Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Well, most of the free world that cares knows we had an ice storm followed by mass power outages which sort of forced cancellation of our dinner party.  I was in denial on Wednesday, and so even though we didn't have power, I kept making preparations, like this one:

That's anchovies soaking in milk that I was supposed to put in a tapenade. I was certain the power would come back on and I would be able to use my food processor.  But, it stayed in this state, until I tossed it due to staying in the refridge without electricity for 3 days.

Some of us found other ways to entertain ourselves during the power outage.  Still not sure who won this arm-wrestling match pictured below. 

I had the use of my cooktop, so I made cream of wheat, or creme de farine if you're being fancy.  It was for the dessert.

This is the apple ice cream that I made while the temperature in our house was dropping to seeming sub zero temperatures.

And I made some bread that I got to rise by sticking it next to my gas burner that I had on for about 36 straight hours trying to heat my house.

In the end, we postponed the dinner.  My neighbor ate the bread, because she had an oven in the RV they were sleeping in.

I froze the ice cream in my mother-in-law's ice cream maker in Atlanta, where we decided to take a spontaneous trip.

Once we got to her house, I poached apples that were to have been in the dessert. (Never mind that one with a weird looking middle, I missed the first time with the apple corer)

The puff pastry held up just fine in the cooler and made beautiful cinnamon twists.

And we had fancy Valentine's day dessert in Atlanta.

Stay tuned.  We intend to reschedule.  And Nichole, I need to borrow your pasta roller again, unfortunately. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Reflections on making pasta

This title is somewhat misleading.  There is really nothing to reflect on. I deplore it.
I am forever indebted to my friend Nichole who lent me her pasta roller. 

 Considering that I made my pasta dough slightly too thick, I would have been in tears by the end of today if it weren't for that device.  It was almost life changing enough for me to just go out and buy one, but the rest of the pasta making experience was such that I never intend to do it again.  Did I mention I only need 6 ravioli?  Since I made my dough too thick, I was able to get 8 out of my pasta recipe, I had enough dough for more (it was supposed to make 12), but it kept tearing and not sealing properly.  Two extra is simply not enough wiggle room for me.  I always like to have twice as many extra just in case some of them still don't seal properly and bust open when I'm cooking them.  I could have made more dough; but kneading pasta dough can be very time consuming and my hands are always sore after the fact, so I decided to cheat.  Please don't ever tell Thomas Keller if you meet him.  I had half a package of wonton wrappers in my freezer that have been there for a while.  So I decided to use those to make my extras for my "wiggle room."  Can you tell a difference?

Clearly, that was rhetorical.  I don't care if mine explodes if I can just get 5 of those beautiful yellow ones (don't you just love the color of an egg yolk when you use it the day that it was layed?) to work, then we'll be good.  If not, then I will have to pan fry the wonton ones.  Since I had plenty of artichokes, I decided to use up all my wonton wrappers and just have this for dinner tonight.  When I tried to boil them, this happened.  

I am so glad that I tried this little experiment tonight and did NOT make this discovery next Friday.  So I pan fried one (so I now only have 6 of the wonton variety left), and it turned out like this.  Not the look I was going for, but obviously a better option than the above catastrophe, and it tasted wonderful.  

Regardless of how I feel about the pasta, this is now checked off of my list, and I can go on with my life.  I also made this fine little reduction today.  This will be a vinaigrette that will go with the artichoke pasta.  Previously, it was 7 cups of liquid.  When finished reducing, it was 1/3 cup.  

That is all for today.  Hopefully tomorrow, my quail eggs will be ready to pick up!  

Friday, February 7, 2014

Getting Started

For some reason, I have 2 complete mental blocks in the French Laundry cookbook.  They are 1) making puff pastry, and 2) making pasta.  The only thing I can think of, is that these were two of my first attempts at really making something from scratch, back before I really knew how to cook, and they were so arduous at the time that this has been forever etched into my memory.   The last couple of times I've made either of them, once finished, I have this thought of "Oh, that wasn't so hard, why did I have such angst about starting that?"  But then when it comes time to make it again, I put it off and put it off and just put it OFF until I either have to make it or remove it from the menu.  So this year, I tried to be a little more proactive and make both of these very freezable dishes the week before so that I could be less stressed out about the entire event.  I started with puff pastry, because that is #1 in the "I wish I could just buy this from the store" column. 

Ever wonder why puff pastry tastes so good?  You see that glob of yellow stuff in the middle of the dough?  That's a pound of butter.  Not to mention the other 8 tablespoons in the dough itself.    

Here's my conclusion.  Puff pastry is NOT hard.  Why can't this piece of information get re-etched over the old one?  The only time consuming part is waiting for the butter to get hard in fridge so you can do the double-turns. 

 Last time I checked, putting something in the fridge wasn't that complicated.  

 On to the pasta.  This year, I am making an artichoke filled raviola.  I learned on our recent trip to Italy that raviola is singular, ravioli is plural.  So I guess technically I am making ravioli, 6 of them.  Each person will be blessed with a single raviola.  So, I got started with the artichokes.  I love artichokes.  It just happened to be artichoke season a few weeks ago and we ate them at least once a day and prepared in a different way every time.  Never in pasta though.  It seemed fitting.  Aren't they pretty?  

And that's where we stand.  No more pictures, no pasta.  The artichokes can last a whole week in my fridge before I actually have to do something with them. This isn't helping my cause.  I can't get over this hurdle.  Instead of making pasta dough yesterday, I shoveled up my compost pile that was covering about 1/4 of my back yard, seemingly, because my chickens had gotten into it.  So I got the post hole digger out, a random 4X4 scrap, and some chicken wire and shoveled for over an hour cleaning up and containing a compost pile all to AVOID MAKING PASTA. I keep thinking I need to just go DO it.   Laundry has never looked so appealing.