First of all, I must apologize for not updating the site more often. My “grown-up job” has kept me very busy recently, but fret not, I’ve still been cooking and coming up with new ways to wreck my kitchen and/or cover it entirely with flour. Here are the just a few of the things I’ve been playing with recently.
Homemade pasta – So recently, my girlfriend received the Kitchenaid Pasta Attachment set as a gift. This is an item that both of us have wanted for a long time so we were really excited to start using it. All that said, homemade pasta, with the attachment or not, is still a lot of work.
For our first effort we elected to make spaghetti. This was the first time I’d ever made pasta or even made traditional pasta dough. (I’d made gnocchi, yes, but that’s quite a different dough and different process.) The rolling process isn’t as difficult as it looks, especially for a pasta that doesn’t require to be paper-thin. That said, this is a process that requires some real estate, because the dough as it is stretched out can reach 2-3 feet.
Also, as you can see from the picture to the right, we were dropping the cut pasta into a bowl. That was a mistake. To avoid the pasta clumping before being cooked, we learned that we ought to lay the finished pasta out on cookie sheets rather than in a bowl.
All that said, despite some clumping, the final product was outstanding, with a softer more delicate texture than dried pasta and a real sense of accomplishment in having made this stuff.
For our second recipe, we decided to make a stuffed pasta rather than a cut one. We decided on using a recipe from Mario Batali recipe for goat cheese and scallion ravioli with an olive butter sauce.
We set up an assembly line, with me rolling and cutting the pasta and Janna doing the filling and folding. In the end, Janna did a far better job than I did. I over handled the pasta, making it tougher than I’d like and I didn’t mix the spinach into the eggs for the pasta mix nearly well enough, resulting in an unsightly speckled green-ish pasta.
Yet again though, for all the texture and appearance issues, the final result (below) tasted wonderful. The filling was superb and the sauce (simply composed of jarred olive paste and a bunch of butter) fit the pasta perfectly. The next time we have a free weekend day and a willingness to utterly destroy our kitchen with flour and bits of dough, we’ll absolutely do it again.
More bread adventures - I’ve kept up baking bread, using the same method I’ve used and written about before. The loaf below is my latest creation. One thing I’m finding is that I need to bake these a bit longer than even the recipe calls for in order to eliminate some of the under-cooked gluey-ness that I’ve been finding in the middle of my past loaves. Next up for me in this department will be the Roman-style pizza from the same cookbook.
Soda Stream – I also got a Soda Stream Crystal for Hanukkah and not only have I been using it all the time, I’ve already broken one and had to send it back to the factory for a replacement. It’s superb for making seltzer which is great because we tend to go through a ton of the stuff otherwise. Plus, making it at home means I don’t have to schlep the bottles of the stuff up the stairs to our third-story walk-up apartment. So that’s a definite plus.
I haven’t made as much soda (since I really try and avoid the stuff, anyway) but I’ve had some good success early on using the Soda Stream with Williams Sonoma’s all-natural root beer syrup but less success with the cola syrup. Making the cola is a tricky thing because it seems that the flavor “sweet spot” between “tooth-achingly sweet” and “tastes like a bunch of ice melted in it” is about a half-inch wide.
For people still on the fence about purchasing it, you need to keep in mind that, unlike a soda siphon, you don’t mix your flavors or syrups in the machine. You mix it in the seltzer that you’ve already made, which is both less convenient and a bit messier.