30 Minutes to Fancy! Halibut, En Paupiette! 

In the culinary arts, the term en papillote refers to a moist-heat cooking method where the food is enclosed in a packet of parchment paper or foil – and then cooked in the oven. Seriously though- cooking anything in a pouch will create a delicious infused meal. In this case, the white fish and veggies stays so juicy and moist. They are all benefitting while being bathed in olive oil, and citrus lusciousness. 

All in 30 minutes or less! 

Ingredients:

2-4 medium Yukon potatos, sliced into very thin rounds about 1/16th-inch thick

10-12 Asian pea pods, cleaned

1 bulb fresh fennel cleaned and sliced thin

2 green scallions, cleaned cut in halve. Vertical .

4 -6 Tablespoons good quality olive oil, divided

Himalayan salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

2 white fish filets, about 6 ounces each

1 orange, zested and juiced

1 Meyer lemon, zested and juiced 

2 sprigs of fresh thyme 

2 Tablespoons fresh parsley chopped, for garnish 

1 bunch of fresh chives for garnish 

Method

Preheat oven to 400’F. 

Cut a 2 / 12-14 inch long sheets of kitchen parchment. Fold each piece in 1/2 and make a crease. Open back up revealing crease. Spray with your favorite non-stick cooking spray. Set aside on a high sided baking sheet.

Slice the potato, fennel very thin, about 1/16th of an inch. Add half the potato slices in the center of the parchment working only on one side of the crease ( as the parchment will be folded over later) fan the vegetables in a circle slightly overlapping the previous vegetables in a pattern. Potatoes, fennel then pea pods. Making sure to distribute the vegetables evenly among the pieces of parchment. 

Gently drizzle the potatoes, fennel and pea pods with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Repeat this process with other sheet of parchment, and the remaining potato, fennel and pea pods

Top each portion of vegetables with 1 filet. Top each filet with a scallion. 

Evenly drizzle each filet with about 1-2 more Tablespoons of good quality olive oil and again season with salt and pepper. 

Zest the citrus, and set aside. 

Cut the orange and lemon in 1/2 and squeeze half the juice of the lemon over one filet, and half the juice over the other filet. Repeat with the additional citrus. Discard remaining rines. Add additional citrus slices to packet if you wish for a more intense citrus flavor. 

Top each with a sprig of fresh thyme. Fold foil over at crease and begin sealing packets, by crimping parchment in one inch increments drawing to a close in a 1/2 moon shape. Make sure to tightly crimp from one end to the other – consistently folding each seam so the olive oil and citrus juices will not leak out. 

Carefully place high sided baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and carefully open one packet by crimping back the ending of the crimps. Do not tear open just in case you need additional steam time. 

Check for doneness of both packets and and if necessary, return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes, or until done. 

Remove from oven and place the whole packet on a serving dish and top cut open with scissors-  pulling cut parchment back to reveal the meal-in-the-pouch. Garnish with remaining citrus zest, chopped parsley and chives. 
Serves two – want more just make more pouches.

Yum! 

Chefs Notes

Before serving, tie pouch ends with butchers twine for a more rustic look.

Top off with a little white wine in each pouch before cooking, for additional flavor. 

Authentic Fried Israeli Falafel 

Here I am, an Italian-American trying to grasp the depths of an authentic Israeli Falafel recipe. Here is how I did it. I’ve turn to my favorite Falafel expert, and adapted from Joan Nathan’s book The Foods of Israel Today. Amazing book ! Read what Joan has to say about the authenticity of Falafel. 

Joan writes

“Every Israeli has an opinion about falafel, the ultimate Israeli street food, which is most often served stuffed into pita bread. One of my favorite spots is a simple stand in the Bukharan Quarter of Jerusalem, adjacent to Mea Shearim. The neighborhood was established in 1891, when wealthy Jews from Bukharan engaged engineers and city planners to plan a quarter with straight, wide streets and lavish stone houses. 

