Sunday, 26 May 2013

Spinach and 7 Cheese Cannelloni

Posted by Kim Fong On 3:49 pm





The number of different cheeses in our fridge at one time, you'll need more than a hand to keep count. For the most part, it gets eaten pretty quickly. At times you get the well aged mouldy goodness sitting at the back of the fridge waiting for a special dish, occasion or random craving. However, there are rare times cheese starts going off in our fridge. Thankfully, this wasn't one of those times and I caught this batch just in time. The ricotta and the cottage cheese had both been opened and half used, and I wanted to use it up before I had to throw it out.

I love cannelloni. Stuffed then baked pasta - what's not to love. Italian enchiladas! Or some would argue the other way around, enchiladas are Mexican cannelloni. Whatever - they're both awesome! What turned me off about making cannelloni was stuffing the cannelloni tubes, which involved piping, which is more mess than I wanted. Then I read somewhere (cannot recall where, so long as you know this idea is not unique to me) to use fresh lasagne sheets instead! Brilliant! It makes life with cannelloni so easy and you get to practise your sushi rolling technique without actually making sushi!

So below my recipe to: use up the cheeses (and mushrooms) in my fridge, eat cannelloni, warm the house with the oven on and warm our tummies.


Ingredients
Cannelloni Filling
375g frozen spinach, defrosted
200g fresh mushrooms, 0.5cm diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup, freshly chopped parsley leaves, roughly chopped (save the stalks for the sauce)
1 Tblspn dried basil
1 Tblspn dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
Total of 250g soft cheese I used a mix of ricotta, cottage, goat’s cheese

Sauce
1 to 2 Tblspn olive oil to coat base of pan
1½ cans of crushed tomatoes (600g)
Stalks from the fresh parsley, finely chopped
½ onion, 1cm diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 Tblspn dried basil
1 Tblspn dried oregano
1 tpsn honey (or sugar)
100g fresh mushrooms, 0.5cm diced

Assembling dish
8 fresh lasagne sheets
175g shredded pizza cheese mix (Mozzarella, Cheddar & Parmesan combo)
Shredded/grated Grana Padano (or aged Parmesan hard cheese) to serve


Method
Cannelloni Filling
1. In a large bowl combine all the above listed ingredients for the cannelloni filling. Set aside.

Sauce
2. Place a medium saucepan over medium to high heat. Allow pan to heat and coat the base with oil. Add onions and cook until onions turn translucent. Stir in bay leaves, oregano, basil, parsley stalks and mushrooms. Add tomatoes and garlic. Stir to combine. Stir in honey. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to allow flavours of herbs to infuse into the tomatoes. Set aside to cool. In the meantime, assemble your cannelloni.

Assemble cannelloni
3. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a large baking tray with some olive oil.

4. Lay a lasagne sheet on a large plate or chopping board. Place about 2 to 4 tablespoonfuls of the cannelloni filling mixture across the edge of the lasagne sheet and roll until it forms a tube. Slice off the excess lasagne sheet. Place tube in greased baking tray. Repeat for the remaining mixture and sheets.




5. Pour the sauce evenly over the cannelloni. Top with shredded pizza cheese. Cover with foil and place in oven for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for a further 15 minutes or until cheese melts and starts browning slightly. Remove from oven and allow to stand for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve with some freshly grated Grana Padano (or aged Parmesan hard cheese).







It looks a bit like slop but it's damn good slop! 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Vegan Coconut Chocolate Oats Cookies

Posted by Kim Fong On 3:22 pm



With my nephews still experiencing allergies to dairy and eggs, I'm always on the hunt for vegan desserts. My regular email newsletter from the Serious Eats inspired this latest post. Their Chocoholic: Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies was the basis of this creation. These cookies are a little chewy and a little crispy. Best of both worlds. I used 50/50 dark vegan chocolate and white chocolate. I used coconut oil to give that extra coconutty flavour but you can use vegetable oil instead. 

Thanks to my friend, for use of her brand spanking new kitchen. I think we christened that kitchen good! 




Ingredients
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil (you can also use vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon treacle (you can also use golden syrup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
100g dairy and egg free chocolate chips or chocolate chopped up (I prefer to use Sweet William Chocolate)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line cookie tray with baking paper.

2. In large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, oil, honey, treacle, salt, water, and vanilla until combined. Stir in desiccated coconut, flour, oats, baking soda, and chocolate until combined.

3. Scoop onto baking sheet, spacing evenly apart and gently press to about 1.5cm thick. Bake until lightly golden and just set, about 10 to 12 minutes. It will look a little soft when they first come out of the oven. Cool on pan for about 10 minutes and it will harden up. Then transfer to cooling rack to finish cooling. Store in airtight container.







Monday, 6 May 2013

Creamy Polenta & Meatballs

Posted by Kim Fong On 11:36 am



How good is polenta! So simple, easy and tasty! We have always kept a box of the stuff in the pantry. I don't know why, but we rarely used it. 

