Friday, October 21, 2011

Titania Pasta Maker

I have been putting off getting a pasta maker for years. The ones that I have found were big, bulky and expensive. And pasta is cheap, so why bother?

Well, I tried homemade noodles a couple of months ago. I have pledged to reduce my purchases of corporate products and non-corporate pasta is expensive! -- but tastes SO GOOD!! So instead of paying $6 for a bag of egg noodles, I just made them myself. My family declared that only homemade noodles would suffice from that day on.

Which is great except for the fact that they are really time consuming when you are cutting all the pasta into strips with a knife.

So a couple of weeks ago, I was in a store looking for a smaller stock pot for canning just a few jars at a time, and instead found a compact pasta maker for $35. It impressed me enough that I bought it without even researching it first. It ended up being probably the most perfect pasta maker I could have gotten.

It is Titania from Imperia. The reviews I eventually read indicated that it was an authentic Italian pasta maker - the one that an Italian household would most likely be using.The pasta is easy to make. It is just flour, eggs, a little salt, and oil. I don't even measure. The consistency should be like bread dough when it is all mixed and kneaded thoroughly.
Now a lot of the reviews complained that the maker took more than two hands to operate. I was able to work the machine without clamping it to anything and while holding the video camera under my chin. And all the while I had three dogs dancing around my feet looking for fallen pasta scraps. I think those facts illustrate the actual ease of use of this pasta maker. I did not let the dough rest. I just rolled a ball of the dough in a little flour before trying to roll it through. You do have to start on a wide setting and work your way down to a thinner setting or your dough will shred and it is much harder to get it through the rollers if you skip too many widths.
I used the noodles I made in the video in this vegetable and chicken broth soup. Celery, carrots, kohlrabi, sweet onion, sauteed with olive oil, and seasoned with a little ginger. A couple chicken bouillon cubes, water and the cooked noodles. It was delicious!

And the noodles from start to finish probably took less time to make and cook than it would have taken store-bought dried noodles to cook. With homemade noodles this fast and easy, I don't think it will be hard at all meeting my family's declaration!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ginger Garlic Wonton Packages

I had some interesting wontons from the local food co-op and knew I had to try to make my own.

Mine were better!

  • 1 head nappa cabbage, shredded
  • 1 bulb garlic, minced or put through a press
  • 2 TBS fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 scallions, chopped - use white and green parts
  • 1/8 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 package wonton wrappers
  • 2 cups peanut oil
I threw the first five ingredients into my electric chopper to get it into a fine slaw.

Spoon into wonton wrappers.

Fold the corners to the middle like an envelope and seal together with water. I found that wetting my hands slightly before handling the wrappers helped a lot.

Fry in peanut oil on medium high heat. You want them to cook quickly but not burn.

Serve on their own as they are really flavorful, or you could serve with sweet pepper dipping sauce.

These were easy and quick to make, and DELICIOUS!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Avocado Margherita

I love avocados, even if I seem to be alone in that love in my household. This recipe is one of my favorite ways to prepare them.

  • Avocado - halved and pitted (I also peel mine, but you don't have to)
  • 2TBS diced red onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup diced fresh tomato
  • 2 TBS fresh basil, shredded (can substitute 1 tsp dried basil)
  • 2 thin slices of mozzarella
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Oil a small bread pan. Place the avocado halves into the pan and sprinkle with a tiny bit of olive oil. Place the garlic, tomato, onion, and basil into halves. You can pre-mix these first if you want. Cover the avocado halves with the mozzarella slices and bake in a 350F oven until cheese is melted, and golden brown if you like.

Serve them warm with salt and pepper.

They are hearty, tasty and filling!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Delicata with Wild Rice and Cranberry Stuffing

I grew delicata for the first time and wasn't exactly sure what to do with it. The recipes I found online were your standard squash recipes: butter and brown sugar. I wanted something more savory, so I came up with something on my own. Our exchange student had never had wild rice before, so I knew that was in and it just sort of evolved from there.
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 1/4 cup craisins
  • 2 TBS chopped scallions
  • 1 TBS chopped medium-hot pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground rosemary
  • 3 TBS fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp fresh chopped sage
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 TBS honey
  • 2 Delicata squash

Cut the delicata lengthwise and scoop the seeds out. The seeds are said to be good for roasting, and this is an heirloom squash, so you may want to try to save the seeds.

Cook the wild rice in 2 cups water until tender. Add craisins, onion, herbs, and honey. Mix well and stuff the delicata halves with the mixture.

I baked these at 400F in a claypot cooker for 40 minutes. You could probably get by with 350F in a regular baking dish.

This was the first time that I had eaten delicata. It was a tiny bit mealy, but sweet. The skin, although fairly hard when raw, is soft enough to cut with a fork after cooking and completely edible.

