My Favourite Meal

Do you have a dish that you always order when you go out for a meal? I do.  The region I live is famous for  its cafes and restaurants that use locally sourced,  fresh, organic produce, whenever possible.

My favourite meal to eat out is Crab Linguine. Let me share with you a recipe from “The Dirty Dishes” by Isaac Carew (Bluebird: Pam Macmillan Australia) which will allow you to make this restaurant quality meal in your own kitchen. It’s fast, it’s easy!  I may never need to go out for a meal again.

‘The Dirty Dishes: 100 Fast and Delicious Recipes by Isaac Carew,’ Published by Bluebird, RRP $39.

Crab linguine
Crab is quite an underused ingredient. I think a lot of people try brown crab meat first and don’t like it, or find a whole crab a daunting challenge. But it’s actually very easy to cook and the combination of crab and chilli creates a clean-tasting but fiery dish. I nearly always choose linguine over spaghetti – sauces cling to linguine easily and you get more from every mouthful.” pps. 86/87

serves 4

sea salt
olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ medium red chilli, sliced
1 sprig of thyme, leaves only
100ml white wine
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
360g linguine
100g white crab meat
1 tbsp mascarpone
juice of ½ lemon
a few chives, finely chopped, to serve

Whack a saucepan of salted water on to boil. In the meantime, heat a medium frying pan over a low to
medium heat, add a little olive oil and sauté the shallot and garlic until sweet and tender.

Add the chilli to the pan, along with the thyme leaves and cook for a few minutes. Next add the white
wine and cook over a medium heat for another minute or two until the sauce is reduced. Finally add
the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.

Chuck the linguine in the salted boiling water and cook until al dente. Retaining 1–1½ ladles of the
pasta water, strain the pasta and set aside.

Add the crab meat and mascarpone to the sauce, then fold the sauce through the pasta, adding the
reserved water. This will give extra gloss to the dish and a deeper taste. Finish with a little drizzle of
olive oil, the lemon juice and a sprinkling of chives.

 

 

Avocado Pesto Pasta: The Smart Baby Cookbook – Lauren Cheney

SmartBabyCookbook_cover_SML

Smart Baby Cookbook by Lauren Cheney (Murdoch Books RRP $24.99)

 

AVOCADO PESTO PASTA

A deceptively light and summery pasta, combining a dizzying array of flavours and textures, this dish will be a firm family favourite in no time.” p112

Making time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4

180 g (6¼ oz/2 cups) pasta, such as spirals or bowties
1 tablespoon olive oil
150 g (5½ oz/1 cup) grape tomatoes, quartered
Basil leaves, to serve
65 g (2½ oz/½ cup) crumbled feta cheese

Avocado, Spinach & Basil Pesto
25 g (1 oz/½ cup) baby spinach leaves
2 avocados, halved
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
50 g (1¾ oz/1 cup) basil leaves
50 g (1¾ oz/¼ cup) pine nuts, toasted
3 tablespoons olive oil
25 g (1 oz/¼ cup) grated parmesan cheese

 

Cook the pasta according to the packet directions. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, make the pesto. Wilt the spinach leaves by pouring boiling water over them in a bowl and stirring well. Drain and squeeze dry.

Scoop the avocado flesh into a food processor and add the spinach, lemon juice, garlic, basil and pine nuts. Process until smooth, drizzling the oil in slowly. Finally, add the grated parmesan.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and toss quickly, then add the pasta, pesto to taste and enough of the reserved cooking water to make a sauce-like consistency. Gently toss until just combined.

Remove baby’s portion before scattering with basil leaves and crumbled feta.

FOR BABY:
Purée to the desired consistency or cut into bite-size pieces to serve as finger food.

ALL GROWN UP:
Serve with a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon. If you like a bit of heat then add some finely chopped chilli.

SMART TIP
Avocado is nutrient dense with more than 20 minerals and vitamins.

Do You Feel that your Life is on “Shuffle”?

Busy, today in fact the past few days have been busy.  Does your life resemble an mp3/4 player on shuffle – a little bit of this and a bit of that? Reading….blogging, book reviewing and making an awesome beef and eggplant curry (yes you guessed it we have a glut of eggplant at the moment), a bit of housework…a bit of eating, drinking coffee….and relaxing in the sunshine. Perfect. I like this sort of busy.

