Category Archives: Pasta/rice

Gnocchi with leeks, blue cheese and walnuts

My apologies for the long time between posts, things have gotten a little hectic. This has mostly been due to the fact that my laptop was stolen a few weeks ago, from my flat, while I was in it. Pretty terrifying. I was in the shower and came out and my laptop was gone. This has been endlessly frustrating meaning that I have not had a computer to use for study or research etc etc. and that there have been very fitful nights’ sleep, which all up contributes to a state bordering on meltdown most of the time.

A dish for times like this is gnocchi. These little potato dumplings give you a warm hug and make you feel like things are going to be ok. And cheese, cheese just screams comfort whether it be a cheese toastie, Mum’s macaroni and cheese or cheese scones with a cup of strong tea. I haven’t been a blue cheese fan for very long, something about that pungent taste and the fact that it contained blue bits really put me off. I am starting to be converted though and feel rather proud that I voluntarily included it in a dish.

Gnocchi with leeks, blue cheese and walnuts Adapted from Cuisine Magazine Issue #152

Serves 4

2 tbsp oil

1 leek, cleaned and roughly sliced

1 packet of gnocchi

a good handful of walnuts

about 100-150g blue cheese (any kind you want, pick your fave)

2-3 handfuls of baby spinach

Put a large pan of water on to boil, when it comes to the boil, add plenty of salt. While you are waiting for the water, heat your oil over a medium heat, add leek with a pinch of salt and cook slowly, stirring every so often to get leeks that are soft and melt in your mouth. When the water has boiled, throw in your gnocchi and catch them with a slotted spoon and immediately put them in the pan with your leeks. Add walnuts, blue cheese and spinach to the leeks and gnocchi and mix until the cheese has gone all melty.

Oh yeah, use a big pan when you’re cooking the leeks… I use my big, non-stick wok with a flat base. Yeah, a wok, I pretty much use it for everything, seriously one of the best things I have ever purchased… pasta sauces, stir fries (duh), curries… You name it, I would try and cook it in my wok!


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Gotta say, this is one of my favourite dishes, how could it not be? The individual components are fantastic- smoked fish, hardboiled eggs, spiced rice- and when they come together it’s sublime. Surprisingly, given the amount of butter in this dish, it’s light, but the butter does give it a real comfort food feeling. And speaking of butter, David Lebovitz, who writes one of my favourite food blogs, has just written a damn good post on what he eats. He is a butter lover, not afraid to hide it.Reminds me very much of one of my favourite sayings “everything in moderation, even moderation”. So, yup, this dish has lots of butter, and what?

On the night I made this, I had bustled up to Mum and Dad’s with the purpose of doing some study, lugging textbooks with me (catcall along the way “Hey girl, that’s a really big book”. Well yup, yup it is). This is great food for when you’re studying, it’s quick to whip up, and you can grab a steaming bowl and curl up with your books.

Kedgeree- Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef

Serves 4

250g rice

1 bay leaf

a small handful of peppercorns

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

150g butter

2 heaped tsp curry powder

375g smoked fish

6 hardboiled eggs, sliced into wedges

Juice of 1 lemon + Lemon wedges to serve

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, salt it well. Add rice, bay leaf and peppercorns and boil, stirring occasionally, until the rice is nearly cooked. Drain well and remove bay leaf and peppercorns.

In a large pan or wok, melt butter over a medium heat, add the onion and garlic and cook until soft. Then add the curry powder and cook for a minute, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lemon juice, fish and rice to the pan, heat through, then gently fold in the hardboiled eggs. Serve in warm bowls with lemon wedges.

Delicious. Next time I make this, I’m gonna try making it more fragrant, not quite sure how I’ll do this yet, but maybe playing around with spices added to the rice when it’s cooking, or making my own curry powder. Also, I’ll add something green and herby, lots of it.


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ANZAC day family dinner

Today being ANZAC day was a great opportunity to spend some time with the family. After a busy, but fantastic morning singing at two services (complete with 180 Australian sailors- what a rendition of ‘Advance Australia Fair’!), I was rewarded with brunch cooked by Dad. I had called up Mum the day before and told her I would like to make them dinner on the Wednesday and I told her that I would like to make pasta from scratch.

Mum said “Oooo, that’s a big undertaking, Claire, are you sure?” to which I replied yahuh…. She may have been kinda right because we didn’t eat until about 9.30pm, BUT it was so much fun making the pasta and the satisfaction of knowing that I had made the pasta (yay meeeeeee) was very much worth it.

