete without this grand old duke of Italian dishes. Here is my recently-invented new favourite Chicken & Mushroom Lasagne – no white sauce required.
(It works just as well with beef or lamb mince. Recipe looks quite detailed but is super quick and easy – otherwise it wouldn’t be here). Read the rest of this entry »

Applause for Peanut Sesame Chicken

22 05 2010

There was very little conversation at our dinner table last night. We were both too busy getting acquainted with, and wallowing in, the glory of this, our NBF.

Dead Easy. Delicious. Done in 10. What more do you want?! Read the rest of this entry »

Why-he-married-me Bacon Pasta

13 05 2010

I know right, sad to think that Rob could be that shallow… sometimes though I really do think that this was right up there with any other good attributes I might have when he decided to pop the question. Well, whatever his reasoning, I can’t find fault with his passion for this dish, except that he requests it so often that I can’t believe we haven’t killed it yet. I have been making it for so long that I honestly can’t remember where I got it from in the first place, I just recall stirring away over our two plate stove at University and never being underwhelmed with the results…

Post Script 12 December 2011 – This recipe is now almost famous. I kid you not, read about it here.

Serves 4 | Preparation time 15 minutes | Cooking time 30-45 minutes

Half packet of pasta – again, really thin spaghetti is our household favourite
1 x 250g packet of bacon, chopped (or use kitchen scissors, nice trick)
2 tins chopped peeled tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
Half a punnet of courgettes, chopped any which way (optional)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp chutney/sweet chilli sauce/ 1 Tbsp sugar
Half tsp dried chilli
Half tsp dried coriander
1 tsp ground black pepper
Half a cup of cream, or plain yoghurt for a healthier version

1. Cook the pasta until al dente, drain, drizzle with olive oil and set aside.

2. In a medium-sized good quality pot on med-high, heat about 4 Tbsp olive oil, and brown the onion, chilli and garlic.

3. Then add the bacon and brown that too.

4. Add the 2 tins of chopped tomatoes and the chutney/sweet chilli sauce/sugar.

5. Bring to the boil and then let it simmer for about 20 minutes before adding the courgettes and cream.

6. Simmer for a further 10 minutes and then serve over the pasta and garnish with some fresh chopped basil or parsley.

Variations: You could easily add mushrooms to this dish, or cook it with chicken instead of bacon. You could also serve with some crumbed feta sprinkled over the top.

And when I get this right, Rob gives it his 10/10. And when I don’t, believe me I know all about it.

Food-Barn-Inspired Mushroom Linguini

12 05 2010

If you live in Cape Town and love food, chances are you’ve heard of The Food Barn at The Noordhoek Farm Village. And if you haven’t, well you must have been living under a rock or something, and what’s more, I pity you. Anyway, their resident French chef is currently running cooking demonstrations, and I took my dear friend Debs there a couple of weeks ago for an early birthday present. I can’t even spell half the stuff that Franck Dangereux (I have to ask him if that is for real) pulled together that day, but what I did take away with me was the exquisite-sounding cream sauce that he used for his fresh sage-linguine. Oh, and also how un-pretentious he was, being a French chef and all. Fascinating. Read the rest of this entry »

Perfect Pesto Pasta

12 05 2010

I am not saying it’s perfect because I made it, but rather because I think that almost anything with pesto in it automatically takes on a whole new level of deliciousness. This is a brilliant Thursday night or Saturday afternoon ‘what shall I throw together’ one. I said Thursdays because they are just random for some reason, and Saturday because well brunch takes precedence in my life, and then we have a gaping hole of hunger in the afternoon that I am always expected to fill. The options are endless – sandwiches, potato salads, mixed with cottage cheese for a dip… go for it.

Basil Pesto Pasta
Serves 4 | Preparation time 10 mins | Cooking time 10 mins

Pasta – anything, enough for 4 people and cooked according to packet instructions
3 Tbsp pesto – go wild – basil / rocket / watercress / olive and aubergine, the options are endless
About 1/3 cup of your preferred cheese – freshly grated parmesan or pecorino / goats cheese / feta

All the remaining ingredients are now optional
Half punnet chopped cherry or rosa tomatoes
1 ripe avocado
Handful fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
Small handful toasted pine nuts
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes or 1 fresh chilli de-seeded
S + P to taste

1. Cook the pasta, drain and set aside, drizzle with olive oil and toss
2. Cut the tomatoes in half and chop up the avocado, and basil leaves and grate or cut up your cheese
3. Toss the pasta with the pesto and add in the rest of the ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste and another drizzle of olive oil and you’re good to go.

Voila! Couldn’t possibly be easier.

Variations: add chicken or bacon, serve with slices of grilled baguette that have been drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with garlic…

Rob’s rating: 7.5/10 (I am trying not to be offended, personally I’d give it an 8.5 I think)

Our favourite Lebanese Lamb Pasta

12 05 2010

So this really is an old favourite, and I have my dear friend Elizabeth to thank for it. It’s budget friendly and super easy, and we used to cook it during exams when we were at the University of Cape Town together. A bowl of this goes down a treat as the key element to a delightful study break, or as a no-mess-no-fuss winter dinner with the proverbial glass of red wine as a more than suitable accompaniment. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Elizabeth is partly Lebanese – that’s where that comes in. So I guess you could say it’s adapted loosely from an old Lebanese family favourite (because no one cooks it quite like they do). Read the rest of this entry »