Thursday, March 4, 2010

The pasta fiasco

What wonderful intentions I had yesterday morning. I had cooked in the slow cooker overnight a batch of spaghetti sauce (from raw tomatoes). We are talking, blanched about 30 tomatoes and ran them through the food mill (which by the way was not nearly as easy I thought it was going to be when I had the mental image). So, we awake to the house smelling so insanely wonderful that for a few moments as I lay in my bed I wasn't quite certain that perhaps I was still dreaming. The sweet fragrance filling me with inspiration. I decide first thing...home made pasta. What better compliment to the absolute perfection that I had created in the sauce. But first...meatballs. But not just any meatballs. We are talking a pound each of ground pork and ground beef mixed with eggs, Italian bread crumbs and parm cheese fried in sunflower oil. Yeah, nothing resembling healthy, but little mouthfuls of heaven, and well worth the expense spent on fat and calories. So the meatballs are plunked into the sauce to absorb the saucey goodness. The house smells so wonderful at this point that I am certain there is no stopping me. Although I am sure that onlookers were pretty certain I needed leather restraints.
Ok onto the pasta, yeah that. Sounds simple enough, I glance over the ingredients...check. I have everything (eggs and flour thats it...who knew?!) So I crack open the eggs measure out the flour and get it all mixing together in my handy dandy kitchen aid. Looking pretty dry I am thinking to myself. Hmmm now rolling this out. I break the dough into three balls and attempt to roll it on my pasty mat. DANG This is NOT budging. I look over the recipe again...yup right amount of everything. What did I do wrong??!! I scan the instructions..."run through pasta maker three times"! WHAT?! What pasta maker? I don't have a pasta maker. So back to the dough on the counter. I try to tackle this with sheer determination. I bang it with the rolling pin, I stretch it with my hands, I pound it with my fists, not much seems to be happening. Who knew egg and flour when mixed in perfect combination could create a leather ball? Yup, that's exactly what it was. So I start rolling and rolling and rolling. Fast forward to three hours later, I am still rolling and rolling and rolling. I will not accept defeat. I swear it's the Scot in me. Finally almost all of the dough is rolled out, cut into circles and stuffed with cheese filling I decide that there is certainly enough ravioli made and that the third ball of leather would make a great treat for my dog (my pleading muscles made that decision). The ravioli boiled up (took about 30 minutes instead of the suggested 15 but that was because I am sure mine was three times thicker, but remember I didn't run it through the pasta maker three times though I like to think it was also three times yummy and three times as filling).
SO.... reviews of the experience. Absolutely delicious. THE best ravioli I have ever had...ever. But worth the work, only if someone else is going to make if for me. Now, that said, imagine my good fortune when whining about my aches and pains a friend on Facebook GAVE ME her pasta maker. So the next time I write a review on home made pasta I plan to do so sans the aches and pains.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Rosemary Pork, Split Pea and Ham Soup and Tapioca Pudding

I was looking through the cabinets last night when I got home from work looking for "something". I didn't find anything I really wanted to eat, but did find supplies for dishes I had plan on making and long had forgotten about. So, I pulled out my supplies and set up for a day of cooking today.
One bunch of dried organic rosemary inspired the pork loin dinner for dear Hubby for later. By the way he really LOVED the Honey Chicken. goes the pork loin
In bottom of the lovely le creuset dutch oven place about 1/4 cup of olive oil then four peeled and chopped carrots and one package of whole small white mushrooms (12 ounce). The pork loin is probably a four pound loin cut in half. I crumbled rosemary over the top and cut five slits in each half of the loin and stuffed with garlic cloves. I baked covered at 350 for about one and a half hours and then uncovered and broiled for about five minutes until fat crisped. Internal temp should be 170 when done.
Split Pea and Ham Soup
My personal review on this is it is a little salty, however that said...I do not put salt on ANYTHING. Should I do this again I would cut the chicken broth probably by about a third with water meaning two parts chicken broth one part water.
2 cups dried split peas soaked over night in 2 cups water. (In the morning there was not extra water in the bottom of the bowl.)
One pound thickly sliced ham cut into pieces (left over frozen Christmas ham)
Three cups chicken stock
One can northern white beans
I cooked the broth ham and peas on top of the stove on low heat until the peas sort of liquified. About an hour and a half of simmering. I then added the beans and cooked about another 20-30 minutes. It is very tasty, though just a tad salty for me. Would be great with crusty bread.
Tapioca pudding
In saucepan place 3 cups milk, 1/4 tsp salt, 3/4 cup small pearl tapioca and 1/2 cup sugar bring to simmer for about 30-40 minutes stirring constantly and scraping sides to prevent milk from scorching. Tapioca should be almost transluscent when ready to remove from heat. In large bowl whisk two eggs. Slowly mix tapioca mixture into bowl of whisked eggs. I constantly whisked while hubby spooned in the hot mixture. This prevents the hot tapioca mixture from cooking your eggs. Once whisked together I added a tsp of vanilla and placed in the fridge to set up. We will see how it comes out, smelled terrific cooking!
**Just an update on the pudding...a little watery. I would suggest using three eggs instead of two. Very tasty, just I like my pudding a little thicker.
Well, happy eating, and hope all have a great weekend. I have time to sew up a scrub uniform before heading to work! Yippee!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Veggies and Veggies and Veggies Oh MY!