My flatmate made this cannelloni recipe last week and it was so good I just had to make it again. I used Jamie Oliver recipes for both the pasta and cannelloni, because we love Jamie very much and because he makes making pasta look easy as seen here. I thought “piece of cake!” I shall take photos of the process while I experience for myself this delightful easy process….


First bit= incredible amounts of fun!

Look at that! You get to make a mess (especially because I was practicing cracking eggs with one hand, a technique I have yet to master… explode-o eggs) and you get to play with your food eee! So, you take your eggs and flour and mix them together into a dough, then you knead the dough for a few minutes until it’s smooth and lovely, then stick it in the fridge for a bit et voilà!

There, you have your pasta ready to go into the machine. Then, the calm and lovely attitude goes out the window. Then you develop a really bad relationship with pasta machine. You are both behaving unreasonably and it’s not pretty. Basically, the pasta machine we have does not attach to the bench well and it slips around while you are trying your darndest to roll out pasta which requires THREE hands anyway, yup three, not two. This lead to difficulties, because I, like most humans, have but two hands.

Pretty much you need one hand to feed the dough in, one hand to turn the handle and one to catch the pasta as it comes out so that it doesn’t fold in on itself and stick to itself. I would sorta get the hang of it and then the pasta would stick to itself, or the handle would fall out of the machine onto my ready, waiting foot or I would run out of bench space for the long, elastic lengths of pasta. Not a happy bunny and I wished for the thousandth, hungry time that I had just bought some pre-made lasagne sheets. Look what happened though.

Wee cannelloni, just waiting to be joined with sauces and baked! What really helped with the pasta making was dusting it after each pass through the machine with semolina flour and lots of it. Would have been handy if i had dusted the bench as well before laying down my fat, filled cannelloni, made getting them off the bench unpleasant and bugger my new favourite word.

After all this unpleasantness, I was able to swan into the living room circa. 9pm and say “Dinner is in the oven!”.

Boy, was the wait worth it. There is cheese everywhere, which should be recommendation enough for any dish, but here the combination with the rich, deep tomato sauce and the delicate marjoram that went in with the spinach was to die for. If you don’t make the pasta, this is most definitely a recipe worth trying. There are lots of parts to it, but all simple enough. Dear Jamie, you have once again outdone yourself.

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni Adapted from this recipe from Jamie’s Dinners

4-ish Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

a handful of marjoram, chopped

about 8 bunches of spinach, washed

1/2-1 tsp grated nutmeg

salt and pepper

400g ricotta

2 handfuls of parmesan

2 400g cans of chopped tomatoes

splodge of red wine

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 heaped tsp dried oregano

1 tsp sugar

200g mozarella

12 squares of fresh pasta about the size of a postcard

250g tub of crème fraîche

3-5 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

Take a large roasting tin, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and put on a moderate heat. Add one of the sliced garlic cloves, a pinch of salt, nutmeg and the marjoram. Then add the spinach and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes until the spinach is wilted, but still green and vibrant. Place the cooked spinach in a bowl with all the contents of the pan, including juices and allow to cool.

Place the pan back on the heat and add another tablespoon of olive oil if you need it. Add the other sliced garlic clove and cook over a moderate heat until the garlic is soft. Then add the cans of tomatoes, half of one of those cans filled up with water, red wine, tomato paste, oregano, salt and sugar. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the sauce is reduced, but still sloppy. Remove from the heat. Preheat your oven at this point to 180°C.

Take your cooled spinach and roughly chop it, then return to the bowl with ricotta and parmesan, mix together. Take your pasta squares and dollop a couple of tablespoons of the spinach and ricotta mix into the middle and nudge it into a niceish, fat line. Brush one of the edges with water and roll up towards that edge to seal. Once you have done this with all 12, place them in the pan with the tomato sauce, mix up the crème fraîche, anchovies and other handful of parmesan with a wee bit of water to make a pouring consistency and pour over the top. Sprinkle the cannelloni liberally with mozarella, parmesan and a good drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 20-30mins or until bubbling and starting to brown.

Oooo, also, if you haven’t already, you should definitely go and see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I nearly skipped out of the movie theatre afterwards.

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Brown rice pilaf with olives, spinach and lemon

This is what I made for dinner tonight from this wonderful blog Lottie+Doof. I changed it a bit to use leeks, because I really, really love leeks (sweet and oniony and fantastic) and I upped the veggie content with some beautiful spinach. It’s warm, it’s healthy as and it’s downright delicious. Essentially this dish is kind of like risotto without all the stirring and cheese. The olives give a really moreish saltiness and the brown rice gives a wonderful nuttiness. Good comfort food and super super easy.

I love leeks!

