Tag Archives: capsicum

Vegetarian red sauce for pasta

I’m writing this recipe for myself as much as anyone because this is the first time I’ve managed to make a really great tasting, purely vegetarian red sauce. And I want to remember how I did it! lol

So, just had the sauce with pasta for dinner, and it was rich and delicious. Please note though, I called this a ‘vegetarian’ red sauce. Not vegan. The ingredients include a bit of butter and some cream cheese. That said, you could leave out those two ingredients and I think it would still taste as good, just perhaps not as ‘rich’.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 a brown onion, chopped fine
  • 1/3 of a red onion [leftover] chopped fine [the red onion adds a bit of sweetness but if you don’t have, simply add a bit more brown onion]
  • 1 medium tomato with seeds removed and chopped fine
  • 1/2 a sweet red capsicum [bell pepper?] chopped fine
  • 2 large cloves of garlic – minced [I do it with a knife rather than the squeezy gadget as you lose too much garlic otherwise]
  • 1 sachet of Leggo’s tomato paste [2 tablespoons]
  • 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika powder [the Hungarian one if you can manage it]
  • a pinch of chilli flakes [for just a little bit of ‘heat’. Substitute a small pinch of cayenne if you don’t have the flakes]
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut oil [or olive if you prefer]
  • cream cheese [2 of the Philadelphia Snack tubs, 34gms each] or 2 tablespoons of either cream or sour cream

Method

  1. Place the oil in the frying pan with the butter [if using] and very gently cook the two kinds of onions and garlic until the onions are almost translucent. I used a heavy cast iron frying pan which gives a very even heat. If you don’t have one, turn the heat down as low as possible so the onions ‘sweat’ very gently. You do NOT want them to brown.
  2. Add the capsicum, chopped tomato, salt, black pepper and chilli flakes and keep cooking until the two vegetables have softened a little.
  3. Add the tomato paste and stir in.
  4. Add the paprika powder and stir in.
  5. Add about 1 tablespoon of water and stir in [just to stop the paprika from burning].
  6. Cover with a lid and cook for about 5 minutes.
  7. Check the sauce and add about 1/4 cup of water. Cover and cook while you boil the pasta.
  8. After the pasta has cooked [approx. 15 minutes], check the sauce. It should now be fairly thick. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.
  9. Take the sauce off the heat and swirl in the cream cheese [or cream or sour cream].
  10. Drain the pasta, place in a large bowl and pour over the sauce. Toss and voila! Dinner is served.

I never seem to put enough salt into anything I cook so you will probably have to sprinkle some over the pasta after serving. From a health point of view, this is probably not such a bad thing as too much salt isn’t good for. 😉

And finally, you may have noticed… that there is no picture of the dish. That’s because we ate it all before I remembered that I needed one. Sorry.

cheers
Meeks


Fried Rice with Soffritto

Most people know what fried rice is, but I bet very few of you know what ‘soffritto’ is. Don’t worry, I’ll give you a hint, in French it’s called ‘mirepoix’. Still no takers? Don’t feel bad. I didn’t know what soffritto was until a few months ago either.

Okay, no more teasing. Soffritto is an Italian flavour base made of onion, celery and carrot. All three ingredients are chopped very fine and then sauteed in olive oil or butter until they soften. When used in a bolognese, for example, the soffritto cooks down so much that you can’t distinguish the separate ingredients. But you can taste the rich flavour they impart to the dish.

For those with an inquiring mind, here’s a link to a full explanation:

http://www.italianfoodforever.com/2011/11/soffritto-the-holy-trinity-of-italian-cuisine/

But what does an Italian flavour base have to do with an Asian dish? It turns said dish into a one-wok meal, that’s what!

This is a picture of what the finished dish looks like:

Apologies for the shadow. My head got in the way.

As you can see from the photo, there’s a lot going on in this dish. Apart from the carrot and celery there’s red capsicum, chopped bacon, sweet corn, spring onions and one egg. The dish would have been a bit healthier if I’d added some pulses, but that was a step too far, even for me. Read on for the recipe.

Ingredients

1 cup of long grain rice cooked using the absorption method [or any kind of rice you have on hand].

2 rashers of middle bacon, rind removed.

1 egg

1/2 of a red capsicum cut into thin strips

1 large stick of celery, washed and cut into thin strips

1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into thin strips

1 corn on the cob, cooked

3 spring onions [mostly the whites]

1 – 2 tablespoons of peanut oil

a few drops of sesame oil

about 1 tablespoon of light Soy Sauce to drizzle over

Method

Add the oil to the wok and bring it to medium heat. [I have a cast iron ring that sits on my gas burner and raises the wok above the flames. Highly recommended as it ensures more even heat to the wok].

Add the chopped bacon and fry gently until the bacon is just coloured.

