Tag Archives: supper

Pasticcio Macaroni

Pasticicio Macaroni

Lately I have discovered the joys of macaroni, a variety of pasta I have always held in deep suspicion, something to do with my school days and the fact that I am not that fond of cheesy white sauce.

The great thing about this dish is that the cheesy sauce sort of disappears into the pasta, keeping it lovely and soft and full of flavour and you don’t have mouthfuls of wet slop to contend with when you eat it which is probably what put me off at school all those years ago.

Again it is another dish that you probably all know but I have never made it at home before so just in case you need a delicious comfort food that can feed loads of people and that can be easily reheated, I suggest you pop over to Jane @ Tea With Hazel where the recipe for Pasticcio Macaroni lives and have a go at making it. I followed it pretty much word for word, very easy to follow recipe, thank you Jane!

We love the cinnamon and allspice with lamb, which makes a change from the everyday rosemary, mint and lemon that we tend to pair with this meat. The top becomes light and bouncy and a little bit crunchy when you reheat it, so you get a good variety of texture. We were eating it all last week with a variety of steamed vegetables or salads and were perfectly happy. You can cut it into squares and just warm it up whenever it suits you.

I reduced the amount of meat from the original recipe to 400g because I didn’t have the right amount in the freezer, and used a mixture of feta, cheddar, ricotta and parmesan (all bits and pieces lurking in the cheese box in the fridge)  in the topping, but like all these sorts of dishes they adapt easily to what you have available.

Greek oregano in between the peony shoots

Greek oregano in between the peony shoots

We have greek oregano growing in the garden, I bought a little plant years ago and now it seeds itself all over the garden and makes itself at home;  it has a definite affinity with pebbles and stones.

I rarely make baked pasta dishes but this one has just shot to the top of my go-to list.

Do you have a favourite baked pasta dish?

Of Celery and Stock and Lentils…

Celery Gratin Prep

Last week I made a celery gratin and a lentil salad side dish to go with it. I also cooked some tiny chorizo sausages that Brian had bought as they needed using up, so it wasn’t in the end a vegetarian meal, but it was meant to be. Good intentions eh?

For the celery gratin I followed the method in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s book on Vegetable cooking. I do have lots of cook books and after writing the last post I realise I am maybe not using them properly, so by writing the post it prompted me to open my books!

You bake the celery covered in foil with aromatics and a little butter.  In this case, I used bay leaf and thyme, both from my garden. Once baked and tender, I followed the recipe to make a sauce from the liquid exuded from the celery and a little cream and sprinkled the top with a mixture of breadcrumbs and grated hard cheese, such as parmesan and then put it back under the grill to bake and go an inviting golden crispy colour.  I found it a little bland so if I was going to make it again I would maybe add some other vegetables into the mix, but it was good to do something I wouldn’t normally do and see how it came out.

Uncooked Le Puy Lentils

I am on much more familiar ground with cooking lentils. One of my favourites, and I suspect that of many other people too, are the Le Puy lentils which hold their shape when they are cooked and have a wonderful earthy nutty flavour.

Home made vegetable stock

I boiled the lentils briefly first, before covering them in home made vegetable stock, the recycled bay leaf, (I have a whole shrub of it in the garden but I was feeling lazy)  parsley stalks and a couple of cloves of garlic. For the vegetable stock I used the leaf and off cuts from the celery dish, some ageing carrots, parsley and an onion.

Cooking Lentils

Once the lentils had cooked, I drained them and dressed them while warm with a little balsamic vinegar and oil and then added some cubes of yellow beetroot, cooked the day before, some feta cheese, some little tomatoes, spring (salad) onions and some basil and salad leaves.

Together with another bowl of salad leaves and some pita bread popped in the toaster direct from the freezer this was a happy meal which we shared with our lovely neighbour last week.

These sorts of dishes are really adaptable to using up small quantities of salad veggies and bits of cheese that you need to use up. They are colourful, a healthy mix of food types, and they store well in the fridge once mixed, good for lunch boxes too!

Le Puy Lentil Salad

Falafel with Fava Beans and Chickpeas

Fava bean falafel

This is my small contribution to the falafel making discussions.  I have till now, only ever either made a packet mix one or bought someone else’s and re-heated them.  I have read many posts and people saying sadly that their falafel fell apart and what was the secret, so I have been reading and asking a little and Lynne has been making them too and I think between us we are establishing some clues…. Continue reading

J is for…

A Jamboree of Flavours

Ok well actually this is dinner.  It’s late, I haven’t done a J, all the Js that come to mind are ones I’m no good at, like Jolly Hockey Sticks, Jumping in the Air,  Jiving and playing Jazz, so I was getting a little low thinking of all the Js that I can’t do and that’s not really the point is it? But then I was saved by the most delicious smells wafting up the stairs and my beloved has cooked for us (again). Continue reading

Things to eat with Bread

Dan Lepard Foccaccia with Za'atar

As you may have noticed we eat bread in this house. We don’t eat bread with every meal, usually a piece of toast some mornings, mostly for our midday meal and rarely in the evening. The day I took these photos was a very hot day and we hadn’t eaten much all day but we didn’t feel like cooking. However I had taken pity on my starter wingeing away on the worktop, saying,

How many times are you going to feed me and not use me? Hm? How many?

So I made one of the quicker breads that use sourdough, my favourite Dan Lepard olive oil bread. I pretended that by sprinkling za’atar on the top I would mysteriously turn it into a Turkish flatbread. – funnily enough it did no such thing, what alchemy did I think would happen?  – But the olive oil bread was perfectly delicious with a different topping on it from the usual olives and herbs. Continue reading

Soup and Pancakes

Mainly out of curiosity and a dash of nostalgia I recently bought a copy of Scandilicious  (Saltyard Books May 2011), by Signe Johansen. I was just watching her promotional video on Amazon today and reflected on how different her upbringing was from mine!

Min Danske Mor arrived in England in the fifties from Sweden, where she had lived from the age of thirteen, armed with two Swedish cookbooks and only the vaguest notion of how to feed a family.  She struggled with the butchers, who cut the meat up differently, the imperial weights and measures, unfamiliar dishes with names like Yorkshire Pudding and relied on a handful of suppers which she could make. We never had puddings, but ate large quantities of salad as our second course, always with a mustardy  French vinaigrette.  Continue reading