Those of you who have been following my blog for some time, will know that Norwegian and Scandinavian things are very close to my heart, so it will come as no surprise to read that I am sharing a Norwegian recipe with you.
This is a traditional Norwegian cake with an intense yellow colour. Not too sweet but a perfect accompaniment to coffee or tea.
NB. This is not Julekake – or Julekake which sounds similar, is equally delicious and is served at Christmas time. No, this is Gulkake as in ‘Gul’ – the norwegian word for yellow.
Gul Blomst = Yellow Flower; Gul Trøye = Yellow Jersey therefore:
Gul Kake = Yellow Cake – well, you get the idea.
The intense yellow colour comes from the SIX egg yolks this recipe contains and that’s also the reason it’s a great time of year to make it, if you live in the southern hemisphere?
Why this time of year?
Because those of us around the southern Ocean, that is Australians and New Zealanders, are busily creating loads of Pavlovas to eat with friends. Pavlovas are often the first choice of dessert, for summer time barbeques, as well as Christmas menus, as it’s too darn hot for warm desserts like plum puddings.
Pavlovas may contain as much as 7 egg whites and you can rapidly get really sick of making omelettes with the leftover yolks. Therefore, making ‘Gulkake,’ is a great alternative to combine when making a ‘Pav,’ (as we like to call them).
You do know Australians shorten names for everything don’t you?
It is 1996 and I’m a young mum with two small sons. They’re two demanding boys, with big ideas and fertile minds. They want to play, but it’s time to prepare dinner for the family.
The oldest boy turns back to set up electrical circuits with batteries and LED light bulbs, whilst the smaller son, Master Three, gathers soft toys, from his prodigious collection, that would be the envy of any Sesame Street cast member and sets up a puppet show singing tunes of Thomas the Tank Engine. I turn back to the stove.
Besides the two boys and the Moth, there is a third child in the house.
I have a daughter I am about to lose. She is not mine, but one I am caring for and have grown so fond of. In less than a week from this night, she will return home to Denmark and we will miss her dreadfully.
Over the eleven months she lived in our family as a Danish Exchange student, we learnt things about Danish life and travelled to a gazillion Aussie places to show her as much of Australia as one can do, with two small boys in tow.
For her last meal on Australian soil, she asks if I can serve her an Aussie Meat Pie. Nothing fancy, just a Meat pie.
She tells me that there are no Meat pies served in Denmark and laments that she will miss those piping hot, oh-so-tender meaty chunks, steeped in rich gravy and covered with a rather messy, get-it-all-over-your-lap, flaky style pastry. Later that week, she eats that pie topped with blood-red squirts of tomato sauce. Yes, that means ‘ketchup,’ but it’s never called that here.
Meat Pie Etiquette
There are unwritten rules about how one should eat a meat pie, especially at the footy.
Take off the pie top and eat.
Squirt tomato sauce on top of meat.
Eat tomato-sauce topped meat from inside the pie
Eat the meatless pie crust last
When our dear “exchange daughter,” returns to visit us in a few years, her first request is:
“Can we have Meat pie for dinner?”
Origins of the Australian Meat Pie
An Australian meat pie was produced in 1947 by L. T. McClure in a small bakery in Bendigo and became the famous Four’ n Twenty pie. … Other manufacturers predate this, and the pie manufacturer Sargent can trace their pie-making back to 1891.
Whatever its origin, Meat pie is as Aussie as a “snag” on the Barbie, as Kangaroos, AFL, (Australian Football), and Holden ‘utes.’ Which reminds me of a song, one that Bushboy might recognize?
Making a Meat Pie
I’ve not made a meat pie myself, so I have no special recipe to share. (Sorry to disappoint you, Sandy). For many years, I was vegetarian and I completely lost the taste for eating any kind of meat. But then the Geebung bakers came along and ruined my meat-free diet.