After the Russian Revolution, with the passing of time and fortunes, the Bukharan Quarter lost much of its wealth, but even so the area retains a certain elegance. There, the falafel is freshly fried before your eyes and the balls are very large and light. 

Shlomo Zadok, an elderly falafel maker and falafel stand owner, brought the recipe with him from his native Yemen.

Zadok explained that at the time of the establishment of the state, falafel — the name of which probably comes from the word pilpel (pepper) — was made in two ways: either as it is in Egypt today, from crushed, soaked fava beans or fava beans combined with chickpeas, spices, and bulgur; or, as Yemenite Jews and the Arabs of Jerusalem did, from chickpeas alone. But favism, an inherited enzymatic deficiency occurring among some Jews — mainly those of Kurdish and Iraqi ancestry, many of whom came to Israel during the mid 1900s — proved potentially lethal, so all falafel makers in Israel ultimately sopped using fava beans, and chickpea falafel became an Israeli dish.

The timing was right for falafel in those early years, with immigrants pouring in. Since there was a shortage of meat, falafel made a cheap, protein-rich meal — and people liked it.

Rachama Ihshady, the daughter of the founder of another favorite Jerusalem falafel joint, Shalom’s Falafel on Bezalel Street, told me that her family recipe, also of Yemenite origin, has not changed since British times. 

Using the basics taught to me by these falafel mavens, I have created my own version, adding fresh parsley and cilantro, two ingredients I like and which originally characterized Arab falafel in Israel. 

Give me mine wrapped in a nice warm pita bread, swathed in tahina sauce an overflowing with pickled turnip and eggplant, chopped peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, amba (pickled mango sauce) — and make it harif, Hebrew for “hot.” The type of hot sauce used, of course, depends on the origin of the falafel maker.”

With all this research I decided to adapt Jones recipe without cilantro to suit more my own liking. Feel free to add it or omit. 

Joan Nathon’s Falafel Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup dried chickpeas

1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro ( optional) 

1 teaspoon salt

1/2-1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper

4 cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon baking powder

4-6 tablespoons flour

Soybean or vegetable oil for frying

Chopped tomato for garnish

Diced onion for garnish

Diced green bell pepper for garnish

Tahina sauce

Pita bread ( see my recipe here

Method:

Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained.

Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.

Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough bulgur or flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.

Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts, or use a falafel scoop, available in Middle-Eastern markets.

Heat 3 inches of oil to 375ºF in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Stuff half a pita with falafel balls, chopped tomatoes, onion, green pepper, and pickled turnips. Drizzle with tahina thinned with water.

Notes

Egyptians omit the cilantro and substitute fava beans for the chickpeas

Tahina (also called tahini) is an oily paste made from ground sesame seeds. It is available in Middle Eastern markets and at Amazon. 
To garnish your falafel in true Israeli style, try adding one or several of the following condiments: harissa hot sauce, pickled turnip (both also available at Amazon or ethnic grocer – add mango amba (pickle), or sauerkraut.

Me- I like to add chopped Cucumber, onions, tomatoes and lots of tzatziki and hot sauce ( see my tzatziki sauce recipe here) I know – don’t say it! My toppings are not authentic, but an awesome combination of a Italian-Greek-American twist ! 

Spicy Turkey Zucchini Boats! Like a Taco without a Shell. Whatever Floats Your Boat, Right? 

Ingredients:

8 medium zucchini

1 cup chicken stick

1 pound ground turkey, chicken, beef or Italian sausage 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped small dice 

1 cup mushrooms, quartered ( optional) 

2-3 cloves garlic, minced fine

3 cups pasta sauce

1 Tablespoon oregano, minced fine

1 Tablespoon fresh marjoram, minced fine 

1/2 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced fine  

¼ teaspoon Himalayan or Kosher salt

¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste

1/2 -1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground ancho Chili

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/2 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese 

1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

2 Tablespoons Italian style panko bread crumbs

1/4 bunch of flat leaf Italian parsley for garnish 

Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Measure out 1 cup of the pasta sauce and set aside.
Set aside a 13×9 glass baking dish 
Trim ends from zucchini and slice in half, lengthwise. With the tip of your knife score crosshatches on the inside of the zucchini flesh. Use the tip of a small spoon to scrape out the flesh. Chop the zucchini flesh into medium dice and set aside. 

