Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Easy Homemade Pasta

There is nothing that I love more than pasta. If I could I would eat some form of it everyday, but we all know that is not good for our waist lines or for our health. I know I have written a lot about my grandfather in law and how he owned a bakery and some of the great items I have been lucky enough to receive. Well one of the best items was a pasta maker. I was pricing them out of my kitchen aid mixer and even the “used” ones were around 100 dollars. Not worth it to me.

So you can imagine my surprise when my husband pulled the pasta maker. I literally jumped for joy. I have made many different kind of pasta including regular, whole wheat, spinach and tomato. Some came out better than others. I will post all the recipes as soon as I perfect them a bit more.

I did include the recipe I used for the regular pasta, very simple and easy to do. How much do you love my pasta maker?! It takes some work but like I have said before I love stuff that has a story to it. And this one has the best story of all. Enjoy the pasta.

1 ¾ cups flour
2 eggs
3-4 tablespoons of water more or less depending on the consistency of the dough
I don’t add salt to my pasta, I just don’t see the need for the extra sodium. If you would like you can add ¼ teaspoon of salt.

Put the flour in a bowl and make a well and add the eggs and water. Beat the eggs and water in the well of flour. Once the eggs and water are mixed start to work the flour into the egg mixture. You can use a wooden spoon but I prefer my hands. Make sure the dough is not too sticky, if dough is too sticky sprinkle with flour so it is easy to work with.

Once dough is incorporated use your pasta machine to roll out the dough for the pasta. Once the pasta is done place them on a surface to dry. The pasta will last 3 months in an air thight container.

My old school pasta machine. Love, love, love it. I cant wait to make some gift baskets for the fall.

The well of flour that you put the eggs and water in.

Rolling our the pasta dough getting ready to cut it.

The pasta dough after it has been mixed.

The pasta drying on my counter.

The homemade pasta with pesto sauce. I will post the pesto sauce in a later post.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pastry Crust

I love the summer. I love the sun, heat and summer fruits. So I decided to make a strawberry tart. I made the crust from scratch and it was super easy to make. The dough was a little sticky so you are going to need a good amount of flour. Once you cook the crust it will shrink so make sure that you roll the dough out to cover the entire tart pan. This is a must try. See the recipe below.

One thing to keep in mind is the once you take the crust out of the oven the first time it will puff up. Let the crust cool and it will go back down to a normal size.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons cold shortening (recommended: Crisco)
1/4 cup ice water
2 cups Pastry Cream, recipe follows
2 pints whole strawberries, hulled and halved

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Put the flour mixture in the bowl of a fitted paddle. Add the butter and shortening and mix until the butter is in the size of peas. Add the ice water and mix until the dough comes together. Dump on a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out the dough and fit into 4 (4 1/2-inch) tart pans with removable sides. Don't stretch the dough when placing it in the pans or it will shrink during baking. Cut off the excess by rolling the pin across the top of each pan. Line the tart shell with a piece of buttered aluminum foil, butter side down, and fill them with dried beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and foil, prick the bottom of the shells all over with a fork, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How to make Pastry Cream, Super Easy

I love to make different kinds of pastry and I have been looking for an easy pastry cream. Some pastry creams are hard to make requiring the person to temperate the cream and constantly whisking the cream. I found this recipe and this is the easiest one I have tired. It only took me a hour and the cream thickened within 15 minutes. The cream only took about 2 hours to fully cool and it was ready to eat. I would highly recommend this recipe to anyone.

Pastry Cream:
5 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups scalded milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon Cognac

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer
fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.

With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Don't be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle ; switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick, like pudding. Stir in the vanilla, Cognac, butter, and heavy cream. Pour the custard through a sieve s into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold.

What the cream looked like before it was placed in the fridge. It makes approx 2 cups which is plently for a tart.

The tart once it was finished. Wow that cream was great .

Close up of the tart. So delish!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mini Cinnamon Buns

My husband lover cinnamon buns, but I refuse to buy the ones in store because they are full of preservatives not to mention they are very expensive. So I know how much he loves them so I decided to make some this weekend as a treat for him.

I had made pizza that Friday night (I make my own pizza dough I make about 3 or 4 at a time you never know when you are going to need some dough in a pinch) and some left over dough that I did not want to throw away.

I took the extra dough and I had and used a rolling pin to roll it out to the desired consistency, sprinkle the dough with cinnamon and sugar. Roll the dough back up into what looks like a jelly roll. Cut off the cinnamon buns and place them on the baking sheet with parchment. I then sprinkled the top with a little extra cinnamon and sugar.