Trying to emulate the lofty cooking skills of TheBun ‘n Oven bakery, (in the very iconically named suburb of Geebung, in Queensland), or the highly acclaimed piemakers of The Yatala Pie Company, would be doomed to failure. These bakers are Kings in creating a flaky, melt-in-your-mouth pie pastry with top quality ingredients. [And no, this is not a paid advertisement.]
Meat pies are found on offer at most Bakeries in Australia, along with the Lamington, another iconic Aussie food. Although you may find dubious imitations of meat pies, in the frozen section of any supermarket, you might need a cast-iron stomach to tolerate those of lesser quality.
Meat Pie Accompaniments
Some Australians prefer their Meat pies served with Mushy Peas atop, something that is more English than Australian, or a cottage pie, with potato and a sprinkle of cheese.
Boringly, a Meat pie in our family NEEDS to be served with lashings of mashed potatoes and green peas. It’s essential, (according to the Moth), and he refuses to eat one without these mundane accompaniments.
In a modern world, where kale and chia seeds might reign supreme, this humble dish, with its high cholesterol reputation and high-fat content, is fast becoming less popular with Australians.
Readers brave enough to take on the Geebung Bakers could try this Meat pie recipe.
Have you a particular dish that you know you don’t like, but have never really ever tried it?
Or perhaps you were once bitten, twice shy in regards to a particular food?
For me, that was Sticky Date Pudding.
I would swerve away from these dried out chewy concoctions at buffets and head straight for the chocolate mousse, pavlovas or berry desserts on offer. I am not really a fan of dates, anyway, unless they are in a Mocha Date loaf, one that I have made at home, myself.
Would you call that being a kind of food snob? Hand up – that’s me!
The thought that I was a food snob struck me in an idle moment yesterday, as I was adding the last of the brown sugar from its packet, atop my morning porridge.
As is my habit, I double-checked the information on the side of the empty brown sugar packet, prior to disposing of the packet, in case there was an interesting recipe that I might consider making.
“Oh.” I sighed with resignation, disappointed to see the suggested recipe was merely sticky date pudding. I tossed the packet aside to go in the rubbish.
Not interested in that, I thought.
Nevertheless, with the topic of pudding on my mind, I struck up a conversation with the M.o.t.h. (aka Man of the House).
“Do you like Sticky Date Pudding?”
“No, I don’t.” was his curt reply. “Never have,” he said, shutting down the topic fast.
I can only blame some kind of homemaker’s intuition that made me re-consider that recipe for sticky date pudding, or it could have been the brainwashing of those Zero waste bloggers.
I noted that cream was one of the listed ingredients in the sauce and making it would mean I could use up the leftover cream sitting in the fridge and not feel guilt at being wasteful.
Add to this, I do like to try new recipes and I had never made this before. I am making #onecakeaweek over at the Home by the Sea and a pudding would be a lovely addition to the theme.
What is the Health Benefits of Eating Dates?
Often maligned, dates are surprisingly good for your health. They may aid with digestion, improve bone health, lower cholesterol and are a tasty source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and fibre. Amazing, really.
The umpteen health benefits of dates has made the delicious fruit one of the most sought after foods in the world of health and nutrition.
So, last night at the Home by the Sea, I made that CSR version of Sticky Date Pudding. Can you believe it turned out to be highly successful with the Moth and a completely delightful surprise for me. (Otherwise, it probably would not rate a whole blog post).
It was soft and delicate and there was not one sign of a chewy date, just a subtle fruity flavour with a freshly baked cake-like texture. The butterscotch sauce, which I was so wary of, initially, could be described as a creamy and buttery, ‘nectar of the Gods,’ with a molasses-like sugary flavour that oozed over the pudding, like velvet.
Why was I so tentative about Sticky Dates? This was not the same dried out chewy version of pudding, I always thought of, at all.
As you have surely guessed, I am now a convert, and the M.o.t.h. could not stop raving about it. In fact, so enamoured was he with this version of Pudding he was going back to the kitchen for a third helping, when I intervened suggesting he might like to keep some for the following night. (I was considering his waistline, of course!)
