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Archive for the ‘pasta’ Category

Baked Lasagne


Lasagne is a favourite with a lot of people including our family.  Being a tad lazy I usually just throw it together with my quick fire bolognaise sauce which I have perfected to about 10 minutes preparation and then simmering till required for spaghetti or as a lasagne filling.  
Sometimes however it is nice to spend some time and really develop the recipe.  This is not a quick fix for a week night tea.    It takes a seriously long time to prepare and cook the elements before even considering the putting together and final cooking.   The final dish is most certainly worth the effort and the dish does not hang around long in our household.
Ingredients 
Beef Mince
Vine Tomatoes 
Bacon Lardons
Onion chopped finely
Celery chopped finely 
Garlic chopped finely
Carrot chopped finely
Sugar 
Red Wine Vinegar
Red Wine
Beef stock
Mixed Herbs 
Bay Leaves
White Sauce 
Parmesan Cheese

 It might seem a strange start but wash your mince through in a colander – it helps break up the strands and allows each bit to cook and become crispy.  
 
Lay this mince, which is now quite waterlogged, on a flat baking dish and cook in the oven for 40 minutes (190°c)
 Prepare the tomatoes.  When investing the time and effort in a meal like this it is worth getting good tomatoes (and good quality mince if you can).   Cut the tomatoes in half and lay on another baking tray.  Sprinkle with salt and sugar; these both bring different qualities of taste to the forefront and transform a good tomato sauce into a fantastic one. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until they are charred and very soft –  this may take longer if they are at the same heat as the mince.
Begin to prepare the rest of the sauce.   Fry the bacon lardons till they are turning crispy.  Add the onions and garlic.  I like to get vegetables into the family and have long used carrots, celery and sometimes even peas in dishes like this. None of which are strictly Italian.   Add any carrots and/or celery at this point (peas can be added shortly before putting the dish together)
  
Cover the mix with a large spoonful of sugar followed by a good slug of  Red Wine Vinegar.  These work as a great combination together.
Follow with a large glassful of Red Wine.

Heat through allowing the liquid to be soaked up by the vegetables.  


If the tomatoes are not ready, remove the mix from heat and let the flavours marry together in a fusion of hits and delicious blends.   

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When the tomatoes are soft and charred add beef stock to the mix with the mince and tomatoes, also add the herbs.  Italian herbs are great, or a mixture of  oregano, rosemary and thyme.  My mother always added a couple of bay leaves to any Italian dish and I follow the tradition popping them in now.





Let the mixture bubble away for a while before layering with pasta sheets.  There needs to be some juice still in the mix but not too much as it will seep out during the baking process.  


 
  


Layer pasta, sauce, pasta sauce, finish with a layer of pasta.





Top the lasagne off with a layer of white sauce (I don’t add any cheese yet) which I had also added a sprinkling of mustard powder to add depth to the sauce.   I like to let the white sauce cool slightly before pouring over the top of the lasagne.  

Then finish with lots of grated Parmesan cheese.  This is one recipe where it is worth getting the real cheese and grating over.  Remember though, Parmesan is strong so you may need less than you think.
 Pop back into the medium oven for about 30 – 40 minutes and serve to a hungry crowd
 It is your choice how you serve this, garlic bread, green salad, glass of red wine or even chips but the dish can hold it’s own in the centre of your table.  
  
Enjoy and let me know the occasion you might serve this dish.   The wait is certainly worth it but I say again this is  not for a speedy supper, so enjoy the meal.    
Tiggy 

Take a look at my day to day blog on Tiggy Hayes

Tomato Pasta



This is such a great dish for the family.   It uses up all the old veg that didn’t quite make it into something else.  It is packed with vegetables including the ones no-one likes and the children love it.  How better to sneak some good wholesome food onto their table.

Ingredients 

Oil – just a dash
Onions 
Vegetables chopped to smallish sizes – celery, leek, carrot, pieces of squash, courgettes, whatever you have in the fridge.  Not too much of anyone thing
Tinned Tomatoes –  the plum ones are good for this (2 tins at least for  people)
Dash of Red Wine Vinegar 
Generous spoonful of Brown Sugar


Heat the oil and begin by gently frying the onions and veg such as celery or leek.





