Tag Archives: pasta

How to make your own pasta (linguini)

I LOVE pasta, and I’ve always wanted to try and make fresh pasta, but always feared that it was one of those risky things where everything needed to be just right… To our delight, it really is not the case.. and although it is quite a bit more labour intensive when compared to opening a box of pasta and throwing it into boiling water, it really is fun, and yummy!

For two persons you need:

2 eggs

200g plain flour

That’s it! Even the proportions are simple!

So, here we go -

Put the flour on a clean surface and make a hollow in the middle. Break both eggs and gently beat them.  Slowly start to incorporate the flour into the beaten egg and it will get thicker.   Eventually you will need to start using your hands, and just knead the mixture and combine all the egg and flour.   Keep kneading until you have a firm but stretchy dough.   Sprinkle a little extra flour if the dough is too wet, or just a few DROPS of water if it is too dry.

Wrap the dough in plastic and put it aside for half an hour.  This gives the gluten chance to settle and helps with rolling later on.   Take this time to prepare a sauce of your choice.

Next, knead the ball of dough into a flattish pancake. Don’t be too fussy – it just needs to be easy to handle for the first roll.

With your pasta rolling machine firmly anchored at the edge of the table, set the rollers to the widest gap, and roll the dough through for the first time.

The dough will be a bit grainy and may tend to break up. Don’t worry! Simply fold the strip in half and pass it through the rollers again.  Keep folding and rolling and you will soon see the texture changing, and the dough will become smooth and much more uniform.

Great! Now click the rollers to the next notch to make the dough slightly thinner.   If you notice the dough starting to break up again, simply fold in half and keep rolling on the same setting.

Gradually adjust the rollers and thin down your dough.   As it gets thinner, it also gets much longer, so you may want to cut the strip in half or more, to handle shorter pieces of dough. Also, it helps if two people are doing this process – one person feeding the pasta into the machine and rolling, whilst the second person helps draw the rolled pasta out of the bottom of the machine.

Now that you have finally reached the thinnest setting on the rollers, it is time to cut the linguine!  This process is exactly the same as rolling, except that you will use the cutting wheels rather than the rolling wheels on the machine.

Simply help out the linguini by hand, and drape them over a chair.

Now you can either cook these straight away, or leave them to dry out and use them later on.   Remember that fresh pasta cooks very quickly, so you really need to watch them carefully. These linguini were “Al Dente” in less than 3 minutes!

Using leftover coleslaw

Making good use of leftovers is something important to learn if you want to avoid throwing a lot of food out. It’s generally a good idea to try it the very next day, but it depends a lot on the type of food and for how long it keeps. A good indication is the smell – if you don’t like the smell of it then it’s probably gone off  or about to and it’s a very good idea to throw it away in that case.

In this instance I had some left over coleslaw salad – it has no dressing or mayo added to it.

In a dry pan place your salad together with a little bit of soy sauce and hoi sin sauce (or teriyaki – both optional).

In the mean time boil some pasta or rice until completely cooked. Drain and add to your cooked coleslaw. Stir until mixed, adding some olive oil or more soy sauce if necessary. Serve like this with fresh pepper or with grated feta/halloumi cheese on top.

This is also a great way or incorporating more vegetables into your meal!

Easiest. Pasta. Ever.

Short of using a ready-made sauce, this is the easiest pasta EVER. Why? I’ll tell you why.. you only need to cook the pasta. Most of us can get that part right.

While the pasta is cooking chop up some tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil. Add some salt to the tomatoes (optional). Add a dash of olive oil if desired. Once the pasta is ready, drain and return to the pot. Mix in your ingredients, add fresh pepper and serve.

Easiest. Pasta. Ever.

pasta alla norma con norma aggiunta

I was planning to make pasta alla norma one evening, when one of my guests declared that he doesn’t eat vegetarian. Luckily I had a fresh steak in the fridge which I quickly cut up to add to my dish.

In the mean time I cut up and salted an eggplant that was to be cleverly disguised and hidden in the sauce as a plot to make said friend actually eat vegetables. After salting for 20 minutes, the eggplant was placed in a pan with soy sauce and cooked until it started to soften.

I then added the cut up beef and some pizza topping sauce (that is tomato sauce with herbs). Added chopped up halloumi (alternately you can use ricotta salata, regular ricotta or feta).

Added pepper and reduced it for some time..

Finally added some milk to soften the taste. Just add pasta – the day norma had to be cleverly disguised.. and you know what, he ate it!

it’s not garfield’s Lasagna

Lasagna always sounded so complicated. All those different layers with ingredients that have immensely different cooking times… For a long time it remained quite a mystery, and although my mother always told me it was very simple to make, I reasoned everything she made was simple enough for her. She, after all, simply loves to cook.

And it is simple – disappointingly so. I first made a lasagna after a really hard day at work. I used cooking as therapy that day and literally THREW the thing together. There was a bit of a mess, but the result was fantastic. Just in case you’re wondering, the therapy was successful!

