Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mój Polską Kuchnię: Pierogi!

It's that time of year again... Pierogi Time!

Every year at Christmas time for as long as I can remember we've made pierogi in preparation for Christmas dinner. It's a tradition passed on from my great-grandma to my grammy to my mom and on to us kiddos! It's just not Christmas if we haven't made and eaten pierogi.

Today my siblings and I continued the tradition of the annual pierogi party! Julianne did the hard work of making the dough and filling, and all of us joined in to assemble them. Well, let's be honest. They did most of the work and I took pictures :)

Want to have a pierogi party of your own?? Here's the Printable Recipe for you to make them yourself!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Printable Recipes!

Well, as you may or may not have seen in my latest post on Vita di Elisabetta, I'm back! Not only am I home again, but I'm inspired.... Inspired to be up to my elbows in flour, surrounded by the smells of homemade sauces and homegrown herbs, taste-testing everything, and photographing and blogging the process.

It's Friday, and as I finish my lunch break at my desk I rather wish I could be at home in my Cucina. However, I thought I would at least post to share with you my latest technological breakthrough on this blog: Printable Recipes. While it's flattering to think you all must love my anecdotes and multiple photos, I am not fooled into believing that you would want to use precious ink to print it all. So I'm experimenting with the best ways to turn my lengthy how to's into concise, printable pages that you can take with you into your own Cucina and wrinkle, smudge, and wipe your doughy fingers on to your heart's content. So here it is folks, the first of what I hope will be many printable recipes: Semolina Pasta. Just click to print!

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Normal Day

No really, I spent the day in Normal - Normal, Illinois.
In fact, it's been a Normal weekend, although not a usual one for several reasons:
1. I'm in Illinois - that's not usual for me at all. But yes, it was Normal.
2. Mom and brother Brian are here with me! I haven't seen them for months and months! 8 months, to be exact.
3. I've been apart from my husband for 6 out of the past 7 days - first he was gone for a conference, then I left for Normal. I miss him.
4. I've met many many new people (all of whom were very friendly), have driven over hundreds of miles of new territory, experienced lunch at Flat Top Grille, and discovered one of the windiest and corniest states in America.
5. It's mid-April, almost Easter in fact, and I was freezing today. Although apparently I was spared the snow that everyone back home woke up to this morning.
6. I miss my husband. Oh wait, did I already mention that?!
7. I woke up to an email from my uncle. He's my mom's oldest brother. He was the first one EVER to call me "Liz" or "Lizzy." He's a black belt, an artist, worked with wood, published a book, and owned a bakery. He's Italian. And when it comes to Italian food I trust he knows his stuff.
8. The subject of the email was "pasta."
9. Yes, this post on my pasta blog does have to do with pasta... I've decided to share some of his email with you! 
hey kid ;)), you finally hit upon my pasta recipe (your favorite after experimentation): 8oz total flours (2c) representing a third to a half semolina and the rest AP flour, 3 eggs (or 2 eggs plus 3 yolks), and 1T olive oil. i mix right in a bowl and have no mess to contend with, then wrap and rest 1 hour to permit hydration of the dough (flour to absorb water...otherwise it will shrink back too much when rolled). but if you had had my recipe you wouldn't have had all the fun of discovery (and especially the final equation that verifies uncle's pasta as the "best" - soft, easy to handle, delicious, etc;))))))
Also, for those of you who wanted to know what semolina flour REALLY is, I'll leave it to the expert to clarify:
(oh, aside, semolina is more the grind than the specific grain, from semitic roots -- like arabic, semid -- to grind into groats which was the gravelly course milling of the entire whole grain. today it's only the endosperm or inner carbohydrate core of the grain separated from the outer high-silicon shield or bran and the nutrient-rich germ, which, like the yolk of an egg in the animal kingdom, is the seed of the organism to be. semolina or middlings is the course, sandy, initial grind that allows for easy sifting from the germ and bran -- semolina can later be reground finer into flours of various grades. hard durum wheat produces the yellow semolina most often used in pasta and couscous; soft wheat semolina makes cream of wheat or farina, rice semolina makes cream of rice cereal, corn or maize semolina makes polenta, buckwheat semolina makes udon noddles, dumplings, etc...)
So there you have it folks. 
10. I haven't written a post in quite some time, so you might go so far as saying that it's not normal. But, considering where I am I would have to say that it has been, in fact, A Normal Day.

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Green Thumb {Day 001}

Spring is springing! It's so inspiring. Daffodils are beginning to peek up through the thawing ground... Birds sing in the mornings... It's still light when I get off of work...And I get an insatiable urge to dig in the dirt!