Place the scooped out zucchini boats into a 13″ x 9″ baking dish and add about one cup of chicken or vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper.

Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, until just slightly fork-tender. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool slightly.

While the boats are baking, add olive oil to a large high sided skillet and place over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender and browning about 4-5 minutes. Add onions, and sauté until translucent an additional 2-3 minutes. 

Add the fresh garlic, cook for an additional 1 minute. 
Add the meat and begin constantly stirring to break up the ground meat as it cooks. Continue to cook and stir until meat is thoroughly cooked and veggies have softened. Drain off as much oil if any and return the pan to the heat.

Add the chopped zucchini flesh, 2 cups of the pasta sauce, parsley, fresh herbs, salt, fresh ground black pepper, crushed red pepper and remaining spices. Stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and allow to simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes. 

While sauce is simmering remove partially cooked zucchini from baking dish and pour off any liquid remaining. 

Pour the 1 cup of reserved pasta sauce into the empty baking dish and place zucchini boats on top of the sauce.

Divide the warm filling between the zucchini boats. If you have extra filling, spoon it into the dish around the zucchini boats. Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 20 minutes, or until zucchini is fork tender. 

Remove from oven . Remove the foil and set the oven to broil.

Sprinkle the zucchini boats with Mozzarella, Parmesan and the Panko bread crumbs. Place dish back in the oven, watching closely, and cook for just a couple of minutes until cheese has melted and bread crumbs are golden brown. 

Top with fresh chopped parsley. Serve hot.

Variations

Add 1/2 cup cooked black forbidden rice 

Add Quinoa 

Add red or green bell peppers.

Add mini tomatoes 

Use left over cooked chicken

Top with fresh pesto or rough chopped basil 

30 Minute Creamy Homemade Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons!


You’ll Need:


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, sliced

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped in 1/2 inch pieces 

1-2 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves

1/2 cup fresh flat leaf Italian parsley leaves 

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 (28 oz ) cans good quality peeled and chopped organic tomatoes

2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock) 

1/2 cup heavy cream, plain Greek yogurt or your favorite nut milk

10-12 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped 

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper 

Grilled cheese cut into croutons 

For the grilled cheese

8 slices of your favorite bread, crusts removed 

8-12 Tablespoons softened butter 

8 slices of sharp Tillimock cheddar cheese for grilled cheese 

Here’s How
:
In a heavy bottomed 6-8 quart stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. 

Add the onions and carrots. Sauté for 3-5 minutes until onions are beginning to turn golden brown and caramelized. 

Add the garlic, oregano and fresh chopped parsley and cook an additional 1 -2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with their juice and the chicken stock. Bring to a low simmer. Cook uncovered, for 12 -15 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add fresh basil to last minute of cook time. 

While soup is cooking make grilled cheese sammies. Cut into croutons, set aside. 

Using an immersion blender or carefully transfer soup to a blender to puree soup. 

Return to heat add cream. Re-adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Do it boil after adding cream. 

Serve piping hot garnished with grilled cheese croutons. 

Fresh Basil and Kale Pesto Zoodles

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Some think I’ve lost my noodle, because I put kale in my zoodles. I’ll let you be the judge.

This recipe is a variation of the classic basil pesto. It’s fresh, flavorful, easy and healthy. Kale is really good for you. Contains a high concentration of vitamins K, A, C, and antioxidants.  Chefs Secret: Blanching helps reduce the bitterness in kale. For an even creamier recipe– add an avocado to the blend.

Special Equipment: Food Processor, Nutri bullet or standing blender that can liquify.

