In the last month so much has changed. After months of eating so well and yet feeling progressively worse, I was told that I have IBS and am likely having trouble digesting certain carbohydrates. This temporary fix of avoiding the ferment-able carbohydrates that have been wrecking havoc on my digestive system is simple enough on paper, but in actuality it involves avoiding many ingredients that I have long held near and dear. In a matter of weeks, I have gone from embracing essentially the entire world of whole and wonderful foods (in moderation of course) to working every cell of creativity in my brain to make something delicious and nourishing from of a very limited list of ingredients.
For the next two weeks I will be on the full-blown version of the Low Fodmap diet. Following that begins the challenge phase where small and then larger amounts of a specific type of carbohydrates can be added to see if they are the culprit responsible for irritating my poor tummy. For example, if large onslaughts of high fiber cereal, whole wheat pasta, breads, beets, and broccoli don’t make my stomach churn, it is safe to assume I don’t have problems with Fructans. If, however, a slice or 2 of bread lands me in pain, we can surmise that I do, in fact, have difficulty digesting Fructans and I can work to determine my threshold or tolerance for different Fructan containing foods.
To say that this has had an impact on my cooking would be a severe understatement. I realize now just how much I rely on handful of go to ingredients to build flavor in recipes. Without onions, garlic, or dairy, without the ability to combine nuts and fruits in the same meal, without bread, whole wheat and homey options are limited and I have to get pretty darn creative in order to produce wholesome meals for Dustin and I that comply with the “rules” of the low fodmap diet. Gluten-free recipes are a good place to start, especially for anything baking related. Low FODMAPers can also look to many paleo sites for ideas as there is substantial overlap between the ingredients not allowed in the two diets. I will caution that many Paleo baking recipes rely heavily on nut fours which, while technically allowed, can be a concentrated source of Galactans if eaten in large quantities. Also worth noting, paleo recipes typically incorporate agave and honey, both of which should be avoided on a Low FODMAP diet, maple syrup and regular sugar can be substituted, but, again, when combined with nut flours the recipe may in fact turn out an end product that is HIGH in FODMAPs.
This recipe was adapted from one I found in La Tartine Gourmande’s lovely cookbook. If you have not had a chance to peruse the book (or her fantastic blog) I highly recommend doing so. Her blog is full of sweet wistful recipes and beautiful photos and her book is a fantastic resource for anyone looking to reduce or avoid gluten sources in their diet. The original recipe called for apples, tahini, and muscovado sugar all of which I replaced with alternatives in my version. I am certain that the apples would be lovely and if you are not on a low FODMAP diet feel free to substitute these in equal amounts for the grated carrots listed below (the apples would also need to be grated.) As I am currently on the strictest part of the elimination diet I am working diligently to stick to the list of approved foods, I could not find information on Muscovado sugar so I substituted brown sugar for the Light Muscovado, again I am sure the Muscovado would work amazingly well but for the Low FODMAP dieters, light brown sugar is a safer bet.
As for why I use almond butter in my recipe instead of the tahini called for, it was simply what I had on hand. Even low Fodmappers should be safe to use the tahini paste called for provided that it is either home-made or there are no unapproved additives. I recently whipped up a batch of almond butter in our Vitamix blender. If you have a vitamix and have never tried making your own nut butter it is so amazingly simple. Any nuts will work, I used almonds but feel free to experiment with whatever you have on hand, or create your own custom blend from a variety of different nuts. I highly suggest toasting/roasting and then slightly cooling the nuts before processing as it will result in a much richer flavor. Simply place about 2 cups of roasted/toasted nuts in the blender and turn the speed to variable 1. Slowly increase the speed, using the plunger to push the nuts down into the blades as you go, until you reach variable 10. Process until you come out with a smooth and creamy butter. If you like your nut butter on the chunky side pulse the nuts until they are fine but not paste-y and then remove some to stir back into the final product. You can also add some sea salt at the beginning of the process for a slightly saltier nut butter.
I list weights below in grams. If you don’t have a kitchen scale I have provided approximate measurements for the ingredients but I cannot recommend enough buying a scale, it is way more precise and conveniently negates the need to clean gooey sticky substances from the corners of all of your measuring cups after each baking procedure (and who likes more dishes?) I use an OXO scale with a pull out display that is available at Target stores. The pull out display is particularly nice when you are trying to measure ingredients onto a large plate or bowl that would otherwise tower over and completely cover the display.
