Homemade pasta

In the age of pasta machines and convenience, something gets lost in the translation. Making your own pasta is relatively easy, and you can find the same essential recipe all over the Internet – because sometimes you don’t need to improve a simple perfection. I’m not suggesting you make this on a school night, when there is a ton of chaos – but this is a lovely treat on the weekend or for a special occasion. This recipe makes about a pound of pasta.

Recipe level: easy

Time: hour total

You will need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs olive oil

Step one:

Whisk flour and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Add eggs and olive oil.

Stir with a fork. Once the dough becomes too thick, knead it on a clean work surface until you have a stiff ball of dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and let it sit for at least half an hour.

Step two:

Unwrap and cut the dough ball into fourths.

Wrap three portions of the ball back in plastic. Liberally sprinkle the portion with flour and roll until it is very thin. You should be able to see your hand.

Step three:

Fold over and slice thin strips with a knife. Shake out strands and dust with a bit more flour.

Step four:

Cook pasta in salted, boiling water for about three minutes. Remember fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried.

Enjoy!

Advertisements

Orzo & Feta Salad

This is a very refreshing salad to bring to a party or serve at lunchtime. We used to have a grocery store that made an excellent version of this, and The recipe that follows is the inspiration. I also borrowed heavily from a version that Gia DeLaurentis makes. The beauty is you can add or sub in any ingredients you want – There are versions with fresh tomatoes or garbanzo beans, for example.

Recipe level: easy

Serves: 6

Time: 20 minutes

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 c. orzo
  • 4 c. Chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 3/4 cup feta
  • 1/2 cup sweet pepper, chopped fine
  • Sundried tomatoes, chopped fine
  • 1/4 c pitted kalamata olives, quartered

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 c. Red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 c. Virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c. fresh basil
  • 1/4 c. Fresh mint

Step one:

Boil the chicken broth and add the orzo. Make sure to stir, because orzo can get starchy. Cook for about seven minutes and then drain and set aside.

Step two:

Assemble the dressing and then toss with drained orzo.

Step three:

Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Orecchiette and Sausage

This is a classic Italian winter dish. I really like to make it when it is cold outside, because the pasta is creamy and filling. Also, the sausage gives you a break from the endless the chicken rotation. I also like to use spicy sausage instead of mild, or blend in a proportion of both. Broccoli rabe is the classic vegetable used in Italy , but most people in America prefer regular broccoli. You can also substitute in kale which goes nicely with sausage. I’ve also seen a variation with cooked tomatoes that was especially delicious. There is a lot of variety to the dish, but what is below is closest to the classic version. This will feed around 5 to 6 people.

You will need:

  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings (or spicy, if you prefer)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 reserve pasta water
  • broccoli florets or kale
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano, or Parmesan

Step one:

Begin cooking the pasta. If you cannot find orecchiette, any kind of pasta will do. Cook it al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water

Step two:

Once you have the pasta started, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan and add the sausage.

Cook, breaking the meat up with a spoon, until the sausage starts to brown, 5-6 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook a minute more.

Add the reserve pasta water, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, broccoli, chicken broth, salt and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until the broccoli is tender-crisp, 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the butter until melted and simmer for a few minutes to reduce and concentrate the sauce.

Step three:

Add the cooked and drained pasta and toss well.

Fresh grated cheese really makes a difference here. It is really worth the extra step and effort. However,if you have to substitute it’s not the end of the world. If you can’t find Romano, it’s fine to substitute Parmigiano Reggiano.

Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Dip

I found this recipe in a Mediterranean cookbook, and decided to use it for our annual Oscar party. It was ideal because I was looking for a good dip to use that was vegetarian, but delicious. It is very versatile, and very easy to make. I would definitely use it as a spread for sandwiches, as well.

You will need:

  • 2 red sweet peppers 
  • 1 onion cut into wedges
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • Serve with pita chips, bread, or vegetables.

Too Busy? 

