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Baked Mixed Pasta with Gnocchi & Cheese Sauce

February 15, 2010 Leave a comment

I’d made a large pot of pasta sauce last week and now we were down to the dregs. I also had a very small serve of Soyaroni pasta left over. Not enough to really make two generous serves but too much to be thrown away. What to do? Add to it, throw in some more pasta & bake of course!

Baked Mixed Pasta with Gnocchi & Cheese Sauce

Baked Mixed Pasta! This will feed my partner & I for 2 or 3 nights. The other dish feeds us a single serve each (scroll down to other photos).

This is the large casserole dish before it went into the oven. I had enough pasta between the soyaroni & the gnocchi to warrant making a second, smaller dish (see below).

I cooked up a packet of fresh potato gnocchi to add to my left-over Soyaroni pasta (pasta made with soy flour).

I tossed the combined pastas into the large casserole dish with the left-over pasta sauce & mixed it thoroughly.

Because I had some & felt inspired, I also cooked up some bacon cut into strips (of course I used “fake” bacon being vego).

Looking at the amount of sauce-coated pasta in the casserole dish, I decided there was now quite a lot so opted to ladle out a few spoons into a second dish.

Now to make the cheese sauce. Yes, it’s low-fat but still yummy.

Cheese Sauce

600ml milk (I use 250ml full-cream milk + 350ml WATER)(this makes a low-fat milk but still leaves the fat molecules in which are handy for ensuring easy & even thickening when you add the cornflour)

4 tbs cornflour (I always try to use maize cornflour)

¼ – ½ tsp butter (for the colour & those fatty molecules)(OPTIONAL)

Dried parsley, cracked pepper (a sprinkle or more of each to your own taste)(OPTIONAL)

Low-fat grated tasty cheddar cheese (about 1 cup, maybe a bit more)(or use a similar cheese)

A pinch or more of grated parmesan (okay, this isn’t low-fat)

I make my sauce in the microwave on HIGH power, using a large 1 litre jug.

  • Add enough milk to the cornflour to make a smooth, runny paste.
  • Add the butter into the milk (it’s going to melt).
  • Heat the milk mixture in the jug for 90secs. Then stir or whisk the melting butter.
  • Whilst stirring the milk mixture, add the cornflour paste. Stir briskly.
  • Heat the mixture for 2 mins.

The mixture should be thickened & have a glossy surface. Stir. (It’s normal to have thick, chunky bits of cornflour at the bottom but even after removing those there should still be enough cornflour in the milk to ensure a nice, thick sauce.)

  • Add the parsley & pepper & stir in.
  • Add the grated cheese(s) and stir through. Leave for 2-5 mins to allow cheese to melt. Stir again.

Cheese sauce is ready to use!

  • Pour your cheese sauce over your sauce-coated pasta.
  • Sprinkle with a little extra grated cheese of your choosing (I used tasty cheddar & parmesan).
  • And finish off with a tiny sprinkle of sweet paprika (to give it a “browned” look when cooked).
  • Bake at 180C in a fan-forced oven for 30-40 mins. (This step may be done later in the day if pre-preparing your meal.)

Ready for the oven!

Now it's ready to eat!

Enjoy!

Fruitcake!

February 13, 2010 2 comments

It was my birthday earlier this week. No big celebratory deal for me but I did think I should at least have a cake.

Given the fragility of my stomach I opted for a healthy, low-fat fruit cake. Made with pumpkin no less! It’s been years (decades) since I baked a fruit cake. It turned out well & we’re enjoying it immensely. And it has not upset my GORD (GERD) in spite of the presence of a little ginger.

Healthy, home made, easy fruit cake.

Moist Fruit Cake

3 cups (500g) mixed dried fruit – (I used an uneven mix of sultanas, raisins, cranberries, apricots & glace ginger)

½ cup of caster sugar (yes, you could use Splenda or similar sugar substitute)

1 tsp mixed spice (I used ¼ tsp each cinnamon & nutmeg)

½ cup water

1 tsp bi-carb soda

1 cup cooled mashed pumpkin (squash) (250g raw aprx) – (you could use sweet potato)

2 eggs, lightly beaten – (OR 3 egg whites)

A few drops of lemon & vanilla essences

2 cups self raising flour

Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a large loaf tin or 19cm round tin (or use baking paper).

Place fruit, sugar, mixed spice & water into a saucepan. Bring to boil & let boil for 3 minutes.

Stir in the bi-carb. (It will fizz.)

Stir in the cooled mashed pumpkin. (At this point I transferred mixture to a very large bowl.)

Stir in the eggs.

Finally add the flour, folding it in to the mixture. (I needed to add a wee bit more flour as it looked more like a batter than a cake mix.)

Pour the mixture into your prepared tin.

Bake for around 1 hour. Check that it is cooked all the way through by inserting a skewer into the cake – if it’s ready the skewer will come out clean.)

Let cool initially in the tin then turn out on to a rack.

Close up of the cake showing the fruit & you can even see the pumpkin fibres. No, it doesn't taste like pumpkin. At all.

