Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Night Italian Dinner - Hazelnut Pesto & Pasta

Sunday night gave us a bit of time to do some home-cooking.

Elizabeth had been playing with some hazelnuts the last couple of weeks (Nutella influenced), so we decided to try and use the hazelnut for both an entree and dessert. Our basil is going strong so what better to make than a pesto.

I kneaded some pasta dough while Elizabeth toasted the nuts.

My basic dough recipe is about 2/3 cup of all-purpose flour to every egg, with another 1/4 cup of flour reserved. Here's a decent site that covers the technique.

Isn't that roller beautiful? It may take a little extra time but hand-made pasta is like no other.

Don't be fooled...this is a two person operation...The level of coordination involved in rolling and cutting several sheets of pasta is a true test of your communication skills as a couple.

Here Elizabeth is cranking the pasta press and I'm the dough-boy. Kind of like an organ grinder, the pace is set by the grinder while the 'monkey' has to make sure the dough doesn't fold over and loads straight.

The result? a nice set of noodles. Let them dry while you bring your biggest pot of water to boil. Make sure the water is salty like will hardly need to season the pasta if you salt the water properly.

Here's a little stack of basil-mozerella-tomato...the last of the summer tomato.

While the noodles are cooking, throw the pesto ingredients into a food processor; we used 2 huge cups of washed basil, 1/3 cup of shaved pecorino romano, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic, and 3 tablespoons of toasted hazlenuts and a pinch of salt & pepper. Place in large bowl.

When the noodles are al dente, pluck them from the boil and throw them into the pesto bowl and serve immediately

OK, for dessert Elizabeth wanted to try something new...panna cotta or "cooked cream". The recipie itself is rather straight foward and she adapted it from this one.

This version was a cream & yogurt gelatin dessert. We decided to top it with hazelnut "snow" and sugared lemon peel. I rolled some lemon peel in sugar....

...while Elizabeth used a microplane to shave hazelnut "snow" atop the imparts a toasty nutty hazelnut flavor over the panna cotta without ruining the creamy smooth texture. We saw this technique used by Jose Andres on a Cabrales & apple salad.

Here's the finished product... hazlenut dusted lemon panna cotta.

C & E

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fante's KItchen Supply

We dropped into Fante's Kitchen Supply store in the Italian Market this weekend. Although we easily could've walked away with 20 lbs. of equipment, we opted to get something more portable...this little olive jar!

C & E

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Simple Summer Goodness - Basil & Tomato Pasta

Nothing could be better on a warm summer evening than a dish swimming with summer flavors.

Looking at the basil springing up in our garden every day inspired us to dig out a recipe that Elizabeth's friend Anna gave her several years ago.

Look at the size of these leaves! This recipe uses about 1 cup of basil leaves, loosely packed.

Summer Tomato & Basil Pasta

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chiffonade or thinly sliced.
3 cups Roma or Plum Tomatoes, fine chop or dice
5 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt to season
1/2 package your favorite pasta; fettuccine, linguine, spaghetti.
1/4 cup shredded parmesan reggiano

Chop your veggies and combine them all in a bowl. Drizzle olive oil, salt to season. Cover and leave at room temperature for at least 1 hour...THIS IS THE SECRET to the the mixture time to marry. If you don't like strong garlic flavor you can pick out the garlic bits once you've waited for the flavor marriage...they've done their job...I pulled about half out of this batch.

Cook your pasta, throw it in the bowl with your tomato & basil mixture, sprinkle with parm...and enjoy!

Elizabeth made another veggie treat to go along with it...pan-cooked simlins! On the right is what a simlin looks like uncooked...I'd never heard of them, but Elizabeth spotted them at the market this weekend.

C & E