Ingredients: 

10 leaves fresh curly kale, stem removed

20 fresh roasted almonds

1-2 cloves garlic, cleaned

1/4 teaspoon salt ( optional)

3 -4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin coconut oil in a liquid state

1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese ( optional )

1 bunch basil leaves, stems removed

Salt and pepper to taste

Ice

Method:

Step 1: Shock kale. (blanch) Bring a large pot of water to the boil. While waiting for water to boil, set a medium sized mixing bowl in the sink with a few cups of ice. Fill with cold water and leave inside the sink.

Step 2: After removing the thick central stalk from the kale leaves, plunge the kale into the boiling water. Boil the leaves for about 2 minutes, quickly drain and plunge into the cold water to stop the cooking process. Remove from ice bath and drain again, on paper towels. Blot away any additional moisture. Dry thoroughly. The kale should be bright and rich in color.

Step 3: In the bowl of a food processor, add the blanched kale, garlic, nuts, parmesan ( optional)  and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Step 4: Add the extra virgin olive oil and continue to pulse until the kale pesto reaches the desired consistency. Taste , adjust seasoning or extra virgin olive oil if necessary.

Step 5: Toss with zoodles and serve Immediately. Kale pesto will keep for 1 week ( without the avocado ) sealed airtight and held in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information: Makes 2-1/2 cups, Servings: 2.5 ounces, Calories: 67, Total Fat 8g, Carbohydrates: 3g, Fiber: 1g, Protein: 1g,  Sugar: 4 g, Sodium: 170 mg

 

 

Photo credit : The Dr Oz show.

Zoodles with Spicy Lemon-Garlic Shrimp

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I love, love, love shrimp scampi over pasta with lots of lemon and garlic, but I need a fast alternative from pasta. Here’s my swing on the ol’ classic!

 

Ingredients:

2-3 teaspoons olive oil or extra virgin coconut oil

1/2 medium sized yellow onion, cleaned and Julianne sliced

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

4 cloves garlic, cleaned, cut and smashed to paste

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 pound peeled and deveined fresh shrimp (30-32 size)

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped fine

1/4-1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock to deglaze

4 medium zucchini, spiraled

Parmesan cheese to garnish

 

Method: 

Step 1: In a medium size nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until almost translucent – about 1 minute.

Step 2: Add the tomatoes, garlic and 1 teaspoon of crush red pepper flakes. Sauté for an additional 1 minute.

Step 3: Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until shrimp begin to turn pink.

Step 4: Add the lemon juice and continue to cook an additional 1 minute just until the shrimp is cooked through and opaque. Do NOT over cook.

Step 5: Deglaze the pan with stock to make a quick sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add zoodles, toss top with cheese and serve immediately.

Nutrition Information: Servings: 1 = 1 zucchini and 4 shrimp ( This recipe serves 4) Calories: 235.5, Fat: 9 g, Carb: 14.5 g, Fiber: 4 g, Protein: 25 g Sugar: 4 g, Sodium: 179 mg (without salt), Cholesterol: 173 g  – without cheese.

 

Skinny Orange Chicken 


Well, skinn ( i-e-r ) ….

One of my favorite dishes is orange chicken! Mmmm, crispy bits of deep fried nuggets tossed in sugary orange glaze. 

Yikes! I did make a New Year commitment of cutting back on fried foods and recipes that include refined sugar. So- what’s a chef to do? 

Answer: Reworked the formula. Now, I can still have my orange chicken, and eat it too! And now- you can too! 

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour or gluten free flour 

2 large eggs, beaten

2 cups panko bread crumbs, or Gluten free option ( optional) 

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Juice and zest of 2 oranges

1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup honey

2-4 dried chili peppers

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups cooked jasmine rice

Black or white Sesame seeds, for garnish

Sliced scallions, for garnish

Method:

Preheat oven to 400′ F Degrees.
Line a high sided baking sheet with parchment paper or non-stick silicone baking sheet .

Set up a dredging station with three medium sized bowls. One bowl filled with the flour and seasoned with salt and pepper, another one with the eggs, beaten and seasoned with salt and pepper, and one with panko. Next to the last bowl place the prepared sheet. 

