What’s making me happy: August

What’s making me happy: August

August is one of those quintessential transition months in Wagga Wagga – spring-like weather will show up for a day or two at a time, but then is punctuated by the grimmest of wintry conditions.  The days are getting start to get longer, but the mornings will still often be frosty. In this month of contrasts, this is what’s been making me smile…

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Chocolate slice

Chocolate slice

The other day my brother and I were reminiscing about some of the food we used to eat after school to keep us going until dinner was served. It was always a meal I looked forward to, ravenous after a day of learning, and usually consisted of toast or savoury biscuits with cheese, some fruit and maybe something a little sweet. It got me thinking about other childhood favourites and immediately chocolate slice sprang to mind…

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Pasta melanzana

Pasta melanzana

Adam’s been working interstate this week, so I’ve been using his absence as an opportunity to cook meals that’s he’s not so fond of.  One of those is pasta melanzana – a favourite solo supper of mine for many years.  It’s an easy mid-week meal, that’s vegetarian, quick to assemble and generally provides enough for leftovers for lunch the next day.  Its star ingredient is eggplants – a vegetable I love, but that Adam’s rather ambivalent about….

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Saag paneer

Saag paneer

I’ve always quite enjoyed Indian food, but it wasn’t until I moved to England that I gained a full appreciation for the cuisine and its myriad of tasty dishes.

Having a ‘curry takeout’ or going for a ‘curry’ is one of the most beloved of meals in the U.K and it’s reflected in the number of Indian restaurants that can be found in any one location.  In the small Worcestershire town that Adam and I lived in, there were at least half a dozen places you could get a curry.  Over the months I quickly developed a deep love for saag or palak paneer – most commonly, a mildly spiced spinach dish served with chunks of cooked paneer cheese.

The versions I’ve had so far here in Australia haven’t quite matched up to what I’d eaten in England, so the other week I decided to have a go at making the dish myself, adapting a recipe from the BBC’s Good Food website

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Ribolitta

Ribolitta

That first taste of autumn arrived at the weekend.  Stormy rain rolled through on Friday night, lashing windows and dropping the temperature.  By Saturday that’d broken up into scudding showers that blew in with force along with a cool wind. It resulted in lamps getting turned on early, candles being lit and my favourite cosy clothes being pulled out of the cupboard for their first wear of this year.

That sort of weather always make me crave warm, hearty meals and one of my favourites is ribollita – a Tuscan bread soup. It’s packed full of vegetables, is bursting with flavour and is my go-to recipe whenever someone says they feel poorly…

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Baked ricotta with olives

Baked ricotta with olives

The other weekend I was invited to a housewarming, birthday party and farewell gathering all rolled into one.  We weren’t having a proper sit down meal, rather a selection of small bites, with each guest asked to contribute something.

Knowing the fail safe cheese board was probably taken care of, I decided to take a flick through one of my most reliable cookbooks – The Australian Women’s Weekly Best Ever Collection. There, I discovered the recipe for baked ricotta and olives, and decided to give it a go…

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Adam’s bolognese sauce

Adam’s bolognese sauce

I find there are some dishes Adam and I make over and over again for dinner, and bolognese sauce with pasta features quite near the top of that list.  After a long day, nothing quite beats coming home to a comforting bowl of al dente pasta smothered in a rich, tomato dense bolognese. It’s never the most Instagram-worthy meal, but it’s darn tasty and sometimes that’s all you need right?!

I spent years tinkering with my mum’s recipe and testing out others in Italian cookbooks (this was a favourite for a long time) but then Adam came into my life, and with it his bolognese recipe.  It tastes decadent, but normally we’ve always got all the ingredients on hand.  Adam normally makes a double batch which ensures we’ve got plenty of leftovers.  It freezes exceptionally well and tastes just a great dolloped on a steaming jacket potato or on a bit of toasted sourdough as it does pasta.

Adam has kindly shared his recipe if you’re keen to give it a go yourself…

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