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Going South (for dinner)

11 Jan

For some reason, I had a hankerin’ to make pulled pork for dinner this week. Jason and I stopped by Savenor’s on Sunday to pick up a few things to make this happen. I had gone to a few other places looking for pork shoulder but wasn’t too pleased with what I found and knew Savenor’s would have it. They cut a 5 lb piece for me on the spot. Slow roasting isn’t something to do after work. It takes time – this particular recipe takes 9-10 hours start to finish. Here’s how its done (recipe adapted from Cooking Light)…

Slow Roasted Pulled Pork

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
1 (5-pound) boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed
Cooking spray
2 cups water, divided
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup ketchup
your favorite BBQ sauce

  1. Mix the first 8 ingredients in a small bowl. Rub this mixture into the pork shoulder evenly and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 225°F. Spray the rack of a roasting pan with cooking spray. Place pork on the rack in roasting pan. Pour 1 cup water in bottom of roasting pan. Bake uncovered at 225° for 1 hour.
  3. Combine vinegar and ketchup in a small bowl. Brush pork with this mixture. Bake an additional 3 hours uncovered, basting every hour with ketchup mixture. I know my oven is uneven temperature-wise in different spots so I also rotated the pan every time I basted.
  4. Pour remaining 1 cup water in bottom of roasting pan. Cover pork and pan tightly with foil. Bake an additional 3 3/4 hours or until a thermometer registers 190°. Remove from oven; let stand, covered, 45 minutes. I used an instant-read (probe) thermometer and it only took an additional 2 3/4 hours to reach 190° so keep an eye on the internal temperature so the meat doesn’t dry out.
  5. Shred the pork with 2 forks or your hands. It should look something like this when you’re done. And this was only half of what we got. 5 lbs of pork shoulder can easily feed 10-12 people.
  6. Serve with your favorite BBQ sauce. I was going to make my own and then we saw Savenor’s had their own BBQ sauce so we thought we’d give it a shot. It’s pretty awesome. We heated the pork and BBQ sauce together before serving it on potato rolls with slaw and pickles.

    Pulled pork and BBQ sauce

    The final product. The buns were like sliders so two each seemed appropriate!

I made the pickles earlier in the year that I took out, and a Jicama-Apple Slaw earlier in the day. Here’s how I made the slaw:

Jicama-Apple Slaw

Ingredients:
1/2 red onion, julienne
1/2 green cabbage, julienne
1 jicama, julienne
1 green apple, julienne (leave peel on)
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
3/4 cup mayonnaise (or to taste)
splash of apple cider vinegar
kosher salt and pepper to taste

  1. Wash and julienne the cabbage, onion, jicama and apple. Here are all my ingredients ready to go.
    Carrots and/or peppers make good slaw ingredients as well, or you could just use cabbage to keep it simple.
  2. Mix vegetables in a large bowl. Add mustard, mayo and vinegar. This is where using the largest bowl you have comes in handy. Make sure all the vegetables get coated with the dressing, using your hands to toss. Here’s my slaw after being tossed.
  3. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Celery seeds are also nice in a creamy slaw dressing. I don’t like my slaw too wet because I like the vegetables with a little crisp still to them. If you like yours creamier, add more mayo. Less creamy, add less. It’s pretty easy to adjust the flavors to your liking. I’ve also made slaws that don’t have any mayo at all. The slaw will keep in the fridge for several days. I love the colors and different textures going on!

    Beautiful and Delicious (and dare I say somewhat healthy!)

It was a pretty amazing dinner and we have leftovers to last us the week or at least a couple lunches/dinners. I can’t wait to do more BBQ like this in the summer and use our grill to cook the pork. I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I bet I could make a smoker in our backyard!?!

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Holiday Baking Madness!

10 Jan

Hey everyone! Wanted to share some of the sweet treats I made last month for the holidays. With extra time on my hands, I wanted to take full advantage of my kitchen and bake up some homemade gifts to give out and bring to holiday dinners. I spent a lot of time looking at magazine and cookbook recipes and calling family members for recipes. In addition to the baking I did at home, I spent an afternoon at my grandmother’s house baking with her too!

