Stacy's Cooking Journal

My cooking journal is an informal space for me to record what I've been up to in the kitchen. It's mainly intended for personal ideas, but feel free to check it out.

Pappardelle Alfredo


Pappardelle is my favorite pasta. I love you, pappardelle. I have decided that my favorite pasta is fat (as in wide) and thin, but not too thin (#5 on the pasta machine). I like to taste the pasta. I like a bit of texture.

Make pasta dough

  1. In a large bowl, combine 2.5 cups of flour and 5 eggs. Start by beating the eggs in the center with a fork and gradually incorporating the flour.
  2. Once the mixture thickens, mix with your hands until a soft dough forms.
  3. Flour a work surface and dump out the flour. Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes, flouring as needed.
  4. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let sit for at least a half an hour. I have often let it sit for the entire day while I did other things/went to work. Also! I have let it sit overnight in the fridge if I did not use it all up the first night.

Roll out pasta

  1. Cut off a hunk of the dough and lightly flour.
  2. Roll through the lowest setting on the pasta machine 3 times, folding the pasta each time and flouring.
  3. Roll through #2 3 times, folding and flouring.
  4. Roll through #3 3 times, folding and flouring.
  5. Roll through #4 once, do not fold.
  6. Cut the dough in half.
  7. Roll each through #5, do not fold.
  8. I like the pasta a little bit thicker than paper-thin setting #6, so I stop here.
  9. Cut the dough in half again. You should now have 4 pieces.
  10. Take one of the pieces, and flour each side lightly.
  11. Fold the piece over on itself 2 or 3 times.
  12. Cut across the dough into 3/4 inch ribbons.
  13. Uncurl the ribbons and hang on your handy pasta drying rack.

I have cooked the pasta immediately, an hour later, and the next day. I like it best the first day, but within that time frame, I don't think it matters too much if you boil it right away or if you wait an hour or two. It's definitely still worth it to eat on the second day! And many days after that, really…

Prepare yourself
I like to have everything ready before I cook the pasta, as things happen very quickly once the pasta is in the water. I feel a strong sense of urgency once this happens. Nothing should stand between the cooked pasta and its immediate inhalation!!

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt heavily.
  2. For the sauce, in a large bowl (I have a nice stainless steel one that works well), mix powdered parmesan, a few cubes of butter, salt, and a good amount of freshly ground pepper. I'm not really sure about the proportions here, except to say, you can't go wrong. Err on the side of too much sauce, as you don't have to use it all.
  3. Prepare the plates.
  4. Assemble the family. They should be sitting down, anticipating the pasta. They should be ready to consume it immediately upon its saucing.
  5. The water has achieved a rolling boil! Dump in the pappardelle. If you are making a LOT of pappardelle (for more than 2-3 people), you might find it helpful to first put the pappardelle in a bowl/baking sheet so you can add it to the water all at once.
  6. Boil one minute. Just before you remove the pasta, add pasta water to the cheese and butter in the bowl and mix. Add more water if needed to form a light sauce.
  7. The moment has arrived! Drain the pasta in the manner most pleasing to you.
  8. Add the pasta to the sauce post haste and mix well! It should be luscious and well-sauced. It should not be sticky and under-sauced.
  9. Serve! Tongs work well. I like the pasta to be just coated in the sauce (I don't pour additional sauce over it).
  10. Be amazed.

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31 May 2011 00:36
tags: italian pasta spring

Molto Mario

I'm obsessed with Mario Batali, and so it will come as no surprise that I've been watching re-runs of his show on the Food Network. He made a couple of dishes on the show that I think I would like to try. Nothing fancy, just yummy, healthy, and veggie centric.

Spring Veggie Bruschetta

Lentils with Fresh Pasta
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01 May 2011 12:34
tags: italian mario

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

10 minute process!

I chose only the amount of strawberries I felt would be eaten that night (about 10). There were leftovers, which I left out on the counter rather than refridgerate, which ruins the taste and texture of the strawberries.