Another handy feature of this scale is that the g/oz conversion button is on the top. My old kitchen scale had the switch on the bottom so to convert you would have to remove whatever you were weighing, press the button, and hope not to lose the weight you were measuring in the process by accidentally turning off the machine and clearing the display. I think there are two similar OXO models, both of which are carried by Target, one has a ~5lb max weight threshold and the other goes to ~11lb. I suggest pony-ing up a few extra bucks for the larger weight capacity as it makes it easier to put large/heavy items on the scale for measurement. This is particularly useful if you bake bread and have to measure 1 KG of flour, plus water into a large kitchen aid mixing bowl. With the lower capacity scale, it is quite easy to exceed the weight limit and they you have to set about using, and dirtying, separate bowls to weigh out your ingredients.
Allergy Free Carrot and Oat Muffins – Adapted, Slightly from La Tartine Gourmande’s Millet, Oat, and Apple Muffins
Yield – 10 Muffins
175g Coarsely Grated Carrots
2 Large Eggs at Room Temperature
80g (~1/2 C Packed) Light Brown Sugar
60 g (1/2 C) Millet Flour
30g (1/4 C) Quinoa Flour
50g (1/2 C) Thick Rolled Oats (Really, Any Kind are OK, Just Like the Toothsome Bite that Thicker Oats Bring to These)
Pinch of Sea Salt (~ 1/8 TSP)
1 TSP Baking Powder
1/2 TSP Baking Soda
32g (2 TBSP) Almond Butter
50g (3 1/2 TBSP) Unsalted Butter, Melted and Slightly Cooled
1 TSP Pure Vanilla Extract
Preheat the oven to 350°. This recipe barely ekes out 10 standard (from a 12 muffin sheet pan) sized muffins. Gluten free muffins have a habit of sticking to paper muffin liners. I would advocate against using these if possible as you will likely end up losing a large portion of the muffin when you attempt to peel off the paper liner. Many gluten free bakers swear by using silicone muffin liners, I have not used them but imagine they would take care of the problem I just mentioned with the muffin batter adhering to the paper liners. I did not have silicone liners and could not find them anywhere so I sprayed the tins with organic canola oil spray and hoped for the best. For the Low FODMAP-ers out there, do not use baking spray as it has flour and other additives that may produce a reaction. Chose from the above listed options (spray, silicone liners, or paper liners) and prepare 10 out of the 12 muffin molds for filling. Set the tray aside.
Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer (or, if you don’t have a standing mixer, place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and grab and get an electric hand mixer suited up and at the ready – I would not really recommend doing this by hand with just a whisk, your arm may fall off and I cannot claim liability for lost limbs.) Get your stand mixer all fitted with the paddle attachment. Bring the machine up to medium speed, about a 5 on a kitchen-aid, and whisk until the mixture has significantly lightened in color and has at least doubled in volume. This should take a few minutes, so while it whisks away pull out a medium sized bowl and your handy kitchen scale (see note above) and measure out your dry ingredients. Whisk them together. Add the grated carrots and toss them with the flour, separating clumps of carrot shreds as you go until the carrots are evenly coated in the flour mixture.
Your egg/sugar mixture should be nice and fluffy at this point. Add the nut butter, melted butter, and vanilla and mix for another 30 seconds – one minute or until well combined. Scrape the bowl well and mix once more to ensure that all of the wet ingredients are well incorporated. Remove the mixer bowl from the stand and add the dry ingredients. Use a slightly flexible spatula and trace semi circles down and around the outside of the bowl folding gently towards the center as you go. You want to mix the ingredients without adding a lot of air or over mixing. As soon as there are no more visible clumps of dry ingredients in the mixture stop stirring and use a large spoon or ice-cream scoop to evenly distribute the batter into the 10 prepared muffin wells.
Sprinkle a few rolled oats onto the top of the muffins and place them in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for about 12 Minutes, rotate the pan so that the back is in the front and continue cooking for another 12-15 minutes. When the muffins are fully cooked (a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean) remove them from the oven. Allow to cook for about 3 minutes before turning them out onto a wire cooling rack to cool. Enjoy the muffins as is or smear with your favorite spread (I recommend trying butter, peanut butter, and/or jam.)
