Saturday, 23 April 2011

Meat Free Monday: Elk Pasta with Three Cheeses and Paprika

Don't be fooled by this post, I don't really subscribe to the whole idea of "Meat Free Monday".  I simply cannot see how, not eating meat on a Monday is going to make any difference if our neighbours (read - China) keep allowing its factories to spew all sorts of filth into the air and leak sludge into the rivers.  Any way, before someone thinks I've turned to politics or environmental affairs, let me get back to my favourite subject - Cheese!

I had a similar pasta dish at Tyrone's Kitchen a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it, so I was wondering if I'd be able to recreate it in my own little kitchen.  I'm happy to state that it was a success, after tweaking it a little (after all, who has porcino mushroom powder lying around at home?).  As someone once commented op my Grilled Cheese post, "How can you go wrong with cheese?"

Reindeer Pasta with Three Cheeses


  • 250 g pasta (This pasta sauce works well with tagliatelle but I used my elk because that was what I had.)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) cream
  • 2 tsp brown onion soup powder
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • sprinkling of paprika (optional)


  1. Boil the pasta in a big pot of well-salted water using the directions given.  Strain the pasta and reserve some of the cooking water.  Lubricate the pasta with a little drizzle of olive oil so that it doesn't stick and set aside.
  2. Heat the cream and onion soup powder in a large saucepan on medium heat until the cream just starts to bubble.  Working quickly, now stir in the cheddar and mozzarella cheese and keep stirring while the cheese melts into the cream.  At this point, if the sauce looks too thick, add some of the reserved cooking water, one tablespoon at a time, while you continue stirring.
  3. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir well.  Remove from the heat.  Taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. Add the pasta to the saucepan and coat well with the sauce.  Dish up straight away and give it a light sprinkling of paprika.  Serve with a salad and eat it while it's hot.  It doesn't like to sit and wait!
*  You can add some sun dried tomatoes to this, or some bacon, if you like.
*  Elk pasta is available from IKEA stores.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Baba ghanoush: Roasted Aubergine with Tahini and Paprika

This roasted aubergine dish is pretty easy to make and packed with flavour.  The version I made here is called baba ghanoush and is found all over Arabia.  I had its close relative, moutabel when I visited Abu Dhabi earlier this year and (I'm not ashamed to say) it was love at first bite!

It is usually served with some pita bread and cut up raw vegetables for dipping, but be warned - once you start dipping, you won't be able to stop.

Baba Ghanoush


  • 3 aubergines (eggplants)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 Tbsp tahini paste*
  • the juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 Tbsp paprika, plus a little extra for garnishing
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • a few green or black olives (for garnish)
  • chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.  Make some slits in the skins of the aubergines with a sharp knife.  Place them on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven for about 30 minutes.  As soon as the skin starts to split, they are ready.
  2. Allow the aubergines to cool and then peel away the skin from the softened flesh.
  3. Place the flesh, tahini paste, garlic, lemon juice, paprika, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor.  Blend it until you have a smooth paste.  You can add a Tbsp or two of water or olive oil if the paste is too thick.
  4. Spoon the baba ghanoush into a dish and make a shallow well in the middle.  Garnish with the extra paprika, chopped parsley, olives and a good drizzle of olive oil in the middle.  Serve with pitta bread or vegetable crudités or some crusty baguette and dip away.
* Tahini paste is available at speciality shops.  Some recipes substitute tahini with plain unflavoured yoghurt.

Recipe adapted from The Taste of the Middle East, by  Jenni Fleetwood.