Pork chops and cabbage salad

It’s late spring and BBQ season here in Adelaide, so recently we have been giving our gas and charcoal BBQs a workout. We like cooking on the grill because of the ease of clean up, especially on a busy weeknight after work. Some simply seasoned meat, a salad and that’s dinner done.

Last night featured thick pork loin chops, marinated with a little soy while the grill heated up. The salad was a simple mix of two types of cabbage, purple and white, finely sliced on the mandolin,  a grated carrot, two spring onions cut into rings, a red capsicum (bell pepper) and some ripped coriander leaves.

To follow with the Asian theme I whipped up a dressing for the salad with a combination of soy, canola oil, a drop of sesame oil, a squeeze of fresh lime and a few teaspoons of a sesame nut spread that we normally use for toast. The salt of the soy sauce was balanced by the sweetness of the nut spread and the addition of lime created a freshness that matched the season!

A grind of fresh pepper on the chops, toss the salad and serve up. A thirty-minute meal for busy people. Leftover slaw for my lunch. What could be finer?

A simple dinner, yet so satisfying.

Remembering Louise Pergolini Tucker

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Louise Pergolini the graduate nurse in 1945

Tomorrow, the 10th of April will be seven years since we lost our mother Louise and I know we all think of her daily. More often than not I think of her in the kitchen. The place where she prepared so many meals for her six children and anyone we brought home with us. The room with a table around which 12 people could sit comfortably. Where there was always a light on and a chance to talk about your day.

Today, the day before what would have also been her 88th birthday, my husband decided to cook one of my mother’s favourite dishes in her honour. The dish she always ordered when it was available. A dish that spoke volumes of her Italian heritage – spaghetti con cozze.

The mussels Andrew cooked came from a farm in Port Lincoln here in South Australia. They were big and juicy and oh so fresh. Quickly cooked with some parsley, garlic, fresh tomato and white wine. Simple and tasty. Louise on a plate.

Buon appetito.

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Early autumn second harvest

Here in South Australia we are having sublime autumn weather. The summer fruits are gone and the cucumbers just about finished. But the tomatoes have a long season if you do a second planting just around Christmas. These beauties were found at the Adelaide Central Market last night. Our bush at home is getting there too. I see a week of salads to celebrate this lovely second harvest, before the cooler temps settle in.

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Food inspiration ~ Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli

Food inspiration takes many forms: a favourite meal remembered, a key ingredient you’ve been wanting to try, a special request from a loved one, a new recipe. Well, my beloved husband Roo has been the lucky recipient of a new kitchen tool, a little press for cutting out ravioli. This is his inspiration.

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I recently arrived back from a month in Italy during which time I attended a blogging conference in the Abruzzo region of Italy. There were inspired speakers and technical sessions as well as a bit of food and wine! Most of the bloggers were focussed on food, wine and tourism with a particular interest in the Abruzzo. As a thank you for keeping the home fires burning I brought my husband a few kitchen implements and the ravioli cutter was amongst them.

Armed with the ravioli cutter, a bag of locally grown Pangkarra stone-milled wholegrain durum wheat, and some fresh ricotta and spinach, Roo decided on spinach and ricotta ravioli with a simple tomato sugo. Rather than describe the process, I have photographed it. The recipe will follow the pictures.

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Making the pasta
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The local Adelaide ricotta with fresh blanched spinach and some grated nutmeg
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Rolling out the pasta which had rested for 30 minutes in the refrigerator
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Putting the filling on the rolled pasta sheet
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Top layer of pasta is placed on, then the tool used to cut out the ravioli
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The sugo is cooking nicely and the ravioli need about 7 or 8 minutes to cook
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The final result with pepperoncini and pecorino cheese
Pangkarra durum flour
Pangkarra wholegrain durum flour

The Recipe ~ Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli  (about 40 ravioli – two large servings)

Pasta:
200 grams Pangkarra wholemeal durum flour
1/3 cup water
2 eggs
Pinch of salt
Dash of olive oil
2/3 of a beaten egg for helping pastry stick
Grated pecorino cheese and pepperoncini to serve
Filling:
125 grams ricotta
1/3 of a beaten egg
1 large handful of blanched spinach
Pinch of nutmeg
2 teaspoons of pecorino cheese
Salt & Pepper
For the pasta:
  • Blend ingredients (except pecorino, beaten egg and pepperoncini) in a food processor (or just create a well in the flour and mixing with hands) until combined.
  • Knead until smooth, about 10 to 15 minutes. Moisten with more water if the pasta seems too dry (wholemeal flour is more absorbent).
  • Roll the pasta into a ball, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the filling:
  • Blanch, cool and strain the spinach.
  • Season the ricotta with salt pepper and some pecorino cheese.
  • Blend the cooled spinach into the ricotta.
After resting the pasta:

