Homemade Pasta

Well, I did it. Finally. It was easy, and it was fun! It’s strange to hear people saying how “fun” it is to do things in the kitchen, because really let’s face it, sometimes it just seems like a lot of work, and work isn’t always easy, nor it it always fun. But this really was a joy… time consuming, not super quick but a very enjoyable and rewarding experience in the kitchen! I better get to the point of what I did in case you don’t remember what the title of this was. I made homemade pasta today! Okay, here we go…

There is more than one way to skin a cat. Or in this case, more than just one way to make pasta. First of all let’s talk flour. Some say semolina is the only way to go. Some say a drum wheat blend is best, and some say something about flour that I didn’t even know existed. So while I was in search of the perfect flour, which apparntly is non- existent, I decided to use the next best thinf to all of the above. Unbleached white flour. It’s inexpensive, and it was really easy to find. Again, a lot of people who cook, have tendencies to use many different ingredients. I say use what you have available, and use what works for you! In a crunch for time Un bleached worked for me!
Secondly, I learned there are a few different techniques on making the pasta, “well method” and I’ll call it the “bowl method”. A lot of people use the well method, which I did. However, I couldn’t figure out why one would waste or shall I say spend ones time whisking in egg by time consuming egg ( while trying not to accidentally destroy the delicate wall of flour that is supposed to contain the whole process) when one could easily whisk the eggs together and then add them to the flour… in a bowl. So, I naturally tried it both ways. ( this blog is both fun and informational) 🙂 In the end, I think I’d go for the pre whisked egg mixture then incorporate with the flour. However, in the end it’s your kitchen and your pasta so do what feels right. I am telling you right now, it feels right to whisk the eggs first and then mix in the flour. The other way, of cracking one egg at a time, slowly whisking each egg while incorporating bits of flour is really romantic and becomes a labor of love however, I don’t have the patients. And, the idea that homemade pasta should be a very fragile and tender yet tedious experience goes just a bit beyond my comprehension. When something can be done differently, and in my mind more effectively, why not re invent?

Two ways to create oh la la linguini.

What you will need
Flour ( 3/4 cup to each egg) so depending on how much pasta you want….
Eggs
Rolling pin ( if you have a pasta roller, awesome. Use it. If not, the rolling pin is more than fine. It’s some work, but like I said it’s fun) This is also why I would choose to whisk eggs before. You’ll be spending enough time trying to get the pasta to the right thickness, you don’t need to spend your time whisking in flour the size of dust particles, while eggs are trying to drain out side of your well and on to the floor… Okay, that’s a total exaggeration but I’m just saying you’ll spend enough time rolling the dough.

Crack 4 eggs in a bowl, whisk together.
In a different bowl add three cups of flour. Dig out a well in the middle of the bowl. Pour egg mixture in and slowly or quickly ( however you want to look at it) whisk in the flour a little at a time. Until it gets pretty thick and “doughy” you then can start using your hands to complete the mixing/kneading process. You want the dough to feel firm, not sticky. But you don’t want it to be crumbly and dry. I have a video attached for you to view because it’s almost impossible to explain what texture I’m referring to unless you’ve made it before. So please refer to the video.

Once you have reached the right consistency with the dough, continue to knead for about 5 to 7 minutes. Then cover it with plastic wrap and let it set up ( about 30 minutes)

Using a heavily floured ( large surface) cut your ball of dough in to two or three smaller pieces. Using one piece at a time flatten and begin to roll the dough as thin as you can without holes or tears… this is pasta not, swiss cheese. Once it is as thin as you desire( and it should be pretty thin, trust me on this) sprinkle a nice coating of flour across the surface and roll it up so that you can cut it in strips. Once the you cut the whole roll of dough you take the strips and “unroll” them an wither hang or lay out on paper to dry. Let them dry for about 3 hours and viola…. you have just made homemade fresh pasta!!!!


Boil some water with a bit of salt, add your fresh noodles and only cook for about 3 minutes, serve immediately with your favorite sauce. Olive oil and garlic, a meaty bolognese, a traditional tomato, or whatever your heart desires… you just made your own pasta. Enjoy!

