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Happy Birthday, Joe

13 Feb

Today is Joe’s birthday. The gods decided to forgive the peoples living in our area by postponing any rain activity for the day in celebration. Our day started (after a casual sleep in) with a lovely walk along the river. It was great to get out into the sunshine and salty sea air. It dawned on me how much I’ve missed summer this year due to the crazy La Nina weather which has bought us nothing but hot, wet and sticky. What happened to the casual sea breezes that bring relief to warm days? Ahh weather – you never cease to amaze us with your extremes!

Today is also no meat Monday. Joe has opted to keep to tradition today, so I made foods that fitted in with our ethical eating habits. After our walk, I whipped up some delicious pouched free ranged eggs with wilted baby spinach. Joe’s (pictured below) was served on toasted multi-grain while mine was served on toasted rye. Such simple flavours, but totally delicious. And best of all, when served up with Burgen Rye (Or Soy and Linseed) bread, it is well within the 2-3 exchanges (30-45g carbs per serve).

Tricks for a perfect poached egg

  1. In a shallow saucepan, add enough water to cover an egg. Once the water is boiling, add a splash of white vinegar. The vinegar will help stop the egg separating during the cooking process.
  2. The trick to the perfect poached egg is the rate at which the water is boiling. Turn the heat down and allow it to build to a slow simmer. You want to see bubbles coming up, but not too many and not too fast.
  3. Crack your egg into a glass and check for imperfections (such as blood ect) before pouring your egg slowly into the water. The egg will sink to the bottom but as it cooks, it will begin to float. Once it is floating, remove from the hot water and serve immediately. Remember, if it is left too long before serving, the heat of the egg will cook the yoke solid.
  4. For variety, try serving it on toasted Turkish bread, an English muffin or on toast with avocado or cheese. Garnish and enjoy!

For dinner, Joe requested pasta as his birthday dinner. I checked in the freeze and found a packet of Latina Fresh Ricotta and Spinach Agnolotti pasta.  Joe loves rustic, chunky vegetable sauces, so I invented something that I hoped would work in with the  smooth pasta tastes. In the end, it was magnificent! I give you, Agnolitti with chunky vegetable sauce!

Sauce Ingredients

½ cup of butter nut pumpkin
½ cup of zuchinni
½ cup of carrot
1 onion, diced
½ red capsicum, diced
1 can chopped Roma tomatoes
1 litre vegetable stock
2 teaspoons fresh flat leaf (Italian) pastley, chopped finely
1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
½ – 1 teaspoon basil
½ – 1 teaspoon orgeno
½ – 1 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional, but really adds something to this sauce!)
1 teaspoon curry powder (optional – see note at the bottom)
splash of olive oil

Method

  1. Cook the pasta following the directions on the pasta packet. While the pasta water boils, start the sauce preparation by chopping all the vegetables into small even, bite size pieces. Use the photo above as a guide.
  2. In a skillet over a moderate heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic, onion and herbs, stirring continually. (Do not add the curry powder at this point, but retain for later use). As the onions begin to caramelise, add the pumpkin and carrots. Stir for a few minutes until they begin to pick up the caramelised flavours of the pan. Add a little stock – just enough to cover the vegetables and cook with the lid on until the root vegetables are almost cooked all the way through.
  3. Add the tinned tomatoes, remaining vegetables and curry powder (to taste – see note below). Stir while the sauce cooks, adding the remaining stock as needed when the sauce begins to thicken. When the vegetables are at the perfect texture, reduce the sauce to the desired consistency. Spoon over your rinsed pasta, and serve with a sprinkle of pecorino or parmasen cheese.

Observations

  • Basil and roma tomatoes tend to combine in a sweet sauce that I don’t enjoy. To counter this problem, I add a little curry powder which seems to cut down on that sweet smell and taste. Use the curry powder at your discretion, but always go a little at a time, tasting after a few minutes before adding more.
  • Don’t over cook your veggies – you don’t want them to lose their texture or taste.
  • I purposely caramelised the vegetables a little before adding the stock to give it that nice hint of smokey flavour. I really would love to have char grilled the vegetables on a BBQ or grill before hand, but just ran out of time.
  • Diabetic Note: This delicious pasta is low GI, and when served at a slightly smaller serving size (roughly 180grams cooked instead of the suggested 235g) is *just* within the diabetics 2-3 carb exchange allowance. My BGL’s were fine after this mean.
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