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Italian

Italian, Pasta

Homemade Pasta

March 4, 2011

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First off, it’s cold. It’s still snowing, raining and windy here in Vancouver. I cannot believe it is March already. Isn’t it supposed to be spring-like and warm and sunny? I can only hope we will have a very warm summer to make up for this.

So last night my mom came over for dinner. You may have seen that I made Tiramisu for dessert, in keeping with the Italian dinner theme. One of the fondest memories I have of my father is his cooking. He would always make enough food to feed an army. He was home earlier than my mom on most days from work, and therefore he would make dinner. He was a really good cook. When he was younger he worked in the restaurant industry as a waiter, and later even owning and managing a few of his own in Vancouver. Pasta would be a dish that we would eat at least once or twice, if not three times a week. Of course being Italian its almost a standard. I think in those first years after he passed away my mom, brother and I lost weight from not eating those delicious foods. We most definitely missed him first and foremost, and missed his cooking secondly. I know I missed sitting around the table with the four of us for dinners during the week. As is in most Italian families the boy, or son, is considered the ‘king’ (HA) and It was always a joke that even if I were sitting at the table when dinner was ready, and my brother was still in his room my dad would set his plate down first. And then mine. This is just how it went. I even remember one night my dad hand peeled all of my brothers shrimp. Yup. He was spoiled. And I was younger!

I think great cooks run in the family. My Nonna is one of the best cooks { definitely bias, I know } she makes delicious homemade pasta, pizza and soups. We would always get together for large dinners for Easter and Christmas. Both would have large amounts of delicious foods including lamb and seafood. Anyone who has eaten Nonna’s food can attest that she is definitely a talented cook. Everything always tasted so fresh and authentically Italian. I hope I will get to keep enjoying her food and company for years to come.

For now, I’m trying to learn how to make and cook pasta myself so I can carry on the tradition when I have kids. I remember when my brother and I were young we would help our Nonna make pasta, each taking turns turning the hand-cranked pasta maker. Oh how things have changed. Thanks to Adam, I now have a KitchenAid pasta attachment that makes things so much easier. Homemade pasta is delicious. Simple as that. No store bought pasta can measure up to the soft supple noodles made from home. If you’re a pasta virgin try this recipe. It’s effortless with a stand mixer and the attachments.

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And, if you don’t have a pasta drying stand, you can use things like clothes hangers to dry the pasta. I call it drying pasta in an apartment 101.

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Bubbling away

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Homemade Pasta
recipe from KitchenAid Recipe Book

Basic Egg Noodles

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups AP or Whole Wheat flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tbs. water

Directions:

  1. In a stand mixer, combine eggs flour and water. Mix with paddle attachment for about 30 seconds.
  2. Switch to a dough hook, and continue on low for two minutes.
  3. Turn it out onto the counter top and knead slowly for another minute.
  4. cut into two large rounds and cover tightly with a tea-towel.
  5. let sit about 15 minutes before using it in your pasta maker.

Follow the instructions on your pasta machine / pasta attachment. Dry pasta on counter in a single layer, or using the ‘clothes hanger’ method.

Fresh pasta only needs to cook in boiling water for about 7 minutes, until tender. You can top it with whichever sauce you would like. I made a simple tomato sauce with seafood. recipe below.

Simple Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 large can whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (or more)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • basil leaves/flakes
  • small can of tomato paste

In a large pot over medium low heat pour in olive oil.

In a blender/food processor/slap chop (my fav) dice up the onion and garlic together. Add to the olive oil.

Allow to heat up for a minute or two.

Using a mixer/blender puree the tomatoes until no large pieces remain. Add to the pot. Stir in the tomato paste as well. Using a wooden spoon stir gently. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle in a few teaspoons of basil flakes, or a couple whole leaves.

Allow to simmer for about an hour on low. You can add some pre-cooked salmon pieces to the sauce at this point.

If you like when it is almost finished, you can add prawns/shrimp as well. Using thawed or fresh prawns/shrimp add them into the sauce about 10-15 minutes before serving. Allow them to cook fully in the sauce on low/medium heat. They should be fully cooked, making sure they are not undercooked or still ‘squishy.’ They should feel firm and meaty.

Serve over fresh pasta~

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Enjoy! It’ll be gone fast. Trust me.

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Dessert, Italian

Individual {cheater} Tiramisu

March 3, 2011

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It’s not unusual to experience the following weather patterns in a single day in Vancouver:

  • Sun
  • Rain
  • Snow
  • Hail
  • Wind

All of these things happened while sitting in class this week. It began to rain, then turn to snow, then hailed and then the clouds parted and it was sunny. All within an hour. Not to mention we experienced hurricane-force winds yesterday as well. While I love living in Vancouver, I would much rather be sitting on my hammock in Mexico. Though it is quite pretty when it does snow here, it’s merely an inconvenience for a day or so and then it turns to rain. My Jetta would not make it up my moms hill the other night. It had to spend the night on the side of the road. I’d much rather have a large amount of snow for a few days rather than one day of non-stop inconvenient snow. Or, Spring.

