Category Archives: pasta

Be fit, Be healthy green spaghetti

A good balanced lunch always sets me up for the afternoon and helps avoid a four pm energy dip. I have recently discovered this lovely brand of Italian organic whole meal dried only takes 7 minutes to cook. It makes a good base to add pesto, seeds, nuts, cheeses, perhaps a poached egg for protein and vegetables too. Whatever is in your fridge. The whole meal pasta has a nutty flavour. I always feel good adding more fibre to my diet.

Ingredients serves 1 person

75grams spaghetti
75 grams Pumpkin chopped into 1cm cubes or smaller
35 grams feta cheese
X1 Tablespoon basil pesto
Large handful baby rocket chopped
Sea salt and cracked pepper
Extra Virgin olive oil

1:bring a pot of well salted water to the boil, cook pumpkin with pasta until al dente, drain (retain a few tablespoons of the water) and return to the pot with the few tablespoons of water.
2: add the rest of the ingredients and toss with extra virgin olive oil and cracked pepper.
3: serve. This would be good at room temperature also.



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July 30, 2013 · 12:31 PM

Moroccan chicken and pastina bake

Moroccan Chicken and pastina bake

500 g cherry tomatoes
10 chicken

1 headgarlic,
broken into cloves
1 tbsp olive

1 large redonion,
thinly sliced
2 litres chicken stock
700 g conchigliette, or other tiny dried pasta
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
1 tsp cumin

1 largeorange,
grated zest and juice
20 g flat-leaf parsley,
roughly chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.

2. Put the cherry tomatoes in a large roasting tin and nestle the chicken thighs and garlic cloves among them. Drizzle over the olive oil, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and bake for 15 minutes.

3. Scatter the onion slices over the chicken and continue baking for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock until steaming hot in a saucepan or microwave.

4. Remove the roasting tin from the oven and stir in the pasta, cinnamon, cumin, orange  zest and juice, and the hot stock. Season lightly again, then return to the oven and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, until the pasta is cooked and all the liquid has been absorbed.

5. Stir the chopped parsley through the chicken and serve straight from the roasting tin.

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Antartic weather calls for warming meals

It has been snowing in Christchurch, New Zealand. This is the first time I can remember snow falling (and settling) on our hill since I have lived here. All this cold weather and productive working days has left me admittingly a disorganised home cook.  No shopping list, no menus prepared, busy days which find me at the end of the day scratching around my cupboard for ingredients to turn into an acceptable meal. On reflection I think I have done ok. Considering I have not made it to my local farmers market for three weeks!.

 I found dried parpadelle flat egg noodle pasta, butternut pumpkin, meaty Portobello mushrooms, Marsala wine, thyme in my garden and cream and whipped together this roasted pumpkin, Marsala mushroom sauce served over al dente parpadelle!. Delicious.

$3.63 mini Chorizo sausage got stretched out into this throw everything that is in the cupboard and fridge pasta, which fed unexpected guests. Chorizo, caramelised maple syrup parsnip, blanched broccoli, toasted pumpkin & sunflower seeds, creamy feta cheese, chicken tenderloin pan-fried & spiral supermarket pasta. We all enjoyed this, it was so moorish.

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Converted for Crepes

I am so excited by my latest purchase a crepe pan. I saw the crepe pan for sale at and have always been afraid of attempting making crepes, they fell into my too hard list. They seemed so delicate and not having the right equipment I have never tried. The crepes were a breeze to make in this pan. I made 10 lovely silky thin crepes, no disasters. I then followed Tessa Kiros recipe for Cannelloni made with soft home-made crepes, wrapped with a rich cinnamon infused meat sauce, rolled and covered with a bechamel sauce and sprinkled in freshly grated parmesan cheese then baked until bubbling and oozing. Every mouthful of this was so decadently tasty and felt perfectly balanced with a green salad.

cinnamon infused slow cooked meat sauce encased in my lovely crepes, awaiting the bechamel sauce and home-made tomato sauce.

The recipe calls for the tomato sauce to be pushed and scattered amongst the bechamel sauce.  It looks so pretty.

Recipe for Meat Canneloni 

Make sure you have a morning set aside, this can be prepared ahead and baked when ready. I made mine on a sunday afternoon.

