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Pasta Recipes

28 April 2010

Crab and barramundi ravioli


I promised the follow-up crab and barramundi ravioli and here it is! It was a cheat's version as I used store-bought egg-based wonton wrappers. It worked a treat and is a great shortcut for those of us who are time-starved... And hungry.

The filling was one I used in my last recipe for stuffed zucchini blossoms. It's a winner. The kind of filling you just eat straight out of the mixing bowl with a big spoon.

This is going to be a short post. Thank you for all your messages, comments and emails. Up next, a strawberries and cream crepe cake.

Continue reading "Crab and barramundi ravioli" »

27 January 2010

Sicilian Anchovy Pasta with Toasted Breadcrumbs


I haven’t had the pleasure of exploring Sicily yet however it’s on my ever-expanding list of places to visit.

When I do go, I’ll be eagerly seeking out ‘pasta c'anciova e muddica’ – anchovy pasta with toasted breadcrumbs.

I've recently introduced a new addition to the pasta -- the poached egg. And it's here to stay.

The rustic recipe features in my household at least once a week. Even when I’ve run out of most basic of fridge staples like milk and bread, I know I’ve got jars or tins of plump anchovies, bread crumbs and chili flakes at hand.

I have to admit however that my love for the anchovies is rather recent. For many years, my feelings towards anchovies were dominated by teenage memories of my tongue being assaulted by the vile little fish often found scattered over other people's pizzas.

Now it’s hard to imagine my kitchen without them. Whether used in Sicilian pasta, a Caesar salad or a creamy mayonnaise, good anchovies lend that burst of sweet, salty pungency that’s hard, if not impossible, to substitute.

I read somewhere once that physically, anchovies can be treated much like garlic. They can be finely chopped and stirred into a vinaigrette or compound butter. Pounded into smooth paste to intensify a creamy risotto or sautéed whole with onions and garlic to form the delicious base of a pasta or stew.

Good anchovies should taste of the sea but not be overly fishy. They come salt or oil-packed in jars or tins. After sampling many different brands, I have found the best-tasting anchovies to hail from the coast of Spain. I opt for fillets stored in extra virgin olive oil. They are more intensely flavoured without the piercing saltiness of salt packed anchovies.

Continue reading "Sicilian Anchovy Pasta with Toasted Breadcrumbs" »

04 May 2009

Smoked Trout Rissoni


Today I'm celebrating 'almost a month of being back in Australia Day'.

I've stocked our temporary mini-kitchen with the basics although I am finding it tough to cook like I used to. I'm feeling rather lost without my pots and pans and my exhaustive selection of herbs and spices.

All these items, minus the herbs and spices due to Australia's stringent customs laws, are neatly packed away in boxes sailing across the Pacific Ocean. They're due to arrive in another two weeks providing they haven't been lost, fallen overboard or mistakenly shipped to Patagonia. Apparently these things happen.

In the meantime, I'm surviving very well on simple meals. I'm living next door to a constant source of inspiration, who recently served me a mouthwatering meal of grilled salmon and spinach rissoni with Greek feta melted through it. Gorgeous.

I made the dish today, this time substituting salmon with smoked trout. I also added some fresh basil, dill and lemon juice. To better achieve the desired effect of warm, stringy, melted cheese, I use cow's milk feta for its extra creamy consistency.

In comparison to Canadian smoked fish, Australian smoking methods seem to produce a milder and more subtle effect.

The simple combination of feta, spinach and smoked trout was so complementary that threw them into my scrambled eggs the next morning. It was one of the best breakfasts I've had in ages.

Continue reading "Smoked Trout Rissoni" »

14 February 2009

Himalayan Truffle Pasta


The truffle, a highly prized subterranean fungi, may be the last thing on people's minds in these troubled economic times. With a one ounce truffle costing up to $165, you can imagine my shock to see a basket of fresh black truffles at South China Seas Trading Company selling for $10 each. This must be some kind of mistake!

I tenderly picked a truffle up and sniffed it. While the tuber did have the smell of damp earth, that distinctly pungent truffle musk was missing. It turned out that the truffles were of the Chinese variety, grown in foothills of the Himalayas.

