>Mushroom Red Wine Tomato Sauce on Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta

March 21, 2011 § 28 Comments


On our way out I grabbed a coat and scarf; it’s been warming up but the nights are still a bit chilly. I was glad I did because the night was unexpectedly cold. We ate dinner, glad to be sitting away from the door and the cold air that would drift in every time it opened and closed. Later when we met my friend and her husband for drinks I left my coat on as we sat at the bar. Then the rain came – and yesterday it poured almost nonstop. I stayed indoors all day, sheltered from the unfortunate weather outside as the LA Marathon runners passed by my house only two blocks away.

I didn’t leave the house yesterday, at all. My foot didn’t set foot past the front door and it was awesome… perfect. I tend to spread myself thin and am out of town most weekends. While fun, it’s tiresome so when I get a weekend at home I try to relish it as much as possible. I decided to take advantage of the day spent indoors by making a meal that takes a little more time and care to prepare. It was so nice, tending to the simmering sauce as the rain fell outside and Eric and Nala on the couch watching March Madness games. This meal was perfect for a rainy Sunday – the rich sauce and chewy noodles so comforting. I wish I had time to cook like this every day.

Mushroom Red Wine Tomato Sauce:
3 1/2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 medium brown onion, chopped
1 dried bay leaf
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
10 oz sliced cremini mushrooms
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in water and the large pieces roughly chopped
Shaved parmesan cheese
Pasta noodles (Recipe below)

In a large saucepan, heat 3 tbsp of the olive oil to medium heat and add the minced garlic. When fragrant, add the san marzano tomatoes and use your spatula to break up the tomatoes. Add the tomato paste and stir until combined. Stir in the red wine and sugar. Add the pepper, bay leaves, oregano, and thyme, and let simmer on low for an hour to an hour and a half. Remove bay leaves after the sauce is done simmering

On the side, in a smaller sauce pan, heat the remaining 1/2 tbsp of the olive oil and saute the onions for a few minutes until softened. Add to the simmering tomato sauce. Saute the cremini mushrooms for a minute in the same sauce pan and then add to the tomato sauce. Squeeze the porcini mushrooms of excess water and also add to the tomato sauce. Stir and continue to let simmer.

Add pasta noodles to a dish, spoon some sauce over it, and top with some parmesan cheese.

Whole Wheat Pasta:
A few notes:
I doubled the ingredients, but used a mix of half whole wheat flour and half all purpose flour. Also, the dough was having a hard time coming together so I added about 2 tbsp of cold water and hand kneaded for about 10 minutes. Pasta was cut using a pasta maker

>Spelt Focaccia Bread (Sandwich), and More on Panera!

February 23, 2011 § 25 Comments


I have been eyeing Kim Boyce‘s “Good to the Grain” for several months now. Every couple weeks I would look it up to read a little more about it and tell myself that three shelves of cookbooks is enough. But recently – finally – I bit the bullet and purchased a copy. When it arrived I read through the opening pages and looked at every recipe. I do eventually want to try each of the grains profiled, but some are a bit pricey so I’ve decided to go through one at a time, beginning with spelt.

I knew I wanted to make a yeasted bread because it’s been a while since the last time, so I woke up bright and early on Sunday morning to get started on the dough. I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of switching the rise times – it calls for 2 hours for the first rise and 1 for the second, but since I had to get to yoga I let them rise the other way around. The smell of it baking was heaven in itself but the bread turned out golden brown and beautifully delicious, and I couldn’t stop eating it. Chewy on the inside with a nice crunch on the outside it made the perfect sandwich to hold my brie, baby spinach and tomatoes.

Coincidentally, while I was eating my lunch I posted a photo of my half eaten sandwich on Facebook and a friend of mine commented that she tried making a yeasted bread but it turned out to be a brick. I suggested that perhaps the water she used to proof her yeast was too warm and as it turns out – she had used boiling water, thus killing her yeast. I have sent her to The Bakers Table, a page on the Panera* website that hosts a few videos that include tips on baking bread.
Panera also has some good resources on Facebook, highlighting the use of fresh ingredients. It’s hard to say which section is my favorite – it’s probably a tie between the mac & cheese and strawberries (note: the strawberry section has a nice video on a delicious strawberry ad poppy seed salad!)
As much as I’d like to, I don’t make my own bread all that often. It’s hard to get through a whole batch before it goes bad, and I frankly just don’t have the time. Luckily, wonderful fresh bread can be readily found everywhere. One of my favorite places to go for a good sandwich on some wonderfully baked bread is Panera. Their bread is fresh and dare I say even better than my own homemade bread? It’s true – I have a long way to go before I can consider myself a bread maker.
*Note: I have been compensated for my words on Panera.

>Baked Matcha Korokke (Japanese Croquettes)

November 9, 2010 § 24 Comments


After walking Nala, I quickly got to work without even sitting down for a little break. There were onions that needed to be chopped, garlic to be minced, kombu to be soaked, potatoes to be peeled. I started rinsing, peeling, smashing, and cutting. Sometimes I’ll let the tv run in the background but yesterday I worked in silence. This all sounds bleak and ominous, I know, but it’s very much the opposite. I love it. There’s just so much solace I find in our tiny little kitchen (someday I will get the dimensions for you), especially after a long day at work. Often, I refer to my Friday evening yoga practice as my end of the week work detox, and really it is. It is a conscious good-bye to the week and hello to the weekend. Spending time in the kitchen is my daily work detox, letting go of the work day and settling into the evening. 

