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Category Archives: Pasta

Introducing the Monsters

They may look adorable, innocent, harmless, but beware. Those are the monsters, Tom and Finn, who come and wake us every single morning at 5 am, if not a little before. Truthfully, I’m not complaining. They are adorable.

A face like that sticks his little face in your face and you can’t help but smile. Even that early.

They have been around now for just over two weeks, driving poor Sophie a little up the wall. We keep thinking she’s handling them a bit better, but I’m not sure. I hope she chills out a bit more in the next couple weeks.

They are certainly chilled.

My day pattern has changed a bit now. Very early in the morning we’re up, running around with the monsters, trying to keep them away from Sophie while she eats her breakfast. And then we eat, go to work, and I try to get home early, to feed everyone, run them around some more, and then collapse into bed.

Weekends are easier. And I am enjoying spring-time food. This was an inspiring recipe a week back. An easy lemon ricotta asparagus ravioli. In the end, it turned out to be more work than anticipated because I also made the dough – the recipe calls for simply using Chinese dumpling wrappers. But I’m not a fan of them. I find them too thin and flimsy most of the time.

In essence, you make your filling – a sort of pesto, blanched asparagus, and cheese mixture that you wiz in the blender.

Then either use pre-purchased dough, or make your own. I did mine – a rye and white flour mixture with some herbs mixed in – with my manual pasta machine.

I remembered only after starting to roll what a pain whole grain flours are. I find them harder to work with. They crack easily. Maybe I need to work on my water, egg, flour ratios. And resting time.

But they came together finally.

And I made enough to freeze about half of them for another time.

To serve, I blanched a few more asparagus and then did a butter/herb/wine sauce.

Tom and Finn did not partake. They stuck to their favorite chicken pate. πŸ™‚

 

 

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Posted by on May 21, 2017 in Cats, Cooking at home, Pasta, Vegetarian

 

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The girl with half a tongue

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It’s been awhile since I’ve been here, I admit. In the last weeks I’ve faithfully photographed a number of delicious meals with every intent to post them, and yet….motivation was lacking. But here we are. Motivation found.

So let’s catch up. Miss sourpuss up there was obviously pissed as hell at me for leaving her in the care of a cat sitter for a week. Granted, she always looks a bit pissed off, but there was a note of evilness in that glare that was even a little scarier than usual. While we were off cavorting in the sun (amazing view from the terrace of the house we rented):

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(Dad and Michal probably talking about politics in Israel.)

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(a church in Porto San Paulo I ran by each time I ran on Sardinia),

and moping a bit in the rain:

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(Just before a downpour at a beach about 100 km south of where we were staying)

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(No point in leaving the house that day)

for a week in Sardinia with my parents, the cats sat quietly waiting for our return. And our cat sitter took a photo of them every day and sent it to me…

Ahhhh….Sardinia.

I think this must have been my favorite meal there:

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In just 4 hours I will be at the starting line for the half marathon I am running today. The six weeks of training were rather grueling, mostly the heavy protein diet to quickly drop 10-12 pounds. (Done!). The running felt almost easy compared to that. So the week of pasta in Sardinia was especially wonderful. I must have eaten it every day. Up there – a local pasta shape, I don’t even remember the name of it, with a lamb ragu. Every bite heavenly.

And I came back…and am running a full 45 second per kilometer faster. Hopefully I can hold the tempo for the 21 kilometers today.

I have a date with a pizza tonight. Already I can imagine it…even if I will only be able to taste it…halfway. I still have only “half a tongue,” due to a little accident that my dentist had in my mouth a month ago…when he punched through a nerve with his needle, partially severing it, while giving me anesthetic for some tooth fixing. He tells me…”it should come back (feeling in my tongue, which completely mutes the taste buds on that side and makes half the tongue feel like a giant slug in my mouth) in no more than six months.” By now, I’ve gotten used to it. But….I wish it hadn’t happened.

Getting nervous – a little bit – now…and am busy downloading music to my phone to listen to. And packing the bag I can pick up at the end of the race. And hydrating hydrating hydrating.

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(Can you spot Sardinia?)

Next magnet to come in December: Sri Lanka! πŸ™‚

 

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Not quite Archimboldo

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I was about to line all the veggies up on my cutting board in the usual way and realized that this is getting a bit boring. So instead I give you a rather untalented Archimboldi portrait. I should study his paintings a bit and see if I can create something a bit more inspired.