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Filet with port sauce

After getting back to the states from a long break I have to admit it was difficult to get really excited about anything ( anything except for cooking that is… I discovered quite a few things I wanted to try ) Well, and our dog because our dog is pretty cool! But anyway, it was back to life and to work, or at least it was supposed to be. I was planning on quitting. Let’s just say, I have been less than satisfied at my current job, and that would be putting it mildly. I/we, decided after a long enough time away ( and feeling so incredibly happy in that time) it would be best for me to leave, and find something a little less…. awful?? That was the plan. Then, I got home. I reluctantly went back to work only to find 247 emails (apparently no one received my out of office). As I was weeding through the necessary, and unnecessary, deleting, and then the highly-unnecessary, and then the are you serious with with this… my boss called and said he needed to talk to me. Head in my hands, I thought that’s great because I’d like to talk to you too. I was planning on leaving. Turns out, I was being offered a different position. One that in my mind( which at this point was/is very corrupt) considering corporate america…seemed so much better. So after one conversation, one interview, a talk with my husband( not necessarily in that order). I accepted that new position, proudly. I accepted change, which is always good. I accepted a very progressive change, which is even better. More than anything, I didn’t quit.

And now on to the recipe I promised….. Ooh, and this one is gooood!!

Port wine 2 cups
Beef stock 1 cup
1 shallot
4 tbsp butter
1tsp cracked pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
( you can add herbs, such as a sprig of rosemary, or thyme, or whatever you may like, I didn’t but I’m sure it would be equally delicious).

Chop shallot and lightly saute in pan with butter, until shallots are soft, not crisp. (3 minutes on medium heat)
Once shallots are tender, add pepper and port. Turn heat up to high and let boil, or begin to reduce you don’t want to burn it, but you want to bring it to a light rolling boil (reducing is when you heat a liquid so that most of it evaporates).
Once it is reduced to 1/2 add the beef stock. Once again, let it “boil” a bit and “reduce”. ( approx 20 min)
At this point you can taste it. You can always add a pinch of salt, or pepper if you feel it necessary, I did not. Also, you can add a tsp more of butter if you feel necessary. Remember cooking is an art, it’s about tasting. Recipes are a guideline, not a rule. Be creative, and prepare what tastes good or done to you!
Once your sauce is done, remove it from the heat and strain it through a cheese cloth. ( I didn’t strain mine because I happen to like the look and texture of shallots and cracked pepper however, you know the drill).

be sure you have your perfectly cooked cut of beef prepared, to serve with this velvety, rich, smooth, and unforgettably delicious sauce.

I hope you enjoy!

Ciao fo now,

Writtenwell, or well written.

So tonight I did it! I re-created what we had in a tiny, little restaurant in Rome. Filet al porto. It turned out perfectly.

A little story…and Filet al Porto, tomorrow.

There isn’t a recipe in this entry. There is however a story. Let me know what you think?
There is a recipe to follow tomorrow. Fillet al porto. It was in Italy. And it was AMAZING!!!! I’m going to attempt to recreate it for dinner tomorrow night. We actually went to the same place twice, once the night before we left Rome because it was so, so, good.

We were recently on a fantastic trip to Italy. We went on a what I realized was a vacation in the middle of our vacation. What I mean is we went to Malta. Malta was much more relaxing, quieter, smaller although none less spectacular than the rest of Italy which we saw. We chose, and were fortunate enough to stay at a very nice hotel. The kind of place where you show up and the staff greets you with hot towels and fresh squeezed juice in served in fancy glassware, to refresh you from your travels of course. We shared a couples sea salt scrub and massage amongst other delights. There was also a sauna, steam, gym pool we were able to relax in. One night my husband and I decided to relax in the hot tub. We dressed appropriately in our bathing suits, white fluffy robes complete with matching terrycloth slippers and ventured to the spa area. I have to tell you I don’t like public hot tubs. I find them disgusting. In my mind it’s a bunch of strangers being given the opportunity to slough off their dead skin while they sweat who knows what. Then, their dead skin, sweat and all it’s little organisms are given the opportunity to stick or seep in to my skin. It’s not that I’m any better, I simply find this thought to be unsettling to say the least. In fact my husband actually calls the hot tub contents “people soup”. I recently asked him to stop if he was ever going to get me in one again. That said, we were on our honeymoon, and well what one won’t do for love and togetherness. So, we got to the hot tub, and actually it wasn’t that daunting for me as there were no people in the soup. We got in and I realized why, it was a warm tub. Really, maybe 60 degrees. Okay, given my precious explanation on hot tubs, we didn’t stay. We decided to take a sauna. At least that would be hot. We found the cozy little room and went inside. It was warm. However, it was the kind of sauna with the rocks to pour water on to make it hot so I figured we were in business. The only problem was that there were two british men in there already who didn’t seem to mind the slightly warm, damp air. So much for that… My husband left as it got a little hot when I poured the last cups of water on the stones… The two British men ( older and a bit round, in speedo’s of course) The older gent sitting across from me, was sort of leering at me because, when I splashed the last bits of water on the stones, some of it hit his leg, and he didn’t like it too much. It was a total accident. It also turned his somewhat tepid sauna into an inferno. At any rate he was leering at me or looking me up and down like a piece of candy. I was getting w bit uncomfortable, and thenI leered back and I noticed that he had larger breasts, a little hairy, and I thought they resembled little mariachi men ( you know the mexican guys with the sombreros, and the long curly mustaches, okay, well that’s what his nipples looked like..) I had to focus on something because not only did I make it uncomfortably hot for everyone, I accidentally burned someone and wrecked their relaxing evening. I realized then I had to leave the sauna, and couldn’t wait to share the story.
One cool hot tub. One hot piping hot sauna and a new name for when I’m feeling uncomfortable… Mariachi nipples. It was quite the show in my head!!
Ciao for now,