Yesterday was a special day – it was me and Eric’s 16 month anniversary. I wanted to cook him a special dinner, and with Japanese being his favorite cuisine I knew it was the way to go. I served these kokokke alongside tofu wakame miso soup and a soy-balsamic marinated chicken. It was a fantastic meal, and Eric generously said that this was one of the best ones I had made in a while. I thought it was good too, but I think next time I will fry the korokke as the baked version, while healthier, are just not as good as the traditionally prepared fried ones.

Baked Matcha Korokke (Japanese Croquettes):

3 small potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp green peas
1 tbsp matcha
1/2 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cup panko

Place potatoes in boiling water and cook until easily pierced with a toothpick (mine took about 20 minutes). Strain and let cool. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a pan on medium and add the onions. Stir occasionally, and then add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Keep cooking until the onions have softened, and add the green peas. Remove from heat. Mash the potatoes and add the matcha and keep mashing and mixing until the matcha is thoroughly combined with the potatoes. Add the onions and mix again.

Preheat oven to 350. Form the potatoes into little patties – I got 8 out of them. Put the flour, egg, and panko into three small dishes, and line them up. One by one, dredge the patties into the flour, egg, and then panko. Place onto an oven safe cooling rack placed on top of a baking sheet. Bake for 25 – 25 minutes.

Source: New Tastes in Green Tea

>Matcha Gnocchi Casera

September 28, 2010 § 23 Comments


When we first arrived in Buenos Aires it was too early to check in to our room, so we asked the girl at the front desk what there was to do within walking distance and if there are any restaurants she could recommend. She named off a few restaurants, including one she said had really good pasta. I found that to be a bit odd, but later learned that Argentina has a strong Italian culinary influence. Pizza and pasta restaurants are bountiful, and pages of menus are dedicated to both at almost every other restaurant. When it comes to pasta, pasta casera is what to look out for on the menu – it signifies that the pasta is housemade. Gnocchi, or ñoquis in Argentina, is one of their most common pastas. In celebration of my wonderful trip to Argentina I made my own gnocchi, albeit a little different than what you’d find down there but delicious nonetheless. 

But first, last week I mentioned that I would be posting photos from my trip. I wanted to post some highlights here, but I’m feeling a bit lazy so I invite you to take a look at the Facebook album I posted instsead. I tried to be descriptive in the captions, but if you have any questions please let me know. Here is the public link:.

It’s no secret that matcha (green tea powder) is one of my favorite ingredients; perhaps it is my favorite ingredient of all. I love the beautiful color it adds to everything, as well as the earthy flavor it brings to the table – not to mention its wonderful health benefits and antioxidant properties! I wanted to learn more about this special ingredient, and green tea in general, so recently I purchased New Tastes in Green Tea. This is a great resource for anyone who has an interest in green tea, with informative chapters on the different types of green tea and how to properly prepare them as well as a brief history. But! On top of that there is a section of recipes that covers a range from smoothies and cocktails to savory dishes and desserts. How fortuitous that there is a recipe in the book for green tea gnocchi. Oh lovely day! What an enchanting dish for me to commemorate me and my husband’s amazing vacation.
I tried making this gnocchi last night but it turned into a disgusting gloppy mess so I dumped the whole thing into the trash. I immediately put it behind me and vowed to make it again tonight, properly. I read up a little on how to make perfect gnocchi and came home feeling confident. So glad I gave it another shot! These gnocchi turned out chewy and delicious… They didn’t turn out the vibrant green I am used to but I used a different matcha brand than usual. But it’s the taste that’s most important right? And delicious it was indeed.
Matcha Gnocchi Casera (from New Pastes in Green Tea):
500 grams potatoes (about 4 red potatoes)
salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 egg, beaten
50g all purpose flour
50g whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp matcha powder
flour for dusting
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1/2 tbsp salt
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup peas
shaved parmesan cheese
basil for garnish
Cover potatoes in a pot with water and boil until a toothpick can easily be inserted, about 20 minutes. Drain in colander and let cool for 10 minutes, then carefully peel the potatoes. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper, and mash. Then add the beaten egg and continue mixing. Mix the flours with the matcha powder and slowly sift over the potatoes, mixing in between.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water and add the tablespoon of oil. Knead the potatoes and flour into a dough. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky – I added a fairly large amount of extra flour. Divide the dough into 4 segments and each segment into a long strip about 1/2 inch wide. Cut into 1 inch segments, and add to the boiling water. After they float to the surface, let them boil for another minute and then remove.

In a pan, heat grapeseed oil and add the garlic until fragrant. Remove from heat, add the peas and gnocchi and toss. Top with parmesan and garlic.


>Waffles waffles waffles

April 12, 2010 § 3 Comments

Yesterday morning I woke up thinking it was a perfect day for some waffles – it was a gloomy lazy Sunday.

Here they are resting up and waiting to be cooked.
Look at those beauties, crunchy with carmelized sugar on the outside, chewy with half melted sugar morsels on the inside. Each bite brings me back to Belgium. They warmed me and my friend up as we were constantly eating them in the cold cold winter. Luckily for her, I made a huge batch and have stuck a stack of them in the freezer for when I see her for dinner later this week.
PS Here’s the recipe I used: http://www.waffle-recipe.com/recipes/liege-waffle-recipe/ Only change was to use .75C butter instead of the full 1C.

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