I then combined 1 bar of Ghirardelli bittersweet 60% chocolate (would prefer darker). I melted with about ¼ stick of butter in "double-boiler". This yielded a pretty small amount of melted chocolate, so I held the small pan at an angle while dipping the strawberries, giving each a quick turn in the sauce, then holding upside down for a quick turn in the air, before returning to a plate covered with a sheet of waxed paper. It was pretty hot in the house, so these did not harden on their own, even after ½ hour. I stuck the plate in the fridge for a ½ hour, and they were only just firm.
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01 May 2011 12:22
tags: chocolate desserts

Mexican Easter

Dried black beans

Soaked all night and well into the next day. As always, they take forever to cook. Cooked in water with diced onion and some cilantro. Added salt at the end end.

Brown rice

Just say no.

Fresh Tortillas

Too thick and not so wonderful. Wimped out on the lard/Crisco. Used a mix of water and canola oil instead. Doubled the salt called for in the recipe but could still have used more. Kneaded as directed and let the dough sit for ½ hour. Rolled with pin into vaguely circular shapes. Dad cooked on grill in dry iron pan. They did puff up to my happiness. Hotter is better. Cooked on each side for about 40 seconds, depending on how hot the plate was. The result was ok but would have been better if thinner. Definitely too thick to fold properly!

Pickled Red Onion

Used a recipe found in Bon Appetit; Bayless has a similar one in his cookbook but with additional spices. Let marinate out on the counter all day instead of an hour. Thought it worked particularly well with the hot sauce.

Pico de gallo

Chopped Campari tomatoes (a little too watery for this purpose), white onion, cilantro, ¼ green bell pepper, 1 jalapeno (could handle more), and some lime.


Mixed in some of the pico de gallo and called it a day.

Assorted toppings

Cotijia cheese, chopped cilantro

Rick Bayless Chili de Arból hot sauce

This thing is truly killer. Put on only a few drops or repent. I followed the recipe more or less to the letter. Chilis de arból are basically Thai chilis, or the chilis you usually see in Szichuanese reicpes.

Jícama Salad

Was not a hit with the parents. However, they had never experienced anything like it before. I used Rick Bayless's recipe variation of "pico de gallo" style, chopped with an orange, lime juice, salt, and cayenne pepper. I think I might try julienne?

Salty Dog

Had a grapefruit in the fridge, the weather was warm, the kitchen was sweltering, and we were eating Mexican. Salty Dog seemed like an appropriate beverage.

  • Squeezed white grapefruit
  • 5 mint leaves, mashed
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 2 oz gin or vodka

Pour into glass with rim heavily salted.

It was amazing. I think I prefer vodka?
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01 May 2011 12:19
tags: doughs drinks mexican

Mario's Fennel Sauce

Mario's Fennel Sauce

I had a truly massive fennel bulb so I doubled many of the proportions. I used the standard amount of fennel seed, red onion, and hot pepper. However, I used 3 small carrots, 4 small celery stalks with leaves, 3 cups (1 can) pureed San Marzano tomatoes.

Because I usually use pasta sauce I've already made instead of the can of tomatoes, the result tasted different than I'm used to. I discovered that this songs improved greatly with sugar and salt. I kept adding until the sauce began to sing.

Because Mario serves this with gnocchi that have parsley, and I am not, I added a good deal of chopped parsley to the dish.

Serve with a chunky pasta (cavatelli) and pecorino romano cheese. This is an official staple.

Too spicy for the weaklings :)
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01 May 2011 12:17
tags: italian mario sauces

Marinated Veggie Antipasto

Marinated Veggie Antipasto

The request: a veggie heavy, low-salt, vinegary snack

  • 5 stalks celery, cut into ½ in hunks; leaves minced
  • 1 bulb fennel, blanched and cut into slices
  • 5 carrots, peeled, blanched, and sliced on the diagonal
  • 5 large green olives, sliced in thirds
  • handful pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 spoonfuls marinated sun-dried tomatoes
  • handful chopped parsley
  • 3 freshly cooked artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 4 mixed red, orange, and yellow peppers, cooked and peeled
  • Red wine vinegar, balasmic vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil, to taste (it was a lot of each)

Add when eating: sliced sweet tomatoes or grape tomatoes; any kind of hard cheese (like gouda) or fresh mozzarella.

Note: This time dad grilled the peppers whole, no oil, directly on grate until black. Adds a smoky dimension to the antipasto, but I've found that cooking in the over, though it takes longer and heats the house (a good thing in winter!) yields a sweeter flavor. The important thing in either case is to let them cool to room temp before handling, since this makes peeling them go significantly faster, and never, ever, rinse in water.


