Tag Archives: cheese

Fish finger wrap

Fun fish finger wraps

Fun fish finger wraps

It’s the middle of the month and the pennies are tight. Our fridge has all kinds of leftover bits and pieces from the weekend and we were stuck for quick 15-minute dinner ideas.

In the fridge we had a handful or two of baby spinach leaves, a bunch of coriander leaves, half a green pepper, some alfalfa sprouts, an avocado, parmesan cheese and a small jar of dressing left over from the polenta crusted chicken caesar salad I made over the weekend.

So I went scratching through the freezer and found some tortilla wraps. These would go perfectly with all the vegies. Now I just needed a protein that was quick to defrost and that the kids would still enjoy. My eyes fell on a half a box of fish fingers. A perfect light-bulb moment.

So without further ado, fun (for the kids) fish finger wraps done in 15 minutes.

Ingredients (for those who like lists)

  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
  • 4 sprigs (or a small bunch) of coriander leaves
  • half a green pepper
  • 4 pinches of alfalfa sprouts (more to taste)
  • 1 diced avocado
  • 8 slices of parmesan cheese
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • dressing of your choice or some sweet-chili sauce
  • about 12 (or more) frozen fish fingers
  • 4 tortilla wraps

Dressing – leftover from an earlier dish

  • 2 tsp garlic-infused olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • 40g parmesan cheese
  • 4 anchovy filets
  • 4 tbsp fat-free natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp red vinegar
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 bunch fresh coriander
  • Squeeze the juice from the lemons and place everything in a food processor and process.

Method

  • turn the oven on full whack and set to the grill and bake setting
  • spread out the fish fingers on a baking tray and place in the oven for 5 minutes
  • meanwhile roughly chop your baby spinach leaves
  • dice your avocado, tomatoes and green pepper and divide into four equal heaps
  • heat up each individual wrap on a plate in the microwave for 30 seconds (45 if you like it hot)
  • 5 minutes would have passed by now, so turn your oven down to 220 degrees C and set to bake
  • slice the parmesan cheese into 8 shavings
  • after 5 minutes, turn the oven on to the grill and bake setting and turn it down to 200 degrees C
  • add the parmesan shavings to the baking tray (with the fish fingers) to melt until golden crisps (it will crisp up while cooling down)
  • start assembling your wraps by spreading about a tablespoon full of the dressing, sweet chili sauce or any other sauce (mayo works well too) in a strip on the wrap
  • top with the shredded baby spinach leaves, avo, tomato and green pepper as well as a sprig of coriander,
  • sprinkle with some alfalfa sprouts
  • by now the fish fingers and parmesan crisps are done (15 minutes total), line 3 fish fingers on top of the veggies and place 2 of the parmesan crisps on top
  • roll and fold tightly, slice each wrap in half and marvel as the kids devour everything and ask for seconds

This recipe served 2 adults and 2 kids and can be prepared as a lunchtime snack or a fuss-free dinner. Works equally well with chicken or beef.

Spinach lasagna al forno

spinach lasagna al forno

Nothing quite beats the winter chill like a good lasagna or lasagne if you feel like saying it in Italian.

Growing up my mom always made “green” lasagna, leaves of spinach lasagna with a rich bolognese and béchamel (white) sauce. It was only years later that we found out lasagna also came in a non-green version. Hmm…I think my parents wanted to make sure we got some extra vegetables in. That said, when there wasn’t a lot of meat in the house, I remember my mom adding more grated carrot and other veggies into the dish to “bulk” up the dish.

Either way it was super yum.

Fast forward to today, a cold and blustery winters day in Johannesburg. The only thing that could satisfy a hungry family – a hot and hearty meal. Lasagna fit the bill perfectly. I also like to make lasagna, mac-and-cheese, bobotie etc. in bulk so I doubled up the recipe below. Except for the mince, for which I bulked up with extra veggies. This yielded about 3 freezer tins of lasagna, each tin enough to feed a family of four.

