Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January Dinner - Pasta Making

For our first dinner of 2015, Kim thought it would be fun if we made pasta together.

Kim made ricotta using this recipe (but substituting goat's milk).

Homemade Ricotta

As the milk mixture heats to 170°, be sure to stir gently and occasionally; if you stir too vigorously or too frequently (more than every few minutes), the curds may not separate as effectively from the whey. And don't stir after the milk mixture reaches 170°, or the cheese will become grainy and thin. If your kitchen sink has a gooseneck faucet, it might be difficult to hang the cheesecloth bag on it. If so, lay a long wooden spoon across one corner of the sink, and hang the bag on the handle.

Yield: about 3 cups

1 gallon 2% reduced-fat milk
5 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Line a large colander or sieve with 5 layers of dampened cheesecloth, allowing the cheesecloth to extend over outside edges of colander; place colander in a large bowl.
Combine milk and buttermilk in a large, heavy stockpot. Attach a candy thermometer to edge of pan so that thermometer extends at least 2 inches into milk mixture. Cook over medium-high heat until candy thermometer registers 170° (about 20 minutes), gently stirring occasionally. As soon as milk mixture reaches 170°, stop stirring (whey and curds will begin separating at this point). Continue to cook, without stirring, until the thermometer registers 190°. (Be sure not to stir, or curds that have formed will break apart.) Immediately remove pan from heat. (Bottom of pan may be slightly scorched.)
Using a slotted spoon, gently spoon curds into cheesecloth-lined colander; discard whey, or reserve it for another use. Drain over bowl for 5 minutes. Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely. Hang cheesecloth bundle from kitchen faucet; drain 15 minutes or until whey stops dripping. Scrape ricotta into a bowl. Sprinkle with salt; toss gently with a fork to combine. Cool to room temperature.
Note: Store in refrigerator up to 4 days.

Cooking Light, April 2005
Micol Negrin

The ricotta was used for this filling:

Cheese Filling for Ravioli
from Weight Watchers Simply the Best: Italian

1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
1/2 egg white
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine the cheese, parsley, egg white, pepper and nutmeg.

For the pasta, she made this pumpkin pasta recipe.

Pumpkin Pasta Dough
from The Glorious Pasta of Italy by Domenica Marchetti

Fresh egg noodles in Italy are a gorgeous, rich golden color that is hard to replicate elsewhere. This is because of the intense red of the yolks (indeed, in Italy the yolk is referred to as il rosso, “the red”). I’m still not sure what inspired me one day to add just a little bit of pumpkin puree to my pasta dough—actually it was buttercup squash, which has sweet, dense, deep orange flesh. I happened to have some leftover in my fridge from a pumpkin cheesecake that I had made for Thanksgiving. Into the dough it went. The resulting pasta sheets were even better than I had imagined, golden in color and subtle in flavor—a perfect match for pumpkin lasagne. But you can also cut them into pappardelle or fettuccine and serve them with a simple tomato sauce.–Domenica Marchetti

1/3 cup puréed cooked pumpkin or winter squash, such as buttercup or kabocha (or substitute canned pumpkin puree)
2 large or extra-large eggs
2 to 2 1/4 cups “00” flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons semolina flour, plus more for the work surface
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and 1 of the eggs.
2. Place 2 cups “00” flour, the semolina flour, salt, and nutmeg in a food processor. Pulse briefly to combine. Add the pumpkin-egg mixture and pulse briefly. Add the remaining egg and pulse until the mixture forms crumbs that look like small curds. Pinch together a bit of the mixture and roll it around. It should form a soft ball. If the mixture seems dry, drizzle in a few droplets of water and pulse briefly. If it seems too wet and sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse briefly.
3. Turn the mixture onto a clean work surface sprinkled lightly with semolina flour and press it together with your hands to form a rough ball. Knead the dough by using the palm of your hand to push the dough gently but firmly away from you, and then fold it over toward you. Rotate the dough a quarter turn, and repeat the pushing and folding motion. Continue kneading for several minutes until the dough is smooth. Form it into a ball and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping into your desired shape pasta.
4. To form lasagne noodles, stretch the dough as thin as you comfortably can, no thicker than 1/16 inch. If you lift a sheet with your hand, you should be able to see the shadow of your hand through it. Because lasagne noodles are layered, they need to be very thin. Using a sharp chef’s or similar knife, cut each sheet into rectangles about 4 inches by 5 inches.

