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!

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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.

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!

Drunken Noodles

 Recipe Ease: easy

Length: 25 minutes

I’m a big fan of Thai Food. My personal favorites are Tom Yum Soup and Red Curry; however, I will never turn down a bowl of Drunken Noodles. The spice, the aroma comforts me instantly.

When I did my research (okay, just googled) the name, I found many theories. Some say you have to be drunk to eat all of that spice, or that the chef must be drunk to throw in such a variety of ingredients, or that it is a famous hangover cure. Regardless, the dish didn’t seem that difficult to make.

While you could find most of the ingredients at a typical grocery store, I opted to go to an international market which had a huge variety of soy sauce, fish sauce and the like. The recipe calls for thick soy sauce, and this is far more thick than the soy sauce we are used to. You could add molasses or honey to regular or use Hoisin in a pinch. I pointed out in the ingredient list where you can use a substitute if you have trouble tracking down the ingredients.

The beauty of the dish is you can put in whatever you like. Many recipes called for egg or tofu. I added in some baby bok choy because it looked so fresh and nice at the supermarket. We served it with beer, and it was the perfect dish for a cold, snowy night.

You will need:

  • 12 oz bag rice flake noodles, soaked in warm water for 8 -10 minutes and drained.
  • 2-3Tbsp. Thai chili garlic oil (you can use sriracha)
  • 4 Tbsp thick soy sauce
  • 4 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Oyster sauce
  • 4 Tbsp Fish sauce
  • 3 tbs sesame oil (you can use canola)
    3 cloves garlic, minced.
    1 shallot, sliced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
    12 medium sized shrimp, cleaned
  • 1/2 1lb chicken breast, sliced thinly
    1 red bell pepper cut into bite-sized pieces.
    1 Cup packed fresh thai basil leaves. (you can use regular basil)

 

What gorgeous veggies

I found some great sauces at the local international mart

 

One package easily fed 5 people
Steps:
1. Whisk Thick soy, soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili oil and fish sauce together and set aside.

2. Heat a large wok or the biggest skillet you have over medium heat. Add oil to skillet and cook garlic, onions and shallots until light brown.


3.  Add chicken and cook for about 5 minutes. Add shrimp and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

4. Add drained noodles, bell pepper, sauce mixture, and stir fry five minutes

5. Add basil and cook for a bout two minutes or until some of the noodles are a bit crisp on the edges

Baking Bread with Grandma

I got a kitchen-aid with a bread paddle for Christmas which is a total game changer. Naturally, the first thing I did was call my mom.

Growing up, I was very lucky. My mom made her own bread, her own pasta, and even her own spaetzel – which is no joke. We may not have had a lot of belongings, but we ate like kings. Of course, my mom would enlist my help when I was little. I got to knead the dough, and even punch it.

Last Saturday, she came over to give me a tutorial on how to use the kitchen aid, and to teach our children how to do make it themselves. The littlest one had no interest in making the bread, and chose to come down as a taster when it was ready.

checking the consistency

 

everything is more fun with grandma

Adding some flour

Learning from the master

Punching the dough is the best part

 

Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Potatoes

Total cook time: 45-50 minutes

Recipe ease: easy

This is a recipe of Nigella Lawson’s that I have been meaning to try. If you are looking for a classic roast chicken dish and/or some comfort than this is perfect. I made it on a very cold night, served it with some wine, and enjoyed every bite.

I picked a spicy chorizo from Whole Foods and had to use a blood orange rather than a regular for the zesting. I then sliced up the blood orange and set it out at the table for something sweet.

The original recipe calls for two red onions, and 12 chicken thighs, but I felt it was a bit much. The large onion I used cooked nicely and caramelized in the pan, and contrasted nicely with the creamy potatoes. Delicious.

You will need:

  • 1-2 tablespoons regular olive oil
  • 6 chicken thighs (bone in, with skin)
  • 2 links chorizo sausages, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 lbs baby potatoes, half the larger ones
  • 1 large red onion peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • grated zest of one orange
  • salt and pepper to taste

Steps:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and put the oil in the bottom of a roasting pans. Rub the skin of the chicken in the oil, season with salt accordingly, then turn them skin-side up. Add the chorizo sausages and the new potatoes to the pan.

You don’t need to be precise with the veggies

 

The chicken thighs were from a store that had an in house butcher

 

That is some good-looking chorizo

 

All nestled in the pan and ready to go

Sprinkle the onion and the oregano over, then grate the orange zest over the pan. Cook for 20 minutes, then baste the chicken with the juices. Continue cooking for about 20 – 30 minutes or till chicken is done.

The end result

Instant comfort

 

Slow Cooker Pork & Tomatillo Stew

 I modified this from a recipe I found on Allrecipes.com

You will need:

  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 lb boneless pork shoulder (or slice up a bone-in pork shoulder)*
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small white onion, sliced thin
  • 7-8 tomatillos, chopped or 24 oz can tomatillos, drained
  • 1 can diced green chiles
  • 2 fresh jalapenos, chopped and deseeded
  • 1 bottle of beer (you may use chicken broth instead)
  • 4 oz chicken broth
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Serve with: fresh cilantro, sour cream, monterey-jack cheese

  1. Prepare your veggies  
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet and brown pork on all sides for about 15 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker, reserving juices in the skillet  
  3. Cook onion and garlic in remaining juices, stirring and scraping up any browned bits for about 4-5 minutes. transfer juices and onions/garlic into slow cooker
  4. Add tomatillos, chiles, jalapenos, oregano, salt and pepper. Pour in the beer and chicken broth to cover the ingredients. Cook on low for 8 hours.  
  5. Shred cooked pork with a fork, and spoon into bowls.
  6. Add cilantro, cheese, and sour cream and enjoy:)


*Notes –

Allow for jalapeno seeds if you want the dish to be spicier.

For this recipe, I used a bone-in pork shoulder. I first trimmed the fat from the meat before it slicing it from the bone.