Written well, or well written.

Fried Chicken Fingers, in 25 minutes ( or so)

My husband is from Texas originally. One of his favorite “comfort foods” happens to be Fried chicken. If you would have told me five years ago that I’d be deep frying anything, let alone chicken, I would have told you that you were crazy. I would have thought you were really ignorant. And I probably wouldn’t have talked to you any more, as I would have found myself to be far more superior than you. It shows you what I know. You see I grew up in a home where my dad would make breakfast, and I would wear it for the entire day. He fried, bacon, sausage, ham, deer, anything meat related really, until it was smoking and dead. He usually did this frying it in any variation of butter, oil, grease, bacon fat. It created a canvass of an unforgettable odor filled smoke, which inevitably would saturate the entire house, and my clothes. I’d open my bedroom door to start my day, and instantly would curse the fact that my father was such an unhealthy eater…. and because of that, I would have to smell like bacon, all day long. I may have said something to him directly however, the morning breakfast haze made it very difficult to see anything, or anyone. So I just swore I wouldn’t have that, in my home. My sisters and I actually coined a phrase, Ron’s Kitchen. Any kitchen we’d go to that was a “frying” type of place, was referred to as Ron’s Kitchen. It gave a good idea of what type of food was there without saying much more. That said, my husband likes fried chicken, and I now have found myself creating my form of “Ron’s Kitchen” What one will do for love.

Skinless Chicken breast ( sliced in to strips, or you can buy the pre sliced chicken strips)
1 Cup of Flour
1 tbsp of salt ( Lawry’s is best in this case)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tbsp Cracked pepper

Egg wash ( that is whisked eggs so the flower mixture will stick to the chicken)

One large pot, or whatever will hold your chicken to fry it.
Vegetable oil, to fry….

Heat about 1 quart of oil in a pan.
Coat chicken pieces with egg
Toss chicken in flour mixture, and be sure it is well coated. Place in hot oil for about 7 minutes, remove with tongs or a sieve.

Serve, with white gravy, if you live with and are married to someone from Texas. Vinegar, if you are from Canada. Marinara, if you think you’re italian. Ranch, if you live in the suburbs. Cream of mushroom soup if you’re from MN, but if you do this then you need the crispy onion toppings too.

You can serve it with whatever you want, it’s really good, homemade fried chicken, from Ron’s Kitchen.

Bye for now,

Writtenwell, or well, written.

Calzones and choices


Choices are good, right? I’d like to think in most situations the power of choice, and actually making a choice is a really great and empowering concept. yes, some choices leave us a little bewildered, but then we gain that great perspective some refer to as wisdom, and hopefully in all of our wisery we don’t make the same bad choice twice. So, choices are good. I’d like to say that is unless you work at Subway, in the Skyway over a lunch hour in Downtown…. If there are ever people reading this who don’t know what a skyway is, it’s a way to get around to all the businesses and buildings on Minneapolis proper, without walking outside. When you live in a place that hovers around below zero temps for about three months out of the year, the skyways are a necessary evil. Think of them as the NY Subway as far as connectivity, only in Minneapolis, and they’re much cleaner, and not to mention the obvious, much smaller too. Now that we’re on the same page there is a Subway restaurant in the skyway. I eat there often, as it is quick. I know exactly what i’m getting, and it’s consistently average… but it’s consistent. It never fails, I get up to the sandwich artist line, there are probably five people working and ten people coming from “being ordered” to ordering thir subway sandwiches “their way”. If I worked for subway, I’d wish for no choices. Here’s why. “I’d like a 6 inch turkey on wheat, wait I mean white, or, no, do you have no fat, low carb, flat bread?” This is all while the line that is growing longer by the second, seems to eagerly await their turn to express their power of choice. ” Would you like cheese?” “Um, no, well yea but only on half.” ” And I want a little lettuce, ugh, not that much, tomatoes, more tomatoes, peppers, can you add a few more peppers, no no that many, olives, and pickles, oh, can I have some more olives, and then just a few more pickles… And just a little ranch, wait do you have ranch, okay yeah, and some mayo, only a little, and just a little olive oil, and that’s it”. “Oh, salt and pepper too.” Seven minutes, one average customer, and the perfectly created choice filled sandwich later, “would you like a value meal today?” ” No, Thank you sooooo much!” One down, 467 more to go, Providing choices, one sandwich at a time. This is one place where choice, is just a bad idea.