Readers, I apologize for the lapse in posting. I can’t believe its been almost three weeks since we told you all about the insane amount of tomatoes we have been slogging through here in Nashville. I can tell you that the tomatoes are still rolling into the kitchen (occasionally hopping off the counter and trying to flee back from whence they came.) But luckily for us the season has started to change – and thank heavens, the tomato crop is finally slowing. Our cherry tomato (monster) plant has gone from producing overflowing pints each week, to putting forth a mere handful of mildly acidic cherries, which we are able to dispatch with easily. Yes indeed, the summer season is coming to an end, and as that door closes a window opens into the world of fall vegetables to include the beautiful little carrots and breakfast radishes pictured below.
There are many reasons to love fall, the heat and exhausting pace of summer start to abate, the cool crisp air is so inviting, welcoming a slew of leisurely outdoor activities. For many people, fall is a time to slow down, to savor the gentle season and to rejoice in the fruit of past seasons labors. For me Fall is full of many good memories. It was the beginning of a cool crisp September when Dustin and I first met, and began to delve into each others worlds, discussing likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams. In fact, as of this week it was exactly five years ago that Dustin and I began this journey together. And oh what a journey it has been.
After five years it is amazing how much, and yet how little has changed. I am proud to say we still spend, what many would classify as “way too much time together.” And yet it suits us just fine. To me, (and hopefully to Dustin as well) it’s nice to have someone around that shares so many of my oddball interests. Not many people share our same zeal for old blues music, get excited about countertop fermentation, never tire of tv crime drama, enjoy discussing the on goings of the little friends we have milling about in our compost pile and get really excited about watching Chris Sharma Climbing DVDs. Yep, I’m pretty sure I’ve met my match.
Speaking of shared interests, boy oh boy have we had some culinary adventures in our years together. Some endeavors were admittedly more successful than others. Luckily we have experienced more “hits” in the kitchen than we have had misses. And the good times (and “interesting” times) just keep on rolling. As we have begun to shape our own identities and our life as a couple, we have also developed a cooking “personality” of sorts which weaves in each of our likes and dislikes. Approaching each others quirky affinities with open minds has allowed us to explore and learn to love foods we had never really explored. And then there are the dishes, like these pickles, that were totally foreign to us both, but like with some many things we embraced them and just enjoyed the ride.
1/2 Pound Carrots, Cut Into Thin Coins
1/2 Pound Radishes, Cut Into Thin Coins
1 C Water
1/2 C Sugar
2 TBSP Salt
2 Star Anise
2 TBSP Minced Ginger
1 C White Wine Vinegar
Fill a canner with water, set aside lids, and screw bands and boil 3 pint jars to sterilize.
Lay out a clean cutting board and cover with a clean dish towel.
In a large non-reactive saucepan, combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and ginger. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat until sugar and salt are dissolved.
Add the carrot and radish to the pickling liquid. Allow the veggies to cook for one minute before removing from the heat.
Remove the jars from the water and place them on the prepared (towel covered) cutting board.
Place a star anise pod in each hot jar. Using a funnel, pack vegetables into hot jars leaving staying under 1/2 inch from the top. Ladle hot pickling liquid to cover vegetables, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
Using a paper towel, wipe the rims clean and apply lids and rings.
Place jars in the canner, ensuring they are completely submerged. Bring to a boil and process covered for 10 minutes. Remove the lid leaving the jars in the water for 5 minutes before removing jars. Leave the jars in a cool place (not cold) and don’t touch! 24 hours later remove the bands and check the seals. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
Perhaps it is the wealth of bread baking that has taken place in our kitchen over the course of the last three months, but I have developed this sudden interest in flour. This curiosity is not with your every-day, run-of-the-mill (no pun intended) white flour, but with all types of flour, spanning the spectrum from speckled ryes, to coarsely milled wheat flour, to hearty bran, savory teff, yellow hued corn, and silky rice. I have realized that there is a whole cornucopia of flours waiting to meet their culinary match in my kitchen and, after buying almost every type of flour I could find at Whole Foods, I have spent the last few weeks searching for the best ways to highlight the amazing and rich flavors in each of these ground grains.