I've been planning to grow basil (what could be better than fresh pesto and homemade pasta?!) and today seemed like the perfect day to begin! Basil likes sunny, warm spots, so I'm going to have a windowsill garden. And the great thing about that is that I can start it immediately!
I bought potting soil and seeds after work today. Organic. Doesn't it seem like a given that all seeds would be organic? You would think. Anyhow, seeing as I had the option, I decided organic would be better than non-organic. It cost me an extra $2.50 but now I can proudly claim to grow organic herbs. Woohoo!
I saved an egg carton to start the plants in. It'll keep my little sprouts nice 'n moist, while at the same time allowing for good drainage. I prepped my planter by first cutting of the cover...
...Which I then covered securely in foil.
The carton nestles into the now waterproofed cover nicely - a perfect little planter!
I loved feeling the dirt between my fingers! Winter has been long. This is a treat! This soil is a composition made especially for starting plants so it was really well fertilized (organically, of course!) and was fluffy and moist.
I filled the egg carton with dirt, and then moistened it and allowed time for the water to drain before planting.
I never cease to be amazed at how different seeds are. Basil seeds look like little mouse turds! (C'mon, you know it's true!) I planted several seeds in each section of the carton, about 1/4" below the surface. Once they sprout I can thin them out if necessary.
Hopefully someday they'll look like this...

{Day 001}

... But for now they look like this!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chicken 'n Artichoke Farfalle

I cooked my butterflies for supper, and concocted a white sauce with chicken and artichoke hearts to go with it.
I started by cooking the pasta for several minutes, testing the farfalle a couple of time to be sure that the thickest part in the center was thoroughly cooked through.
I love artichokes, and marinated artichoke hearts are about as good as they get. I easily could have eaten the whole 12oz. jar myself, but I exercised restraint (meaning I only ate a few!)
To make this chicken 'n artichoke delight, drain the liquid from the artichokes and pour into a skillet. Add 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped. Saute the garlic and marinade until the smell of garlic pervades your entire kitchen and makes your mouth water in anticipation.
In a separate bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons of flour into 2 cups of milk.
Pour the slurry into the skillet. Cook it over low heat, stirring continually, until it thickens.
Once the sauce thickens, add the artichokes, cooked chicken chopped in bite-size pieces, and salt and pepper.
This meal wouldn't be complete without fresh parmesan cheese. I looove fresh parmesan, and I looove grating it with my microplane grater. Grate a healthy sized pile of cheese, and then stir it into the sauce.
Dish up some farfalle pasta, top it with chicken 'n artichokes, pour plenty of white sauce over it, garnish with freshly grated paremsan, grind some pepper and sea salt on it, and enjoy "butterflies in your stomach!"

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Homemade Butterflies (Farfalle Pasta)

Today I made farfalle pasta, or what is commonly called "bow-tie" pasta. Farfalle, I learned, is actually the Italian word for "butterflies." I think I like calling it butterfly pasta rather than bow-tie... Who's with me?!
First of all, you should know that I tried a new pasta dough recipe. It's a marriage between the basic and semolina pasta recipes. It uses half semolina, half all-purpose flour, a pinch of salt, a few eggs, and a blurb of olive oil. Want the recipe? Check out the new "Pasta Dough Recipes" page.
(Also, I have to make a confession because I promised to share my success and failures in this pasta-making journey. Not everything went entirely smoothly while making the dough. I combined the flours, and made a well in the middle. Then I mixed the wet ingredients, and poured them in the middle. So far so good. Then I used my fork to begin mixing the flour from the sides with the egg mixture in the middle. But before I could get very far, the sides of the levee gave way and an eggy tsunami began charging toward me and the edge of the table. Picture me trying to block, scoop, and plead with the eggs, all the while pinning my cellphone between my ear and shoulder talking to my dear husband who was trying to tell me about his morning. I would have loved to take a picture of it for you, but my hands were a bit busy - and messy. And I considered pretending like it all went perfectly, so I didn't want evidence proving otherwise.)

Anyhow, near disasters aside, I love this recipe. It was SO easy to work with - very soft and pliable; easy to roll out.
Now, onto the butterflies.
I rolled out one sheet of pasta at a time on the thinnest setting (you don't want it to dry out before you get to it). Then I used my pizza cutter to cut the sheet into 1" strips. A knife also works just fine, but I find my pizza cutter to be especially quick and easy.

On a lightly floured surface I then cut the strip of dough into 1-1/2" segments. (This is where a ravioli cutter wheel would come in handy to make pretty zigzag edges, but I have yet to buy one.)
To form the farfalle, the index finger goes in the middle of the piece of pasta, with thumb and middle finger on the top and bottom edges. Then just pinch the dough together, removing the index finger as you go!
We already ate lunch and have plans for supper, so I'm going to dry my butterflies and then cook them at a later date. My farfalle certainly look "homemade," but I'm pretty pleased with my first attempt!


My Grammy is fantastic.
This morning whilst sitting at my computer researching new pasta recipes and how-to's on making farfalle pasta (which I'm going to try very soon, by the way), in walks Jonathan with the mail. He hands me an unanticipated package, addressed  to "Elisabetta Wood." Immediately, I knew who it was from.

In the package was a shirt, yes a PASTA shirt, that she had bought on one of their trips to Italy. She found it in her closet, thought of me, and promptly put it in the mail two days ago.

What a fantastic gift. (Fantastic is a fantastic word... I find myself using it often.)

I'd like to be able to make all of types of pasta represented on this shirt... Linguine? Check. Spaghetti? Check. Fettuccine? Check? Farfalle and Ravioli? Soon. but Penne? Rotelle?? Fusilli??? It looks like I'm going to have to do a little more research...