Midweek cravings: grilled pear and blue cheese on toast & BBQ pork ribs and noodle stir fry
Have you ever cooked a dish with ingredients you know other people in your house/boat/camping party don’t like/won’t eat so you go ahead with it in a very selfish “more-for-me” kind of way?
I did last night. It was not out of nastiness, quite the contrary. You see, we have been on this Fitness Challenge for a few weeks now (all good, thanks for asking) and with 6 people sharing the cooking, it’s meant adjusting the dinner menu to accommodate everyone’s tastes and dietary requirements. Some would say it would be easier to let everyone cook for themselves, but I am pretty particular about dinners: this is the only time the whole family is home, and a nice meal around the dinner table is the best way I have found over the years to spend precious moments together. It wasn’t always easy, and there were many testing times, especially when the kids were babies and toddlers. Back then, we used to have two seatings: 6.30pm for the kids and 8.00pm (or later) for us parents. The one thing I always insisted on though, was one dinner. As a new mum, I only ever had time to cook one dish, so whatever the kids ate, we ate, and vice versa. The trick was to adapt the plate so that everyone would find the dish appealing. Examples: chicken curry soup (chili on the side), bangers and mash turned into smiley faces, boat lettuce leaves for san choy bow, and never underestimate the power of caramelised apples with ice cream (that goes for a lot of fruits!)!!! This went on for a while, until around the age of 5, when both children realised that they would not die from eating “grown up “ food and took a liking to Caesar salad, duck breast or vegetables fritters. Sure, there are stuff they still won’t touch, but same with us. Anne gives her mushrooms to Marc, who passes his olives to Terry, who pushes prawn tails my way while I hand him the anchovies. No one’s perfect!
Anyway, all I am getting at is, that I am a very big fan of the single menu dinner, even when faced with different eating requirements. Lately, I have had great fun expanding my repertoire to more “wholesome” food thanks to the low-carb/gluten-free/nut-free/chili-free/no shellfish eaters among us (they know who they are, and I love them to bits!). While it’s been an eye opener, and I am sure my body feels better for it, my carb-deprived mind slowly started to entertain the idea of cheese on toast and juicy succulent pork ribs…
So yesterday was my opportunity to indulge, with one of us absent for dinner. Pears are in season at the moment, and I had a craving for blue cheese and pears tartines. I knew that Terry and Craig would love it, Marc and Anne not so much but they could make up with spare ribs and stir fry noodles. Or so I thought. But kids will always surprise me, and the conversation went like this:
Marc: “Oh this is soooo good! Can I have another one (after having 2 serves already)?”
Me: “Well, you’ll have to ask Craig and your Dad. And maybe share it with Anne.”
Marc: “Anne doesn’t like blue cheese, so she’s Ok.”
Anne (walking into the kitchen): “I might, especially if it is grilled. Let me try!…Oh, I love it, it is so much better than the last time (which was 2 years ago on a pizza)! Marc, you’re not having my share.”
By then, Terry, Craig, Anne and I had one serve, Marc two, and we were all eyeing out the remaining 2 tartines. Being kind and responsible adults, we let the kids have them, while I made a note to myself to make more next time.
That was our pre-dinner snack. Afterwards Anne and the boys were sent outside on the veranda to grill the spare ribs (this is Sydney, Australians think nothing of standing in the cold for a barbeque!) while I attended to my vegetable and noodle stir fry. The main ingredient was a bag of bean sprouts that I wanted to use before it went off ( yes, I hate wasting food!). The rest was standard stir fry fare: broccoli, onions, garlic, ginger, carrots, coriander and shallots, lovingly chopped and julienned. Having ran out of rice, I grabbed what I thought were rice noodles from the back of the pantry, but was in fact bean thread vermicelli. Maybe not low carb but a gluten-free main after all, I thought it was not too bad for a midweek treat!
Grilled Pear and Blue Cheese on toast
Serves 4-6 as a snack
8 slices sourdough bread, toasted
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 ripe pears, quartered, cored and sliced
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
150g soft blue cheese (Blue Castello type)
- Pre-heat the grill to high. Place the toasted bread slices on a baking tray. Spread mustard on one side of the bread. Top with pear slices. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and add blue cheese.
- Put under the grill and cook for 4-5 minutes until the cheese is melted.
- Serve piping hot and watch them disappear!
Bean Thread Vermicelli and vegetable stir fry
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
1 packet (250g) of bean thread vermicelli
3 carrots, peeled and cut in batons (sticks)
1 head of broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets
1 packet (450g) bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
1 red onion, peeled and chopped roughly
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 knob of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil ( NOT EVO) for frying
3 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp tamari (wheat free) soya sauce
½ cup water
1 tbsp sesame oil
Big handfuls of chopped coriander and green shallots for garnish
- Soak the bean vermicelli in hot water for 15 minutes, as per packet instructions.
- In a large fry pan or a wok, heat the vegetable oil until smoking. Add the red onion and stir for 2 minutes until soft. Add the crushed garlic cloves and chopped ginger. Stir until fragrant.
- Add carrots and broccoli, stir until coated with oil. Add the bean sprouts and stir. Pour in the oyster sauce, tamari sauce and water. Stir well to combine the flavours thru the vegetables. Finally add the bean vermicelli, stirring until well mixed with the vegies.
- Splash thru the sesame oil, sprinkle with the coriander and green shallot for presentation.
- Serve piping hot as an accompaniment to grilled spare ribs with some chili sauce on the side if desired. Enjoy!