Brown Rice Pilaf with olives, spinach and lemon Adapted from this recipe from

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 leek, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 1/2 Cups chicken or vegetable stock

3 1/2 Cups water

1 1/2 Cups brown rice

1 bay leaf

1 heaped tsp dried thyme (or a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme)

1 tsp salt

a couple of bunches of spinach, chopped

3/4 green olives, pitted and chopped

zest and juice of one lemon

basil and shaved parmesan to garnish

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large pan and add leek, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook over a moderate heat, stirring occasionally until the leeks are soft about 6-8 minutes. Add the rice, stock, water, thyme, bay leaf and bring to the boil for 1 minute, then remove from the heat, cover and leave for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, stir in 1 tsp salt, return to the heat and simmer, stirring from time to time for about another 30 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed. In the last 5 minutes of cooking stir in the spinach. When cooking is complete, remove from the heat and stir in the olives, lemon zest and juice. To serve, ladle into bowls and top with basil and shaved parmesan.




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Monday night pasta

Monday night pasta

Monday nights always seem hard. On this particular Monday, grocery shopping wasn’t appealing and I wanted quick, delicious pasta. Success! I grabbed things from cupboards: can of tuna, can of tomatoes, kalamata olives. All good things. I used slowly cooked onions with some red pepper to give some sweetness and chili flakes to give warmth. Rather delicious and I think this would be perfect hangover food, too. Will keep you posted on that one.

Monday Night Pasta serves 4

2T olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 red pepper, roughly chopped

1 can chopped tomatoes

1/2 glass red wine

1T tomato paste

1tsp sugar or honey

2tsp dried oregano

1 regular can tuna in olive oil, drained

1/2 cup or more of kalamata olives, pitted if you fancy

1/2 tsp chili flakes, add more if you like heat

400g dried pasta shapes

Heat olive oil in a deep frying pan, add onion and cook slowly over a low heat. Do not let the onion brown, you want it sweet and soft, add a pinch of salt to help this says Nigella (it works!). Cook for at least 5 mins, preferably a bit longer. Add red pepper and cook for a couple of minutes before adding tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, sugar or honey (helps to bring out the flavour of the tomatoes), oregano and olives. Simmer over a low heat until the sauce has reduced and is jammy. Add chili flakes about halfway through cooking time. Season to taste.

In the meantime cook your pasta according to packet directions in plenty of salted water, drain. Return to pot and stir in the sauce. Serve with a crisp green salad.

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Bad Day Risotto

I made this risotto last week after a particularly bad day. All that stirring is good for  working out stress and frustration. It helped, lots. Particularly with a crisp, cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc haha!


I took the recipe from a cookbook written by a teenager complete with shots of him chilling with the lads and date nights (oooo!). It’s Sam Stern’s Real Food Real Fast and it’s a good wee book to have for quick dinners and would be good for students, too.

This risotto was delicious. A combination of the sharp saltiness from the cheddar and the smoked salmon gave the dish a subtle smokiness akin to whiskey, which is balanced by the lightness of the lemon, a great summer dish. Salmon as an oily fish has a lot of omega-3 and I gave the dish an extra boost of greens in the form of peas to make it a bit more healthy.

Salmon, cheese and green leaf risotto (adapted from Sam Stern’s Real Food Real Fast)

Serves 4

1.2 litres chicken, fish or vegetable stock

75g butter

1 medium to large onion finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

225g hot-smoked salmon broken into pieces

150mL white wine

50g mature cheddar cheese, grated

2/3 cup frozen peas

50g baby spinach leaves

2tsp fresh parsley, chopped

50mL cream or crème fraîche or single cream

Salt and black pepper

Squeeze of lemon juice (I added the zest of a lemon as well, to really boost the flavour)

Grated parmesan for serving

Pour stock into a pan, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and keep warm.

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Cook onion and garlic in the butter on a low heat for a few minutes until soft, not coloured.

Turn up the heat a bit. Tip rice into the pan. Stir to coat and add the wine. It will splutter and crackle. Cook, stirring until it’s absorbed.

Add a ladle of hot stock, stirring as you go. When nearly absorbed add another, continuing over 15-20 minutes until all the stock is used. Add peas when half the stock has been used. Test rice to check that it is tender. Add more liquid if needed.

Turn off heat. Stir in cheese, cream, baby spinach, salmon and herbs and season. Add the lemon juice and zest. Taste and adjust. Top with grated parmesan and herbs. Serve in soup bowls.

Music! I listened to this superb mix from Miss Moss. So much fun! I had a good wee boogie round the kitchen.