I am a quite a hack in the kitchen. I have no real class or style. I rarely use recipes, and when I do, I consider them a rough guide. I have as many failures as I have successes, possibly more.
A regular pre-dinner conversation in my house goes like this:
Him: What are we having for dinner?
Me: Some kind of noodley, vegetabley, chickeny thing.
Him: Are you making it up?
Me: Do you really need to ask?
What can I say? I have a vibrant imagination. Sometimes my creation turns out equally vibrant (for example these fellows) and sometimes not so much.
When I was invited to try a new kitchen utensil called ‘Hackit‘ I had a little giggle at how relevant it was for me. Then I watched a little video about it in Norwegian and giggled a little bit more. That is the BEST language to listen to when you don’t understand a word.
But what is a Hackit?
At its simplest it is a very efficient little cutting/mashing device developed by Vegard Ertvaag (such a fabulous name) to help his mum separate mince as she was cooking it.
Now, many a time I have spent ages stabbing away at a frypan with a spatula trying to break up mince. There really is nothing more ergh when you are tucking into bolognaise than getting a big dry old chunk of mince that hasn’t been permeated with your herby sauce. If this Hackit thing does what they said it can, then Vegard may have just solved one of life’s greatest
first world problems. It is also supposed to work well for general kitchen mashing/smashing needs, including crushing biscuits.
I was challenged to make a three course meal with my Hackit. I love a good challenge.
How did I Hackit?
First up was a simple little olive dip. Homemade dips are such an easy treat, but chopping up a bunch of slippery, slimy little olives is never pleasant.
No longer a problem.
This dip was made in about two minutes. Simply give the olives a bit of a smash, add in the other ingredients, smash a little more and you are done. It takes about the same time as it does to remove those annoying foil toppers from store-bought dips.
Serve with some olive-oil drizzled slices of homemade bread
So far so good.
Next up was the big challenge. A lasagne. If a dry old chunk of mince is a crime against bolognaise, then it is worthy of a murder charge in the lasagne spectrum. Lasagne has been one of my most favourite things (as you know I have a few of those 😉 ) ever since my childhood friend Louise’s 10th birthday party. Her mum made this exotic new food with layers of cheese, pasta and meat, and my mind was blown. It was like spag bog but with creamy cheesy sauce and none of that fake parmesan dust that defined that era of my life. Amazeballs.
Over the years I have refined my recipe to recapture that amazing but largely unsophisticated dish. I tip my hat to your duck ragu/roast pumpkin and spinach/truffled chicken creations but just give me a plate-filling slice of the old trad meat lasagne with extra béchamel and hidden veggies and I’m all yours baby.
As long as the meat sauce doesn’t have chunks.
Vegard, you are a god.
The Hackit performed her job (I’ve christened her Hattie, which means ‘ruler of the house’) with style and grace. I only gave the veggies a rough chop and Hattie Hackit did the rest. I found a little quarter turn as I was smashing worked a treat for mixing at the same time, and being plastic, Hattie didn’t scratch my non-stick surface.
Just look at those teeny tiny little mince chunks and perfect herby sauce permeation.
I also have to draw your attention to my olive oil based, microwave-cooked béchamel. Developed after many years of scraping burnt béchamel off saucepans, this sauce takes about 10 minutes and it basically foolproof. Also, because olive oil is so good for you, you can put in double the cheese. Oh yes you can…
To finish off, I had to give this biscuit crushing thing a go. Sticking with the italian theme, I made a little Tiramisu-esque creation. I possibly couldn’t have picked a harder biscuit than a Butternut to test this out on. Hattie Hackit gave it a good go though. I found a little rocking motion with my Hackit technique worked a treat, and while they weren’t exactly fine crumbs (in fact I needed them slightly chunky), the biscuits were certainly hacked.
Hattie also did a marvellous job at breaking up fresh ricotta and mixing it with mascarpone. Then it was just a matter of layering and topping with a super-easy coffee syrup.
I have since used the Hackit (sorry, Hattie) to mash potatoes and it (she) was fabulous. You can mash and whip intermittently without swapping tools for the creamiest mash. She also made the mixing of my ricotta gnocchi much easier than ever before.
