Sunday, January 2, 2011

A New Year and a New Kitchen... brings homemade pasta

 My favorite thing about the holidays is generally all the kitchen gadgets I receive as awesome presents. This year, the best present ever could be the collaborative efforts of many- the kitchen!! Although still not completed well into the first weeks of the new year, with New Year's Eve, it became mostly functional!

And not a moment too soon, as I volunteered to make an apple crisp for a NYE potluck dinner.  "Fruity and delicious," or something along those lines, deemed by JW.

With the fridge still operating out of the office, we are making it work.  I was inspired with the new work space, that I convinced one of my dearest friends, JD, to travel to Jersey with me to go to Wegman's (for the second time in three days).  It's ok, don't feel bad for her... she likes going to Jersey. She's from there... I still don't get the no left turns, jug handles, taxes, not pumping your own gas... did I mention no left turns? (Especially when your GPS keeps telling you to do a U-turn... to the left!)

For my first true meal in the "new" kitchen, which seems like old news since it's been in the working stages for over a month now (and planning since what feels like 2002), I decided to make pasta from scratch. I haven't made pasta since before I moved to Philly, when I stayed with a distant friend on Indian Queen Lane in East Falls.

My mom gave me a pasta and casserole cookbook for Christmas, and I dove right in. (Don't look at the photo, it actually looks terrible, but the dish tasted nice, minus a small detail I'll explain later.) I decided to try a spinach pasta, and here is my version:

Defrost a block of frozen, chopped spinach. Drain and squeeze with paper-towels about 5.5 oz. Chop it up. Then mix, on the countertop, with:

1 1/2 cups of flour (I use unbleached)
1/4 t salt

Make a well on the counter, and crack 2 eggs (from Jack's Hole Eggs, free-range chickens) in the center and lightly beat. Add 1 T of olive oil and mix all the ingredients together with your fingers.  Begin to roll in a ball. (Ask someone else to help you add flour to your hands so you make less of a mess.)  Knead a few times, and let sit in plastic wrap for 30 minutes. (It makes it more elastic, I learned.)

Then, on a lightly floured counter, roll out the dough: lightly floured rolling pin and turning the dough a 1/4 every so often until it is 1/16-1/8" thick.

So, I don't think I saw the 1/16" in the book. I saw 1/8" and maybe even 1/4! What was I thinking? The "pasta" was WAY too thick. It was like dough sticks after I cooked it. It would have been better if, instead of "ribbons" I cut it into solid macaroni strips or something. Or moved the cutting board in my way and rolled it out a little thinner with my awesome red rolling pin (thanks MG!).  Well, anyway, I sliced the pasta, and added it to boiling, salted water and let it cook.

Meanwhile, I made the sauce, which I'm going to have to try to remember as I type this over a week later... I remember combining two recipes...

First, I sauteed shallots in butter and added the shells off the shrimp.  I added some stock maybe and water (1.5 c) and boiled the shells for 10 min.  Meanwhile, I sauteed the shrimps, next to my spinach leftover from earlier, in butter and garlic, and added frozen peas and fresh broccoli as the shrimp got pink. Added some chives and the shrimp stock. Added a few tablespoons of cream, and sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top to serve.

I enjoyed the flavor. For sure. Next time, I'll stagger up to Rising Sun Avenue and buy me a pasta attachment for my KitchenAid mixer.

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