Pride and Prejudice Pasta!

Today, I am excited to share a story and delicious recipe from my dear friend Sodoulla in Cyprus. This story is actually about the both of us during my first stint on the island from 1993-1997  as a teenager. (I lived in Cyprus a second time from 2005-2007 after Grad school- yes it can be confusing!) We were both Greek- Cypriot kids who were born in London and whose parents had returned to live in Cyprus for various reasons. We were instant friends when we met in high school, sharing a common misunderstood dark British humour and dry wit as well as many other things. Needless to say she is still one of my best friends to this day even though there are so many miles between us and life is very different from those early days. I was absolutely thrilled when she wanted to contribute to The Grumbling Belly and I am sure you will enjoy this trip down memory lane with us.

Happy Mondays Pasta for Mr. Darcy

Pesto Garlic Cream Pasta

When Leia started her family and friends posts I couldn’t resist reminding her about our Monday night get togethers back in 1996. We were just out of school and I had moved from my parents house on the beach town of Larnaca to the central city of Nicosia for college. This meant I was closer to all my high school friends and in particular, Leia. Although she and I had our fair share of parties and going-out nights, Mondays were strictly reserved for our other two passions: English classics and food.

Much to mine and Leia’s delight the not-so-wonderful Cypriot Broadcast Corporation decided by some miracle (or perhaps someone on the board actually had good taste)  to show  the BBC’s six part series of Pride and Prejudice every Monday night, starring the original Mr. Darcy, Colin Firth, and the under acclaimed Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet.

So I’d get over to Leia’s house a good couple of hours before the show would start and we would raise havoc in her mum’s huge kitchen (has she ever mentioned that her parent’s house in Cyprus is a parsonage that used to be a school? Thus you can imagine the size of each room, not to mention there are separate guest toilets for men and women!) We would chop up the garlic, mushrooms and onions while telling each other our sad love-life updates (or lack thereof!) and of course we’ll never know if we cried because of the onions or because of our tales. Then we would get out the pots and pans  and cook up our amazing signature dish that we were so proud of at the time. For us back then, diets started on Tuesdays…

ingredients

Finally, we would sit glued to the television and eat until bursting point while watching the courageous Elizabeth sticking to her guns and the quiet Mr Darcy falling frustratingly in love with her. If I remember correctly, (I did say this was back in 1996) we would finish off the evening with a quick game of scrabble.

Needless to say the series finished after six weeks but we continued Monday evening pasta for quite a while. I can safely say that it was probably the only time in my life when I actually really looked forward to Mondays and I have my best friend Leia and, of course Mr Darcy, to thank for that.

Now to be totally honest, the recipe for our spinach pasta is a bit foggy (again, 1996) we were young and never really thought about writing it down. Being Cypriots we kind of just “played by ear” (my mum is an excellent Cypriot cook and she doesn’t have a single recipe written down, which I now find extremely frustrating, but I guess I’m like her in a lot of ways).

However the other day knowing I was going to write about it, I tested out our Monday Pasta and this is what I came up with:

Garlic Pesto Cream Pasta
(serves 2)
200g pasta (we used to use cheese tortellini or tagliatelle but use your favourite)
1 bunch of fresh spinach, chopped
1 medium onion (or half a Spanish one), chopped
chopped fresh mushrooms (optional but strongly recommended, quantity is up to you)
2 cloves garlic, chopped or mashed
2 (ok, maybe 3!) heaped tablespoons of good pesto (I now would use homemade as my husband does the best pesto but back then we used store bought)
a drizzle of good olive oil (please don’t substitute with another oil)
250ml fresh cream
half a glass of white wine
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan to grate on top

Gently sweat the onion in a hot pan drizzled with olive oil and then add the mushrooms and garlic. Sauté for a couple of minutes, making sure the mushrooms don’t produce too much water.

spinach-going-in

Add the spinach and wine stir until all the spinach is hot and starts to cook down, cover the pan and let the spinach cook until its tender and reduced.

spinach-wilted

Add the pesto, season with salt and pepper; stir well so that everything is covered in pesto. Finally, when the wine is reduced to a thick sauce,

cream-going-in

add the fresh cream and stir again, let it cook and thicken.

finished-sauce

Cook the pasta to your desired tendency and mix well into the sauce, grate cheese on top and serve with garlic bread.

Pesto Garlic Cream Pasta

We strongly recommend sharing this pasta dish with your best friend for added comfort.

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Copycat Starbucks Lemon Loaf

So you may have noticed that I missed Pinteresting Monday this week. Things were a little hectic over the weekend as I was making cupcakes for a baby shower so I didn’t get to have any other fun experiments in the kitchen. However, I am not leaving you hanging as one of my sweet new friends here in Waco, Carlee Payton, is sharing her review of a great recipe she recently tried. On her blog, The Payton Periodicals, Carlee not only writes about delicious food, and her fun adventures with husband Jared and hilarious little pup Wylee, but she offers helpful advice to her readers on all kinds of topics, and shares cute and easy craft projects. You should check her out!