In addition to our regular posts, the Friendly Friday team at TheSandyChronicles and StPA, are featuring Guest Posts from Bloggers who contribute to the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge.
Ju-Lyn, a Singaporean blogger, from All Things Bright and Beautiful especially enjoys food and cooking, in addition to making ‘purposeful choices, ‘ and has kindly contributed a guest post to our weekly theme of “Something Different,“ in the form of a post about a Basque Burnt Cheesecake.
Ju-Lyn regularly posts mouth-watering foodie delights, on her blog, and this recipe is no exception.
Did someone say Cheesecake?
I hope you will be tempted to try it, for yourself.
Guest Post by All Things Bright and Beautiful
I love cheesecake, of all sorts: baked/unbaked, cream cheese/ricotta, New York/Japanese. I will scoff each with delight!
It was love at first bite! So enamoured was I that I didn’t realise there was no crust, which I only registered in retrospect. I have never made a cheesecake without a crust before so the idea intrigued me and I begged the recipe off the friend, who gifted me the slice.
It took us a while to get started because our baking shop was out of 500g tubes of cream cheese. After searching for more than a week with no small tubes in sight, I decided to take the plunge and bought a 2kg block. With this quantity, I was free to experiment. The recipe is simple enough, but it makes a tall cake baked in a 6-in circle tin, resulting in a silky gooey centre. Older Daughter wanted to see if dividing the batch into two, (ie. 2 x 6-in tins), would make any difference as she prefers a firmer crumb.
So we did. The verdict is split. Half of us love the taller version, with a slightly squidgy centre. The other half prefer the uniformly firmer texture of the shorter slice. We do all agree that we love the intense, smokey caramelised top of both versions.
· 3 large eggs, room temp (approx 150g of eggs without shell)
· 270g heavy cream/thickened cream
· 20g all-purpose flour
· 1 tsp vanilla extract
· 1 tsp lemon juice
1. Line a 6” circle cake tin with 2 layers of baking paper and trimmed to have an overhanging amount of 1.5″-2″.
2. Preheat oven to 240 degrees C.
3. Cream sugar and cream cheese together until smooth.
4. Add eggs one at a time and beat until smooth.
5. Add the vanilla and lemon juice. Beat until just mixed.
6. In a separate bowl, mix flour and heavy cream until smooth.
7. Slowly pour the cream/flour mixture into the cheese mixture until mixed through.
8. Bake for 30-35mins until top is dark amber and almost charred at parts but the middles still has a wobble to them when you give jiggle the pan.
9. Cool in the tin fully on a wire rack at room temperature to allow the cheesecake to set.
10. Remove from the baking tin and enjoy at room temperature.
11. For a less “gooey” center, place into the fridge after cooled to allow it to chill and set.
For the 2-tin version, we lined the tins with only 1 layer of baking paper.
We shortened the bake time by 5 min.
Thank you Ju-Lyn for creating something different for us.
The photos are enough temptation for me to try creating this on my own.
If you would like to feature in one of the Friendly Friday Team’s Guest Posts, please contact Sandy, from (TheSandyChronicles) and Amanda, from (StPA), either by way of comment below or directly via their Blog Contact Pages.
The Friendly Friday Photo Challenge with the theme Something Different, will conclude Friday this week, when Sandy will post a new theme on The Sandy Chronicles.
When is a Cookie a biscuit? When you live in Australia, of course.
On April 25 each year, Anzac Day, the nation stops to commemorate the supreme sacrifice of a group of soldiers that have contributed to the development of our national psyche. We don’t have many traditions of our own so we have adopted this to be a signifier that we are Australian. And the Anzac tradition has even spawned a biscuit or cookie! How Australian!
Today, there won’t be any dawn Anzac services attended by the many descendants of those soldiers, so it is likely that we might all be baking these biscuits at home, remembering the soldiers.