Occasionally for corn bread or in place of crumbs for schnitzel. Then I get my regular weekly email from taste.com.au suggesting 5 ways polenta. Mmm okay (in my hungry delusional state where everything would just amazing).

I adapted this recipe for the meatballs, and used this recipe as a guide to make the creamy polenta. Below my version of this tasty meal, that's sure to warm you on a cold autumn/winter's day.

Ingredients
Meatballs
400g mince (I used 100g pork mince, and 300g beef mince)
1 clove garlic, minced
100g bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
~1/4 cup fresh, flat leaf parsley (+ more to garnish), finely chopped 
a few sprigs of sage, finely chopped
2 Tblspn olive oil
1/4 large onion, finely chopped
1 tspn paprika 
1 tspn cayenne pepper
1 tspn whole grain mustard

Meatball sauce
~2 Tblspn olive oil to coat pan
3/4 large onion, roughly chopped
2 large sticks of celery, large cubed
~200g fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 cup chicken stock
1 can whole tomatoes
2 Tblspn dried basil
~1/4 cup, fresh, flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 tspn honey (or sugar)
~1/2 to 1 tspn salt
pepper to taste

Creamy Polenta
1 cup instant polenta
3 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
2 Tblspn cream
40g butter
1/3 to 1/2 cup parmesan, freshly grated 

Method
Marinate your meatballs
1. Combine all ingredients listed under meatballs (above) in a medium to large bowl. For a more thorough mixture, use your hands to mix. Set aside. At this time you can prep the ingredients of the meatball sauce (chopped your onions, celery and mushrooms, prepare your stock).

2. Using damp hands, roll mixture into balls (around 1 to 2 tablespoons size).

Meatball sauce
3. Over high heat, coat a large, heavy base fry pan with oil. Add about a third of the amount of onions, stir until translucent. Add meat balls. Be sure not to crowd the pan. Fry them in lots if you have to. Brown the meat balls off and remove from pan, set aside.

4. In the same pan, add a little bit more oil if necessary, and fry the rest of the onions. Stir in celery. Stir in mushrooms. Return the meatballs to the pan. Add stock. Bring to a simmer. Add canned tomatoes. Before you put them in the pan, squash them (either with a fork or your hands). Add herbs, honey (or sugar), salt and pepper to taste. If not already, bring to a simmer and reduce heat. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Polenta
5. In a medium pot, bring stock to a boil over high heat, with a wire balloon whisk, gradually start stirring in the polenta in a small but steady stream. Whisk constantly until all the polenta is incorporated into the stock (whisking ensures the polenta is dispersed through the liquid as quickly as possible). Don't add the polenta too quickly or it will turn lumpy.

6. Reduce heat to low (cook the polenta over low heat otherwise it will cook too quickly and you will need to add extra water). Simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk, for 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens and the polenta is soft. (To test whether the polenta is soft, spoon a little of the polenta mixture onto a small plate and set aside to cool slightly. Rub a little of the polenta mixture between 2 fingers to see if the grains have softened. If the grains are still firm, continue to cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until the polenta is soft.)

7. Remove from heat. Add the cream, parmesan and butter, and stir until well combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with meatballs. Top with fresh parsley and freshly grated parmesan cheese.









Saturday, 4 May 2013

Passionfruit Melting Moments

Posted by Kim Fong On 3:45 pm




Last weekend's grocery shopping resulted in a bargain 10 passionfruits for $2! Woo! Hmm... what shall I do with these...? Passionfruit melting moments? Okay!

Credit goes to taste.com.au and cadbury (only for the filling - don't touch the biscuit recipe - twas a fail!)

That's the end of my story - enjoy!

Ingredients
Biscuit
250g butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon lemon essence
1/2 cup icing sugar mixture, sifted
2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup cornflour

Filling
125g white chocolate, roughly chopped 
125g block cream cheese, roughly chopped
Pulp of 3 passionfruit

Method
Biscuit

1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Line 2 to 3 baking trays with non-stick baking paper. 

2. Using an electric mixer, cream butter, essences and icing sugar mixture until light and fluffy. Sift in flours. Beat on low speed until a soft dough forms.

3. Roll heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture into small balls. Place on trays. Using a fork dipped in flour, lightly flatten each biscuit until 1cm thick. Make sure there is an even number of biscuits. 

4. Bake for 15 minutes or until firm. Cool on trays for 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Filling
5. Meanwhile, place cream cheese in a small pot and over medium to low heat until melted and smooth. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and add white chocolate. Keep stiring until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in passionfruit pulp. Set aside to cool.

Construction
6. Spread flat side of 1 biscuit with a thick layer of filling. Top with another biscuit. Repeat with remaining biscuits and filling. Dust with icing sugar. 

Serve.










 
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