The way I did it this time:

  • Clipped the tips of the leaves; plucked a few of the bottom leaves off; cut the top ⅓ off, used a vegetable peeler to peel the stem; awkwardly tried to remove the choke with knive, grapefruit knife, and spoon (and failed).
  • Put stem side up in lemon water; still browned quite a bit.
  • Boiled covered for 20 min, stem-side up, water covering about ⅓ of the artichoke. This resulted in tender artichokes.
  • Further prepped the artichoke by peeling off all leaves and using a spoon to remove the choke. Clean up much easier after cooking, but the heart now a brown color.
  • Dressed in juice of ½ lemon and salt, which was transforming
  • Added artichokes to the veggie antipasto.

Things I learned:

  • Don't skip the lemon bath; artichokes discolor quickly and it looks really bad.
  • Get artichokes with big stems: this indicates the heart is large
  • Prepping the artichoke before cooking is a real pain; do as much as you can get away with after the artichoke is nice and soft
  • Artichokes will hurt you.
  • It's ok to throw away most of the artichoke. You're really only after the heart.
  • Cooking the heart while in the artichoke will turn it brown.
  • Artichokes hearts are transformed when they meet lemon and salt.
  • You need an amazing knife.

Good way to get the heart:

At every stage where more of the heart is exposed, rub with a half lemon.

  1. Cut the top off with a serrated knife
  2. Cut around the sides, exposing the heart
  3. Cut more off the top until you get to the heart
  4. Using a paring knife, cut around the heart and off the stem until you only see yellow
  5. Cut heart in quarters
  6. Using a paring knife, remove the choke

Videos for help preparing artichokes:
To prepare an artichoke for stuffing

To clean it out so you have just a raw heart

Quarter the artichoke 1st; clean after cooking
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01 May 2011 12:14
tags: antipasti appetizers artichokes italian

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Used the Toll House recipe
  • Used dark brown sugar
  • Tried to make them more soft by using slighly more brown than white sugar
  • Was a little generous with the salt
  • skimped a bit on the egg
  • Did not mix a whole lot.
  • The dough was super soft and extremely sticky.
  • Did not cook completely

Result: pretty soft but could be gooier!
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01 May 2011 12:13
tags: desserts

Fresh Pasta

Fresh tagliatelli

My process this time:

  • Used half the dough from the cavatelli above.
  • Worked in very small batches (little more than a golf ball) because it was difficult to do
  • Tried to follow the instructions in Marcella Hazan, but found it hard to understand
  • Basically I used our rolling pin (not pasta rolling pin) to roll out dough as usual, then tried to "stretch it". Got it pretty thin but could be a bit thinner.
  • The dough was well-floured. I immediately rolled on itself and sliced into tagliatelli. I unfurled each slice and hung to dry, half on clean dish towel on table, with the other half danging over the edge.
  • About 1.5 hours later (just as it turned out), I cooked in a large pot of heavily salted boiling water for 1 minute and quickly transfered to sauce in large bowl. I mixed with two cooking spoons and served right away. Actually, it was pretty good. Served 2.

The sauce:
This sauce was fast and made from stuff I had lying around. It took about 10 minutes from start to finish (including cooking the pasta) and it was pretty damn good.

  • Sauted 3 cloved chopped garlic in ample extra virgin olive oil.
  • After garlic sauteed for a few minutes, broke by hand about ¾ can of San Marzano tomatoes.
  • Grated a good amount of black pepper, added a ½ Tbp sugar (or more), ample salt.
  • Just before mixing with pasta, added a handful of arugula.
  • When added pasta, threw in a pad of butter and a handful grated parm. Mixed.

Things learned:

  • Throw salt in the eggs in the center of the well
  • Scramble eggs and gradually mix in flour with fingerstips instead of fork
  • Generally the proportion is a little more than 1 egg to 1 cup of flour (for example, 3 cups flour, 4 eggs)
  • All purpose flour is good

Quick rolling pin:

5 min food processor/machine

Amazing kneading:

Traditional rolling pin:

Woman fast rolling pin:
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01 May 2011 12:12
tags: italian pasta

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