To document my cooking and knitting experiments - hopefully many successes and few failures.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hair Toy!

Check out what came in the mail today! I love this little Etsy shop. I've purchased a few barrettes and now this comb. This business is fast and friendly and their product is high quality, looks great and does a fantastic job of holding my long hair in check during my work day.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Heritage Website

One of the more amusing internet time vacuums I have found is the "My Heritage" celebrity look alike website. Upload pics of friends and family and the database on the website matches you to your celebrity lookalikes and counterparts. Endless hijinks and shenanigans here... I have gotten matches for people that include Whoopi Goldberg, J.K. Rowling and Pol Pot. Today one of my matches was Jake Gyllenhaal.. woot!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

March Daring Baker Challenge

Oops! I didn't realize I was supposed to post this on the 27th of March.

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

I've never made pasta before.. in fact never desired to TRY making pasta before.. but heck, I'm up for a good challenge. This was a very involved recipe for me, so I broke it down over a period of 3 days.

Day one to make the ragu..

I altered the challenge slightly and prepared my ragu as follows:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (45 mL)
2 ounces/60g pancetta, finely chopped
1 medium onion, minced
8 ounces Hot Italian sausage
8 ounces chuck center cut
1 ounce/30g thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma
1 &1/2 cups (12 ounces/375ml) chicken or beef stock (homemade if possible)
2 cups (16 ounces/500ml) milk
1 can plum tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

I love my Cuisinart and used it as much as possible in this challenge.. Chopped the onions and cooked them in the olive oil till transluscent. Ground the meats together (sausage, beef and prosciutto) and then added this ground meat to the onions in the pan.. cooking until browned.

Added the chicken stock and continue to cook till liquid was absorbed/evaporated.
Added the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce and milk cooking over low heat for about an hour, stirring as needed to make sure nothing nasty is going on in the bottom of the pan. Continue to simmer until the meat sauce is thick and stew-like. Add salt and pepper to taste!

I allowed the ragu to cool and off it was packed away in the refrigerator..

The following day I attempted the pasta. I never realized how much pain and exercise went into actually hand rolling noodles. My arms were sore for 2 days after this, but my results were very much worth the effort.

Spinach Pasta

#1 Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)

The recipe gave me more pasta than I had expected, and unfortunately I ended up wasting a lot of this as I hadn't expected to produce so much noodle.

2 jumbo eggs (2 ounces/60g or more)
10 ounces (300g) fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped
3&1/2 cups (14 ounces/400g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour (organic stone ground preferred)

Out came the Cuisinart and in went the spinach. Removed the spinach and poured in the flour and eggs and let the dough blade do its thing. Added the spinach to my dough and this is what my product looked like.

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allowed my dough to rest for 30 minutes and then separated it into 4 lumps and commenced hand rolling those suckers. Yeah, that hurt. The directions say to keep rolling those bad boys till they are almost transluscent.. I didn't want overly doughy lasagna so I complied to the best of my abilities.

Picture or Video 329

Allowed the pasta to dry overnight and then on to day 3 of this challenge

I was supposed to make a "Bechamel sauce" for the lasagna, but my American sensibilities prohibited this.. I wouldn't have been happy eating it without my beloved ricotta..

So.. One large container of Ricotta, an egg, some slices of mozzerrella and some freshly grated parmigian would be the cheesy goodness portion of my dish.

To assemble, coat the bottom of the dish with a layer of meatsauce, then noodle, then ricotta, mozerella and parm, and repeat!


I brought my dish into work the next day to share with my coworkers. The feedback I received was really great. One kind person told me it was better than what she had when she visited Italy. So in closing, I definitely plan on making more homemade pastas in the future, and thank you Daring Bakers for such a tasty and fun March challenge!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In the Meantime...

I've been doing a bit of experimenting with things I have never tried before...

My attempt at shrimp toast came out pretty good...

Picture or Video 311

And then I decided to try my hand at "bahn cuon." One of my favorite Vietnamese treats, bahn cuon is a rice crepe filled with, in this case, beef and cloud mushrooms. Again, not a bad effort!

woot 025

Stay tuned for my next Daring Baking Challenge! With new and improved results!