The ANZAC Biscuit
During WWI, a certain type of biscuit/cookie was sent by mail, in sealed tins, to the troops fighting in the filthy trenches at Lone Pine and Anzac Cove in Turkey. They were sent all the way from Australia, from the mothers and sweethearts of those brave, young men who were to fight Britain’s war against Turkey.
It was thought this biscuit would keep well in transit for an extended period of time. As such they are regarded as quintessentially Australian and our tradition of making Anzac biscuits on April 25, has continued for the past 9 years. Almost as old as this blog itself!
Below you will find the recipe.
Anzac Biscuit Recipe
I have posted two versions here. The first recipe is mine and the second, the trusty Women’s Weekly magazine version. Please post what temperature worked for you, if you do try the recipe…
Preheat Oven 170 – 180 C or 350 F
1 cup plain or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup – you can use honey or maple syrup as an alternative
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
160 g or (⅔ cup) butter, melted
Method 1. Sift flour and ginger into a mixing bowl and add coconuts, oats and sugar. Mix and make a well in the centre ready for the addition of the wet ingredients.
2. Stir in Golden syrup, boiling water and bicarb soda, in a small bowl, until combined.
3. Add the syrup mix into the dry ingredients, along with the melted butter. Mix well.
4. Take heaped teaspoons of mix and roll into small balls.
5. Place on trays and flatten gently.
6. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown
7. Cool on tray 10 minutes until they firm up slightly.
Wanting to try the ever faithful Woman’s Weekly recipes, last year I cooked up a second batch. These ones aren’t so crisp, but if you like the flavour of brown sugar, they are worth a ‘go.’
Woman’s Weekly Anzacs
Preheat oven 160 -175 C or 350 F
125 g (I cup) butter chopped coarsely
1 tablespoon golden syrup
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons water
1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup coconut
1 cup Rolled Oats
Melt butter and golden syrup over low heat.
Add bicarb and water to butter mix.
Mix remaining dry ingredients and combine wet and dry.
Spoon teaspoons of mix on to lined baking sheet, and flatten slightly.
Most of us have heard of Michelin stars. That system of rating restaurants according to the results of reviews on consistency and presentation of food, quality and mastery of technique.
But Michelin stars can be a fickle thing. They come and go, as a famous French restaurant, formerly run by Paul Bocuse, found out recently when they were downgraded to two stars by Michelin, after holding the rating without interuption since 1965. Even celebrity chef Marc Veyrat, recently sued the Michelin guide over a lost third Michelin star.
To me, it is mostly irrelevant and might mean an expensive price tag. I wouldn’t refer to Michelin stars, or lack thereof when choosing a location to eat.
So imagine my surprise at the following events:-
Miss Teen, almost Adult, and I were on our final night of a 2 week trip to Japan. We had arranged to stay in a cozy and very traditional Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), in the Kyoto district before flying back to Australia.
In case you have not heard the term before, staying at a Ryokan means sleeping in traditional accommodation, on Tatami mats on the floor, bathing in a traditional Japanese tub and eating traditional Japanese food.
Staying at a Japanese Traditional Inn – Ryokan in Narita – 2008
Back in 2008, I stayed at an amazing Ryokan in Narita, which had been a former Shogun’s palace some 400 years before. Our accommodation included three emormous rooms plus a small toilet. The dining area was replete with Japanese style recessed dining table with comfy floor cushion and the sitting area overlooked a Carp fish pond and Japanese style garden courtyard set amongst topiary trees and bonsai. Idyllic. It was magical.
But no Michelin rated food was served at that ryokan. You see I’d ordered a Western Style breakfast which consisted of a lettuce leaf, (Japanese seem to be obsessed with the lettuce), a mandarin segment or two and a piece of onion. It was rather strange, but we dutifully ate it anyway, well one of the kids gnawed on the 1 slice of white bread that accompanied the salad breakfast of sorts, and the other reported that she wasn’t hungry… But it was still a great experience.
