Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fresh pasta dough

I did it, I did it! I have finally conquered the homemade, fresh pasta-making! Now my pasta dough is beautiful and velvety! :)

The first time I made pasta dough, I used my favorite Food Network chef's recipe - Mr. Alton Brown. Alton has NEVER failed me. His chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe is our go-to recipe. And he helped us conjure up our first turkey for our families this Christmas, which was so juicy. But his pasta dough recipe was a fail. More than once fail. I kept giving it a shot thinking it was me being new to pasta making. Or maybe it was because I was using a hand-cranked pasta machine. After several attempts, the dough was just still too sticky, and hard to roll/cut. I even used more flour to combat the wetness. But I think the problem with the recipe was that he had you refrigerating the pasta dough before rolling/cutting. I think all that moisture from sitting in the fridge just ruined the dough.

Then one day I was watching Food Network and saw Anne Burrell make fresh pasta for a wild boar ragu. She didn't rest her dough in the fridge. Aha number one! I memorized it so I could give it a shot: 4 cups flour, 4 eggs, 1 egg yolk, olive oil, and salt. When I tried it though, the dough wouldn't come together. I was about to give up until Matt said, why not add more eggs? Why not waste a couple more eggs as opposed to tossing out 4 cups and 5 eggs worth of pasta dough, right? So I added 2 more eggs, another tsp of water, and a couple drizzle of olive oil. And it started to form together! Not gonna lie, I was doing a happy dance. After letting it rest on the counter for an hour, I went for the true test, the rolling part. And it was tough to roll (I think because there was so much of it), but it rolled. And cut out into nice fettuccine noodles too! So 4 cups of flour, 6 eggs, 1 egg yolk, 2 tsp water,1/4 cup of olive oil, and some salt later, I had enough pasta dough for 2 separate meals, lasting a week each. It made a lot of pasta.

So last week, I tried it again. This time, shrinking the ratios down for just one dish. It turned out perfect. The dough came together nicely with no problems, rolled out easily, and was so velvety. Below is my recipe for fresh pasta dough, the final one I'll be using for all my pasta-making now:

Fresh Pasta Dough

2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp water
1 tsp salt

Put the flour on a large work surface and create a wide well in the middle. This well is where you'll add your wet ingredients.

Add the rest of the ingredients into the well. Using a fork, carefully beat the liquid mixture together. Begin to incorporate the flour into the liquid mixture, a little at a time. Be careful not to break the sides of the well or you'll have a huge liquid mess! When enough flour has incorporated into the mixture, use your hands to get everything well combined. Then start kneading your gathered dough. Knead for a good 10 mins. Kneading is really important to get the dough smooth and velvety. When you finish kneading, wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Let it rest on the counter for at least an hour.

Beautiful pasta dough

This is how it should not look (fragments of what the dough looked like when I tried Anne's recipe and the dough wouldn't come together).

To roll the dough:
Cut off half the dough, reserve the other half and keep it wrapped.
Shape the dough into an oval shape, and flatten it to about 6 inches long (that way it can fit through the pasta machine). Dust with flour.
On the widest setting (my machine's widest setting is 7), roll the dough through.
Fold the dough into thirds, turn the dough 90 degrees, and then roll it through the machine again.
Fold the dough into thirds, turn the dough 90 degrees, and then roll it through one last time on setting 7.
Turn the machine to the next lowest setting, 6, and roll the dough through. Repeat, adjusting to the next lowest setting each time, until you reach the desired thinness for your pasta. (I like thinness setting 3.)
(Tip: To make rolling easier, dust pasta dough with flour each time you roll.)
Dust the rolled pasta sheet with flour and set aside. Then work on rolling the other half of the dough reserved earlier.
When you have all your finished pasta sheets, cut into your desired pasta noodles. Then dust with flour.

Cook pasta noodles in salted, boiling water for a few mins. Fresh pasta doesn't take long to cook.

It might seem like a lot of work, but you end up with pasta that is so different from store-bought noodles. Fresh pasta is lighter, not as dense. And it's called fresh for a reason.

Check back for 3 pasta dishes I made with my fresh pasta dough!
**Homemade Fettuccine with a Truffle-Dill Sauce
**Lemon-Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo
**Bacon and Leek Filled Ravioli

Monday, December 12, 2011

Baked Salmon with an Artichoke and Olive Sauce

Matt took a bite of this salmon and said I had to blog it :) Don't you love feedback like that?

I kept the salmon pretty simple, just baked with some olive oil, salt, and pepper because I knew I was going to pair it with a citrusy sauce. The main reason I made this was because I wanted some artichokes. Citrus always pairs nicely with fish, so I threw in some olives too that I had in the fridge. Wow, the olives were my favorite part. With each bite that had olives, you get that burst of citrus flavor. And it wasn't overpowering because the chicken broth and butter in the sauce helped tone it down. Everything complimented nicely with the fish. Very nicely...

Baked Salmon - with an Artichoke and Olive Sauce

4 salmon fillet
salt and pepper
olive oil
4 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c white wine
1 c chicken broth
1/4 c green olives, chopped
1/2 c artichokes, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a baking dish, lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray. Place the salmon fillets skin side down in the baking dish. Season with salt and pepper and a little bit of olive oil. Bake for about 15-20 mins, depending on the size of your fillet. You'll know the fish is done if it'll easily flake off.