On to my recipe:
Calzone:

Pizza dough, rolled out in to a rectangle shape ( it doesn’t have to be perfect, just get close) you don’t want it paper thin, maybe 1/4 inch thick.

Chopped ingredients, I used onions, peppers, boars head pepperoni, and sliced meatballs, lots of mozzarella cheese.

Layer the ingredients in the middle of the rectangular piece of dough, again use your own taste buds and imagination, this is your calzone, you have choices!

Wrap the sides over top of one another and pinch together, be careful not to tear the dough, you don’t want your ingredients spilling out while baking. Seal well and flip over sealed side down. Bake in a pre heated oven, at 425 for 25 minutes or until its a golden brown.

Serve with your favorite marinara sauce immediately.

Enjoy!

Bye for now,

Writtenwell or well, written.


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Mini Lasagna Rolls almond, garlic beurre blanc…that turned out… perfectly!!

I started these lasagna rolls yesterday but had to stop due to life happening… like I said it was one of those days. I will save the story for another time. What I am going to tell you is how I made mini lasagna rolls… a little something I though of while making lasagna, rather than throwing out the extra pieces of pasta.

What you’ll need,
Everything you use to make lasagna, meaning, your cheese mixture, noodles and a baking pan.
My lasagna requires:
Ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella and Romano cheese.
Eggs, basil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper to taste.
Lasagna noodles.
Almonds, crushed( it’s really easy to crush them with a rolling-pin)

Minin Lasagna rolls, garlic and almond beurre blanc


Once I’m done making the pan of Lasagna, and I;m left with extra noodles I cut them in threes ( length wise)
I use the cheese mixture that’s already been prepared, I like to add sautéed Italian sausage to the cheese mixture, it adds a definite zing to the rolls!
Wrap noodle around about a tablespoon of stuffing. Place seam side down, in lightly oiled baking pan. Cover and Bake at 425 for 25 minutes.

When Lasagna rolls are done baking:
Make a garlic beurre blanc.
Santee garlic and shalots in about 1/4 cup of white wine. Once it cooks down, turn the heat down to low and whisk in chunks of chilled butter, one piece at a time ( use about 5 tablespoons) you may need to add a little heat, to continue melting butter but don’t add too much, you don’t want to break your sauce. Once sauce is finnished to your liking, salt to taste.

Plate lasagna rolls and lightly drizzle with beurre blanc. Top with crushed almonds….

Viola…. You have just made a delicious,gourmet meal!

… and sometimes things just turn out!

Bye for now,

Writtenwell or well, written.


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Chocolate Truffles Simple, and Delicious

I told you yesterday I would be making Truffles in the Suburbs. If you’ve read an earlier entry on the review of Lindy’s you know what I feel about the Suburbs. However, my sister lives in one of the many that seem to surround our city. So, often I have to make the trek, pack a lunch, fill up with gas, and get a map to make it there… And that’s just to get in the general area. Once, I get to the City of Chaska, It’s a crap shoot on which house it is… I pass by neighborhood’s one through 7 and know I’m getting close yet, I still have to call my sister(partially my fault, I get her house numbers transposed) to ask ” exactly which one is it again?” and then Boom, theres the inevitable house clone farm… block after block. I could pull in and ring door bells for an hour, and still be wrong. So I call again, feeling like a total idiot… She answers… ” It’s the white one, with shrubs out front, you know the paved drive way, there is a SUV parked in it.. We just put up a fence.. ” Still, am wrenching my neck to see which white fence she could be referring to.. Alas, I made it. And we made truffles. They turned out great! And they really are easy to make! Please do keep in mind, I am not a Photographer…..