Thursdays are my days off from school. Which means it’s almost the weekend. Which also means my Archeology midterm is one day closer which I should be studying for. Today started off alright, well, except for the fact that Lainey kept me up all night (ok, and Adam { who took her out at 3 am :) } ) and I woke up about an hour later than usual. I thought I had better get some Arch studying out of the way, but then somehow ended up surfing the net for dessert ideas {which happens more times than I’d like to admit.} Adam’s going to the Canucks game, and my mom is coming over for dinner. I had already planned on making homemade pasta from my new KitchenAid pasta attachment with prawns and salmon, but then I started thinking about dessert. What else is more fitting for an Italian dinner than ending it with a little ‘pick-me-up.’

As I’ve mentioned before I was at first scared of trying this dessert myself. My Nonna had always made it for our big Italian dinners. But, once I tried my first one, and after tweaking it a bit, I love love love making Tiramisu. I came up with a cheater version here. This time I even cheated a little more. We just threw out a tub of cream cheese that had expired, so I didn’t have any at home. I didn’t feel like going to the store so I thought I would just leave it out this time. Believe me, it tastes just as good. And, thankfully Adam is a coffee drinker {i am not} so he always make a pot before work and usually there is about a cup or so left when I get up. This morning it came in quite handy. I added a little Kahlua to it and began making these individual Tiramisu pots.

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You can make a large version if you’re expecting a bigger crowd, or if it’s just a few people these little individual ones are quite easy and tasty with only a few ingredients on hand.

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Individual {Cheater} Tiramisu

Ingredients:

  • 4 Lady Fingers {per individual cup. May have to be cut shorter}
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee, cold
  • 2-3 tbs. Kahlua or other coffee liquor such as Baileys or Tia Maria
  • 2 1/4 Cups Cool Whip slightly thawed
  • Cocoa
  • Chocolate Shavings {optional}

Directions:

  1. Place two lady fingers in the bottom of the individual ramekins {more if they are larger} using a teaspoon pour coffee/liquor mixture over the lady fingers. You want enough so they absorb a lot of liquid and become soft. about 4 tsp + on each cookie.
  2. Spoon thawed cool whip over top of the cookies, enough to cover. Using a sieve sift cocoa over top of the cool whip layer.
  3. Repeat with lady fingers and coffee.
  4. Add another layer of cool whip and cocoa powder on top to finish.
  5. If you like, you can add chocolate shavings on top.

These can be eaten right away, but it is best if you let them set in the fridge for an hour or two. Can be stored for up to a day.

Cakes, Dessert, Italian

A lighter ‘Pick Me Up’

September 18, 2009

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Tir-A-Mi-Su. Tiramisu. It means ‘pick me up’ in Italian and is a classic Italian dessert. Being Italian, I grew up with delicious Italian cooking from my dad and Nonna. Though I didn’t acquire a taste for Tiramisu until I was older. I remember having tried it at family dinners when I was younger, but I didn’t care much for the strong espresso taste, and if often had alcohol in it. I usually opted for a big piece of French bread with lots of Nutella for my dessert.

But over the years I have learned to Love Tiramisu! It’s a really simple dessert to make that has that wow factor of tasting like it’s difficult! I have never particularly liked marscapone cheese, and don’t use it when I make the cheese layers for the dessert. It’s the yummiest no-bake dessert!

Definitely a great Italian dessert to try!

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Packages Lady Finger Cookies
  • 1 Tub Light Cool Whip – thawed
  • 1 Package Light Cream Cheese – room temperature
  • 1 Cup Strong Brewed Coffee or Espresso, cold or room temperature
  • Cocoa For Dusting
  • Chocolate Shavings
  • 1 Tsp. Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Vanilla
  • 1/4 Cup Baileys (or other Coffee Liquor)

Directions:

  1. Place a single layer of lady fingers in a shallow square/rectangular glass baking dish. The size of the dish will depend on how much you want to make, and how many packages of lady fingers you have.
  2. Mix Coffee with Baileys (you can opt-out of the liquor if you don’t like the taste)
  3. Using a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until soft. Add in vanilla. Using a spoon, gradually add the cool whip to the mixture. Continue on low until it is all combined. It will be slightly thick, but you want to be able to run a spoon through it. Stir in the sugar.
  4. Put the cream cheese mixture to the side.
  5. Pour, using a ladle or spoon a small amount at a time the coffee or espresso over top of the lady fingers. You don’t want them to be soaking in coffee, but enough to dampen them, as they will expand. Alternatively, you can quickly dip them into a small bowl of coffee. Either way, you don’t want them to be soggy and falling apart.
  6. Using a spatula, place a large amount of cream cheese mixture on top of the lady fingers. You want enough to evenly cover the tops of the cookies. Using a spatula or back of a spoon, smooth the top of the cream cheese.
  7. Next, using a mesh sieve dust top of the cream cheese layer with the cocoa. Sprinkle with a small amount of chocolate shavings.
  8. Continue the layers, again beginning with a layer of lady finers, then cream cheese and cocoa until you run out of ingredients. You want the last layer on top to be cream cheese.
  9. Dust the final layer with more cocoa and chocolate shavings.
  10. Place, covered, in the fridge for at least 2 hours for the ingredients to set. You can make it a day before and refrigerate it overnight as well.

Serve small pieces cold, with extra cocoa sifted onto the plate.

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Mmmm.. look at all those delicious layers!

Enjoy!