Saturday, August 20, 2011

chels tries her hand at homemade pasta

yesterday, for dinner, because it sounded good and i was feeling ambitious, i decided to make homemade fettucine. this was also because laura somehow convinced my mother to buy five dozen eggs when they were at costco and hey, pasta uses eggs, let's try that. so i did! with a little help from my friend anne willan.

fettucine from scratch
2 1/2 c. flour (i want to try homeground whole wheat flour for the next batch)
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tbsp vegetable oil

i had originally intended to mix the pasta in the food processor, but no one told me our cuisinart was broken! so only after i had filled it with ingredients, did i realize it wouldn't turn on. boo! i confess, i was a bit disgruntled as i scraped the contents of the processor bowl into the kitchen aid stand mixer, thinking this was so not going to work.

into the mixer went the flour, salt, oil and one of the eggs. i turned that puppy on and watched it bumble around with the flour, incorporating the one egg as best it could, adding another egg every 30 seconds. the dough was actually quite dry by the time the last egg was in, and i ended up adding 2 tbsp of water just to get the stuff to actually stick together.

but it all worked out great in the end (oh, me of little faith!) and somehow came together into a nice giant lump of dough which i turned out onto the floured counter and promptly cut in half. i kneaded each half for 7 minutes - pasta dough is tough! they say you know your pasta dough is ready when it looks like a baby's bottom. when the gluten is all developed and it's smooth and firm and doesn't stick to the counter any more.

after each half was kneaded and baby-bum smooth and round, they sat under a bowl to rest for 30 minutes. anne insists that it needs to rest for a full hour, but dang it, we were hungry and mario batali's book only rested the pasta for half an hour! i figured since mario was an iron chef and i'd never seen ms. willan anywhere in kitchen stadium, i'd go with mario and save me some time.

so! after half an hour i pulled out the rolling pin and had at it with that dough. pasta dough is quite resistant to stretching! you kind of have to beat it out flat before you start rolling it. and although anne said to get it as thin as a postcard, i rolled the first ball out as thin as i dared on the tiny counter space i was using, more like 2 postcards thick, and then threw it over the french rolling pin to dry while i rolled out the other one. you're supposed to let it dry 10-15 minutes until it's got a kind of leathery feel to it, but we were hungry and anxious and i didn't wait quite that long. more like 5-8 minutes (sometimes i am an impatient cook!)

after it was dry enough, i laid it out flat and rolled it up kinda loosely, to cut it with a knife the good ol' fashioned way. (we have a pasta rolling machine, but i didn't want to clean that contraption, so i just eyeballed it with a paring knife. so daring, am i!)

after they were cut, there was much fun unrolling them into a giant pile of raw pasta (that my brother couldn't stop picking in!)

after it was all done, and i had a pot of boiling, salted water on the stove ready to go, they were tossed in. i admit, i used a pot that was too small for as much pasta as we made, and it was a trick trying to get it to not boil over. next time, i'm cooking it in our official pasta pot.

however, one of the things i love about homemade pasta is that it cooks super fast. 2-3 minutes is all it needs, before it's perfectly done. then you pop it off the stove, strain it, put it in a big, warm bowl, toss it with butter, fresh-grated parmesan and also some fresh ground pepper. oh man, so delicious.

just try and tell me you don't want to reach through your monitor and devour this! here's a bite just for you...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

chels moves the trifle recipe to a more pertinent place

chelicious strawberry amaretto trifle!

1 pkg Archer Farms white chocolate amaretto wafer cookies (found them at Target)
1 angel food cake (store bought, unless you want to bake it yourself)
1 lb fresh strawberries, sliced (about 15 good-sized berries)
1 small package slivered almonds (about 2/3 c.)
1 jar of Smucker's Simply Fruit seedless strawberry jam
1 c. Italian strawberry pomegranate soda
1 tsp. almond extract
2 pkgs Jell-o instant french vanilla pudding mix (or make real custard - better!)
1 container whipped topping
1/2 block cream cheese, at room temperature

1. Cube angel food cake into 1" cubes (carefully, with a sharp serrated knife.)
2. Prep pudding/custard and let set in fridge.
3. Whisk together jam, extract, and Italian soda, toss in strawberries and almonds.
4. Crush cookies into crumbles (I used a meat tenderizer and a ziplock baggie.)
5. Using a hand mixer, (or a whisk if you want a good workout) beat together the cream cheese and the whipped topping.
6. In a large clear glass bowl, layer as follows: berries, cake & cookie crumbles, custard, cream cheese whip. Repeat until bowl is full, using berries as your top layer, spoon a small dollop of custard in the middle and sprinkle with the remaining cookie crumbles, top with a pretty sliced strawberry, if desired.
7. Let set in fridge for at least half an hour before serving, you might need to use a skewer or a chopstick to let out air pockets as the trifle settles.
8. Enjoy!