Baked stuffed zucchini

Another recipe with minimal verbiage. I happened to have all these ingredients in the fridge. A few google searches after, I found this baked stuffed zucchini  on All Recipes. A few tweaks after, dinner was served.

Baked stuffed zucchini 

Ingredients

  • 4 large zucchini
  • 2 firm tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp dried mint (fresh mint would have been better, but I had none left)
  • 450g g minced meet (pork and beef)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250g tomato sauce (I used tomatada, but  passata or a lightly diluted tomato sauce could also work well)
  • 1 spring chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 tbsp Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
Method
Preheat the oven to 190°C (gas 5). Cut each zucchini  in half lengthways and scoop out the pulpy centre with a teaspoon, leaving an outside shell, 1cm thick. Reserve the pulp, and chop lightly.

Place the zucchini in a shallow baking dish or roasting tin, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes or until tender – they should pierce easily with a fork.

Mix the eggs with the chopped plum tomatoes, mint,  and pepper to season. Set aside.

Fry the minced meat over a medium heat until browned. Add the onion and garlic, cook for a further 5 minutes until the onion has softened. Stir in the tomato sauce,  reserved zucchini pulp and rosemary. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10–15 minutes. Stir in the egg mixture and mix together.

5. Spoon the stuffing mixture into the zucchini boats and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake for 15–20 minutes until golden and crispy on top. Serve immediately.


Beef stew with sweet carrots, peas and mushrooms

No use to fight Autumn anymore – it is arrived and is here to stay until Winter shows up. It is now time to start cooking food that makes you forget the cold outside and puts a note of color in your day.

Beef stew with sweet carrots, peas and mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 450g of beef, cut in cubes
  • 50g of flour (or maizena)
  • 250g of button mushrooms
  • 3 onions, cut in half moons
  • 5 carrots, cut in 2cm slices
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 100ml of red wine
  • 1 spring of rosemary
  • 200ml of stock
  • 250g of peas (I used frozen peas)
  • olive oil as required
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until it shimmer. Toss the mushrooms. Let them fry until soft and fragrant. Reserve.

Place the beef cubes and flour in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Shake off the excess of flour. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat until it shimmer. Add half the floured meat and fry until sealed and meat has begun to brown. Be careful not too put too many pieces in the frying pan. Instead of frying, the meat will boil to death, with rather unpleasant results. Reserve the meat.

To the same frying pan, add the onion and the carrots.  Pan fry until the onions are caramelised and the carrots are soft, stirring occasionally  (It will take about 15minutes). Add the grounded garlic and let it combine with the vegetables, stirring for about 1 minute. Take all out of the frying pan and reserve. Pour in the pan approximately 100 mL of red wine stir well to combine and deglaze the frying pan. When the sauce starts to thicken, toss in the meat and reserved vegetables. Mix well to combine, and then add the vegetable stock. Add the bay leave and the rosemary spring.

When it comes to boil, toss the peas in and let simmer for about 15min, until the stock reduces to half and the sauce is a bit thick. Take out from the stove and let it rest for a bit.


Inspired by a moussaka

It all started with a Masterchef Australia Masterclass. One of the chef hosts, George Calombaris, of Greek descent, invited his mother, Mary, to show how to do a proper moussaka. Mrs Calombaris taught George to cook the way that her mother had taught her. Her mother’s mother thought her daughter to cook the way her mother had taught her. And her mother’s mother’s mother…    The thing is that Mrs Calombaris is adamant on keeping the dishes faithful to the tradition. Any modification on the original recipe is taken as major offense – and Mrs Calombaris won’t hesitate to scold George for bastardising traditional Greek dishes. Actually, it sounds a lot more like yelling at him, while he just rolls his eyes.

