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I recently found those lovely, huge colourful pasta tubes. I love trying out new shapes of pasta!
The only problem is that a lot of said shapes come in sizes that are, let’s face it, designed to hold Bolognese sauce – and a lot of it. Conchiglie, Cannelloni and now these tubes – they are fun, but bring a tear to a vegetarian’s eye!

Lucky then that I finally found a vegetarian Bolognese recipe that I like!

The idea came to me in a Thai restaurant of all places. Trying their delicious peanut sauce I had the idea – why not use peanuts as a ground meat replacement for Bolognese?
After a few tries I’m now sufficiently convinced I’m on to something here. So here’s the recipe:

Vegetarian Bolognese sauce with peanuts
1 food processor (don’t do it without! Really)
1 cup unsalted peanuts
1 carrot
1 red onion, peeled
1-2 stalks of celery
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 red chili, chopped
Tomato concentrate
Olive oil and/or butter
Salt, pepper, herbs (e.g. Thyme, rosemary, oregano), sugar to taste
Optional: Mushrooms, bell pepper, crushed tomatoes for the sauce

I’m doing all the chopping for this recipe in the food processor. This saves me time but mostly it’s quite easy to get the right size for bolognese in that manner. I’m going for a random spread of particles of 0,5mm length in average. Some of it can be finer – that’s not a problem, it’ll all end up making a delicious sauce. But I want the peanuts and carrots to feel like “proper” bolognese, so I’m looking for something in between “pulverized” and “chopped”.

Start out by pulsing the peanuts in the food processor. Put them into the dry pan and roast them until they begin to smell – careful they don’t burn! Put aside.
Next, pulse or chop the onion. Fry with garlic and chili in olive oil.
Pulse the carrots, celery and optional veggies and add them. Fry for a bit.
Add the peanuts, herbs, water or tomato sauce and a good dollop (2-3Tsp at least) of tomato concentrate paste. Boil for at least 5-10 minutes, ideally at least 30 minutes, adding water whenever necessary.

Serve on al dente pasta with parmesan cheese, butter and wine. I’d recommend a nice red one, maybe a Cabernet.
Cheers!

This will be submitted to Presto Pasta Nights hosted this week by Theresa at The Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine.

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Why do so many people complain that when they’re home alone or cooking just for themselves, they never make anything good?
My mom never did that, and neither do I. After all, I count myself as the person who appreciates good food in the household (so does she), and why shouldn’t we make good food for just ourselves?

These days, when I’m home alone, I make things I don’t usually make. The BF can be somewhat picky about food (boiled carrots? Beans? Nah.) and sometimes I do crave the stuff, or want to try out a new recipe I’m not sure he will like. So instead of doing double cooking, I put those on days where I cook alone – if it’s too much, I can always freeze single portions for later!

There has been one dish that I’ve been particularly itching to make recently. My grandma sent me dried porcini mushrooms that a friend of hers has been picking in the forest – a little treasure! (Did you see how much those cost in the supermarket?) I’ve remembered that she used to make a potato and mushroom soup with them, and wanted to try my hand at tweaking the recipe somewhat more in favour of my tastes.

The result? Quite good, so far.

5 big potatoes (they should be of the “floury”, not fastcooking sort), peeled
1 onion, diced
1 handful of dried porcini mushrooms
1 handful of chopped leek
2 Tbsp. butter and/or olive oil
Vegetable or chicken stock (I use an organic bouillon cube)
Salt, pepper, spices (traditionally: cumin and marjoram. To fit my tastes: rosemary and thyme)
Optional: Cream or sourcream

Rehydrate the porcini in boiling water, keep the liquid. Grate or cube the potatoes. Heat some butter and/or olive oil in a pot and saute the onion and leek in it. Add the raw potatoes, stir a few times and add the mushrooms with the water used to rehydrate them. Add stock (how much depends on how thick you want the soup to be in the end). Cover and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through.
Puree everything in a mixer, or leave some of the potatoes and mushrooms out for a bit more bite to the soup (that’s what I did, because I like to have something crunchy in my soup!).
Optional: Add cream or sourcream on top.
Serve and enjoy a nice quiet cup of soup for yourself :)

It’s easy and tasty, just the right stuff for the returning winter here. I also added a grated carrot to my soup, but I didn’t find it did anything great for the taste. In fact, it distracts a bit from the goodness that is leek, potatoes and porcini.

