Pasta Porn

Fresh Egg Pasta Fresh Egg Pasta Fresh Egg Pasta

So we brought out the pasta making machine today, after a long break, and within 30 minutes we had sheets and sheets of fettuccine drying on the kitchen bench. Again, I cannot stress enough that fresh pasta is significantly better tasting than dried pasta, and it is *very* straight forward to make, particularly if you have a pasta machine! (To be fair, I wouldn’t bother without one!). It also stores well – either dried in the pantry or frozen in the freezer (funny that). In both cases, you just pop it in boiling water when you want to eat it. It only takes a few minutes to cook through.

Fresh Egg Pasta

I’ve blogged the main recipe I use for pasta before. Today we swapped out the optional oil with about 2 tbsp of finely chopped basil. (We had also to add a tbsp or two of water to get the dough to come together).

Fresh Egg Pasta (Dough)


Recipe: Portuguese Caldo Verde

Caldo Verde

So way back in January 2010,  I went to Lisbon.  I stayed in a reasonable, but most excellent hostel, and went to some fairly nice restaurants. I think I spent more on food per day than I did my accommodation! On my first evening I didn’t stray too far from the hostel, and dined early.  For mains I picked rabbit (which was delicious and came with chips!), and I decided to somewhat splashout by having  an entree as well. I picked caldo verde. I had no idea what was, or that it was a traditional Portuguese dish  (I think I knew it was a soup from the menu). The main reason I picked it because it was cheap (3 or 4 euro from memory).  But oh it was delicious – a hearty (but not stodgy) green soup with spicy sausage.  I had it a couple more times during my trip (pretty much at every opportunity!) and came away with the vow to make it myself. When I got home I looked up wikipedia and a few recipes, and saved them, and then did nothing… until a couple of weeks ago when I realised that I had all the ingredients (and most specifically chorizo and kale) – without even trying!

And so I made it. I pretty much following this recipe, though I amped up the chorizo (two sausages instead of one), and used kale as my green. I also was a bit concerned about the paprika oil.  Was it swirled into the pot?  In individual bowls? What if I was just going to eat it ALL BY MYSELF**? So I decided to just mix in the paprika late in the cooking phase, without worrying about the oil  (perhaps I will add the paprika earlier in the future).

Someone asked me if my caldo verde tasted like the one I had in Lisbon, but to be honest I can’t remember exactly what it tasted like.  But it certainly felt the same – warming, spicy and wholesome.

**Not quite, but close

Dal Palak (Lentils with Spinach)

Chana DalThis Palak Dal (Spinach and Lentils) was fortuitous in that it used chana dal from my pantry, as well as some spinach and tomatoes that were lingering in the fridge! It was very quick to cook, and very warming and comforting to eat.  It felt healthy 🙂

This was also my first time of roasting dal before using (lets face it,  i’ve used chana dal once before!), and it really enhance the flavour of the dal. The recipe is fairly self explanatory, although I did find the lentils dried up very quickly into the 1 hour cooking time – much quicker than I expected!  I will be ready with more water next time I cook. I also held off adding the spinach until right at the end, to preserve its bright green colour.

Dal Palak with Spinach

(Thai??) Green Curry Paste

Making thai green curry paste goes something like this:

Thai Green Curry Paste Thai Green Curry Paste Thai Green Curry

Step one. Collect Spices. Step two. (mumble mumble mumble). Step three. Profit!

This dish is a rough approximation of the green curry and crispy chicken that Jamie Oliver made on one of the episodes of his show Thirty Minute Meals. It’s a rough approximation because  I typed out basic instructions on my laptop about 3 months ago whilst watching the program, and then didn’t look at it again until yesterday (when I actually attempted the dish).  There were lots of details missing, particularly amounts of ingredients and some of the cooking steps. I have not checked to see how accurate a representation this is of a Thai green curry ( hence the question marks).  Still, here’s what I did:

Green Curry Paste

2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 small stalks trimmed lemon grass, slightly bruised (from my garden!_
1 red chilli, sliced in half (also from my garden – could have probably gone to two)
1 bunch of spring onions bunch trimmed and chopped into inch long pieces
1 bunch coriander stalks
2 cm ginger
juice of 1 lime (or a couple of tablespoons from a bottle)

Process the spices in a blender until the form a rough paste.  Then add:

2 tbsp of oil (I used peanut)
1 tsp of sesame oil
2 tbsp of fish sauce

Process some more and you have enough thai green curry paste for 2 lots of the following:

Crispy Chicken

Season ~ 500 g of skinless chicken thighs and then pan fry them on a medium heat until they are beginning to brown. Add one tbsp of the curry paste, coat the chicken pieces and turn the heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes. Add about 1 tbsp of honey, coat the pieces and continue to cook on low heat until the curry is done

