Monday, October 25, 2010

Fresh Pasta with My Sidekick

Talus is my sidekick in the kitchen.  Of course, he thinks I'm his.  One of our favorite things to make together is fresh egg pasta.  He loves using the pasta machine and gets his own small chunk of dough to do with as he pleases. The beauty of making pasta with kids is that they are totally occupied and interested (no small feat with T), but really, mama is in control.

                                             As you can see, I have really fancy drying rack...

Fresh Egg Pasta

From The Herbfarm Cookbook

2 cups unbleached bread flour -or AP
2 large eggs
1/4 t. salt
2 t. olive oil
About 2 T. water (I always need more)
Rice flour, for dusting

Pulse the flour, eggs, salt, and olive oil together in a food processor until the mixture looks like cornmeal.
Add 2 T. water and process.  Add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dough spins itself into a ball.
Put in a covered container and let rest at least 15 minutes.
Roll out the dough according to your pasta machine's directions. Rice flour is key isn't absorbed into the dough the way that flour is.  Love it.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Autumn in the Garden

It's been a strange year for weather here in the Pacific Northwest and the garden has definitely reflected that.  It is what it is. Every year is different.  We still ate solely from our garden all summer and the tomatoes continue to come in red.  The onions and carrots have been epic in size. We were swimming in green beans all season, still are, actually.  The freezer is full of veggies for the winter.  Not bad. I'm grateful.

Here is what I planted for fall and winter:

Lacinato Kale (will overwinter)
Rainbow Chard (doesn't like hard frosts)
Red Russian Kale (burly plants from a salad mix-overwinters)
Leeks (overwinters for spring)
Winter salad mix (in the cold frame-see below)
Mizuna and other mild greens (not liking the cool nights)
Parsnips (these were actually planted mid-summer and taste best after a frost or two)
Sugar Snap Peas (second planting in early August-they probably could have used more sun)
Carrots (seems like they can just hang out in the dirt forever)
Beets (ready in the spring)

Bret built me this great cold frame a couple of years ago for our winter lettuces...still working out some kinks, but I love it.  We didn't use the Ikea shelving since the hubby is so handy. I'm off to get garlic and shallots for planting today. Enjoy the comes the rain.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Braised Beef with Fennel and Orange Zest over Bay Scented Mashed Potatoes

What's that?  You say you don't like fennel?  Try this can be brave and stick with the fennel or just omit.  Like coffee, everyone has a certain way they prefer to make their mashed potatoes.  Skin on, peeled, with cream and a pound of get the point. So, make them your way and try adding a couple of cracked, fresh bay leaves to the water while they boil away.  If you enjoy them, try making a small slit in your Russet and slide a bay leaf in the next time you have baked potatoes. Of course, I'm lucky to have a MIL that has a huge bay tree.  I just have to make the .9 mile trek that way...pretty sweet.
This recipe is sort of a combination, Mo twist, on Suzanne Goin's, "Boeuf a la Nicoise" and Patricia Wells'  Beef with Carrots.  Feel free to adjust the amount of beef and carrots. I love my meat, but we prefer to be heavy on the veggies around here. I just bought the stew meat pre-cut.  You can buy chuck and cut it up if your are so inclined.  Or use short ribs.  Or some other cut you fancy.  We tend to go organic or grass fed here as well.

Braised Beef with Fennel and Orange Zest

1.5 pounds stew meat cut into 1-2 inch cubes 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced fennel
1/2 cup diced carrot
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
8 sprigs of fresh thyme
Zest of one organic orange
3/4 cup chopped tomatoes (we had some from the garden, but canned is fine)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups red wine 
4 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
4-5 large carrots cut into 2 inch chunks
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley 

Preheat oven to 325 F.
Season the beef with salt and pepper to your liking.  Heat the oil over high heat until smoking.  In a large dutch oven, brown the beef in single layers-don't crowd.  If using more than amount above, you may need to brown in batches.  Sear until well browned on all sides and remove.

Turn the heat down to medium and  cook the onion, fennel, diced carrots.  Scrape up the brown bits.  Add the thyme sprigs, bay, garlic, and orange zest.  Cook 6-8 minutes or until the veggies caramelize.  
Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes to coat the veggies.  Add the balsamic and reduce to a glaze.  Add the wine and reduce by half.  Add the beef stock and bring to a boil.  Add the carrots and reserved meat with juices.  Cover the pan with foil and a tight fitting lid.  Braise for about 3 hours in the oven.
During the last half hour, make the potatoes or boil up some fresh egg noodles.

Serve with mashed potatoes or egg noodles.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 4, 2010


This weekend the family headed north to the, "City of Subdued Excitement."  I love Bellingham. I used to be obsessed with moving there, but that has tapered off a bit over the years as T-town has found a place in my heart.
We went to their amazing farmers' market, ate great food, watched the hippies spin, and most importantly spent time with friends and family.  The boys had a blast playing with their cousins and friends and we burned the midnight fires rehashing old memories and creating new ones.  We are blessed with fabulous and genuine friends.  I am thankful.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Perfect Press

Welcome!  I'm going to jump start my new blog the same way I do each day...with coffee. I drink a nonfat, unsweetened, plain latte every morning that I top off  with half-and-half. Seriously.  It's fantastic.  In the afternoon, it's a simple French Press with half-and half.  If you like yours sweet, I suggest adding a little vanilla sugar.  The method below was taught to me by a friend.  It is possible that it came from Satellite Coffee first.  I'm drinking a cup right now....

French Press for One

4 cups boiling water
4 heaping Tbsp. course ground coffee
Half and half to taste
French Press

Put grounds into the press and pour the water over them. Let sit one minute. Stir. Let sit 4 minutes. Press. Pour. Enjoy.