Thursday, January 30, 2014

Spinach Basil Fettuccine

Home made noodles with Alfredo sauce, a creamy parmesan cream sauce

My last post was about homemade pasta, and because I have a new machine, I am sure pasta will be a trend for a while here. This is a fairly easy recipe, which came out really well. The directions will be less detailed and include the basic recipe that I kind of  improvised. Then I will just add how I did the Alfredo sauce.

Basil/Spinach Pasta

3 cups of fresh spinach leaves
6 large basil leaves, stripped from their stems
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
2 to 2-1/2 c. flour

Place basil, spinach and water in a medium saucepan and cook until spinach and basil are wilted and soft. Place spinach/basil/water into a food processor bowl and add the egg. Blend until spinach and egg are totally mixed together, you will see little flecks of spinach and basil in a somewhat frothy liquid.

Place flour and salt into a measuring cup, stir to mix. Pour egg spinach mixture into a medium mixing bowl and start adding flour a little at a time, and mix until you have a firm dough. Place any loose flour on a smooth surface, and gather the dough in a ball, and knead on lightly floured surface until smooth.

Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.

Roll out using a pasta machine or by hand, and cut to desired size. This should work well for any number of shapes, as it is a very workable dough.

Separate noodles, Hang or lay out to dry for about 2 hours or longer or cook right away in salted boiling water for approximately 2 minutes. I separated mine and draped them over chair backs covered with clean paper toweling. The only issue I had was finding somewhere they could dry where the greedy dogs could not get to them. You can dry them in little piles, but they will take longer and may stick together too much.

The Alfredo is a simple throw together, and these measurements are approximate, so use what you got!

Improvised Alfredo

2 Tbl. butter
1/4 c. milk or cream
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese

While the pasta is boiling, melt butter in a wide skillet, and then set aside until pasta is done, then drain pasta, and add to skillet  returned to medium heat. Sprinkle in half the Parmesan cheese, stir, and then add milk. Stir to mix and then sprinkle in the rest of the Parmesan cheese, and toss and serve.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Shrimp Ravioli

Add any sauce you like, this is a homemade tomato sauce with basil, garlic, onion,  and a little cream
This will be one of those dishes that seems like it is endlessly complicated, but in fact is very simple and worth the extra steps. My sisters make glorious ravioli all the time, and while I have made home made pasta in years past, I knew I will will need some practice to get back into it. My first nudge was getting a hand cranked pasta machine for my birthday. I decided to try my hand at Shrimp Ravioli. I have never used them for ravioli, but it seemed like a fun place to start. (I know you can use won ton wrappers for the pasta instead of making the pasta from scratch.) The first thing I did was make the filling so it had time to chill in the fridge for at least an hour before filling the pasta.

Shrimp Filling
1 lb of raw, shelled shrimp
1 oz. butter
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbl. olive oil
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 c. orange muskat vinegar
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Saute the shrimp in the butter until just cooked through, set aside.
Add the garlic and olive oil to the pan and saute a bit, and then add the chicken stock and vinegar, and let reduce by about half.
Pour in the heavy cream and simmer until reduced further, again, by about 50%.
 While cream is reducing, put shrimp into food processor and process until shrimp is in small, consistent bits, but not pureed.
Put shrimp back in the mixing bowl, and pour reduced cream into the shrimp with 1/2 c of grated parmesan cheese. Stir well, and chill for at least an hour.

The pasta is fairly simple, and you can find a lot of ways to make it, this is mixed by hand, and rolled in a hand cranked machine:

2 cups flour
3 eggs

1 beaten egg for wash between layers

On a counter or tabletop, make a mound with the flour, creating a well in the center, deep enough to crack three eggs into. 
Stir the eggs from the middle, using a fork, easing in a little flour as you go, until it starts to hold together in a dough.
When the dough starts to form, knead in as much flour as you can until you get a soft dough that is not too moist. Knead for about 5 minutes by hand, if it seems sticky you can add a little more flour, if its too stiff, add a small amount of water as needed.
Wrap the dough ball in plastic and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Resting is critical, as the dough will relax enough to roll out easily.
Follow the directions for your pasta machine, running it through several times, making it a thinner setting each time. Once you have a very thin strip of dough, place on lightly floured surface. Place about 1 to 2 large teaspoons of filling on the dough along one side, spacing out every two inches. Brush areas around the filling with beaten egg wash and fold over the dough. 
Press the dough down around the filling, and cut into squares or circles. 
These were not the most efficient use of dough, so I switched to square ones.

You can freeze on a flat tray and bag, and cook from the frozen state, or cook immediately in boiling salted water for about 3 minutes. Add your favorite sauce.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hopi Tacos---Fry Bread

Fry Bread Topped with Chili/beans and taco toppings
We lived in Tucson for a long time and one of our favorite places to visit was the San Xavier Mission on the Tohono O'Odham Reservation. We often got the fry bread sold in the plaza across from the mission. You could get it sugared or topped with any and all taco toppings you wanted. Years earlier in Plymouth, we learned how to make fry bread from Hartman Lomawaima's mom Elsa, and from then on we were in love.

I will offer up one of the better fry bread recipes I have found, and can be made with all pantry items. Then just top anyway you like. This recipe comes from a cook book titled "Cocina de la Familia" by Marilyn Tausend.