Anyway, you’d think after last night’s Korean feast over at Munich’s Seoul restaurant on Leopoldstrasse (good, but not great, wouldn’t go there again probably, but that’s me being very picky) that I would have had enough of Korean for at least a ….week? But no.Β  I get into these moods, and nothing can sway me for a few days if not longer. I swear, sometimes I wake up in the morning thinking about putting some kimchi on my toast. Ok, that’s a lie. But I do love it as a snack, I think especially during the winter when it is very cold or during the summer, when it is very hot. Maybe it’s when I’m in need of vitamin C/A, kimchi is supposed to be full of it – due to the cabbage. But it also has a ton of salt…not so good. But after yesterday’s incredibly beautiful but painful run (it was so slippery on the icy snow that I was a tense mess during the standard 9-10k, all muscled seized up the whole time), I knew I wanted some Korean snack food. It was calling to me.

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I dropped by one of the Asian groceries in Munich yesterday in the late afternoon and picked up a bag of Korean rice cakes – Garaeddeok κ°€λž˜λ–‘- (basically a Korean pasta or dumpling) while I was poking around. I’ve made them a couple times. They’re not so far from Italian gnocchi or Schwabian Schupfnudeln in nature. Basically it’s all about layering a comforting soft starch with a delicious sauce.

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I made them this evening. These were fresh, not dried, so to soften them, I simply boiled them in salted water for about 5 minutes and them pan-fried them for a couple minutes to give them a bit of a crispy exterior while the inside stayed nice and pillowy.

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I had marinated a chopped up chicken breast this morning – in a mix of sesame oil, vegetable oil, some Gochujang (Korean pepper paste), chopped garlic and ginger, a bit of brown sugar, and some Vietnamese fish sauce.

I chopped a large onion and a medium sized carrot and sauteed them in oil until the onion began to brown a bit and sweeten up. Then I added the chicken plus marinade, and let them simmer together, adding in some more ginger and garlic, a handful of reconstituted shitake mushrooms, and several slices of lotus root, chopped into quarters. These simmered for a bit – until the chicken was cooked through. Then the rice cakes went in and were mixed in, letting the sauce coat the dumplings. I added in more of the Gochujang paste, a bit more sugar, and some soy sauce, perhaps a tablespoon. Mixed, tasted, corrected a bit here and there. Sprinkled it all with coriander and chopped green onion. Mixed these in and removed it from the hot stove.

Meanwhile, I had this beautiful kohlrabi in the fridge, so while the dumplings were frying and in between steps, I made a favorite salad with it – just chop it into matchsticks, and then make a simple dressing: 1 tsp soy, 1 tsp chopped garlic, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1/4 tsp sugar, 1 tsp black Chinese vinegar. Stir and them pour the dressing on the kohlrabi, mixing well, and let sit at least 15 minutes.

I had also bought some Choy Sum (a relative of Bok Choy, not so bitter), which I blanched in salt water, and then layered with slivered green onion, red chili, and ginger. Then you heat a little oil in a pan until it’s quite hot, and then pour the hot oil over the greens, followed quickly with a mix of soy and hot water. Also lovely and simple. (Both above veggie recipes from “Every Grain of Rice” by Fuschia Dunlop)

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The greens are served room temperature as is the kolrabi.

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Best thing is that there are leftovers tomorrow for lunch or dinner.

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Looking forward already.

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Posted by on February 1, 2015 in Asian, Cooking at home, Famous Chefs, Pasta

 

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Smokin’

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And now comes the season of experimentation. During the summer months, when it’s usually hot out, I’m less likely to want to experiment much with cooking techniques over a hot stove or next to a hot oven. But now there’s a nice fresh breeze, almost a chill on some mornings, and often incessant rain, so the desire to try something NEW crops up like as a craving, pushing me to read recipes with renewed vigor, most especially on weekends. Like last Saturday and Sunday.

So far, I’ve been daunted by recipes that used smoking as a technique. I don’t have the proper equipment (I thought), nor easy access to hickory wood chips or the like, and in my tiny kitchen the idea of standing in a cloud of fragrant smoke, while tempting for the in-the-moment experience, makes me nervous about the odor of the entire apartment for the following 3 days. BUT.

I found this recipe…and many more, like this one by Mark Bittman of the NYTIMES, after that, for tea-smoked duck breast. And I knew I was a goner after I saw them. Because they mostly sounded so damn easy and straightforward.

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So here we go. First off, I didn’t end up going with a single recipe. I combined a bunch and significantly tweaked the master recipe – the first one I saw, to get to the end result. And that said, there would be things I would do differently next time. Many of the recipes called for baking the duck in a foil encased cloud chamber in the oven (just foil around the smoking elements). Many called for steaming. Many called for a combo. I went with a combination and stuck to the stove top. First, I steam-cooked the duck legs (I went with legs, not breasts) over boiling tea+herbs for 90 minutes.

