Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Homemade Pasta

A couple of years ago I bought this nice little pasta maker.
It's easy to use if your dough is good.  If your dough is bad it will stick, and stretch, and tear, and not get cut all the way through.  Until a few weeks ago this had been my regular experience.

A few weeks ago I finished reading Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany (Vintage) by Bill Buford, which is a fantastic book if you can get through the rather slow middle section.  Buford talks about working in Mario Batali's kitchen, going to Italy to learn to make pasta, and going back to Italy to learn to be a butcher from that great Tuscan Dario Ceccini

Near the end he talks about the right ratio for pasta - it has to do with the balance between eggs and flour.  According to him, if you have good eggs water shouldn't even be necessary.  I ended up using a little water, but the result was fantastic anyways.  For the first time my dough rolled out smoothly - no sticking, no ripping.  It cut perfectly into thin strips, which I made into Fettuccine with prosciutto and cherry tomatoes and basil (from the garden).
If you've never made pasta from scratch, I recommend going right out, getting yourself some flour and eggs, and throwing some together.  You don't really even need a pasta machine - you can just roll it out with a rolling pin and cut it by hand.  The results will amaze you!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Potato Corn Chowder

I've either been working like a dog or sick for the last several days, and it feels like I haven't blogged in forever!  At long last I've had a couple of days off in a row, so yesterday I decided to make myself some soup.  I needed a hot steamy bowl of comfort to ease my achy bones. 

I know dairy isn't good for colds and I should have gone with straight up chicken soup, but I had a couple of potatoes and some really beautiful peppered bacon and couldn't resist doing a little potato corn chowder.  Unfortunately I didn't really write down a recipe while I was making it, I just threw a bunch of things together. I'll try to recreate the recipe here, but I would say just go with whatever sounds good to you and what works.

For me it worked out really well.  The salty bacon and creamy potatoes instantly made me feel better (if not in my body at least in my mind and spirit!) 

Potato Corn Chowder

2 potatoes, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
about 1 cup corn
about 4 cups chicken stock
about 1/2 cup cream
salt/pepper/garlic/tarragon to taste
Crumbly bacon and chives to top

Sweat the onion, carrot, and celery (don't let it get brown).  Add potatoes, stock, and seasonings and cook until potatoes are almost tender.  Add corn and cook until it comes to temperature.  Add cream and turn off heat.  Serve with bacon and chives on top.