Kinda-Lasagna

20
May

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On less organized week nights, I cook on the fly. I have no idea what we’re eating until I peer at the potential components and items start beaming at me or doing little dances on their shelves (the cinnamon is particularly good at this trick).  This midweek dinner arrived after an unplanned grocery shop and from a pantry that we’re clearing out before a change of home.  In other words, stepping out of the car tonight after our working days, we were arriving at Guess-ville  for supper.

I composed this warm and comforting lasagna inspired meal acting on the craving for a little Italian tonight.  The basil covered baked Roma tomatoes were studded with little balls of goats cheese, topped with a butternut cream and roofed with bell pepper tiles.  On a day when the local weather service has informed us that five or six layers of clothes were recommended to go outdoors, it was a plate of pure pleasure.

Kinda-Lasagna

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

Half a small butternut (the bulbous part) peeled and halved.

6 Roma tomatoes

2 red bell peppers

3oz (75g) soft goats cheese

6 halves sun dried tomatoes

1 sprig fresh rosemary

3 sprigs fresh thyme

pinch cinnamon

12 fresh basil leaves

Method:

Preheat your oven to 400F/205C.

Halve the Roma tomatoes and place them, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Place in the oven for one hour.

Rub coconut oil into the butternut and place, cut side down on a baking sheet. This will soften beautifully in about 45 minutes.

Place your sun dried tomatoes in hot water to reconstitute.

Place the bell peppers in the oven, whole and with the stem still in place. After ten minutes, turn them with some tongs. After another 15 minutes, pull them out and place in a glass bowl. Cover the bowl immediately with cling film and leave to steam for 10 further minutes. Peel, then slice each bell pepper into three segments, removing the seeds as you go.

Mince the rosemary and thyme with the reconstituted sun dried tomatoes. Place in a medium sized glass bowl. Pull the butternut from the oven and place on chopping board. Coarsely chop, then add to the herbs in the the bowl. Using an immersion blender, blend until integrated, smooth and creamy. Stir in the cinnamon.

Plate the tomatoes cut sides up on the plate (I made this two halves wide, three halves long on each plate).  Add some goats cheese to their slightly dehydrated middles and place a basil leave atop each half.  Place a scoop of the butternut cream across each pair of tomatoes (three scoops per plate) and cover each scoop with a slice of the red bell pepper.  Top with more flecks of the goats cheese and serve.

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A Bowl of Sunshine for a Sunday Brunch.

15
May

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I’m a little bit behind posting after a long, fun weekend away in Auckland.  I didn’t pack any Larabars or other easy traveling food, we just took it as it came (we were a little unprepared in truth!). This led us to enjoy our greens straight from a bag as a snack and consume creamy avocados straight from the skin with a spoon. Some people live like this everyday I know, but for me this was like clearing another square of a condensated window pane.  I kept thinking “Oh! This works!” which coincidentally was the same phrase that came to mind a few days prior to leaving when we put this bright soup together…

Inspired by a Kristen Suzanne recipe, I pared it down to what we had in our cupboard that morning and took out the nut milk to make it purely fruit based.  It was a gentle start to our day. Kristen’s addition of the orange zest provided a stunningly delicious accent to this soup.

Sunshine Soup

Inspired by Kristen Suzanne‘s Creamy Caribbean Soup

Serves 2.

1 pineapple

2 mangoes

1 tsp coconut extract

1 tsp rum extract

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

zest of 1 orange

Method: Blend and split between two bowls for serving.

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Butternut Harvest Soup with Cinnamon & Chipotle.

05
May

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When casually browsing the web last week, this recipe caught my attention.  The idea of an apple salsa on a dish seasoned with cinnamon and chipotle had me elevating it from something to try in a few weeks to one I was going to play with the very next weekend.  I stripped the dish down to a meal that would serve four and also made it vegan*.  The soup was comforting yet light and the salsa was tangy and refreshing.  I like to serve some raw food with my meals, but if you’d prefer something smoother, you could slowly cook the apple and cranberries in a little water in a saucepan until they soften and then stir in 4 – 5 drops liquid stevia to sweeten it up.  Andy has an immense sweet tooth but he preferred and enjoyed the raw salsa. I think it added an enticing textural contrast and the abundance of flavors were apparent in every mouthful.

