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.

Cavatelli

Cavatelli

  • Dough: 2.5-3 cups KA all-purpose flour, combined with 5 large eggs, using the well method
  • Kneaded dough for about 10 minutes.
  • The dough was a bit tough, but became relaxed and somewhat sticky after letting it sit.
  • Let sit on the counter covered in plastic wrap for 1.5 hours while doing other things
  • To make the cavatelli, cut dough with sharp knife into small segments, about the size of a golf ball. Rolled with my hands into a long rope, about ⅓ inch thick. Cut into ½ inch segments with a sharp knife. Pressed down into the center of each with a butter knife and rolled. Put cavetelli on a floured baking sheet and dried in freezer. When the pasta was dry, put into plastic freezer bag for later use.

Three websites with examples of the process:
http://www.lidiasitaly.com/recipes/detail/1034
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes-and-cooking/how-to-make-cavatelli/pictures/index.html

One of Mario's recipes that looks good for fall:
http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/cavatelli-with-spicy-winter-squash/print

I also enjoy eating cavatelli with Mario's fennel sauce, which I will do later this week.
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/mario-batali/ricotta-gnocchi-with-sausage-and-fennel-gnocchi-di-ricotta-con-salsicce-e-finocchio-recipe/index.html
Leave a Comment
01 May 2011 12:09
tags: italian pasta

Falafel

My first attempt at falafel! I think it went pretty well. It was easier than expected; its reputation as a difficult food to make probably just translates as time consuming. The good news is that much of that time has nothing to do with cooking. You just have to remember to soak the dry chickpeas over night, and make the dough early enough that it has some time to set in the fridge. The time you spend actually making the falafel is similar to what you would spend on any other meal.

I was happy I used dry chickpeas (avoid canned), and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that after soaking overnight, the chickpeas required no additional cooking before being turning into dough. I made the dough in the food processor by pulsing, adding flour to the chickpea mix a tablespoon at a time until it was only somewhat sticky and held together. I did not puree the dough at any stage, as specified by the recipe, which resulted in a less gummy, more textured falafel. I put the dough in the fridge on a plate covered with plastic wrap for the afternoon, about 3 hours.

To fry the falafel, I used an electric skillet with just a 1/2 inch of olive oil. I heated it to 375 as called for in the recipe, but occasionally turned it down to 350 when the falafel seemed to be cooking too fast. Because I used such a thin layer of oil, it was necessary to make relatively small falafel balls (about 1.5 T of dough each) so they would cook through. The falafel came out tasty and quite crispy. The falafel did not use much oil; I was left with almost as much oil as I had started with.

I served it in falafel plate style with baba ghanouj, hummus, and tabbouleh. (All homemade, of course!)

You can find the recipe I used here:
My Favorite Falafel Recipe
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/My-Favorite-Falafel-231755
Leave a Comment
20 Mar 2011 23:34
tags: beans middle-eastern

Arroz con Gandules

Arroz con gandules, or rice with pigeon peas, is a traditional Puerto Rican dish. In its mix of tomatoes, capers, and olives, it reminds me a bit of my beloved pasta puttanesca, but the additional ingredients take it in an entirely different direction.

I cobbled together my recipe from various ones I found on the Internet, but it went something like this:

  1. Saute 1 green pepper, finely chopped, 1 onion, finely chopped, and 3 cloves garlic.
  2. Add 1/2 can roma tomatoes, broken up, 2 Tb chopped green olives, 1 T capers, oregano, and 1/2 Goya sazón packet. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add 1 cup medium-grain white rice, 1.5 cups hot water, and 1/2 can of pigeon peas. Mix, cover, and let simmer until water is absorbed. Add salt to taste.

Leave a Comment
11 Mar 2011 01:47
tags: beans puerto-rican

Fennel Sauce

You must make Mario Batali's fennel sauce at once.

No, seriously. Please do not delay and hinder your happiness any further. You can serve it over gnocchi, but a thick or textured pasta will also work. All you need to do is trust Mario and make the sauce exactly as per his instructions. Mario will never fail you.

I made it sans sausage, but I can see why sausage is the appropriate meat for this dish.
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/mario-batali/ricotta-gnocchi-with-sausage-and-fennel-gnocchi-di-ricotta-con-salsicce-e-finocchio-recipe
Leave a Comment
11 Mar 2011 01:32
tags: italian mario

Pasta Puttanesca

I made pasta puttanesca two nights in a row this week. I was feeling saucy.

This dish is so incredibly easy. I love how fast it is to make and delight in how subjective one can be with the portions.

When I make this, I use one medium-sized garlic clove per person, roughly chopped. I saute in a healthy dose of extra virgin olive oil with a dash (or two, or three) of red pepper flakes. Meanwhile, I boil the spaghetti.

If it's summer or early fall and I happen to have fresh tomatoes on hand, I'll chop these and add to the garlic. If it is the very dead of winter (as it is now), I break up a few canned Roma tomatoes by hand instead.

When the pasta is almost finished, I add freshly ground pepper, chopped Kalamata olives, capers, and whatever fresh herb I have on hand (basil, oregano, parsley) to the sauce.

Never, never add salt, because the salt from the olives, capers, and cheese is quite more than enough!

