"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: fresh pasta

a ‘screw loose’ . . . and fresh noodles!

homemade pasta
In case you’ve ever thought I might have a screw loose, you’re right! The ankle I broke a couple of years ago was mended with two plates attached with thirteen screws. One plate was in the back and another one on the side by the four-inch incision. And a pin that held my tibia and fibula together. I asked for the pin to be removed a year later because it felt like my foot was glued together.
But recently, I felt like my ankle wasn’t holding up – that is, when I stood up in the morning, it felt unstable and that I might teeter over any moment. Plus, there was a noticeable “point” that I could feel with my finger right under the skin. Not a good sign, right?
So I had an x-ray Friday and sure enough, the side plate apparatus will be removed this coming Tuesday. Having major surgery is no fun but it should be more like restorative surgery than adding more metal to the pedal. I don’t look forward to the anesthesia, shots and needles that it will entail, and especially the overdosing of oxycontin the nurses give you when it’s not needed. Last time around, I worried more about the painkiller effects than anything else.
The orthopedic surgeon said I’d be in a splint for 2 weeks and a boot for 6 weeks – which means getting up and down our three flights of stairs to where we live will be an exercise in ingenuity again and of course no driving for 8 weeks since it’s my right foot. We also retrieved my arm crutches and wheelchair to get ready for ambulatory care this coming week.
Yesterday, we cleaned out the freezer completely and stocked it with freshly purchased rib-eye steaks, chicken thighs and shrimp that I can cook easily supplemented with a dozen ears of farmstand corn, squash, salad greens and fresh eggs in the fridge. A large pot of cucumber soup is in progress on the stove this morning. Also plan to make a pot of potato soup that I’ll freeze along with the cucumber soup base – nice and light for the summertime that we can eat later on along with a fresh zucchini frittata or spinach quiche. I was thinking that it might be useful to shop and cook this way for times when we won’t be going to the grocery store every day or so anyhow. Plus, it feels good to know exactly what we have on hand so that I’ll be able to cook from our pantry and fridge even while fresh veggies and fruit are plentiful right now in the middle of the summer.
Knowing myself, I thought about a project (or two) that I might undertake while I have limited mobility for a few weeks: and that is to teach myself how to make homemade pasta. Too bad for the non-gluten folks, but I’ve ordered some Italian “00” flour and some semolina flour to experiment with. Fresh mushrooms of different varieties with some fresh spinach and pine or hazelnuts might be a good combo – and of course tomatoes with fresh basil too.
One of our tenants is taking her Medical Board exams on Friday and I’ll make something simple and tasty to celebrate at our supper together afterwards.
Light and right! That’s a good way to look at it, I suppose. Anyhow, that’s what’s come from a screw coming loose in the wrong place. I’ve always loved fresh noodles and now, I’ll be able to make all kinds of them (fettucine, papperdalle, angel hair) and experiment between reading cookery books and trying them out in our kitchen.
No biggie in the larger scheme of things.
P.S.  The day surgery was uneventful and I was told I could bear some weight on the ankle which helped a lot getting up the stairs to where we live! Have been browsing through two fantastic cookbooks featuring handmade noodles and am inspired as well as a little daunted by what it entails.
At first, my reaction was that the Phillips pasta machine wasn’t “purist” enough – that is, it didn’t allow the dough to rest before it was extruded. Plus, I couldn’t figure out how to make flavored pastas, such as with fresh peas, spinach or carrots, for example. But I kept reading in the books and also searched online where I found some ideas that might work with the electric pasta machine after all. For example, buy bottled vegetable juices and add to the flour. So, I’m going to wait a little longer, read the Phillips recipe book and see if making wide lasagna noodles will allow me to use a pie crust roller to make pretty wide-cut noodles like pappardalle and spinach fettucine. More later.

pasta plus . . .

pasta plus closeupTonight, I prepared a new dish for supper which I thought would be easy to make. I had bought some summer yellow squash and some gorgeous tomatoes plus fresh egg pasta at Idylwylde Farm that I thought might be nice to make a meal together.

It took a lot longer than I had thought to prepare:

a. peel and cut the squash lengthwise, then diagonally in bite size pieces
b. rinse rectangular grill pan and heat on a rack about six inches from the broiler
c. mix with my hands the chopped squash with three cloves chopped garlic, grapeseed oil, a little Lawry’s garlic salt, sea salt and coarse pepper
d. spray heated grill pan with vegetable oil; spread squash out on the grill pan and broil until golden brown (about 15 minutes)
e. cut up a large fresh tomato in small wedges
f. after removing the squash, spray again and spread out the cut tomato pieces; sprinkle tomatoes lightly with a little sugar to caramelize and brown under the broiler (about 10 minutes.)
g. In a nice serving bowl, spoon the squash on the bottom and add the broiled tomatoes on top. Cut up some fresh basil leaves and scatter on top.

a. Boil salted water and add fresh pasta after pulling it apart before dropping it into the pot; cook for about 3-4 minutes tasting at intervals until it is soft enough and also slightly al dente
b. In a separate saucepan, melt three quarters of a stick of unsalted butter; saute 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic; when golden, add a small container of cream and heat gently. Add fresh or freeze-dried parsley
c. Vitamix a chunk of parmesan reggiano cheese; add a half cup of the grated cheese to the cream, stir gently to mix and take off the burner.
d. Drain cooked pasta well, do not rinse in cold water, just shake it a few times in a colander to extract the water. Run a knife through the cooked pasta to make the strands more manageable. In a clean large bowl, pour the parmesan cream mixture. Add the hot drained pasta and mix well with the parmesan alfredo cream.

On dinner plates, serve some of the alfredo pasta in a circle; add grilled vegetables on top, sprinkle with more parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves on top.

The dish was surprisingly tender and full of flavor. It made a big difference to dry roast the vegetables rather than cooking them in a skillet.

I have to warn you that I got a little cranky with all the broiling (once for the squash, another for the tomato); making the alfredo sauce while testing the pasta for doneness. While I was cooking in the warm kitchen, it reminded me how much simpler my cooking has become (at least most of the time!)

But it was a nice change of pace and I have to tell you, it tasted really good! Yum!
pasta 3