What’s cooking?

Who doesn’t like to share good food and drink?  From time to time I come across a recipe, or a good wine, beer, or single-malt, that I simply must share with friends.  This section of my blog is dedicated to just that, food that really “schmeckts” and beverages that satisfy the soul.

Make your own Pasta

I have decided that there is no pasta like home-made pasta. It is smooth, silky, and its flavour can be adjusted to your own liking. You will have to invest in a couple of useful tools to make the process easier and, quite frankly, more fun.

pasta press attached to KitchenAid

Dryer folds for easy storage

Creating the desired pasta can be accomplished free-hand, with a manual press and cutter, or with the very useful KitchenAid machine attachments.

Finally, you can create the all important pasta dough manually on a board, or use a food processor, which is my choice. It is quick and easy and almost guaranteed to come out right every time.

Recipe for pasta dough:

1 cup of all-purpose flour

½ cup of semolina flour

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

a pinch of salt

1 tbsp + of cold water

1 tbsp of oil

Add the moist items first (hold back the water) and follow with the dry.

Add water gradually as the dough changes from dry, to pea size granules, and finally forms a ball that pulls away from the sides of the food processor. That’s it… knead the dough a few times, then wrap it in clear plastic and rest (you with a glass of wine, the dough with its plastic wrap) for a half hour at room temperature.

Now comes the fun part. Cut the dough ball into 2 to 4 smaller portions, flatten them a bit and start to run them through the rollers. Start with the largest setting and progress to the desired thickness. Remember to roll all portions through each setting before you set a new thickness. You may also have to sprinkle the individual sheets of pasta with flour to prevent them from sticking to the roller, or each other. When you have reached the desired thickness you can begin the cutting process with theappropriate size of cutter (spaghetti, fettuccine etc.).

Hang each batch of cut pasta from your pasta dryer; wait 10 to 15 min. then cook in salted water for 3 min. or so. Remember, as with dry pasta, al dente!  Have a great time adding your own homemade pasta sauce and your choice of wine.

Buon Appetito

Shrimp Saganaki

I cannot recall when I have had such initial misgivings about a recipe, and have had to swallow those misgivings (so to speak) after tasting the resulting dish. Somehow Feta cheese and shrimp did not sound right. Don’t take my word for it, try it. I suggest you savour this shrimp dish with steamed rice.

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds shrimp , peeled and deveined (size is your choice)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons ouzo (I used Pernod)

5 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic    press

Grated zest from 1 lemon

salt and ground black pepper

1 small onion , diced medium

1/2 medium red bell pepper , diced medium

1/2 medium green bell pepper , diced medium

teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomato , drained, 1/3 cup juices reserved

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves

6 ounces Greek feta cheese , crumbled

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill leaves

Procedure:

1. Toss shrimp, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon ouzo, 1 teaspoon garlic, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in small bowl until well combined. Set aside while preparing sauce.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onion, red and green bell pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Cover skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables release their moisture, 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until moisture cooks off and vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes longer. Add remaining garlic and red pepper flakes and cook about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and reserved juice, wine, and remaining 2 tablespoons ouzo; increase heat to medium-high and bring to active simmer. Reduce heat to medium simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavours have combined and sauce is slightly thickened (not completely dry), 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add shrimp along with any accumulated liquid to pan; stir to coat and distribute evenly. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are opaque throughout, 6 to 9 minutes for extra-large or 7 to 11 minutes for jumbo, adjusting heat as needed to maintain light simmer.

Remove pan from heat and sprinkle liberally with feta. Drizzle oil evenly over top and finish with dill. Serve over steamed rice immediately.

Beef Stroganoff

This is an easy recipe to prepare and one that will please everyone in the family. I assume that you will be able to adjust the volume and quantity of the ingredients to suit the number of portions you prepare.  To this end I will not add precise amounts, rather let you decide what would work best for your situation. (with a couple of exceptions)

Ingredients:

Beef, cubed or sliced (I prefer slices similar to a flat French-fry), onion, garlic, chervil, mushrooms, bouillon cubes or beef broth, paprika, tomato paste, parsley, liquid from caraway seeds, sour cream, noodles.

Procedure:

Soak 2 tbsp. of caraway seeds in a ¼ cup of boiling water. To a medium hot skillet add oil, onions, garlic and mushrooms, tomato paste. Meanwhile cover meat with beef liquid and simmer covered until meat is tender and liquid almost evaporated. Remove beef and remaining liquid to the skillet. (Containing the onions and mushrooms). Season with paprika, chopped parsley, liquid from caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Turn down heat and carefully add sour cream.

Serve over flat noodles.

Hominy Chowder

I came across this recipe a couple of years ago while looking up the the procedure by which hominy corn was made by Mexican housewives. The process of creating this unique soup (chowder if you will) is about as easy as boiling water. The flavour is all about cumin, as it is with many Mexican dishes, and cumin flavouring is something I crave every now and then. Try it and I guarantee that you will make this dish every time you need to depart from everyday flavours.

Hominy Chowder

3-tablespoons oil

2 cloves garlic chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

½ cup chopped green onions (scallions)

½ cup hot salsa

1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes in sauce

1 (28 oz.) can white hominy (approx 3 cups kernels and juice)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

2 + tsp ground cumin (to taste)

½ tsp dried thyme

4 cups chicken stock

1.5 cups corn kernels (fresh or canned-without the liquid)

fresh cilantro (leaves and stems) finely chopped (to taste)

Add chili powder to taste (or pepper flakes)

Add salt to taste

Preparation

Heat the oil over medium heat and add the garlic, onion & scallions

Cook for 3 minutes

Add the rest of the ingredients including the hominy corn, (hold back corn and cilantro)

Bring to a boil, reduce to medium heat and cook for about 15 minutes

Stir in the corn and cilantro

Bring soup to a boil and serve

Adjust seasonings

Serve with lots of French bread or Portuguese buns. This soup keeps well if refrigerated.

Glen Breton Rare – A smooth all Canadian Single Malt

So the word is now out for all to see

A single malt from this side of the sea

A lowland taste, or a highland smile

Or the tang of the sea, like a malt from the Isle.

These secrets reside in the walls of the cask

And those bouquets and flavours are with us at last

Ten years in a complex of oak and of smoke

Now we reach for the glass, for the cask has awoke.

And we’ll toast with Glen Breton with more than a dram

For the dream of Glenora has captured our land

From the shores of Cape Breton to our mountainous west

Our friends now toast with their very own best.

To Glen Breton ‘Rare’

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