Tomorrow – time to make pasta sauce – it is very satisfying work making your own sauces, jams, pickles and is a really great way to use up that fridge full of home grown fresh produce.

My Pasta Sauce has no exacting recipe – the most important part is making sure you use a really large pan to cook the sauce in- too often have I been caught out with overflowing saucepans , having underestimated the need of my ingredients. Take on large pan, add a good slug of EVO, some roughly diced onions ( 3 or 4), 1 or 2 roughly diced capsicums, a few cloves of  crushed garlic, cook till onions are translucent and then a few kilos of skinned chopped tomatoes  and a pinch or two of salt and sugar, (you can even add a few diced eggplant if you have them handy). Let mixture come to the boil and then simmer till reduced, lid off, stirring occasionally –this process usually takes a few hours. This sauce is delicious as a pizza base, as a pasta sauce or add some chili and a some cooked beans and you a yummy bean dip or a vegetarian bean mains to have with rice.

Books: I have been very pleasantly distracted by my ebook reader these past few days, I am always on the hunt for a new author to follow, a new world to immerse myself in and this I found in two very different reads; The Bitch Called Hope by Lily Gardner ( I have an advance copy)- a book I could not put down. And Then Go Straight Forward by Bill Johnstone – another murder/mystery written from the perspective of the investigative journalist. My reviews follow.

A Bitch Called Hope – Lily Gardner

ISBN: 9781938120978

Synopsis (Diversion Books)

A Bitch Called Hope is the poker term for drawing the queen-eight in Texas Hold ‘Em. There’s not enough luck in the world to build a winning hand with those cards, but it’s so tempting to try.

Meet Lennox Cooper. She’s a smart poker player, a smart detective, but she’s got issues. A year ago her affair with a married cop got her fired from the Portland Police. Now she’s trying to build a new life as a private investigator, but all she’d landed so far are surveillance gigs.

The murder of a wealthy developer gives her a chance to re-establish herself as a homicide detective. During the course of the investigation she meets Mr. Right. Only problem, he’s on the short list of suspects. Lennox bets on her lover’s innocence. The odds aren’t much better than drawing A Bitch Called Hope.

My View:

The title drew me in– the poker  reference had me intrigued and I was not disappointed. What a ride! What a hand Lennox Cooper had drawn! A roller coaster ride of action and intrigue, violence mixed in with the humanity of human failings and the universal need for love. Lennox Cooper is a modern day Kinsey Millhone – she is gutsy, heroic, smart, good at her job; the woman just needs a break and Mr Right.

This novel is a well crafted, a fast paced explosion of action and drama. I didn’t guess the killer. I didn’t guess the ending. I didn’t put the book down till I had reached the (almost) satisfying end.  What a debut novel. I cannot wait for the next book and to follow Lennox Cooper on her next adventures. Lily Gardner where have you been hiding?

Then Go Straight Forward – Bill Johnstone

ISBN: 9781478397236

Synopsis (Provide by Amazon/Createspace)

The shooting of two apparently innocent tourists on vacation in northern Florida and a fire in a wealthy neighbourhood of Washington, DC are two seemingly unconnected incidents. However, they prove to be strands in a mysterious pattern involving organized crime, a children’s charity, the clergy and a dead security agent. Together they trigger an investigation by journalist Mike McCabe whose news instincts determine he follows the clues to the bitter end. The book is the sequel to another Mike McCabe adventure, White Collar Option.

My View:

Johnstone weaves an intricate tale of murder, arson and intrigue which at first is a little confusing and dislocate.  I had to force myself to read past the opening chapters – these read like mini books, I could not connect the dots….could not weave the strands together.   Perseverance paid off, suddenly I found myself engrossed and reading fervently; the pace increased, the story unfolded smoothly and all became clear. I finally engaged with the story and enjoyed the book from that point on.

What are you reading now – anything worth recommending? I prefer contemporary thriller/crime and am not adverse to perhaps a little paranormal in the mix and a glass (or two) of fresh cool Sav Blanc to lubricate the mind as one reads. 🙂