The recipe? It was delicious! I will definitely be making this again. And the stuffing could be a stand alone dish as well.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Morel Cream Sauce

I had my best morel year ever. My son and I usually just saute the mushrooms and eat them as a treat, but I actually had enough to make some kind of a dish with the morels that I found. I wanted to keep it simple and mild, since this was the first time that I was actually cooking them into a dish and wanted to be sure they would hold their own.

So, although I was going to do a stroganoff or an Alfredo, I opted for a simple cream sauce. I basically went out to my garden and pulled what was available.

  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1-2 TBS garlic chives, chopped - whites and greens
  • 1-2 TBS chives, chopped
  • Small leek, chopped - whites and tender greens
  • A few rosemary leaves, chopped (or a pinch of ground rosemary)
  • 1/3 cup (or more) morel mushrooms, chopped
  • 1-2 TBS flour
  • 1/2-1 cup cream or half-n-half - enough to get consistency you want
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper

Saute the chives and leeks.
Add mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms are fully cooked.
Sprinkle in the flour and mix well.
Pour in cream/half-n-half a little at a time and mix well. You want to dissolve all the flour into the liquids.
Add the salt and pepper and cook until thickened.

I used this over egg noodles. It was delicious!!

The sauce was mild enough that the three mushrooms I used easily held their own. If you want to add a little more spice, like thyme or convert it to a stroganoff by adding sour cream, or an Alfredo by adding some Parmesan; I would add more morels. Heck, if I had had them, I would have added more anyway :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Tunisian Brik

I wanted to add some more appetizers to my repertoire, so when I found a recipe for Tunisian Brik in my appetizer cookbook ("Appetizers, Finger Food, Buffet & Parties", by Bridget Jones) I had to try making it. I did make a few small changes - of course. The following is what I came up with.
  • 3 TBS butter, melted
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 TBS lemon juice
  • 2 TBS finely chopped cilantro
  • 1-2 eggs, scrambled
  • phyllo dough
Start by mixing everything but the egg and phyllo dough in a frying pan and cook until meat is thoroughly cooked. Then it is on to phyllo dough!

Let me start by saying that phyllo dough is a mother to work with! It is very thin, tears easily, dries out quickly, and then crumbles. I kept a mister handy to keep the dough moist; but be careful! If you get the dough too moist, it sticks to everything!

I laid out two sheets. the recipe called for brushing with melted butter, but due to the delicacy of these sheets, I sprayed them with Pam instead.
The sheets were rather large, so I cut them into sixths.
Then I folded each of the pieces until they made 3"x3" squares.

They don't need to be perfectly even. As you can see, some parts have more layers than others.
Place a tablespoon of the meat filling in the center of each square and a teaspoon of egg over that.

Fold the phyllo corner to corner and seal with a little water. Place the triangles on a greased/oiled baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake at 425F for 8-10 minutes. They should be golden brown.

These were AWESOME! And once you get the hang of handling the phyllo dough, they are amazingly easy to make!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tomato Lentil Soup/Casserole

I needed to make a quick meal and had been remembering a wonderful minestrone that I had whipped up once, so I decided to try that again. Except I couldn't exactly remember how I had made it, so what I ended up with was different, but equally as wonderful.

I call this a "soup/casserole" since it could really be either. When it was first done cooking it still had a soup consistency, but as it sat, the noodles soaked up most of the remaining liquid and it became a casserole. Either way was very good.
  • 3 cloves garlic minced (I used the garlic I grew this year)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped or diced
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 pint tomato sauce (I used the sauce I canned this fall - YUM!)
  • 3 TBS ground Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary mix)
  • 1 TSP sea salt
  • 2 cups reconstituted lentils (about 1 cup dried - I used two lentils: French and brown)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced (you can leave the skins on)
  • 2 handfuls of uncooked pasta (your choice - used egg noodles)
The first thing that you want to do is start the lentils reconstituting by placing them in a bowl and pouring near boiling water over them.

Heat the olive oil on medium in a soup pan while you mince the garlic and chop/dice the onion. Saute the garlic and onions in the olive oil while you dice the celery. Saute the celery while you slice the carrots. If you like your carrots firm, hold off placing them in the pot until later.

Dump the tomato sauce into the pot. Add a pint of water and mix in the Italian seasoning. Rinse the lentils and add to pot. Simmer for ten minutes. Add the pasta (and carrots if you didn't do that earlier) and simmer until the pasta is cooked. You may need to add extra water during this process (but make sure that the liquids remain bubbly hot or the pasta will cook pasty - Yuck!)

Salt to taste.

This was quick and easy to make. I really liked this and so did my husband (who isn't a big shelled bean fan). It will make great leftovers for lunch tomorrow as well :)