Tonight it’s fat and starch central at Casa Saxon.
I like stuffed pasta, and I like baked pasta, but I don’t normally combine the two because it just seems…overly self-indulgent. BUT tonight I went to a little bit more effort than usual for a Saturday in which have felt depressingly hungover for most of the day. (Depressingly, because I haven’t had anything except tea and water and coffee and the occasional juice to drink for weeks…!)
I diced an onion and sauteed it in olive oil (or EVOO as Maggie Beer likes to call it) and while it was cooking I diced two zucchinis and threw them in too. (In my flame-orange Le Creuset. Just because I can.)
I also diced a red capsicum and 3 large cloves of garlic AND a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley from a friend’s garden and added them too.
Then I ground some black pepper and added some Himalayan crystal salt (the pink stuff) and some dried oregano, and smoked paprika.
I let that all cook away for a while, and then put in a tin of diced or ‘dick’ead’ tomatoes as a friend’s daughter wonderfully pronounced it! (Loudly. In a supermarket. Hee hee.)
A drizzle of balsamic vinegar to finish it off, and I let it simmer while I cooked a packet of veal tortellini and made a cheese sauce.
I put a small lump of butter and some olive oil in a small saucepan with some (maybe 1.2 cup?) flour and as the butter melted I stirred it into a smooth roux. I love leaning over the stove and smelling the deliciousness of dextrinising flour and simmering garlicky, parsley..er…ey tomatoes.
Anyway while that cooked a bit I grated some cheese, which is EASILY my least favourite kitchen job, a short head in front of peeling grotty potatoes or sorting through leafy greens.
I used half milk and half boiling water for the sauce – all milk makes it richer but it was already going to be pretty damn rich anyway.
I poured it in installments, stirring briskly with each addition (I get why people use whisks but I normally don’t as they tend not to be able to fit into the ‘corners’ of a standard saucepan) and grated in some nutmeg – I love love love the wonderful smell of fresh nutmeg drifting down in tiny flakes over the white sauce. (I use a microplane to grate nutmeg – my brother bought me one years ago for a Christmas present. VERY thoughtful!)
I also added a few grinds of pepper. (From my Peugeot pepper mill, which same brother bought me and C for a wedding present. )(We wanted a Peugeot as C’s parent’s have one which they have been using for over 25 years, so I have a very valid example of the usefulness of stainless-steel gears. I always wonder, when looking at the superb examples of wood-turned peppermills in boutique-type shops and wood-turning displays, WHY people go to all that trouble and then ruin them by putting in plastic gears? Hint – never, ever, ever buy a pepper grinder that has plastic gears, unless you like replacing gears a lot.)
But I as usual digress.
I turned off the flame and threw in the grated cheese and stirred it in, and then mixed the cooked drained tortellini together with the two sauces. I took out two serves for the kids and then poured the rest into into a LINED baking dish. (Even when I am baking something ‘wet’ like this I line the dish with good-quality baking paper because it saves SOOO much washing up, and you still DO get crispy burnt bits, which is the whole point.)
I used my Le Creuset oval baking dish, which C bought at a market stall for ten measly bucks. The woman who sold it to him said, ‘It’s a bit expensive, but it IS Le Creuset.”
Yeah. I’ll swallow that steep price with a big smile, I think.
The main problem with it is that it is the right size for 3 generous serves, and so often C and I look at the last lonely serve and decide to put it out of its misery.
Anyway! I sprinkled the top with some extra grated cheese and put it in the oven at 200C for…as long as it has taken to write this and comment on FB and watch C crying with laughter after I made him read the latest ‘The Bloggess’ post about buying a 5-foot metal chicken. (No I don’t know yet how to add links.)
And now I am about to eat it.
I’ll let you know how it turns out.