Friday Night Supper … South African Style
April 18, 2011 in Uncategorized
A few weekends ago I invited some friends over for a casual Friday night get together. We’d all been so busy (hence the lack of blogging) and people had been flitting about all over the globe … so it was high time we sat down around a table to catch up on everyone’s news.
I decided to make the Courgette and herb pasta bake with Sicilian pesto and the Rosemary, cream cheese, honey and nut cake (recipes courtesy of my Sprigs cooking demo that I went on!) – I think these might just be my new party favourites.
I roped in momsie pie to help me with the pasta prep as I was tight on time - but really, this is a beautifully simple dish to make … but it’s ever so tasty!
For the pasta bake you will need:
500g penne pasta
6 large courgettes (grated)
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
1 onion (diced)
500g creme fraiche
60mls Sicilian pesto (sundried tomato pesto)
50g parmesan (grated) (I actually used more than 50g as I LOVE cheese!)
100g bread (crumbs)
20g basil (a handful)
5ml dried sage (I used 15 fresh sage leaves)
Lemon olive oil (if you have)
Salt & Pepper
And now for the cooking instructions:
Preheat your oven to 180degrees.
Slightly undercook the pasta in salted boiling water, drain and reserve a ladle of the cooking water. Toss in a little olive oil (to stop it sticking together) and set aside until you’re ready to assemble.
In a food processor, blitz together the sage, nearly all of the basil (reserving a few leaves for serving), bread, half the cheese, salt and to form your delicious crumbly topping.
Fry the grated courgettes, garlic and onion in some oil until most of the liquid is reduced. (I bought a big bag of the smaller sized courgettes, so I ended up using about 10. I think you want a fairly decent amount of courgette as this is really the key ingredient in the bake. So you might have to “guestimate” how many you’ll need depending on their size.)
Stir in 3/4 of the creme fraiche and the remaining cheese into the courgettes and season. Add the pasta and mix well.
Tip the mixtured into an oven proof dish and flatten.
Mix the remaining creme fraiche with the pesto. The lovely sharp taste of the tomato is really brilliant with the creamy courgettes!
Dollop the pesto mix over the top of the pasta and the scatter over the herby crumbs – which will form a deliciously golden crispy topping! Drizzle with lemon olive oil and bake for 20 mins.
Serve with some torn basil leaves, some crusty bread and a salad.
Right, so that was the pasta bake done, and all I had to do was pop it in the oven for 20 minutes when the guests arrived. Next I moved along to getting the dessert ready.
This is my kind of pudding, because everything gets chucked into a food processor and whizzed about for a few minutes. And then voila you have the most heavenly dessert.
For the “cheese cakes” you will need (and try not to flich!):
2 sprigs of rosemary
100g of honey (plus 3 tablespoons for glazing)
500g cream cheese
55g castor sugar
200g natural yoghurt
1 lemon (zest or 1 capful of lemon extract)
55g flaked almonds
Okay, so it’s not low-fat – but who cares, it’s AMAZING!
If you’re going to make this as a cake – butter the spring form tin and dust with breadcrumbs to stop the cake from sticking. This is how it was cooked at the Sprig’s demo. I decided to try out another variation and I made these as individual puddings in ramekins. I used 8 large ramekins – but actually these were too big (it’s very rich!) (Although I must confess that I polished mine off!!!) I would suggest 10 small ramekins if you are making these as individual puddings.
Preheat your oven to 180degrees.
Combine the rosemary and honey in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and set aside to cool.
In a food processor, mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue processing. Add the cooled honey, yoghurt, mascarpone and lemon zest. Process until smooth.
Divide into the ramekins (or pour into the spring form tin) and sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Bake for 60 to 90 minutes, until firm. The ramekins took less time to cook (45 minutes) – but I think with all cheese cake type recipes, this will depend on your oven.
The cheese cake should have firmed up (although it will be slightly wobbly still) and the top will probably be a dark golden colour.
Once cool, glaze the top with some warmed honey.
Well, that’s the theory. And actually, everything was going to plan beautifully. Guests were drinking cold wine and snacking on olives, pasta bake had just gone into the oven, pudding was awaiting it’s turn. And then it happened, as only it could in South Africa, the lights went out. They flickered dramatically first, and then nothing, nada … we were plunged into total darkness. (Apparently the power line outside our house died due to a street light blowing. Although we only found this out at 10:30pm when the technical finally arrived to restore our power.)
Anyway, my lovely friends, in true South African style, made a plan! We piled the food onto trays, drove very carefully to a friends house down the road (and round a few corners!) and just transplanted our party! Poor hubby ended up having to stay home to a)wait for the electrician and b)look after the not-so-sleepy monkey girl. We set a place for him at the table and phoned him to tell him how tasty the food was! (Of course he got plenty of left overs!)
As a result of this unplanned interuption, we ate the cheese cake puddings while they were still hot! So it was more like a souffle – very delicious! But, I must say, if you can wait till they are cooled down they are even more sublime.
x sim x