And it would appear, as I have found while spending much of my “research” time perusing the blog-o-sphere for funky flour based concoctions, that I am not alone in my new obsession. Perhaps this interest, like many others these days, has been ushered in by our national recession. It would not surprise me that, that “pinch,” we are all feeling is driving folks to scour their local grain bins for inspiration. And it could very well be, that the sudden rise in gluten allergies, has prompted a nation-wide interest in alternative baking. But whatever the cause, this year may well be “the year” for previously esoteric flours.
The success of baking with Whole Grain flours truly relies on the freshness of the flour involved. Be sure to purchase flour from an store that has the demand to turn over its volume of flours on a regular basis. While whole grain flours such as teff may be tucked into the small dark back corner of your local grocery store’s health foods isle, it is unlikely that it turns over its stock with the same regularity as your local whole foods or health foods market. Grain bins can be an excellent source for fresh flour at a good price, but be sure to ask when the bin was last replenished. Make sure that the store stores it grains at a cool temperature so that it does not go bad, and that it cleans bins on a regular basis to prevent contamination with older stock. Once opened, keep unused flours stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator to preserve their freshness. Carefully smell flours before using as they do have a tendency to go rancid if not well kept. If stored in the refrigerator, place the amount of flour called for in a bowl on the counter and allow to come to room temperature before incorporating into a recipe.
This recipe for Carrot Coffee Cake uses two “unusual” fours. The first is Graham Flour, which is utilized in the crumb. Graham flour, which was named after Reverend Sylvester Graham, is a type of whole wheat flour. Graham advocated the use of this flour as a dietary aid. It is made by finely grinding the endosperm of wheat to create white flour, the bran and germ are ground separately and then reincorporated into the ground endosperm to form a textured whole wheat flour. It is the texture of this flour that truly sets it apart from ordinary whole wheat flour, if you cannot find it, you can substitute regular whole wheat flour with close to the same results. Spelt four, which is used to form the base of the cake mixture, is an ancient grassy grain. While Spelt is similar, in many ways, to wheat, it has some notable differences. From a flavor perspective, spelt has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor (akin to the flavor of millet.) It has a slightly lower caloric count per ounce than whole wheat flour and is slightly higher in protein. It does contain gluten, but at different ratios than wheat and can make a good substitute for whole wheat flour in recipes made for someone with a wheat sensitivity.
Whole Grain Flour Carrot Coffee Cake from Turntable Kitchen
For the Graham Flour Streusel Topping
2 TBSP Brown Sugar
1 TBSP Sugar
1 Pinch Kosher Salt
3 TBSP Butter, Chilled and Diced
1/4 C. + 2 TBSP Graham Flour (If Available, I Substituted Whole Wheat Flour as I Could Not Find the Graham in Any Store Nearby)
For the Cake:
1 C Spelt Flour
3/4 C White Flour
1/3 C Brown Sugar
1/4 C Sugar (Use Cane Sugar if Available)
1 TSP Cinnamon
1 Pinch of Ground Cloves
1/4 TSP Freshly Grated Nutmeg
1/2 TSP Ground Cardamom
1 TSP Kosher Salt
1 TSP Baking Powder
1/2 TSP Baking Soda
1 1/2 Cups Coarsely Grated Carrots
1/2 Stick of Butter, Melted
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Lg. Egg at Room Temp
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 inch round pan and set aside.
Make the streusel topping by combining the streusel ingredients in the bowl of a mini prep or food processor and pulse until the miture resembles coarse crumbs (a mixture of fine and slightly larger pieces is alright).
Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices, sugars and salt over a large bowl. Add the grated carrots and stir to coat them. Make sure all of the carrots are well coated with flour and that there are no large carrot-y clumps.
Melt the butter and let it cool slightly. Combine the buttermilk, and cooled melted butter and mix. If the butter clumps in the buttermilk, place in a microwave safe container and heat in the microwave for 5-10 seconds, this will very slightly warm the butter and buttermilk so that the butter will incorporate. Mix in the egg and whisk lightly. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the bowl with the dried ingredients and use a spatula to gently mix the batter until it just comes together.
Pour the batter into your prepared pan, spreading it with a spatula. With a spatula, slightly angle the batter towards the middle to create a top that is a bit lower at the center than it is at the edges. This will create a nice home for the streussel and prevent it from falling off the edge of the completed cake. Distribute the streusel over the cake such that there is slightly more in the center than on the edges, the top of the cake should not appear even. Be careful not to push the topping down into the cake. Place in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 35-45 minutes (until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean).
