Fresh Pasta with Squid

24 Jul

Fresh Pasta with Squid4Once I started making my own fresh pasta, it was love at first bite. I found recipes for the most amazing slow cooked Bolognese, dishes generously accented by mozzerella, or covered in glorious cream sauces. And while all these were amazing, they were also rather heavy (thankfully we were eating these in the Winter, so the added bulk around the waistline helped keep us warm during those cold months). But I wanted to be able to eat some fresh pasta without feeling like I needed a nap afterwards. Something that felt a little fresher. This is what I love about cooking pasta with fresh seafood. As it’s generally considered a major no-no to use cheese with fish in italian cooking, I can happily rely on getting big bright flavour from a few simple, healthier ingredients (I know this recipe still calls for olive oil AND butter, so while it’s by no means diet friendly, it doesn’t have cream or cheese, so cut me a little slack!)Fresh Pasta with Squid2Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 large fresh squid, cleaned and sliced into rings*
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 red chili, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of fresh parsley minced
2 portions of fresh pasta, made into fettuccine noodles

This recipe cooks quick! You’ll want to make sure you have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go, otherwise you run the risk of over cooking the squid and/or pasta

Have a large pot of salted water boiling and ready to cook the pasta. Heat the olive oil and butter together in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, add the garlic, and red chili. Cook for about 1 minute, then add the lemon zest and parsley, tossing everything in the pan. Add the squid rings to the pan, and toss everything together. About 1 minute later, drop your pasta into the boiling water giving it a stir so it doesn’t stick together. The pasta and squid will both be done in about another 2 minutes. Quickly drain the pasta, and add it to the large pan with the squid along with the lemon juice. Turn off the heat and gently stir the pasta and squid together, making sure the pasta is coated with the oil, butter and lemon juice, and that the chili, parsley, garlic and lemon zest looks sprinkled through out. Dish up onto some large plates and tuck in!
Fresh Pasta with Squid3* if you don’t like the idea of squid, this dish is also amazing with scallops, shrimp, and especially lobster!

Fresh Pasta

23 Jul

fresh pasta1Pasta is not something we eat everyday (at least not until our honeymoon in Italy), so if I’m going to have it, I’m going to HAVE it. And if I’m going to HAVE it, I may as well MAKE it. As in fresh – from scratch. The idea of making homemade fresh pasta always seemed very overwhelming to me, until we stumbled upon a cooking show that aired in the fall called Simply Italian. The host spent the series showing you dozens of ways to make and use fresh homemade pasta. It looked SO easy! Around that time, we had kindly been given a gift card to Williams Sonoma as an engagement gift, so we decided to get ourselves a pasta machine. I was on my way to becoming the Italian cooking Nonna I’d always dreamed of!!

Let me just say – this takes practice, and patience. It’s not that making fresh pasta is necessarily hard, but it is a little time consuming. But at the end of your effort, you will be rewarded with something far more delicious than box pasta could ever be.
fresh pasta2The ingredients are quite simple:
100 grams of cake flour
1 egg
pinch of salt

These measurements will make 1 serving. I find it’s really important to weight the flour. I tried Googling how many cups 100 grams of flour should be, and the dough just ever came together properly. (I actually start with just under 100 grams, that way I can add a little more if I find the dough to be too sticky.)fresh pasta3I pour the flour in a little mountain on a clean counter, and dig a well in the middle. I place the cracked eggs into this well along with a pinch of salt. (you can certainly do this in a bowl to avoid making a mess, but I kinda like the messy aspect of this!) With a fork, carefully break the egg yolks and start to incorporate the flour from the sides of the well. Do this gradually until you have mixed in most of the flour. The dough has now started to take form – although it will likely look like a bit of a disaster. With your hands, start to combine the dough into a ball that you can start to kneed. This dough is very needy (a little pasta humour for you!) and will need quite a bit of kneeding. fresh pasta4Keep at it until you have a smooth soft ball of dough, it should not feel sticky but silky. Now the dough needs to rest – all that kneeding will have tired both of you out! (again, a little more pasta humour). Tightly cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for a least 20 minutes. This is a great dough to make a few hours in advance.fresh pasta6Once the dough has rested, take about 1/4 of dough (re-wrapping the rest) and gently kneed it again. Then, using your hands, shape it into a flat disk. Run the disk of dough through the pasta machine* on the widest setting.fresh pasta7The first time you run it through, get might fall apart a little and not look like it’s going to hold together. Don’t fear! Keep pressing the pieces of dough back together into a rectangular shape and run it through the pasta machine again. It will slowly start to come together. Once it’s beginning to hold together, set the pasta machine one setting narrower, and fold the dough into thirds. Run it through the machine again. Do this a couple more times. Once you have a nice smooth edged piece of dough, turn the pasta machine down another level. Keep doing this until you are on the second narrowest setting.fresh pasta8Now that the dough is the right thickness, I add the slicing attachment to the machine, which quickly turns my dough into perfect fettuccine strips.fresh pasta9Place the strips onto a baking sheets that has been generously sprinkled with polenta**. Gently toss the pasta in the polenta to keep it from sticking together. Continue with these steps until all of your dough has been used. Allow the pasta to dry for a couple of minutes.

