In the introduction to this blog I made a mention of including recipes. Well, it just so happens that tonight I made one of my favourite recipes, and I thought it might be time to share that and some of the other staples from my kitchen.
Since I started making fresh pasta I have pretty much given up using dried stuff. I will buy fresh pasta sheets for making my quick cannelloni, but if I make Bolognese I make the pasta from scratch. Fresh pasta made with duck eggs is even better.
Smoked Salmon and Chevre Ravioli (serves 2 people)
Fresh pasta sheets – made from 250g plain flour and 2 eggs (preferably duck eggs)
About 70-80g *smoked salmon
About 70-80g *chevre (soft goat cheese)
1-1.5tbsp shredded parmesan (not the dry ‘smelly socks’ stuff, either use good shredded parmesan or grate it yourself)
About 1tsp dill – either fresh or frozen from fresh, not dried
First make your pasta dough. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, make a well in the centre and crack an egg into it. Mix with a fork until the egg starts to take up some of the flour, then add the other egg. Gradually add flour from the edges until you can make it into a soft dough with your hands. There will be some flour left over, you can use this later. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge until it is cold. About half an hour is usually enough.
Put all the filling ingredients into a food chopper of some sort and blend until you get a fairly smooth taste. You might want to experiment a little with quantities to get a taste that suits you. I like the salmon flavour to feature but not overpower the cheese.
Put a big pot of water on to boil.
Get your pasta dough out of the fridge and knead some of the leftover flour into it until you get a smooth dough that is not sticky. Run the dough through the pasta machine a few times, folding it in half, until it is smooth and a decent shape. Then work down through the thicknesses until you have thin pasta sheets. Dough is easier to work with if done in smaller lots, so you might want to cut the dough in half and roll it out half at a time.
Put teaspoons of filling onto the pasta sheets, brush water along one long edge and between piles of filling. Fold the pasta over, cut into individual parcels and use a fork to seal the edges of the ravioli.
Put each parcel onto a floured surface (I use a tea towel on a baking tray), and when all of them are ready put them into the boiling water.
Return to the boil, cook for a minute or two (cooking fresh pasta is very quick), and remove with a slotted spoon.
Top with parmesan cheese and chopped cherry tomatoes.
*Smoked salmon can be replaced with baked or smoked trout.
*Chevre can be replaced with ordinary cream cheese.
Another thing I make very regularly is iced tea. It is not like the stuff you get in the shops, in that it is made from real tea and is not as sweet, but if you like Nestea or LiptonIce you will probably like the home-made style. It is really easy and great to have in the fridge through summer.
I use a 4-cup teapot and make a very strong tea. For black tea I use 3-4 teabags, infused for about 5 minutes.
I use 1.5lt glass bottles, but you can also use glass jugs. In each bottle I put 1tbsp of sugar or 3 teaspoons of fructose powder. Then I add the juice of half a lime or lemon. You can use lime juice cordial instead of sugar and freshly squeezed citrus juice.
Remove the teabags from the tea and pour half of the tea into each bottle or jug. Swish it around until the sugar dissolves and top up with cold water.
You can serve it with citrus slices, try using green or white tea instead of black, use raspberry juice instead of lemon or lime or add Manuka honey. Play around with it and find your new favourite. You may want to make it sweeter to start with, but you should get to a point where the flavour is more important than the sweetness.
Choc-chip Cookie Muffins
My kids never go to school without something home-baked in their lunch box. I usually make a batch of muffins and freeze them, then the boys just need to grab one out of the freezer, put it in a container and playlunch is ready to go.
I have a basic muffin recipe which I can alter, from blueberry to double choc. Choc-chip cookie is my favourite flavour.
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped milk or dark chocolate (I have used Easter egg pieces)
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
90g butter, melted. Butter, not margarine – very important! Butter gives a much better flavour to baking.
Mix flour, sugar and chocolate in a bowl.
Add milk, egg, vanilla and melted butter and mix until just combined.
Spoon into patty cases or muffin trays. I use patty cases in a muffin tray.
Bake at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes, until muffins are slightly golden on top.
Makes 12 small-ish muffins, but you could make less bigger ones. These might need to cook for a bit longer.
So that is just a few of my more popular recipes. Other things I make a lot include pumpkin soup, carrot and bacon soup, pea and ham soup – I might have to do a soup post down the track. I have a few types of bread and rolls that I really like. Oh, and a couple of ice-cream recipes that the boys all go mad for, as well as healthy options for an icy treat. My kitchen is my happy place, a night or afternoon of cooking, with my iPod on and a cider or two, is something I really enjoy.