Those who know me know I love carrots. Carrots of all shapes, varieties, colors – I love them all equally. I love that they are so savory and yet when cooked, release an amazing amount of sugar. I love how they impart an essential and irreplaceable earthy sweetness on broths and stews. I love the sound, the snap, they make when you crunch them between your teeth. I love them so much that I once ate enough carrots to tint my skin (mainly my face and hands but especially the webbing between each finger) orange. I was ushered to the doctor by my mother who was highly concerned at my fake-tan-ish glow, and told I would need to go cold turkey on my favorite vice for a while.
Perhaps it is the season, there aren’t a lot of enticing veggies around at this time of year, but I have been back on my “drug” of choice lately, it makes part of my (almost) nightly post-gym snack of carrots, raisins, and a bit of yogurt or turkey. I have, luckily, learned some restraint over the years, while the carrot habit has returned, the hue has not. And my favorite snack has found its way into other dishes as well. This last weekend Dustin and I took on the rather spicy carrot salad featured in my one of my favorite cookbooks, “Plenty” by Yatam Ottolenghi. The salad reminds me of one we frequently ordered at the middle eastern restaurant on the University of Delaware campus where Dustin and I had our first date. The al dente carrots mix with the herbs and spices to form a zesty salad that makes a nice side for grilled meats, a zingy addition to salads, and a great stand alone snack.
Carrots are, unsurprisingly, quite good for you. Carrots are notoriously high in beta carotene, and powerful anti-oxidants. Carrots are also quite rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and serve as a much needed source of fiber. Carrots can be grown nearly year round and are one of the most predominantly consumed vegetables in the US. China is the world’s leading grower of carrots but they have been widely cultivated in Europe since the 15th century. The original varieties grow in Europe were primarily red, purple, and yellow heirloom varieties. Carrots provide the most nutrients when eaten shortly after harvesting. Look for carrots that are firm and free of splits, preferable with the greens still in tact as the greens are an excellent indicator of freshness. The greens are indeed edible and can be cooked along side other dark leaf greens in traditional “greens” dishes. The greens should be detached from the roots before storing in the refrigerator as the tops will wick away moisture from the carrots themselves.
Spicy Carrot Salad, Adapted From”Plenty”by Yatam Ottolenghi
2 LB Carrots
1/3 Cup Olive Oil, Plus Extra for Serving
1 Medium Onion, Finely Chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, Crushed and Chopped
2-3 Medium Green Chilies, Finely Chopped (Seeds Removed for Less Heat)
2 Green Onions, Finely Chopped
1/8 TSP Ground Cloves
1/4 TSP Ground Ginger
1/2 TSP Ground Coriander
3/4 TSP Ground Cinnamon
1 TSP Hot Smoked Paprika
1 TSP Ground Cumin
1 TBSP White Wine Vinegar or Sherry Vinegar
1 Chopped Preserved (or Pickled) Lemon
1 1/4 Cups Cilantro, Rinsed and Chopped
Ground Sumac for Garnish
1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt
Peel the carrots and cut them into fun shapes of equivalent size, approximately 1/2 inch thick. Place in a large saucepan of salted water and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes until just tender. Drain and leave out.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the onion for 12-15 minutes until soft and lightly caramelized. Add the carrots to the pan, followed by the remaining ingredients except cilantro and yogurt. Remove the pan from heat, season with a hefty dose of salt, stir everything together well and allow to cool.
Before serving, stir in the cilantro, adjusting the seasoning to taste in necessary. Serve as a delicious side dish or fresh crunchy snack, along with a spoonful of yogurt, shake or two of ground sumac, a drizzle of olive oil, and extra cilantro.
Since receiving a pasta extruder from his parents for Christmas, Dustin has slyly been asking me if we could make pasta. Now, normally, I would jump at an opportunity to make something Dustin was asking for, but, you see, some part of me was dreading what an undertaking this might become. I had these visions of what might go wrong. I feared some huge time investment that would yield little return, and a big mess. I worried that my pasta might turn out like the chocolate cake I tried to bake 2 weeks ago, which, when inverted onto a cake rack crumbled into roughly 200 mite size bits and resembled nothing even close to the cake I had dreamed of producing. If a mere cake could reduce me to a puddle of tears on the floor, I could only imagine the damage noodles might incur.
