7/23/2013

Anti-stress therapy - making homemade pasta from scratch

Huh... It's been ten days since my last post... I think I'm trying to figure out how to do this blog. How often to post, what to post, when to post... It's hard without having feedback from someone, so if you have any comments, suggestions, critiques or thoughts I would love to hear those!

Anyway, one of the things that I really love doing is making doughs. I don't use mixers or dough makers or pre-made dough mixes or food processors, I like doing everything from scratch and love to get my hands dirty. Maybe dirty is not the right word here, since there's nothing more beautiful than making silky, soft, elastic dough ball which will become delicious bread or pastry couple of hours later.

But today we are not making bread dough. I'm going to share with you simple pasta dough recipe. Important part about this recipe is that you can substitute 1/3 of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat four, to give pasta that nutty flavor, and to add some fibers to your diet.

Homemade pasta!

Pasta is probably my favorite food, and I'm always ready to fight with all of those who are saying that pasta is not good for you, that pasta is fattening, this and that. It is true that pasta is really high in carbs, but carbohydrates are essential for proper functioning of human body. What makes pasta fattening are different sauces, and of course that chicken alfredo will have much more calories  than Mediterranean grilled chicken and zucchini pasta.

Other thing that I like about making pasta, it's always fun! Especially if you have good company, cold drink and good music playing on your stereo! :) But let's get serious now, here is your
pasta dough recipe:  (courtesy of chef Antonio from Marcus Whitman Hotel)

  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour (or substitute one cup of regular flour with one cup whole-wheat flour)
  • 4 extra large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil (you can use regular oil as well)
  • 1/2 teaspoon heavy cream or milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
Mound 3 1/2 cups of the flour in the center of large bowl of wooden cutting board. make a well in the middle of the flour, add the eggs and olive oil, salt and pepper. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and oil and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape.
This is two eggs pasta dough

The dough will come together when a half of the flour is incorporated. At this point, start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands, pushing the dough away from your body.
Once there is a cohesive mass, remove the dough form the board and scrape up and discard any leftover bits (I kinda skipped that part last time when I was making a dough, as you can see in the picture :D ).

Lightly re-flour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky.
Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Beautiful pasta sheet, on the right of course :D
After this you can roll your dough with pasta machine, you can make spaghetti, tortellini, lasagne whatever you want. We made some fettuccine and goat cheese and morel mushroom tortellini which were absolutely delicious. 

Making tortellini
This recipe is gonna make a lot of pasta. A LOT of pasta. So you can just divide it in smaller portions, flour baking sheet or cutting board and put your pasta on that (check one of the pictures above, you can see baking sheet in a background with pasta on it), put it in a freezer for an hour and then after pasta is frozen transfer your it in zip-lock bags.
Keep in mind that fresh pasta needs much less time to cook, so check here how to cook fresh pasta.
Homemade fettuccine!

7/12/2013

Organic gardening and beauty of dirty nails

One of the things that I enjoy doing is gardening. It's so relaxing. Every time when I'm doing something in my garden I have a feeling like I'm attending a stress relieve session, with all dragonflies, damselflies, lady bugs and the rest of my shrinks...
Pretty dragonfly in my garden


And gardening is really good for anger management too. You just take your mattock and go to your garden to kill a living soul in all of those nasty weeds that usually drive you crazy. And then there's that award that you get after your hard work, FRUITS and VEGETABLES! Even better ORGANIC fruits and vegetables!
I started my garden pretty late this year, since I just moved to Walla Walla from Croatia I didn't really know anything about our last frost, which plants can survive here, which cannot, so I spent days researching Internet and then I decided to give it a shot and just transplant everything outside. I forgot to mention that I started everything from seed, and I think it not even worth mentioning that my bedroom after a month looked like a jungle! Everything was growing like craaazyyy! Apparently I have a green thumb. :D
Me and my ONIONS! Pumpkins! Tomatoes!

During my research I found some pretty useful articles and blogs, about how to have the healthiest and biggest plants. I followed some of them, some of them I didn't so I ended up with petite garlic because I planted it in May, instead of September or November, but it's still delicious. I found really useful info at this blog The Art of Doing Stuff this link will take you directly to the instructions. Other web page that really helped me a lot, what you can see from pictures is Grow Better Veggies they have a ton of useful information, and I followed their instructions how to successfully plant tomatoes. I skipped fish heads part -yuuuu :/ because my dogs would probably go crazy if they could smell that in the back yard. Anyway, my tomatoes are huge right now, and full of flowers, which means that those instructions and suggestions are really working! Here's a picture of my first beets and carrots, if you want me to post a recipe for roasted baby veggies salad, let me know! :)

Dinner! Roasted baby beets, carrots, onions!
The only thing that I'm worried about are my beans, they are just leaves and I never tried to grow beans so I have no idea how are they supposed to look like.
And then the other thing I'm worried about are my nails, how superficial, but I love having pretty nails!

7/10/2013

Puff pastry and me and cooking

I love to cook. I mean, I LOVE to cook. I love to cook that much that I actually applied for Croatian MasterChef show two years ago. And it was fun. It was so much fun!
Anyway, just couple of days ago I found this pretty simple recipe on this cute blog called Baked by Rachel, the recipe is for puff pastry bread sticks, if you can call them bread sticks since they are made of puff pastry, and cheddar and bacon. I've had some delicious tomatoes in my fridge so I decided to do a twist with my puff pastry sticks.
 I've chopped up finely some fresh basil, mixed it with little bit of olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, and garlic powder. Then I rolled out my puff pastry, but not too thin because I wanted my sticks to be short and chubby, took the basil paste I made and spread it on one half of the pastry. After that I sprinkled pastry with Parmesan cheese and garlic Gouda. Then I covered that part of pastry with the other half, cut it in strips, twisted, sprinkled with bit more Parmesan and black pepper, baked for 10 minutes or so at the 440 degrees, and voila!
Couldn't wait for them to get cold so I burned my tongue.
Now you are probably asking yourself, what tomatoes had to do with everything.
Well that was my dinner! Little pretty tomato, mozzarella, kalamata olives salad, with some sweet aceto balsamico and Italian olive oil.
I'm a Mediterranean woman at the very end.
And here is a blurry picture of my puff pastry sticks

7/09/2013

Here we go again

And here we are again.
This is my second attempt in making and maintaining  successful blog. I decided to start a new one because my old one was in Croatian and since I just moved back to States from Croatia I realized that it's probably better idea to start writing and publishing in English.
So I am Croat which means that I'm from Croatia and I hope that you will forgive me all of my grammar and spelling mistakes.
I decided to do blog again because I would love to share with you my favorite things, thoughts, recipes, reviews and everyday challenges.
Just recently I became a member of two great web communities Influenster and BzzAgent and both of these are social marketing companies. I will probably talk a bit more about them in my future posts. Why is this important? Because in next couple of months of weeks I'll be getting boxes with different products from them in order to do reviews. I love writing reviews! Don't know why I just love it. My first box is actually on its way and it's coming from BzzAgent, therefore in couple of weeks I'm gonna do a review about Special K Nourish - a new kind of hot cereal with a unique multi-grain blend" by Kellogg's, cannot wait for my package to show up!