Zucchini and Feta Slice

I’ve been a bit slack with meal prepping lately. I’m working down at Barangaroo, Sydney at the moment and have just been overwhelmed with all the amazing food options there! (definitely a mark up from other areas of the CBD though). Anyway, have decided to get myself back on track and have dedicated this weekend to meal prepping my heart out.

I did some grocery shopping the other night and managed to grab a bunch of veggies that were super cheap! This included zucchini.

Zucchini is quite versatile and I love the taste of it. I wanted something that I could easily portion and freeze and so zucchini slice was the idea of the moment. My mum used to make this all the time in the past so I have adapted her recipe to suit what we had available in the fridge.

Zucchini and Feta Slice

What you’re going to need

6 eggs

1 cup self raising flour, sifted

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium zucchinis, grated

50 g feta

2 slices ham

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. In a large bowl, add the eggs and sifted flour and whisk until well combined. Add all other ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  3. In a greased square baking dish, pour the mixture and gently shake the dish to make the top even.
  4. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean from the centre.

And that’s it! Easy peasy.

Zucchini Slice

 

 

 

Prawn Linguine

The Sunday night dinner cooking slot at my house is all mine. I have free rein to make whatever I want. I am using it as an opportunity to practice cooking meat and seafood since I don’t normally cook meat/seafood based dishes for a single portion (tinned tuna does not count).

Having an abundance of pasta at home at the moment (Thank you San Remo) , I thought it would be good to whip up one of my favourite dishes, Prawn Linguine! A key component of this dish and one of my new cooking skills that I have taught myself is the prawn oil. This became the sauce of the dish and it is incredible how much flavour you can infuse into plain olive oil.

Since a lot of my friends are in Europe at the moment and I am having mega nostalgia from my trips in the past, I went with a Mediterranean theme for the complementary ingredients.

So let’s hop to it. Here is the recipe for you to give it a go!

Prawn Linguine (serves 4)

What you’re going to need

Pasta

250g Linguine (the one I used can be found here )

1/2 kilo green prawns, peeled and deveined (save the shells)

handful cherry tomatoes

handful baby spinach

1 tablespoon baby capers

Prawn Oil

Prawn shells and tails saved from the 1/2 kilo prawns

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 brown onion, roughly chopped (big chunks)

1 clove garlic, crushed with knife blade and not peeled

pinch salt

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celcius. In a small baking tray, add the cherry tomatoes with a light drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt. Pop in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  2. Fill a large saucepan with water and add a generous pinch of salt. Bring up to the boil.
  3. Whilst the tomatoes are baking and pasta water is heating, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan on a medium heat. Add the onion, salt and prawn heads and shells. Cook until aromatic (approximately 3 minutes). Once shells have turned orange, add the remaining olive oil and reduce to a low heat. Cook on low for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Cook pasta in boiling water until just al dente. Whilst waiting for the pasta to cook, strain the prawn oil in a jug and discard the solid bits. Set aside.
  5. With 2 minutes left for your pasta to cook (“just al dente”), heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a fry pan. Once hot, cook the prawns for 1 minute per side. Reduce to a very low heat and add the strained pasta, tomatoes, spinach and prawn oil to the pan. Mix well and ensure the prawn oil coats all the ingredients. Add the capers at the last moment before serving. Serve immediately.

Prawn Linguine

 

 

Mum’s Lasagne

Sunday evening, weekend is winding down and it is a bit cold today as well. This setting just calls for mood food i.e. Mum’s lasagne. I have recently started cooking family dinner on Sunday nights and this week I figured i’d make my first lasagne (with continual advice from Mum of course). Similar to me, my mother also doesn’t really measure anything when she is cooking so we had a series of “blobs” and “handfuls” which I have deciphered into actual measurements so that you can try out the recipe for yoursef!

There are four fundamental lasagne layers with two requiring some preparation before assembly. The layers are the lasagne sheets (store bought in a box and will cook in the oven), the meat mixture, homemade bechamel and then of course cheese! What seems like a labourious endeavour to get over the line for dinner, it is so simple! So for those who are cooking for a few or wanting to meal prep (recipe is freezer friendly), have a go at this!

