How’s it hanging?

I’ve crossed off another project from my growing wanna-do list in my head this weekend.  As you may have come to know through this blog, we like to make homemade pasta.  A lot.  Spaghetti, fettucine, ravioli, waddevah.  It’s the food of the gods.  Over the holidays, I ran across a fresh pasta hanger on Amazon and it looked so simple and easy to make, that I refused to put it in my cart.  We have a gynormous wood shop out back.  So I did a little recon and found what I needed already in the shop and… voila!   Ye olde pasta hanger.  I made it without glue, so I can take it apart to store easily in the cabinet.


Tonight I tried it out.  So, here’s how it went down:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour


  • 3 eggs


  • stir / mix with a fork, blending the egg & flour crater from the inside out.  You may not need all the flour.   When the dough stands on its own, knead by hand for 10 minutes.  Till it looks a like more or less like this:


  • Wrap dough ball in saran wrap and let sit at room temp for 30 mins or so.
  • Afterwards,  I cut the dough ball into 3 equal-ish sided pieces, ready to put through the pasta roller.


I used our Kitchen-Aid roller, starting on setting 1 – ending on setting 5.  Rolling and dusting the dough with flour several times on each setting.  After rolling each of the three balls into a sheet at setting number 5, I cut each in half.  I found that each of my six pasta sheets ended up making about 2 ounces of pasta – a serving.  So 3 eggs + 2 1/4 cups of pasta yields approximately 6 servings.

Next, I put the fettucine pasta cutter on the Kitchen-aid


I hung each section on my new, handy-dandy pasta hanger.  (Awesome!)


Then I threw the pasta into a pot of boiling water.  I sauteed the other bits in a skillet with some olive oil and I let the flavor develop.




Currying f(l)avor.

We roasted a whole chicken the other day and I took both cooked breast pieces and transformed them into a magnificent, mouthwatering curried chicken salad.

Simply delicious.


Here’s more or less what went in.  It made 2-3 cups of chicken salad.

Curried chicken salad

  • 2 cooked/skinned/boneless chicken breasts, diced
  • 1/2 c mayonaise (I like Duke’s light olive oil mayo, tastes just like regular)
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 5-7 tsp curry powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 scallions sliced finely
  • 1 apple (I used a sweet, crunchy gala), peeled and diced
  • 1/8 c sliced almonds
  • juice of half a lime

Mix well so everything is coated with yellowy goodness.  Then put it in the fridge – for several hours before serving, to make the flavor pop.  Be patient, it’ll be worth the wait.

By the way, the baguette came from Baguette House over on North Lamar.  They make the best baguettes I’ve ever tasted.  Hands down.  Go get you some.

Say cheese!

I have a running list, mostly in my head, of things I want to try.   Homemade mozzarella cheese has been on the list for quite some time.   We go through enough of it, so I wanted to give it a shot and see how it turned out.   So here we go…

The recipe I used is here.  And it is a good one.  My additional notes with pics below.

I ordered some citric acid powder and Fromase rennet tablets (vegetable-based) from my trusty Amazon account. 

1 1/2 tsp citric acid powder dissolved in 1 cup of cold water.  I used bottled spring water, since chlorinated water is a no-no.  Set aside.

1/4 tablet Fromase rennet dissolved in 1/4 cup bottled spring water. Set aside.

1 gallon whole milk.   Homogenized but NOT Ultra High Pasteurized (UHP) – another no-no.  I used HEB-brand whole milk, and I will again.

1 tsp kosher (not iodized) salt

Pour milk and diluted citric acid unit a 5-quart or larger stainless steel or ceramic NON-REACTIVE pot.  Stir well.  Aluminum or iron are bad… from a cheese-making perspective.   I have a Le Crueset enamel-over-cast iron dutch oven that was a good size, and the enamel ensures it won’t interfere with the citric acid / milk reaction.

Raise heat, slowly, to 90 degrees Farenheit.  Remove from heat.  Add diluted rennet solution and stir, most lightly, for 30 seconds.  Cover and don’t disturb for 5 minutes as the curd sets and starts to separate from the whey liquid.   The consistency of curds you’re going for is soft tofu-ish.   After 5 minutes, mine wasn’t very solidified, so I covered again and let sit for another 3 minutes.

Uncover and make 1″ x 1″ cuts from top to bottom.  I used a stainless steel cake frosting spreader.

