Tuesday, January 12, 2010

At Chernay Gardens or Where I've Been

Hi everyone! Happy new year! In case you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, I went off to visit my parents with Aaron for a few days and then up to Alaska to celebrate the beginning of 2010 with my good friends and ridiculously cold weather.

It was just non-stop cooking at my parents and even when I wasn’t directly involved, I was watching and it was fantastic. The house always smells so good. Plus, I got goodies. For Chrisanukkah, I received a beautiful basket filled with dried jalapeños, pickled jalapeños, garlic (duh), hot pepper jelly, hot ginger pepper jelly, pasta sauce, and ranchero sauce. I’ve been really digging into the hot pepper jelly lately. I used leftover pancake batter and made savory pancakes with that smothered on top. I also made a huge grilled cheese and pickled jalapeño sandwich with the pepper jelly. I’ve made a large plate of nachos with the pickled jalapeños. And Aaron and I have had baked ziti with the pasta sauce. I’m a lucky kid.

I also got The New Food Lover’s Companion. If you love food, you need this book. Curious about the difference between pancetta and prosciutto? There are full detailed paragraphs on each. Want to know more about different cheeses or how one type of coffee drink differs from another? That’s in there. Curious about what part of the cow your meat is from? There’s a map for that as well as pigs and lambs. Want to know how an English tablespoon is different from an American one? That’s there too. I love this book!

Anyway, there were many good cooking times to be had. I made pasta with my mom from lasagna, which was really fun because they have an Atlas Pasta Roller. It makes making pasta THAT much easier, it’s fun, and the Atlas is cheaper than the attachment kind for a stand mixer (weird, I know). This was the recipe we used:

Pasta All ‘Uovo/Egg Pasta from The Romagnolis’ Meatless Cookbook:

3½ c. unbleached flour
5 medium eggs (at room temperature)
¼ teaspoon salt

We used a food processor, which makes the first steps oh so easy. Beat the eggs. Put the flour and salt into the food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Pulse in the eggs. Have a bit of water nearby just in case the dough doesn’t cling together properly. When you can pick up a bit, pinch it together, and it stays, it’s ready to go.

Take out your super amazing pasta roller. Take a piece of dough (begin with one about the size of a tennis ball) and put it in the pasta roller at the widest setting. This is how the dough will be kneaded. Run it through a couple of times. Slowly make it smaller and smaller by progressing through the numbers until you are at the perfect thickness (or rather, thinness!).

When you cook up homemade fresh pasta, it doesn’t take nearly as long as dried. Depending on the shape, you can do it in five minutes or so. I made extra little pasta bits with the leftover dough we had after cutting it into lasagna shape noodles. I made farfalle (aka bowties) because my favorite thing to do when I made pasta with my mom and brother as a kid was to pinch the bowtie shapes into actual bowties. I still got a kick out of it.

During the trip, I also made bread with my dad. Rather, my dad made bread and I watched closely. It is amazing to see him at work. The shaping takes no time at all with his expert hands.

But that’s not all that was made! Aaron made meatballs with my mom, I made an appetizer snack platter that had gherkin pickles, kalamata olives, marinated mozzarella balls, gouda cheese, cheddar cheese, roasted red pepper, pepper crusted salami, roasted red pepper hummus, and crackers. If there’s one thing I enjoy in life, it’s making platters.

My dad also made Death by Chocolate Cake from the Dom DeLuise cookbook I mentioned here (yeah, they have it!). We also had chile rellenos, roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, a beautiful galette my mom made, and fantastic breakfasts. My dad makes the best omelet in the entire world (no exaggeration. I’m serious) and I also got a killer Dutch Baby from my mom.

Needless to say, time with the family left me very full and very satisfied. I’m lucky to have such a foodie family!

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