Monday, September 29, 2008

Green chile pasta with cilantro-lime brown butter sauce

(Warning: I recently discovered that I can add video to my blog. This post contains a completely silly piece of video that I can only blame on a six-pack of Commodore Perry IPA and the unexpected free time that came from a canceled meeting. I'm only posting it as a test but it is kinda' funny)

Making fresh pasta is easy and always satisfying. You can make the dough, roll it and cut it in not much more time than it takes to bring the water to a boil. A bizillion different flavors can be added to the dough itself and you can also stuff it with any number of different things. I'm not sure why more people don't do it.

I headed out to what's left of my garden and picked a couple of green chiles which I roasted, seeded and pureed. To the Puree I added 1 cup A.P. flour, 1/2 cup semolina, an egg, olive oil and salt. Mix the ingredients and form them into a ball. Dough is not my friend. I can't make a decent loaf of bread or pizza dough without a bread machine. The only advice I've got to share is to leave on the "wet" side. I'll add flour as I knead it through the machine, just enough to get it to hold together. Wrap it in plastic if your not going to roll it right away. You will probably want to divide it into two or three ball to be rolled one at a time.

(Sorry about that.)

I like to keep the sauce simple so I decided on a cilantro-lime brown butter sauce. Heat butter until it just begins to brown then quickly add some cilantro, lime zest and lime juice. Your fresh pasta will cook in only a minute or two then you just drain it and toss it with the sauce. I browned a little queso fresco in a nonstick skillet as a garnish.

If you don't own a pasta machine, get one (unless you really like using a rolling pin). There is no end to the fun and interesting things you can do when you make your own pasta.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Real Swedish meatballs

I have only one family recipe that has been handed down to me. My Swedish grandmother's Swedish meatballs have been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember. I actually don't remember having ever tasted "grammy's" version, but my mother made them several times a year and as a child they were my favorite meal. I've eaten many versions, including many of the "cream of mushroom soup" types that would go better with a bong than with a Swedish meal. I've also read dozens of "traditional" recipes and only found one that was similar to our family's. The distinguishing thing about them is that they are seasoned with dill weed and nutmeg. No canned soup, no cream sauce, no dried fruit, just seasoned meatballs with brown gravy.

2/3rds beef, 1/3rd pork, egg, white bread soaked in milk, dried dill weed, fresh ground nutmeg, dried onion (my mom would have used fresh but I'm weird like that) salt and white pepper rolled into balls the size of your choosing.

Brown the balls. I'll save my "brown doesn't mean grey things boiled in there own juices" tirade for another day but if you brown them correctly, not only will they have great texture, but you wont need to add beef stock or bullion to your fond to make a great gravy.

Remove them from the pan and sprinkle the fond with flour. (my mom uses Wondra and so do I) add water and let sauce thicken. Check for seasoning including dill and nutmeg (add Minors beef base if your gravy is weak). Return the balls to the pan and simmer slowly until they are cooked through.

Spice of the week: Nutmeg

Only buy and use whole nutmegs. I've turned away dozens, if not hundreds, of customers who insist on buying nutmeg already ground. I wont sell it. While I will sell other spices ground, that I would rather have people grind fresh, nutmeg is so fuckin' easy to grind and is so much better freshly ground that it makes zero sense to use it any other way. Even if you needed a cup full for a hundred pies, it would only take you a few minutes to grate it. Use it in your pies and other sweets, use it in your white sauces, but don't ignore it when it comes to everyday savory dishes. I'll be using it on all of the wonderful local cauliflower I'll be eating this fall.