Add the other vegetables, toss together




Throw in the tomatoes, they can stay whole for the moment.



Add the red vine vinegar, you only need a little. Then sprinkle liberally with the brown sugar.  This gives a slightly sharp tang then sweetens it which makes it appealing to the children.






Bring it to the boil and leave to simmer so that all the vegetables are cooked through.    If you are adding spinach, kale or other green leaves that do not need much cooking add them at the end just before you puree the mix.
When the root vegetable are softened, but still remain firm add the green veg and then liquidise.  This should be fairly roughly done so there are a few bits of crunch left in the sauce.   I blitz quickly once and then leave.

Serve immediately with fresh or dried pasta and plenty of hard grated cheese.   A chunky fresh bread also goes well with this.  

This is so difficult to replicate as the ingredients change each time; sometimes I add a few fresh herbs or even dried.   The delight is seeing them polish of the plates no matter what is in the pot and they think it is just tomato sauce.   I have added ginger and garlic as well to give it a little more umph.  I should rename it “Mothers Prayer Answered” with all the disguised goodness in there.  It is quick and so easy.

Enjoy 

Tiggy

Find out what I am up to in my other blog  Dawn Chorus

Chorizo Pasta



My children are all passionate about pasta, but sometimes it is great to have a change from bolognaise.   This is a bit of a cheat but it is quick, easy and incredibly popular.

Ingredients
Tiny amount of olive oil
Onion chopped
Peppars chopped
Chorizo sliced into large bite sized chunks
Jar of pasta /tomato sauce
Pasta
Cheese – parmesan or a good mature cheddar



You need the smallest amount of oil just to get the onions starting to sweat.




Add in the chopped peppar and let them begin to cook stirring for only about 5 minutes.


Add the chorizo to the pan and cook till the chorizo is browning, turning occaisionally.







Then add the jar of sauce.  As I am feeding lots of hungry boys I used two small jars of different tomato sauces and rinsed them with a small amount of water. 

Bring to the boil whilst cooking the pasta. I start to let the sauce really thicken before serving.



In this case I used a fresh spinach ravioli so layered them on the plate but normally I use a dried pasta and mix it in to the chorizo pan before serving.

Serve with cheese, fresh bread or garlic ciabatta and a green salad.

This is fantastic as you can add peas, sweetcorn, mushrooms, even extra tinned tomatoes into the dish or as I often do spinach leaves as you bring it to table.   This is a great way of getting the children to eat some vegetables without serving any.

It is a really popular meal on our table and so easy to add to if you have an unexpected guest, just add an extra jar of sauce or a tin of tomatoes and you have enough to go round.



Enjoy, let me know how the children like this one.


Tiggy


Find out what I am up to in my other blog  Tiggy Hayes

BBQ Side Salads



With this sudden onset of wonderfully sunny weather the planned roast was ditched in favour of a BBQ and I guess like me, many of you will have done the same.

I am not a great lover of BBQs because even though it seems a great idea at the time: the men of the house all stood round the barbie cooking up some grub.  In reality there is a lot of behind the scenes preparation that still has to go on.

Here I have just done some very basic side dishes that will be eaten by the children as well as the adults.   As it was just family we bought in some meat rather than marinade my own and kept it simple.

Pasta Salad – this is one my son loves and will make up for himself as just a snack.
Ingredients
Pasta Shapes – tricolour ones add colour to this dish or simple as I have done
Curry Powder
Mayonaise
Paprika – it is more for decoration than taste
Parsley

Cook the pasta according to packet, taking of the heat before it is fully cooked – then rinse it and leave it in cold water to cool (the water stops it from sticking together).
Meanwhile mix a good sprinkling of curry powder with a generous helping of mayonaise.  (I do this in my final serving dish so it is all coated as well and you don’t lose any)
Add the pasta and mix well.
Decorate with the paprika (just a sprinkling)  and parsley.



