Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Prosciutto Ravioli

Today we made something fancier than usual: Giada's Prosciutto and Spinach Ravioli. With tasty ricotta cheese, mmmmm. LZ got his diploma in the mail today, so we celebrated with ravioli. It takes a bit of time to wrap them, of course, but it's not so bad and they're really tasty! We boiled half of them and it was enough so we froze the other half for later this week.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Making Pasta

For Valentines Day, we decided to stay in and make pasta for dinner.

The first thing you have to do is figure out how to put the pasta maker together. Fortunately, there's only four major pieces, so it's a pretty easy puzzle.

4 pieces: the pasta roller, roller handle, table clamp and cutter.

I remember how to do it mostly because when assembled properly, I think it resembles a baby dinosaur. Or maybe a baby T-rex with no tail.

Anyway, after you get the pasta maker put together, it's time to make the dough. The recipe we have is really easy. Three eggs, a cup and a half of flour. Not bad.
You have to make a mountain with the flour, and then crack the eggs inside. It makes a neat little volcano, but be careful not to break the wall while you stir up the eggs. Otherwise, you have a very runny mess all over the cutting board.

Apparently, slowly incorporating the egg with the flour is key. Otherwise, it takes a long time for your pasta to become smooth if you do not do this step.It does take some time, however, to make the egg less runny (like 20 minutes).

Once the egg is mixed in enough, you can finally pile all the flour in the middle and knead it into the perfect pasta dough. This requires folding the dough on itself several times. Makes for a good workout too!

You'll know the dough is done when it is nice and smooth. (I suppose you can see who was doing most of the work in making the pasta!)

Then, in the pasta roller it goes. You have to fold it several times while it's still soft. When the dough is pliable and not too dry, you can roll it through the pasta machine, each time changing the setting one notch tighter. The dough gets thinner and longer.

Two sets of hands is very useful. One person feeds in the dough and turns the crank, and the other catches the long strip as it comes out.

Once the dough as thin as you like it, it's time to cut! The other side of the pasta roller has a roller with a cutting edge that you just run the strip through.

Of course, this is also the most difficult part of the pasta making process. Or, it was for us at least. If you feed the dough in the cutter incorrectly, the pasta folds on itself and gets munched up. Then you don't have thin flat ribbons, but you have doughy munched up ribbons.

Exhibit A: Ghetto Pasta ...................Exhibit B: Fab Pasta

At the end of all of this, it doesn't really matter if the pasta is pretty or not because it all goes into the same salted water to boil for 10 minutes. (I throw in the ghetto pasta first since it can be a little thicker in places.)

Throw in some sauce (homemade is the best), a glass of wine and you've got a great meal. Sure, it took us several hours to get to the finished state, but it was well worth it.
Yum! Let's eat!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Portobello Burger

I had some portobello caps leftover from the mushroom stuffing that went with my lamb roast the other day, so I decided to make some portobello burgers. They are so easy and really good! We will definitely be making them again. The marinade is just mustard, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. You can brush that on and then grill them (or cook them in a pan). I didn't have buns but I had nice bread from yesterday so I used that. With cheese, guacamole, and tomato - voila!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lamb Shoulder

Valentine's Day! I wanted to make something special for the special guy on the special day, and we had a lamb shoulder in the freezer. There aren't a lot of recipes for lamb shoulders, but there are a lot for legs so I just used one of those. This one included mushroom stuffing. it took a LOT of precooking - chopping, boiling, etc. but the stuffing turned out really good. I had a small crisis with the thawing of the shoulder, but I managed and it was very tasty. The picture does not do it justice as usual. And chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Black Bean Burgers (from Gourmet Mag)

Even though the blog has been oddly silent, I've been cooking up a storm. Time to add the backlog of tasty dishes that have neglected to make their way to GastroFab.

This recipe for Black Bean Burgers came to me in this month's Gourmet.

It is pretty straightforward: can of beans, some breadcrumbs, mayo and spices. Crush together (use food processor if you have one), form into patties and cook.

I had some leftover sweet potato that I put into the mix which added more flavor. The fresh cilantro was great too, but the only thing that was weird was the texture. I mean, I know it's not meat, but it would have been nicer if it had held together a little better. You bit into the burger and everything was soft--the bun, the bean burger, toppings. I guess that made me appreciate my meat counterpart if nothing for more than the difference in texture.

Funny the things you notice when you do variations. I guess I expect my burgers to feel a certain way.

Are there other foods that you feel this way about?