Instead of roasting the red peppers yourself, use one cup of purchased roasted red sweet peppers, drained

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut the peppers in half and deseed and destem. Place the pepper halfs cut side down on the sheet. Arrange the onions and garlic on the baking sheet with the pepper halves. Brush vegetables and garlic with some of the olive oil.
  2. Roast the vegetables for 30 to 35 minutes until the pepper skins are blistered and the onion is tender. Remove them from the oven and wrap the vegetables up in foil. Let them stand for 15 minutes. Peel and discard the skins from the peppers.
  3. Add the peppers and onions to a food processor or blender.  Squeeze the garlic from peels into the blender, as well. Add the remaining olive oil, and all of the remaining ingredients. Blend/pulse until nearly smooth.

I

Meatball subs

This is the ultimate comfort meal. 

You will need:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • Slices of provolone cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 6 hoagies buns
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Slat and pepper to taste

Step one: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap 2 cloves of garlic in aluminum foil and roast for 15 minutes.

Step two: mix beef, minced garlic, breadcrumbs, oregano and egg and form into meatballs.


Step three: cook meatballs in a large nonstick pan at medium heat – be sure to not overlook. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer for an additional ten minutes.  Top with fresh grated Parmesan.


Step four: while meatballs were simmering, split hoagies and brush the insides with olive oil and the roasted garlic. Heat in the oven for about 8-10 minutes until desired texture.

Step five: place three meatballs in the hoagie and top with provolone. Put subs back in the oven to melt the cheese for an additional five minutes. Enjoy!

Basalmic goat cheese crostini

Here was an experiment that began with a delicious baguette and left over goat cheese. This turned out nicely and we paired it with some wine. For this situation I chose to make it like a French bread pizza, however slicing it as Crostini would be ideal and what I would do next time.

You will need:

  • Fresh baguette
  • 8 oz goat cheese
  • Handful of spinach
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes 
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup mozzarella
  • Basalmic glaze (you can make it or buy it)* recipe below

Step one:

Cut baguette in half and place on a baking pan. Preheat oven to 350. 

Step two:

Heat olive oil on medium high heat. Cook onions for at least five minutes. Add tomatoes and cook down until onions are caramelized.

Step three: 

Sprinkle mozzarella on bread. Add onions and tomatoes. Add goat cheese and fresh cracked pepper. Place in oven and cook for 8 -10 minutes.

Step four:

While bread is cooking in the oven, slice spinach and gently sauté over medium heat using the same pan you used for the onions. Cook until tender and set aside.
Step five:
Sprinkle spinach on top of the bread and drizzle with glaze. Enjoy!

To make basalmic glaze:

Bring 2 cups basalmic vinegar and 1/2 cup brown sugar to a boil and reduce heat for twenty minutes.

Twix Cookies

 I found the basic recipe off of Pinterest and thought I would give it a try. I think the shortbread cookie was a nice touch – I modified the recipe a tiny bit for my purposes. Also, the original calls for a biscuit cookie-cutter, but I used smaller rounds so people could enjoy a bite-sized treat. Source: http://www.chef-in-training.com

Recipe Ease: simple, but has several steps

You will need:

  • One bag Kraft caramels
  • One bag milk chocolate chips
  • 2 tbs evaporated milk
  • One cup confectionar sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cup butter, softened 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Step one:

Preheat oven to 350°.Cream butter and sugar. Add in salt, vanilla, and the flour. Blend until combined well.

Step two: Roll out dough with a rolling pen and some flour. Cut with a biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter. Assemble cookies onto a cookie sheet and bake for 14 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely before the next step. I put my cookies in the freezer to hasten the process.

Step three: Melt caramel in the microwave. If necessary, add the  evaporated  milk to the caramel for smoother spreading. Spread the Caramel onto the cooled cookies. Again, allow to cool off before the next step.

Step four: Melt the milk chocolate in 30 second increments in the microwave. Spread the chocolate onto the caramel layer. Enjoy!