Fry Bread

4 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbl solid vegetable shortening (you can use butter if you don't like vegetable shortening)
1-1/2 to 2 c. warm water

about 3 cups vegetable oil for frying

Sift all dry ingredients into a medium mixing bowl. Add shortening and using your fingers or a pastry tool, work into dry ingredients until evenly distributed. Do not overwork. Add the smaller amount of water and incorporate into the dry mix. The dough should hang together in a somewhat soft dough. I actually find I always need closer to two cups of water. 

Take the dough ball and knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and little bubbles start to form under the surface. Place in a bowl, and cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes. This allows the dough to soften and get airy.  

Cut dough into smaller pieces, I usually cut into 8 pieces for large fry breads (or 16 for smaller breads). On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a small circle, about 1/4" thick.

Stack on a plate, lightly flouring to keep them from sticking together. Poke two holes in the center of each disk with your fingers.

You want only a dusting of flour, too much and you will get loose flour in your frying oil
You should have all the dough ready to cook when you heat the oil. It will be hard to roll the bread out while cooking the other fry bread.
Heat oil in a heavy skillet until it reaches 375 degrees. I usually test it with a wooden spoon handle. If you hold the handle end of the spoon upright into the hot oil, there should be little bubbles forming around the bottom. Place one disk at a time in the hot oil, carefully spooning oil over the top to get the bread to bubble up. Using tongs, turn over once when the bottom gets golden brown.

Fry the second side until golden brown, remove with tongs and drain on paper toweling. Top with beans or chili, and lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, or any other taco like toppings.
Fry Bread is also really good drizzled with honey

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Amish Blueberry "Pudding"

You should get a soft, sweet cake filled with warm berries throughout
I am spending some of today looking at other places I have recipes and images, and transferring them here. This recipe is really not what most people would think of when they read the word pudding. Instead it is a soft cake filled throughout with fresh berries. So easy. The one thing that will likely make you think something is terribly wrong is the directions to pour 2 cups of boiling water over the dough in the pan. But it does work, I promise. This recipe comes from a cookbook titled "Amish Cooking" with no author. You can use other berries or even fruit like nectarines or peaches.

Amish Blueberry Pudding 

2 Tbl. butter
1 cup milk
2 tsp baking powder
1 c. sugar
2 c. flour
2 c fresh blueberries
2 c boiling water

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Spray oil or grease a deep baking dish (you could also use a deep pie plate).
I used a ceramic dish 12" L x 8" W x 2-1/2 " deep

Mix together everything but the berries and boiling water, spread in bottom of baking dish. Boil water and pour over  berries, pour water and berries over top of dough. Yes, it will be underwater, with floating berries.

Bake until cake is done. I think I cooked it for about 40 minutes. The recipe does not give a time.

The dough should puff up above the berries, and you can test it pretty easily. Sprinkle top with a little granulated sugar while hot.

Langostino Tail Pasta--Luxury on the Fly

Add as much or as little cheese to this as you wish.

Today I am going to run through a quick dish that was made from mostly things I had on hand, a great pantry friendly dish. The dish is something I throw together, so the amounts will be my best guess, and if you decide to make it, use whatever makes sense to you. We were in need of a major pasta fest, and I had stocked up at Trader Joe's in anticipation of my kids being home more over college/christmas break. I was home so I wanted to cook a few more things I had forgotten about. I had a 12-oz package of what TJs calls Langostino Tails, cleaned and cooked and frozen, about 80 to 100 to a bag. So they are small and thaw as they cook. I had pasta, some dairy and spinach in the fridge, so this is what I did:

Langostino Tail Pasta Sauce

1   12-oz bag of frozen langostino tails (you could also use small shelled and deveined shrimp, but adjust time if they are uncooked)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 oz butter
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 cup milk (cream would make it really good too, but not necessary)
about 1/2 pound baby spinach leaves, rough chopped or torn
red pepper flakes
Shaved Parmesan Cheese (Yes! Cheese with shellfish, it's done ALL the time. There are no cookbook authors lurking outside your kitchen to arrest you when the cheese hits the pan.)

1 lb. linguini or spaghetti or other long pasta (or what ever you like)

Start the water for the pasta

In a large skillet, melt the butter and olive oil together and saute the garlic until softened and fragrant. Add the frozen langostino tails, breaking apart the little clusters, and sauteing with the garlic butter mix. As they heat through, add the spinach, and allow it to wilt. Keep an eye on the langostino tails, as they will heat through quickly and you don't want to do more than that. Pour in the milk, simmer for just a moment and toss in some shaved parmesan cheese, I would say about 1/4 cup. This will thicken the sauce a little and add a saltiness. Add a pinch of red pepper flake and set off the heat.

You want the sauce to be liquidy, a lot will get absorbed into the pasta.

In the meantime, the pasta should be cooking. When it is done, drain and toss into the pan with the pasta sauce, or mix both together in a larger serving bowl. Sprinkle with more cheese in the pan or individually on plated servings.

Notes: You may find this a bit rich, you could certainly add some lemon zest to the dish when you add the red pepper flakes. You can also do something similar with smoked salmon. Instead of adding the langostino tails, add about 6 oz. of smoked salmon chunks, and heat through. In the case of the salmon, you may want to add some frozen peas instead of or in addition to spinach.