Sunday, September 15, 2013

Homemade Pasta: Egg Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Meatballs and Spinach Pasta Chicken Alfredo

A few weekends ago, Reid and I went to a techniques class at Williams-Sonoma.  Technique classes are basically free classes where they teach you...you guessed it...cooking or baking techniques.  You should check one out at your local store: Williams-Sonoma technique classes.  The one Reid and I attended was on how to make homemade pasta.  The pasta dough recipes I'm posting here are from the handout they gave us.  Williams-Sonoma Classic Fesh Egg Pasta Recipe and Williams-Sonoma Fresh Spinach Pasta.  The Alfredo sauce recipe is from Food.com. Better than Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce Recipe.  Did you know that Alfredo was a chef who created Alfredo sauce for his picky pregnant wife by tripling the butter and cream in a traditional pasta sauce? Thanks, Dinner Party Download! Dinner Party Download is an awesome Podcast, and I highly recommend it to everyone.  It starts with an ice breaker joke, has a drink inspired by history, dinner party topics, etiquette lessons, dinner party music lists by cool artists, a segment about food, and special guest countdowns.  I sometimes work out listening to it, which is a little ironic because I work out since I eat so much, and DPD is a lot about food.

I made a batch of egg pasta from beginning to end and made a batch of spinach pasta dough to freeze for later rolling/cutting.  Fresh pasta is so delicious.  It has a more vibrant flavor and a more substantial chew/bite.  I don't really know how to describe it.  Just try it yourself!

One thing I found out at the class: hand cranked pasta rollers and cutters need 2 people.  Or someone with 3 hands, since you need a hand to feed it through the machine, a hand to catch the dough, and a hand to crank the machine.  It seemed like a lot of work.  The Kitchen-Aid pasta attachment is MUCH EASIER.  I definitely recommend it if you think you'll be making any pasta.  I bought them after attending the demo.  I also found out the hard way that spinach pasta is a pain to make into spaghetti.  Because the spinach is pretty thick, you have to hand separate the pasta after you cut it with the spaghetti cutter.  That took forever.  Next time I will cut it into fettuccine.

Classic Egg Pasta
makes about 1 lb. dough
Ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. semolina flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbs. water, plus more as needed
Directions:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater (don't use the dough hook), combine the all-purpose flour, semolina flour, salt and olive oil.   Beat on low speed just until just combined, about 30 seconds.
  2. In a measuring cup with spout, whisk together the eggs and 2 Tbs. water.  WIth the mixer on low speed, slowly drizzle in the egg mixture and beat until the flour has been absorbed into the egg mixutre, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stop the mixer and, using your hands, squeeze a small amount of dough into a ball.  It should be moist enough to hold together but not sticky; if it is too dry, add more water, 1 tsp. at a time.
  4. Transfer the dough to a work surface and shape into 2 balls.  Wrap separately with plastic wrap and then flatten each ball into a disk.  Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.  You'll know if the dough is ready because it will feel like leather and won't tear when it goes through the rollers.
  5. After the dough has rested and is no longer sticky, it is ready to be rolled out.  Divide the dough in quarters.  Cover three of the quarters with a kitchen towel.  Flatten the dough into a rectangle thin enough to go through a pasta machine at the widest setting.  Pass the dough through the rollers once, then fold the resulting strip into thirds.
  6. Flatten the dough until it is then enough to pass through the rollers again.  Flour, fold, flatten at the widest setting once or twice, then pass through rollers 6 times at the widest setting or until the dough is smooth and supple.
  7. Starting at the second-to-widest setting, pass the dough through the rollers again.  Continue making the rollers narrower each time, until the dough reaches the desired thickness.  Pass the dough through each setting once or twice.  Place the finished pasta sheets on baking sheets dusted with semolina flour.  Repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
  8. Cut fresh pasta into desired shapes.  Dust with flour andlowely fold them or form into small nests on a baking sheet, covered with kitchen towels.  You can cook them right away or wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  9. Boil pasta in boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes.  Drain in colander.
Homemade Tomato Sauce with Italian Sausage
Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ~1/8-1/4 reserved pasta water
Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, brown Italian sausage.  Drain oil.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil.  Saute garlic and onion until softened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and simmer until tomatoes have broken down, about 30 minutes.
  4. Add basil.  At this point, you can use an immersion blender to smooth out the sauce, or leave chunky, depending on preference.  I made it both ways and I like it smooth, Reid likes it chunky.
  5. Add Italian sausage, salt and pepper, and pasta water and stir to combine.
  6. Coat pasta with sauce and top with fresh shredded Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