The Hackit is a really simple, multi-purpose tool; the kind that will make you will wonder what you did before it entered your life. I am not really one for multiple kitchen gadgets and utensil drawers full of random stuff, but Hattie has certainly earned her place in my kitchen with her mince pizazz. I should add that she is easy to clean too and comes in a variety of colours (if matching utensils is your gig). You can purchase your very own Hattie, Halvor, Hedda or Herleif here.
Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Hackit. All opinions and ideas remain my own. And trust me, if I can be bothered naming a kitchen utensil then it is because I actually like it (her).
- 1/3 cup marinated pitted olives in oil
- 30g/1oz mascarpone
- 1/3 cup greek yoghurt
- Olive oil to drizzle
- Place olives in a small bowl and use the Hackit to roughly chop them
- Add mascarpone and mix, further chopping the olives
- Add yoghurt and mix again.
- Spoon into a serving dish and drizzle with olive oil
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 500g mince meat
- 1 medium onion
- 100g mushrooms
- 1 small red capsicum
- 1 zucchini
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 400g tins tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp italian herbs
- 1/2-1 tsp smoked paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup plain flour
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp grated parmesan
- pinch nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
- One package fresh lasagne sheets
- Roughly chop onion, mushrooms, capsicum and zucchini.
- Finely chop or mince garlic
- Heat a large frypan over medium heat and saute onion until lightly browned
- Add mince to pan and using Hackit, break up the mince and stir regularly until browned.
- Add mushrooms, capsicum and zucchini and use the Hackit to chop and mix into the meat. Cook for about 2 mins
- Add white wine and bring to the boil
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste and vinegar and bring to the boil.
- Add garlic and herbs
- Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15-30 minutes (longer is better)
- When liquid has reduced and meat is tender, stir through paprika and season to taste
- Mix flour and oil in a large microwave-safe bowl
- Cook in microwave for 30 seconds. Flour will be a sand-like consistency
- Add a splash of milk and whisk until a smooth paste is formed.
- Continue adding milk and whisking until all the milk has been added
- Cook in microwave for about two minutes, remove and whisk well
- Cook in microwave for another two minutes, a 'ring' of thickened sauce will form around the edge, whisk again.
- Microwave for another 1-2 minutes, whisk, and the sauce should be hot and thick (may need to lengthen or shorten cooking time depending on your microwave).
- Add 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar and 1/2 cup parmesan and stir until smooth.
- Add nutmeg (or better still grate a little nutmeg in) and stir. Season to taste
- Preheat oven to 180C
- Grease a large, deep baking tray with olive oil
- Spread a ladle of meat sauce on the base of the tray
- Arrange a layer of lasagne sheets on top
- Spread half the remaining meat sauce and top with a layer of pasta
- Spread half the béchamel and top with a layer of pasta
- Spread remaining meat sauce and top with a layer of pasta
- Finish with remaining béchamel and top with remaining cheese.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until top is nicely browned and bubbling.
- 3 butternut cookies (or other butterscotch flavoured biscuit)
- 60g/2 oz mascarpone
- 100g/3 oz fresh ricotta
- 1-2 Tbsp milk (optional)
- 1-2 squares of good quality dark chocolate
- 1/2 cup strong black coffee
- 1 tsp golden syrup
- Place biscuits in a small bowl and smash with the Hackit, I found a rocking movement worked well
- In a separate bowl place the ricotta and use the Hackit to break it up.
- Add mascarpone to the ricotta and mix using the Hackit. Depending on the moisture in the cheese you may need to add a little milk to thin the mixture to the consistency of softly whipped cream.
- Place coffee and golden syrup in a small saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally until reduced by half. Remove from heat.
- Place 1/3 biscuits into the base of two serving glasses
- Drizzle with 1/3 of coffee syrup.
- Top with half the ricotta mixture and drizzle with 1/3 of coffee syrup.
- Layer biscuits, ricotta mixture and remaining coffee syrup.
- Top with biscuits and grate over dark chocolate.