Instant noodles challenge

I always thought instant noodles were desperation rations for those days when I can’t be bothered to cook, or go to the supermarket, okay, when I can’t even be motivated to leave the house. And it’s certainly not something you brag about eating… even though Indomie mi goreng can be strangely addictive….

Then I chanced upon, and found a whole instant noodle subculture. There are people who blog about these lowliest of foods. Seriously. Guess what, there are some really good instant noodles out there. And the part which truly blew me away was a good number of these impressive ramen came from Malaysia and Singapore. No. Freaking. Way.

How did I miss all this? After a study of the Top 10, BL and I decided to see if we could track a few of them down in Sydney, and found them in the various Vietnamese Supermarkets in Cabramatta where we were visiting for lunch (Prima Taste instant noodles are available at Tai Ping Supermakets, and MyKuali is available from e-pacs in Auckland). These were the three contenders which we picked for the challenge: Continue reading

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

The first time I cooked this was due to necessity. I had a vegetarian friend coming for dinner, and I was looking for a recipe which would please vegetarians and be substantial enough to appease meat-eaters. Now I cook this because it just tastes great. I’ve made several variations, – this one has bechamel sauce added which I prefer compared to just a tomato sauce, and there are also versions with egg in the spinach/ricotta mixture.
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Pasta with ricotta and spinach

I had some leftover fresh ricotta, and what better way to use it than the classic pairing with spinach. I have a scraggly patch of perpetual spinach in the garden, – it’s super easy to grow, needs no care and free spinach for months (maybe even years)!

Ingredients (makes enough for 4):
300g pasta
250g fresh ricotta
large bunch of spinach
2 tbsp butter
a couple splashes of cream
half a cup of parmigiano reggiano parmesan
handful of pine nuts
half an onion, diced

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Pasta sauce with ricotta

Sabato sells the most fantastic pasta sauce with ricotta forte, which is specially made in Italy for the gourmet food store. Now that I’m trying to be more frugal, paying $15 for a jar of pasta sauce seems just a tad too indulgent.
It can’t be that hard to copy, can it? While I was at Farro Fresh food market pondering this, I saw that they were selling award-winning fresh ricotta from Zany Zeus on special for $5 for 500g, and cans of Italian roma tomatoes for $1.50. Plus vine-ripened tomatoes are easily available and reasonably priced. If this isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is.
So, here is my hack of Sabato’s pasta sauce with ricotta forte.
400ml can of roma tomatoes
4 tomatoes
8 cloves of garlic
half an onion, diced
250g fresh ricotta
olive oil
dried mixed herbs (fresh would be better!)
Roast tomatoes and garlic in hot oven (180°C) for 1 hour. Peel tomatoes and garlic.
Soften onions in a skillet with some olive oil. Add in the can of tomatoes, roasted tomatoes and garlic. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes
Add in ricotta and pinch of mixed herbs. Cook for another 10 minutes.
Blend, season to taste and simmer until it has reached a consistency you prefer. I like mine a bit thicker than proper Italian sauce, but not as thick as supermarket pasta sauce. 
I decided to use 2/3 of this to make a savoury pasta sauce with lamb mince, but the pasta sauce can be used as it is. It’s not an exact copy, but definitely close enough. 

Creamy zucchini and chicken pasta

This is a supremely tasty, easy pasta recipe. Creamy, savoury sauce with the crunch of zucchini ribbons. I used chicken meat (2 free-range breasts), but this recipe will work without meat, or use bacon if you prefer.

Make zucchini ribbons from 3 or 4 zucchinis using a swiss peeler or a mandoline. Slice two cups of mushrooms and half an onion. Crush and chop 3 cloves of garlic. Cut chicken into small pieces, season with salt and pepper.

If you have pine nuts lying around, toss a couple of tablespoons in a hot pan. They brown fast, so make sure you keep an eye on them.

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