I did take photos (even if the soup isn’t very photogenic, just good), but I can’t find the connector cable for my camera among all the moving boxes. Meh. That also means I’ll have a bento backlog to post soon… and I promptly forgot my bentobox at home! What a great start in the week…

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Bento eleventy-one! (<-huge geek)

Strudel made from bok choy and feta, green salad with pickled grilled bell pepper, pumpkin pie.

Spinach and Swiss chard strudels are simple, but lovely. I tried it with bok choy (chinese cabbage) this time, which gave the whole thing a very nice, firm texture.
How:
Wash one medium-big head of bok choy and cut the leaves into strips (I didn’t bother with the stalks but stopped cutting once I had chopped away all the green).
In a wide pan, sauté some leek in olive oil (garlic not mandatory but recommended). Throw in the bok choy/spinach/chard/whichever leaf pleases you and fry it a little until it starts to wilt. Add some salt and pepper (and herbs if you wish) to taste. Take the pan off the heat, put on a lid and let the leaf steam itself for a while.
Whisk 2-3 eggs (I used the eggwhite I had left over from the pie plus two more eggs) and crumbled Feta (add more herbs if you feel like more whoosh) in a bowl. Pour over the leaves and mix well, but take care not to cook the egg.
Spread out a stack of 2-3 leaves of phyllo dough on a baking pan. Spoon the leaf-egg-feta mixture onto the side facing you, about as wide as you plan to roll, and leaving a bit of a rim for easier rolling and along the side.
Roll (I use the baking sheet to help me rolling, it’s almost like making phyllo sushi).
Fold in the corners, glue with some leftover egg, spread some egg on top and pop it in the oven at 225deg C. When the dough is golden, the egg should be done too, but check.
Enjoy!

I made pumpkin pie after all! I used this recipe from BBC.co.uk, but made the pie shell myself. Normal shortbread dough is too simple to warrant buying it in a shop!

Now I know why this is supposed to be an aphrodisiac – with all the spices, how can it not be!
The taste is… interesting. I am not sure I like the smoothness of the texture (is it possible to just squish the pumpkin roughly with a fork instead of puréeing it?) but the sweet bottom and the fruity, mild filling work well together. I think I should have used more pumpkin though, although it could also have to do with the fact that pumpkin in March is probably not at its ripest (even for French pumpkin)! The smell is lovely and even better when you rewarm it, even though that might be my nose being clogged by all the spices during baking. The pumpkin seems to come out more then.
The leaf on top is Thai basil – the liqorice taste works surprisingly well together with the pie!

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I’ll admit it.
I’m seriously addicted to pumpkin. I can’t go past a slice of pumpkin in the supermarket without buying it.
Incidentally, pumpkin has always been a savoury thing to me – I’ve never had a pumpkin pie, but instead soup, steaks, schnitzel and of course this tasty risotto…

Making Risotto is always about the same main recipe – fry onion and garlic (did you see the garlic in the picture? It’s purple! Eee!) in some butter and olive oil. It shouldn’t brown, but get translucent. Then add the main tasting ingredient, then the rice and stirfry until the rice gets a bit glassy. Italian arborio rice is the best, but any short or medium grain works, really. You can also add wild rice to the mix, but be careful about the longer cooking time of the unpeeled variants.
Add soup stock and wine if you have any, just enough to have a bit of fluid in the rice. Cover and boil slowly, don’t stir (unless it’s absolutely necessary to avoid disasters) and add more soup or wine as seems necessary, but never drown the rice. It should take about 20-30 minutes for the rice to cook, but still be a little tough to the bite. In that time the main ingredients will be boiled too, though if you have ingredients that can’t be boiled for that long, consider taking them out or frying them separately and only mixing them in in the end. Anyway, when the rice is done, add a little butter, freshly grated parmesan and spices to taste. Let it rest for a few minutes (in my case, take pictures for the next 5 minutes) and serve with more parmesan on top (and the rest of the wine in a glass :D).

Bento should come later, but I am too full to get up right now. ;) I was too lazy to make a bento yesterday. Oh well, maybe tonight.
Have a gratuituous second photo instead (with gratuituous plug of the wineyard I like):

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