Saturday, 28 August 2010

Delia's Souffled Macaroni Cheese

OK, so if you were after something light and healthy for your dinner then this probably isn't the recipe for you. This is one to turn to if you fancy something warm, comforting and filling and is an absolute favourite of mine. That said, it's also quite light thanks to the souffle element created by the beaten egg whites folded in at the last minute.

This isn't a quick dish to prepare as it requires a fair bit of grating, egg-separating and measuring before you start, but once it's all ready it doesn't take too long and is pretty fail safe.

I usually pair it up with some oven baked potato wedges for a seriously cheesy carb-fest. Add vegetables if you must but it won't be the same!

You can find the recipe on Delia's website here or in Book One of her How to Cook series.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Rigatoni with Courgettes, Lemon and Basil

A joke for you....

Q: What cheese do you use to hide a small horse?

A: Mascarpone!!

Sorry, but that joke does make me laugh and it is topical as mascarpone is one of the key ingredients in this particular recipe. I always end up with too much of this cheese-that-doesn't-taste-like-cheese as so few recipes call for a whole tub. So I'm always pleased to find a recipe that I can add to my repertoire.

This was a nice pasta dish and one that was quick and simple to make. The flavour is quite plain - there's no cheese or garlic that you so often find in this sort of dish - but sometimes plain is good. And this was.

Rigatoni with Courgettes, Lemon and Basil
(adapted from Food for Living by Rachel Allen)

450g/1 lb rigatoni or other pasta shapes
2 tbsp olive oil
4 small or 2 medium courgettes, halved lengthways, seeds removed and thinly sliced at an angle
100g/4oz mascarpone cheese or soft cream cheese
3 tbsp milk
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp torn or sliced fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1) Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling water.

2) While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a medium-sized frying pan over a high heat, then add the courgettes. Cook for 3-4 minutes until just softened and lightly golden.

3) In a bowl, mix together the cheese, milk, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of the basil. Add to the courgettes in the pan and toss together on the heat for 1 minute, until the cheese has melted (I actually took the pan off the heat when I added the cheese as it was starting to bubble away to nothing). Season to taste.

4) Drain the pasta, tip it into the frying pan and mix with the sauce. Divide between plates or bowls and scatter with the remaining basil before serving.

Serves 4

Monday, 2 August 2010

Duck, Orange and Honey Stir-fry with Lots of Greens

I recently came across this lovely stir-fry in Jo Pratt's In the Mood for Food, a really nice cookbook full of tempting recipes and great photography that I dip into on a regular basis. Before I made this recipe I was a bit concerned that it might turn out to be a bit, well, unexciting. But I'm pleased to say that I was proved wrong. The orange, honey and soy sauce provided lots of flavour with the orange in particular really standing out and adding something a bit different.

I also liked the fact that the stir-fry is designed to be a complete meal with noodles being just an optional extra - great if you're trying to cut back on the carbs a bit.

Duck, Orange and Honey Stir-fry with Lots of Greens
(adapted from In the Mood for Food by Jo Pratt)

Grated zest and juice of 1/2 small orange
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 knob (about 15g) fresh ginger, peeled and chopped or finely grated
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 large or 2 small skinless duck breasts, cut into strips (I used chicken which worked just as well)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1-2 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil
2 pak choi, cut into quarters lengthways
100g thin asparagus tips
200g Chinese, tenderstem or traditional broccoli
1 bunch spring onions, cut into 2-3 cm pieces

1) Mix together the orange zest, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and honey in a bowl. Add the duck strips and leave to marinade for up to 30 minutes.

2) Heat a wok over a high heat. Add the sesame seeds and toss around until they are lightly golden. Remove from the pan and return the pan to the heat.

3) Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan and when it is beginning to smoke remove the duck from the marinade (leaving behind as much marinade as possible) and add to the wok. Stir-fry for a few minutes until it is browned and sticky and then transfer to a plate.

4) Add all of the vegetables to the wok with a little extra oil if it looks like it needs it. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes. Mix the orange juice into the remaining marinade and pour in. Cook for a couple of minutes longer for the sauce to thicken and the vegetables to become tender. Return the duck to the wok, stir, then spoon into bowls and scatter with the sesame seeds.

Serves 2