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Meals for our four-year old are always a challenge, with refusal to eat anything outside of baked beans and vegemite sandwiches the norm.  One exception is spaghetti bolognaise (into which I smuggle a goodly amount of grated vegies) which is enjoyed by all.  One evening Rex was so disappointed to discover that the babies had polished off the remainder of the previous day’s bolognaise for lunch, that I improvised this lentil bolognaise.  It was really quick and tasty, and will definitely become a regular.

Quick Lentil Bolognaise

  • 1 tin of lentils, drained and rinsed (the Italian ones have the prettiest labels)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 tin of diced tomatoes (again, I like the Italian ones)
  • 1 sachet (or 2 tbsp) tomato paste
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • pinch dried thyme and oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • about a tablespoon of olive oil
  • pasta and parmesan to serve

Grate onion, carrot and zucchini and add to saucepan with olive oil.  Stir over medium heat until starting to soften.  I add a bit of salt at this stage so that the vegies let out a bit of juice and don’t catch as easily. 

Before they start to brown, add the tomatoes, about half a tin of water and the tomato paste and stir well.  Add garlic and dried herbs and bring to boil.

Reduce to a simmer and add lentils.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until tender. 

Season to taste and serve with pasta and parmesan.

 …

Otherwise, there is always the What’s-in-the-fridge bento special …

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Inspired by Michelle‘s Veg Wednesday posts …

444px-Waldorf-Astoria_1904-1908b

Joseph Pennell (U.S., 1854-1926)
Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Thirty-Fourth Street and Fifth Avenue (original location).  c. 1904-08
drawing on brown paper : colored crayons over pencil sketch ; sheet 29.3 x 23.1 cm
Library of Congress
Image via here.

The camera was charging so I couldn’t take a photo of the real thing, so here is a picture of the Waldorf itself.  I love Waldorf salad, it somehow seems classic yet whimsical at the same time, and I am always happy to revisit it when I remember it.  It’s a boon when there isn’t an otherwise cohesive collection of ingredients on hand – I actually prefer some limitations as it often results in more creative menu-planning.  (My Veg Wednesday forays are more about including more vegetables in our diet rather than being strictly vegetarian.)  So this is what we had the other night based on what was on hand.

Oven-baked risotto (inspired by a Donna Hay recipe for pumpkin risotto from The Age years ago)

  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 cups stock
  • 1/2 cup water or wine
  • 2 medium zucchinis, grated
  • kernels from 1 medium cob of corn
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 30g butter
  • salt and pepper
  • Parmesan

Combine everything except cheese in a lidded casserole/oven dish.  Overlap some foil over the top of the dish and put on the lid.

Bake in moderate oven for about 30-40 minutes, until all liquid is nearly absorbed and rice is firm but tender (al dente I guess).  Be careful not to overcook or it will be mushy.

Grate in some parmesan, stir and replace lid for a few minutes.  Serve with more parmesan.

Waldorf Salad  (You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but this is what I did)

  • celery, finely sliced
  • red apples, cored and diced
  • walnuts
  • just enough mayonnaise to dress

Combine all ingredients.  Serve in a bowl lined with cos lettuce leaves if you like (I actually used some iceberg).  Stephanie Alexander also includes orange segments in the salad, but I haven’t tried this.

Stephanie also mentions that the salad can be dressed with sour cream.  Although usually one for a chef-approved shortcut, I couldn’t resist the lure of homemade mayonnaise.   I made mine with 1 egg yolk, salt, a small squeeze of lemon juice and 100mls oil (1/2 e v olive and 1/2 peanut as I find all olive oil too strong).  I used about half of this for my salad.

And for dessert, chocolate chip cookies from the River Cottage Family Cookbook.  These were at the behest of my young sous-chef and they were REALLY good.  (And the book is too.)

knit 059a

Inspired by Michelle’s Veg Wednesday posts …

rex party 074

This recipe, based loosely on an Australian Women’s Weekly one, is a regular around here, and a reasonably successful way of upping the vegie intake in the 4-year-old’s diet, especially when he gets to help make them.  I also like to make these to go with soup for lunch if we don’t have any bread on hand.

Savory Muffins

  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 small zucchini
  • kernals from half a cob of corn
  • 100g cheese (I use a mixture of tasty cheddar and parmesan)
  • 3/4 cup SR flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup cornflake crumbs* or rolled oats
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I use grape seed)
  • 1/2 cup milk

Grate carrot, zucchini and cheese into a large mixing bowl, add corn.  Mix through flour, then add all other ingredients and mix just until well combined.  Be careful not to over-mix.