And so, I did what any good home cook does when confronted by a daunting request, I stalled. As I stalled, I commenced my research. I watched several videos on You Tube on making home made dough, I browsed through 2 different book stores searching for an authoritative source on pasta making, I visited several different forums which detailed tips on using pasta extruders, and some which debated the finer points of OO vs All Purpose Flour, and read several discussions on the incorporation of semolina flour into dough recipes. Finally, after purchasing not one but two (I tried but couldn’t help myself) books on Italian cooking, I felt I was ready to try my hand.
I am so glad I took the leap and gave making home made noodles a try. After much research, I had come to the conclusion that I wanted to make a dough with a high ratio of egg to flour, and shape it in the form of a chunky noodle that would be able to stand up to the chunky, unctuous sauce, without being completely overpowered. The pasta extruder made the work of turning out the noodles as easy as can be. If you do not have an extruder you can use a pasta roller and cut the rolled sheets into thick noodles, I imagine a papardelle would stand up well in this dish. I employed my food processor to mix the dough, it seemed a bit dry to me at first and I worried that I had not added enough water, but as I began to knead the dough it became considerably more elastic and flexible and turned out beautiful noodles. The noodles keep well stored in a flat layer on a baking sheet in the freezer for several weeks, but something tells me they won’t last that long.
One of the things Dustin loves most, and that he requests we make more often than any other dish is chili. Bolognese was an easy pick for a sauce, it is essentially an italian form of chili. It is a dish that requires building layers of flavor. First with a medley of herbs and vegetables, then with a mixture of meats, and finally with a sauce formed from tomatoes, alcohol, and dairy. Because the dish cooks for so long, and the vegetables practically melt into the sauce, this could be a great way of getting picky eaters to eat their veggies. While carrots and celery are the traditional veggies for the dish, I imagine that fresh fennel, parsnips, zucchini, and even winter squash, could be worked into the sauce adding valuable nutrients and subtle hints of flavor.
This recipe makes a great deal of sauce. It can be frozen for a month or so and defrosts with great success. It is fantastic on pasta, but very versatile, it makes a fantastic topping for rice, could definately play well as a pizza topping, and would likely make a nice filling for a frittata. It is also great served on its own, with a great hunk of crusty bread. The sauce does take a good deal of time to prepare properly, there are a lot of flavor elements that need to properly blend to form the final sauce. I reduced the amount of cream in the original recipe. If you are a big fan of creamy sauces, feel free to add additional cream to taste. The mortadella makes a great finishing touch but is by no means a necessary component. Feel free to omit it if you cannot find a high quality specimen. Alternatively you could substitute prosciutto, a mild salami, or gently spiced capicola. However you serve it, the Bolognese really benefits from a finishing touch of freshly snipped herbs. Basil or parsley pair extraordinarily well, but I Imagine other herbs such as tarragon or chervil would map a nice twist on tradition. However you choose to enjoy it, this is definitely a dish for friends and family. So gather some loved ones, and enjoy!
For the Home Made Rigatoni – From “The Glorious Pasta of Italy” by Domenica Marchetti
2 – 2 1/4 C OO Flour or All Purpose (I Used All Purpose But Have Read Much About The Wonders of OO Flour)
1 TBSP Semolina Flour – Plus Additional Flour For Dusting The Work Surface
1/2 TSP Sea Salt
Pinch of Freshly Grated Nutmeg
3 XL Eggs
1-2 TBSP Good Olive Oil
Place 2 C of flour in the bowl of a food processor along with the semolina flour, salt, and nutmeg. Pulse to mix. Break the eggs into the bowl along with 1 TBSP olive oil. Pulse the mixture until it forms small curd like crumbs. Pinch some of the “dough” between your fingers. It should not be crumbly or sticky. Try rolling the pinch in small ball, it should form a smooth ball. If it seems too day add an additional TBSP oil, a bit at a time, until it reaches the right consistency. If it seems too wet, add more flour, a TBSP at a time, until firm but not crumbly.
Sprinkle a clean work surface with semolina flour. Turn the mixture out onto the surface. Remove the blade. Gently gather the dough into a ball. Using the palm of your hand, press the dough away and down in a firm, smooth motion to knead. Do this several times until the dough is smooth and slightly elastic. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 mins before placing it in the extruder to form the noodles. Alternatively, you can stretch the dough using a traditional pasta roller, either hand cranked, or electric. The sheets can be cut by hand into noodles, if you are planning to use the noodles with the Bolognese sauce, I recommend a thicker cut noodle, which can stand up to the hefty sauce.