Holy buckets of blueberry buttons, Batman have I consumed mass quantities of veggies today. One would think where veggies are concerned that there is no such thing as "too much". Unfortunately, my digestive tract is not agreeing with that statement. The recipe is something I whipped up a few days ago and forgot I had in the fridge until I was ready to leave for work tonight. Try it at home if you like, but warning moderation may be needed if you have any where near as delicate a GI system as I do.

one small (baby size) yellow squash sliced
one small (baby size) zucchini sliced
1/2 diced yellow onion
5 diced cloves of garlic
two peeled and sliced carrots
one stalk sliced celery
2 cups baby spinache
1 cup chicken broth
one TBSP sunflower oil
Mix all together and cook until veggies are brightly colored and still crisp, yet spinache is wilted. It is delicioso served over pasta with some grated cheese. I might even consider using a white wine reduction with this. Enjoy, but be sure to wear elastic waisted pants when the bloat sets in!

Chicken Honey for my Honey

Not a lot of time to cook lately. It seems I have been on the go constantly. I have altered a few of my work scrubs by adding some batik gussets and pocket flare. They are looking so adorable, I am hoping to get a few more outfits done. the Chicken Honey. As many of you may be aware I did receive my lovely le creuset dutch oven. I started with about five small white onions chopped up, four cloves of garlic chopped up, three large carrots peeled and chopped, one brine soaked chicken (1/3 cup salt 1/2 cup sugar in enough water to cover the chicken in a snug bowl). Baked up for about an hour and a half covered in the dutch oven at 325 with enough water added to the bottom to cover the vegetables which were placed under the chicken. I then uncovered the chicken, brushed it with honey and cooked for another hour to hour and a half (internal temp of 165). Probably won't get a picture posted as darling hubby will likely devour it while I am at work and it is still in the oven at the moment.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Microwave Marinara aka (Julia don't weep for me sauce)

I actually got this idea years ago from my dear hubby's mother. I had experienced a wonderment of a marinara sauce while visiting (I actually think it may have been before I was even married). At any rate, I thought why not try? So try I did and as it turns out, I will certainly be using this recipe again as it is very little mess and takes a fraction of the time as my conventional sauce. And....low and behold dear hubby salivated heavily when he sampled it!

I used a large oval corelle casserole dish (the white ones with the clear lid) In the bottom I placed:

1/4 cup EVOO

one half of a large onion diced

on clove of elephant garlic (about the equal of 4-5 regular cloves)

then added

Three 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes ( I prefer Red Pack)

Three bay leaves

Two tsps salt

Two TBsp sugar

One tsp ground pepper

Two tsp dried oregano

One tsp dried thyme

Two tsp dried sweet basil

I mixed well and cooked for 20 minutes with lid on set at high, removed and stirred well.

Return to microwave and cook for another 20 minutes with lid on and remove and stir well again.

I then zapped it for another 5 minutes with the lid on. That's it. Pretty easy, no constant stirring, no splatter on the stove! I was impressed to say the least, and Julia forgive me, there are times I am in no way going to be able to live up to your loveliness. You see, besides cooking I have many other obsessions such as sewing and playing my banjo. Not to mention I try to hit the treadmill daily, have to clean my mess, and then go to work for 8 hours a day. Oh, and when I think I cannot possibly fit one more thing in my day, I decide to take up blogging. Go figure!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Julia's French Connection (Onion Soup that is)

Ok, let me just say (and I know I say this way too often which probably accounts for my size)...but YUM! Julia's French Onion Soup recipe is THE best version to date that I have ever tasted. I was considering the many eateries in which I have sampled different versions of this marvel and there truly is no comparison. This is not the actual picture of my soup, but one I found online. My camera does not seem to play well with my new laptop. At any rate, my husband and I both give this recipe two thumbs up, actually he gives two thumbs and a big toe up.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Look at what arrived today in a wonderful little bundle on my front door step. This is truly going to be an interesting journey, one that at this point I have no idea the direction it will end up. You see, because I am the whacky flake that I am I also joined Weight Watcher's last night. Yeah, Julia might not approve of my "modifications" that are sure to be in store, but my arse at least will continue to fit into my jeans. I am SO excited with my new arrivals. Let the games begin!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Duck Duck no goose

