Thursday, December 17, 2009

Homemade Pasta

I do love making things that seem by ordinary daily standards seem to be impossible, ergo Homemade Pasta. Besides the fact that fresh pasta tastes infinitely better it also cooks quicker too, maybe three minutes is rolling boiling water.

It is a funny thing that has happend to the home cook. It is as if restauntaurs and commercial food companies and have launched on a collective intimidation campaign. And homefood shouldn't be fancy or fussy, but warming to the heart and the belly. This recipe is adapted from a dear book called The Art of Simple food by Alice Waters. I love this book not only for the fantastic recipes, but because of the overall theme that few, very good ingredients put together makes wonderful meals and really heart-filling happy times when shared with one's family.


2 cups of flour
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup of cornmeal for dredging after it is cut


1. I put all the ingredients in my standing mixer and let it whiz about until all is combined into a golden disk of delicious dough.

2. Wrap in cling and store on the counter top until ready to use or at least 30 minutes so the dough is relaxed. It dough is like people in that respect... it needs time relax too.

3. Cut the dough into quarters and working one quarter at a time slowly work through your pasta machine. Starting on the largest setting roll through until desired consistency of pasta sheets. If you are going to use for ravioli or lasagna... you are done.

4. Once all the pasta sheets are rolled out, assemble your pasta cutter and roll your pasta through the cutter.

5. Dredge in cornmeal or excess flour to prevent sticking after the pasta is cut.

You can cook straight away in a allow the pasta to dry on a rack , or store in the fridge for two days or the deep freeze for two weeks. Once frozen don't bother to defrost simply put in the pot of boiling water straight from freezer.

Once cooked you can serve it with nearly anything. But I love it simple and delicious with shaved parmesan and good olive oil.

As always, many blessings, much love, and happy eating!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Spiced Apricots and Pears

When I was a young girl, I always looked forward to my Aunty M's overflowing sparkling holiday dessert table. I mean this literally was the thing of little girls' dreams, the pies, the cakes, the treats. I know from the mind of an adult, that it didn't sparkle. But somehow, I seem to remember that it did have a sort of magical glisten. And with out fail, as if you could set a clock by it, there was always her hot mixed fruit salad. More of a pie filling in syrupy treacle and then anything that could ever be inferred by the word salad. Nonetheless, this is my homage to that delicious sweetness of my childhood and the delicious sweetness that my Aunty M still adds to my life today. Now, I like to package these up in pretty jars with ribbon to share with others. Oh it is delicious on nearly everything, I like it with vanilla ice cream or cold ham leftovers.

1 large can of apricots in syrup (if it is in juice add 1/2 cup of icing sugar)
1 large can of pears in syrup
1 tablespoon rice vinegar or any white vinegar you have
2 sticks cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried chili flakes
1/8 teaspoon of cardamon
1/8 teaspoon of all spice berries
3 whole cloves
3 cardamon pods
1/4 teaspoon of peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt


Pour your entire ingredient list in to a heavy bottomed saucepan and allow to come up to a boil. Once there, let the spicy exlir happily bubble away for a minute or so. Cool and spoon into jars this golden treasure for unsuspecting but very lucky recipients... including yourself.
Cook's Notes...

You certainly could simplify this for yourself by using a pie spice mix or some mulling spice. Simply stir in 2 tablespoons of the mulling mix or 1 tablespoon of the pie spice mix, and omit the rest of the spices save the peppercorns, salt, and chili flake.

I know preserves can be a tad intimidating. My friend Meg and I once embarked on three day exposition into the depths of Strawberry Jam Purgatory, of which I am not sure she has recovered. Nonetheless, we emerged with delicious jam that I enjoy today. But the reason you preseve with cavity-inducing amounts of sugar and sterlized glasses is so that it can stay on the shelf for years and years. I don't want this to last until the next ice-age, just in the ice box. So, you needn't mess about with the sterilization of jars. Just put them in the heated wash of dishwasher, store in the fridge, and use the contents straight away. I don't think I have ever had any go bad...

As always, much love, many blessings, and happy giving!

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

Everybody loves chocolate covered pretzels. The salty, sweet, chocolate combination is completely addictive. I mean really, what more could you possibly want. I like to keep these in my office for passerbys, vagabonds, and occasional vice presidents. Around the holidays I like to think of them as festive pool cues.
This is not so much a recipe as it is an emacipation proclimation from over-priced store bought chocolate pretzels. I am not sure what sort of evil confectionary marketing scheme was effective in convincing us all that we were not capable of melting chocolate and dipping things in it. But apparently, it has worked. Let us be liberated and enjoy the simple and delightful task of dipping all things in chocolate... but especially around christmas.

Pretzels Rods
Chocolate Chips any kind
Toppings (sprinkles, nuts, other types of melted chocolate)


1. Nuke a cup or so chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl on high for 30 seconds.
2. Stir and nuke again for 30 seconds.
3. Stir until all of the chocolate buttons are melted
4. Dip the pretzles in the melted chocolate and use a spoon or spatula to smooth.
5. Twirl off excess chocolate and allow to slumber leisurely on a blanket of wax paper covering a cookie sheet.
6. Sprinkle with child like abandon your favorite toppings. Here I used my favorite nuts pecans and some darling Christmassy sprinkles.
7. Plop the whole cookie sheet, wax paper, choco-pretzes in the ice box. Allow to cool until hard about 15 mins.
Emjoy! I like to display them in vases as if they were flowers. But they are delicious and fast moving no matter how you put them out.
As always, much love, many blessings, and happy choco dipping.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cranberry Almond Bars

In the spirit of the holidays here is a lovely simple delicious recipe to whip up something to share. I really love Christmas. It is one of those times when being overly generous and indulgent of ones friends and family is not only tolerated it is encouraged. I love food, and I love to give food as presents. The red christmassy cranberries coupled with the rich nutty almonds makes this a wonderful treat. I over-indulge myself by adding a sugary snow of frosting with delicious orange tang of Grand Marnier. These bars texture is light and a bit more like a pound cake, all the same, perfect for a Christmas breakfast accoutrement or an addition to host gift basket.

3/4 cup unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 & 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp pure almond extract
1 & 1/2 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp coarse salt
2 c. fresh cranberries
1/3 c. slivered almonds

1. Crank your oven to 350. Lay parchment in an 8X8 pan and spray with PAM to prevent sticking.

2. Melt the butter in the microwave and let it sit for a moment.
3. Whip the sugar and eggs together for a while. Add the melted butter, and extract. Stop the mixer, and add in the flour and salt. Mix until combined.

4. Stir in the cranberries and almonds using a spatula.

5. Pour into the prepared pan and bake off for 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean...

Hazaaa, homemade cranberry almond bars. Let them cool on a wire rack.

In the mean time you can whip together 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar and 1 teaspoon of Grand Marnier to make the drizzle frosting. Apply liberally... it is the holidays.

Enjoy! As always, much love, many blessings, and happy baking!