Japanese Ryokan – Kyoto
For this Japanese vacation, I wanted our last night in Japan to be rather special, so we booked a night at a traditional Ryokan, in Kyoto.
The location and decor really lived up to expectations. Shoes off and stored at the door, was a must. Upon check-in, there were lengthy instructions about how our night would go from the gentlemen dressed in a Yukata – a specific kimono worn in Ryokan, even when and, if, I should wear the Yukata.
I had, at this point, completely forgotten the accommodation booking included dinner.
“Dinner will be served at 8pm,” I was then informed.
“Where shall I go for dinner?” I tentatively asked.
“That will be explained,” the Yukata, clad attendant, stoicly advised.
It wasn’t explained, at all.
After showing us to our room, we decided to wait until 8pm and see what transpired. There seemed to be so many rules that I didn’t want to ask again! At precisely 8pm, there was a soft knock at the door.
Our meal was served in our room by a gorgeous Japanese lady, dressed Geisha-style, at the Japanese style dining table provided.
Let me tell you sitting cross legged at a low dining table was less challenging for my knees, in 2008, than it was for the now age 50+ knees!
The presentation of the meal was glamorous. I was very impressed. This was our first course, and I was excited to taste it.
I didn’t know what it was and tasted it anyway. Miss Teen Now Adult simply played with the food. The second course was a delight for me, but the daughter was again unimpressed.
Again it was largely seafood. Prawn and Sea cucumber et.al.
Miss Teen Now Adult does not eat seafood – at all.
I had only given the menu a cursory glance, as it was delivered with the first course and I was simply too much in awe of the presentation, to read much of what was written there.
Dutifully, I ate Miss Teen Now Adult’s portion, as well as mine, for both the first, second course and the third courses. I wanted to show my appreciation for the care taken with the meal.
After the third course, I was tad concerned about what was to come and thus checked the menu again to see six of the 10 courses contained seafood. I suddenly realized I couldn’t eat all her serves, as well as mine. But I also didn’t want to be rude and refuse the food either.
With a rising sense of horror, I then read the information compendium in the room, wherein it mentioned that Chef Harada, was a celebrated Michelin 1 Star chef. Eeek!
Miss Teen Now Adult was refusing to eat a Michelin star meal!
So what did I do, then? I shall have to tell you that another time.
I can say though, that Miss Teen Now Adult, was happy with the breakfast served the following morning, and hungrily gobbled it all.
Even the lettuce!
Thank goodness breakfast was something for Miss Teen Now Adult to Ponder More About.
I do like drinking tea and now I have access to tea suppliers selling specialised leaf teas, it won’t come as a surprise to hear that I enjoy a cup of ‘Stockholm blend’ tea – (goodness, even my house is called the ‘Stockholm Design’ by the Builder). But it is not tea, that I will be writing about today, but a nutritious drink that makes a great breakfast food – a powerhouse of nutrition on the go. Perfect for busy people and kids.
Traditional Juletime Egg Nog
For many European and Americans, Eggnog is a popular drink to have at Christmas. Harking back to a 14th century concotion called Posset – a kind of curdled milk mixed with ale, Eggnog and cold, winter days just seem to go together. Maybe that’s the added whisky or rum that warms the body and the soul, perhaps? The link below is for the traditional Christmas Egg Nog recipe from Jamie Oliver, but my drink is altogether different.
As most know, or might suspect, I live in a warm climate and as such we don’t have the need to have warming drinks to get us through a snowy morning.
My take on EggNog is completely non-alcoholic, is chocked full of nutritional goodness and makes the perfect start to your morning, especially if you don’t have to time to cook, or eat, a hearty breakfast.
My version of Egg Nog looks the same as in the above picture but is way easier to prepare, packs a punch nutritionally and is suitable for children as well as adults, as there’s no alcohol added.
