I have been a long-time admirer and follower of Donna Hay’s cookbooks, even as early back when she was the food editor of the Marie Claire cookbooks in Australia. Her clean and refined approach to food styling is what normally attracts the attention of readers in the first instance; food which looks so stunningly beautiful on the page, yet deceptively simple in composition, that each photo could pass as a piece of artwork. Many have tried to copy and emulate the style of Donna Hay, but I think few have come close in executing the same level of sophistication.
In Switzerland, the Pasta Plausch is a favourite menu item for many. In my last job, Thursdays in the canteen was (and still is) known simply as Pasta Plausch, a day where the lunchtime menu would feature a large pasta buffet to the delight of the employees. On offer were usually a few different types of pasta with a selection of sauces including bolognese, carbonara, Napolitana and pesto.
I love a good lasagne and it’s a satisfying dish to make when you have time to potter about in the kitchen. With spring having finally arrived in Zurich and warmer weather slowly creeping into the forecast, I wanted to make a baked pasta dish, but nothing too rich and heavy. This vegetarian lasagne is super easy to make, requiring only a simple tomato sauce and a béchamel sauce and, if you like, a scattering of vegetables between the layers.
As with any dish that has a few components and requires an assembly job, making a lasagne is not necessarily something you would attempt during the week after a long day at work, but it sure makes for a special meal at any other time.
Due to hubby’s request to eat more vegetarian meals this year, I saw no reason to not buy the latest book from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of the River Cottage fame, Veg Everyday. The book is dedicated to eating vegetarian meals, though it is not written by a vegetarian – an important distinction in my mind because it means there are no spooky and holistic ingredients which would otherwise make vegetarian cooking too much of an effort for a carnivore like me.
One recipe which instantly called out to me was the Chilli, Cheese and Rosemary Polenta with Tomato Sauce. There was something very nursery about this recipe. Plus I had some polenta in the pantry which had just passed its expiry date …
My first introduction to polenta was at the canteen at work. And before you recoil in shock, I should mention that Swiss canteens happen to be quite highly regarded in the culinary world. In fact, the canteens at several companies here even compete with one another in the same way that high-end restaurants do. One of my colleagues regularly uses the quality of the canteen meals as the bar for comparisons when he is dining out at restaurants. The canteen at our rival company has even published a cookbook – on fine dining. Pretty top notch.
Risotto always makes for a nice, comforting meal during the week. Yes, it takes a bit of time and requires a bit of stove-side attention, but I find the constant stirring to be rather relaxing, especially after a busy day at work when the time spent doing something mindless and repetitive can be rather therapeutic.
But perhaps we all don’t have this luxury of time to quietly meditate over the stove, or – more likely – some of us just don’t have the darn patience to stir endlessly for 20 minutes or so.