Himalayan Truffles look like your average truffle on the outside. They are knotty and knobbly, a dirty black-brown color, a little smaller than European truffles -- about the size of a walnut. On the inside, they are jet black, with cream-coloured, marbling.

French and Italian truffles grow symbiotically with trees such as the oak, beech, hazel or chestnut while Himalayan truffles predominantly grow near pine trees or other conifers.


It is said that unscrupulous restaurants sometimes pass of Himalayan truffles by enhancing them with  truffle oil or butter. Don Dickson, owner of South China Seas Trading Co, opined that this masquerading has "resulted in Himalayan truffles being negatively regarded as fakes rather than just being appreciated for what they are".


I tasted a sliver of the truffle and decided that it wouldn't hurt to saute them. If anything, it heightened their delicate flavour.

First, I sauteed some onions in olive oil and butter, I added finely chopped garlic, followed by slivers of truffle which I seasoned with flor de sal and then sauteed them for several minutes. I added a handful of finely chopped flat leaf parsley and gave the pan several flips. Finally, I threw in the cooked fettucine and tossed it around to coat it. Simple and delicious.

Continue reading "Himalayan Truffle Pasta" »

14 November 2008

Broccoli & Chickpea Brown Rice Pasta


It's day two of my 12-day detox. What I miss most on this diet is having a little piece of dark chocolate after my lunch. Everything else is manageable. I've actually been fantasizing about secretly placing a  square of chocolate in my mouth and quietly letting it dissolve. Who would ever know?

I would. 

Ok, I'm talking about chocolate again when all I want to do is tell you about detox recipe No. 2 -- broccoli & chickpea brown rice pasta. A dish I'd usually eat with normal spaghetti noodles tossed with pesto and loads of freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. But not this week or next week. To make up for the lack of pesto or cheese, I add a can of tuna in oil.

Stay tuned for more detox recipes...

Continue reading "Broccoli & Chickpea Brown Rice Pasta" »

21 July 2008

Treat yourself to roasted garlic & prawn pasta


Sometimes it's nice to eat something special for no special reason. Whether it's when you want to impress or just because, this roasted garlic & prawn pasta is delicious in its simplicity.

The tomato sauce is a mixture of fresh, ripe roma tomatoes, sweet basil, onion, roasted garlic and chili flakes. The prawns are lightly sautéed in butter and white wine and then mixed in with the sauce just before serving.

The pasta is fresh angel hair that I buy from my local Italian grocer.

Continue reading "Treat yourself to roasted garlic & prawn pasta" »

06 July 2008

Pillows of Love: Homemade Gnocchi


Gnocchi are surprisingly easy to make...once you've mastered them a few times that is. The texture and taste of homemade gnocchi is far superior to the pre-made stuff, hence the title: 'pillows of love'.

It is important to use floury potatoes like russets when making the gnocchi as the dough needs to be light and airy. I did try using Yukon potatoes once and the gnocchi was more like 'pillows of lead'.

I made the pesto using a very sharp, good quality kitchen knife instead of a mortar and pestle and I much preferred the results. The pesto takes about 15 minutes to chop in which time I'm totally intoxicated by the smell of the young, sweet basil (which has been sprouting enthusiastically from my window box).

What follows are step-by-step photos and instructions to help you make fresh pesto and homemade gnocchi. Bear in mind, that gnocchi is one of those hit and miss affairs rather like souffles. Their success is dependant on a whole range of factors including the type of potatoes used, the consistency of the mashed potato (don't over mash) and the quickness with which you work.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Use russet potatoes
  • Boil them with their skins on
  • Remove the potatoes one by one from the boiled water and peel them straight away
  • Quickly mash them with a fork or put them through a ricer while they are still hot. Don't over mash them.
  • Let them cool for 10 minutes but no longer
  • They should still be fluffy when you mix the egg and flour with them 

Continue reading "Pillows of Love: Homemade Gnocchi" »

23 June 2008

Chocolate Pasta? You've got to be kidding!


I kid you not: chocolate fettuccine. While some might balk at such a combination, I whole-heartedly welcomed the chance to try something so novel.

On a recent trip to Seattle's famed Pike Place Markets I spotted the extraordinary pasta when squeezing my way through the ravenous Saturday crowds. 