Well, as my plans yesterday were ammended due to weather, the duck I had defrosted and had ready to roast in the oven adapted to the situation as well. Rachel made it to her room to begin her stay in Ithaca. It was snowing fairly heavily here and as I had noted the day before it seems they have more snow and don't seem to plow their roads as promptly as our road, we loaded the van with another load of "stuff" (I seriously do not know how that girl has packed so many belongings into one small room!), and drove her back over the hill. So...yeah the duck. I honestly didn't know whether I was going to like the duck or not even if I had followed the most rigid of directions. I have had it before and thought "it's okay, I could eat it if I had to", so I wasn't terribly disappointed when I suddenly no longer had hours to spend slaving over something I may or may not even enjoy. So here is what I did:
Placed duck in slow cooker with about 2 cups chicken broth, cooked for about 3 hours on low. Had to drive to Ithaca...turned cooker off. Returned about 5 hours later and placed insert from slow cooker on stove top (if you do this at home be sure that your slow cooker is made especially for this) and brought to slow simmer for about 35 minutes. It looked moist and cooked through, so I removed from heat and Mark carved it, we dipped the breast in the prepackaged orange sauce and I thought "it's okay, I could eat it if I had to". Everything was very moist, but alas, it had a "duck" taste to it that at this point I can really take or leave. I am planning on some point to make the duck pastry with the left overs. Will keep all posted!

Friday, January 1, 2010

And the meat plot thickens

Here is the update so far. I left the meat mixture in the oven for about 2 hours at 350, came home, removed from the ovenand placed on top of the stove and brought to boil all the while smashing. I did purchase some cooking sherry and added about 3/4 cup to the mixture. On the side, I cooked up about 1 and a half pounds of sweet sausage grease drained and then added that to the mixture. Holy guacamole is that ever delish! Not what I remember, so I may have to keep trying. Ok, here is the kicker...and I hope it wasn't a mistake. I have enough filling that if it is a flop I will make another pie. I rolled out two cans (if that is what they are called?) of Pilsbury crescent rolls and made top and bottom crusts with them. It's in the oven now. I am so not traditionally a Pilsbury pop and fresh anything girl, but Rachel mentioned the idea to try it, and I figured why not. The remainder filling will be traditional home made pie crust.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all! I have taken the day off to help my daughter pack for massage therapy school. She however partied too late last night and isn't home yet. I did get a phone call alerting me that she had sprained her ankle and it is quite swollen. Man, that girl will do ANYTHING to get out of work. She is scheduled for orientation on Monday and yet doesn't quite want to move out yet. The rent on her new room is paid, her housemates awaiting her arrival and yet she lingers here. Hmm, maybe I shouldn't have been making such wonderful meals for her. I have warned her that with my budget for her education I can definately see Ramen Noodles in her future. Now, speaking of Ramen Noodles, I have known to be creative with them. I do believe there are several cookbooks dedicated to these affordable belly fillers, and when I was starting out, they were a main staple in my cupboard.
I have a few meal ideas rumbling around this pitiful brain of mine (even though my Italian husband has cried "no mas"). I have very vague memories from my childhood of mince meat pie. I remember thinking that meat didn't belong in a pie, and it wasn't for me. Yet now that my adult tastebuds have united with my childhood memories, I want to try it again. I have found recipes with ground beef, yet this is NOT how I recall it. I think it was a mix of beef and pork and truly minced with perhaps onions, fruits, nuts, sweet spices and I just wish I knew what else. So, my quest for the moment is to bake my grandmother's mince meat pie. Then on to create another memory: duck and sweet potato pastry puff, but that my friends is for an entirely different post!
Marsha's Minced Meat Pie...(first attempt)
Ok, the meat is cooking...Here is the first attempt All mixed together in my dutch oven in no particular mixing order
2 pounds beef stew meat
2 cups beef broth
8 ounces crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon each of cloves, nutmeg and all spice
1/2 cup orange juice
one onion quartered
1/2 cup white cooking wine (didn't have any sherry)
Juice from one lime
one 8 ounce can of canned peaches ( I actually used a jar of peaches I had canned myself dumped it in juice an all)
My plan is to cook the living hell out of it until everything can be minced together...hoping much of the fluid cooks off. I have started it on top of the stove but will likely transfer it into the oven for several hours while I am out shopping. I will then mince it all together and bake it in a pie crust. Will update when it is all over and my review is in.