Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike. -John Muir

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pasta Dough

Whether its fettucini, lasagna, ravioli, or hundreds of other italian dishes, fresh pasta adds such a significant touch to your meals. It isnt complicated to make and with a little practice you'll be rolling long, beautiful sheets of dough.

Basic Pasta Dough

   -all purpose flour
   -olive oil

The first step is to clean the counter because we are going to do everything from mixing to rolling right on it. Deciding on how much pasta you want to make is important. The batch I made with these pics was a double batch and could easily feed 6-8 people (if you made say fettucini).

-Dump about 3 cups of flour into a pile on the counter. start from the center and make a little home for your eggs.
-For 3 cups of flour, put 3 eggs, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon oil in the center.

-grab a fork and start scrambling

-once the eggs are fully scrambled start collapsing the sides and add flour as you stir

-ok, so when the dough gets nice and thick (like smooth mashed potatoes) its time to get in with the hands

-keep folding in flour and kneading the dough until all the flour is incorporated. (my hands were a little messy so i didnt get my camera). what you are looking for here is a nice smooth dough that isnt sticky. as the gluten forms its going to get a little springy and will be quite difficult to knead. knead for about 5-10 minutes. if the dough is still sticky, sprinkle more flour. if its sticky now it will be even more sticky later on and will be difficult to roll.

it should look like this...

-now we need to throw this ball of dough into a zip lock and let it sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes. this time allows the dough to relax and become supplely smooooooove. this is when i usually make my sauce or ravioli filling....yum.

time to start rolling!
if you dont have a pasta machine no worries... grab a chunk and go at it with a rolling pin!

roll big sheets for lasagna or raviolis

here is way to make hand cut fettucini.

roll it nice and thin

 add some flour

 roll'er up tight

flour the outside of the roll

cut it into 1/4 inch chunks


fresh pasta takes only 30 seconds to a minute to cook so dont walk away too long. enjoy!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Crash-hot Potatoes

Disclaimer: Once you have eaten potatoes this way, you will never want to eat them any other way.

Created by Jill Dupleix, Crash Hot Potatoes are a delicious twist on the old baked potato.  Somewhere between a roasted potato and a crispy frenchfry, these babies are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside,  deliciously flavored, and exquisitely simple.  Make extra, you will want more than one.

Add desired number of yukon gold potatoes to (salted) boiling water, about 1-2 per person.  Boil potatoes until fork tender.  Once the potatoes are fork tender, remove them from the water and place them on a baking sheet that has been drizzled with olive oil. 

 Smash each potato with a banana masher (as seen above). 

Season the potatoes with fresh rosemary (or dried if you don't live in Austin, Texas where it grows everywhere), sea salt, fresh ground pepper. 

 Then, drizzle the potatoes with olive oil.  Don't be skimpy.

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  They should look like this... and taste... well... amazing.  I suggest you stop drooling over the pictures and go make some now.

White Bean Quinoa Salad

Three simple facts about me: I am a vegetarian, I rock climb, I am allergic to nuts.  That doesn't really leave me with much protein to build muscle, which is not great when I am trying to get stronger in the gym.  I have been searching for ways to add more protein to my diet.  Voila! Quinoa... a grain that is high in protein, yes please.

To cook quinoa: add 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa, simmer until all water is absorbed. It should end up looking like the above picture.  

Quinoa is very versatile.  It can be used in dishes you would use bulger wheat, couscous, or even rice... or you can make breakfast quinoa much like oatmeal or cream of wheat.  I needed lunches, so I made a salad.

Here's what you need:
1 1/2 cups (measured uncooked) cooked quinoa
1/2 small red onion (diced)
1 orange bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
2 cobs of corn (decobbed)
1 can navy beans
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
minced garlic (optional)

Stir to combine.  Taste, evaluate flavor, add salt and pepper if needed.  Enjoy right away, or pack in a handy mason jar for lunch tomorrow.  (Makes enough to serve a crowd, or use for lunches for a week)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Rice Pudding and a Gift From My Mom

This week has been really crappy especially because the weekend weather is perfect from climbing and I am stuck inside being a gimp waiting for my ankle to heal.  But, just when I was in the middle of my pity party, I got a package from my mom. 

 And inside was a spice grinder made especially for bakers.  I knew immediately I must make something to put it in.... rice pudding.  (Note: you don't need this grinder to make the rice pudding, but it does add a special something)

 What you need:
1 cup long grain rice
4 cups water
3 cinnamon sticks
zest from one lemon
pinch of cloves
14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
3 cups milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
(additional spice to taste)

Soak rice, lemon zest, and cinnamon in 4 cups of water (in a large pot) for one hour.  After one hour place pot on burner and bring to a boil.  Once rice comes to a boil reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer uncovered until most of the water is absorbed by the rice or evaporates (about 30 minutes).  While the rice cooks, beat the egg and milk together in a bowl.  When the water is absorbed into the rice, add milk, egg, condensed milk, vanilla, salt, cloves to rice.  Allow this mixture to simmer for about 30 minutes; it should thicken some, but will thicken more (especially in the fridge).  after 30 minutes taste and add additional spices if needed.  Turn off heat, remove cinnamon sticks, and allow pudding to cool.  Yum.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Texas Sheet Cake

I actually made this recipe a while ago (a few months), but as I had just moved to Texas, I was in no way organized to post it to the blog.  So, as I promised when I made Yak and Cornbread, I have it posted now.   This cake I made for the 1st day of school and it really was a hit.  Even though we only wanted a brownie sized piece at a time because it is so dense and rich, it was still gobbled up in record timing.  One of my co-workers remarked to me Tuesday when I brought in lemon shortbread cookies, that she has a problem not devouring everything I bake.  I too have this problem... good thing I like exercise.