I cut the cake in half (because it is heavy & large), then lengthwise followed by small slices. Then I bravely wrapped & froze most of the slices so we wouldn’t eat it all at once!

Next time I make this I will experiment with adding some nuts into the mixture.

Orange & Almond Cake

January 19, 2010 1 comment

Let’s cook!

Something sweet, indulgent yet quite nutritionally dense. Orange & almond cake. It’s gluten free for those that seek such recipes for their diet.

This is a very easy recipe and doesn’t use as many eggs as traditional Jewish recipes I’ve seen over the years.

Orange & almond cake.

Orange & Almond Cake

3 oranges

3 eggs

1 cup caster sugar

300g almond meal (ground almonds)

1 teaspoon baking powder

extra 3/4 cup caster sugar (approximate measure, you might need less)

Grease a 22cm cake tin. (I used a large loaf tin)

Pre-heat oven to 170° Celsius.

  • Place whole oranges in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil then simmer for 15 mins.
  • Drain & repeat.
  • Chop 2 of the oranges & remove the pips.
  • Place those oranges into a blender or food processor. Process until smooth.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs & 1 cup of caster sugar until thick and creamy.
  • Add in the processed oranges, almond meal & baking powder. Gently fold together. (Mixture is often quite runny depending on how large your oranges are. If it’s too runny, you can add some plain flour.)
  • Pour mixture into prepared tin.
  • Bake at 170° C for 1 hour. (Should be golden brown, and an inserted skewer should come out clean when cooked.) (My cake today took 1 hour & 15 mins.)
  • Allow to cool initially in the tin. Be careful when tipping out on to a rack.

Whilst the cake is cooking, here’s what you’ll do with that remaining orange & extra sugar:

  • Remove the peel from the 3rd orange in strips.
  • Put peel in saucepan, cover with some water & boil for 5 mins.
  • Squeeze in the juice of the orange.
  • Add the extra sugar, up to 3/4 cup. (I use less than half that.)
  • Stir until dissolved and thickened.
  • When cake is cool, use a knife or skewer to make slight holes in the cake. Drizzle over the orange syrup. (Note” you may not actually need to use syrup if cake is very moist.)
  • Serve in small slices.

I find this cake is excellent to freeze. It also seems to be a little less wet if I refrigerate it.

I find I can use a small slice of this cake as a meal replacement and not irritate my GORD (GERD). Acid reflux sufferers it may be worth experimenting with this if you’ve not tried it before. Thanks to all that almond meal the cake is very filling. Enjoy!

Roast Vegetable Tikka Masala

December 2, 2009 1 comment

Roasted vegetable tikka masala.

That’s what I had for dinner last night. Yes, it was very tasty thank you.

The smell brought back fond memories of the restaurants in Muscat, Oman that served various tikka masala and tandoori dishes. Chicken tikka was very popular with my family back when I still ate meat. But a vegetarian version is scrumptious too.

Can’t show you a photo because we … err, ate it all.  But here’s the recipe.

  • Potatoes
  • Butternut Pumpkin (Squash)
  • Kumara (Orange Sweet Potato)
  • Carrots
  • 1x 400g tin Chickpeas
  • 3 tablespoons tikka masala paste (I used Patak’s)
  • 3-4 tablespoons tomato purée or pasta sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oil (I use grapeseed oil)
  • Green beans
  • Baby Spinach
  • Rice (Jasmine is nice)

Pre-heat your oven to 180C.

Chop your root vegetables (potatoes, butternut, kumara and carrots) in to chunks. I don’t bother peeling anything except the butternut pumpkin.

I always par-cook my potatoes and carrots in the microwave prior to roasting.

Drizzle the oil over the vegetables and spread out on to a baking tray.

Roast the vegetables for roughly 20-30 mins. You want them to be almost cooked but not quite in readiness for the next step.

Add the tikka masala paste to the tomato purée and stir well. You’re looking for a very thick pouring consistency that will coat the vegetables.

Drain chickpeas & rinse.

When the vegetables are showing signs of being almost cooked (I judge by seeing when the potatoes are just starting to puff up and turn golden), remove from oven. Don’t turn the oven off yet.

I tip the almost-cooked roast vegetables in to a very large bowl. Add the chickpeas now if you don’t mind them well roasted. Then add the tikka masala sauce and stir well to coat the vegetables. Turn the lot back on to the baking tray, spread out and return to the oven for 15-20 mins.

You may need to cover them with foil if the tikka is turning too black for your taste.

If you prefer your chickpeas to remain moist, hold back a little bit of the tikka sauce and coat the chickpeas, leave them to sit. Add them to the roasted vegetables when serving.

Cook your green beans in the manner you prefer. I use the microwave and minimal water and minimal cooking time on high – a minute is enough. Toss in the baby spinach leaves and either let wilt in the residual heat or further cook for 15 secs.

I must admit I only do the greenery because I’m required to eat leafy greens. I’d be happy to omit the beans and spinach. Also, rocket leaves or other salad leaves would suffice.

Cook your rice.

Everything’s cooked so serve it however you like.

Happy eating!