For the sauce, start by melting 2 tbsp of butter in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Stir in the white wine. Cook for a few mins so most of the alcohol can cook out. Then add the chicken broth. Let it come to a boil and reduce by half. Once reduced, turn the heat down low and add the olives, artichokes, and lemon juice. Cook for a few mins so the flavors can mingle. Then stir in the rest of the butter, 1 tbsp at a time. This will help the sauce thicken up and add some richness. Finish with chopped parsley. Spoon over the salmon and enjoy!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

Matt took a bite of these scalloped potatoes, turned to me and said, "You're going to love this, it's so cheesy." If you know me, you'll know my favorite food of all is fries. Next is cheese. My dream is to go to Paris, and enjoy a bottle of wine and plate of cheese. Don't ask me why. But if there's cheese and fries together, oh boy I'm in heaven. Scalloped potatoes are similar to cheese fries, right? So of course I enjoyed eating this.

These scalloped potatoes are not only cheesy but creamy as well. I added mexican crema that we had left over, which I think added to the creaminess. There's also some smoked paprika in there, and if that's not enough, smoked gouda cheese as well. Then it's topped off with cheddar cheese, yes more cheese. It was cheesy, smoky, and creamy. Can you say yummy?

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

2 lbs yukon potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tbsp butter, plus more for greasing
1 garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp flour
1 1/4 c half n half
1 1/4 c mexican crema
1 c milk
2 c smoked gouda cheese, shredded
shredded cheddar cheese for topping
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with butter.
In a deep skillet over medium-high heat, melt 3 tbsp of butter. Add the garlic and shallot and cook till translucent. Next, add the paprika and flour, stirring for 1 min to allow the flour to cook. Slowly whisk in the half n half, mexican crema, and milk. After that cooks for a few mins, add in the potatoes. Simmer for about 5 mins. Add in the smoked gouda cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then transfer the mixture to the greased baking dish. Sprinkle the top evenly with cheddar cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 20 mins. Remove the foil and bake for about 10 mins, or until golden brown and fork tender.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Country Style Pork Ribs with a Cilantro White Wine Reduction

Sounds different, huh? I don't think I've ever seen this combination before, but it worked.

I had a bunch of cilantro left over, which I would normally turn into my favorite pesto. But since I had made pesto the week before, I thought why not do something different. That's the fun in cooking, right?

So I took 6 country style ribs, salt and peppered it, and placed it in a large ziploc bag. I also threw in 3 smashed garlic cloves and about 2 tbsp of worchestire sauce. Next, I cut off the stem ends on the bunch of cilantro and added the stems to the ziploc bag (saving the leaves for the sauce later). Tightly close the ziploc bag up and then shake the bag around to mix the mixture. Let it marinate overnight in the fridge.

When ready to cook, I bought a deep skillet to the stove over medium-high heat. Added some olive oil and seared both sides of the ribs. Then I covered the pan with a lid so it can finish cooking the inside. Total cooking time for the ribs was about 15-20 mins (depending on how thick your cut of ribs are). When the ribs are done cooking, I transferred it to a plate, tinted with foil.

Then I started on the sauce. I added a clove of chopped garlic to the same skillet. Then 1 cup of white wine to deglaze the pan. I let the wine reduce by half, then killed the heat and stirred in 2 tbsp of butter. Then tossed in the bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped. To plate, just spoon the cilantro white wine reduction over the ribs.

The cilantro and wine actually worked together. I wasn't sure if one would overpower the other, but the wine had a subtle kick, while letting the cilantro aroma also shine through. The sauce helped keep the ribs juicy as well.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pomegranate Tangerine Sorbet

Pomegranate sorbet made with real pomegranates taste SO much better! Yes it's easier to just buy pomegranate juice, but it really doesn't taste the same. Try extracting your own pomegranate juice and make this sorbet. You'll get a sorbet that's much fruitier and the flavors really shine through. First, start by making the simple syrup. To make the simple syrup, bring 1 cup each sugar and water to a boil, stirring until dissolved. Let it cool while you extract juices from 2 pomegranates and 3 tangerines. Mix the pomegranate juice, tangerine juice, and simple syrup together and freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instruction. Simple as that! The tangerine juice really complimented the pomegranate, adding a sweet citrusy flavor to the sorbet. Mint would also be great with this as well.

Now, I experimented with two different ways in extracting the juice from a pomegranate fruit. I saw Giada on Food Network once recommending us to roll the pomegranate around on a surface. This will cause the seeds to burst inside the pomegranate. After rolling the pomegranate around for a while, until you don't hear much popping inside, you stab a hole into the pomegranate and then squeeze out the juice. I tried this. The rolling part wasn't hard, the squeezing part was. I even called Matt down to help me finish squeezing. Unless you have some serious muscle, doing it this way will not allow you to extract all the juice you could from the pomegranate. And when you poke a hole into the pomegranate, the juice squirts out causing an upsetting mess!

I also tried another way with this lemon juicer I had. It's similar to this apparatus:
I was able to extract more juice this way, but there was still a huge mess. Juice would squirt up, so I had to work carefully to limit the mess. If you had a juicer that had a lid to it, that would definitely eliminate such mess, and allow good extraction as well. Maybe something like this apparatus: