Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Orecchiette alla Antonia: A step-by-step how to

Cutting the dough
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
Remember when your English teacher told you never to start an essay with "This essay is about...." They are probably correct. I am going to respectfully ignore their collective advice.

This post is going to be a step-by-step guide on how I made a dish that I think is good enough to carry Antonia's name. (Disclosure: The other reason that the dish carries Antonia's name is that she made the sauce.)

There are two parts: The sauce and the pasta. We started both at the same time. Most of the pictures that I was able to take are of the pasta, not the sauce, unfortunately.


Step 1: Chop up one medium onion and one carrot fine. Heat up 2 tbs margarine (we are generally a milk-free household) and 2 tbs of olive oil together in a pot. Once hot, add the onions and carrots and sautee for 2 minutes.

Step 2: Add 1 lb of ground turkey, stirring for 2 minutes until meat is brown. Add some salt and pepper. This can always be adjusted later.

Step 3: Add 1/2 c soy milk and 1/2 c water and a little bit of nutmeg. Cook down until the liquid is mostly gone. Add 1 c dry white wine (we used Sauvignon blanc, a wine usually good for cooking, in my opinion). Again, cook down until mostly evaporated.

Step 4: In a blender, coarsely puree a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes with the juice. Add tomato puree to sauce and lower heat to a very low simmer for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hrs. Stir occasionally.

At this point, the pasta can be started.


Step 1: Add 2 c semolina flour and 2 c all-purpose flour to a large bowl and mix it up.

Step 2: Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add 1 c lukewarm water and a big pinch of salt. Using a fork, slowly incorporate the flour into the water, forming a dough. Not all of the flour will incorporate.
A well in the flour mixture

Step 3: Turn out what dough did form onto a surface. Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, adding in as much flour as the dough will take (I have never really understood what that means - I can keep adding flour and kneading until it forms a brick, so I guess it is a matter of practice). Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.
Dough Ball

Step 4: Cut up the dough into 8 equal pieces and individually wrap the pieces in plastic wrap.
Dough balls

Step 5: One at a time, unwrap the dough balls and using any way that is comfortable, turn the ball into a log 1/2" wide and as long as possible (I could get to about 2' with the amount of dough I had).
Pasta doughPasta dough

Step 6: Cut the dough log into 1/2" pieces, being careful to separate them and not let them touch. Adding a little bit of the extra flour may help.
Cutting the dough

Step 7: Take a dough nugget and with floured hands, put the cut side down into your palm. Make a depression with your other thumb, doing a slight twist at the end. It took me a long time to figure out the appropriate pressure to make a good depression but not get the dough to stick to my hands.
Pressing the ears

Step 8: Place the little ears on a towel on a sheet pan. A little flour on the towel can't hurt.
Orecchiette 2

....Continue with all of the balls of dough....

Step 9: Wait until the sauce is done. You are in the home stretch! Get a pot of salted water boiling. Once boiling, add in the ears about 20 at a time. They only take 1-2 minutes. They will be done once they are floating. Add them into a bowl some of the sauce.
Sauce and pasta

Step Done: Eat!

"Orecchiette alla Antonia"

One last picture, just because I like it. This was the last log of dough after I cut it up.
Orecchiette arc

If these recipes look familiar to you, you must read a lot of food magazines! They in fact did come from epicurious.com. We modified the sauce and the pasta is basically by the book.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mushroom Tart - An Experiment

Mushroom Tart
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
I decided that because it is summer and I do not have too much to do (I do have a lot, just not A LOT), I would start up some playful kitchen experimentation. One of the things I (and Antonia) made was a tomato tart (featured here). This gave me the idea to make a mushroom tart.

It is so mushroom-y because it is all mushroom!

Mushroom Tart

Savory Tart Shell (recipe to follow)

3 Cremini mushrooms
Splash of olive oil
Splash of red wine (I used a few day old Zinfandel)

Take two of the mushrooms and chop roughly. Put them into a food processor (I use a mini-chop) with the splash of wine and olive oil. Add a little bit of salt and pepper. Chop until a medium paste, pulsing if necessary.

Scoop out into tart shell. Distribute evenly with the back of a spoon or spatula.

Take the last mushroom and slice it thin. Using the largest slices from the middle of the mushroom, lay them down in a pattern on the top of the tart. Sprinkle with paprika

Bake in a 275ºF oven for 10 or so minutes.

Easy as pie tart and so tasty.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A View of Downtown

A View of Downtown
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
Downtown Los Angeles from the Griffith Park Observatory.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Suburban Fireworks

Suburban Fireworks
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
We sat in the corner of two suburban streets and watched the fireworks, which are launched from two blocks away. We were greeted not only to "Rockets red glare" and "Bombs bursting in air", but also a symphony of car alarms.

It was actually very relaxing - no jostling for position along the main road where hundreds of Woodbridgites vie for a seat as close as possible to the launch site. Another 4th of July in Irvine and nothing to complain about.