I felt like I lost my cooking mojo a couple weeks back (caused in part by the summer weather and also my being ridiculously busy at work and I’m tired when I get home) but after forcing myself into the kitchen recently, I do feel like it’s back and now I’ve got a few recipes ready for the blog. Reading other blogs helped too and one recipe that helped get me out of my funk was this creamy carrot pasta that Donny cooked on his blog Eat to Blog. A creamy pasta dish isn’t necessarily what one might make in the summer but the weather lately hasn’t been exactly summery, eh?

This recipe made a feature of carrot, a vegetable that I have no particularly strong feelings for and one I’d never thought of combining into a pasta dish – but the idea of combining it with cream sounded fantastic. I couldn’t help playing around a bit with the recipe and used a leek instead of the onion and crumbled the sausage into the sauce too. The result was very tasty with the sweetness of the leeks and carrots and cream playing nicely with the savoury sausage and the greenness of the parsley. And it’s very quick to put together for a weekday dinner.

Creamy Carrot, Leek and Sausage Pasta

Carrot, Leek and Sausage Pasta
adapted from Donny’s recipe on Eat to Blog.
serves 2.

250g pasta
1 medium-large carrot, thinly sliced
1 large leek, thinly sliced
3 sausages, chopped roughly
50 mL double cream
2 tbsps olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a small handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

Set a large pot of water to boil.

Set a large saute pan over medium heat and add about 2 tbsps of oil when hot. Throw in the chopped sausage and let the pieces brown well. When cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage and set it aside.

Pour in a little more oil if the pan is looking dry. Add the leeks and saute for about three minutes. Toss in the carrots and continue cooking until they soften. If the vegetables start to stick, add a little water and scrape up the goodness stuck to the pan.

When the water is boiling, salt well and add your pasta (we used fusilli). Cook until al dente.

Return the sausage to the pan and then add the double cream. Stir through and let bubble together for a few minutes. Thin with water if desired and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Add in the cooked and drained pasta and the chopped parsley and stir well to combine. Add some of the pasta water if it’s looking too dry and if it’s difficult to stir. Serve.

I’m submitting this post to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by Amy of Very Culinary.

When we’ve been eating out more than usual, cravings for plain simple food, preferably home-cooked, take over. That happened last weekend and it was fish we wanted. And so it was off to our local fishmonger in the morning to see what was available and good. I’d originally wanted bream but when I saw the mackerel, I knew what I wanted to do with it. Two mackerel please, filleted.

At home, I set some rice cooking and started making a chayote and carrot salad with a Thai-inspired dressing. I then mixed together the ingredients for a glaze for the fish, which I fried very simply with just a little salt. The glaze was then simmered together until it thickened. By this time, the rice was cooked so in our bowls went rice, a fried fish fillet on top, some of the salad next to it, and the glaze served in a small bowl alongside.

Mackerel with a Soy-Honey Glaze

This was just what we needed – simple food and as a bonus, it’s all put together very quickly. And what a great combination it was too – the ginger in the glaze went very well with the strong flavours of the mackerel and the mackerel, though cooked so simply, was moist and tender with a very crispy skin. The salad was refreshing and it turns out that chayote is a pretty good substitute for green papaya!

Mackerel with a Soy-Honey Glaze

Mackerel Fillets with Soy-Honey Glaze
serves 2.

4 mackerel fillets (from 2 fish)
1 tsp sunflower oil
salt

For the glaze
3 heaping tsps honey
2 tbsps soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp warm water
1/2 tsp grated ginger

Combine the glaze ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat and then add the teaspoonful of oil. Use some kitchen paper to dry the fillets as best possible and then slide them skin side down into the pan (I did two at a time). Cook for 3 minutes without moving them. Sprinkle the tops with some salt and then flip the fillets and continue cooking for another 3 minutes without moving. Plate or set aside.

Pour out any excess oil and wipe down the pan if possible. Place it back over the heat and then pour in the glaze ingredients. Bubble away until reduced by half and then either pour into a bowl for serving or drizzle onto the fish if it’s being served immediately.

Chayote and Carrot Salad
serves 2 as a side.

1 chayote
1 medium carrot
a few sprigs of coriander

For the dressing
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp chili-garlic paste
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp warm water

Peel both the chayote and the carrot. Shred or grate both into a bowl (leave the middle of the chayote – there’s a seed, I think). Stir together the dressing ingredients and add as much as you please to the salad. Chop the coriander roughly, add to the bowl and toss together. Serve.