Potato Salad – another very popular dish among the children
Ingredients
Potatoes  –  I like to use new or salad ones but old can work just as well
Onions – again it is what you have, salad ones are great but red or normal work
Salad cream
Garnish with chopped mint / parsley / chives

Boil the potatoes until soft and then drain them and stand in cold water.
Chop the onions finely .
Cut the potatoes roughly and sprinkle over the onions in the serving dish.
Add a good dollop of salad cream and mix well with a knife to chop the potatoes a little more.
Sprinkle with your garnish


Tomato Salad  – there are many different versions of this available but here is mine
Ingredients
Tomatoes – again any variety  if you are entertaining the coloured mixed ones look great
Onions – red or normal
Oil / Vinegar Dressing – I used a simple french dressing I had made for a previous BBQ
Mint chopped to garnish

Cut the tomatoes, chop onions finely (I don’t use a whole onion here but may use two small salad onions).
Mix
As you take to table add the dressing.
Add the garnish 


Garlic Mushrooms –  my son had added mushrooms into the shopping basket in the hopes of a barbie.
Ingredients

Mushrooms
Butter
Garlic – powder/ granules  works best with this recipe
Mayonaise
Garnish

Melt the butter in a pan, add a spinkling of Garlic
Add the mushrooms and cook until soggy.
Take off heat and drain (water comes out of them when cooked )
Leave to cool
Just before serving mix mayonaise with garlic, add the mushrooms and mix well.
Add the garnish.

There are so many variations on these dishes.  I change the curry powder for garlic.  You could add tomatoes, peas, sweetcorn to the pasta.   See what this inspires you to try and let me know. Please add your comments and let me know what works for you.

Take a look at my other blog –  Tiggy Hayes

Happy eating –  enjoy this sunny weather

Tiggy 









Tuna Pasta Bake



One evening during the holiday we came back from an adventure out and around the local National Trust gardens.  I find these places reassuringly safe places to let the children run and run and run.   There are all kinds of adventures to be had along with plenty of fresh air and of course even mum gets to walk around and watch the changing beauty of the seasons.   Best of all are the tea, hot chocolates and cakes that have to follow such extreme adventure.

Having got to the tea shop just before they stopped serving at 5pm no-one in the family wanted a large dinner at 6.30 so I relegated the planned meal to the fridge for the following day and waited.  Later in the evening as the little knawing pangs of hunger began making themselves known,  I heard little voices calling “I’m hungry Mum”.   

This is a great throw together meal that doesn’t take too long,  is easy to prepare and serve and relatively little washing up.


Ingredients

Pasta  –  any kind really, fairly small to cook quickly.
Tuna  –  I used 1 tin per two people.
Frozen peas
Mayonnaise – lots so it doesn’t dry out  (a touch of milk can be added if required)
Cheese grated  loads 
 

Boil the water and add the pasta, halfway through cooking add the peas.

    
Meanwhile mix the tuna with the mayonnaise so that it is really well coated.  

Drain the pasta and peas and add to the mayonnaise mixture.

Make sure there is enough mayo to coat (this is the time to add milk if required – not a lot as the pasta is pre-cooked – enough to keep the pasta moist)  

Sprinkle the cheese liberally over the top and add to a hot oven
Cook for about 10 minutes until it comes out bubbling and the cheese is golden.


This would do just as well with sweetcorn,  instead or as well as peas.  

Try it and let me know what you think.   



My middle son hates fish but is happy to eat tuna and meaty fish if it is disguised like this.  Read more about Middle Son’s latest escapades in my other blog Dawn Chorus.  

Enjoy

Tiggy

Meatballs





This came about because I wanted to make something the children would enjoy as we were going out for dinner.   It became an instant hit and is now requested whenever  I say we are going out.   It is so quick and easy  that it really is a cheat’s meal that goes down so well.  
    
 Ingredients

A pack of meatballs
Tin of tomato soup
Squeeze of tomato sauce



Tip the meatballs into an oven proof dish, cover with the soup and add a squeeze of tomato sauce.  Stir and add to a pre-heated oven for 25 mins.   

Check a couple of times and just turn the meatballs over.

Serve with pasta and bright vibrant peas or sweetcorn; you have an instant hit.  If using spaghetti run it through the meatballs or tip them into the pan and coat generously with the sauce.

Try it out on your little ones and let me know what they think.

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