Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Budget Pasta Bake.

This is one of those end-of-the-month budget meals. And yet, it is delicious. So, good stuff.

You cook some pasta (I tend to use the twirly ones) as you would normally.

In a seperate pot, make the sauce.

Throw some olive oil in the bottom. Add some chopped garlic and onion. Once the onion is translucent, add about a cup and a half of milk (or so - to be honest, I never ever measure it, but I think it's about that much) and a couple of tablespoons of flour. Stir so that it isn't lumpy. Allow to simmer gently until it just starts to thicken. Add some cheese. I say some, because the cheese is the most expensive part of the dish. The more you add, the more creamy and gooey it'll be. But it will also cost more. So you find your balance.

Once the pasta is cooked and the sauce has thickened some pour a layer of pasta (about half of what you cooked) into a casserole dish. Pour half of the sauce over the top. Add a layer of tuna. One tin is about right, though I have been known to splash out and use two sometimes (!!). Add another layer of the remaining pasta. Pour on the remaining sauce.

Grate some cheese on top (See above note about 'some' cheese).

Bake in an oven at 180C or so for about forty minutes to half an hour. Serve with a green salad, or cooked veggies like peas.

Really cheap to make. VERY tasty. :)

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Fail-safe quiche

I am always amazed by how many people seem to be terrified of making quiche. Quiche is what I make when I absolutely have to make something delicious and it has to be easy! I have gathered that it's all about the pastry. Other people make scary pastry that you have to cook in advance and that is all terribly complicated. Good news! That's all over! My quiche has a totally cheat pastry that people actually regularly comment on cos it's delicious and different. Here's how you make my totally fail safe quiche.

First of all, get a quiche dish. Tart dish. Pie dish. Whatever you choose to call it. (I struggled to find them in England because there they are "flan dishes". So now you know.)

In a mixing bowl, mix together about a cup of flour, (yes, I know that with OMG!Pastry you are not supposed to approximate, but I do. And my quiche always works. So there.) some butter or margarine (about 100mls, for those of you who need measurements) and some salt and pepper. This is really all you need, but if you leave it like this it's bland and meh. My secret ingredient is turmeric. A generous dollop of turmeric, and some grated cheese. Preferably cheddar. It will be yellow and munchy and scrumilicious.

Mix it together, and then add water in small amounts until it gets doughy. Then press it down into the pie/quiche/flan/tart dish.

Chop up the stuff you want in it. Honestly, the variations are endless, but here are some of my favourites:

salami, peppers, mushrooms, onion
tuna fish, onion, dill
herbs, mushrooms, peppers, bacon, garlic
chicken, brocolli

But really, you can put just about whatever you want in it. I regularly make leftover quiche with whatever we have floating around the house. If you're putting chicken in, you might want to cook it a little before, but everything else you can just chuck in as is. I sometimes add more grated cheese to the filling, if I am feeling decadent, but it isn't really necessary.

Throw this into the dish, on top of the notably uncooked pastry.

Then mix together about four eggs and some milk. You sort of want the consistency of uncooked scrambled eggs, in terms of the egg:milk ratio. Add some salt and pepper, and mixed herbs, if you are so inclined, mix 'em up good and scrambly, and pour this over the quiche.

Grate some cheese on top of the whole lot. The amount you use and the kind of cheese is up to you and your high or low-fat preference. Obviously the more cheese you put on top the higher the fat content of the quiche as a whole. I tend to use lots because cheese is my weakness, and I use a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar as first choice, though I have also used parmesan. Mostly, I make this on a whim, so I use whatever cheese happens to be in our fridge.

Put it in a preheated oven at 180C or so for about 30-50 minutes. It's done when it stops wobbling. Seriously. People who visit me have heard me get up and say, "I am going to wobble my quiche." This is not some weird euphimism, it is totally literal. When it doesn't wobble, it's done.


Monday, 3 March 2008

Jax's fabulous chicken

On Friday night we had a little dinner party. I made one of my all-time favourite dinner party dishes. I.E: Easy, and always impresses. This once upon a time started out as something I found in an actual recipe book somewhere, but it has since morphed into something I can probably call my very own recipe.

Here's what you do:

Get some chicken pieces. I use legs, because that's what I like, but it would work just as well with breasts, if that's your preference. Brown them in some oil. Once brown, stick them into a casserole dish of some kind.

Fry up some garlic, mushrooms, peppers, onions (and/or whatever other kind of veggies you happen to like), and then toss some white wine in, once the onions have gone clear. I am pretty generous with the wine so don't be shy. Cook it a bit so that the wine cooks off a tad. Pour it over the top of the chicken. Layer some pieces of bacon on top. This is the big secret. See, that yummy bacon fat oozes gently down, and the chicken becomes so tender it absolutely falls off the bone. Heaven!!

Cook it at about 180C for about an hour to an hour and a half.

I also made Ann's potatoes, named after my aunt, who was responsible for them becoming a family staple years ago. I honestly don't know where she got the recipe from but they really are a standard in my (and my mom's, and quite probably, my sister's) house these days.

You take the potatoes. Wash 'em. Don't peel them. Cut them in half and lay them out on a greased baking tray or shallow glass dish and score the tops into little squares. (Don't cut all the way through!) Then melt some butter and olive oil in the microwave, mix in some brown onion soup (or french onion, or just plain onion if you live in a crazy place that doesn't believe in brown onion soup) and then spoon it over the tops of the potatoes and stick 'em in an oven at 180C for anything from an hour to about two hours. They're great for meals where the eating time is flexible, like braais (bbqs).

Those two things combined with a big fresh green salad resulted in some pretty satisfied guests. Yay!