Nana and I baked up a storm in her kitchen

Nana had already made quite a few cookies the week before, but we made some together for both of us to share. She gives out a lot of cookie boxes around the holidays piled high with delicious fruit-filled cookies, pizzelle, an frosted anise cookies. The day we baked together we did three different cookies – two biscotti and a lace cookie. One kind of biscotti had lemon and orange zest in the almond dough and the other also included chocolate and dried cherries. Both were delicious.

Two kinds of biscotti

Next up, Almond Oat Lace Cookies, which are from Bon Appetit. I actually made these for my friend Cari’s cookie swap a week earlier and wanted to try them again. Once the cookies are cooled they are delicious brushed with dark chocolate.

Here are the cookies cooling on parchment. You can really see the lacy texture here.

I was really ambitious one day and did the next three things: Anise Pizzelle, Peppermint Meringues, and Cherry-Pistachio Nougat. Everyone in my family makes pizzelle for Christmas. They can be made with different extracts (vanilla, anise, almond) and are sometimes dusted with confectioner’s sugar once cooled. You need a special press to make them – it kind of looks like a waffle maker. I got mine as a Christmas gift from my dad last year – such a great gift. They are pretty easy to make too.

Lots of pizzelle - they look like snowflakes.

The Peppermint Meringues were really easy to make as well and this was another recipe I got from Bon Appetit. It’s basically sugar and egg white whipped into a meringue which is piped and then baked at a low temperature. These had a red swirl to them which were perfectly festive for Christmas.

I liked how these came out and may try different flavorings next time.

The Cherry-Pistachio Nougat were another relatively easy recipe to make (again from Bon Appetit). Next time I make them, I’ll take the recipe’s recommendation to use edible rice/wafer paper on the top and bottom of the nougat to hold everything together. I had to put the nougat into paper cups because they were so sticky. I love the combination of cherry and pistachio and used orange blossom honey in the nougat which gave it great flavor also.

These nougat may not have looked perfect, but it tasted great.

Last, but certainly NOT least, I made Italian rainbow cookies. These really deserve a post of their own, which I’ll do shortly because it is quite the process to make them, but totally worth it. They are Jason’s absolute favorite “cookie,” though they’re more cakey than cookie-like. I really enjoyed making them and am pretty sure they were the overall favorite of everything in my dessert containers. They may be a Harty holiday staple from now on. Rainbow cookies are made up of three layers of almond cake with raspberry jam in between, all covered in melted chocolate. OMG is right!

What's not to love?! Almond cake, raspberry, chocolate - a killer combination.

Now that my baking extravaganza was complete, I wanted to find a decorative way to package everything up for gifting. I found awesome tags on etsy and the rest of my supplies at Michaels. I filled each “take-out” container with an assortment of cookies, wrapped them in holiday ribbon and bells and attached a tag to each. I fell in love with the packaging and couldn’t wait to give them away!

An assortment of delicious confections!

Here's one of the containers all wrapped up and ready to go.

Here's one with a tag that had a space for writing. So cute!

Our dining room table was full of red and silver containers - I made approx 20 containers of sweets!

It was so much fun to make and give edible gifts this year. I’d love to do it every year. If you live near us or saw me around the holidays, hopefully you got some and I’d love any feedback! If you has questions about any of these recipes, give me a shout. And in case you’re not done looking at pictures, here’s a picture I have to share. I didn’t actually make the cookies below (Dad and Barb did), but thought it was worth sharing anyway. How happy does Collin look?! Happy baking!

A New Years Eve Feast

9 Jan

Happy New Year everyone! What a crazy year 2011 was for the Hartys – between planning our wedding and deciding to leave my job, it’s been a roller coaster. I for one am looking forward to an exciting 2012! Jason and I kicked the new year off with a dinner party hosted by our friends Mike and Jennifer in their home in Rhode Island. I was so happy to plan the menu with them and cook for the party which included 10 of our closest friends. The six-course sit-down dinner included appetizers, soup, salad, entree, cheese course and dessert! Yes, a cheese course. What can I say, I’m fortunate to have friends who love cheese as much as I do!

Jennifer and I did all the grocery shopping (all 2.5 hrs of it) on the Friday morning before New Year’s and spent the rest of the day prepping. Mike and Jennifer were a huge help in the kitchen. We got so much done Friday that Saturday was pretty stress-free and relaxed. After working in a restaurant, you realize how much can be prepped ahead of time and then finished right before it’s time to eat. The party started at 7 and lasted well into the wee hours of the morning – everyone had so much fun. Jennifer did an amazing job outfitting her dining room into an intimate setting using heirloom china and gold and maroon accents. Our guest list included friends Amy and Ken, Phil and Danielle, Jacq and John, Mike and Jennifer and Jason and I. Here’s a look at the dining room and the tablescape!