There are two ways of going about it – you can either use a meat or veg sauce that you’ve prepared earlier or make a fresh one. In my opinion a lasagna generally tastes better if the sauce has been prepared earlier but it’s a matter of taste really. As you probably know, everyone has their method and each lasagna is quite individual :)

For today’s post I will be using a previous recipes for an aubergine mix and some Bolognese sauce or veg Bolognese sauce.

You will need:

  • lasagna sheets (uncooked)
  • mozzarella or any cheese that melts
  • tomato sauce
  • white sauce
  • aubergine mix (see previous recipe)
  • 2 eggs
  • bolognese sauce (cooked)

Prepare all your ingredients in front of you and preheat your oven to about 200 celcius.

Place a layer of aubergine mix at the bottom of your oven dish. Cover this with a small amount of tomato sauce and some pieces of mozzarella. Place a layer of pasta over this. Cover with the Bolognese sauce, some white sauce and more cheese. Place another layer of pasta. Continue this procedure until you fill up your dish.

I ended the top layer with pasta, but this makes it curl. I didn’t mind the effect but keep in mind that the top layer will have a harder texture in this way. Most people will end with cheese or one of the sauces.

Whisk two eggs in a bowl and gently cover your lasagna. I found that some will seep into the sides and will make it stay together when serving.

It needs about 40 minutes in the oven and if you can wait, some moments to sit before attempting to cut it up. There you go – seriously disappointingly easy delicious lasagna.

ling-vol with the lex-chef

Part two of the eagerly awaited dinner is as follows…

One of my favourite dishes cooked to perfection mmmm!!

Fry a lot of garlic in 1/2 butter and 1/2 olive oil until softened

Add pancetta and fry till crispy (don’t burn garlic)

While that’s going throw in the pasta and cook until almost done

Throw in a couple of glasses of white wine and some chopped chillies, and a couple more tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of lemon juice
Make sure the pot is really hot
When that’s all mixed and yummy (goes great on bread) throw in more freshly chopped garlic and the vongole
Shut the pot and leave it for about 5 mins- stirring occasionally.

Udon know what you’re missing

1pm and HUNGER strikes!

It’s always a good idea to keep a couple of cans of your favourite vegetables (or a bag in the freezer) if you’re as busy as I am. That way you won’t go into a complete panic or end up eating something really bland and unsatisfying when you’re hungry and haven’t had the time or energy to go to the supermarket. As opposed to popular belief, canned vegetables are still packed with nutrients as they are usually canned soon after harvesting when the nutrient content is at it’s peak. It is better to use canned vegetables than vegetables which have been boiled to death.

Recently I came across really thick and delicious udon noodles, which are ready cooked and can be added straight to your stir fry. Score! A really useful quick food that tastes great and is a good alternative to pasta, rice or regular noodles.

For today’s recipe you’ll need:

  • pancetta cubes or bacon
  • baby corn (the canned ones are already cooked, but the fresh ones will need a longer cooking time)
  • mushrooms
  • sweet chili sauce
  • udon noodes/regular noodles

Instructions: Throw pancetta, baby corn and mushrooms into the pan. There’s no need for any oils as the pancetta will quickly provide it’s own. I use the 1 calorie spray just to be sure, but I use about 5 calories :p

The trick with a stir fry is too cook it long enough for the vegetables to soften up a little bit and for the flavours to start fusing, and not a minute more.

When your vegetables have started to soften add about 2 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce and leave that to cook for a couple of minutes. Finally add your noodles, stir well and enjoy..

penne steak

Sometimes you just can’t decide what you’re in the mood for and this was one of those days. I had thoughtfully brought out a steak to defrost that day. Now, as you’ll find out, most dishes occur by ‘accident’ because I’m not big on planning ahead when it comes to my own lunch / dinner. I’ll gladly make a plan if someone’s eating with me or if I have guests.. but if it’s just me then I’ll tend to deal with it when it’s time to eat.

I got home and my defrosted juicy steak was waiting for me. Hmm, do I feel like a steak? with what? Actually I feel like pasta. But I defrosted the steak already! And so the ‘penne steak’ dish was born and this is how it goes..

Boil water and make penne or any pasta of your choice. Remove just before it’s ‘al dente’ and add some olive oil to avoid it sticking. In the mean time cut the steak into strips. Whilst keeping one eye on the cat heat up some hoi sin sauce and soy sauce in a pan. Now you’ll want to do this step carefully as the beef will cook quite quickly and if you like it rare it will only take moments to be ready. In the meantime your sauces mixed with the beef juices will make for lovely pasta lubrification.  Ideally throw in the pasta to cook for a couple of minutes with your beef. Et voila! A very quick meal with lots of bite to it. The next time I’ll also throw in some porcini mushrooms, I think.