Sunday, 16 November 2008

Sunday Eating

Today I've been feeling just a little morning-afterish from yesterday's cocktail party - I have a post on that in the wings. But I managed to assemble some muffins, on a whim. And I also assembled, as planned, simple light lasagna and salad dinner. And I ate lunch out. Not too bad for the tired & thirsty.

These muffins are made with natural muesli, which is an ingredient that I sometimes need to use up. I'm a very erratic muesli eater. Sometimes I like it, and sometimes I get bored with it and switch to toast and granola for a while - and then find that I have a slightly stale half-eaten bag of muesli left. It's no longer nice to eat, but not bad enough to toss out. Muffin and biscuit recipes involving muesli are the perfect solution to avoid waste here. The muesli makes these muffins pretty healthy: high on the fibre and wholegrains, and I even use high antioxidant berries to boot. Health food! I swear!

Later in the day I dropped off our overnight houseguest in the city - after we'd had a bit of a swear at the bloody taxis putting you on hold for ever and the uselessness of the ironically-named "Action" busses. And I took the opportunity to do a little window shopping, for the Xmas list. I was getting a bit hungry when I found myself around Borders, and so I grabbed some lunch from the Jewel of India - yes, in the foodcourt. I hadn't noticed before that they actually have a tandoor oven right in the front of the outlet. They make the naan right there in full view, and it smells great. I got a piece of naan that I'd watched being removed from the oven mere seconds ago. Yum! I ate it with a small serve of beef vindaloo which was quite OK. A bit unsubtle in the spicing, a bit on the oily side, but the meat was lean and tender. Excellent by food court standards; this curry would be kind of meh, OK, not bad, in a restaurant. For just under $10 with an iced tea, I was happy.

Since I came home, I've mostly vegged on the couch with occasional ten minute stints in the kitchen to make the lasagna. This is inspired by, but not at all the same as, Clotilde's recent post on Chocolate & Zucchini. It's quite amenable to the tired. No bechamel to make, just a quick ricotta mix. Start the red sauce, let it simmer for an hour or so. Do the assembly. Little bits. In between, I have wargs and liches to slay, and blog posts to write, and older posts to add photos to. (Fridge Frittata and Silly Hat Day.)

Recipes follow.
Recipe 1: Berry Muesli Muffins
1½ cups Natural Muesli
1 cup self-raising flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup frozen "high antioxidant" mixed berries
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup oil
1 cup milk

Combine all dry ingredients.
Combine milk, oil and egg, and beat well.
Mix all together coarsely.
Ladle into muffin pans
Bake at 180C for 25 minutes, or until golden and done.

Notes: You could use any other kind of fruit, chopped smallish. The good thing about the Creative Gourmet frozen berries is that they require no chopping. And this brand contains black currants, which I've taken quite a liking to recently.

Recipe 2: Ham & Ricotta Lasagna

Fresh lasagna noodles
500g ricotta
2 eggs
2 tablespoons pesto
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
100g bacon
100g ham
1 large zucchini
8 oven roast tomatoes
2 bayleaves
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried basil
pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup red wine
grated parmesan cheese
grated mozzarella cheese

White layer:
Mix ricotta, eggs and pesto in a bowl.

Red layer:
Saute chopped onion, bacon, ham, zucchini and crushed garlic in olive oil until onion is lightly browned and soft.
Add red wine, and stir well to deglaze the pan.
Add crushed tomatoes and all their juices.
Add herbs.
Simmer gently for an hour

Smear a little red sauce on the base of your baking pan.
Add a layer of noodles.
Put 1/4 of the cheese mix on to the noodles and spread out.
Add a layer of about 1/3 the remaining red sauce.
Add another layer of noodles, and repeat.
In the middle white layer, sprinkle over some grated parmesan.
For the top, smear over the last of the white mix.
Spinkle on some grated parmesan and mozzarella.

(red-noodle-cheese)-(red-noodle-cheese)-(red-noodle-cheese)-(red-noodle-cheese)-grated cheese

Bake at 160C for about an hour, covered with foil for 40 minutes, then open to brown the top. (Mine's a bit over-browned in the pic. Shoulda set a timer.)

Notes:It's a good idea to lay out the noodles first to see how many layers you will get, and adjust the ratio of sauce accordingly. You can fiddle around with this a lot. More or less cheese on top. A bolognese style sauce is traditional for the red layer. You could top it with a red sauce and grated cheese layer instead of the white sauce that I've done this time.

And that red sauce is very flexible. I had stray bacon and ham lying round needing using, and roast tomatoes from the freezer. A large tin of tomatoes would do instead, and you could use all ham, or all bacon, or all veggie or whatever. Some roast capsicum would have been nice but mine had gone moldy.


infoaddict said...

Hey, there's something else I can make with my inadvertant-ricotta :) I found someone selling rennet ( and bought a little bottle to try the 30-min-mozzarella recipe in "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle".

Unfortunately I don't have a cooking thermometer and while I _thought_ I'd put everything in the correct order, the curds didn't go "thick and shiny" as the recipe said. They stayed sort of small and grainy ... a bit ricotta-looking, really ...

So I flipped to a ricotta recipe instead, drained them in a cloth, and popped them in the fridge. They're not salted or anything currently but they taste perfectly ok (like blandish cheese, astonishingly - cottage cheese, really), so my sister and I figured to chop herbs, salt, pepper, and spinach-like greenery (warrigal greens, in my case) into it and make into little spanokopita-ish things with some bought flaky pastry.

OR ... I could use the lasagna sheets sitting in the cupboard for the last *mumble* years, half the ricotta-ish stuff, and then see if I can't turn the other half into mozzarella after all. And if I bugger it up ... it's cheese. I'm not sure _how_ I can bugger it up.

But I do have an excellent insight as to how quite a lot of cheeses came to be!!

Note: 4 litres of milk = 500g of cheese and about 3.5 litres of whey. It's not actually a saving on anything unless one has one's own dairy animal, or access to someone with one. But it _is_ rather fun.

And the whey is really good for chooks!

Cath said...

That'd indeed be cottage cheese you made - ricotta is even lower yield because it's made from the whey. Hopeless for home production, I think you get abut a tablespoon from your 4 litres.

I haven't made cheese in, oh, forever. I made haloumi once, oh umm, last millenium sometime, and I do "yoghurt cheese" - which is dead easy. Get decent plain yoghurt; drain. Add salt/herbs to taste. Drain a lot and roll in balls and marinade in olive oil & herbs, or a little to make a light cream-cheese textured spread.

Oh, my warrigal greens disappeared. I'm not sure if it would be snails or possums. I can has moar sumtiem plz?