In addition to what you see here, Amy and Ken brought a gorgeous centerpiece of flowers and candles.

Here are the highlights of our soiree menu…

Signature Cocktail – We decided on serving a signature cocktail when everyone arrived, something fun and seasonal. I think it’s nice to have a drink already made for a party so everyone can enjoy the party and nobody is stuck mixing drinks. In comes The Long Hello Punch. I found this in Bon Appetit magazine and thought it sounded delicious. And it was. Jennifer even made the fruity ice ring to float in the punch and our friend Cari let us use her beautiful punch bowl set.

Appetizers – We served several bite-sized apps while people were hanging out before dinner. The mix of colors, textures and cuisines made for a good looking table too!

Shrimp Cocktail with Homemade Cocktail Sauce

Dried Figs, Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto and Aged Balsamic

Tilapia Ceviche served with Sweet Potato Chips

Chorizo and Mushroom Croquettas with Saffron Aioli

Butternut Squash Bisque with Creme Fraiche, Spiced Pepitas and Fried Sage – For a warm, comforting first course, we served a creamy squash bisque that was garnished with creme fraiche, spiced pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and fried sage leaves. The soup started with a base of celery, carrot and onion. To that I added lots of butternut squash, fresh vegetable stock and herbs. It simmered until the squash was completely tender. I then pureed it and finished with butter and cream.

The finished bisque.

Here's Jennifer helping me garnish all the plates!

Winter Greens with Scallop, Avocado, Citrus and Tequila-Lime Vinaigrette – Our next course was a beautiful salad of winter greens (arugula, romaine, radicchio and endive) with blood orange, grapefruit and tangerine segments and a seared sea scallop. This was all tossed in a tequila-lime vinaigrette. Jennifer loves avocado and Mexican flavors so I thought this would be a fun second course! The radicchio and arugula were somewhat bitter but the buttery-ness of the avocado and scallop balanced it out and the citrus gave brightness to the whole dish.

I didn't realize how colorful this salad was until I started plating - gorgeous!

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs, Parmesan Risotto, Glazed Mushrooms, Roasted Root Vegetables – This was our main course and certainly a labor of love! I think this was everyone’s favorite dish too. Braised short ribs aren’t a quick dish to prepare, but if you’ve got the time they are 110% worth the effort. The short ribs were the only thing I actually used a recipe for. I used Barbara Lynch’s recipe from one of my favorite cook books, Stir. I served the short ribs with Parmesan Risotto topped with glazed oyster and shitake mushrooms and roasted vegetables (rutabaga, parsnips, carrots and acorn squash). Once the short ribs were cooked (they took 6 hours total) I strained and reduced the braising liquid with butter and thyme to make the sauce that finished the plate. If you want a melt-in-your-mouth unctuous dish that everyone will love – try making short ribs. If I didn’t serve it with risotto, I would’ve probably served it over polenta. It screams for a creamy grain to be served over. I for one can’t wait for an excuse to make them again!

A wonderful winter meal to have with friends...

Unfortunately, I didn’t photograph the cheese course (gasp) or dessert, but both were magnificent. Our friends brought a few different desserts (chocolate-dipped orange madelines, cheesecake and cookies) while Jennifer and Mike hand-picked a 5-cheese plate from one of my favorite places around, Formaggio Kitchen. We served the cheese with a kumquat mostarda, pear compote, sunflower honey and water crackers. The night continued much past dessert ending in fireworks and, of course, dancing. Here’s hoping 2012 is as delicious as it started!

Figs, Pigs and a Taste of Italy

10 Dec

We recently got a new bakery/sandwich shop on Highland Ave in Somerville called 3 Little Figs. While running errands the other day I stopped in for lunch and a coffee. The space is small, but comfortable and I really liked the decor. The first thing you see when walking in is a big glass case of baked goods. I know I came in for lunch, but man did these pastries look delicious. I ordered a “Market” sandwich and a Cafe Americano. At the last minute I added 2 apple cider donut muffins to go (one for me and one for Jason). The Market sandwich is prosciutto, goat cheese, arugula, and fig jam on Iggy’s francese bread. It was served with a few slices of seasoned cucumber. It’s literally all my favorite things in one sandwich – seriously!