Hi all! Thanks Leia for allowing me to do a guest blog post on The Grumbling Belly. The GB is one of my favorite blogs, especially because Leia reviews recipes found on Pinterest.; which is very appropriate because the recipe that I want to share with you is one I found on Pinterest. Because it’s not my original recipe, I can’t take credit for it but it really did turn out quite lovely. When I found the recipe several weeks ago, it pulled on my heart strings because at one time, I worked for Starbucks and this was one of my favorite treats. At the end of my night shifts there, I was allowed to take one pastry and one beverage…. 90% of the time, I took the Lemon Loaf. It always tasted so good with some sort of mocha-flavored drink; surprisingly enough. So this recipe brought back memories of my time as a barista.

Starbucks’ Iced Lemon Pound Cake Copycat Recipe 

(The original recipe can be found at Picky Palate)

starbucks copy cat lemon loaf

1 box yellow cake mix

4.3 ounce instant or cook and serve Lemon pudding mix

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

8 oz sour cream

6 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice

Icing

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3-4 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and spray 2 loaf pans or (1 Bundt pan, in my case) generously with cooking spray.

2. Place all cake ingredients in no particular order into stand or electric mixer, beating until well combined, about 1 1/2 minutes. Divide cake batter between two prepared loaf pans (or 1 bundt) spreading evenly. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Remove and let cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan(s).

3. To prepare icing, place powdered sugar into a large bowl. Drizzle in lemon juice stirring until smooth and thick. Should be a good drizzling consistency. Drizzle icing over cakes and let set for 20 minutes for a firm icing. Otherwise slice while still wet if desired.

**Note: You can make this same recipe into cupcakes, small loaves and even a layered cake. Adjust baking time accordingly.

Review:

It turned out to be one of the most beautiful cakes I had ever made. It reminded me of a sunrise with the different shades of yellow. The taste is very similar to the Lemon Loaf at Starbucks. I haven’t had the Starbuck’s Lemon Loaf in a while so I would need to do a side-by-side blind taste test to compare. Overall, it is a delicious dessert and would be a nice dessert to serve company.

It is probably best eaten the same day because the next day, the icing seeps in and is less pretty but still very delicious the next day. I stored my cake in a cake dome on the counter; not the fridge. It probably wouldn’t hurt to put it in the fridge. At Starbucks, we served the Lemon Loaf in the refrigerated dessert case.

Check out my blog over at www.carleejoy.blogspot.com for recipes, fashion tips, crafts, traveling, fitness and more.

-Carlee Joy

Food and Friends- Halloumi Cheese Muffins

One of the key ideas behind The Grumbling Belly is that food is not just about great flavour and yummy recipes but  that food can be an integral part of community and culture. It brings people together, marks occasions, enriches our personal and communal history, introduces us to different places around the world, and it fuels creativity. I am blessed to know many wonderful people who inspire me to continue this Grumbling Belly mission and I have decided to start inviting them to share their stories and their food with you.

It seems only fitting then that I begin with a submission from the woman who began my journey in the kitchen, my mum. The very first thing she taught me to make was her famous Apple Crumble. We had a Bramley Apple tree in our garden and every season, mum would collect the apples and cook them up for the filling. I would be in charge of the crumble and would sit at the kitchen table, happily working the butter into the flour and sugar to make bread crumbs. I felt so proud of myself when she would present the dessert at our next dinner party and tell everyone I helped make it. She then moved me up to filling Cannelloni shells with her spinach and ricotta mix, and buttering layers of phyllo dough ready for all manner of Greek syrupy desserts. Soon I graduated to wrapping the dolmades filling with grape leaves and then on to stirring the bechamel sauce at its most crucial stage to avoid lumps.  I loved working in the kitchen so much that it didn’t take long for me to start looking up new recipes in Mum’s cookbooks to make with her or by myself.

All these years later and she is still teaching me family recipes and giving me baking/cooking tips. Here is the one she most recently sent me for her Halloumi Cheese Muffins. Mum and Dad have always opened up their home (and their dining table) to bring so many people together and this is one of my fondest memories from my time living with them. Our house was always bustling with guests for Sunday lunches, celebrations, or welcoming out of town visitors. She started making these Halloumi Cheese Muffins as a feature in her great buffet party spreads, or sometimes to help with a charity bake sale. They are  moreish warm yummy delights for any occasion!

Halloumi Cheese Muffins

(Halloumi is a Cypriot cheese that has a very unique texture ensuring it keeps its shape in cooking and baking. However, Mum says if you can’t find halloumi, these are still tasty using all cheddar cheese)

Cheese and Halloumi Muffins

5 eggs
1 cup corn oil
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup grated cheese (cheddar)
1 cup grated halloumi
2 1/2 cups self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sultanas
2 tsp dry mint
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 180 c (350 F). Whisk eggs well then add the oil and beat until well combined. Mix in milk and sugar. In a separate bowl combine the two cheeses and then add to the egg milk mix. Next, add the flour and baking powder and stir well. Pour in the sultanas and salt and mix until everything is combined. Divide mixture into 24 muffin cases in muffin pans and bake for 25 – 30 minutes until golden brown.