  • The crepes:3 large eggs
    150g plain flour
    50g butter, melted plus extra butter for frying
    250ml full cream milk
    pinch of saltIn a medium bowl whisk the eggs, add the flour and salt and whisk in. While whisking add the melted butter. Slowly add the milk, whisking until you have a smooth crepe batter. Now put this aside to sit for about 20 minutes. When the batter has rested, heat a small non-stick frypan over medium to high heat and place a little butter in it. As soon as butter has melted, add half a large ladleful of batter to the pan and tilt the pan around until the batter covers the bottom of the frypan. Fry until the underneath is golden and then flip and cook the other side until golden too. Remove from the pan and place on a plate. Continue this process until you have used all the batter. Put the crepes aside until you are ready to use them. If preparing the crepes in advance, allow to cool and cover with cling film and place in the fridge.The tomato sauce:

    1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly smashed
    2 tbsp olive oil
    400g tin of diced tomatoes
    4 basil leaves

    In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and garlic together until you start smelling the garlic odour. Then add the tin of tomatoes and salt to season. Bring to a simmer and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes until the diced tomatoes have broken down. When the sauce is nearly ready add the basil and 1/2 cup water. Optional puree sauce when finished – I didnt. This sauce can also be made in advance, and set aside, or once cooled place in the fridge.

    The meat sauce filling:

    3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 500grams minced beef
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cinnmon stick
  • 1 tablespoon worcester sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon quality smoked paprika (buy from speciality shop)
  • 185ml white wine
  • 400gram tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 handful chopped italian leaf parsley

For the mince sauce, heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the onions over medium heat for 8 minutes until the meat starts to brown, stirring often to prevent sticking and to brown all the mea. Add the wine and cook until it has all evaporated. Add the tomatoes , cook for a few minutes and then add 375ml (1 1/2 cups) of water. Season with salt. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes. Add the parsley for the last ten minutes.

The bechamel sauce:

60g butter
40g plain flour
550ml milk
freshly grated nutmeg

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Over a lowish heat, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth and continue cooking and stirring for a couple minutes to remove the raw flour taste. Slowly add the milk a bit at a time, whisking and adding more milk until all the milk has all been added and the mix is smooth. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Bring this sauce to a boil, and simmer for about 5 minutes, while constantly stirring. When it is ready it will be thick and smooth.

Time to prepare the canneloni:

In addition to the above ingredients, you need 50g grated parmesan cheese.

First, heat up your oven to 180 degrees celcius. Prepare a 20cm x 30cm baking dish by greasing it. To construct the canneloni, place a thin layer of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Place a crepe on a flat work surface, and spoon about 2 heaped tablespoons of the meat sauce along one edge of the crepe and roll up. Place the filled crepe in the baking dish so it fits snugly. Continue this until you have either used all the crepes or have used up all the space in the baking dish.

Once all the crepes are lined up in the baking dish, spread the rest of the bechamel sauce over the top. Sprinkle on the tomato sauce and top with the grated parmesan.

Bake for about 40 minutes until the top is golden and oozing. Let it cool down so its not piping hot. Serve with a freshly dressesd green salad and crusty bread if desired.


Serves 4-6


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Turkish Lamb Manti

I am sure I must have long forgotten ancestors from the old worlde of Eastern Europe in the Southern Caucasus  – Armenia, Turkey, Iran. I feel intuitively drawn to theses flavours, the textures and style of these similar cuisines.

This simple recipe of ground lamb, soft cheese, lemon zest, garlic, paprika, mint & spices combined to make a tasty filling encased in thin pastry to resemble a ravioli. Well loved and commonly known in this region as manti which is simply prepared by baking, frying or steaming.

When Mum and Dad have been travelling they always gets asked where they are from especially from turkish people. They even got invited to a turkish wedding recently. So with jewish roots maybe I really do have it in my blood, I certainly enjoy cooking this style of food.

Mum and Dad

Baked Turkish Lamb Manti with minted Yoghurt Sauce  – Recipe courtesy of DISH magazine Issue 31


  • 24 thin paper thin wonton wrappers
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock


  • 200 grams of full fat lamb mince (if it is low-fat mince it will be too dry)
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese  (or substitute goats cheese or feta cheese)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of ground allspice
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To assemble

  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water

Yoghurt sauce

  • 1 cup thick  plain yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • juice of 1 lemon

Paprika butter

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • mint for garnish

Pre heat the oven to 180°C

Yoghurt Sauce: Whisk the ingredients in a bowl and season

Filling: Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well and season.

