Mushroom pasta

If you love mushrooms and pasta this recipe is for you.   We picked up some large closed cup mushrooms last week and decided to make a dry warm pasta dish for dinner a couple of nights back.   The dish is incredibly quick to prepare and tastes great.

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What do I need to make it?

  • Pasta of choice for 2 persons
  • 10-12 large closed cup mushrooms quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 small shallot chopped
  • `1 Thai red chilli finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • Large knob of butter
  • Handful of fresh parsley to garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2

How do I make it?

Cook the pasta with some salt and olive oil and keep aside (save some of the cooking liquor for later).   Heat a large pan with butter – saute the garlic and red chilli for a minute before adding in the shallots.   Cook over medium heat till the shallots turn translucent.   Sprinkle a teaspoon of the oregano, give it a good mix and then add the mushrooms.  Cook for ten minutes or till mushrooms begin to take on a bit of colour.  Adjust the seasoning and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.    Add the boiled pasta to the dish – if it sticks to the pan use some of the cooking liquor to loosen up the dish.   Serve with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese.

Corn cous cous upma

On one of our past trips to ASDA we came across some cous cous made from maize semolina which we have been meaning to experiment with.  Tonight we made an upma (generally made with wheat semolina) with it which tasted remarkably like normal upma but without any of the gluten.   It is safe to say based on tonight’s experiment that this ingredient is definitely going to be a part of our cupboard essentials for quick meals in the future.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 cup corn cous cous – roast over medium heat for 5 minutes
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 4 green chillies slit
  • 1 inch piece of ginger finely chopped
  • Handful fresh curry leaves
  • 1 cup of frozen corn and peas microwaved for 3 minutes
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp split urad dahl
  • 1 tsp channa dahl
  • 3 tbsp ghee or oil
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2

How do I make it?

Heat a wok on medium heat with some ghee in it and saute the mustard seeds, urad and channa dahl till the mustard seeds start to splutter.   Then add the ginger, curry leaves and green chillies.   Saute for 30 seconds before adding the chopped onions.    Sprinkle a bit of salt to taste and cook the onions till they go translucent.    Add the microwaved corn and peas to the wok with 300 ml of boiling water.   Allow the dish to come to a boil before pouring in the cous cous.    Give the dish a good mixe,  place a lid over the wok and switch off the heat.  Wait for 5 minutes for the cous cous to absorb the water.    Once done fork through the dish to fluff up the cous cous and enjoy hot.

Curry leaf kuzhambu

This recipe is dedicated to all our fellow South Indians who have had a pepper or curry leaf kuzhambu in the past and had not tried making it possibly thinking it was quite challenging.   On the contrary this has to be one of the simplest dishes to pull together and one that keeps for quite a few days in the fridge.   For our non South Indian friends – kuzhambu is a variation of sambar without the addition of boiled tuar dahl.

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What do I need to make it?

  • Whole garlic bulb peeled
  • Small ball of tamarind – soaked in warm water

To be ground into a powder

  • 1 tsp tuar dahl
  • 1 tsp channa dahl
  • 2 tsp pepper corns
  • 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 dried whole red chillies
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 cup of curry leaves
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil (not toasted variety
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Approximately 250 -300 ml

How do I make it?

Roast all the powder ingredients with a tablespoon of sesame oil – once roasted, grind to a fine powder.   Heat a pan with the remaining sesame oil and saute the garlic pods and powder for a couple of minutes before pouring in the tamarind water (without the pulp).  Add another cup of water, sprinkle salt and leave to simmer over a low heat.   The dish should thicken to the consistency of treacle – add a little extra water if it is too thick.   Once done serve with boiled rice.   The kuzhambu tastes even better as the days go by.

PS To make a melagu/pepper kuzhambu increase the quantity of coriander seeds to 2 tsp and reduce curry leaves to 1 strip.

Salad therapy – pepper prawns with avocado and rocket leaves

We have been rather quiet this week but have been collecting a few recipes which we couldn’t find time in the day to post.   One of us had a pretty big milestone birthday mid-week – officially in a new age bracket statistically speaking!  The first recipe we would like to share is a warm pepper prawn salad served with avocado and baby plum tomatoes on a bed of rocket leaves.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 packet of rocket leaves
  • 12 baby plum tomatoes halved
  • 2 small avocado’s pitted and cubed
  • 20 jumbo prawns
  • 1 small shallot finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 Thai red chilli chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Handful of coriander leaf stems chopped finely
  • Handful of fresh basil chopped
  • A generous knob of butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2

How do I make it?

Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the prawns and keep them aside for half an hour.   Heat butter in a pan and add the chopped garlic to it – saute for 30 seconds before adding the chopped shallots and red chilli.   Continue to saute till the shallots go translucent before adding the prawns.   Cook on both sides till done – shouldn’t take more than 8-10 minutes.   Garnish with chopped coriander stems and basil.   Squeeze the juice of half lemon and serve hot on a bed of rocket leaves, avocados and baby plum tomatoes.

Walnut pesto

Both of us are not keen on pesto that comes in a jar as it tends to be too oily (although both our kids love it!) and we have finally hit upon a homemade version which hopefully is worthy of getting an Italian’s seal of approval.  We didn’t have any pine nuts or grated Parmesan cheese but we think walnuts and Pecorino Romano works just as well.   The addition of walnut oil accentuates the taste of the walnuts in the pesto.  We had it for lunch today with some penne and tricolore salad.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 2 small bunches of fresh basil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Handful walnuts toasted
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp walnut oil
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

A small bowl full – 6-8 heaped tablespoons

How do I make it?