Ingredients for the bolognese sauce

  • 350g minced beef
  • approx 10 sheets of spinach lasagna
  • 80g tomato paste
  • 100g grated cheddar cheese / or parmigiano if you prefer
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 onion
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Ingredients for the béchamel sauce

  • 1lt milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 50grams flour
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • nutmeg (to taste)

Method for bolognese sauce
Melt the butter in a pan and add the finely chopped celery, carrot and onion. Fry for about 5 minutes. Add the mince and cook till browned. Add the cup of wine and cook till evaporated. Add the tomato paste and stock. Cook uncovered on a medium heat for 40 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Method for béchamel sauce
About 20 minutes into the cooking time of your bolognese sauce, start making your béchamel sauce. There are few steps, but you have to take this part easy to make sure you don’t burn the milk.

Heat up the milk in a pan – the hot milk combines better with the flour and minimises lumps forming.

In another pan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and make sure all of it combines with the butter. Now add about 2-3 ladles of hot milk at a time to the flour mixture. Whisk rapidly. Keep on adding ladles of milk and whisking. The sauce should be nice and thick. Take off the heat before it boils and add salt and pepper to taste.

Building your lasagna
Spread a ladle of béchamel on the bottom of the foil tin or a buttered ovenproof dish. Add leaves of spinach lasagna to cover the tin, taking care not to overlap too much. Cover the sheets with a layer of bolognese, followed by béchamel and some grated cheese. Continue to build up your dish alternating the layers of lasagna, filling and cheese. You should end up with a top layer of cheese.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees C.

Your dish should be golden brown on top and the pasta cooked through. Serve with a side salad and a glass of wine in front of a fire.

Cheese and herb muffins

Savoury tea treats
Roasted vegetable tart (left) & Cheese and herb muffins (right)

I have a new “go to” recipe for a savoury option for tea! These muffins are moist, full of flavour and super easy. What a pleasure. I made them for my birthday tea party last weekend, but they could also be a wonderful accompaniment to a hot soup on the suddenly cold winter days we’re having. The recipe has been adapted from the “Cook and Enjoy” (“Kook en Geniet”) recipe book.

Ingredients:

  • 500 ml (2 cups) cake flour
  • 20 ml (4 tsp) baking powder
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) cayenne pepper (or a little less if you prefer less of a “bite”)
  • 500 ml – 750 ml (2 – 3 cups) grated cheese
  • handful fresh chopped herbs, such as thyme, origanum, chives, rosemary, parsley
  • sprinkle dried mixed herbs (optional)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) milk
  • 120 ml (8 Tbsp) + “a bit” melted butter
  • 1 egg, well beaten

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C and grease a muffin pan with 12 large hollows
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients
  3. Add the cheese and herbs to the dry ingredients
  4. Blend the milk, butter and egg
  5. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients. Do not stir, but mix by folding in the liquid until the flour is just moistened. The mixture will look lumpy
  6. Drop uniform spoonfuls of the dough into the muffin pan hollows and bake for 10 – 15 minutes (I usually bake for 20 minutes, but insert a skewer to check for done-ness at 15 minutes)

Tuna casserole bake

I had some leftover canned tuna the other day and decided to make a nice warm tuna bake to ward off the wintery chill in the air. A quick Google search later, and I had a basic recipe and some ideas to start with. The recipe is mainly adapted from About.com’s Tuna Casserole Recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 packet pasta screws, cooked al dente
  • 1 splash olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 packet soup (I used garden vegetable soup), prepared according to instructions on packet
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables or peas, precooked
  • 2 cups grated cheese
  • 1 or 2 cans tuna, lightly drained

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius
  2. Saute the onion and celery in a medium pot until softened
  3. Add the soup, milk, precooked frozen veggies, 1 cup cheese and black pepper to the pot
  4. Simmer, stirring, until all the ingredients are combined and the cheese has melted
  5. When it begins to boil turn off the heat and gently fold in the tuna
  6. Add the precooked pasta and toss to coat
  7. Pour into a casserole dish
  8. Top with remaining cup of grated cheese
  9. Bake in the oven for 15 min
  10. Grill the top for a few minutes until the cheese is lightly browned

The About.com recipe suggests using buttered breadcrumbs or potato chips as a topping instead of the cheese. This sounds yummy, I’ll definitely give it a try sometime! You can also check out the many interesting variations on this dish listed after their recipe.

Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of the dish before we tucked in! Everyone enjoyed it, including my one year old who usually avoids tuna. A winner in my books.