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Begin dredging the chicken by first pressing it in the flour. Lift to shake off any excess. 

Next, coat in the in beaten eggs and finally, into the in panko- covering thoroughly. 

Last, arrange the coated chicken on the parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until no longer pink, 18 to 20 minutes.

While the chicken is baking . Prepare the glaze. 

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the orange juice, soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, and cornstarch. Whisk until combined. Add chili and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Once the chicken is baked and crispy- transfer into to a large bowl and drizzle in the orange sauce. Toss well to coat. 

Serve over cooked rice garnished with orange zest, sesame seeds, and chopped scallions.

Pommes de Terre Gratinées ~”Potatoes with Cheese”~

 

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A Gratin is a culinary technique in which a casserole recipe is topped with a browned crust, from breadcrumbs, grated cheese, sometimes eggs and or butter. Gratin originated in French cuisine, and is usually prepared in a shallow cooking vessel. The flavors are rich and delicious.

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus additional for preparing the baking dish

2 fresh leeks

1 ½ pounds peeled Yukon gold potatoes

1/4-1/2 pound pancetta, chopped in medium dice or center cut bacon.( Optional)

1 cup heavy cream or nut milk

1/3 cup chicken stock or veg stock

2 garlic cloves, cleaned and smashed root ball in tact

2 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

1 cup Gruyère cheese, grated

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350’F degrees.

Prepare a 2-quart gratin dish or a casserole dish by generously rubbing the inside with softened butter. Place on a lined high sided cookie sheet and set aside.

Trim the leek’s root ball, and cut off most of the green stem. Slice down the center lengthwise.Wash the leeks thoroughly between the layers to remove any grit and slice again thinly on the crosswise, into 1/4 inch strips.

Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, slice the potatoes into1/8 inch disks. Toss with salt and pepper. Layer the rounds, slightly over lapping one another- from left-to-right, or in a circle — bottom-to top, in the buttered gratin dish.

In a small sauce pan cook the pancetta until crispy. About 3-5 minutes- drain on a paper towel. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat- melt the butter. Add the leeks, a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh salt pepper. Add the thyme. Cook stirring occasionally until leeks are tender and golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs and scatter the cooked leeks over the sliced potatoes.

While the leeks are cooking, heat the cream, the chicken stock with the garlic, and bay leaf in an additional saucepan. Simmer for about 5 minutes until flavors are infused in the cream. Add nutmeg and white pepper.

Sprinkle the pancetta ( reserving 1/2 ) on top of the cooked leeks, pour the cream over the leeks and potatoes and pancetta. Top with the Gruyère. Cover with aluminum foil and transfer to the oven. Bake for 40- 50 minutes, uncover and bake until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with the reserved crispy pancetta and garnish with chopped parsley.

Makes approximately 4-6 servings

Making Fresh Pasta at Home

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Sixteen years ago I designed a cooking school for kids with my then, 6 and 8-year-old daughters. They named it: Kids Culinary Adventures- where math, reading, science and art mix with kids. Although I’ve retired from teaching hands-on to children- and both my kids grew up and onto college. I do continue to food coach parents on picky eaters, on how to shop, and eat healthier.

Several classes at Kids Culinary Adventures were popular, many really stood out and we would need to continually teach them. The class I will be sharing with you today was always a success. It was called,”Have You Lost Your Noodle?”. KCA was popular for anchoring academic through the medium of cooking. This class was no expectation. Have you lost your noodle, was a vehicle to teach at home pasta making and an opportunity to discuss the beautiful history and geography of the noodle. As you might imagine it was a wonderful social studies course as a whole.

As the founder of KCA, my family and I have designed well over 400 culinary classes throughout the years. All  of those classes have been taught in our San Francisco, Bay Area location. Have you lost your Noodle, was no exception. The funny part was – THIS  was the class all the parents wanted to take. The demand was so high– we eventually designed an adult class that would also guide families away from fast, additive free, highly processed and pre- prepared foods. We named this class:”Cook Outside the Box”. Parents were learning how to and cook fresh– and, in as little time as possible.

Making pasta from scratch only seems like a huge undertaking. I’m here to tell you–making fresh homemade pasta can be done in under 30 minutes of hands on attention! (with the exception of the dough’s rest period.) It’s likely you will be spending more time reading about  pasta making— than you will be actually engaged hands-on.


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Before you approach the recipe– here are a few things I’d like to chat about before sending you off with a basic pasta dough recipe— here they are:

About the Flour :

The names, Doppio Zero ( double zero), 00 and 0 flour refer to specifically Italian milled flours used for pasta making.

The Italian grading system is used in many pasta making recipes—and is as follows: 2, 1, 0 or 00. These symbols indicate to how finely the flour is ground, and how much of the bran and germ has been removed in the process. American flour, on the other hand is graded by both– color included:  white, brown, whole meal and by gluten content, or strength. We read names such as:  all purpose, strong, extra strong or similar grammar. The basic rule rule of thumb among cooks is the stronger the flour, the better the bread. The less dense the flour is, the better the cake or pasta. All else being equal, stronger flour is good for stronger bread type textured items. We avoid these characteristics in our cakes and pastas.

If you are looking to make a better pasta, start with a finer flour– all purpose will work too, but 00 flour has been refined more so than the standard all purpose flour or bread flour– which is  higher in protein, and could result in your pasta tough to the bite and chewy.

The bottom line is : All this doesn’t refer to the flours ingredients, as much as it refers to how finely the flour has been ground down. Doppio- zero is great to work with — especially making pasta by hand. It is super-fine, like talcum-powder. Because it is so fine, the whole mixing, folding, rolling process is much easier, and result in a perfect textured product. Italian Grade 00 is a soft flour with around just 9% protein and best for cakes. I use it for pasta too.

Lower gluten = soft flour = cake, pasta, items soft and billowy baked goods
High gluten = hard flour = breads or yeasted items that expand with heat need to withstand the rise of the yeast without blowing the top off the loaves.

Variations: Some cooks like to add fresh chopped herbs. Fresh garlic, or powdered spices to the recipe before mixing and kneading — just make up for the variance of water content if there is one. Some people like to add liquified spinach, or other delicious vegetables. Experiment. The dough will tell you what it needs— by how sticky or dry it is. Listen to it. Start with a basic dough recipe below and gradually begin to add to your repertoire each time you make a new batch. Learn the basics first.

Making dough on a raining day is not for first time learners. The flour will absorb the moisture from the humid atmosphere and make things… well, a sticky situation. Making dough on these days become a bit more time-consuming, among other things. Stick to drier temperatures until you really have the pasta making method down.

Note of Filled Dough: Pasta can be filled with just about anything. The most important thing to remember is: How the dough is cooked and filled. Over-filled or under-fill can ruin your day. If you over-fill the dough, you risk the ravioli or the tortellini popping in the cooking liquid. If you under-fill the dough, you risk the mouth-feel at serving time will be just chewy gob of tasteless dough.

Chefs Secrets:
Adding any type of oil to the water is a no-no — this will stop the pasta from its absorption rate, and the sauce will run off of it instead of adhering the finished product.

Always add a touch of the pasta’s cooking liquid to the sauce. The starch in the water will combine with your other ingredients and become sticky insurance— the results will be a better marriage between your pasta and your sauce.

If making any type of creamy egg-based pan sauce; always add the sauce while the pasta pan is completely off the flame. This reduces your risk of scrambling the eggs in the recipe and instead will result in a beautiful decadent base to blanket your glorious work.

Always cook pasta in boiling salted water.


Basic Pasta Recipe

Ingredients:

3 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 Tablespoon good quality olive oil
Pinch of salt
2 cups of low protein flour, such as Italian grade Doppio-Zero flour or American grade AP or cake flour, sifted.

Method:

Whisk eggs and oil in a medium bowl or if you don’t want any clean up in a large plastic food storage bag– but begin on the table if you want the authentic feel. Combine with your finger, the salt and 2 cups flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour, and pour the egg mixture into well.