The dried chocolate pasta and a whole range of interesting artisan noodles are sold at Papparadelles Pasta stand.

I served the pasta at a dinner party for dessert but it was more like the main course of the meal. I served it with cream which I had whipped until it was frothy and then mixed with a freshly made raspberry sauce. I added a dash of cointreau to the cream for a subtle citrus aroma.

A pasta dish isn't ready until it's been topped with some cheese so I grated on some dark, semi-sweet chocolate.

The verdict: it was a hit. But honestly, it wasn't out-of-this-world mind-blowing. I think it was more a combination of the novelty of chocolate pasta and the heavenly raspberry cream sauce that had everyone so giddy. The pasta itself is not sweet and tastes like unsweetened cocoa.

I personally prefer fresh pasta and think that the end result is always better. One day when I have a pasta machine I'm going to try my hand at freshly made chocolate ravioli with an orange mousse centre.

Until that day comes, I'll keep buying dried chocolate pasta as it's lots of fun.


Continue reading "Chocolate Pasta? You've got to be kidding!" »

10 June 2008

The Mighty Morel


The Morel season is coming to a close in British Columbia and foragers will have to wait another year to harvest the wild mushrooms.

Morel mushrooms vary in size but are recognizable by their sponge-like caps which fit over their stalk like a thimble over a thumb. There are two types of true morels; yellow and black, both of the Morchella genus and not to be confused with the poisonous and almost identical impostor, the ‘Wrinkled-cap’ or ‘half-free morel’.

Morels are some of the most sought after wild mushrooms in the world. Finding them, however, can be unpredictable. Luckily for me, I managed to forage for them at the South China Trading Seas Company at Granville Island.

In the wild, morels can be found in mixed hardwood forests near aspen trees, white cedars or white pines in areas recovering from fires.

Other areas favoured by the morel include old apple, peach or pear orchards and dead or dying elm trees. There are rare occasions when the morel has popped up in unexpected places including old camp fire pits, basements, old bomb craters or unused mining sites.


So what is it about these little mushrooms that sends people so crazy each year?

Morels have a rather earthy and subtle nutty taste. They are best cooked simply and that is exactly what I did.

I sautéed them with some crimini mushrooms in garlic, olive oil, a couple of dollops of butter, some organic beef stock and chives, and then served them with fresh fettucine. The porous caps quickly absorbed the flavours, yet retained their slightly crunchy texture. Delicious.

Some tips on buying morels: they should have firm, spongy caps and be moist but not soggy. Try to use them as soon as possible as the fresher, the better. Unlike some mushrooms, it is ok to wash morels. In fact, it is very important to clean them thoroughly but gently to rid them of grit and naturally forming toxins.

I soaked them in cold water and then gently washed and strained them. Don Dickson, owner of South China Seas Trading Company, recommends par boiling them in lightly salted water for about a minute and then sautéing them. He does this just as an extra precaution to rid them of any nasties.

So I haven't answered my own question. What is it that drives people to spend endless hours traipsing through dense or sometimes burnt out forest just to pick a handful of these little fungi?

Part of the answer might lie in the experience - this is vegetarian hunting at its best. And the fact that morels soak up so much flavour and yet hold their own flavour and structure makes them unique. Worth a walk in the woods, or in my case, a walk down to the Granville Island markets.

Continue reading "The Mighty Morel" »

21 October 2007

Winter comfort food: Mushroom Lasagna


With the onset of winter, it's time to dust off those hearty favourites...winter comfort food recipes.

On the menu is Mixed Mushroom Lasagna using a medley of high-grade Shiitakes, Chantarelles, Field and Oyster mushrooms served with a delicate Bechamel sauce. The addition of the fragrant shiitakes adds a different layer to the flavour and aroma of this dish, but I used them in moderation so not to overpower the dish.


I used fresh lasagna sheets (I try to use fresh pasta as much as I can as it is just so much better than the packaged stuff).

Now don't let the following recipe deter you because of how many steps there are. I know it looks like a lot but this dish doesn't take long to make at all. It is far easier than making a meat-based lasagna which can take me hours to prepare. 


Continue reading "Winter comfort food: Mushroom Lasagna" »

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