Healthy Breakfast Drink
Many of the working population are rushed! There’s no time to prep a cooked breakfasts. Others might not feel like eating early in the morning and can only face black coffee! This twist on the traditional egg nog prepares your body and mind for the day, fills the tummy and takes seconds to prepare.
Kid Friendly Breakfast Egg Nog Recipe
1 – 2 Eggs depending on your mug size
1 teaspoon Sugar – Caster sugar dissolves faster
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 cup Milk – can be almond/coconut/full fat/skim or soy
Whole Nutmeg * – freshly ground from the whole nut*
Break the egg in a large mug and whisk vigorously with a fork.
Add the sugar and whisk again until the sugar dissolves.
Add cinnamon and vanilla extract and mix through.
Add milk and whisk thoroughly until combined
Grate nutmeg on top to cover with a small grater
*One of my kids used to get a little confused calling nutmeg – egg mut. Whatever works we thought – regularly calling it ‘egg mut, ‘ until they became teenagers.
Breakfast Egg Nog Variations
Fruit Egg Nog: -Add raspberries or strawberries, even mango and pulse in a Nutribullet or blender, for a fruity, vitamin filled hit!
Choc or Mocha – Add 1 teaspoon cocoa powder and/or coffee diluted with a little boiled water for those with a really sweet tooth or coffee cravings.
Nutritional Benefits of Egg Nog
As well as the milk component contributing to the dairy and calcium RDA components in your diet, ingredients such as eggs and spices round out the benefit of a daily Egg Nog drink, (without the alcohol).
One egg has only 75 calories but 7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, along with iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids. The egg is a powerhouse of disease-fighting nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin.
Nutmeg is low in Cholesterol and Sodium, is a good source of Fibre, and Manganese and support mood, digestion, sleep, good skin and brain health. It may also lower blood pressure. But don’t binge on it. Too much may not be so helpful.
Start the day with a Breakfast Egg Nog or Egg Nog Smoothie! This drink works equally well in filling up children’s tummies at afternoon tea time. This stops them snacking on junk before dinner!
Join in with Moon’s Cook Eat Repeat Challenge here:
I was skimming through an old recipe book today, deciding whether to keep or throw it out. I do have an excess of household ‘stuff,’ that’s been in storage for well over twelve months awaiting our relocation into a modern new house by the beach, so even with the massive amounts of cupboard space the new house has, I still would like to downsize as much as I can.
So it was in a somewhat semi exhausted state from unpacking, I happened upon the recipe book. Truly, it might have just been easier to toss the whole thing out and start with fresh recipes, but handwritten old favourites evoke family memories too, so I knuckled down with a cuppa and flipped through the yellowing, slightly food stained pages. That’s when I found a recipe for “Avocado Norwegian,” that I had torn from Brisbane’s first ever vegetarian restaurant’s cookbook. The recipe is a form of salad topping an avocado half.
Now normally the thought of chomping into half an avocado, (even one with a delicious topping), as one would an apple or pear, turns my stomach, but for some reason I saved this recipe and thus, gave it another look. I thought anything remotely connected with Scandinavia always deserves my attention.
I decided it might work better if I changed it a little and gave it a bit more flair. After all, who doesn’t adapt recipes?
With the addition of a few extra ingredients, served on a bed of spinach/kale mix, and garnished with dill sprigs, I created a kind of Norwegian Waldorf Salad Fusion.
As an added bonus, the avocado is another way to add Vitamin C, E, K, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. It surely packs a nutritional punch.
This is the final recipe for Avocado Norwaldorf Salad
Serves approximately 2 people
2 sticks celery
1/2 cup Fresh walnuts
1 -2 red apples – I used a Royal Gala variety
1-2 green apples – such as a Granny Smith
Fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
1/3 cup Dill Pickles, roughly chopped
Jarslberg cheese, cubed – amount depending on personal preference
Mayonnaise to cover
1 tablespoon of Dijon Mustard or Dijonnaise
Dill sprigs for garnish
1 Avocado, peeled and diced into large chunks
Squeeze of Lemon juice (optional)
Seasoning to taste
Mix ingredients together, adding Avocado last.