My sandwich and coffee - absolutely delicious.

The coffee, from Gimme! Coffee , was also very good. After reading up on 3 Little Figs on their website I learned they source most of their food locally, including their tea, honey, milk, yogurt and produce – we all should do this. How was the apple cidar donut muffin you ask? Amazing! It didn’t last the car ride home! Jason’s a big fan of apple cidar donuts so I knew he would like it. I wish I got a picture of it, but I totally spaced in my sugar coma. I would definitely recommend this place to my Somerville friends if you’re looking for a good breakfast or lunch spot.

In my travels this same day, I stopped at Savenor’s, a butcher shop and local grocer near me in Cambridge. I went in not knowing what we were going to have for dinner but knew I’d find some inspiration there. I definitely did! They had just smoked some wild boar bacon and were handing out samples when I walked in. The smell and taste was amazing – I got a pound of it and decided I needed to make a ragu with it. Savenor’s describes this bacon as this:

Made from free-range wild boar, this is a great alternative to traditional pork bacon. Leaner and more flavorful, wild boar bacon is a wonderful change of pace.

I also bought an onion, some mushrooms and other ingredients for dinner later in the week. I started my Wild Boar and Mushroom Ragu by sweating rough chopped onions and mushrooms in olive oil. Then added tomato paste and let that cook with the vegetables. Once I had good color on the vegetables, I deglazed the pan with some veal stock and added fresh herbs, some warm spices and the wild boar bacon. The smell in the house was amazing. Rick was waiting for me to drop some boar on the floor the whole time!

Here's the veg and boar simmering in veal stock!

I let the veal stock reduce a bit before adding in my tomatoes. Once the tomatoes went in, I brought the ragu up to a simmer and then let it go real low for about 2 hours.

The ragu had simmered for about 2 hours at this point. The flavors were really great.

About fifteen minutes before we were ready to eat I put water on for pasta and made ziti. I thought this ragu needed a nice hearty macaroni to go with it. There was so much wild boar on the menus in Italy – this dish definitely reminded me of something we ate on our honeymoon (long sigh…). Jason and I enjoyed our dinner with glasses of Brunello di Montalcino from Abbadia Ardenga in Italy. We bought several bottles from this vineyard when we visited them in Italy.

Me in the Abbadia Ardenga tasting room surrounded by wine, meat and cheese. It couldn't have been more perfect.

The wine went perfectly with the pasta. Of course we added a healthy does of Parmigiano Reggiano to this dish after I took the picture! What a great meal!

The finished Wild Boar and Mushroom Ragu dish! Can't wait to have more wild boar.

After a fun day with my sister and nephew today, Jason and I are headed to our first holiday party of the season tonight. I can’t wait to see our friends and start the festivities. Enjoy the weekend everyone!

More Blueberry Madness: Backyard Blueberry Pie & Buttermilk Pudding Cakes

28 Sep

With the last of my blueberry harvest, I decided to make my neighbors a blueberry pie. I had seen one being made on TV recently and got the itch to bake a pie. I decided to use a recipe I found online as a skeleton and then change it up a bit. You can find my Backyard Blueberry Pie recipe here.

The crust came out beautiful and the filling was super jammy and fresh. I know my neighbors loved it!

Here's my pie before going into the oven. I love how the crust looks already!

Post oven, the filling was bubbling away and the crust was nicely browned.

Even after that pie, I still had leftover blueberries. I took out a cookbook I bought earlier this year at school, The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern: Knockout Dishes with Down-Home Flavor, and decided to look for a recipe that I could use blueberries in.

I met the Lee brothers earlier this year at school when they came and gave a cooking demonstration. I really enjoyed their fun, easy-going take on food and cooking, and how a lot of their dishes are perfect for entertaining. I decided to make Buttermilk Pudding Cakes with a blueberry lemon compote (instead of the sugared raspberries the recipe called for). I used the same Blueberry Compote that I used in my FCI Menu Project. The recipe couldn’t be easier and I love making individual desserts – they’re nicely presented to guests and keep overeating at a minimum because they’re already portioned! The recipe yields 8 pudding cakes – you can see them in my standard muffin tin below.

