Every year at I buy loads of tomatoes. I mean loads. Seventy Five (75) pounds worth that I turn into sauce and freeze to use over the course of the winter. I know what you are thinking. This girl is nuts. Well, that may be so. However I also have the most fabulous tomato sauce to use for soups and savory Indian food like tikka masala and butter chicken. Did I mention that the Cioppino I make with my Dry Farmed Early Girl Tomato Sauce is legendary? This sauce is even worthy of hand made pasta. And when I saw the Marcato pasta extruder in the midst of my sauce making frenzy I had to have it. The extruder comes with 5, (yes 5!) different discs. Fusilli, small and large macaroni, bucatini and rigatoni. Pasta dough is surprisingly simple to make—you just need flour and eggs. It’s a great activity for kids as well as adults. A lot of people will tell you that you need ‘special flour’ to make pasta. Well, that’s just not true. Of course you can go out and buy semolina flour or 00 flour, but just regular all purpose flour works well too. (I once did an experiment in cooking school where I made pasta with a variety of nut flours. They all turned out reasonably well, except for the pasta made from chestnut flour and that was just plain awful. The pasta made from coconut flour was odd, but not bad.)
So back to the extruder. We made rigatoni on Saturday and it came out very well! The secret to using this particular extruder is to only put in small amounts of dough at a time and don’t try and push or force it through.
Here is my basic pasta recipe:
3 ½ cups All purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
In the cuisinart with the dough blade attached, place the ingredients. Pulse until the dough is evenly moistened and is starting to clump together in little bits. Turn the dough out onto the countertop and finish kneading the dough by hand. Once the dough is smooth and cohesive, cover with a dish towel or paper towel and let it rest for about an hour. Once it has rested—you will notice that the dough is a bit softer than when you left it—(Hey not just people need time out to rest and unwind. Some doughs do too!) it is ready to use. You can use this dough for the extruder or for rolled pasta. Enjoy!
*if you don’t have a cuisinart, you can make this dough by hand. To do so, place the flour on the countertop and make a well in the center. Put the eggs, salt and olive oil in the well. Use a fork to break up the eggs and slowly start to mix the flour into the egg mixture using first the fork and then your hands. Knead the dough until it is smooth.
Yes, it’s true. I suffer from OCD. That’s Obsessive Cooking Disorder, not that other one. This past Friday was my first day off in 2 weeks. (Every mom knows that it wasn’t really a day off—more like a ‘spend the day with Lily and catch up on laundry’ day) That means I wasn’t cooking for Other People, just me. I got to make us whatever I wanted, and I went a little nuts. You see, I had just picked up my copy of ‘Good to the Grain’ Baking with Whole Grain Flours by Kim Boyce. It’s the cookbook that all the food bloggers are discussing right now with rave reviews and I had to have it. This book inspired me to go to Whole Foods and pick up not one, not two, but five different flours to play around with. (Oat, Barley, Graham, Buckwheat and Rye, if you must know.) So, Friday morning, baby on my hip and blender at the ready I made two different batches of crepes. It’s a good thing that I perfected cracking an egg with one hand years ago. For those of you not in the know, crepe batter is a marvelous thing; you can make it in the blender and put it in the fridge to use for breakfast the next morning. Just wake and bake, or griddle rather. I also made the Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip cookies and—drum roll please—homemade Grape Nuts! I have never seen a recipe for homemade Grape Nuts before and I was hopelessly intrigued and powerless to resist. The recipe was fabulously easy and was calling my name. They were delicious the next morning with Vanilla Almond Milk and fresh blueberries. They tasted just like Grape Nuts, only better. I also selected the Barley Crepe recipe, with beer and molasses and the Ricotta Crepes substituting Graham flour for the spelt. (Whole Foods was out of spelt flour—this book must have started a craze!!) Lily and I loved the Barley crepes. This batter was quite tender and a little finicky to deal with. The crepes broke easily during cooking. However, they were delicious and I ended up stuffing them with creamed mushrooms and asparagus for dinner. The Ricotta Crepes were delicious too. I had to thin the batter as suggested with extra milk, and I served them with butter and maple syrup for breakfast. The chocolate chip cookies were good too. I mean really, what’s not to like about a Chocolate Chip Cookie? Next up, next week: Sand Cookies
I love lazy Sundays. Who doesn’t? For me that means, sleeping in a little later, strong coffee, jazz, the paper and these waffles. These waffles are delicious and the best part about them is that the batter has to be made the night before so it is super easy to whip them up for a really quick breakfast. If you have the time definitely make the caramelized walnuts. They are totally addictive.
Waffles with Caramelized Walnuts
Adapted from The Secrets of Success Cookbook Signature Recipes and Insider Tips from San Francisco’s Best Restaurants by Michael Bauer
½ cup warm water,
1 package active, dry yeast
2 cups of milk
2 cups of all purpose flour
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. baking soda
2 cups walnuts
1 Tbsp. water
½ cup sugar
In a large bowl, combine the water and yeast. Set aside until the yeast dissolves and the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.
Add the milk, flour, butter, vanilla, salt, vanilla extract and sugar to the yeast mixture. Stir to blend. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside overnight at room temperature.
Oil a large baking sheet or line a baking sheet with a silpat. Combine the nuts, water and sugar in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar caramelizes, about 5 minutes. Pour the caramelized nuts onto the prepared baking tray. Allow the nuts to cool, then transfer to a storage container and store at room temperature.
In the morning:
The next morning, heat your waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Just before cooking the waffles, whisk the eggs and baking soda into the yeast mixture. When the waffle iron is hot, pour about ½ cup of batter onto the waffle iron. Cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Most waffle irons have a timer—if yours does not, simply crack open and check to see if your waffle has an even golden brown color. Serve with the caramelized nuts and maple syrup. Whipped cream and berries would be a nice touch too!