Monday, 27 August 2012

Parpadelle Decorated with Leaves

I've bragged about making colourful pasta recently, today the more interesting variety I've been making: pasta decorated with leaves. It's absolutely gorgeous - both visually and flavour-wise! Might seem a bit on a time-consuming side, but I guess if I've got time to make my own pasta, adding a few bits (or a sparkle, if you like) to it is not too much to ask for.

The ingredients are identical to the plain plain pasta recipe:

200 g plain flour
2 eggs
a pinch of salt

a handful of leaves (basil, oregano, mint, rucola, chervil or parsley)

Mix the ingredients in a large bowl and knead the pasta until smooth and elastic. Cover with cling film and leave in a fridge for 30 minutes to rest. Roll it as thin as possible - this is when the pasta maker comes handy - I don't honestly think I'd be able to roll it as thin as it does. I roll it through all the setting (from 1 to 9 on mine). Each time you need to get 2 similar sheets of pasta.

Place one on a flour dusted surface, sprinkle it with water, place leaves in long stripes with a bit of space in between them.

 Cover with another sheet, press the sheets together with your hand.

Then, gently put it through the machine (mine was setting 9) or roll them together with a rolling pin.

Then, cut the pasta into long stripes - with a knife or cutter.

Cook for about 3 minutes in salted water.
Serve with a sauce of yoour choice - it will wonderfully compliment it's taste and looks!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Pasta Frenzy Continues

If you think it's all about the sauce, and pasta is used merely to bulk the dish, you couldn't be more wrong. I've advanced my pasta making to decorative varieties. :-)

First off, the colourful pasta. So far I've mastered the white shade (basic pasta dough), green and red - so a pasta dish in Italian coluors was inevitable. Due to the proportions, we ended up with enough food for 3 meals (ravioli), and at least 5 servings of soup pasta! :-)

Red pasta:

200g of plain flour
1 egg
75 g cooked beetroot
a pinch of salt
extra flour for dusting

Blend the beetroot in a food processor to a smooth paste. Add flour, salt and egg, mix all the ingredients into a dough, adding more flour if too sticky, which often happens with this type of dough as beetroots tend to be really moist. . Knead for a couple of minutes, until it's smooth and flexible. Cover the dough with cling filma and put it into the fridge for about 30 minutes to rest.
Roll and cut into desired shape.

Green pasta:
150g plain flour
1 egg
90 g spinach
a pinch of salt
extra flour for dusting

Rinse spinach and squeeze it well (make sure you squeeze all the liquid, as the dough will be very moist anyway). Finely chop the leaves into a smooth, green paste. In a large bowl mix flour, egg, salt and spinach until you get a dought. Knead for a couple of minutes, you may need to add more flour - this dough is really sticky. Cover with cling film and put to the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
Roll it thin and cut into the shape of your choice.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Home made pasta

I got a pasta maker for my birthday and we seem to be eating nothing but pasta since! Though the every first attempt was far from successful, I quickly sussed it out. The fact that I naturally tend to start with the most complex things, didn't help here, either. Instead of taking baby steps and making simple spaghetti or tagliatelle first, I had a go at making ravioli :-)
Well, I ate my humble pie and next time I made simple soup pasta. Successfully! :-) It reminded my of the childhood days when my gran would make a delicious soup with home-made pasta when I stayed with her. Of course, I keep hearing questions, like: why bother making something you can buy in every single shop? Well, I bother as the home-made pasta is incomparably better! :-P

To make basic pasta dough you need:

1 cup of flour
1 egg
a pinch of salt
a dash of olive oil
water if the dough is to dry
more flour - if the dough is to sticky, also to sprinkle on the worktop

The proportions above are enough for 4 servings of soups, if you need more the rule is that you need an egg per each cup of flour, and add water or more flour as needed.

Mix the ingredients in a large bowl and knead the dough to combine well. It's ready when the consistency is smooth and the dough is flexible. Leave for about 30 minutes in a fridge to rest, then roll it flat and cut, or use the pasta maker to roll and cut it for you (makes life a lot easier, I reckon). What's important, fresh pasta cooks a lot quicker than dried, so depending on the type it will be ready in between 1 minute (spaghetti/linguini) to 2-3 minutes (thicker type tagliatelle) from putting it into the pan with boiling (salted) water.

I quickly became more creative with my pasta, and soon enough I added the "wow  factor" to my pasta dishes. The effects you can see below. :-)

Friday, 3 August 2012

Birthday Cake

A birthday wouldn't be complete without a proper birthday cake. And by proper birthday cake I understand a gateau type cake - and it needs to be moist and sweet. Usually they are a sponge cake type cake, dripped with punch, with layers and cream sandwiched in between. My cake, however was a poppy-seed cake, with coffee cream. Though, it's always been my favourite cake, it's the first time I made it, so I was a tad comprehensive. Luckily, everything turned out fine, the cake was fabulous, and I had a fantastic day, which makes gettign older more bearable ;-) Kidding, don't really care about that.

The cake is quite time-consuming, but believe you me, it's well worth it!

For the cake you need:

200grammes of ground poppy-seed
150 grammes of icing sugar
6 eggs
4 table spoons of bread crumbs
1 packet of vanillin sugar
almond aroma
butter or margarine to grease the baking tray

Whisk the egss with sugar and vanillin sugar to a fluffy mixture. Add poppy seed, bred crumbs and aroma, stir gently (ideally with a wooden spoon). Pour the mixture onto a greased tray (mine was circular; 24cm in diameter). Pre-heat the oven to 180C, bake the cake for about 40 minutes. Leave the cake to cool, and cut horizontally into two.
Each tier of the cake needs then to be dripped in punch.


1 glass of water
100grammes of sugar
1 shot glass of rum
Mix all ingredients until sugar has diluted. Pour the punch onto both parts of the cake.

Coffee Cream

70 grammes of icing sugar
4  egg yolks
250 grammes of soft butter
2 teaspoons of instant cofee
4 tablespoons of water

Pour water into a pan, add sugar and heat up, constantly stirring until sugar has diluted. Bring the mixture to boil. Reduce the heat and simmmer for further 5 minutes without stirring. Leave teh syrup to cool. Whisk the yolks on steam, that is: place a large pan on low heat, pour enough water inside to cover the bottom. Put a smaller pan inside, so as it doesn't touch the bottom of the bigger one, but it is suspended in it.While whisking the yolks, add cooled sugar syrup (one spoon at the time) and don't stop whisking. Cool the mixture a bit, then gradually add butter, and keep whisking until the cream is fluffy and smooth.
Adding butter is the bit that may prove truicky, as the cream may curdle. Luckily, mine didn't, but I did all whisking on steam (even though I had to cool it before adding butter). Finally, dilute coffee in 1 tablespoon of hot water and stir it into the cream.
Spread  1/3 of the cream on one piece of cake and place the other bit on top, spread the rest of the cream on top of the cake and sides. You may decorate your cake with ready made cake ornaments, or cover the sides with chopped almonds or nuts. I'm not sure if I'd advise to decorate the cake, as for some mysterious reasons, it tends to disappear very quickly, once it's ready. :-)