When flipped out, they should be golden brown all around and ready to be topped with fruit, whipped cream, powdered sugar, ice cream, etc!

Here’s my finished cake with the blueberry lemon compote. I think the combination of the tangy buttermilk cake with this topping went great together. The Lee Brothers made this dish on Martha Stewart’s show and now the recipe (and a video of them making them) are posted here. Try this recipe next time you’re having company over – you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy!

Poulet Roti Grand-mere (Roast Chicken Grandmother-Style)

21 Sep

Last week Jason and I spent a night at his mom’s house and I thought what better way to pass some time while she and Jason were at a meeting than by making dinner for us all! I decided on a classic French dish we made over and over (and over) again in school, Poulet Roti Grand-mere, which means Roast Chicken Grandmother-style. Any dish with “Grand-mere” in it has the same 4 garniture: glazed pearl onions, bacon lardons, sauteed mushrooms and potatoes rissoler. It took quite a while to prepare everything, but in the end, we had a wonderful dinner. This is one of those dishes that I’d save for a Sunday afternoon when you have plenty of time to prepare it. It’s great comfort food perfect on a cool Fall or Winter day.

First, I prepped and trussed my whole chicken. I haven’t trussed a chicken in a while and was happy for the practice! After prepping my chicken and seasoning it with salt and pepper, I heated a large oven-proof pan on high heat on the stove and added a Tbsp of olive oil. When the oil was very hot, I browned the chicken on all sides. During this process, I started preparing my mirepoix of carrots and onions. I added the chicken trimmings and gizzards to the pan and put it all into a 425 degree oven. After 10 minutes, I added my mirepoix and cooked the entire mixture for another 30 minutes, basting every 10 minutes.

Here's my chicken ten minutes into being cooked. It's starting to brown nicely and I've just added my mirepoix of vegetables.

You know the chicken is done when the juices run clear and when the internal temperature reaches 145-150 degrees F.

Here's my roast chicken after 40 minutes in the oven - I love the color and the skin is so crispy!

While my chicken roasted, I started prepping and cooking the items for the Grand-mere garniture. This consists of cooking pearl onions glacer a brun (brown glazed), sauteing bacon lardons until crispy and rendering their fat, sauteing white mushrooms in the rendered bacon fat until browned, and cooking potatoes cocotte rissoler. Cocotte refers to the shape of the potatoes. Cooking potatoes rissoler is a 3-step process. First you cook the potatoes in salted boiling water until just tender and then let them air dry. Next, you saute them in oil until evenly brown and crispy on the outside. Lastly, you add butter to the pan and finish them in the oven, tossing frequently until done.

Here's 3 components of my Grand-mere garniture going at once along with my Jus de Roti.

When my chicken was done, I let it rest for 10 minutes before carving it. I used the pan drippings and mirepoix to make the Jus. First I removed any excess oil and caramelized the vegetables on the stove top. Then I deglazed the pan with white wine to get up all the sucs (brown bits) in the pan. Next I added chicken stock, strained the vegetables out and let my sauce reduce to a thick consistency. After that I adjusted the seasoning with salt and pepper. I carved my chicken into 10 pieces (4 pieces of white meat, 6 pieces of dark meat) and started plating!

Here are the 10 pieces of my chicken, ready to be served.

The dish came out wonderful – moist and really flavorful. We enjoyed it all with a bottle of white wine from the Hudson River Valley. For those of you who want to try this recipe out at home (and I suggest you do), I’ll be posting it on my Recipes page ASAP.

The finished dish: 2 pieces of chicken with the grand-mere garniture and jus de roti!

Dinner with Friends

14 Sep

Saturday afternoon I was in the mood to make a big dinner – something homey and warm since it was all of a sudden Fall. I invited my friend Michaela over and decided to try two recipes from one of my new cookbooks, Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition, from Barbara Lynch. She is one of my favorite chefs (who I would love to work for) and she has several fantastic restaurants in Boston.

I’d be elated to serve any of the dishes in this book for the most important dinner party – or dinner for just Jason and I on a weeknight – they’re all versatile and delicious. I decided on a dinner menu of Chicken Liver Pate with traditional accompaniments, Tomato Mozzarella Salad and Butcher Shop Bolognese with Homemade Fettuccine.