Mum’s Lasagne

What you’re going to need

Packet lasagne sheets (Barilla have a 20 pack that are pre cooked and dried)

1 cup grated tasty cheese

Meat mixture

500 g pork mince (or any mince of your choice)

400 g Tomato Passata

1/2 medium sized onion, diced finely

1 small carrot, diced finely

1 clove garlic, grated with Microplane/crushed

4 small cup mushrooms, sliced thinly

10 basil leaves

salt and pepper to season

1 tablespoon olive oil for frying

Bechamel

1/4 cup butter/margarine

2 tablespoons plain flour

150 ml milk

1/4 cup grated tasty cheese

Method

  1. In a large frying pan, heat up the olive oil on a medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot and garlic and cook until aromatic. Turn up the heat and add the mince. Chop the mince with your spatula until broken up into small pieces and browned.
  2. Once meat has been browned, turn the heat down to a low-medium heat and add the Passata and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and stir until well combined. Leave to simmer on a low heat.
  3. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  4. In a small non stick saucepan, melt the butter on a medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until flour has dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk until well combined. Add back to the heat and whisk until mixture has thickened. Set aside off the heat until ready to assemble the lasagne!
  5. In a large baking dish (I used a square one), line the base with some of the lasagne sheets. Add half of the meat mixture on top and spread evenly. Add a thin layer of bechamel on top of the meat. Place lasagne sheets on top of the bechamel and repeat (you will end up with three lasagne sheet layers, two meat layers, two bechamel).
  6. Once all layers are assembled, cover the top layer of lasagne sheets with the grated tasty cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes (covered with foil) and then the last 20 minutes uncovered to get colour on your cheesy top layer.
  8. Serve hot!

Barilla Cooking Class

On Saturday, I was lucky enough to be invited to a Northern Italian Winter pasta cooking class at Casa Barilla in Annandale, NSW. It was my first ever Italian cooking class and I was super excited. I entered the room and was warmly welcomed by all the Barilla staff and was served an aperitif. Then, it was time to meet the chef. Executive Chef Andrea Tranchero hosts all of the cooking classes at Casa Barilla and has done demonstrations at multiple food festivals and venues including the recent Good Food and Wine Festival in Sydney.

The class size was intimate giving a warm communal feel rather than a large industrial style class. We watched the chef create the two dishes we were to prepare ourselves later today and we were so amazed. The room smelled amazing and he made dishes that might seem complicated to the eye but are quite easy for anyone to prepare at home.

Andrea Tranchero plating up both courses.

So then it was our turn. First course was Cuttlefish Casserole in Red Wine and Garlic Sauce with Soft Polenta. I haven’t really cooked with a lot of seafood (tinned tuna does NOT count) but I love to eat it . So first up was preparing the cuttlefish. The cuttlefish was purchased from the fish markets earlier in the morning and was already cleaned (perfect). We pan fried it with some fresh garlic and the Barilla red wine and garlic sauce. Next step, the polenta. I really enjoy polenta but struggle to get it right. Thankfully, there is a pre prepared polenta that only takes 5 minutes to cook on the stove top! To finish it off, a mix through of some marscapone.

Progress shots from Course 1 and plate up

Second course was Three Cheese Tortellini with Pumpkin, Crispy Guanciale and Sage. I had never really thought to eat puree with pasta but it just works SO well. Good way to get in extra veggies as well. So first we started with the pumpkin and leek puree. Really simple ingredients that complement each other perfectly. With the addition of freshly made chicken stock courtesy of Andrea, the puree was smooth and flavoursome. Next up was the sage butter sauce. We melted some butter in the pan until it was golden brown before adding freshly chopped sage. Once the tortellini was cooked, we added them into the butter with a generous serving of parmesan cheese. Once well combined, it was time for plating. Puree. Tortellini. Crispy Guanciale (similar to prosciutto and was fried in olive oil to get it extra crispy). Finished off with a drizzle of olive oil!

Progress shots from Course 2 and plate up

Each course was paired with beautiful Italian wine. After devouring our two courses that we freshly prepared, we had some Pure Gelato mini ice cream cones for dessert. Yum!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this cooking experience. Cooking classes give you a chance to learn a new skill, refine old ones and better yet, try out some flavour combinations you may not have even thought of! Would highly recommend you give one a go!


If you are interested in participating in one of Barilla Australia’s cooking classes, follow the link provided here – Barilla Pasta Cooking Class 

Click the links below for more info on Barilla Australia and Andrea Tranchero

@barillaaus

@andreatrancherochef

 

 

Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse

So aquafaba (chickpea water) desserts have been all over my Instagram and Facebook feed for a little while now. Since I always have a tin of chickpeas in my pantry, I figured I’d give this a go. I was definitely a bit of a sceptic at first that’s for sure. However as I began to whip the aquafaba like I would eggs, it was coming together exactly as it should. Weird huh? I don’t have an intolerance to eggs so this was a curiosity challenge more than anything. With melted chocolate folded through, these turned out to be quite a tasty afternoon dessert.

