Thursday, 18 March 2010

Adventures in chaos.

Or, how to not want to see your kitchen (and your dining table) for the rest of the day.

Make ravioli from scratch. Because hubby brought semolina flour home and asked for them nicely. While I had never made fresh pasta before.

I made the pasta dough following the flour packet instructions. That was pretty foolproof. In the 20 minutes that I was instructed to "let it rest" I proceeded to make stuffing. Hubby wanted pork, I wanted mushrooms, he said "ok, I'll have mushrooms as long as I don't get their texture".

Fine, I said, I'll have to dig up the food processor that barely makes 2 cups of stuff.

I started with the pork. Whoa, it did grind. I had ground pork. Wheee!! Then, I did the mushrooms. They didn't pulverize very much, but I thought that once I'd cook them and get their liquid out they'll shrink, and if they won't shrink enough, I'll pass them through the processor again. Big deal.

So I'm cooking the mushrooms with a bit of canola oil and the pork in its own fat with a bit of garlic and thyme. It was a lovely exercise for my biceps and triceps cause for some reason although the meat was thoroughly ground, it wouldn't separate much into the pan. Frustration, cursing, and employment of two spatulas to beat the pork to submission. Finally, it cooked, but in big chunks.

Then I had the epiphany of passing both the pork and the mushrooms through the processor together. I had to do that in small batches since the thing was so damn small. My counter was covered with crumb like stuff from both ingredients but I ended up with about 2 cups of stuffing, out of 1 pound of baby portobellos and 2 pork chops. Phew!

About 25 mins have passed, and I'm totally angsting that the dough will now resemble brick. I open the ziplock and lo and behold, the dough looks good. I thank an assortment of random deities, then proceed to roll the dough.

I don't have a rolling pin. However, I have lots of bottles of wine. The best for the job is the thin and slim bottle of that Chocolate Amore, remember it? I flour it mercilessly, flour a rather large IKEA plastic tray and start rolling on my dining table because the counter space in my kitchen is covered with all kinds of bowls, spatulas and mushrooms stains.

The dough is too much and I can't roll w'out hitting the bottle against the tray. Bang, bang, curse, curse. I divide my dough and employ a smiple cutting board instead. I roll the first batch of dough about 2 mm thick. It's too thick but I have a cunning plan.

I take my pizza roller and cut my dough in diamonds. Each diamond gets further rolling till almost transparent, then gets half a tablespoon of stuffing and is folded closed. I let a lot of pasta around the filling cause I like it that way and I am hoping it's not too chewy.

The dough I made with 1.5 cup of flour, 2 eggs and some oil and water was enough for about 35 raviolis. By the end of stuffing them all my back was killing me, my triceps were screaming for mercy and I had sniffed more flour than I care to admit. Most ravioli are a bit lopsided but I'm glad I didn't end up with runny dough, or brick dough, or stuffing that wasn't paste-y enough, and so on.

I had some stuffing left, which I added to a small can of seasoned tomato sauce in a pan over medium heat with a sprinkle of sugar.

I boiled the little buggers in batches of 2 or 3 for a couple of minutes each batch. They were pretty tasty. It was like eating mushroom with ground beef texture - interesting to say the least. I might invest in a KitchenAid ravioli attachment in the future cause once you go fresh pasta you never go back, unless it's a matter of speed cooking!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

I've been listening to the Olympiacos game

and I'm not amused while our chance to carry on the UEFA Champion's League is slimming away.

So I might as well blog some dishes I came with this last couple days, while I'm trying hard to sip my granitta-consistency smoothie: 1/2 fat free vanilla yogurt, 1/3 cup (I think) orange juice and 7-8 whole frozen strawberries (thus I need no ice to water it down). If I was in Greece, it'd be alcoholic, but I can't convince myself to drink alone at home at 4 in the afternoon, even to drown my footy sorrows..

Shrimp salad with mango and avocado.

2 cups shrimp, peeled, deveined and boiled, cooled to room temperature
2 medium sized avocados
1 average sized mango
2 Tbs pine nuts
Dressing (see below)

Peel and dice the mango and avocados, and toss together with the shrimp and pine nuts, which you can cube if it's not small enough

Prepare the dressing by combining the following ingredients:

3 Tbs olive oil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
3 Tbs orange juice
1 Tbs lemon or lime juice
1 clove of garlic, pressed or minced
1 dash chives
1 dash cilantro
salt to taste

Add the dressing and toss around. Serves two.

Cornbread and veggie-pattie stack, one serving

You'll need 2 slices of the cornbread recipe I posted the other day, one commercial veggie patty or veggie burger, sour cream and some shredded cheese, preferably mexican mix.

Prepare the veggie patty according to the package instructions, and cut it in two halves.
Spread sour cream on the cornbread slices, then layer from bottom to top:

Cornbread, patty, cheese, cornbread, patty, cheese. Admire this tower of awesome while trying to figure out whether you ought to eat it with utensils or with your fingers.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Today's almost baking catastrophy.

Behold. Whole wheat with white cornmeal cornbread.

Last Saturday I was out of the house for the majority of the day. I asked hubby "What will you do to entertain yourself?", to which he replied that he'd buy ingredients to experiment with one of his favourite dishes, Chicken Fried Steak.

For the non-Americans among you, the terms Chicken Fried Steak and Country Fried Steak are used for the same dish, based on what gravy is served with them. Bizarre, I know. The actual meat is supposed to be slightly pound with a mallet (do it too much and you'll end up with schnitzel), then breaded with flour and spices and deep fried. Like fried chicken, only beef.

I'm not a particular fan of this dish as it ends up being too oily for me, but hubby decided to pan fry it instead of deep fry it, and he used cornmeal and low fat buttermilk (I know, it sounds like an absolute oxymoron) for the breading, which allows for a crisp outside-tender inside steak.

So, upon my return from my Saturday excursion, I came home to a bunch of steaks, and a lot of leftover buttermilk and white cornmeal. Cornmeal will keep fine in the pantry, but I'd hate to let the buttermilk spoil, so I decided to make cornbread.

I read the recipe on the back of the cornmeal box, and with a couple of substitutions I actually did have the ingredients to pull it off. Which I did, or I almost did and I figured it out just before it was too late - I had forgotten to add the canola oil in the recipe. Oops!

Thankfully the moment I put the thing in the oven I realized my mistake, so I pulled it out, and folded the oil in the batter right in the baking pan. It came out delicious and I had it with the leftover gravy for breakfast today. Yum!

If you're interested in the recipe, here it is:

  • 3/4 cup white cornmeal (Aunt Jemima or Quaker brand - I'm sure that yellow will work just fine)
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (it called for all purpose but I felt adventurous and fiber craving - substitution no1)
  • 1/4 cup Splenda (it called for sugar but I had none - substitution no2)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt (it called for only half, and optionally so, but w' out real sugar I needed to bring some more flavor out)
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk (it called for 1 cup of the skim milk instead of what I did, substitution no3)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (which I almost forgot)
  • 1/4 cup egg beaters (it calls for either 2 egg whites or one beaten egg, which I had not handy)

Preheat oven at 400oF, combine dry ingredients, combine wet ingredients, don't forget the oil just cause you used two types of milk thusly thinking you combined all 3 wet ingredients the recipe called for, add wet mix into dry mix and combine thoroughly into batter, spray a loaf pan with baking spray, pour batter in and bake for 20 mins or until toothpick comes out clean.