To assemble; Lay out 6 wonton wrappers at a time and place a tablespoon of filling in the centre of each. Brush the edges with the egg wash and cover with another wrapper, pressing out any air and firmly sealing the edges. Trim the edges if necessary. Place on a lined baking tray. repeat with the remaining wontons and filling. Brush with olive oil and bake for 5-6 minutes until golden and crisp.

Transfer the manti to a baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. The edges can slightly overlap. Pour the hot chicken stock around the manti and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Paprika butter; Heat the butter, garlic and paprika in a  small saucepan until sizzling.

To serve: Transfer the manti to shallow serving bowls and spoon over the chicken stock. There wont be a lot of stock.

Top with the yoghurt sauce then drizzle with the paprika butter. Garnish with mint and serve immediately with a green salad.


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Meaning; Fervour, Zest, Enthusiasm…

I think this would be one way to sum up how it is when I get together with my best friend Omima. We finish each others sentences, turn up wearing the same dress, read the same magazines,  love the same interior decoration it goes on and on – we joke we are long lost twins however she was born to a Iraqi Mother and I was born to a Kiwi Mother. When she moved to Auckland 2 years ago we have desperately missed our catch ups!. So we had a big catch up over an honest Italian meal when I visited Auckland recently at Gusto Italian Restaurant in Ponsonby.

Panna Cotta

Omima and I were salivating over the set course meal for $95 but Omima has a good excuse for eyes bigger than our stomachs at 28 weeks pregnant. We reined our appetites in and settled for home made Ravioli and Ragu on flat ribbon pasta and saved space more importantly for these delicious deserts. Long after the desert bowls were licked clean and we were deep in birthing conversation that we realised the restaurant had emptied and I was speaking quite loudly!.

Tiramusu - translates Italian for pick me up!


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Good effort for a Monday

Potato gnocchi

I have always been a fan of gnocchi. A tasty little dumpling made with potato and infamous for being stodgy and bland. Yet if you hand make gnocchi in the traditional italian way you will be amazed at the results.  Which may I say are absolutely nothing like the frightening little balls of preservatives and stodge that they sell in the fresh pasta section and aisles of the commercial supermarket. The method is quite simple, so simple I attempted making these on a Monday night, it was quick and succesful. I am addicted to cans of italian Cherry tomatoes at the moment. They are so luxuriously delicious and really add the x factor to what ever I add them to. I used a can of these to make an excellent sauce to accompany my gnocchi .

Potato Gnocchi with Cherry tomatoe sauce

This recipe came from Tana Ramseys cookbook – Home made (I have made a few alterations to the original text)

Ingredients –

  • Floury Potatoes I used Agria, peeled and cut into even-sized pieces
  •  200g flour plus extra for dusting
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

For the Tomato sauce

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • can of cherry tomatoes in juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small handful of fresh basil, roughly torn
  • salt & black pepper

Serves:4  – Prep time:15 minutes – Cooking Time:35 minutes plus 30 minutes chilling


  1. Steam the potatoes for 20-25 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, lightly flour a baking tray.
  2. Remove the potatoes from the steamer and place in a large mixing bowl. Tip in the flour, eggs and parmesan and mash together well using a hand-held mixer or I used my polish potato mouli  (like a giant garlic press but presses potatoes into fluffy mash). Season this with salt. Tip: do not mash these in a food processor it will turn your potatoes to glue.
  3. Using well-flavoured hands, divide the mixture into flour equal portions. One at a time, using your floured hands, roll out each portion on a floured surface into a sausage shape measuring about 2.5cm/1 inch in diameter. Cut each sausage into slices about 1.5cm/5/8 inchs thick. Keep flouring your hands and the knife as you work. Push down each side of the gnocchi on the back of a grater or I used a fork to make an indentation.Pop in the fridge for 30 minutes or more before cooking.
  4. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a pan, add the chopped garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, just long enough to flavour the oil, take care not to burn the garlic. Remove the garlic from the pan and discard. Add the canned tomatoes and cook over a gentle heat until they begin to soften and split. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Just before serving you can add the basil or use the basil to garnish the top of the dish as I did.
  5. Cook the gnocchi in small batches, adding them to already well salted boiling water. As the gnocchi rise to the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon and place on a warmed plate to drain. Divide between four bowls and serve with the tomato sauce.



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