When the pasta is ready, I drain and toss with the sauce. And of course, no pasta dish would be complete without the beloved Parm.
Leave a Comment
22 Feb 2011 01:40
tags: italian pasta

Potato Gnocchi

Since Amanda and I are fresh from our victory of fresh pasta, I thought I'd try my hand at potato gnocchi.

Now, we don't eat gnocchi in my family, and the only gnocchi I can ever remember eating were these tiny wretched monstrosities in a package I got at the food store. Attempting to make something from scratch when you have little idea of the goal is problematic. Still, the whole idea of trying to make potato into pasta seems like a rational idea and therefore well worth the effort.

To reduce the stress, I used just one (red) potato. I figured if it went awry, only I would know, and there would be minimal waste.

I used the method as outlined in Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, which calls for making gnocchi with only potato and flour (no eggs).

I found the process actually ridiculously simple (even if I feel unqualified to judge the end result). I simply boiled the lone potato, whole and unskinned, in water until cooked. I then peeled and mashed with a fork (not ideal because the result was lumpy, and since it was intended only for me, I was highly unmotivated to remove the lumps). I then added an arbitrary amount of flour until I felt satisfied with the dough. This was rolled out into a sausage-like roll, cut into 3/4 inch slices, and shaped with a fork. It only took a few seconds. I then dropped these into boiling water. When they floated to the surface, I waited a couple of seconds, tasted one, waited a few seconds more, and then removed them. I dumped on a bunch of sauce and cheese.

The result tasted fine. Was it "right"? I have no idea. I think the biggest danger here is blandness, so don't be stingy on salting the water while boiling the gnocchi!

Here's a related blog post if you are interested:
http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/how-to-make-gnocchi-like-an-italian-grandmother-recipe.html
Leave a Comment
22 Feb 2011 01:27
tags: italian

Braised Red Cabbage

Finding myself accidentally with a head of red cabbage, no idea what to do with it, and Mario Batali's Molto Italiano, I whipped up this potent, sweet and sour dish.

Mario tends to go a bit overboard with the vinegar, and this dish was no exception. I was a little overwhelmed by the dosage of red wine vinegar and rinsed off a bit of it with additional water. However, the recipe is growing on me a bit.

To make this, saute caraway seeds and red onion before adding sliced red cabbage. Cook until the cabbage is very soft. Add red wine vinegar, sugar, and salt to taste. Be prepared for some strong flavors!

Here's a similar, milder version on Epicurious by Lidia.
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Braised-Red-Cabbage-with-Vinegar-361255
Leave a Comment
22 Feb 2011 01:12
tags: italian mario vegetables

Gimbot Day!

I've been making gimbot pretty regularly lately, following A's recipe to the letter. Well, more or less. But after a few hiccups, I have a few things I'd like to record so I remember for next time.

  • I've used both russet and red potatoes. The russet flavors the sauce more strongly (which is good), but it adds a kind of mealy texture to it as well. With the red potato, the flavor is less pronounced (but still clearly present) and does not affect the sauce's texture as much. The flavor of the potato in the sauce is an (the?) defining quality here, so this decision is not to be taken lightly! However, I decided I personally preferred the red potatoes. Willing to try other kinds next time.
  • I sauteed the potatoes longer than suggested because one time at the end of the process they were not as soft as one would want (and one wants them to be very very soft). I found they cook only very slowly once the tomato sauce has been added.
  • My enjoyment of the dish in the past has been compromised by the peeled skins of the peppers, which would either fall off the chunks of pepper during the cooking process or would stick to them sadly. Either way, I didn't want them there. The last time I made gimbot, I tried blanching the peppers first. I would not recommend this method. This time, I just went at them with a vegetable peeler. It worked beautifully. Will make this a required step!
  • I add a bit of water (1/3 cup) with the tomatoes to help cook the veggies.
  • After the tomato sauce has been added, I cook this longer than 45 minutes. Sometimes much longer. Nothing is final until every type of veggie is supersoft.
  • I added a bit of oregano.
  • Instead of bread, I've been eating this over polenta.
  • I would like to confirm that a good deal of cheese is important. I like powdered Parm.
  • This meal should be followed up by chocolate of some kind.

I think it's worth noting that Gimbot can save lives. Last week I was feeling a bit ill, and as a result I didn't eat well. A cycle thus began; I continued to feel unwell, so I continued to not eat, which led to more sickness, which led to not eating, which led to weakness, and finally absolute despair. I realized that it was urgent that I eat. And that I eat vegetables. At once. I dragged my weakened body into the kitchen and there recalled I had squirreled away a container of gimbot in the freezer. I immediately defrosted and heated it up. Ladies, within 2 minutes of the first mouthful, I felt better. By the time I had finished the bowl, I was completely restored. I am not exaggerating.

Gimbot (and polenta): they take awhile, but they're easy to make and very nutritious. And together they make great freezer leftovers for urgent scenarios like the above, or just when you don't feel like cooking.

On a side note, this recipe reminds me very much of the Spanish pisto. In pisto, though, I believe the veggies are not supposed to be as soft. If you are really enterprising, you saute each type of vegetable independently in extra-virgin olive oil and then simmer in the sauce for 30 minutes. It's amazing!
Leave a Comment
31 Jan 2011 19:13
tags: italian

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License