* We aren’t vegan, but we do enjoy eating meals which are 100% plant based.

Butternut Harvest Soup

Inspired by this recipe from Every Day With Rachael Ray.  Serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, coarsely chopped into 2″ (4cm) square chunks

1  yellow onion, chopped

1 tsp olive oil

1 chipotle chilli from a can and a tsp of the adobe sauce, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1.5 tsp ground cumin

2 tsps cinnamon

salt & pepper to taste

1 apple, diced small

1/2 red onion, diced finely

4 sprigs cilantro (fresh coriander) chopped

zest and juice of 1 lime

handful fresh cranberries (about 15), each berry quartered

4 drops liquid stevia

Method

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the yellow onion until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the butternut and then add enough water to almost cover. Put the lid on, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low.  Cook until the squash has softened, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the chipotle chilli, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper.

Whilst the butternut is cooking, combine the apple, cranberries, red onion, cilantro, lime and stevia in a bowl and stir.

When the butternut is cooked, leave to cool for a couple of minutes and then using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Serve in wide bowls and divide the salsa between the 4 bowls.

Fish & Chips

04
May

fishnchipsee

Having grown up in England, I was always fairly partial to  good dose of vinegar on my fish and chips to cut through the grease and add a sharp shock of flavor.  I would often add more from our cupboard at home to make it zippier with every passing bite.  Upon arrival in New Zealand I learned that most places salt their battered fish all over with basic table salt and vinegar was not standard.  They do however serve kumara chips.  The kumara is a sweet potato and as such far more flavorful than the standard white version.  It has therefore made it’s way into my standard home made fish and chip dinner.  I still like my chips with a touch of acid but lime juice is now  my preferred source.  Mostly I serve the lime juice stirred in to some salsa but on those days when I feel like baked kumara chips alone, I just zest and juice a lime over the top of them and then sprinkle on some sea salt. It’s bliss whichever way you go.

Fish & Chips Emily Style

Serves 2

1 kumara (sweet potato) cut into 1/4″ (0.5 cm) wide fries

1 tbsp + 1 tsp butter

2 pinches of sea salt

1 fillet white fish (such as snapper or terakihi)

chipotle Tabasco for drizzling (to taste)

20 cherry tomatoes

half a red onion

sprig Vietnamese coriander (about 5 leaves)

small bunch of cilantro (fresh coriander)

zest of 1 lime

juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)

1/4 tsp ground cumin

Method:

Turn your oven on to 210 C / 410 F.

Put your cut fries in a bowl and massage 1 tablespoon of butter over them (this may sound rather decadent, but Nutritionist Natalia Rose informs me that butter “retain[s] its molecular structure at high heat…[and] it is also less dense than oil” (which would make it easier to digest).   Spread the chips on a baking sheet, being careful to ensure none are touching. Sprinkle with half the salt, then place them on the center shelf in your oven.  They will need to be in for 30 minutes, turning them midway and sprinkling them with the other half of your salt.

Meanwhile, make your salsa. Slice your cherry tomatoes in half, and then chop each half into 3 (each tomato will be cut in to 6 slices). Remove as many seeds as you can. Finely dice the onion and mix it with the tomatoes in a medium bowl. Zest the lime over the top, and then cut it in half and squeeze all it’s juice in too.  Finely chop the fresh herbs and add them, with the ground cumin, into the salsa. Stir well.

Rinse then pat your fish off and drizzle with the Tabasco.  Add the remaining teaspoon of butter to your pan and saute the fish over medium heat until it becomes opaque.  It takes around 3 minutes per side.

To serve, halve the fries between the two plates. Halve the fish (I get the smaller side piece and Andy gets the bigger chunkier part) and place atop the fries on each plate. Spoon the salsa over. I like to pour the last of the juices from the salsa over mine too, so I can tip the plate sideways and dip the last of my fries in it.

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