Green Curry

Add 2 tbsp of the curry paste to a sauce pan and cook on medium for a couple of minutes. Add ~ 3 cups of chopped vegetables (in our case it was sliced carrots and frozen brocoli), then add a tin of coconut cream and a cup of vegetable or chicken stock (note this made the curry quite watery so next time I might cut this down next time or serve with rice to mop up). Cook for ~ 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. At the end add ~ 1 dessert spoon of brown sugar ( or palm sugar if you have it), plu more lime juice nad fish sauce to taste. SErve the crispy chicken on a serving of green curry, and scatter with coriander leaves. Enjoy!!

Now,  as it turns out, Jamie has the recipes for the whole episode online (which I only just found),  so maybe you want to follow that instead.  However, my version is pretty good…

Chicken and Mango Salad wih a Chilli Lime Dressing

My two chili plants are going great guns at the moment.


So we’re taking advantage and make recipes with fresh chili. This chicken salad is very very similar to Nigella Lawson’s Golden Jubilee Chicken (which I blogged abut when I turned into a sandwich filling), but is a bit simpler. Both are delicious but I guess this one is the one I’m more likely to have the ingredients for in my pantry…

For two people you need:

2 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1 lime (or 2 tbsp of lime-juice-from-a-bottle)
small handful of fresh coriander (or a dessertspoon of coriander-from-a-jar*)
1 medium chilli chopped finely (and also seeded if you want it a little less spicy).

Mixed salad leaves, or lettuce of your choice – as much as you’d like
1 large mango
1 chicken breast

Mix oil, lime juice, coriander and chilli and set to one side. Season and pan fry the chicken breast until cooked, and then slice diagonally. Peel and dice the mango.
Divide the salad leaves between two plates and top with mango and chicken slices. Drizzle over the dressing to serve.

* We like Valcom Minced Coriander, rather than (for example) the Gourmet Garden Coriander-in-a-tube. It’s not quite so beautifully green, but it doesn’t have the weird aftertaste either…

Vegetable Spaghetti

Zucchini and Carrot 'Pasta'One thing we are enjoying quite often these days is vegetable spaghetti – basically just very thin strips of zucchini and carrot, often in the place of pasta with a pasta sauce or meatballs.

Now, I’m sure you can make these thin strips using a knife and sweet chopping skills, but we invested instead in a vegetable julienne peeler (this exact one actually) and have found it to work a treat!*

To cook, we just stick them in a microwave proof bowl and microwave for a couple of minutes on high, stirring every minute of so. You can also steam them, but you are more likely to end up with mushier vegetables ( or at least *I* am!) and microwaving is way quicker anyway.

*Note:  You will be left with some pieve of vegetable which you can’t further julienne with the peeler (or it becomes hazardous to your fingers to do so!).  I normally just chop them up as finely as I can and add them to the mix – or you can just eat them as a raw snack before dinner!!

Carnitas (aka 16 hour slow cooked pork)

CarnitasWe use our slow cooker a lot – mostly for stews and curries.  However, once I saw nomnompaleo’s Slow Cooker Kalua Pig recipe,  I had to give it a go (particularly given our Hawaii trip last year!).

Now the Kalua pork was fantastic, but it occured to us that with a slight adjustment of spices,  this recipe would also make a fantastic carnitas for burritos and the like. So we put together a spice rub including coriander, cumin and – most importantly – chipotle chillie, and we have not looked back (although admittedly we’ve eaten a heap of slow cooked pork!).


The Spice Rub

2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
2 tsp coriander leaves dried
Carnitas Spice Rub

What To Do

This amount of spice rub is good for 2-2.5 kg of pork. We typically buy a boned pork shoulder, take off any webbing or binding and then liberally rub the spice over all surfaces (although less usually ends up on the skin).  If you do this in the early evening, you can put it straights into the slowcooker pot and store in the fridge until later that night.  Just before bed,  I’ll get the pot out and set up with slow cooker with a timer to start at 2-3 am (depending on when you want to eat the next day). It is rather thrilling to be woken up by delicious pork smells in the morning,  though I do recommend cooking this dish on a day you will be mostly out of the house, as otherwise you will be distracted by pork for the rest of the day!   Once you reach 6-7 pm,  you take the pork out (usually in pieces by this time) and place it in a serving dish.  Separate off the skin and fat (which normally comes off very easily),  and then shred the meat using two forks.  You can spoon the juices at the bottom of the  slow cooker, to give an extra bust of flavour to the shredded meat, though be careful not ot make it too salty.  The meat is then good for tacos, burritos or just by itself….