Truffles:

Chocolate Truffles with White chocolate drizzle


1 cup whipping cream to 1-1/2 lbs. milk chocolate OR 1 cup whipping cream to 1 lb. dark chocolate
Break up the chocolate into pieces so it will fit into a microwave safe container for heating. Keep a few small chips out to add at the end once the chocolate is melted.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave. Do NOT over heat. You will need to stir it regularly as the good chocolate will retain its shape as it is softening. (See instructions below, although I have never used a thermometer when melting the chocolate)
Scald the whipping cream on the stove while the chocolate is melting.
Once the chocolate is melted add the remaining chips and stir until melted. Transfer mixture into the bowl for your heavy duty mixer.
Add the scalded cream a little at a time while the mixer is on. Mix well.
Add the flavoring oil to taste. Start out adding a little and taste. The Lorann Oils are very concentrated so be careful. The amount to add will depend on the amount of chocolate you are making and your personal preferences.
Mix well until the mixture is very smooth. Cover and refrigerate several hours until mixture is firm.

To prepare for rolling the truffles get some spoons & bowls for the sprinkles. It helps to make a tray for the paper liners before you start rolling with the liners separated. Put on your gloves and scoop a small amount of the chocolate mixture. Roll into a ball. While still soft on the outside from the heat of your hands, place in a bowl of sprinkles and roll around until thoroughly covered. I find a spoon works well to move them in the sprinkles and pour some over the top for complete coverage. Transfer the truffles into the paper liners with the spoon. Place in boxes.
I suggest keeping the truffles in a cool location once they are make. Any extra chocolate can be store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for future use (assuming the family lets it last that long).
This part of the process is fun for a group and is done quickly when everyone helps.
Good luck with the Truffles!!
Bye for now,

Writtenwell or well, written.


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Breakfast in bed

The only thing better than being able to sleep in on a weekend is sleeping in and having breakfast in bed. I was up very late last night finishing the second batch of my sauce. I went to bed very tired… woke up feeling even more tired ( not sure how that works) but anyway, my husband surprised me with a breakfast sandwich in bed! He mentioned he was using the same recipe ( I should say instructions or guidelines) that I mentioned earlier this week! ALthough, he did say that his Egg Spinach and Bacon sandwich took more than ten minutes. Ten minutes or not, we enjoyed a modified version of my quick breakfast sandwich on lovely Sunday morning! I took a picture of it too. He even garnished the plate with shredded cheese… I think I have a fan!

Join me tomorrow for a really exciting trip to the suburbs to make Milk Chocolate Truffles…. mmmmm!

Bye for now, and I hope you have a great week!

Writtenwell or well, written.


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bread

A Narrative by Writtenwell:

Bread, one of the best, and most versatile foods. I am so thankful that I was never involved in the anti carb movement, because first off I found it terribly annoying, and secondly, I found it to be very ignorant to simply nix carbohydrates out of ones diet entirely. ( everything in moderation, right? ) And I never wanted to be one of those people who would order a double burger extra meat, add bacon, mayo, mustard, skip the ketchup ( too many carbs) add more mayo, no tomato, but add a fried egg, no lettuce, and extra cheese please… Oh, and no bun, I’m doing the no carb thing”. I think you get my point. I enjoy all sorts of bread so very much. I simply can’t imagine a juicy burger without the perfect, butter touched, lightly toasted like bun. Or my favorite pasta with a Low or no carb or cheap imitation of a crusty hearth baked loaf. Or, the perfect bowl of soup, without the wedge of a schmaltzy french baguette, Even a PB&J wouldn’t be the same without the soft white or even wheat everyday bread. I could go on and on, but I’d like to get to the recipe for your sake.

Homemade Bread, Ahhh, a true delight fresh from the oven! The actual recipe for this photo will follow, as soon as it is given to me. A very dear friend and I have a pretty serious love of baking bread which generates a friendly competition at times… it’s always in good spirit and fun. He brought his perfectly crisped loaves over for dinner tonight, and so I felt the need to share them. Like I said I can’t provide the exact recipe yet but Stephen, if you’re reading this, will you please do me the honors and add your recipe for Stephen’s Crusty Buns?

Stephens Crusty Bread

Bye for now,

Writtenwell or well, written.


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To Everyone who is looking for a blog to read:

Hello,
If you like food. If you like to laugh. If you don’t mind a bit of sarcastic humor… and if you can handle the fact that I’m just learning how to write down recipes for the food that I make ( i’ve never followed recipes), and… if you don’t mind getting a throw in, life story, about something very humorous…. YOU SHOULD SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOG!!! I’d love to have you as a guest!

I’m always cooking, and I’m always trying new things. I hope you join me on this adventure.. It is fun!!

Writtenwell or well, written.


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