Return to low heat, stirring lightly, until temperature is 105 degrees farenheit.   Remove from heat and continue stirring for another minute or two.   The curds start separating from the liquid whey and will want to begin to clump together. Separate curds from whey.  I used a stainless steel colander on top of a large plastic bowl, and a stainless steel scoop.  The picture below shows the remaining whey at the top, and the glass bowl of almost-mozzarella curds in a microwavable bowl at the bottom – ready for the next step.
  Heat in microwave in small bursts, measuring temperature, and stirring in between bursts, until mixture reaches 135 degrees farenheit.   My microwave is pretty strong, so I used 20 second intervals of heating, and then stirring, until it reached 135 degrees. Strain off remaining whey.  Begin kneading (like dough) and stretching, alternating, until mixture becomes cohesive and stringy.

I forgot to add the kosher salt until after the cheese got to the ball stage.   So, this attempt yielded stringier portions than I had imagined.  But it held together alright.  Next time, I will use less salt than called for in the recipe (I’ll try 1/2 tsp next time).    I formed my first batch into 3 loaf-ish shapes.

And then I put in a container with part whey liquid / part water and covered in the fridge.

  First taste… caprese salad…. delicious!
I’m going to get another gallon of milk proto!  I’m hooked.

Sugar bombs.

I was introduced to cake pops recently, when a friend brought a dozen to a party.  They are an excellent sweet treat.   This weekend I took a stab at making a batch myself.    Here’s how they turned out:


I did a little research beforehand, googling a few recipes and how-tos.   This is the one I picked to guide me, and pretty much followed it exactly.   I made one modification – I detest frosting-in-a-can, as its main ingredient is partially hydrogenated fat.   I bought a powder mix instead – which was basically powdered sugar, really.   I just had to add butter and a bit of milk.  And it worked great for the frosting.  I mixed up half a box (i.e., about as much frosting to cover half a cake), on the advice of the how-to that I was following.   And it worked fine.

I bought pure white Wilton candy chips, and added food coloring.  I have to say that the “dipping” phase is still a mystery to me.  No matter what I tried, the candy coating was always the consistency of frosting.  I tried both the microwave method, as well as the double boiler method.   It was still very thick.    So I couldn’t really “dip” the pops.  I spun them through the coating and had to smooth with a knife most of the time.   No matter, though, they turned out fine.

Some people recommend buying floral arrangement foam to use as a stand to hold your cake pops.  I asked Monte to make me a few stands with wood scrap he had laying around in the shop.  They worked great.

Good for what ails you. 

I brought a head cold back with me from Seattle.   For dinner tonight Monte suggested chicken soup, and it was just the ticket!   We already had 1 1/2 quarts of homemade chicken broth in the fridge.  And a grilled chicken breast leftover from last night.  I just had to add a cup each of chopped onion, celery & carrots; a sprinkle of salt & pepper.   At the end I threw in a few ounces of pasta.  And voila!

Delicious!  I feel better already.  


Bringing back the bread machine. 

We received an awesome Breadman Ultimate breadmaker for a wedding gift way back when.  And I used it for several years but stopped for some reason.   I was probably traveling a lot at the time.

A couple weeks ago I was cleaning out the pantry, and rediscovered it.  I have since stocked up on wheat flour, gluten and other ingredients and am back in the bread making groove.  The 1.5 lb loaves are perfect for the two of us for several days.

The light whole wheat bread loaf is delicious.

This one’s hot out of the machine:

And this is a link to 100+ page PDF for the bread machine with many recipes.

Beef burgundy. 

Today winter seems to have relaxed its grip.  Temps were in the 50s for most of the day.  Monte and I headed outside and trimmed, pruned, tilled and sowed.   A great day. 

I’ve dug out my crock pot recently and have been making recipes from way back when.   Tonight I made Beef Burgandy.  And Monte made homemade noodles to go with.  Oh my.  Delicious!

Beef burgundy ala crockpot:

– 2-lb beef round steak, cut in 3/4″ cubes

– 1/4 c flour

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 3 Tbsp butter

– 2 c red wine, Bordeaux or burgandy

– 1 c beef broth

– 1 c chopped onion

– 6 oz white mushrooms, rinsed dried & quartered

– 2 bay leaves

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Coat beef with flour and salt mixture.   Melt butter in skillet.  Add beef and brown on all sides.  Transfer browned meat to crock pot.  Deglaze hot skillet with a little bit of wine and put those tasty bits in the crockpot, too.  Combine all other ingredients in crock pot and stir. 

Cover.  Cook on high for 2 hours, then reduce to low for another 2 -3 hours, until meat is tender. 

Before serving, remove 1 c of liquid, heat over medium on stove; bring to a low boil.  Wisk in 1 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in  2 Tbsp cold water,  until  thickened.  Pour back into crockpot and stir. 

Remove bay leaves.  Serve over noodles. 

How sweet it is.

It’s a beautiful Saturday. Temps in the high 60s for a change. We are anchoring out in our cove.
We have the place to ourselves.

Tutti a tavola e mangiare!

And for dessert: HOT BUTTERED RUM!