When I started cooking the moussaka, I already had a minor modification in mind: the cheese. Mrs Calombaris’s recipe calls for kefalograviera, which is impossible to source here. It ended up being replaced by less the less greek grana padano – another tasty hard cheese. Then the full cream milk was replaced by less fatty milk. And, the lamb, pork and veal mince give place to beef and pork. Followed by replacing the tomato passata by Portuguese tomatada. Now that we were at it, I pulled a few zucchini I had languishing in the bottom of the fridge. In less time it takes to write it, I had totally bastardized a Greek classic… no way I would call this a moussaka. I was even feeling Mrs Calombaris reprimands on the back of my mind. So, here it is: a seriously good dish, just perfect for a cold Winter nights, inspired by a moussaka. It just warms you until your heart.

Inspired by a moussaka 

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 aubergines, peeled vertically like a zebra and sliced 5mm thick
  • 3 zucchini sliced 5mm thick
  • 500g pork and beef mince
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 250g crushed tomatoes
  • 400g tomato sauce (it can be replaced by 400g tomato passata)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 4 large potatoes, sliced 5mm thick

For the bechamel

  • 100g butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 600ml (full cream milk), warmed
  • 100g grana padano, grated
  • 1 egg
  • Extra grana padano cheese, grated

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180⁰C.

2. Lay the aubergines over a shallow tray or dish and sprinkle liberally with salt. Cover with muslin or a clean tea towel and set aside for 30 minutes.

3. Heat oil in a large frying pan or saucepan, add the minced meat and cook until browned and meat breaks up. Add onion and sauté until softened. Add garlic, oregano, thyme, rosemary and cinnamon quills and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato passata, tomato paste and water, bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for ½ hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Pour oil into a frying pan approximately 1cm deep, place over a high heat and shallow fry potatoes for 3-4 minutes on each side or until tender. Drain on paper towel.

6. Pat dry the aubergine and pan fry on each side until golden yet still firm. Drain on paper towel.

7. Pat dry the zucchini and pan fry on each side until is soft. Drain on paper towel.

8. For béchamel, melt butter in a heavy based saucepan. Add flour, stir over a low heat for 2 minutes.

9. Slowly add warm milk, stirring continuously until thick. Add extra milk if sauce is too thick.

10. Whisk in the cheese and the egg, season to taste.

11. To assemble, oil a casserole dish and layer as follows. Meat sauce, potato, sauce, potato, sauce, zucchini, sauce, potato, aubergine and remaining sauce. Cover with béchamel and grate extra cheese over.

12. Bake for 45 minutes until browned and béchamel has set. Serve.


		

Beef stew with mushrooms and vegetables

A dish with no history and minimal verbiage. I happened to have all these veggies in the fridge and Mr Caramelised brought home a cut of beef that screamed for stew. Forty-five minutes later, dinner was served.

Beef stew with mushrooms and vegetables 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, cut in half-moon slices.
  • 1 garlic clove, grounded
  • 250g of button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), sliced
  • 2 red peppers deseeded and sliced in fine strips
  • 3 zucchini (=courgette) cut in slices
  • 500g of stew beef cut in cubes
  • 50g of flour or Maizena
  • 100ml red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 thyme springs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 250ml of vegetable stock

Method

In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until it shimmer. Toss the mushrooms. Let them fry until soft and fragrant. Reserve.

Clean the frying pan with a kitchen paper, put more olive oil and heat it until it shimer. Put the red pepper in, and let it fry until soft. Finally, add the courgette in the pan, and let it fry for a few minutes until soft . Reserve  courgette and red peppers, together with the mushrooms.

In the meanwhile, place beef cubes and flour in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Shake off excess flour. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat until it shimmer.  Add half the floured meat and fry until sealed and meat has begun to brown. Be careful not too put too many pieces in the frying pan. Instead of frying, the meat will boil to death, with rather unpleasant results. Reserve the meat.