The pasta will freeze well in a flat layer on a baking sheet that has been slightly dusted with semolina flour. Once frozen, you can transfer the noodles to a tupperware container and leave in the freezer for up to a month.
For the Bolognese Sauce – Adapted from “The Glorious Pasta of Italy” by Domenica Marchetti
3 TBSP Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2-3 TBSP Unsalted Butter
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
3 Large Carrots, Peeled and Finely Chopped
3 Stalks Celery, Finely Chopped
1 Large Yellow Onion, Finely Chopped
1 TBSP Parsley, Chopped
1 LB Ground Beef
1 LB Ground Veal
1 LB Ground Pork
1 C. Dry Vermouth or White Wine
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Pinch of Freshly Grated Nutmeg
3/4 C. Whole Milk
16 oZ Can Tomato Puree
3 C. Meat Broth, Homemade if Possible
1/2 C. Heavy Cream
4 Oz Thinly Sliced Mortadella, Minced
Warm the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat until the butter is melted. Stir in the garlic, carrots, celery, onion and parsley and reduce the heat to medium-low. Sauté for 10 to 15 minutes until softened and golden. Add the ground meat to the pot and stir into the sautéed vegetables to distribute well. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is browned but still tender, about an hour.
Raise the temperature to medium, stir in the vermouth and cook until the liquid evaporates. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the nutmeg and milk and stir to distribute evenly. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until most of the milk is absorbed.
It is still so darn hot, and even in the cool AC I have been somewhat uninspired to cook this last week. Perhaps its the heat, or the heaviness of some of the Southern Food I have been enjoying lately but I have been craving spicy foods. This slaw is so refreshing, that even in the suffocating summer heat it makes my mouth water.
This salad highlights a number of summer crops, jalapeños, radishes, and small summer cabbages all play a starring role here. The combination of jalapeños and limes is truly brilliant in this application and it provides a nice contrast to the creamy slaws commonly served down south. The slaw is dressed with an extremely simple dressing of olive oil and lime, I like to let this sit on the cabbage for 10 minutes or so before serving as it will begin to soften the cabbage’s harsh crunchiness and give it a smooth and silky mouth feel.
This Slaw is so simple to prepare, it takes a bit of time to cut the veggies but the procedure is very straightforward. If you have a mandolin this will make slicing the veg super easy, but if not, never you fear, we don’t use one either! Make sure you use a very sharp knife and try to slice the cabbage, radish, onion, and carrots into almost paper-thin slices. Perhaps its the Engineer’s penchant for detail and precision but Dustin is a pro at slicing up the produce that goes into this dish. As he seems to enjoy it I am happy to avoid purchasing yet another kitchen gadget (mandolin) and let him go to town slicing and dicing away!
The cabbage, carrot, radish, and celery can be sliced up to a day in advance and stored in a zip lock bag in the fridge until you are ready to use them. I like to macerate the jalapeño for a while in the lime juice and olive oil dressing so that the spicy flavor infuses into the entire dressing. I am pretty confident that the salad would be great with the addition of a little bit of minced fresh oregano – if you have it try it out! This is a phenomenal side dish for burgers and fresh summer tacos.
MexiSlaw – Adapted from Jamie Oliver
Half of a Small White Cabbage, Sliced Thinly
Half of a Small Red Cabbage, Sliced Thinly
A Small Bunch of Radishes, Scrubbed and Sliced Very Thin
3 Stalks Celery Sliced Thinly on a Bias
2 Carrots Peeled and Cut into Very Thin Rounds
1/2 Cup Cilantro Chopped
2 Large Jalepenos, Minced
1 Red Onion, Peeled and Thinly Sliced
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice of 2 Limes
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
Mix all of the veggies in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl mix the lime juice with the olive oil and jalapenos, add some salt and pepper to taste.
About 10 minutes before you plan on serving the dish pour dressing onto the slaw, don’t pour it all on at once as you may have more than you need. Mix slaw, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Let sit for 10 mins and taste again, add the remaining dressing if needed and take the opportunity to adjust seasoning again. Serve and enjoy this refreshing treat!