Cooking the pasta is super quick and easy. Dump the pasta into a large pot of boiling salted water. It’s cooked perfectly in approximately 2 minutes. Drain, and enjoy with your favourite sauce. Tomorrow, I’m posting a recipe for Fresh Pasta with Squid!

* if you don’t have a pasta machine you can use a rolling pin to flatten the dough. This will definitely take more elbow grease! You’ll want to keep the pasta on a well floured counter and keep moving it around to prevent it from sticky to the counter. To make the strips, you can slice the dough with a knife. The end result will look more rustic, but taste just as good :)

** the polenta keeps the pasta from sticking together, but it will also keep your cooking water from going cloudy (which it would if you used flour)

Pickled Onions

21 Jul

pickled onions2Ok now, hear me out. I’m sure many people will read the title of this post and think, gross – no way, not for me, on to the next. But bear with me. These are not grocery store pickled onions, or overly fermented ones. These are quick pickled onions, and I’m telling you, they are great! Tart and slightly sweet, you get the bright taste of red onion, without the aggressive sharp bite. Great on burgers, and even better in a salad, these pickled onions are a super easy and quick way to add a little pizazz to your dish.

pickled onions1Ingredients:
1/2 a small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey

In a small dish, whisk together the vinegar and honey. Add in the thinly sliced red onion and toss together well. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes to ensure all the onions are getting coated in the vinegar and honey mixture. Add to a burger of salad and enjoy!

 

Lululemon Running Bra

17 Jul

lululemon braIn an effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle, get in shape, and get our bodies ready for all the eating and walking we plan on doing on our honeymoon, Jana and I have started running again. To keep us motivated and on track, we’ve signed up for a 10k run at the end of September (it’s always good to have a goal to work towards!). I’ve got us on a scheduled run/walk program that I’ve used to much success in the past and so far things are going well! The biggest challenge each night is just getting off our butts and getting out the door (I hang my head in shame to admit we did not manage this last night!). Figuring that if I looked like a cool runner again I’d be more motivated to go, I treated myself to a couple of things at Lululemon last week – my favourite being the Run: Stuff Your Bra. Not only does this bra have all the great sweat-wicking qualities you’d expect a good sports bra to have, but it has 3 pockets across the front, which means you can easily store your iPod, cash, and ID – basically stuffing your bra with all your essentials. It keeps your hands free, and you don’t have to worry about anything accidentally falling out of your pants/shorts pockets. As with all Lululemon products, it comes in a variety of cute fun patterns (I opted for the super pink floral one). So ladies, stuff you bra and go out for a run!

Fresh Corn Salad

15 Jul

corn salad1Fresh Summer corn is really something special. As much as I LOVE corn on the cob (and I LOVE it), I can do without getting the kernels stuck in my teeth. That’s why corn salad is so great. You get all the fresh sweet corn flavour, without having to spend the next hour using a toothpick. The really great part of about this corn salad recipe is that you don’t have to cook the corn. Eaten raw, the corn is so fresh, sweet and has great perfect texture.
corn salad2Ingredients:
6-7 cobs of corn, husks and silks removed
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper finely minced
1.5 cups of cilantro finely chopped
2 limes, zested and juiced
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
corn salad5The first step is to shuck the corn, making sure you get all the annoying little silks off. (This job is made much easier if you can convince others to do it for you as their contribution to dinner – see above photo)corn salad3Finely dice the red onion, jalapeno pepper and cilantro and add to a large bowl. Add in the zest and juice of 2 limes. Next comes removing the corn kernels from the cob. I should warn you that I always find this somewhat of a messy job. Whenever I do this at home, I inevitably end up shooting kernels across the condo (much to the dismay of Jana who is in charge of cleaning). Once you’ve got the corn off the cob (and hopefully not all over your floor) add it to the bowl with the other ingredients. To the bowl, then add the olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper, and toss together. Eat and enjoy! (no tooth picks required)
corn salad4(this salad can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator, so it’s great for a party)

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