Chips, Pastas and more!

I hope July is treating you well!

This week’s blog will feature some of my new favorite ways to prepare vegetables rather than the typical sautee and serve methods that we tended to rely on last year. My favorite summer vegetable is here too! BEETS! I LOVE them. I don’t understand who wouldn’t love those earthy little gems…although my husband describes them as tasting like dirt. So I have to get a little creative with my beet-lovin’ fare.

I don’t know why it took me so long to finally discover the joys of Kale/Chard chips. I also didn’t realize how simple making them was. I use the same method to make beet chips as well.

Kale Chips

Remove the leaves from a bunch of Kale/Chard and toss with a drizzle of olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet that is lined with a barrier between the chips and metal and salt to your taste. Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes, but keep an eye on them. They will literally melt in your mouth!

You can season the chips with anything that strikes your fancy as well! I’ve done both Garlic and Cajun.

You can use the same method for beet chips, but they take a bit longer (but are SO worth it!)

This past week marked my first start-to-finish batches of pasta! I made a Spinach/chard blend and a beet pasta.

Photo: Making homemade pastas with my Mom. Beet and spinach/chard, all from the garden with fresh squeezed eggs from the chickens!

Spinach Pasta Dough (http://chasingdelicious.com/homemade-spinach-pasta-dough/)

Difficulty: Intermediate Yield: 2 lb fresh pasta Prep Time:  30 minutes Pressing Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 2-5 minutes minutes

Tools:

Heavy-bottomed pot Bowl Food processor Pasta press Pasta cutters (or cookie cutters) Paring knife

Ingredients:

3 1/2 ounces spinach 12 ounces semolina flour 8 ounces all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt 4 whole eggs

Extra all-purpose flour

Instructions:

1. Blanch the spinach by cooking it in boiling water for about 1 minute before removing it to a bowl filled with ice water. Squeeze all liquid from the spinach and set aside.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flours, salt, and spinach.

3. With the food processor running, add the eggs one at a time and blend until a coarse dough begins to form.

4. Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface.

5. Knead until the dough is even throughout and somewhat elastic. The dough should be very tough and on the verge of difficult to manipulate. Add flour as needed.

6. Process the dough in small batches through  your pasta maker according to the instructions.

Note: It is during this step that you will run the pasta through the pasta press numerous times, folding it in on itself and adding a little flour each time, to build the structure in the dough. I suggest doing this 5 or so times before rolling the pasta out in increments to get it to the appropriate thickness.

7. Once the pasta is rolled to the appropriate thinness depending on the type of pasta you are making, lay it out on a lightly dusted surface and cut out the shapes for the pasta you are making (for ravioli, farfelle, and other broad pastas). For pastas like capellini, spaghetti, or fettuccine, use the appropriate attachments on your pasta press or a sharp paring knife.

8. To sore, wrap pasta in a barely-damp paper towel, and the paper-towel wrapped pasta in parchment paper. Keep the pasta in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the pasta in an airtight container and store for up to a month.

7. Depending on the thickness and shape, cook the pasta in boiling water for 2-5 minutes, or until al dente.

Roasted Beet Pasta (http://www.food.com/recipe/roasted-beet-pasta-57491?layout=desktop)

To prepare roasted beets

To prepare roasted beet pasta

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, toss beets with oil and salt to coat.
  3. Place on lined baking sheet and place in 400 degree oven for 1 hour.
  4. Remove and allow to cool (about 20 minutes).
  5. Then puree in food processor.
  6. Peel beets under running water and cut into 1/4 inch dice.
  7. To make pasta: Make a mound of the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board.
  8. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs, beet puree and any other flavorings you choose.
  9. Using a fork, beat together the eggs, oil and flavorings and begin to incorporate the flour starting with the inner rim of the well.
  10. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape.
  11. Do not worry that this initial phase looks messy.
  12. The dough will come together when 1/2 of the flour is incorporated.
  13. Start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands primarily.
  14. Once you have a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up any left over crusty bits.
  15. Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 3 more minutes.
  16. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky.
  17. Continue to knead for another 3 minutes, remembering to dust your board when necessary.
  18. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  19. Note: do not skip the kneading or resting portion of this recipe, they are essential for a light pasta.
  20. Roll out to four 7 inch by 16 inch sheets and cut in whatever shape you wish.

Wondering what to do with your pasta? Try this new take on a creamy “sauce”

Creamy Avocado Pasta (http://greatist.com/team/my-creamy-avocado-pasta)

avocado pasta

Photo by Claudine Morgan

Serves 2

What You’ll Need:

1 medium sized ripe Avocado, pitted 1/2 lemon, juiced + lemon zest to garnish 2-3 garlic cloves, to taste 1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste 1/4 cup Fresh Basil, (optional) 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 2 servings/6 oz of your choice of pasta Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

What to Do:

  1. Bring several cups of water to a boil in a medium sized pot. Add in your pasta, reduce heat to medium, and cook until Al Dente, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce by placing the garlic cloves, lemon juice, and olive oil into a food processor. Process until smooth. Now add in the pitted avocado, basil, and salt. Process until smooth and creamy.
  3. When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse in a strainer and place pasta into a large bowl. Pour on sauce and toss until fully combined. Garnish with lemon zest and black pepper. Serve immediately.

I found an interesting new way to prepare kohlrabi this week. Up until now, kohlrabi has always been a cold food, but Pinterest led me to a blog (http://sabrinasue.blogspot.de/2012/06/crispy-kohlrabi-medallions.html) with this nifty way to prepare it.