  • Put a bit of flour on the bench and begin rolling out the pasta with a rolling pin. Note: if you have a machine, flatten the dough a bit to fit through the machine then start running it through the machine.
  • Continue rolling out, trying to keep the pasta thin and in a rectangular shape. You want a thin and satiny pasta.
  • Roughly mark out half of the pasta sheet, using the cutter to determine the size of each raviolo. You need to make sure you have 2 more or less equal pieces of pasta as one has to lay over the top of the other after the filling has been placed at intervals.
  • You can put a few light marks in the dough with the cutter to indicate each square, being careful not to push right through.
  • Place a dollop of the ricotta in each square that you have marked out.
  • Brush some of the beaten egg around the perimeter of each dollop.
  • Loosely cover the pasta sheet that you dolloped the ricotta onto with the top sheet.
  • Lightly press around each dollop to remove air bubbles.
  • Use the cutter to press through and create individual squares (see picture).
Pop  the ravioli into a pan of boiling salted water and cook for about 8 minutes (this may seem excessive, but wholegrain flour takes a little longer),
Strain and serve with a simple tomato sauce  topped with grated pecorino and pepperoncini (or your favourite sauce).
Buon Appetito!

And suddenly it was February

Oh January, where have you gone? We rang in the new year from the comfort of our back yard with a little drink and some cheese and crackers and bits. It was a warm night and a quiet one for us.

The weather has been very hot for the last month or so and the rainwater tanks are getting quite low, however the garden has produced tomatoes, cucumbers, rocket, cos lettuce and more. Summer really is all about tomatoes and along with some failures we have had some successes!

While composing this post in my head I had the idea that there was not the usual amount of food in our lives in summer compared with winter. Because of the heat we have had mainly small meals and mostly of  the salad variety. Roo does get creative fortunately so a salad is never boring here.

The last month of heat has taken its toll of the cats (our two and the visiting black and white Fufu), seen here just lying low to keep as cool as possible.

We had a minor reprieve with the weather for the last week but, if previous years are anything to go by, we still have some corkers to come. Thank heavens for the bedroom ceiling fans!

Food first

Well, it looks like I am doing a pretty miserable job this year in the blogging department. I might have overdone it last year and set expectations too high gentle readers!

So I will just share with you one of the lovely vegetarian meals that we cooked and ate last weekend.

Potato bake with sour cream, leeks and swiss chard; over-roasted butternut pumpkin with chilli flakes; some big honking roasted mushrooms
Potato bake with sour cream, leeks and swiss chard; over-roasted butternut pumpkin with chilli flakes; some big honking roasted mushrooms

The potato bake was inspired by something in a recent Australian Gourmet Traveller mag. I suggested it and bought all the ingredients, but Roo and Emily did most of the work.

This vego thing…

OK, so some time ago we decided to go Vego at Home at home while my vegetarian niece was living with us.  Well, she has arrived. No meat has crossed the thresh-hold for a week and a day.

So has it make any difference eating Vego at Home so far? Well, I have noticed that I don’t feel the need for alcohol with my vegetarian meals, though, out of habit I have had a little wine with some meals.  I thought it would feel that we were eating lighter, but actually we seem to be substituting starch in the evening meal (potatoes and bread) where before we may not have had any at night. Like these two meals:

Grilled zucchini, mozzarella, tomato, basil, chili and garlic on Lebanese bread

This dish was adapted from something on the cover of an Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine.

Potato, asparagus and jalapeno with some cheese and yogurt

And this one Emily’s mother emailed to her.  Again we varied it by using asparagus instead of the recommended broccoli, because that’s what we had in the fridge.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both these meals and some others that we’ve had. So Vego at Home thing will continue.  Watch this space…

Rocket, fennel, orange and almond salad

Rocket (Arugula to my North American readers) grows in my garden in winter. So, inspired by Amanda Daniel from 2bEthical who made a winter salad at the Adelaide Showgrounds Farmer’s Market demo kitchen, I did a version of my own. All local produce including the olive oil that I used to warm the local almonds with. Gotta love the Mediterranean climate here in Adelaide. Yummy salad.