Thursday, 4 April 2013

Casareccia and Cheddar Bake

Basically, a fancy Macaroni Cheese. Casareccia was used instead of macaroni as we have a lot of pasta to use up (that and it sounds a little fancier).

400g Casareccia
2x Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
1x Onion, finely chopped
50g Butter
50g Plain Flour
1 pint of Milk
250g Mature Cheddar, grated
Oregano or similar herbs to taste
Tomatoes, sliced

Method - Firstly cook the pasta in boiling water and fry the garlic, onion and a little oregano in olive oil until slightly browned and set aside until the cheese sauce is ready.

To make the cheese sauce, melt butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Once melted slowly stir in the flour to form a roux.

Once the mixture looks as above, start to gradually add the milk, stirring all the time to ensure there are no lumps. Continue to heat at a low to medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking or further lumps after around 15 minutes the sauce should begin to thicken. Once it has reached the correct consistency stir in the onion and garlic before adding in the cheese (about 175g of the grated cheese should be sufficient, make sure to keep enough cheese for topping the pasta bake), heating gently until all of the cheese has melted. Preheat the oven to 180°c.

Mix the cheese sauce and the pasta and place into a large ovenproof dish, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Once the cheese starts to brown, add the sliced tomatoes to the top of the bake and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes. 

Serve with crusty bread.


Lentil Chilli (and Burrito Snacks)

A basic lentil chilli served with rice and pitta breads on day one and then as burritos for lunch for the next few days.


For the Chilli -
250g Green Lentils
2x Onions, finely chopped
200g Mushrooms, sliced
1x Green Chilli, finely chopped
1x Sweet Red Pepper
1x Tin of Kidney Beans, drained
1x Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
1tsp Smoked Paprika
1tsp Chilli Powder (or Chilli sauce, simply add more for a spicier dish)
Basmati Rice
Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Burritos -
8x Fajitas
Left over Chilli
150g Mature Cheddar, grated
Tin foil, for wrapping

Method - For this recipe I actually used split green peas which were pre-soaked for several hours prior to cooking. In hindsight though, I do believe that previous attempts where I have used lentils instead produced tastier, more successful dishes. It should also be noted that I generally use a lot more smoked paprika in my chilli than is stated in the ingredients but I feel it is better to err on the side of caution as you can always add more whilst cooking or even when reheating the chilli again.

To begin, cook the lentils in boiling water for around 20 minutes until soft but do not allow them to turn mushy. Drain and set aside for later. Next, add the onion, garlic, chilli and spices to a large frying pan with a little oil and salt and fry over a medium heat for around 5 minutes until the onions start to brown slightly. Next add in the mushrooms and pepper, continuing to fry for around 10 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked. 

Add in the cooked lentils and stir into the mixture in the frying pan for around 2 minutes in order to give the lentils the chance to take on the flavours of the chilli, onion and garlic. Now, add in the kidney beans and tinned tomatoes, stirring well and leave the chilli to cook over a low to medium heat for around 15 minutes whilst you prepare the rice and pittas.

Once cooked, serve on a bed of Basmati rice with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese and toasted pitta breads.

Chilli Burritos - Generally, the amount of chilli made from this recipe could serve 4 to 5 people in one sitting. However, I prefer to re-use the left overs in making individually wrapped burritos that can be kept in the fridge for several days to be reheated or enjoyed cold.

Burrito wrapping for dummies 

Preheat the oven to 180°c and follow the above guide to wrapping burritos. Start with a generous dollop of chilli and a helping of cheddar cheese. Roll, wrap, rinse, repeat. Cook for 20 minutes and enjoy straight away or allow to cool before storing in the fridge. For a vegan alternative you can substitue the cheddar with a vegan cheese or simply swap it out for some guacamole.

I should probably try and make my own fajitas.


Mushroom, Walnut and Dill Pâté with Crusty Garlic Bread

This was a recipe I tried out on Valentine's day earlier this year that was very successful. I apologise for the lack of photos accompanying this recipe but I will add more later when I get around to making this again.


For the Pâté
125g green lentils
150g Mushrooms, finely chopped
80g Walnuts, finely chopped
2x Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
1x Large Onion, finely chopped
3tsp Fresh Dill, finely chopped
3x Sprig of Thyme, finely chopped
Juice of 1 Lemon
Flour to thicken
Olive Oil to fry
Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Garlic Bread
1x French Baguette, Thinly Sliced
3x Garlic Cloves, peeled
Olive Oil

Method- Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add in the lentils, cooking for around 30 minutes until the lentils are very soft. In the meantime preheat the oven to 140°c and lightly brush the slices of bread with a little oil, place onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and heat in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until the bread becomes golden brown and crusty. Once removed from the oven, vigorously rub a clove of garlic onto the hot bread, the crustiness of the bread will pretty much grate the garlic and the heat will cook the small amount that is left on the bread's surface, set aside to cool.

Add the onion, garlic, herbs and a little oil to a large frying pan and fry over a gentle heat for around 5 minutes. Next add in the mushrooms and walnuts and fry for a further 10 minutes until the mushrooms are soft. Once the lentils are cooked enough, drain away excess water and add the softened lentils into the frying pan. Due to the consistency of the lentils you should now be able to roughly mash up the mixture using a wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste along with the juice of one lemon, ensuring to filter out the seeds. 

This will be the finished Pâté mixture, it may however be a little too moist though due to the amount of water taken on by the lentils during cooking. To remedy this, gradually add plain flour to the mixture, one tablespoonful at a time - sprinkling evenly over the mixture and stirring well after adding each spoonful. Once the correct consistency has been achieved dish out the mixture into small bowls, allow to cool and serve with the crusty garlic bread and side salad.

More to follow!


The Rocket Bean Avocado Breakfast Special

After a few hectic months visiting New Zealand and trying out a few new recipes Rocket Bean is back!  Starting it all off with a fast, healthy and simple breakfast favourite of mine.

Ingredients -
2x Slices of Bread
½ Avocado, pitted
Several Tomatoes
Cholula Hot Sauce (or similar Chili sauce)
Cracked Sea Salt to taste

Method - All you need to do with this is make yourself a few slices of toast, scoop the avocado out onto  the toast and mash using a fork. Drizzle with Chili sauce, my favourite is Cholula Hot Sauce, which was served with a mexican breakfast omelette I had in New York last year. Add the chopped tomatoes and sprinkle with a little cracked sea salt, also great served on a bagel. Serve with your favourite breakfast beverage. Mine is served with Tea, not Coffee as the mug may suggest.

et viola. Mug design by Will Bryant.

Breakfast certainly needs more Chili sauce.