Camembert cheese wedges on a bed of Spinach/Kale/Lettuce
Enjoy! Healthy, tasty and definitely worth a second look.
Before the southern summer heat vents its spleen and the northerners tuck themselves in for winter, a nutritious meal that might ward off cold and flu viruses that accompany seasonal changes, could be just what we need.
Such as Minestrone served with some crusty rolls/baguette slices.
There are a multitude of recipes for Minestrone out there, from basic to gourmet, but I tend to think the best for me, is a mixture of both. Something easy to prepare, easy to cook and simple to remember, especially when I am out shopping for ingredients.
Saute, simmer and sip…..that is my mantra when making soups. You don’t want to be fussing too much, nor for too long.
Minestrone Soup can be a complete meal in a bowl, providing plenty of protein, carbohydrate, minimal fat, green vegetables, lots of fibre plus vitamin C, A , B, beta-carotene, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc and more.
It is also a great way to use up those leftover vegetables that are heading towards their use-by date.
The recipe can be adapted to feed a hungry horde or a small two person family. Another advantage is that you can cook this in one large saucepan, if you wish (read: less washing up), or you may prefer to saute the ingredients separately. This is totally your choice.
2 rashers Bacon ( this is optional, if you want to keep it vegetarian)
500 ml (2 U.S. cups) Beef/Chicken/Vege Stock, plus 1/2 cup extra stock in reserve.
An assortment of vegetables which might include:
2 – 3 Carrots, sliced & diced
1/2 cup sliced cabbage
2 medium Potatoes, peeled and diced
3 celery stalks, diced but keep leaves and top of stalk whole
1/2 cup Frozen/fresh sliced beans
2 zucchinis, diced into large chunks
1/2 cup Spinach, chopped roughly (frozen or fresh)
1-2 Handfuls of torn fresh basil leaves
440 g (15oz) Can Chopped Tomatoes
120g (5oz) tin Beans of your choice (cannellini, kidney or even a can of four bean mix)
1/2 cup dried Pasta* , preferably small shells/spirals but any pasta will do nicely
* Time-saving tip: Use leftover cooked pasta, instead of dried/fresh.
splash of red wine (optional)
2 Bay leaves
Herbs such as Oregano, parsley
Salt and Pepper
Shaved Parmesan cheese (fresh) for garnish
What you can do whilst watching TV or listening to some good music, otherwise known as the:
Begin to heat the stock in a large saucepan.
In a separate pan, saute bacon, onion and garlic in olive oil for 3-5 minutes, and add the stock.
Add prepared vegetables and basil leaves to the pan and saute for about 3-5 minutes depending on the quantities used.
Add the chopped vegetables to the stock mix along with the whole celery leaves, chopped tomatoes, bay leaves and red wine) and bring to the boil.
Simmer for 10 minutes – quite enough time to take a power nap, relax, change the playlist, check email, (although I don’t encourage the latter). You could even try some of the wine, if you decided to add some to the soup! Not too much, though, or you might forget to include the last few steps of the recipe!
I like to remove the Bay and celery leaves at this point, otherwise it is difficult to retrieve them later on.
Add the dried pasta, herbs and seasonings, including salt and pepper to taste.
Cook for about 8 -10 minutes. It should be starting to smell oh-so-good!!!
Drag yourself away from the computer, or the wine, to check on the stove! At this stage, it should look a bit like a thick casserole as opposed to a soup. You can leave it this way, if you prefer, or
Add around extra 1/2 – 3/4 cup stock or water, to thin it down a little.
Heat through, taste test to adjust seasonings, and serve, garnished with a little fresh shaved Parmesan.
Voila – A complete meal in a bowl and little washing up!