Pasta dish

pateschotel

Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 1h30 minutes

Don’t be misled by the ‘simple’ name, this is anything but a simple dish.

The Ingredients: for 4 persons

  • 500 g minced meat (half beef, half pork)
  • 6 tomatoes (at least 500 g)
  • 1 onion
  • 2,5 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 4 tbsp. flower
  • fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ l milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
  • 75 g grated cheese (Emmentaler)
  • 250 g pasta (fusilli)
  • salt & pepper

The work:

Cook the pasta al dente in lightly salted water. Follow the timing instructions on the package. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water to avoid that the pasta sticks.

Cut the onions into small blocks. Peal the tomatoes and remove the seeds. Cut the tomatoes in large portions.

Preheat the oven at 225°C.

Melt the butter in a pot, don’t let it brown, and mix with the flower. Add a third of the milk and bring this to a cooking point while stirring slowly. At the cooking point, add extra milk to get the correct sauce density. Turn down the heat a bit. Add the thyme and the bay leaf and cook the sauce gently for about 15 minutes. Keep your eye on the ballgame. Sauce on a milk base easily sticks to the pan or overflows, so don’t stop stirring, don’t leave.

Sieve the sauce and mix the grated cheese with the sauce.

Take an oven dish and put in a layer of pasta. Distribute the onion, the tomato and the minced meat on top. Season with salt and pepper. If the dish is not full yet, add the rest of the pasta and cover it with sauce. In case you have some leftover grated cheese you can sprinkle that on top.

The tip:

There are many different pasta kinds you can use for this: fusilli, spirelli, farfalle, penne, macaroni,…

We often replace the fresh tomatoes by canned tomatoes to save time and it has little effect on the end result.

All together this dish takes quite a while to cook. You wonder if it is really necessary to stir in that sauce for 15 long minutes. Believe me, it is exactly that herb-flavoured cheese sauce which lifts this dish from being ordinary to being incredibly fantastic.

If you do make the effort of cooking this on your busy week day, bear in mind that you can easily prepare some extra dishes and put them uncooked in the freezer for later use.

The secret:

I will confess that this recipe comes from a very old ­ actually our very first ­ cook book which came for free with our very first micro wave after we just got married. Because this is a recipe I never came across ever again I felt I should make an exception to my rule not to blog recipes from other cooks. Just to make sure it gets some extra exposure. I can’t leave it to disintegrate with the book.

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Weekday broccoli with cheese

broccoli_2

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

The Ingredients: for 3 persons

  • 1 broccoli
  • ZIZ light cheese (Kraft foods, melt cheese)
  • 0.5 cube vegetable stock (or chicken)
  • salt & pepper

The work:

Steam the broccoli for about 25 minutes. I do this the old way, using a simple steaming pot and i put a half cube of stock in the boiling water, it makes the steamed vegetables more tasteful. If you like your vegetables crispy, then make sure not to overcook them at this stage since they still have to go in the oven for a short while.

When the broccoli is ready, take them out of the steamer and let cool them down in an oven dish. This recipe is ideal as a side dish when you have guests, since you can prepare it and just shove it in the oven when you need to serve.

Pre heat the oven at 180°C.

broccoli_1Add some salt and pepper and cover the broccoli with slices of the cheese. I use the light cheese to have maximum taste with minimum calories. Of course you can experiment with even more tasteful and less calorie friendly regular cheeses like Cheddar or Gouda.
Put the dish into the oven for about 10-15 minutes. It is best to keep an eye on it, you want the broccoli warm, but the cheese still visible as a layer covering the broccoli. When you leave it all in the oven to long, the cheese will have melted completely and have sunk between the broccolis. It may taste the same; it is definitely not as good looking.

The tip:

Important is to let the broccoli cool down before you add the cheese on top of it. If you put the cheese when the broccoli is still warm, it will be melted before you can put the broccoli into the oven.

The secret:

This recipe developed out of the leanness of the fridge during one of my ‘poor’ weeks… the very odd week when I do make an effort to cut some calories.

It’s so simple, yet so good!

2x Spare Ribs on the BBQ

P1000338

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Now that we finally are getting some sun in Belgium, after all it is only June 3rd … the barbecue can come out of the garden shed.

A BBQ meal ever so successful for the lover of meat, are grilled spare ribs. Like the Americans say ‘the rack of ribs’. In Belgium the rack of ribs is actually cut in half lengthwise and one rack is about 10-15 cm wide and 30-40 cm long. Just the size an average person can dispatch during an evening diner.

Ribs are always great, served as ‘finger food’ with the aperitif as appetizer, or as a main dish served with a jacked potato with some sour cream or garlic butter, and a simple green salad and tomatoes. Simple, cheap and a definitely a treat deluxe.

The following post is not about grilling, it is about marinating. If you want to surprise your audience, marinate your spare ribs in advance. These are 2 of the summer marinades my hubby specifically developed for ribs.

The Ingredients: marinade for about 2 rib racks

DSC00463

Chinese spicy ribs:

  • ketchup
  • Chinese (or Asian) pili-pili (bottle)
  • 2 gloves of garlic
  • salt & pepper

‘Distinguished’ ribs

  • 1 lime
  • 2 tsps. smoked paprika powder
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 globes of garlic
  • salt & pepper

The work:

Cut the garlic, squeeze the lime and mix the marinade ingredients and smear them on the ribs. Cover up the ribs and keep them in the fridge to marinate at least 2 hours before you grill them. You can even prepare this the evening beforehand.

When it is time, grill the ribs and use the left over marinade to baste the meat from time to time while you are grilling. You can use one of these modern heat resistant kitchen brushes.

Et voilà, you can discover for yourself how different the 2 preparations taste.

The tip:

I you can’t find the smoked paprika, you can improvise by mixing regular paprika powder with cayenne pepper.

The secret:

Each year we dedicate our first weekend of summer to contribute to one of our town’s festivals ‘de Zomerfeesten’. Our contribution is limited the hard work of serving mojito’s for 3 days. Depending on the weather, mojito sales vary from good to extremely good. In one of these not so extremely good years we ended up with a lot of left over limes. After having preserved a large part for use in the winter tagines, my husband kept on searching what he could do with them. Apart from the obvious lime sorbet, the ‘distinguished’ marinade was invented.

Hei, but if you ever need the recipe for mojito…