In the same frying pan, put the onion and fry until caramelised, stirring occasionally (it must be soft and translucent. It will take about 15minutes). Add the grounded garlic and the reserved flour and panfry, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour in approximately 100mL of red wine stir well to combine and deglaze the frying pan. When the sauce starts to thicken, toss in the meat and reserved vegetables. Mix well to combine, and then add the vegetable stock. Add the bay leave and the thyme.

Let simmer for about 15min, until the stock reduces to half and the sauce is a bit thick. Take out from the stove and let it rest for a bit.


Stuffed tomatoes

This dish started with a culinary crisis. What to to cook for dinner when all you have in the fridge is minced meat, loads of good looking tomatoes and you are not allowed carbohydrates? Easy solution: stuffed tomatoes. Technically, stuffed tomatoes have rice or bread crumbs on their filling. But, I was not going that detail to get in the middle of a respectable meal.

Stuffed tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg of tomato (it depends a lot on the size of the tomatoes).
  • 500g  of minced meat (for best results, I use a mix of pork and beef)
  • 3 small yellow  onions finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic grounded
  • Olive oil
  • Chinese five-spice powder to taste (or, if you want a more mediterranean taste a mix of rosemary, tarragon, thyme, oregano and basil).
  • Hot paprika
  • Sultanas to taste.
  • Quark to taste
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper

Method

Slice off the top of the tomatoes and hollow out with a spoon, leaving a thick shell (about 2cm).

In a large frying pan, put about 2 table spoons of olive oil and let it heat until is sizzling. Put the onions and the garlic and mix well.  Season with  freshly ground salt and pepper to taste. Put the heat to medium and let the onions caramelize.

When the onions are golden and soft, add the minced meat and mix well. Add the Chinese five-spice powder and the paprika to test. Let the minced meat brow. If you want, you can add sultanas.

Once the meat is brown, add quark until you obtain a consistent paste.

Fill the tomatoes with this mix and  put them on a oven proof dish, previously greased with olive oil (a thin layer will do). Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Bake for about 15min at 200 oC.


Spicy beef curry

Never a dull curry: 10 different spices and 2 different powdered curry mixes.The recipe is from Gordon Ramsay‘s Healthy appetite
.
Spicy beef curry

Ingredients
  • 2kg good quality lean rump steak cut into cubes
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tsp garam masala
  • 4 tbsp natural yoghurt – I used soya yoghurt.
  • 4–5 tbsp light olive oil
  • 4 large sweet onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
  • 5cm knob of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 4 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar or to taste – I used sugar cane.
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 800ml beef stock
  • Handful of coriander, leaves separated, stalks finely chopped
  • 6–8 cardamom pods
  • 15–20 curry leaves
  • 6 long chillies finely chopped – I used 2 coffee spoons of dried piri piri.
For the spicy mix
  • 4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 4 tsp mild curry powder
Method
Cut the beef into bite-sized cubes, put into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the garam masala, add the yoghurt and a good dash of olive oil, season and toss to coat. Cover with cling film and marinate for as long as possible while you prepare the rest of the curry.
For the spice mix, toast the cumin, coriander, fennel and fenugreek seeds in a dry pan, tossing over high heat for a few minutes until fragrant. Tip into a mortar, add a pinch of salt and grind to a fine powder. Stir in the curry powder and mix well.
Heat a thin film of olive oil in a large cast-iron casserole or a heavy-based pan (I used a special pan called cataplana – it is something in between a wok and a heavy based pan). Add the onions, garlic, chilli, ginger and a little seasoning. Add the sugar to help caramelise the onions, followed by the coriander stalks cardamom pods and ground spice mix, stir, then cover and cook for 6-8 minutes until the onions are soft, lifting the lid to give the mixture a stir a few times.
Sear the beef in a hot pan and add to the onions along with the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree, stir over a medium-high heat for a few minutes and then add the beef stock and curry leaves. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer very gently, stirring occasionally, for approximately 30 mins or until the beef is tender.
To serve, ladle the curry into warm bowls and scatter over the coriander leaves. Accompany with a steaming bowl of basmati rice