"It's a waterfall of carbs!" Reid

Mmmmm, waterfall of carbs!

Yum

Eat up!
Spinach Pasta Chicken Alfredo

Spinach Pasta Dough
Ingredients:

  • 1 package frozen spinach, defrosted and excess water drained through wringing in a kitchen towel
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • Semolina flour for dusting
Directions:

  1. Place the spinach in a food processor with 1 of the eggs.  Process to a smooth puree, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the work bowl.
  2. Place the 3 cups all-purpose flour in a mound on a work surface.  Make a well in the center large enough to hold the spinach mixture and the remaining egg, lightly beaten, and place the spinach mixture and egg into the well.  Using a fork, begin gradually incorporating some of the flour from the sides, taking care not to break the flour wall.  When the egg is no longer runny, you can stop worrying about the wall.  Continue working in more flour until the dough is no longer wet.  
  3. Begin kneading the dough by hand, adding as much additional all-purpose flour as needed until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky, 2-3 minutes.  Scoop up any remaining flour and pass it through a sieve to remove any large particles.  Set the sieved flour aside for dusting the dough when rolling and cutting.
  4. See above recipe for rolling and cutting.  Don't cut into spaghetti, unless you want to spend an hour hand separating like me!
Chicken Alfredo Sauce
Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil for sauteing chicken breast
  • 3 tbs. sweet cream butter
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
Directions:

  1. Season chicken breast with salt and pepper.  Saute in a large skillet in olive oil over medium heat until no longer pink in the middle, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and olive oil over medium-low heat.
  3. Add garlic, cream, and white pepper and simmer, stirring often.
  4. Add Parmesan cheese and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until sauce thickened and smooth.
  5. Add mozzarella cheese and stir until smooth.  STIR CONTINUOUSLY.  Otherwise, I'm sure you will get chunks of melted cheese.  I don't know, I stirred continuously.
  6. Add in chicken and spoon over pasta.

Kinda looks like seaweed, but much tastier

Who needs Olive Garden when you can have this at home!

Pizza Dip

One of my former lacrosse teammates, Lizzy, introduced me to pizza dip.  She would bring it to lacrosse parties and get togethers and pretty much any other time we could beg her to bring it.  It's amazing! You dip tortilla chips in the dip and it literally tastes like pizza.   In your mouth.  But on a tortilla chip.  We used to have "Fun Food Fridays" on some of our rotations at vet school, which is pretty much an excuse for residents and interns and the doctors to get fed by the 4th year students.  Anyway, I brought this 1 or 2 times and it was a hit.  I also brought this to work once when we had a pot luck day.  It's super easy to make and definitely a crowd pleaser!  Great game day food, too.  I altered Lizzy's recipe a little by adding oregano and dried basil to the cream cheese base.

Pizza Dip
Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 3/4 c. tomato sauce
  • 1&1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • about 8 large pepperoni slices, cut into bite sized pieces
  • bag of tortilla chips
Directions:

  1. Spread the cream cheese mixture on the bottom of a heat safe pan.  Lizzy used to use a pie pan to make it look like pizza, but sometimes I microwave the dip and like to put into a glass dish.
  2. Mix in the oregano and basil.
  3. Layer the tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni slices.
  4. Bake at 375*C for 10-15 minutes or until cheese melted.  Alternatively, you can microwave for about 5 minutes but it doesn't stay hot as long.
  5. Enjoy with tortilla chips!

spreading the cream cheese is much harder if you forget to soften the cream cheese...