Place the basil, garlic and walnut in a mixer or pestle and mortar and blend to a coarse paste.   Add the oils, cheese and adjust the seasoning.  Use it with your favourite pasta or as a spread on some grilled ciabata.

Noodles with oriental mushrooms

If you love mushrooms like we do, then here’s simple recipe to add to your repertoire.  It can be pulled together relatively quickly if you are pressed for time.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 250 gms assorted oriental mushrooms sliced (we used pink, yellow and grey oyster mushrooms with some shitake mushrooms)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 Thai red chilli chopped
  • 2 tsp soya sauce
  • 2 tsp spiced black rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp Shaosin wine
  • 2 tsp oil

How much will I make?

Serves 2

How do I make it?

Heat a large pan and add the oil to it.   Toss in the garlic and chopped red chilli and saute for a few minutes before adding the mushrooms.   Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes and then add the soya sauce, vinegar and wine.   Give it a good mix and switch off the heat.   Adjust seasoning and serve on a bed of noodles (we added some toasted sesame seed oil and chopped spring onion to the noodles).

Red chicory with feta cheese

Red chicory is normally not on our shopping list, although it should be, as it makes an incredibly tasty salad option.   Interestingly we weren’t able to find too many recipes on the internet but we came across one by Angela Hartnett which we like and thought we would share it with you.

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What do I need?

  • 3 red chicory heads – stem cut
  • 1 orange peeled – each segment cut in three
  • 1 small apple sliced into sticks
  • 1 small red onion sliced
  • 6-8 green queen olives sliced
  • Handful walnuts toasted
  • 100 gm of feta cheese
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

2 large main portions or 4 sides

How do I make it?

For the dressing, whisk the olive oil and vinegar with some seasoning till it emulsifies.  Layer chicory leaves in a salad bowl and add the other ingredients before drizzling a generous portion of the dressing.  Enjoy.

Three bean soup

It is safe to say that today has to be one of the most miserable days of the year – weather wise – as it has been drizzling non stop all day from around 8:30 in the morning  with no sign of letting up through the night!  We looked through our store cupboard for some lunch inspiration and ended up making a bean soup which was very comforting and filling.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 carrot sliced thickly
  • 1 celery chopped
  • 1 bunch of spring onion chopped
  • 1 medium potato peeled and diced
  • 6 closed cup mushrooms quartered
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 green chillies finely chopped
  • 400 gm cannellini beans drained and washed (1 tin)
  • 400 gm borlotti beans drained and washed
  • 400 gm butter beans drained and washed
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 2 tsp dried mixed herbs (mix of marjoram, thyme and parsley)
  • Small handful of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 25 gm butter
  • Salt & pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Place butter and oil in a hot pan followed by the garlic and green chilli.   Saute for 30 seconds before adding the spring onion and celery.   Saute on medium heat for a few minutes before sprinkling the dried herbs.   Stir and then add the remaining vegetables, stock cubes and around 1 litre of water.   Continue to cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes before adding the beans.   Reduce heat and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.   Adjust the seasoning and garnish with fresh parsley before serving.

Roasted Romanesco Cauliflower

Have you ever gone grocery shopping and come across a vegetable for the first time and wondered how you have missed it all these years.   The Romanesco cauliflower certainly falls into this category.   The vegetable was visually striking, a vibrant light green (almost fluorescent) when we first came across it in a farmer’s market a few months ago and regretted not picking it up (we were out and about and didn’t want to carry it around).   Then again on one of our trips to TESCO this marvel of nature turned up and we bought it and cooked it in a cheesy bake.   In hindsight, we did not do this vegetable justice by masking it’s wonderful nutty flavour in a cheese sauce.  Last night we decided to make amends and scoured the web for an authentic Italian recipe using this vegetable as we figured the country where it was discovered and originates from probably treated it with more care.  Sure enough there are a few recipes using it in a risotto or pasta dish.  There were quite a few recipes which were simple and essentially called for roasting the cauliflower in the oven with the fewest of ingredients.  We’ve replaced pine nuts with walnuts and it seems to work to provide the dish with some crunch and texture and added some walnut oil to accentuate the taste of the walnuts.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 Romanesco cauliflower broken down into florets
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chilli flakes
  • 1 lemon – rind only
  • 1 tsp walnut oil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

2 hearty portions

How do I make it?

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and the transfer onto an oven proof baking dish or tray.   Cook in pre-heated oven at 200 degree Centigrade for 20-30 minutes till the cauliflower begins to lightly char.   Serve hot.

Curly kale thoran

Thoran is a generic Malayalam term given to any dry mixed vegetable dish garnished with fresh coconut.  It has taken us a while to experiment with non traditional Indian vegetables and greens but having just attempted a curly kale thoran we think we have been missing out on this wonderful leafy vegetable which is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C and rich in calcium.  There appears to be more than one variety of kale – we’ve tried the curly variety in today’s thoran and in the past have stir fried an Italian variety called ‘cavolo nero’ with a splash of tamari soy sauce, Shaosin wine, palm sugar and spiced black rice wine vinegar.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 200 gm curly kale washed
  • 1/2 cup dried borlotti bean pressure cooked with 1 cup of water
  • 2-3 dried red chillies
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp split urad dahl
  • 1/2 tsp channa dahl
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • Handful fresh curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Heat a wok with the coconut oil – first add the mustard seeds and wait for them to start spluttering before adding the urad and channa dahl.    Once the dahls start to brown a bit add the curry leaves and dried red chillies – stir for 15 seconds before adding the curly kale.   Add a 1/4 cup of water, turmeric powder, mix, cover and cook over a low heat till done.    Remove the lid, add the cooked borlotti beans, fresh coconut and adjust the seasoning before taking it off the heat.