Add the carrots, celery and capsicum to the bacon, lower the heat and sautee very gently [approx. 10 minutes]. It will look something like this:

Some of you may have noticed that my soffritto vegetables didn’t include onion. That’s because I’ll be using the spring onions to add a slightly more Asian flavour at the end of the dish. Oh, and the capsicum is in there because I really like capsicum. 🙂

While the soffritto mix is softening, cut the kernels of corn off the cob and give them a rough chop:

You can also chop the spring onions but do NOT add them to the dish yet.

Once the soffritto is done, add the corn and toss through the other ingredients:

Allow the corn to heat through for a minute or two and then add the rice:

Break the rice up in the wok and toss it through the soffritto base to absorb all those delicious flavours.

It was at this point of the cooking that I suddenly remembered I hadn’t cooked the egg ahead of time. Oh woe! Luckily, fried rice is a very forgiving dish. I pushed the rice to one side, cracked an egg straight into the wok and quickly turned it into scrambled egg with the spatula I use to toss the rice:

As always, abject apologies for the out-of-focus photo. 😦

Once the egg is incorporated into the rice mixture, there are only 3 ingredients left to add. Sprinkle a few drops of sesame oil over the rice [a little goes a long way]. Next, sprinkle or slosh the soy sauce on top. Add the chopped spring onions and quickly toss through the fried rice.

And that’s it. Serve in a small bowl and eat however you wish, chop sticks, forks, spoons, who cares. 🙂

If you have any rice left over, scrape it into a small saucepan and place in the fridge. When you’re ready to reheat, simply add a teaspoon of water to the pot – to stop the rice from burning – cover and steam gently for about 5 minutes.

Buon appetito!

chī chī chī” 吃吃吃 [I think this mean ‘eat, eat, eat’. Please correct me if it’s wrong!]

cheers

Meeks

 

 


Fried Rice, from leftovers

I’m sitting here shoveling down the leftover fried rice from last night, but the leftovers began the night before. If you like fried rice and never know what to do with leftover roast chicken, read on.

Recipe – Fried Rice à la Meeka

Ingredients*

Leftover roast or braised chicken, meat removed from bones

Leftover cooked rice [boiled or via the absorption method]

1 – 2 rashers of middle bacon [or ham]

1 – 2 eggs

Capsicum, red [diced]

Spring onion [the white part, cleaned and chopped into small pieces] 

Leftover corn on the cob if available [kernels cut off the cob]

Sesame oil [a drop or two]

Soy Sauce [Light or dark]

Peanut oil for frying [it has a light, clean flavour that’s perfect for Chinese dishes, but I use it for everything]

A large wok

An egg slice or some other tool for stir frying the rice

*quantities will depend upon how many people are to be served and how much they like certain ingredients. As a rule of thumb, you’ll need approx. 1.5 – 2 cups of cooked rice for two medium sized people.

Method

Heat a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil in the wok until you can see a ‘heat haze’ rising from the oil.

While the oil is heating:

  • beat the egg[s]
  • cut the rind off the bacon and cut the meat and fat into small cubes/squares.
  • wash and cut the capsicum into small squares.

When the oil is hot, pour the beaten egg into the hot wok and swirl it around to spread it as much as possible [a bit like making a pancake].

When one side of the egg pancake is done, flip it over and cook the other side until it too is golden. Remove from wok and place on a cutting board. Cut into bite sized pieces and set aside.

Next, place the bacon pieces into the remaining oil along with the capsicum. Lower the heat and allow to cook gently until the bacon is nicely coloured but not quite crisp.

If using, add the corn kernels to the bacon and capsicum. Allow to cook gently for a few minutes more. [This is just to heat the corn through as it’s already cooked].

Remove the bacon, capsicum and corn from the oil. You can add it to the cooked egg.

Add a drop or two of sesame oil to the oil remaining in the wok. Don’t throw this oil out as it contains all the lovely flavours of the bacon etc!

Add the cooked rice to the wok and break up the lumps, tossing the rice almost constantly until the grains are nice and loose.

Return the egg, bacon, capsicum and corn to the wok and toss through the rice.

Add the pieces of cooked chicken.

Keep tossing until all the ingredients are heated through again, and the flavour has had a chance to spread through the rice.

Finally, add the chopped spring onions and a slosh of soy sauce to the rice. Do NOT overdo the soy sauce. 1/2 a tablespoon is more than enough at this stage. People can add more later, to suit their own tastes.

Toss the soy and the spring onions for a minute or two until the rice is slightly…beige? It will get a little colour from the soy, but it shouldn’t be brown. That means there’s too much soy!

Serve as is or braise some Chinese vegetables to serve with the rice.

To reheat the next day, place the leftover fried rice in a pot and add 1 tablespoon of water [the water will steam the rice and stop it from burning]. Cover and heat on a very low flame until it’s hot enough.

Bon appetit!

Meeks

 


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