To start things off, I had to do some grocery shopping to pick up a few things that we needed – specifically meat and cheese! I conveniently (read: dangerously) live close to The Wine and Cheese Cask and Savenor’s Market. The Wine and Cheese Cask is pretty self explanatory and Savenor’s is an amazing butcher shop with local produce and other specialty items. They have three retail locations around Boston and sell to many Boston restaurants. I bet I’ll be BFF with these guys in no time!

Besides in school, I had never made chicken liver pate, but it turned out to be pretty easy and damn tasty! I can’t speak for Jason and Michaela, but I loved it. Again, fancy enough for a large group of VIP dinner guests but easy enough for dinner for two. Plus, I had to get chicken livers for my bolognese (the secret ingredient) and had extra that I couldn’t let go to waste! Here are my chicken livers being sauteed with the shallots.

This recipe is super easy and starts off by sauteing the livers in shallots that were sweated in grapeseed oil.

After the livers are cooked to rare/medium-rare, they are mixed with a port reduction, salt, pepper and a little cream cheese for complexity and texture. Everything is blended to delicious spreadable perfection!

Here's my finished pate with sides of cornichons and whole grain mustard. I served grilled bread on the side as well.

The bolognese starts with a mirepoix of vegetables. To that, the chicken livers are added (diced small – a brunoise as well) and then the ground meats are added. I used ground veal and lamb though the recipe calls for veal, lamb and pork.

Here is my mirepoix of veggies to start my bolognese - carrots, celery and onion, all cut in a small (brunoise) dice.

All the meat has been added to this dish - now all it needs are the liquids and time to simmer ever so slightly.

Once the meats are browned, chicken stock (I used my homemade stock), wine and chopped tomatoes are added – easy as that! I simmered my sauce for almost 3 hours on very low to concentrate the flavors, texture and color.

Here's my sauce right before I plated it. The color and flavors are more richer and darker.

While my sauce was brewing, I started on my pasta dough. I started making my own pasta a while ago and it’s one of those things where once you make your own by hand, see how easy it is and how much better it tastes – you’ll never go back to the boxed stuff (if you have a choice that is)! I don’t use a recipe either – it’s all about the feel of the dough. I start with eggs. A note about the eggs: I used 3 whole eggs this time. I typically use just egg yolks to get a richer pasta but wanted something a little lighter so I used the whites as well. To that, I add some extra virgin olive oil and salt. Once that’s mixed together with a fork, I start adding my flour gradually. Most people do this the opposite way and add their wet ingredients to their dry, but I do it the other way around. How much flour you use depends on several things – the humidity, the freshness of the eggs, the type/freshness of the flour, the temperature, etc., which is why it’s hard to give a measurement. I knead it all together until I have the elasticity and feel I’m after, then wrap in plastic and let rest for at least 30 minutes. I used All Purpose flour for this dough, but I’d suggest using “00” (double zero) flour if you can find it. 00 refers to the how fine the flour is ground – the most highly refined in this case. You’d have to go to an Italian specialty store to get it or King Arthur has an Italian-style flour similar to 00.

While the dough was resting, Michaela and I prepared the Tomato Mozzarella Salad. All our ingredients were so fresh – it was a perfect first course! We alternated layers of sliced tomatoes and mozzarella, placed a chiffonade of basil on top, seasoned with salt and fresh ground black pepper and then topped it all with a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil. It takes 5 minutes and makes for a beautiful presentation.

Now that our salad was done, it was time to roll out the pasta and get it cookin’. I have a small manual pasta machine my friend Amy gave me a long time ago. It’s been the gift that has kept on giving ever since! I learned from one of the chefs at school how she rolls out pasta and have used her technique ever since. Each piece of dough goes through the machine at it’s thickest setting several times to ensure all the dough is cohesive and smooth – folding it like an envelope each time. Then, you decrease the settings and roll the dough through to get the thickness desired. I typically go to the second to last setting so that I can see my fingers through the dough, but it’s not paper thin. Finally we cut the dough – I used the medium-sized cutter which made fettuccine.

My fettuccine right before going in the water.

Cooking fresh pasta is faster than you can imagine. 2-4 minutes is all you need until it is al dente. To plate this dish, I sauteed the cooked pasta in a pan with some of my bolognese, then topped it all with a generous portion of grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a few basil leaves to garnish.

Bellissimo!

It was a delicious dinner – great food, wine and friends. I can’t wait to have more people over for dinner! 🙂