We started by putting the dough through the pasta machine a couple of times at the largest setting, then we turned the dial to a smaller setting and put the dough through again.  We continued to pass the dough through increasingly smaller settings until it was thin enough to make the ravioli

Putting pasta through the machine

 filled and cut

ready to be boiled for 3 minutes

Rebecca brought appetizers for us to munch on while we worked.

Crostini with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Chickpeas

From Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis

1 baguette, cut into 24 diagonal slices 1/3-inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large garlic clove
1 (15½ ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves


Crostini: Preheat the oven to 375º. Place the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet, and lightly brush with oil. Toast in the oven until golden, about 8 minutes. (You can toast the bread 1 day ahead. Cool, then store airtight at room temperature.)

Dip: Mince the garlic in a food processor. Add the chickpeas, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons water, salt, and pepper. Process until the mixture is almost smooth. With the machine running, gradually blend in the oil. Process until the mixture is completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the work bowl occasionally. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and dried herbs. Blend until the tomatoes and herbs are finely chopped. (The dip can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) To serve, spoon 1 teaspoon of the dip on each crostini, and garnish with the lemon zest or fresh herbs.

Olive and Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade with Endive Leaves

From Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis

3 (8-ounce) cans of pitted Kalamata olives, drained
3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 heads endive (about 1/2 pound)
In the bowl of a food processor, add the olives, sun-dried tomatoes and the olive oil it was packed in. Pulse until smooth, but still chunky. Add more extra-virgin olive oil if mixture is too dry. Spoon into a serving bowl. If not serving immediately, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 2 days. Be sure to bring it to room temperature and to mix it thoroughly before serving.

Gently pull off the leaves from the endive, being carefully not to tear the leaves. Wash thoroughly with cold water and dry completely.

Place the bowl of tapenade in the center of a large platter. Decoratively circle the tapenade bowl with the endive leaves working your way to the rim of the platter.

 Dani made two kinds of gnocchi

I (Katharina) made a meat sauce for the pasta;

 This recipe for "sugo di carne"(meat sauce) came from The Fine Art of Italian Cooking by Giuliano Bugialli
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 carrot, scraped
1 celerey rib
1 med. red onion, cleaned
8 sprigs Italian parsley, leaves only
1 large clove garlic, peeled
Small piece of lemon peel
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 pound beef sirloin, in one piece
1/2 cup dry red wine
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound canned plum tomatoes (imported Italian if possible), drained
1 Tbsp tomato paste (imported Italian, if possible)
2 cups hot meat or chicken broth, preferably homemade

Soak the mushrooms in 2 cups of lukewarm water for 20 minutes.

Finely chop the carrot, celery, onion, parsley, garlic, and lemon peel. Heat oil in a flameproof casserole (preferably terra-cotta), then add chopped ingredients. Saute very gently until golden (about 15 to 20 minutes).
With scissors, snip the meat into tiny pieces and add to the contents of the casserole. (The authentic sauce uses snipped pieces of meat rather than ground meat; this way the pieces retain their identity and flavor instead of amalgamating into a homogenous mixture.) Saute the meat pieces for 12 to 15 minutes, then add the wind and cook unitl it evaporates (15 to 20 minutes).

Taske for salt and pepper, then add the tomatoes and tomato paste and let cook very slowly for 20 to 25 minutes.

Drain the soaked mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Rinse mushrooms, removing sand attached to the stems. Strain mushroom water several times through paper towels to remove sand. 
Add the mushrooms to the sauce and simmer very slowly for at least 1 1/2 hours, adding hot broth and the mushroom water as liquid is needed, until all the broth and mushroom water have been added. (The sauce should be of medium thickness, neither too liquid nor too dense.)

I made the following changes: Used mixed dried mushrooms instead of porcini only (which I couldn't find at the store); used a shallot instead of a red onion; used regular parsley instead of flat-leaf; and I cut the meat with a knife instead of scissors into roughly 1/8 - 1/4 inch chunks, which worked very well as the meat was still partly frozen. I used domestic tomato paste and store-bought chicken broth.
The flavour came out a little too mushroomy for my taste. If doing it again, I would omit the mushrooms or just use some button mushrooms. But I really liked the way the meat came out.

Lauren made a salad

Sara brought tiramisu for dessert