For the Cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 or 5 heaping tbsp cocoa (I used dark chocolate... notice the almost black color of the cake)
2 sticks butter (I used salted butter because lets face it, who keeps unsalted butter in their fridge?)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

For the Icing:
1 3/4 sticks butter
4 or 5 heaping tbsp cocoa
6 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb minus 1/2 cup confectioners (take 1/2 cup out of the box or bag and set aside before using the remaining)

Combine dry ingredients (minus cocoa) in a bowl.  Melt butter over stove top and add cocoa powder.  Add boiling water and allow to continue to boil for 30 seconds.  Pour chocolate butter mixture over flour mixture and stir only a few strokes.

Combine the rest of the wet ingredients in a bowl.
Pour the wet ingredients into the chocolate flour mixture.  Stir to combine.  Pour in greased 9x13 inch cake pan.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

While cake is in the oven, make icing.  Melt butter on stove top and stir in cocoa.  Turn off the heat.  Add the rest of the ingredients; stir to combine.  When the cake is done baking and still warm out of the oven, pour the icing on top locking in all the delicious moisture and allowing the icing to spread easily.  Dust with confectioners sugar and ENJOY!

Dark Chocolate Covered Candied Orange Peels

Last Friday I sprained my ankle.  Now, this really would not have been that big of a deal if it weren't for the fact that this is the 4th time I have sprained the same ankle in less than a year.  And I was super frustrated because that means no running, no climbing and a visit to the doctor complete with x-rays.  To put it lightly it has been a week of melt-downs.  It is, in fact, way better than the month I had 3 concussions and got a 300 dollar ER bill, but it just seemed like everything I did was destined for disaster.  And then Tuesday night I decided I needed to bake something to feel better.  Since everyone seems to be obsessed with Girl Scout Cookies I decided to make some from scratch.  I found a recipe that involved more use of my microwave than I have used in 8 years and so I dove in... this was a mistake, a complete and horrible mistake.  I ended my evening on the kitchen floor crying.

Redemption came the next night when I decided, screw you microwave, I do not understand you, bring on a few hours of work for an oh so amazing reward.  This is the type of food I am good at making.  And Wednesday night I went to bed with a smile on my chocolate smeared face.

What you need:
4 large naval oranges
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 bag of Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips (okay fine, any brand will do)
season 1 of M*A*S*H on dvd *

* optional

Slice the ends off and peel the oranges.   Cut the peel into thin strips.  Place orange peels in a pot and cover with water.  Bring water to a rolling boil and then strain the peels. Rinse and Repeat (no really, boil the peels a second time and drains the water from the pot).  Add one cup water and one cup sugar to the pot over medium heat.  Stir until a syrup forms.  The liquid should be at a low simmer.  Cover the pot and let it simmer for one hour.  Proceed to eat an orange while watching M*A*S*H. 

After one hour has passed your entire kitchen with smell like orange :) Remove the candied orange peels from the pot and place them on waxed paper or a rack where they can cool.   Watch another episode of M*A*S*H.  Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler. Dip candied orange peels into chocolate and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  Place this cookie sheet in the freezer or refrigerator until chocolate hardens.

I understand this recipe seems very time intensive, but I think it is very simple and worth trying because it is truly on of the most delicious things I have ever made and I am not just saying that to make up for being a gimp.  

I assure you if you've had a bad day or a bad week these treats will put a smile on your face.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pepper Crusted Yak Tbone Steak and Traditional Texas Cornbread

I have been living in Texas for about 6 months now and it is really no mystery here to anyone who meets me that I am a New Yorker in Texas who is captivated by Texas culture.  And no, not the culture in Austin, that is a different beast altogether.  So far in my 6 months here I have been 2-stepping, seen the Alamo, been to a stock show, pet a 2 week old goat, went to a local brewery grand opening and shot a gun for the 1st time ever.

And as far as baking goes, I still like to bake traditional New England style breads like Anadama Bread, but I have begun to start making traditional Texan fare.  Texas sheet cake will hopefully get posted to the blog soon, but 1st Traditional Texas Cornbread made in my cast iron dutch oven and Yak T-bone Steak from the local farmers market!

Pepper Crusted Yak T-bone Steak:
 Let me preface this with... Yak is delicious, really I encourage you to try some and if you are in the Austin area I encourage you to get out to the Cedar Park farmers market to get some from Texas Yaks.

Coat both sides of the steak with ground pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350 and place a oven safe skillet with a tbsp of oil on a burner (btwn high and medium) on top of the stove.  When the oven is heated and the pan is hot, place the steak into the pan.  Sear both sides of the steak, about 2 minutes each side.  Then place the skillet in the oven to finish cooking (about 4 minutes for medium).

Traditional Texas Cornbread:
  • 3tbsp olive oil or bacon drippings
1 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour

  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/8 cup sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk (I used a milk and lemon juice mixture)

Preheat oven to 375, place oil in 10 inch cast iron skillet or dutch oven and place in oven while it preheats.  
Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl and wet ingredients in a smaller bowl.   Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir only until combined.  When the oven has finished preheating, take the skillet out and make sure the sides are coated with oil.  Spoon the batter into the pan, place in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the middle is firm and the sides turn golden and pull away from the edges of the pan.  Enjoy hot or my favorite: cut into slices, place in the toaster until light brown and don't skimp on the butter.  =)