Bolognese Spuds, Revisited

A few moons ago, when Sugarlace was still new and I didn’t have a proper SLR, things were a little bit messy and dare I say it, ugly. I put up a post about spuds and the corresponding photo did not do the recipe any justice.

What difference does one year make and a properly working SLR. The recipe stayed the same, the lighting at home is still insufficient, and the eater (me!) is still, well, me!

So, I’m revisiting the humble spud with the addition of better photos. This is actually a perfect winter dinner with the warmth and heat from the carbs of the potatoes and the protein from the mince, but you know what? With this crazy Sydney weather where we change from 42 degrees C one day to 16 degrees C the next, we could possibly have a wintry-summer day tomorrow! So enjoy!

Bolognese Spuds

Makes approximately 4 servings

For the Filipino “Bolognese” Sauce

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

500g mince meat

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 cup tomato sauce

1 tbsp sugar (optional – Filipino sauces are sweet hence the addition of sugar)

Salt & pepper

  1. In a saucepan, sauté garlic, onions and tomatoes. Crush the tomatoes on the saucepan when softened to let the juices out.
  2. Add mince and soy sauce. Cook for 20-25 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of water if the pan gets dry (you don’t want burnt mince!).
  3. Add tomato sauce and salt and pepper. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the Spuds, you need a few simple ingredients. As Nigella Lawson would say, your kitchen benchtop becomes somewhat like a conveyor belt of different ingredients!

First are the potatoes, of course!

Then the butter, salt & pepper

Then some tasty cheese…

Then the cooked mince…

And sour cream and chives (be generous!!! The shops usually scrimp the sour cream, but not in my kitchen!!! Bahahaha!)…

And voila! Eat your heart out… literally.

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Mixed Vegetable Vermicelli Noodles

When I was at uni, I was surviving on only a few recipes that I knew how to cook. Sure, mum taught me a handful of recipes, however sometimes it’s just hard to cook certain dishes when you are a.) scrimp on a student’s budget, and b.) cooking for one.

This vegetable noodle dish is one of those dishes that I would cook almost every week because it’s tasty, filling, requires cheap ingredients, and can be eaten day or night! Perfect microwavable dish without the added preservatives – and I reckon (or I’d like to think so anyway) that I’m getting adequate servings of vegetables with this dish!

Mixed Vegetable Vermicelli Noodles

Makes approximately 4 servings

3 cloves garlic

1 medium onion, chopped

Olive oil

350g vermicelli noodles

2 tbsp sweet soy sauce

1 tsp fish sauce

Dried chilli flakes

1 medium head broccoli

2 medium carrots, sliced

Fish cakes, fish balls, or cuttlefish balls, if desired

  1. Soak the dried vermicelli noodles in boiled water until it softens. Drain and set aside.
  2. Saute garlic and onions in olive oil. Add the chilli flakes.
  3. Add fish cakes, fish balls, or cuttlefish balls if adding these ingredients.
  4. Add the carrots and broccoli and cook with a lid on.
  5. Toss the noodles with the vegetables, and add the sweet soy sauce and fish sauce. Enjoy!

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Fish & Veg Dinners

I have featured fish here for quite a few times in the past week. Fried and grilled fish are my two favourite ways of cooking fish. I just think that by using those cooking methods, it preserves and sears the freshness which is what you want in your fish.

I have elso enjoyed featuring certain Filipino fish dishes that aren’t familiar with the Australian table. I must admit that apart from salmon and barramundi, I wouldn’t know a thing or two about the other common Australian fish. Ok maybe I would know a bit of cooking with trevally and dory, but to be honest that’s really about it.

But what I love, and what everyone else at home love, are the fried Filipino fish dishes that would almost always remind us of the Philippines. Eating fish with rice on a banana leaf and a side salad of mangoes, tomatoes & onions, and the infamous bagoong; sitting under the shade of a coconut tree on a beach while watching the sunset; family gatherings doing Sunday lunches at the parents’ place; sharing stories with friends in a grill house with some good old beer and great company. These are the things that make me miss the Philippines. And with all of these descriptions, there’s a central ingredient that we all congregate around – food. Filipinos love food – we love cooking it, we love eating it, and most of all, we love sharing it. It’s safe to say that even the poorest of families will invite you in to their homes at any time of the day for a meal or two no matter how scarce their food is. That’s how we welcome guests and visitors. That’s the Filipino hospitality.

Daing na Bangus, or marinate milkfish
Daing na Bangus, or marinate milkfish

Bangus, or milkfish, is one of the most popular fish in the Philippines. You can fry it (daing), make it into a sour soup (sinigang), or grill it (inihaw). There are the smoked variations, the stuffed fish variation (relyenong bangus), and many others. I’m sure there are other ways of cooking this fish so I do apologise for my limited knowledge.

On a typical Filipino table, you’ll most probably find rice, fish, and vegetables. I try and do the same with mine – a healthy combination of protein and greens with the much needed boost of carbohydrates.

Steamed greens with kecap manis & sesame oil
Steamed greens with kecap manis & sesame oil

This dish is simple:

  1. Steam or poach greens in a pot for a few minutes. Drain water and place greens in a plate.
  2. Drizzle with kecap manis & sesame oil.
  3. SERVE!

Sometimes I am amazed at how simple something can be done but it can be so convincingly delicious!

And then there’s my favourite grilled salmon with mixed herbs. I love cooking salmon this way so much that I refuse to cook my salmon any other way! I am biased, narrow minded, whathaveyou – but I do play my favourites and I do love my fish!

I did a bit of brain teasing to come up with a different side dish to the salmon. I actually came up with my own recipe that was both tasty, healthy & ridiculously satisfying that I think I’ll be making this all the time now.

Mixed chickpea salad with garlic, baby spinach, sultanas & almonds
Mixed chickpea salad with garlic, baby spinach, sultanas & almonds

Mixed Chickpea Salad

Makes 4 servings

2 cans of chickpeas, drained & rinsed

A bunch of baby spinach leaves

3 cloves garlic, minced

Olive oil

80g sultanas

Sliced almonds

Salt & pepper

1. Saute garlic in olive oil until softened. Add chickpeas and mix well.

2. Add baby spinach leaves and cook until wilted.

3. Add sultanas and half of the sliced almonds. Season with salt and pepper before turning off heat.

4. When serving, garnish with some more almonds and a drizzling of garlic infused oil if desired.

I’m just saying – if you like your garlic, pepper, sweet sultanas and that starchy texture of the chickpeas, you’ll love this one.

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