Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Spinach Tomato Pasta with Bacon

Posted by Kim Fong On 6:46 pm


Firstly, how good is goats cheese?! I’ve had it in a few dishes at restaurants but couldn’t really remember how it taste. I decided to get a pack for home. It just adds that extra life, to an otherwise boring dish. Yum! Yum!

Back to what I’ve actually cooked. It was Monday and the rain was rolling in on a late autumn evening. After work, I plonked myself on the couch feeling a bit buggered from the day and sorry for myself with a sprained dominant thumb. I started thinking, I could not be bothered cooking, is it going to be Thai takeaway or just left overs. The two options weren’t exciting me either. 

I started watching this food tv-show Catherine’s Italian Kitchen. It's about this Irish chef that discovers Italian cooking through her Italian husband and family. She showed a few simple recipes and got me really wanting pasta. I kept watching and felt so inspired … perhaps motivated would be a better word. None the less, I summoned some strength from my empty belly and made a spinach tomato pasta with bacon and mushrooms. This dish is another Fongolicious-original. So I had low expectations. I sorta winged it, trying not to wreck anything. Turned out really well and very tasty. The bacon is optional for the vegetarians out there. Not a bacon muncher? You can substitute for chicken or whatever other meat you fancy. A salty protein helps with adding less/no salt during cooking. 

Hope you’ll try this out and let me know what you think.

Ingredients
250g spiral pasta – boiled as per packet instructions
1 tin of canned tomatoes
1 medium onion – finely chopped
4 rashers of bacon
200g spinach – I used half a packet of frozen spinach defrosted
200g fresh mushrooms – sliced
3 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
herbs – parsley, basil, oregano, 3/4 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoons nutmeg – grated
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tblspn butter
1 1/2 tblspn plain flour
1/2 tblpsn olive oil
2 tbpsn sour cream
Salt & pepper to taste
Goats cheese to serve

Method
1. Boil pasta as per packet instructions. Drain and set aside.

2. Melt half the amount of butter over medium heat and add olive oil then slice mushrooms. Reduce heat to medium low and lightly sauté with some parsley flakes. Slow heat allows it soften and not burn. Set aside.

3. In same pan, increase heat back to medium and add bacon and half the amount of onions. Stir around and cover to “sweat” the onions and bacon. The onions will go translucent and bacon will go soft. Set aside. Same bowl as mushrooms is fine.

4. In medium low heat in the same pan, melt the rest of the butter and add flour and whisk to form a roux. Add the rest of the onions then tomatoes. Mash the tomatoes with a fork. Add garlic, nutmeg and herbs and bring to a slow simmer. Stir in spinach. Return cooked mushrooms and bacon. Stir through. Add sugar. Simmer for about 10 minutes. If very chunky, you can add some water.

5. Taste and season with salt & pepper. Turn heat off and stir through sour cream until it melts through.

6. Mix with pasta and serve with goats cheese. Feel free to garnish with fresh herbs and pepper.







Monday, 21 May 2012

Watermelon Cake–Red Velvet Cake inside

Posted by Kim Fong On 7:37 pm

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Told ya you’d get more posts from me! 2 in 2 days! So this isn’t so much a recipe based blog, rather a decorative cake one. In light of Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea Fundraiser at work next week, I decided to make this Watermelon looking cake. Even though the fundraiser isn’t having a competition this year, I’m all excited to bring this to the masses. So here is a sneak peak to my work teamies, and a nah nah Smile with tongue out to everyone else who wants but cannot have. As I've not made it before, I figured I should trial it before making the real one. 

I think it turned out really well. According to the ever critical parents, it could be more moist (reduce heat, create a humid oven) but besides that, positive feedback from those who’ve tried it. I based this cake on the red velvet cupcake recipe in my previous blog post, but tried to reduce the heat and baked it for longer. Below a summary of the changes I made/will make.
  • Preheat oven to 160C. Grease and line round springform cakepan.
  • In a small bowl, mix food colouring, vanilla and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside. The trick to this one, I put the cocoa and vanilla first into the bowl, then slowly added the food colouring, enough to make a paste.
  • Fill prepared baking pan with mixture.
  • Bake for approximately 30-45 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until toothpick comes out clean.
  • I mentioned the humid oven earlier. This just means putting a tray of water on the bottom shelf of the oven. As this cake cooks, the heat evaporates the water creating a sauna effect in the oven.
  • Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool completely before frosting.
  • I made the basic cream cheese frosting recipe (with 2 cups of icing sugar mixture) and I added 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Definitely a must! It definitely adds to the flavour.
  • Then I split the frosting mixture into 3. With the majority to be pink (half), then green (third) then left the rest for the “white part”.
  • For the bright pink/red colour, I used red food colouring and some cocoa.
  • For the green I mixed yellow and blue colouring. More blue than yellow. Mix a couple drops at a time until you reach your desired colour.
  • Start decorating from the middle outward.
  • I then used raisins as “seeds”.
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Sunday, 20 May 2012

Beef Strog & Gnocchi

Posted by Kim Fong On 4:18 pm

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Its been a while since my last blog post. A combo of too much going on and lacking inspiration. Agreed, that’s no excuse. My apologies. So to make it up, I have a few posts to come in quick succession. Here is the first – beef strog. It's one of the winter staples in our household. With the weather getting cooler quickly in Sydney, this strog was a great idea and enjoyed very much.

As you know, I try not to use pre-made packet sauce mix. I don’t think canned mushroom soup falls into this category, and this can be made without it, but I think it definitely adds to the flavour and is much quicker to make. I didn’t hand make this gnocchi either. I figured it's just a base, and you can serve the stroganoff with whatever you like, pasta, rice, mash potato.

Ingredients
2 tblspn olive oil
500g beef – thin slice strips (I used chuck steak in this instance. You can use blade, rump, gravy – whatever you fancy. The cheaper cuts just means a longer simmer to get it to soften up. You can even use minced beef!)
1 tblspn paprika
1 large onion – finely chopped
250g fresh button mushrooms thickly sliced
2 bay leaves
2 tblspn chopped parsley
1 tspn of crushed peppercorns
1 tblspn Worcestershire sauce
1 canned mushroom soup
2 tblspn sour cream
salt to taste

Method
1. On high, heat a large pot and add half olive oil to coat the base. Reduce heat to medium high and add beef to brown only, no need to cook through (2 to 3 minutes). Set meat aside.

2. Return pot to heat, add remaining oil and chopping onions. Stir to sauté. Stir in paprika, bay leaves, parsley and peppercorns. Return meat. Add mushrooms and stir through. Add Worcestershire sauce.

3. Add canned mushroom. Stir and reduce heat to simmer for 15 to 30 minutes or until meat is tender. Stir occasionally. Start cooking gnocchi.

4. Just before serving, stir in sour cream. Taste and season with salt accordingly.

5. Serve with gnocchi (or whatever you want).

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