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Basically, just season the legs (I used salt, 5-spice powder and Szechuan pepper) the legs, place over a gallon of boiling tea (I used black), plus peppercorns, salt, star anise, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Steam for 90 minutes. Now that I’ve given you that instruction, FORGET IT. Or at least proceed with caution. I found that while this didn’t overcook the legs, it also didn’t do them any great favor. I truly wonder if it majorly enhanced the tea flavor of the end result – I’m just not sure. I need to try again without and report back later.

After you’re done with that, you get to the smoking part. I did it on my stove top, not in the oven. Line a wok with foil. Don’t skip this step. Put in brown sugar, tea (I used a mix of black and green here), rice, and some more star anise.

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Set it over your flame, until the sugar starts to caramelize and the whole thing starts to …well…smoke.

Then put your steamer basket on top, so the smoke can drift up.

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Cover, and place damp towels along the seam between the edge of the basket and the foil.

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Let the whole thing smoke 15 minutes. Now if you skipped the steaming part, you’re going to need to smoke for longer than 15 minutes. My guess is…at least 30. But I would simply check every 5 minutes after the 20 minute point until you get there. In theory, the internal temp should reach about 175 degrees F for “safe” levels of eating, but for medium rare, you want more like 135 degrees F. I would have preferred medium rare.

Take the duck off the heat, remove the meat from the bone, and proceed with your end recipe. In my case, I went for the initial recipe with some tweaks, as mentioned.

I went with a different noodle, added broccoli to the mix, a variety of dried berries instead of just cherries, and substantially cut back on the cream – using perhaps at most a half a cup rather than the 2 cups in the recipe. Most of the rest was the same.

The duck legs had a nice smoky zing to them, and the meat was definitely infused with a subtle tea flavor. The dish was lovely in the end – a rich medley of smoky meat, mushrooms, broccoli, dried sweet berries, and pistachios, and the husband very happy with the result, suggesting I make it again this weekend. (No, we will try something new today…). So definitely some repeat trials coming up.

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Meanwhile, I wish you a nice Sunday. I imagine if you are in Munich right now you are doing something like this:

Oktoberfest

 

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2014 in Cooking at home, Pasta

 

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Learning the mystical magical ways of making pasta

Happy New Year! And welcome to 2014, whatever it may bring. So far it has brought me a very bad cold (actually, 2013 gave it to me as a parting gift, so maybe 2014 will miraculously clear away the cold and spare my already shredded sore nose asap).

When it comes to pasta, actually, what I learned is that there is no magic. There is only muscle and patience. πŸ˜‰

I received a pasta machine for Christmas this year and naturally I needed to try it out a few times right away. Yes, I agree, it’s a bit scary looking.

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The recipe for pasta is easy: for one portion, you want 100 grams of durum wheat flour and 1 egg. Just multiply for more people. And note, once you make the pasta, it’s easy enough to dry it and store it in your pantry for later eating. And worth it. Make more, trust me on this.

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Start out by making a mound from the flour and crack the eggs into the middle: I read in the instructions afterwards that it is easier to do this in a bowl. But it was too late by then.

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Take a fork and gently and slowly mix the eggs with the flour from the center. Add water if the dough is too dry and won’t come together (as in my case) or more flour it it is too wet and sticky. Ultimately you want a lump of dough that looks like this:

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To get there, you need to knead the dough to a nice even consistency, it should feel like the texture of an earlobe. Feel your earlobe. Yes, like that. You *will* need to put some muscle into this – the dough is tough, and it will fight you.Β  It should take about 5-10 minutes of kneading to get there. Let it restΒ  for about 20 minutes, and then cut off a hunk of it and roll it out so you can fit it into your new pasta machine.

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I was worried that these things would be complicated to use, but they’re truly not.

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You simply pass it through the rollers a bunch of time, each time narrowing the opening through which you fit the dough.

Eventually, the dough can get WAY TOO LONG to handle.

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But the solution is easy. Cut it.

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And trust me, you don’t need to take it all the way to the “9” thickness on your machine – it’s too thin for most dishes. Go for 5 or 6.

Next step: cutting the pasta. The attachment on the back works just like the rollers on the front. Pass the dough through and out comes tagliatelle. Like magic.

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Sort of wow. At least the first time.

You will have a hell of a lot of it very fast. Like 3 times this amount.

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Find a recipe to cook. Jamie Oliver and Marcella Hazan are pretty fail proof.

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Make sure you have some hungry eaters around.

The fresh pasta takes just a few minutes to cook in a nice pot of boiling salted water.

Eat and enjoy.

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