Gradually incorporate flour mixture into egg mixture with a fork or your fingers– (shaped in a claw ) mix until a shaggy type dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it comes together as a smooth ball. About 5-8 minutes. If the dough is sticky, dust lightly with additional flour as needed. The dough will become family stiff because the protein in the dough is developing gluten strands. These strands are like rubber bands. If the dough becomes too difficult to knead cover it and give it a five-minute rest. This will relax the gluten strands and allow you to get back to work.

Once a smooth ball has been formed from your kneading efforts, shape the ball into a 1/2 inch disk. Wrap in plastic or in a gallon sized food storage bag. Allow to rest until the dough holds an indentation when pressed with your finger, minimum 30 minutes but up to 1–2 hours is fine.


When you are ready to roll—literally

Set a pasta maker to thickest setting. (If you do not have a pasta maker, skip this step and proceed to my notes below). Dust dough lightly with flour and divide into 4 pieces. Working with a single piece at a time and keeping remaining dough wrapped in plastic.

Flatten dough into a narrow rectangle no wider than mouth of machine and pass through the rollers on the highest setting. Alternatively, flatten the dough with a rolling pin.

Fold the outer most edges in from each side overlapping one another, then rotate the whole piece 90 degrees. Run through the rollers again and then repeat without folding or rotating , adjusting the machine to a thinner setting after each pass. Dust lightly with flour if the dough becomes sticky at any point. Continue until the pasta sheet is 1/16” thick— and you can almost see your hand through it, like a fine set of silky sheers, as in,“window treatment”. Usually about an #8 on the dial of most pasta making machines.

Place your newly formed sheets of pasta sheets on a lightly floured surface to dry. Or hang on a clean clothing hanger, covered with a clean lint free dishcloth. The dough can be rolled out into sheets 4 hours ahead. Stack on a baking sheet between pieces of parchment paper; covered. Cut into any shape or form.

Rolling the Dough by Hand
If you don’t have a machine, don’t worry. Use a rolling pin and your body weight to press the pasta as thin as possible. Just like described above—you need to build the pasta in layers, folding it back over itself, and flattening again and again, about 4-6 folds. You will know when its ready when it is very smooth to your sight and touch; and you can roll it out thin enough to see your hand on the other side of the sheet. This method will take a bit longer, but is very achievable. Now cut and shape the dough with a knife or a pizza fough cutter If you’re not making filled pasta. Or you can purchase a Eppicotispai “Chitarra” Pasta Cutter with 32cm/12.5-Inch Rolling Pin

Note: Below is a link to one of the best homemade pasta making website I think I’ve ever seen. Because I am not standing next to you and teaching you hands-on, take a good look at this website. If I was going to design a pasta making photo montage, this is exactly how it would look– scroll all the way through for the best benefit.

 Serious Eats Makes Pasta.

 

 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Fried Sage and a Chestnut Cream. Oh yeah! 

‘Tis the season! Old world Gnocchi made from sweet potatoes, paired with the crunchness of fried chestnut and sage. Delicious. I’ve also bumped up the flavor profile by serving it in a pool of brown butter chestnut cream sauce made with wholesome nut milk — this recipe is heartwarming belly satisfying! 
A bit of work, but worth all the flavor! 


Ingredients:

1 1/4 pounds russet baking potatoes

1 pound sweet potato

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground sage

1/2 cup fine grated Parmigiano – Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving!

1 1/2 -2 cups of all purpose flour or gluten free flour

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup sage leaves, fried.  (see method below)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 450° with the rack in the center of the oven pierce the potatoes in several places with a fork. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet until tender about 60 minutes or until a knife slides through. Remove and set-aside to cool.

 
Prepare your baking sheet with either a sheet of parchment or silicon baking mat. Once potatoes are cool, peel and run through a ricer back into the prepare the  baking sheet and spread out evenly and allow to throughly cool.