This recipe definitely gives you the light and airy feel of a mousse with a subtle chocolate flavour. If you are looking to be more nifty with your food leftovers and are keen for an experiment, I reckon you should try this out. Or, if you happen to have an egg allergy or are a vegan well then this is perfect!

Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse

What you’re going to need

1 tin chickpeas, draining the liquid into a medium sized bowl (save chickpeas for Hummus )

1 block 70% dark chocolate (100g if using Lindt)

2-3 tablespoons castor sugar (adjust to taste)

Method

  1. Using a hand mixer, beat the aquafaba and sugar until stiff peaks form (ideally you can lift the mixer out of the bowl and you will have mixture all over the blades). This will take at least 10-15 minutes.
  2. Melt chocolate using your preferred method. (I like the bowl over water approach on the stove top. It’s quick and works every time).
  3. Once completely melted, pour into the aerated aquafaba and fold through with a spatula. Keep folding until all mixture is even.
  4. Spoon mixture into small ramekins.
  5. Leave to set in the fridge for 4 hours. Serve fresh out of the fridge with grated chocolate on top.

 

Chocolate Mousse

Sweet Potato Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

For the most part, I am trying to eat healthy. I am quite a bit fussy about salads though. They can just be so ordinary and unfulfilling. I always need something to give them a bit more substance. For example, quinoa, pearl couscous or a starchy vegetable like in this case, sweet potato. I cook with sweet potato quite a lot because it’s flavoursome, healthy and most importantly filling.

I was out shopping earlier for groceries and noticed that my local store had pomegranates! I’ve eaten them numerous times but have never actually bought one. Decided to take the plunge and buy one. With a bit of manual labour, I managed to get out all the seeds ready for use. I normally don’t like fruit in my savoury salads but pomegranates are the exception. So in went a handful of fresh pomegranate seeds. Now for a dressing. I wanted something tangy but not with too much vinegar so went with a honey mustard style dressing. Easy to make with ingredients that most people will have in their pantries staples.

Sweet Potato Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

What you’re going to need

Salad

½ gold sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small even pieces

Generous handful of mixed green salad leaves

1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds

20 g feta cheese

Dressing (note: these are rough measures so taste you as go until you’re happy)

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

Pinch sea salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. On a baking tray, add the sweet potato with a drizzle of oil and pinch of salt. Bake until soft. (15-20 minutes roughly)
  3. Whilst the potato is baking, place all salad ingredients on your serving plate.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients until well combined (you’ll find that the dressing will split if you leave it sitting on the bench so whisk just before serving as well)
  5. Once potatoes are cooked, allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving with the rest of the salad and dressing.

 

 Sweet Potato Salad

 

Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake

I must admit, I only really got into tinned tuna last year. Before that, I’d eat it sporadically and just mix it with corn kernels and seasoning. Now that I am working full time and often procrastinate preparing my lunch until the morning of…(habit I am trying to break that’s for sure), I often find myself looking for things I can just pick up and easily pair with something else. My favourite last minute lunch that is healthy and filling is just simply a tin of tuna, single serve microwave rice, half an avocado plus seasoning. Works well when it needs to but you can only eat so much tuna and rice right?

Alas, today’s meal was a combination of carb cravings, utilising leftovers and of course branching out of my go to tuna routine. The gift I had today was time. I wasn’t in a rush to bolt out the door and make my train and so could actually concentrate on making something flavoursome. This is simple home cooking and it just works so well every time.

Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake (serves 2)

What you’re going to need

1 cup spiral pasta

100 ml cream

1 teaspoon butter

1 70g tin tuna

handful baby spinach, roughly chopped

3 slices sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

tasty cheese, grated (quantity up to you)

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius
  2. Cook pasta as per packet instructions until al dente.
  3. In a saucepan on a medium heat, add the cream, butter and seasoning until well combined. Optional: mix in a bit of the grated cheese here for extra flavour.
  4. Once the sauce is ready, add the cooked pasta, tuna, spinach and tomatoes. Stir until the pasta is well coated and the additions are mixed in evenly.
  5. In a small baking dish, add the pasta mixture and spread evenly. Add the rest of the grated cheese.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese on the top goes crispy. Set to cool for 5 minutes and then eat.*

Tuna Pasta Bake.JPG

* This recipe is freezer friendly. Wait until completely cool and freeze in a snap lock bag.