Before baking.  Oops! forgot a melted dip picture!

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

So you know how I love my new ice cream maker? Well, if you didn't, I do.  I've made blueberry pie ice cream and vanilla ice cream.  My favorite so far is this salted caramel ice cream recipe from http://espressoandcream.com/2012/07/salted-caramel-ice-cream.html.  It's really good.  My parents were in town once after I'd made some and my dad kept on saying I needed to start selling it.  Yea, it's that awesome.   I think my dad even told my sister about it and said we needed to start selling it.  Hah!

The first time I made it the cream boiled over on my stove and made a huge mess, so watch it carefully! Don't leave even if you really have to go pee!  Also, the first time I made it I was really paranoid about the chunks of caramel that remained after adding the cream, but the second time I wasn't too worried and it turned out fine.  Espresso and Cream does not say when to add the vanilla, so I guessed.  Also, some of the directions were a little confusing, so these are my interpretations of the directions.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Ingredients:

  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 1 tbs plus 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 1/2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 2 tbs light corn syrup
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Directions:

  1. In a ramekin or small bowl, mix 2 tbs. of milk with corn starch no longer lumpy.
  2. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
  3. In a measuring cup with a spout, mix the heavy cream with corn syrup.
  4. In a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the sugar until golden amber in color.
  5. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream and corn syrup mixture a small amount at a time.  It will fizzle and pop.  Don't be alarmed, but also don't get any hot splatter on you!  Keep adding a little cream at a time until smooth-ish.  Don't beat yourself up if you have some chunks, like I did.  It will melt together in the next step.
  6. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add in the 1 c. milk less the 2 tbs from step number 1.
  7. Bring to a rolling boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and gradually mix in the cornstarch slurry and salted cream cheese 
  8. Bring back to a boil over medium and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  If any caramel flecks or cream cheese lumps remain, pour mixture through fine mesh sieve.
  9. Add vanilla and stir to combine.
  10. Transfer mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until completely cold, preferably overnight.
  11. Pout into an electric ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.
  12. Transfer to a sealable container and store in the freezer until firm, about 1-2 hours.

Tequila Lime Skirt Steak

Ok, I've been really slacking on my posts lately, so I'm about to unload so many. Hope you're prepared.

I found the inspirations for this recipe on Pinterest at http://cookingbride.com/main-courses/tequila-lime-skirt-steak/.  I googled Tequila Lime Steak and also found a Food Network recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/grilled-tequila-garlic-lime-flank-steak-recipe/index.html and kind of took from either one what I liked.  The result was a really delicious, flavorful, tender steak that both I and Reid really liked.  It was very easy to put together.  Plus, it uses skirt steak, which is super cheap! I served it with some roasted corn on the cob and potato salad I had made earlier in the week.

Tequila Lime Steak
Ingredients:
  • 1&1/2 lbs. skirt steak
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup tequilla
  • 1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 c. squeezed lime juice (2-3 limes)
  • 1 tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tbs. brown sugar
  • 1 pepper (Guy Fieri's recipe says jalapeno and serrano, I just used the peppers I have growing in my garden), seeded and diced
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • flour or corn tortillas
  • any desired additional toppings (I used Greek yogurt and shredded chedder cheese, it would be excellent with some cilantro, queso fresco, avocados , but I didn't have any on hand.)
Directions:
  1. Combine garlic, tequila, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, peppers, and black pepper into a resealable plastic bag.  Add skirt steak.
  2. Seal the bag and toss to coat.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, overnight is even better.  Remove from refrigerator and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Prepare grill on medium high heat.
  4. Place steak on grill and cook 3-4 minutes per side, until internal temperature reaches 120 degrees.
  5. Warm tortillas on grill while steak cooks.
  6. Remove steak and allow to rest for 15 minutes.  Cut in thin slices against the grain.
  7. Serve with lime wedges.