Place the in the oven at 350 for approx. 15 min. If you want your cinnamon buns a bit more crispy place them in the oven for longer.

Once the cinnamon buns are out of the oven you can drizzle a little bit of icing on them. I usually don’t wait for the to cool I like the icing to melt on them. I just make a simple icing with powder sugar ad some water. Just stir until the sugar dissolves. These are a great fun and fast breakfast to have as a treat.

A view of all the mini cinnamon buns.

Close up of the mini cinnamon buns.

The buns once they came out of hte oven they were all really hot and delish.

The mini cinnamon buns with the icing on them. They are so delish, but the bad part is you can pop 3 or 4 in your mouth at the same time. Never good!!

4 Favorite Things

It has been a crazy year, with my new promotion my husband’s new job it has been a crazy first year of marriage. We are quickly approaching our one year anniversary on June 12th so I need to start being thankful of the little things in life and remembering the small things that make me smile every day.

I love drinking S. Pellegrino water out of a champagne flute with fresh fruit. I don’t know why but it just puts a smile on my face. I love sitting outside on the deck with my fizzy water on the summer nights.

The vintage jell-o mold I got from my grandfather-in- law house. I cannot wait to hang it in my butler’s pantry and I love that there is a story behind it. I think the best pieces are the ones with a story.

My wedding program framed hanging at the bottom of the stairs. I hate the wall color of my front hall and going up the stairs but hanging stuff on the walls makes it a little more easy to tolerate. Plus I love my husband and I love to remember our special day together.

One of my favorite pictures from our wedding, it was one of the last pictures we took and it was a long day. But I just loved every moment of my wedding and would relive it all in second. It just remind me how lucky I was to find my husband and how much I love my husband.

Toast cups with eggs and bacon

I always like to try and make something new on the weekends for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I don’t have a lot of time during the week so we are limited with what I can make in a 30 min. period. I will post a blog later on about how I plan my meals out on a monthly basis.

So on this particular Sunday morning I was feeling crafty so I decided to make some egg cups. The only suggestion I would make on this recipe is to make sure the bacon is crispy before you place it in the toast cup. My husband and I love our bacon crispy so next time I will make sure to cook it a little more.

Egg – Toast Cups
Bread (white or wheat)
Eggs and bacon pretty simple ingredents

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter 6 standard muffin cups. With a rolling pin, flatten bread slices slightly and, with a 4 1/4-inch cookie cutter, cut into 8 rounds. Cut each round in half, then press 2 halves into each muffin cup, overlapping slightly and making sure bread comes up to edge of cup. Use extra bread to patch any gaps. Brush bread with remaining butter.

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium, until almost crisp, 4 minutes, flipping once. (It will continue to cook in the oven.) Lay 1 bacon slice in each bread cup and crack an egg over each. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until egg whites are just set, 20 to 25 minutes. Run a small knife around cups to loosen toasts. Serve immediately.

Side view of the egg cups. I realise now it was prob. not the best idea to take the pictures while the egg cups were on my sterling sliver cake stand.

Top view, again sorry for the bad picutres.

This one might be a little better. You can see the cups without the glare. This was a great breakfast.

Here is where I got the original idea:

Toasted Pecan Pancakes with Strawberries and Cream

I love the spring, I love the warm weather and I love that it stays light out until late in the evening. So when I get home around 7 at night I still have some daylight. I also love the spring for the farmers market. I went this past weekend and found some awesome strawberries. So I wanted to try and incorporate them into our Sunday morning breakfast. I decided to make toasted pecan pancakes with strawberries and cream. No need for any syrup with these pancakes.

I refuse to use any pancake mix. I know that is going to sound like I am a snob, but I prefer to make as much as I can from scratch. It allows me to control what I put in the pancakes. This also allows me to NEVER run out of pancake mix.

Pancake recipe:
1 ½ cups flour
2-3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks
¼ salt
3 tablespoons of melted butter

Mix all the dry ingredients together and them make a well and fold in the wet. Make sure not to over mix, if the batter is a little lumpy that is ok.

I prefer to use whole pecans, but you can cut them up if you would like. Place the nuts in the oven for approx. 15 minutes at 350. Be very careful not to burn the nuts it will stink up the entire house. Once the nuts are toasted fold them into the batter.

I make my own whipped cream, it is super easy and you can control the sweetness. I just whip some heavy cream and add a couple of spoon full of powdered sugar.

I just sliced a couple of strawberries put them on top and breakfast is complete.

A picture of the pancakes with the bacon from the farmers market. How could this not start your morning off right!!!

A close up of the pancakes. So good.

One last photo, wow these were some great pancakes.