 

While potatoes are cooling, lightly flour 2 to 3 large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Set aside.

 

In a small bowl, beat together the egg nutmeg, cloves, ground sage, salt and pepper.

 

Gather the cooled potatoes in a mound on the baking sheet and form a volcanic with a large well in the center.

 

Pour the beaten egg mixture into the well. With your hands, knead the mixture into the potatoes until combine. Add the cheese and 1 1/2 cups of flour continue to knead adding more flour as necessary until the mixture forms a smooth but slightly sticky dough ball.

 

Dust the top of the ball  with additional flour and cut into six wedges. Like a pizza.

 

Form each wedge of the dough into a 1/2 inch thick rope; on a lightly floured surface. Cut each rope into half inch pieces. Gently roll each piece into a cylinder type ball and lightly dust with more flour. Set cylinder balls aside in the flour on the baking sheet and repeat with all the remaining dough.

Once all the little cylindrical shapes are complete, turn a fork over– and hold it at a 45° angle with the tips of the tins touching the worksurface. Work with one cylinder ball at a time, and roll it down the tims of the fork pressing with your thumb to make the ridges on one side to form a Gnocchi.

 
Transfer back to the floured baking sheets till you have completed the same action with all the dough. Clean up and fry the sage leaves,  and make sauce. See recipes below.

 

Fill an 8 to 12 cup large stock pot with water and 2 tablespoons of salt. Bring to roaring boil. Add gnocchi in batches and cook until they float to the surface. About three minutes per batch. Remove with a slotted spoon straight into the sauce pan and cover.

Transfer sauced gnocchi to a large serving bowl and top with  additional finally grated Parmesan cheese, top with fried sage and chestnuts. Squeeze an additional swirl of chestnut, sage oil on the putter rim of the bowl before serving.

Enjoy!

Fried Sage Leaves  

Ingredients:

1 cup very dry whole sage leaves, removed from stems

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Method:

In a 10 inch heavy skillet over medium heat- heat oil until it shimmers.
Fry sage leaves in 3-4 batches stirring until they turn one shade lighter and crisp up only about 30 seconds per batch. Quickly remove from oil as soon as color changes and drain on a paper towel.
Season with salt. Set aside. Save pan and oil to fry chestnuts and make sauce.



Chestnut Cream Sauce 

Ingredients:

1/3 cup olive oil

2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour or GF flour

1 cup good quality chicken stock, warmed

1/2 cup nut milk, warmed

1 clove garlic, smashed

1/3 cup bottled seasonal roasted chestnuts, very thinly sliced with a garlic slicer or vegetable peeler

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch brown sugar

Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper for seasoning

Method:

Using the same pan as the fried sage leaves, heat the additional oil with what is ever left over. Add the smashed clove of garlic, heat until shimmering. Remove the garlic clove once it it is cooked golden brown, and discard.
Add the sliced chestnut slices (patting dry with a paper towel before adding to the hot oil.) Again, working quickly in batches and careful not to get splattered. Chestnuts contain a large content of water, which will splatter when they come in contact with oil.
Fry chestnuts in three batches stirring until crisp and golden, about 20-30 seconds per batch. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to papertowel to drain. Lightly seasoned with salt.
Cool the oil and strain. Save for additional purposes- this oil will be fragrant and very flavorful. Use to top off soups oruse in a salad dressing, or garnish your gnocchi plate!
Once oil is strained, and discarded from the pan- wipe the pan out with a paper towel. Add butter and flour. On low heat cook butter until
It is turning brown and  nutty, add flour  and whisk together to make a Roux. (This will help thicken your sauce) once the butter and flour combination has been cooked for about 1 minute and has formed a paste like consistency -remove from heat.  While wisking constantly, add the warm stock,  and nut milk. Whisk to remove  any lumps that might form. Sprinkle in a tablespoon of cooked chestnuts.
Return to heat and thicken sauce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Adjust consistency with additional liquid if needed.
Season with spices, brown sugar and pepper. Set aside. Use sauce to coat cooked Gnocchi.