Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A first time for everything....

I have been trying to make new things lately.  I find that sometimes I get in a rut of making the same things over and over.  You've, hopefully, already seen my post on making fresh pasta at home.  For my next first I decided to make a caramel sauce.  It ended up being a really, really good idea!

I have always been a little afraid of cooking sugar.  It is temperamental, it can burn quickly, lots of instructions, and most of all it can burn right through your flesh.  Ok, maybe that last one is a bit of an exageration but I learned from experience that if you do get even the tiniest drop on your skin it burns like a very harsh curse word. 

The idea came when I was thinking about making a banana cream pie but wanted to make it just a little more special. A regular banana cream pie is crust, bananas, pudding and whipped cream or Cool Whip.  Tasty, yes, but a little boring. 

I found this recipe on Pinterest (yes, I am a little addicted) and it seemed easy enough for me to follow.  I will admit the first attempt was NOT successful, I burnt the sugar.  Luckily, I hadn't added any of the other ingredients yet so I only lost the cup of sugar.  I liked this recipe over others because it was simply written, easy to understand, and used ingredients I almost always have in the house.

I don't have a lot of in progress recipes for this one since I was trying to concentrate on not burning the sugar and timing.  Next time I will try to have Mr. Lucky act as photographer.

Here is the recipe:

1 cup sugar 1¼ cups heavy cream ¼ tsp. coarse salt 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp butter

Spread the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Place over medium-low heat, watching carefully.  When the sugar begins to liquefy around the edges, use a heatproof spatula to gently drag the liquified sugar towards the center.  Continue stirring very gently until all the sugar is melted, making sure to not over-stir.  

Measure out the heavy cream into a liquid measuring cup, and set aside.  Once the caramel reaches a deep amber color (think the color of an old penny), immediately remove the sauce pan from the heat and let sit 1 minute. 

Carefully whisk in half of the heavy cream.  The mixture will steam and bubble violently.  Stir until the cream is well incorporated, then whisk in the remaining cream.  Stir in the salt, vanilla extract, and butter.  If any sugar has hardened, place the saucepan over low heat and whisk until smooth.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  If needed, it can be rewarmed in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat. 

I was so glad when this turned out perfect on my second attempt.  Once it had cooled some I added it to my banana cream pie.

This is the only picture I have from the pie but I got the recipe here.  It was quick and simple.  I used Cool Whip for topping because that is what Mr. Lucky likes but one of these days I will do it with whipped cream.  I am not the biggest fan of Cool Whip. 

Please try making this caramel sauce.  It will make your life so much better.  I have been sneaking spoonfuls over the last couple days and last night I had it over some vanilla ice cream.  YUMMY!!!

Talk with you soon!


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Homemade is the way to go (Part 2)

Here it is, the long awaited post about the fresh pasta I made the other night.  I don't even know if I will be able to convey how good this really was but I will try.

First of all, this was extremely easy and with the help of my KitchenAid mixer and the pasta machine it was close to effortless.  The recipe came from Allrecipes, a site I use quite a bit.

Here is the recipe as it was written :

2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 cups Semolina (I found Bob's Red Mill brand in the baking aisle)
Pinch Salt
6 eggs
2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Thoroughly sift together all-purpose flour, semolina flour, and pinch of salt. On a clean surface, make a mountain out of flour mixture then make a deep well in center. Break the eggs into the well and add olive oil. Whisk eggs very gently with a fork, gradually incorporating flour from the sides of the well. When mixture becomes too thick to mix with a fork, begin kneading with your hands.  

Knead dough for 8 to 12 minutes, until it is smooth and supple. Dust dough and work surface with semolina as needed to keep dough from becoming sticky. Wrap dough tightly in plastic and allow it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Roll out dough with a pasta machine or a rolling pin to desired thickness. Cut into your favorite style of noodle or stuff with your favorite filling to make ravioli. Bring water to a boil in a large pot, then add 4 teaspoons salt. Cook pasta until tender but not mushy, 1 to 8 minutes depending on thickness. Drain immediately and toss with your favorite sauce.

 I did all of this in my mixer using the dough hook.  I put the dry ingredients in first and mixed them together well and then made the well in the center and added the eggs and olive oil. 

I let it mix for the 8 minutes and it seemed a little too dry.  I live at altitude and the climate is fairly dry so this wasn't a complete surprise.  I ended up putting in about a tablespoon and a half of water and letting it mix for a few more minutes.  

Nice action shot, huh?

 When it seemed like the mixer wasn't doing much I floured my counter and kneaded the dough about 10 times.  

 I followed the recipe directions the rest of the way, using my pasta machine to make the fettuccine.  

I did dust the noodles with a little flour so they wouldn't stick together before I cooked them.  Don't use to much or you'll get paste in your pot.

This recipe makes quite a bit so before I ran it through the machine I divided it in half and wrapped the extra up for another day.  Just make sure you wrap the dough tightly and let it sit out a bit before you go to roll and cut it.

I made a meaty tomato sauce to go with this that had been simmering on the stove all day.  There was very little chance this meal was going to be bad.  Unless I screwed up the pasta somehow which I was so afraid of.  Turns out I had nothing to worry about.  

I am a sloppy plater.  Sorry!

Mr. Lucky said it was the best pasta he'd had in his whole life.  He then asked if I could make this every time we have pasta.  As good as it was, I am not making it every time we have pasta, we eat a lot of pasta!

I hope that you will give homemade pasta a try. 
Like the recipe says you do not need a pasta machine to make it.  You can roll out the dough and cut it by hand as well.  Please don't let the lack of a pasta machine deter you from making this.  I am going to make some more pasta from the left over dough tomorrow for dinner. 

Talk with you soon!