Thursday, July 2, 2009

a good supper

In an attempt to cook using only real, whole, unprocessed food, I find myself cooking with a new freedom to experiment, to deviate from recipes and alter them to fit my ingredients. And the surprising part is, so far it has all come out tasting really good. I guess when the ingredients are really good, it's hard to go wrong.

Last night I tried out the new Kitchen Aid pasta roller and fettuccine cutter set I received for my birthday. I was most excited to try the recipe for spinach pasta that came with the set. It called for 10 oz. frozen spinach, but I had fresh, so I washed it, patted it dry, and chopped it fine in my mini food processor. I cut the recipe in half, because it was a BIG batch, and I made some alfredo sauce to go with it. Making the pasta was time consuming, but I think each time I do it I'll get faster. Part of my slowness was figuring out how it worked.

It was AMAZING. Is homemade pasta really any better than from a box? YES. It was so tender. The kids gobbled it up. And asked for seconds. And thirds. This from boys who have a tendency to beg me to make supper and then sit at the table picking at it once it's made. Who sometimes won't finish their one small helping even when ice cream is offered for boys who clean their plates. Part of the success was the homemade alfredo sauce. Who could resist? Raindrop sat in her high chair grabbing fistfuls and stuffing them into her mouth (she isn't very ladylike yet).

I didn't take any pictures. I didn't think of it in the midst of trying out my new pasta maker for the first time surrounded by the chaos of three hungry youngsters. It wasn't very pretty anyway. As the pasta came from the cutter I laid it in a pile, and the noodles ended up sticking together. It all still cooked chewy uncooked clumps at the end, but it wasn't photo worthy.

The recipes:

Spinach Pasta

1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed.
1 Tbsp. water
4 large eggs
4 cups flour

(I cut the recipe in half, used fresh spinach and white whole wheat flour.)
Place spinach in a towel and wring out all water until spinach feels very dry. Finely chop spinach using a food grinder attachment, food processor, or blender. Place chopped spinach, water, eggs, and flour in a bowl and mix together. (The recipe specifies speeds and times and attachments for mixing the dough, but I just used a medium bowl and a wooden spoon, then my (clean) hands when the dough was thickest...I added the flour a bit at a time. It gets really thick and stiff.) Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for 1 to 2 minutes. Divide dough into eight pieces before processing with Pasta Sheet Roller attachment.

To cook pasta:
Add 2 tsp. salt and 1 Tbsp. oil (optional) to 6 quarts boiling water. Gradually add pasta and continue to cook at a boil until pasta is "al dente" or slightly firm to the bite (6 min.). Pasta floats to the top of the water while cooking, so stir occasionalyl to keep it cooking evenly. Drain in a colander.

Yield; 1 1/2 pounds dough.

Alfredo Sauce

1/2 cup butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium/low heat. Add the garlic, cream, and white pepper and bring mixture to a simmer. Add Parmesan cheese and simmer sauce for 8-10 minutes or until sauce has thickened and is smooth. Add the mozzarella cheese and stir until smooth.

1 comment:

Autumn said...

That sure sounds like a good supper!! I'm a sucker for alfredo, anyway, so that would win me over no matter what, but home-made pasta sounds so good! Yum. I've never tried it, but definitely sounds like a treat. Maybe you can teach me when I come to visit!