Spoon into muffin tin (I get 12 large muffins) and bake at 180 deg. C until muffins are golden and bounce back  a bit when prodded.  (This takes about 10-15 minutes in my oven).  Allow to cool in tin a few minutes before turning out. 

(Despite the picture above, I usually use silicon muffin pans so I don’t grease them or use patty-pans, but you may need to with metal tins).

muffins

*The original recipe called for oats, which I used until one day I was out of them and tried the cornflake crumbs instead.  The muffins seemed to rise better and be tastier, so I use them all the time now.  I usually have cornflake crumbs in the cupboard as when I last looked, they more resembled  real food than normal packaged breadcrumbs.

Inspired by Michelle’s Veg Wednesday posts …

P1060479

Well, it’s not strictly a vegetable dish – I think cocoa beans are actually fruit – but it doesn’t contain any meat …  and it is worth sharing.

Last night after a mixed up day of clashing schedules and lunch at 4pm, we decided to treat ourselves to a late take-away dinner from here after bedtime-for-four-year-olds.  We always have the soya beans in rice wine, wonton soup and a main with rice between us.  On a quick look at the Ravelry forums, I noticed a thread entitled “4 min chocolate mousse”, so had to investigate.  This led me here to a step-by step version of what is said to be a Gordon Ramsay recipe.  Lo and behold I just happened to have all the ingredients on hand!  It took a bit longer than 4 minutes, but was very quick and ready to eat after settling some young ones.  It is a little different to the mousse recipe I usually make, but may well become the one I turn to now as it is very good.  Here it is all on one page.

Gordon’s Quick Chocolate Mousse

  • 100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces (I used Lindt 70%)
  • 300mls cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg white

Put your serving glasses in the freezer to pre-chill.  (I used clear arcoroc tea cups, but ramekins would also be suitable – just not the fine glasswear that may not like sudden changes in temperature).  Heat half of the cream on low heat until it comes to the boil.  Add chocolate and remove from heat.  Leave for a minute then mix gently until chocolate fully melted.  (Gordon allegedly puts pot in an ice bath to cool it more quickly but I didn’t.  The pan shouldn’t be too hot before the next step).  Mix in rest of cream.

Whip egg white with hand-held electric beater until soft peaks form, add sugar and continue to beat until incorporated and mixture is stiff and glossy.  Then beat the chocolate mixture with the beaters to thicken (don’t know if this is really necessary if you are using a thick cream anyway).

Gently mix meringue into chocolate mixture until incorporated.  Fill chilled glasses/serving dishes and chill again for as long as you can wait. (I just popped them back in the freezer for 10 minutes).  Serve with more cream if you can bear it.

This made 4 greedy teacup-sized serves, or could stretch to 6 espresso cup-sized serves.  It is very rich and very good.  And the perfect end to a delicious  meal that I didn’t have to otherwise cook.

mushroom

The lovely Michelle has been posting vegetable recipes on Wednesdays, initially under the title “Veg Wednesday”, so I thought I would join in with the fun of sharing new (to us) meat-free meals that we come up with during the week.

We love Beef Stroganoff, but decided the nicest thing about it was the onion/mushroom/butter base, and that it would work well without the meat.

Mushroom Stroganoff with Confetti Rice

  • 1 onion
  • 10-20 mushrooms, depending on size (whatever looks like a good amount for a meal), sliced
  • 30g butter
  • dash of olive oil
  • nutmeg
  • 1 tsp grainy mustard
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tbsp paprika (or to taste)
  • salt and pepper

Melt half the butter in heavy pan (I use a saute pan) and add a drop of oil.  Fry onion for a minute or so until softened, then add mushrooms with a little more butter.  Fry mushroom, stirring frequently,  until soft and cooked through.

Grate over some nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.  Mix in mustard and paprika, then sour cream.  When combined, removed from heat and serve with rice.

Serves about 2-3

Confetti rice is one of my shortcuts (that I unvented* this week).   I used to just add in peas, but tried this when I was out of them, and it looks very pretty.  Just add small dice of carrot, chopped beans and corn kernels to cook with rice. 

rice

*apologies to Elizabeth Zimmermann

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