Things are really heating up around here, in more ways than one. First and foremost I want to give a big shout out to my fabulous mother who has been working hard to help P4P (penchant for produce) gain some more exposure. And she has done so with great success – the blog hits are certainly coming on more heavily and I am excited to have new readers. To all of the newcomers out there, thank you very much for taking the time to peruse my blog. I hope you come back and visit often and am looking forward to hearing your questions, comments, and suggestions! You are what makes writing this blog exciting!
But as I mentioned earlier, its been getting hot hot hot. The South has been experiencing a major heatwave and temperatures in my new home state of Tennessee have been in the high 90s and low 100s for the last few days. Unlike the Northeast summers of my childhood, where mornings would start cool and temperatures would rise gradually and peak in the afternoon cresting and then falling as the cool moved back in for the evening, the heat here in the American South is hard hitting and unrelenting. When I left the Yoga studio yesterday at 7AM it was already 87 degrees and the evening temperatures are not much better. And in times like these, when the sun will not relent, the folks down here do what they have always done to beat the heat: they wear wide brimmed hats, they eat Popsicles and drink ice cold beer, and, whenever possible, they stay indoors and crank up the AC.
Since arriving, I have felt as though I have been living in two entirely different climates. On one end of the spectrum there is the hot, humid and sunny outdoor climate, which I inhabit only briefly and in short spurts as I dash from indoor location to indoor location. On the opposite end is the cool, dry, and shaded indoor world where I spend most of my time. But the problem is that some places, (mostly restaurants, malls, and grocery stores) are downright cold! And while I am becoming more vigilant about bringing a sweater with me when we go out for dinner, when I walk into a meat locker like establishment from the outrageous heat outside I find myself searching the menu for something to warm up my once burning and now freezing arms and legs.
And this brings me to today’s post, a very comforting and surprisingly summery bread soup, inspired by yet another Ottolenghi recipe. This soup is entirely vegetarian and can even be made vegan by simply substituting olive oil for the butter I use to sautee the onions and fennel. The fennel is what makes this soup truly special, its slightly sweet and anisey flavor bring a great deal of freshness to the soup.
Be patient when sauteing the onions with the fennel, keep the heat fairly low (med or so) and don’t stir them too often. After 10 minutes the veggies should begin to caramelize. This light caramelization is possibly the most integral component in the soup as the sweet onions and fennel mellow the acidity of the otherwise dominant tomatoes. The recipe calls for a dollop of pesto which tops off the soup and gives it a great dose of fresh herby flavor. While I love Trader Joes I am not a huge fan of their pesto, I prefer the brighter flavors of a refrigerator pesto to a canned one for this dish – I have used the one from Costco with great success (it freezes well as well. Whole foods carries great pestos as well.
Summertime Bread Soup with Pesto3 TBSP Butter 1 ½ Onions Sliced 1 Large Bulb of Fennel Sliced 4 Cloves Garlic Minced 3 Large Carrots, Peeled, Cut Lengthwise in Half and Sliced 3 Stalks of Celery Sliced 1 TBSP Tomato Paste 1 ½ Cup White Wine 1 28-Ounce Can Plum Tomatoes with Their Juice 1 TBSP Chopped Oregano 1 TBSP Chopped Fennel Fronds 1 TBSP Chopped Thyme 2 Bay Leaves 2 TSP Sugar 6 Cups Vegetable Stock Reduced 3 Large Slices Stale Italian Bread Well toasted and Cut into Small Cubes 2 Cans Chickpeas, Rinsed Well Pesto
In a large sauce pan melt butter over medium heat. Add Onion, Fennel, and two small pinches of salt and sautee for 10 minutes or until fennel and onion turn golden and begin to caremelize. Add garlic, celery, and carrots and sautee 4 mins more.
Stir in the tomato paste and cook for an additional minute, stirring. Add wine and bring to a boil. After boiling for a minute or so add the tomatoes, herbs, sugar, and broth and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
While the soup is simmering place the chickpeas in a small bowl and lightly mash them with a potato masher. Some should remain whole while others will eventually melt into the soup.
When the soup has finished simmering taste and add salt and freshly cracked pepper as needed. Remember when adding salt that the dollop of pesto on top will add saltiness to the dish.
About 20 minutess before serving time add the chickpeas to the soup. Wait till about 5 minutes before to add the bread.
Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve topped with Pesto and a small sprinkling of fresh parsley.