Homemade Pasta, Take Two

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Right off the bat, I have to give you ESers credit for suggesting the Pioneer Woman’s pasta recipe. I used it for my second go at making pasta and it blew the recipe from the pasta machine box out of the water. It’s funny how only a few tiny little differences can make such a sea change in the final product. I guess you bakers out there already knew that, huh? I don’t know if it was the flour-to-egg ratio, the beating the eggs by hand (which was fun!) or something else that put this one over the top, but it finally got me that fresh fettuccine I was looking for.

Still, as tasty as fresh pasta is, it’s still just pasta, and if you ask me it needs some added oomph. I was tempted to add some truffle oil or basil or something weirder right into the dough, but I wanted to first see how the basic recipe worked, so I resisted the urge this time. (Yep, I’m proud of myself and yep, I’m open to suggestions for the future.)

So the flava experimenting was left for the pasta add-ons. Looking around my kitchen, I saw the usual suspects: bacon and pine nuts. Two ingredients I’ve blabbed on about for years, yet had somehow never completely been brought together. Until now.

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Top 10 All-Time ES Recipes

Ever wonder which recipes your ES co-readers are ogling most? Well here’s the rundown. From our humble beginnings throwing all our leftovers into a sushi roll to our more refined recipes for putting an egg on everything, here are the Top 10 all-time most-read recipes from the Endless Simmer archives. Click the pics to check ’em out.

10. Hot Dog Sushi

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9. Feta and Roasted Pepper Egg Sandwich

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8. Bacon-Wrapped Date ‘Cannolis’ with Pine Nuts

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7.  Homemade Ketchup

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6. Marshmallow Nachos

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Next: Top 5 All-Time ES Recipes

One Last Warm Breeze

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Editors Note: My neighbor Kashou Bennett who blogs at The Straight Torquer has been bragging about his garden for months. As we wrap up our outdoor activities, Kash gives us one more remembrance of warmer days.

The leaves are turning, the wind is getting chillier, and I have finally retired my garden.

I had harvested most of the vegetables a few weeks ago, but my basil plants this year just kept on kicking. It was a small garden, not difficult to keep weeded and tended to, just a tidy patch of tilled earth in the front yard of my house in Columbia Heights, Washington DC.

The reason I kept those last hardy basil plants around as long as I could was that the little group of plants represents more to me than just a place from which I can get a bit of food.  My garden was a public statement — and when I say public, I mean front yard public — of organic living and self-sufficiency that I was inspired to undertake by Michelle Obama’s organic garden in the backyard of the White House.

Sure, I could have avoided some sidewalk casualties had I protected my pepper plants in pots on the back porch.  Several times I rescued the fragile flora from incoming threats of various nature.  From inebriated friends staggering through the yard and just not realizing what they were standing in (hey man, watch out!), to the daily assaults coming from the games of the kids who live on my block. 

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Pine Nut Brittle

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I never, ever thought I would be one to make candy. Never even considered it. Too much measuring, timing, and realizing how much sugar is actually in the stuff. Not for me. I’ll stick to wrapping things in bacon and mixing drinks. But then on one beautiful summer day, there it was, circled by gansie in a recent issue of Gourmet she sent my way:

Pine nut brittle.

Genius. I figured I had pretty much thought of every way to use a pine nut, but i had never turned it into a brittle. And why not? I love peanut brittle but had never considered making it at home, much less replacing the peanut with a more exciting nut. And it’s super-easy. No candy thermometer or any of that junk needed — just a pot, sugar, water, and plenty of the p-nuts.

Check out gourmet’s recipe for the deets, but in the meantime here’s a photo play-by-play:

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Cheflebrity Smörgåsbord: New Toy

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In my never-ending battle to make myself even chubbier, I am proud to say that I have a new weapon.

I finally broke out the ice cream maker that’s been sitting on the shelf for a while. This baby is super-simple to use and gives you soft-serve type ice cream in about 40 minutes. And you can pop the output in the freezer to let it set harder.  I suppose you can make sorbet with this thing, too, but that would be verging on the healthy, and we don’t want that, do we?

Batch number one was a “control,” as the scientists would say, and I was happy with the process and my ability to not screw it up.  I went with a simple french-style (i.e. eggs) vanilla to which I added roasted almonds at the very end.

You and I know that this will not end with a simple vanilla, right?  I think it’s about time we made ice cream dangerous!

Look for more of that in the coming weeks…for now, you’ll have to tide yourself over with some smörg.

Grub Street spots a missed opportunity for Anthony Bourdain during a recent episode of his show.  Funny, Bourdain doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who would take a shot at Guy Fieri. </sarcasm>

– Guess who’s back on top:  Julia Child!  This is fantastic news…now a whole new generation can get into the kitchen and find ways to screw up omelets.

After the jump…Alton Brown in full-geek mode, Tom keeps cashing in and everyone loves Lidia.

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Partially Legit Pesto

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I’ve stumbled upon this dilemma before, even though BS provided a fairly clear answer.  But after my latest pesto abortion (above), I decided to actually be the writer I strive to be and investigate.

Deducting from The New Food Lover’s Companion, the main tenets of a pesto come from the Italian origin of the name, “to pound” and the cooking method, well, is the uncooking method. The ingredients of a pesto should be crushed together to create a raw sauce. The pulveration of the sauce can be through either a mortar and pestle or a food processor. And the uncooked part, well, I guess the sauce is not meant to be warmed by fire.

My newest “pesto” therefore is only partially legit. I used my mini-food processor, but with the bitey combination of raw garlic and arugula (so plentiful at the farmers’ market!), I felt the need to heat it through, for really just as long as the pasta cooked and it surely helped with the sting of the sauce.

And just to stick it to TVFF and all you other multi-way haters, I went for a dual usage of the arugula – in the pesto and then added an overwhelming handful to swim with the noodles.

Unorthodox recipe post jump.

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Just Me and My Kadhai

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**Girlfriend Guilt Trip Alert**

80P just finished his first year of grad school and, like a good girlfriend, I planned to take him out to celebrate. Well, Monday night in the District was cold and rainy so I found inspiration from my kitchen for our meal. While I was at my sister’s college graduation this weekend I persuaded 80 to leave the apartment for the first time in 72 hours (papers, papers, papers) to pick me up some asparagus and arugula from the opening weekend of the Mt. Pleasant farmers’ market.

I imagined a luscious spring dinner of risotto piled high on stalks of asparagus. Mine would be topped with a poached egg; 80P would get bacon strips. But, alas, the twenty two year olds texted.

80 goes to school with some straight-from-college dudes and they were down for some serious Adams Morgan (re: shit show, for out of towners) boozing. So he left before I even finished formulating (thought of subbing havarti for parm) my meal.

So there I was with my friends: asparagus, butter, garlic, egg. And you know what, I managed just fine without 80. Thanks, in part, to my Kadhai.

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