Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pasta Attempt

This pasta was more learning experience than anything.
Round 1 shall we say?~

Right after college, Mom gifted me with her old- and my first- bread machine. It sat in a place of honor on the counter of the apartment I shared with a friend. The kitchen was your standard mish-mash of the selected tools two 22-year-olds would have. The bread machine was an odd ball, the item people pointed at and asked "what is that?" when they walked in.

The first attempt at pizza was a wretched disaster. I had no concept of what dough should look or feel like, or that a slight imbalance of ingredients could throw the whole thing off. That first batch was wet, almost liquid, and I had no idea how to fix it. It went in the trash and we ordered pizza delivery that night.


While my first attempt at homemade pasta couldn't be called a success, it wasn't the miserable failure the pizza was. I summoned the nerve to go for it Friday night- retrieved the pasta machine from the garage, researched techniques and consulted recipes here, here, and here- so after changing into comfy clothes and opening a bottle of wine, I got to work on the dough.
I used two eggs and 1 cup of flour.

No bread machine here, just the ingredients and my two hands- eep! I can't deny that the machine makes things so simple for me. I have a pretty good idea of what dough should look and feel like but I haven't logged the hours working with it in my hands. Cracking the eggs into the well of flour was definitely scary. I read that I could use a bowl but I threw caution to the wind and just used my hands. Bonus: no utensils to clean!
I tried to approach it with confidence, the idea being that you show your fear and the dough will see it. :-) After a bunch of kneading I came up with this, which looked pretty good to me.
I let it rest for 20 minutes under a towel while I fussed over the pasta machine and Ray readied himself with his wine and my camera.

This is where things got dicey. I suppose I should have watched some tutorials online for technique, I couldn't get the hang of putting the dough through the machine. It would puddle at the bottom and get all clumped together, so I tried to catch it as it came through but then I'd lose the top.

I think my other problem was not enough flour. I should have floured the dough and my counter more- it was sticking to every surface too much, and pilling and breaking in places. It came to the point where I needed to stop and decide to work with what I had or scrap everything.

Unlike the pizza, I did not scrap: my pasta was in various states of mutilation: I had a few chunky pieces that I put through the fettucine mold with terrible results, and some large sheets which I jaggedly cut to smaller sizes. Think of lasagna noodles, that's kind of what I had created. I threw all of this into my boiling water for about 2 minutes, then used a spider to retrieve them into two plates, trying to give Ray and I equal amounts of good looking and crummy noodles. I sprinkled them with some fresh parsley and lots of parmesan and romano cheese.

So this is what we ate. It was actually quite good, although the really thick pieces I left behind- they weren't so great. The flavor of the egg pasta was wonderful, and the texture had real homemadeness. Basically, I could really see its potential as an outstanding meal- and not terribly difficult once I get it down.
So we'll be trying this again soon . . . . once I get the nerve again!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Banana Cream Birthday

Hello hello? Is anyone there?
It's been a week and a half since my last post. Everyone takes a little break now and then, but usually it's a bit more planned. This one wasn't, and there may be a bit more to come.
But honestly, there haven't been many new recipes in my corner of the world lately. When the going gets tough, sometimes that means more broth and noodles, more random mish-mashes of fridge items, more, well, take-out.

Today I'd like to share a little pie with you- Mom's recipe for my brother's birthday tea a few weeks ago. His pick is a banana cream pie that she makes- delish! The cloud of softly whipped cream on top of custard and bananas in a graham crust.
Look at this handsome devil :-) My baby brother's 18!!

Cross-section: graham cracker crust, bananas, vanilla custard, whipped cream


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Have you Had Too Much Challah?

I certainly haven't!


Monday, October 12, 2009

This Beer's Ok with Me


I have NEVER blogged about beer, and anyone close to me is probably still blinking in shock. I don't drink beer. . . . EVER. Not even in college. . .

No doubt you are reconsidering my validity as a 20-something American. But if I don't like the taste of something, I won't drink it no matter what the promised effects are.
That's beer for me.

But I do love all things pumpkin. The weather has finally gotten chilly here on the Peninsula and I'm starting to feel the pull of Halloween. Looking out my window now, the sky is brewing with the first major storm of the year that has been forecast. I'm thinking fuzzy socks, deep red wine, and steaming chicken broth in a mug. Not usually beer, but a little pumpkin would be good.

For some reason this pumpkin ale drew me in at Whole Foods, in a 'what the hey' moment.

It's locally made which is fun; Hayward is a hop skip and jump across the Bay so we could visit it's home base if we wanted to. Plus Ray, Buffalo Bill's!!! (little inside joke)

We are such wine people, we don't own a decent bottle opener-
we use the WINE OPENER to open beer :-P

Pretty color, definitely thirst-quenching.

I taste and smell the spices, it's aromatic but not overwhelming. I wouldn't drink it on a regular basis- vino is still my drink of choice- but I wouldn't mind buying this six pack in October/November and pouring a glass.

Buffalo Bill's Brewery


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Seeing Double

Kissing Loaves!
They couldn't keep their hands off each other.

Two Vienna White Bread loaves baked freeform in the oven

And a bit more challah


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pear Challah

Little dedication here: this bread belongs to a special friend of mine.
If I could make the world better for you with some sweet dough and a little sugar, I would.
This pear challah is my feeble attempt at some substitute.
I love working with challah dough; it has a texture I can't describe well- it's bouncy, soft, mushy, and pliable.

My original recipe uses apples, but I have quite a few pears lying around and you can flip-flop between these two fruits pretty easily. I use my faithful Bread Machine Cookbook here, with my own twists in the dough and the filling.

Pear Challah
adapted from The Bread Machine Cookbook

For the dough:

3/4 cup water

2 eggs

3 Tbs vegetable oil

2 cups bread flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

3 Tbs sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp yeast

For the filling:

5 small pears, mixed variety (I used bosc and anjou pears), peeled, cored, and diced

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbs honey

1/2 tsp cinnamon

For finishing:

1 Tbs melted butter

2 Tbs sugar

For the dough: Place all ingredients in a bread machine pan and program for the dough cycle. Meanwhile, mix the filling ingredients and stash in the fridge. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

When the machine cycle finishes, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into three equal pieces, and set two aside. Retrieve the filling from the fridge and drain any accumulated liquid.

Roll out the first ball of dough to ~ 3 inches by 12 inches. Brush lightly with the melted butter and top with 1/3 of the filling down the center. Starting at one end, pinch the dough closed over the filling until well sealed. Turn over and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat the process with the second and third balls of dough, placing alongside the first filled log on the baking sheet. Position the far ends of the logs together and braid them together, tucking the ends in firmly. Brush with any leftover butter and sprinkle with the sugar. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Remove to a rack and allow to cool a bit before removing the parchment paper.

Slice and serve slightly warmed or at room temperature.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Food Blogger Festival

Many perks come from living in the Bay Area, the most recent being hop skip and a jump away from Foodbuzz's 1st Annual Food Blogger Festival. Lucky me that I won't have to travel to participate in all the festivities from November 6th-8th.

I'm anxious to learn, as well as meet other food lovers and bloggers.
If you'll be in town and are planning to attend, I'd love to meet you during the weekend.
Send me an email or post a comment; looking forward to it!


Thursday, October 1, 2009

SF Walk