From Lunch

5 Minute || Lemon Peppercorn Pasta

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Here is a quick & tasty lunch or dinner idea for using leftover pasta. There are two things that make this dish fabulous – good ingredients & the rich egg yolk adding a quick & easy no cook sauce. I love to use Rustichella d’Abruzzo Bucatini Dry Pasta [available at Whole Foods], and pink peppercorns for their delicate peppery bite wrapped in sweet fruitiness. Don’t be afraid of the egg yolk going in raw, the heat of the pasta will cook it to the perfect consistency. From start to end this dish takes about 5 minutes, providing you have left over pasta to just reheat.

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Art Camp || A+BLT

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Here is a quick & easy lunch that we whipped up at Camp Wandawega a few week ago while attending Art Camp and assigned as cook for Friday lunch & dinner. I made a round of A+B.L.T – that is avocado mayo + bacon, lettuce & tomato rolls, with a side of chips & pickles.

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They were served up in eco-friendly trays, lined with pre-cut parchment paper. I love the Web Restaurant Store for disposable items, they have a good selection of eco-friendly products and the prices are great. We entertain a great deal at our house, and for larger parties this store is a go-to for easy clean-up.

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Pie || aussie comfort food

Nothing warms the heart of a Australian like a meat pie. A tradition shared with Grandparents for a Saturday lunch, a must to be consumed at an Aussie sporting event, and a desperate desire after a few too many. The Aussie meat pie provides comfort. In need of some comfort food and far from the Aussie shores with a good bakery selling meat pies I had to go to the effort [with the help of the Husband] of making them myself. Pretty easy really, they just take a little time to put together.

Make a stew of your favorite kind. Here are a few ideas: Guinness, Cheese & Steak; Curried Chicken; Beef Burgundy; Lamb & Rosemary with Red Wine; or anything that you can cook-up in a crock-pot will work too.

To make the casing for the pie use some store-bought ready rolled puff pastry. All you need to do is line some pie tins with puff pastry on the bottom, add in some warm filling, add-on a lid and seal up the pastry. Then cook in the oven at 350*F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.

Once cooked serve it with some tomato sauce [not ketchup] and add a side of warm peas. I prefer to eat my with my hands, but my husband likes to go at it with a knife and fork. Warning – pie eating with the hands is a skill, one that we are taught as kids in Australia growing up, it can get very messy.

Want to read more about Aussie Pies? Here are a few blog posts to check out: Pie in the Sky; Wikipedia – Aussie / NZ Pies; head head here in the USA to buy online or visit them in NYC; and love this method for making mini pies.

dip .. and eat - repeat.

Vietnamese || spring rolls

This is great for fast meals during the week, for using up leftovers, and is an easy introduction into cooking, providing a fun yet casual & impromptu gathering of friends – get them to do the work. There really are no rules for what you can wrap into the rice paper, you can make them with fruit, add in lettuce, whatever you fancy and think will taste good rolled together – just go for it. Here is my take on the dish:

For the basics you will need the following:

  • 1 packet – Vermicilli [rice] noodles [cooked according to the directions]
  • 1 packet – Spring roll wrappers
  • 1 bunch – Basil
  • 1 bunch – Cilantro
  • 1 bottle – Sriracha sauce
  • 1 bottle – Sweet chili sauce
  • 1 bottle – Hoisin sauce

For everything else it is up to you and what is leftover in the fridge, but here are some ideas:

  • 1 small – Cucumber cut into long thin slices [fancy terms -' julienne' or 'matchstick' style]
  • 1 medium – Carrot cut into matchsticks
  • 1 packet – Bean sprouts
  • 1-2 chicken breasts – Cooked and shredded [this is where I use left overs]
  • 5-10 shrimp – Cooked & peeled

PART ONE: Prepare all the ingredients and have them laid for easy access as this is all about assembling.
PART TWO: Fill a large bowl / pot with room temperature water to soak the spring roll / rice paper wrappers in.
PART THREE: Take rice wrapper, place it in the water and let it soak for 10-15 seconds until it is pliable.
PART FOUR: Take it out of the water and place it on the counter or a plate, don’t worry about the water it will continue to soak into the wrapper.
PART FIVE: Layer all your ingredients onto the wrapper at one end leaving some space to fold in the edges. I like to add a little sauce like Hoisin, mixed with a little fish sauce to flavor the noodles before I start rolling.
PART SIX: Once you have all the items you want into the wrapper, fold the sides in, and then start rolling. And another trick is to add some extra herbs 2/3 way through rolling so that you can seem them through the wrapper.
PART SEVEN: You can then cut the roll, or just dip and eat. SIMPLE.

Next time you are at the supermarket grab the ‘basics’ so you have them on hand, and when in doubt for what to do for dinner with a pile of left overs – SPRING ROLLS !

One-pot || chipotle butternut & apple soup

What can be better on a fall day than to warm the soul with a big hearty bowl of soup. It is easy to heat & transport and of course can be made in ONE-POT. With butternut squash and pumpkins a-plenty at this time of the year, I am sharing some inspiration for ‘Chipotle Butternut Squash & Apple Soup‘. This one is a good one for the vegetarians out there. It has creamy butternut squash, sweet apples, and the smokiness and heat added from the chipotle.

All-in-all soups are a great starting point in my mind for anyone to start to explore the world of cooking. It is hard to mess this dish up, you just have to remember that you can always ADD you can’t take it out, so word of advice – go easy with layering in the flavors, you can always add more. Here is a link to a similar recipe for some guidance. Below is my ad hoc take on a hearty fall classic.

Ingredients:
+ 1 large Butternut squash cubed and without the skin
+ 2-3 apples peeled, cored and cut into slices
+ 3-4 Small shallots thinly sliced [you can use onions but I like shallots]
+ 1/2 Stick of butter or olive oil
+ 1 Handful fresh herbs [chives / parsley / oregano]
+ 1/4 – 1 Teaspoon of chipotle in adobo sauce [for desired heat]
+ 2 Cups vegetable stock
+ Salt / Pepper to season
+ Crusty Bread for serving

PART ONE: Melt the butter in the pan.
PART TWO: Add in the shallots / onions and garlic and saute.
PART THREE: Add in the apples and butternut and start the cooking process.
PART FOUR: Add in the stock, the aromatics, and chipotle.
PART FIVE: Keep stirring every 5-7 minutes and taste as you go to see what seasoning is needed to be added.
PART SIX: Once the apples and pumpkin are cooked through [can stick a fork in them], add them to the blender and whizz them up.
PART SEVEN: Return to the stove to cool a little and then serve at the desired temperature.

For added flavor you can also roast the vegetables first in the pan in the oven, and then add in the stock and other ingredients on the stove top and simmer for 30-40 minutes before blending. I like to serve this with: fresh cilantro; a little yoghurt; and corn kennels over the top [cooked and frozen from summer , OR you can get the frozen ‘fire roasted’ version from Trader Joes].