Saturday, October 29, 2011

Now This IS Italian! (The Sauce)

You've seen how to make the pasta and now it is time to see how it was topped and what it is served with!  Again, this is how I was taught by my mom and grandmother.

The meat that goes into the sauce is beef (chuck roast), country pork ribs and meatballs

About 2 tbls of olive oil is put into a large pot, heated, and then the meat is added and seasoned with S&P

The key here is to brown all sides and render some of the fat out of the meat (add a clove of garlic too)

After the browning, add about 1/2 cup of red dry wine, cover and simmer about 10 minutes

While simmering, I prepared the tomatoes.  I used my canned garden tomatoes - about 3 quarts and chopped them in the blender

The tomatoes are added to the pot, brought to a boil and then added tomato paste (approximately one can per quart of tomatoes)

While the sauce is simmering, it is time to make the meatballs.

Start by using ground beef (80/20 ratio is best - you want more fat to give them flavor), add S&P, fresh minced garlic (1 clove), 3 tbls fresh grated pecorino parmesan cheese, ~ 3/4 c seasoned Italian bread crumbs, 3 tbls chopped fresh Italian parsley and eggs (one egg per lb. of meat)

Mix by hand but do not overwork the mixture - just until combined.  Then roll them into balls, I usually get about 12 per pound

Now here is the part where some people might cook theirs differently.  We just drop them in the boiling sauce (no frying)  and let them cook for at least an hour.  Total cooking time for the sauce is about 2 hours. (At this point too you could drop in uncooked Italian sausage links)

Last put a small onion in the sauce and about 5 sprigs of fresh parsley (optional)

This time I made 2 batches - and brought some to the kids

So imagine 2 hours have passed and it is time to take the meat out (I use a large slotted spoon)

Cook the pasta

And eat!

Mr. John's 5+ star meal!
Come back around Christmas when I make homemade meat raviolis! (A Christmas tradition)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shrimp with Gorgonzola Sauce

Hmmmm....what to make tonight - I really had no plans for dinner - I came home looked around - saw that I had shrimp, gorgonzola cheese and heavy cream - a quick google later, I found a recipe for a sauce recipe that fit the bill.  I also thought I wouldn't end up blogging about it either, but here it is - the final product!

The sauce was made by reducing 3/4 cup of dry white wine in half over high heat.  Next added 3/4 cup of heavy cream and reduced mixture by about 1/3.  Lastly added 2 oz. gorgonzola cheese, 2 tbl parmesan cheese, fresh pepper and about 1/4 tsp nutmeg (fresh if you have it).  Stir until cheeses melt.

I sauteed the shrimp in a small amount of olive oil with a bit of minced garlic.  When almost done, added cheese mixture and simmered about 2 minutes.  Toss with your favorite pasta.  I really liked that the sauce wasn't heavy tasting or a thick sauce.  John liked it and gave it 4 stars!

Secret ingredient tonight was a butter flavored olive oil.  Recently in Rochester (in the Kahler hotel) the Stillwater Olive Oil Co. opened.  I had seen the store when I was buying my MOB dress in Stillwater but hadn't had a chance to stop in.  So I was excited when I heard they were opening a store here!  They have many different kinds but this one was written up in our newspaper and I was really anxious to try it and I'm glad I did.  I will definitely be using this in future recipes!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Butternut Squash Ravioli

It is seasonal squash time and I, along with my friend Kari, had been wanting to try and make butternut squash ravioli... so last night we got down to it! (Thanks Amber for the squash!)

The easiest way to soften squash is cutting it in half, scooping out the seeds, laying face down on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes at 375.

Don't do what I did by cutting and cubing - for some reason even after an hour it did not get very soft.

The baked squash is scooped out of the peel, mashed and then parmesan cheese, S&P and nutmeg are added (fresh grated nutmeg is the best!)  The recipe we used called for about a pound a squash, 1/2 cup parm cheese, S&P to taste and about 1/2 t nutmeg

Kari hard at work!
Meanwhile I had made some homemade pasta (click on this link to see how it is made).   A couple differences are don't "Dry" the sheets.  Roll and use them as you go and use the numbers 1,3 and 6 for thickness (this will make more sense when you read the other post)

A scoop of prepared squash is put on the fresh dough

The dough is folded over and cut with this ravioli cutter
Here are little pillows of heavenly goodness!

The ravioli is dropped into boiling water and when they are done, they float to the top - use a wire type scoop to lift them out

Meanwhile Kari had made a brown butter sauce with garlic, S&P and fresh sage.  We tossed the cooked ravioli in the sauce for a bit before serving

We called up Mr. John who was patiently waiting in the basement (playing pool) to be our guinea pig.  He gave these 4 stars and we declared our efforts a success!!!  We both agreed that we might want to add more nutmeg and S&P next time but that was it!!

Don't these look dee-lish!
Next we want to try Butternut Squash soup!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Now This IS Italian! (The Pasta)

How to make homemade pasta
With the seasons changing and getting a bit cooler, last weekend I was in the mood for some home-made pasta along with home-made sauce.  Of course Mr. John was grinning from ear to ear when he heard this as it would be THE meal that would get 5+ stars in his eyes (and stomach!).  While the sauce was cooking (more on that another day), I made the pasta.  This is the way I was taught by my mom and her mom before that.  Back in the day I remember my grandmother rolling the pasta into huge circles and letting it dry on sheets that were placed over the back of the couches and then even cutting the pasta by hand and was in amazement how she could do it so fast and not cut her fingers!

Let's get started!
Make a well with 4 1/2 cups flour

Add 6 eggs

Add 1 eggshell of water

Start by using a fork to start mixing

Then the "fun" begins...really get into it!

Eventually after kneading you end up with the dough intact, let it rest about 10 minutes

Add some olive oil to your board (Mr. J made this for me)

Knead until it becomes smooth

Place in an oiled bowl, covered with saran wrap for about an hour

My trusty pasta machine (a shower gift from my Maid of Honor)

I love that I keep the card with it, makes me think of Mary Ann!
Time to make the pasta....

Roll out one of the dough balls and cut into thirds

Run through the pasta machine (by hand)
The pasta machine has 6 settings and I run it through #1,3 and then 5

I "dry" my pasta on a tablecloth
About every 10 minutes, flip bottom to top until dough is still workable but not too sticky

Run the sheets through the cutting side (if sheets are really long, cut in half first)

Make "nests" and if not using right away, freeze on cookie sheet and then remove to plastic bag
...and here is the final product - cooked with some home-made sauce... come back soon for the Sauce posting!  Mangia!

Here is my grandma "Nonni" at my house in the 1990's making the pasta.  Funny but true story - when I was a kid I hated this pasta and she would always make me the "box" kind... what was I thinking!!


I found this picture on the internet and this is exactly how she cut the pasta before the machines came out!  Then she used to shake it out to separate the strands... oh the memories of going to Nonni's house!