We tried Emeril’s recipe and it was just right!

Literary inspiration.

I recently read Ernest Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream. I enjoyed it – set in the Caribbean, full of sea and salt and many an alcoholic beverage.
One of the favorite drinks of the main character in the book, Thomas Hudson, was a gin drink with coconut water, lime juice and bitters. It sounded interesting enough to me to concoct one and try it. And it was pretty good! We call it a “Tom Hudson.” There wasn’t a recipe in the novel, so the individual quantities are up to the bartender’s discretion. But here’s how I like them:

Tom Hudson
– 2 oz gin
– 4 oz coconut water
– juice of 1 lime
– a few (or many) drops of bitters
– serve on the rocks

Cheers, Ernest!


Crabby patties.

Francine brought over a humongous bowl of dungeness crabmeat from their haul over the weekend – ginormous hunks of claw meat already cleaned and ready to eat. So, I made crab cakes tonight for the first time, and I think they turned out excellent.
Spongebob would be proud. :)

Here is the recipe I used:

– 2 cups dungeness crabmeat, flaked
– 1/3 c crushed cracker crumbs
– 2 Tblspoons mayo
– 1 egg
– 1 tsp mustard powder
– 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
– 1/4 tsp garlic powder
– 1/2 tsp kosher salt
– Juice of 1/2 lemon
– 2 green onions sliced and diced thinly
– 1/2 green pepper diced finely
– Black pepper to taste

1) Mix all of the above together well in a bowl.

2) Form into cakes (6 or so) and dust each with:


3) Heat in large skillet on med high:

– 1/4 c olive oil

4) add crab cakes to pan and cook 4-5 mins, then flip and cook another 3-4 mins.

5) remove and place on paper towel.

Plate with lemon and Dijon mustard remoulade.

Wine me, Marge!

Happy National Drink Wine Day!!! Of course, I obliged:

For dinner, I made a side dish I’ve been wanting to try for a while.

Roasted Curried Cauliflower
– 1 cauliflower head, cut into bite size pieces
– 1 tsp lemon zest
– 1 T curry powder
– 1 t garlic powder
– 1/2 t tumeric
– 1/4 t sumac
– 3 T olive oil
– 1 T coconut oil
– kosher salt and ground pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400 F. Combine spices and oil in large bowl. Toss cauliflower florets in spice mixture. Turn out onto jelly roll pan. Roast for 40 minutes, stirring and turning at halfway point.

There’s nothing better than homemade pasta.

Tonight Monte made pasta. I “helped” by hovering over the stove while he was making a light white wine sage cream sauce repeating how hungry I was.
Homemade pasta is nothing short of amazingly delicious. We have pasta roller and pasta cutter attachments for our KitchenAid mixer that make the prep pretty easy.

He used Mario Batali’s recipe for basic pasta dough. You can find a version of the recipe here. He made a smaller batch (3 eggs and 2.5c flour) and kneaded it for 10 mins, letting it rest for 30 mins before rolling & cutting. Here’s the finished product. We cut it fettuccine size. Yummmmmmmm


Applebuttery goodness.

I have had a hankering for apple butter lately.   My HEB has a poor selection.   The only one they stock was full of multi-syllable chemical ingredients, and high fructose corn syrup.  I couldn’t bring myself to put it in my cart.    When I was a kid, apple butter was one of the many delicious things my mom would make and I would help her with the cooking and canning.   So, i decided to make my own apple butter.

There were many different recipes online.   I wasn’t looking to go the whole canning route, as I just wanted to make a small batch.    Some recipes started with apple sauce.   But I wanted to go as close to the good old fashioned way as possible.   I found a recipe that sounded minimalistic and simple.   I halved the original recipe, and it yielded 2 pint jars (i recycled some Bonne Maman 13 oz jam jars) of applebutter, which have a fridge life of about 2 weeks.  Or could be frozen up to a month.

I’ll start with a picture of the result, to get your mouth watering, and follow with the recipe:


You’ll need a crock-pot and an immersion blender.   Here’s the before:


You may want to use a variety of apples.   I used mostly gala, which are on the sweet side, and mixed in a few red delicious which are less sweet.   I also have one of these awesome contraptions, which makes peeling/coring/slicing the apples a breeze:


Crock-pot Applebutter    (yields 2 pints)

3 1/4 lbs apples, peeled, cored & sliced
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 T ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 T vanilla extract

Place apple slices in crock pot.   In medium bowl, mix sugars, and spices.  Sprinkle dry mix over the apples and stir gently to coat apples and combine.


Cook on low, covered, for 12 hours.

Stir in vanilla extract and puree with immersion blender until smooth.  For thicker applebutter, can cook on low another hour with lid ajar.

Cool and place in jars.  Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.