Thursday, August 8, 2013

In the Kitchen Lately


We had a bit of a Yotam Ottolenghi fest at our house. For a dinner party the other night, I made this pasta that Molly wrote about, his hummus and these stuffed portobellos. The mushrooms are the only things I took a photo of because we were too busy eating the rest of it. It was all so good, and this guy has been on my mind a lot lately. So much so that I actually dreamed that I met him.

We’ve started making our own pasta. It is SO MUCH fun! And I love that it is something we both enjoy doing in the kitchen. Also, it’s nice to be able to delegate the kneading to an eager assistant. Thank you, Andrew! Our dough was so silky and smooth. We started with one of my favorite pasta dishes ever - beet ravioli - and we also made a mushroom ravioli. The beet ravioli is so bright and pretty, and I love the flavor. It is earthy with a bit of sweetness. It is one of those dishes that will make your friends turn to your partner and tell him or her how lucky they are to get to eat your food everyday. We made our first batch of pasta on a Sunday evening, and by 10:00 am on Monday morning, Andrew had already called me to tell me he couldn’t stop thinking about what kind we would make next.

Speaking of Andrew in the kitchen, he started reading the River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. This book has been on my shelf for a couple of years, but I’ve only ever used it for reference and just skimmed the manifesto part. Andrew has been delving into it and reading me passages, and I really like this philosophy about meat. It is a topic that we’re exploring at our house, and I think it will take some time to work out what choices we make. In the meantime, we’ve started eating vegetarian. So far, the part that is sticking with me the most is the question, Is the meat you're eating good enough to bring you pleasure every time you eat it? Could it, should it, be better?

The other day, a coworker asked me what kinds of food I don’t like because she is planning a menu for a work party. This got me to thinking that in order to be a better cook, I may want to try to like some of these foods. I made two lists: foods I don’t like that I want to like and foods I don’t like that I’m ok not liking.

First List: Foods I want to Like 
Endive
Radicchio
Anchovies
Liver
Dates
Chocolate and fruit, such as chocolate and orange, chocolate and cherry, etc.

Second List: Foods I don’t want to learn to Like 
Brains
Tongue
Aspic
Bugs of any kind

I think I can like all of the things on the first list if I try. I mean I’m surely missing out on some good stuff, and if I set my mind to it, I can make it happen. There was a time when I didn’t like dark chocolate, red wine, bourbon, camembert, oysters, sushi, and lots of other food that I now consider to be amazingly delicious. Sooo, I’ll start with endives. Should be easy enough, huh? If you have any ideas about the best ways to prepare endives, or any of the items on the first list, please let know.

Continuing with more lists, I’m also making a list of cooking challenges for myself. I want to try at least two new things a month. This month was pasta, and this weekend I’m going to make Eggs Benedict with homemade English muffins and hollandaise. I’m not sure what kind of benny to make, but I think I’ll check the menu from Snooze for inspiration.

I haven’t been able to find veggie cream cheese that is veggie enough so I’ve started making a batch every week to eat on our morning bagels. Easy, peasy and much better than store bought.

Veggie Cream Cheese 

2 packs cream cheese, at room temperature
3 celery stalks
2 radishes
3 carrots
2 green onions
½ red bell pepper
Freshly ground pepper to season

Coarsely chop veggies and put in food processor. Pulse until veggies are desired consistency. Mix in a large bowl with cream cheese. Season with pepper.

So, what's been going on in your kitchen lately?

2 comments:

  1. I LOVE Ottolenghi, too! That pasta is the best I've eaten in my whole life. Yogurt as sauce! What brilliance!

    As for endive, Molly (Orangette) has some good recipes -- a salad, with other bitter veg (including radicchio!) and feta, and a braise, with cream.

    Do you have a pasta roller, or are you just rolling it out? I had success once with rolling it out, but I used some pasta recipe that was real easy to roll thin, and I can't find the recipe anymore. The last couple times we've tried it, we've had lots of trouble rolling and just settled for making shapes out of pasta rope, which takes a long time to cook and sits in your stomach for weeks. We're thinking of getting a roller.

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    Replies
    1. The best? Wow! You know, I thought it was very good. I liked the lightness from the yogurt and the earthiness from the peas, and it felt decadent with a creamy sauce. It didn't totally knock my socks off though, as Molly suggested, and I even thought about not making it again. Andrew has convinced me that it really was pretty special, and we are going to make it again this weekend.

      I'll check the endive recipes on Orangette. That's a great suggestion. I know she's a fan of endive.

      We borrowed a pasta roller to try it out, and we loved it. We are going this weekend to buy our very own. I don't know what the price range is, but the one we borrowed was only about $30 and worked beautifully. I think it is definitely worth the investment. I used Thomas Keller's recipe for 7 yolk pasta dough found on Smitten Kitchen. It has a lot of detail, which was nice for doing it the first time. The whole process was fun, but my favorite part was slowly incorporating the flour into the eggs. A little bit of suspense - will this really work? - and a whole lot of excitement as it thickened.

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Hey, thank you!

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