28 Aug 2016

cannellini cannelloni

As a Grown Up, I don’t need clever ways to hide vegies in a meal. Instead, I need new ways to make those vegies on my plate more interesting.

But this cannellini cannelloni (I love saying that!) does disguise the vegies, should you need to do that. It replaces half the ricotta in the stuffing with whizzed-up cannellini or white beans and a good handful of cauliflower florets. Just think of all that extra vegie fibre and protein and flavour! They even make this filling even creamier and lighter somehow, so it’s like a hearty plate of winter stodge — but not. I also added some shredded and cooked Brussels sprouts, and a delicious shake of warming nutmeg. Yum!

To top off all this vegie-packed goodness, I made an instant sauce from a tray of my summer tomatoes from the freezer. As I’d roasted them with herbs and garlic before freezing, all I needed to do was thaw the block and whiz it in my food processor, to make a thick, richly coloured and flavoured puree.

Then I topped this off with some walnut and pepita chunks. That’s right — no breadcrumbs or parmesan. Just waxy-toasty-crunchy goodness (yes, this is a dish full of goodness). Even when softened by reheating in the microwave for my week-day working lunches, the nuts complimented those hidden nutmeg flavours so well, and still retained enough texture to contrast with the creaminess of the cannellini filling.

So yes, this winter winner (and it's still winterish here in Hobart) does hide the vegies — and it also made them even more delicious and fabulous, too.

Cannellini cannelloni

My scribbles say I got this recipe from Donna Hay june/july 2012. If you have leftover cooked vegies like the cauliflower and Brussels sprouts (or broccoli or cabbage or silverbeet), this dish is really speedy to make. If you have a ready-made sauce like I did — even better; you’re barely cooking at all!

If you need to make a sauce, my notes from the recipe simply say 'combine 365 ml passata, 125 ml stock, S&P'. Presumably you'd heat and reduce the lot together to a saucy consistency. Sorry.

  • Put about a third of your sauce in the bottom of your baking dish, saving the rest for the topping.
  • Preheat your oven to 180.
  • In a food processor, whiz up a drained/rinsed 400 gms can of cannellini beans.
  • Add in 300 gms of ricotta (the thicker block stuff bought from the deli).
  • Add about a cupful each of cooked cauliflower florets and shredded Brussels sprouts, plus a generous shake of nutmeg.
  • Take a packet of fresh lasagne sheets (there were 12 in my packet). Place a couple of spoonfuls on each sheet and roll up, then pack the tubes into your baking dish on top of the sauce. This is where it all gets a bit imprecise. I had to cut the tubes in half to fit them in; use a second, smaller dish to hold them all; but then I didn’t need one of the lasagne sheets (I put it in the freezer for next time)!
  • Once you’re done with all this juggling and jiggling, top with the remaining sauce.
  • Roughly chop some walnuts and pepitas; enough to give a covering you’re happy with. Drizzle with a little olive oil; cover with foil; then place in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the filling is hot. Then uncover, and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the nuts are toasty.

21 Aug 2016

chocolate hazelnut brownie

It’s good to have working, reliable scales in my kitchen again! Because, as soon as you don’t, every recipe you’re tempted by measures ingredients out by grams, not cups. Is this volume or mass or something else? I don’t know, but until recently, I couldn’t do it!

A few months ago I knocked my kitchen scales off the kitchen counter, and that was that; the spring mechanism was absolutely bung. Like a wonky clock, the little arm that dialled around was immovably set. Gah!

I actually prefer to scoop out my sugar, flour and cocoa (or spoon it into the cups to avoid incorrect compaction). I have a sweet pastel set, shaped like miniature mixing bowls. They even have a little pouring lip — so small it’s ineffective — but their soft pretty colours make me very happy.

But, scales are called for. I tried to get by — once I phoned mum and asked her to weigh out some dry ingredient then transfer it to cups, so I would know what to use. Not ideal.

Have you tried to buy new scales recently? They are all digital.

Which presents a real problem to me, because I’m allergic to digital scales. Or they’re allergic to me. They do not work for me. I must have some magnetic force field that disrupts their digital-ness. They give crazy, improbably readings, or simply blink off (I could never wear a digital watch as a kid either, now that I think of it). I’ve gone through countless batteries, and two, maybe three actual scales; either returning them to the shop or giving them to mum.

Finally, after much ringing and googling around, I found a non-digital replacement for my scales, online. I wanted the finer ones that went up in 5 grams increments — and they really were hard to track down. So I bought two, one for spare, and the one I’m using is being stored and used very carefully.

Chocolate hazelnut brownie
Adapted from a delicious recipe for a ‘sheet cookie’. But made smaller, in a brownie tin, so moister and … a brownie.

  • Preheat your oven to 180 and line a 20 cm brownie tin or small slice tin (as seen in here. Okay, I've made it twice in two different tins! But I'm still calling it a brownie)
  • Melt 50 gms 70% dark cooking chocolate.
  • Cream 100 gms butter with ½ cup brown sugar. Beat in 1 egg, then the melted chocolate.
  • Sift in ½ cup hazelnut meal, ½ cup spelt flour, 1 tbspn cocoa, and ¼ tspn bicarb soda.
  • Fold in 75 gms of milk cooking chocolate that you’ve chopped roughly (you want some chunks to remain for texture).
  • Put in the tin – as I said, I’ve made this twice, and once it was super hard to spread, and the second time not a problem. I’m blaming the change in weather on that.
  • Now scatter over 1/3 cup hazelnuts that you’ve roughly chopped up and press in lightly.
  • Bake for 20 minutes before checking; like a brownie, this should stay moist.
  • Remove from oven and try very hard not to eat it all at once.

7 Aug 2016

mum’s orange and sultana cupcakes

I’m thinking of turning Dig In over to my mum (actually she suggested it first). Or, baking cakes only after mum has successfully, deliciously, tried the recipe first.

Mum’s orange and sultana cupcakes
Adapted from ‘Better Baking’. Originally a small loaf cake, I made the recipe as cupcakes to use up some baking papers. Either way, it goes nicely with an afternoon cup of tea.
  • Preheat your oven to 160 and prep your muffin tins.
  • Cream 90 gms soft butter with ¾ cup sugar and the zest of 1 orange.
  • Beat in 2 eggs.
  • Sift in 1½ cups SR flour.
  • Fold in ½ cup sour cream and ½ cup sultanas.
  • Add mixture to tin and bake until done; cupcakes will only take about 25 minutes.