Crispy Kohlrabi Medallions

2 Kohlrabis or 2 zucchinis
1/2 cup
milk
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
oil
Sour cream
for dipping

Peel Kohlrabis and cut them into slices no thinner than 1/4″
thick.
Boil them for about 10 minutes, they don’t have to be done.
If you
use zucchinis or aubergines, you don’t have to boil them after cutting into
slices.

Pour milk into a bowl, in a separate bowl, add flour, salt, and
pepper. Dip each medallion in the milk, than dip into the flour mixture, make
sure each side is coated.

Once all medallions are coated, drizzle enough
oil into a frying pan. Add Kohlrabis and fry for 3-5minutes or until bottoms of
medallions are golden brown.
Remove from pan to a plate with paper
towels.

Serve with sour cream!

That brings me to my family’s favorite use of zucchini…

Zucchini Fritters

8oz frozen corn

1c  grated zucchini

1 small onion finely chopped

1T light olive oil

2 eggs

salt and pepper

1/2 cup flour

1t baking powder

1/4 c light grated cheese

2 1/2 T butter

2T olive oil for frying

Sautee onion in oil for 1 minute, add zucchini. Add corn, stir. Remove vegetables and set aside.

Whisk eggs, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add flour and baking powder, mix well.

Add vegetables and cheese and stir.

Heat butter and remaining oil in pan, drop spoonfuls of mixture in pan and cook until golden brown on each side, turning once.

Another family favorite is canned Dilly Beans.

Pack a mason jar with a clove of garlic, a dill flower and green beans. Boil together 1 qt vinegar, 2 qt water, 1c pickling salt, 1/8 t cayenne pepper. Ladle into jars, let set for a week before eating.

Another surprising win this week was a cabbage dish that came across my brother-in-law’s facebook feed.

Cabbage Noodles and Bacon

1 head of cabbage, chopped
1 pound of bacon
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 large handfuls of egg noodles
Black pepper
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels, then break into bite-sized pieces. (Warning: there’s a chance that you could end up snacking on the bacon bits while you’re finishing dinner. It’s been known to happen here.) Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the egg noodles. Add the noodles and cook until done. Drain the noodles and set aside. Drain some of the bacon fat from the pan, reserving enough to cook the onions. Add the chopped onion to the pan and cook for about 1-2 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften. Add the cabbage to the skillet and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. When the cabbage is tender, add the egg noodles and bacon, mixing thoroughly. Season with pepper. Serve immediately.
And finally, my favorite Beet cupcake recipe. I love this one because it makes beautiful pink frosting that utilizes the beets as well as a wonderfully-textured cake.

Chocolate Beet Cake with Beet Cream Cheese Frosting (http://joythebaker.com/2012/01/chocolate-beet-cake-with-beet-cream-cheese-frosting/)

 image: www.theliveinkitchen.com

Makes one 8 or 9-inch layer cake or about 24 cupcakes

adapted from Fine Cooking November 2001

For the Cake:

2 medium beets, unpeeled but trimmed of their greens

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pans

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

For the Frosting:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

8 ounces (1 brick) cream cheese, softened

4 to 5 cups powdered sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons finely grated beets, mashed with a fork

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or scrapings of one vanilla bean pod

1-2 teaspoons milk, depending on desired consistency

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

pinch of salt

Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Thoroughly wash beets under running water, and trim their leaves, leaving about 1/2 inch of stem.  Place clean beets in a piece of foil.  Drizzle with just a bit of vegetable oil.  Seal up foil.  Place on a baking sheet in the oven.  Roast until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour.

Remove the beets from the oven.  Open the foil and allow beets to cool completely.  Beets will be easy to peel (just using a paring knife) once completely cooled.

Using a box grater, grate the peeled beets on the finest grating plane.  Measure 3/4 cup of grated beets for the cake and 2 tablespoons for the frosting.  Set aside.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.  Use butter to grease two 8 or 9-inch round baking pans.  Trace a piece of parchment paper so it is the same size as the bottom of the cake pan.  Cut it out and place inside the cake pan.  Butter the parchment paper.  Add a dusting of flour to coat the pan.  Set pans aside while you prepare the cake.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars.  Beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, for one minute after each addition.   Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Once eggs are incorporated, beat in beets and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture.  Beating on low speed , slowly add the buttermilk.  Once just incorporated, add the other half of the dry ingredients.  Beat on medium speed until milk and dry ingredients are just incorporated.  Try not to overmix the batter.  Bowl can be removed from the mixer and mixture folded with a spatula to finish incorporating ingredients.  Cake batter will be on the thick side… not pourable.

Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans.  Bake for 23 to 25 minutes (for a 9-inch pan) or 30-32 minutes (for an 8-inch pan).  Cake is done when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove cakes from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Invert cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting and assembling the cake.

To make the Frosting:

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese for 30 seconds, until pliable and smooth.  Add the butter and beat for another 30 seconds, until well combined.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl as necessary.  Beat in the beets.  Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, milk, lemon juice, and salt.  Beat on medium speed until smooth and silky.  Refrigerate the frosting for 30 minutes before frosting the cooled cakes.

To assemble the cake, place one layer of cake on a cake stand or cake plate.  Top with a generous amount of pink frosting.  Spread evenly.  Place the other cake on top of the frosting.  Top with frosting.  Work frosting onto the sides of the cake.  You will have extra frosting left over.  Refrigerate for an hour before serving (it will make the cake easier to slice).  Cake will last, well wrapped in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days.

That’s it for this week! See you in August!

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