Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pasta in the Making

Ever get the urge to make your own pasta?  If the Italian grannies can do it, so can you.  After receiving a KitchenAid pasta making attachment for Christmas, I decided to give this whole pasta thing a go! 

The first attempted dough recipe almost broke my mixer.  Let's just say, I had no idea what consistency of pasta dough was appropriate for the machine. After feeding the dough in, it became stuck in the attachment and I thought I was going to fry the motor. It made a low droning sound and I almost burnt my hand when I felt the top of the mixer . I panicked once I realized that I probably forgot to fill out the warranty and turned it off immediately.  I was pretty annoyed at this point, so I threw the clump of dough away. No pasta for dinner that night!

After a few more rounds of pasta dough and egg adjustments,  I figured out a recipe that has been working quite well.  I've used the pasta attachment to make angel hair, macaroni, and alfredo noodles.  The noodles are great, but I'm already over the fancy attachment. I was trying to figure out why I dislike the attachment and then I read this review on Amazon, which pretty much describes my experience perfectly. 

"The object is to continue to drop walnut-sized pieces of dough into the tube, while also catching the pasta as it comes out of the machine. Because it tends to get warm and stick together in one huge blob, people on the KitchenAid boards have suggested sprinkling the emerging pasta with flour. And for this, you need three hands. Those of us lucky enough to have been born with three arms may find it a breeze, but the rest of us will struggle. And this is not even to mention the additional mess (and wastage) of the sprinkled flour! By the time I was finished (or rather, surrendered), the place looked like an explosion in a flour mill!)."

From now on, I am sticking to the basics and using my rolling pin! (See discussion below for details) The grannies in Italy know best and they will tell you this! Good thing my grandma does not subscribe, I can already hear her telling me I should have used her recipe and directions.  :)

Whole Wheat Pasta
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup semolina flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

Mix on low speed with a dough hook for 5 minutes.  Add extra flour if the dough is too sticky (I had to add a few teaspoons).  Remove the dough from the mixer and knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 4 minutes.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and allow the dough to relax in the fridge for 30-40 minutes.

Divide the dough into 3-4 sections, keeping the unused dough wrapped tightly in the fridge.  Roll the dough out thin, like a stick of gum.  Fold the dough in half and cut long strips.  Allow the cut pasta to dry for 45 minutes on a towel or thick string. 

Boil water, add salt, and cook for 5-10 minutes, until al dente. Due to the large amount of pasta created in one session, I've been freezing the dried out pasta and cooking from frozen.  -amy w.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Salmon-Quinoa Baby Cakes

Could there be a more healthful recipe title than this?  Wild caught Alaskan salmon with its super high content of healthy fats, paired up with complete protein grain quinoa. Amazing!  At least that is what I'm hoping for. As I'm nearing the date to my final menu project for school I've been practicing this one quite a bit.  It's a recipe I adapted into a delicious starter course on my menu.  It will be served very similar to the photo except on a bed of mache (recently discovered favorite lettuce!) with a mustard aioli.

The process is pretty simple: Cooked quinoa and diced, sauteed vegetables (carrot, celery, onion), with small diced salmon.  Blend a bit of your quinoa and salmon in a food processor with the egg to get a gluten free binder too! I added tarragon and parsley to my version of these cakes and really love the flavor paired with mustard aioli.  I found forming the cakes in a mini muffin pan helped keep the cakes together. They are first baked in the oven and then removed and quickly pan fried in order to get a slightly crispy crust.  There is no real recipe here...try mixing cooked quinoa with various other mix-ins and herbs for a tasty starch side, very high in protein.

I hope you give them a try and enjoy!  -Vicki

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Breakfast "On the Go"

I'm up everyday at 5:40 and out the door by 6:40.  By the time I pack my lunch, grab yoga clothes, and make a fruit protien shake for mid-morning, I'm left searching for what I can eat in under 5 minutes.
The past two weeks have been a breeze.  Lorna's 5-minute steel-cut oats with gingered fruit compote on page 247 was exactly what I needed.  In her introduction to the recipe, she explained how everything could be prepared in advance.  On Sunday night, I brought 4 cups of water and a dash of salt to a boil.  I stirred in the cup of steel cut oats and cinammon.  After everything was combined, I placed the lid back on and turned off the heat.  The pan was left out on the stove overnight and I woke up the next morning to breakfast for the entire week.  It took me 10 minutes from start to finish by the time I heated the oats back up, stirred in milk and divided everything into small containers.  I can't wait to add fresh peaches and cherries from the Farmer's Market!

Inspired by the 5 minute prep time, I took steel cut oats to the next level and found an oatmeal/fruit bar recipe (pictured above).  Once again I prepared everything on Sunday night, cut and wrapped the bars so I was ready for the week. I even had extra to freeze. This recipe can be found on one of my favorite blog sites, Nourished Kitchen.  Enjoy!  -amy w.