Monday, February 27, 2012

Homemade Pasta

Who knew you could score a $20 pasta maker at Ross? That's right folks we are now officially getting our pasta on. You may remember back in December making raviolis with a rolling pin. Such a silly girl was I. A pasta maker is a huge time saver that is really easy to use and (who knew?) cheap.

You may want to mix the actual dough by hand, however, as I found it difficult to tell whether the dough needed flour or water in my food processor. It's something you need to feel out.

I was amazed how quickly this all came together. In about 90 minutes you could be eating the best pasta of your life!

Homemade Pasta
makes 1 pound of pasta

2 cups flour + more for dusting
3 eggs

Start with a flour well. Crack in room temperature eggs. Break the yolks with your fingers and slowly begin to mix in the flour, little by little. After a minute or two, you will have a cohesive ball of dough. You don't want it to be sticky, if so, add a little flour. If the dough is not coming together, add some water, one teaspoon at a time.

Knead the dough until supple, about five minutes. Let it rest, covered in plastic wrap, for 30 minutes.

When you are ready to roll the dough out, divide it into three pieces. Keep the remaining pieces covered. Take the first piece and guide it through the pasta maker on the widest setting. Fold the dough into thirds and repeat on the widest setting a few more times, folding into thirds each time. This helps to knead the dough. Sprinkle a little flour on the dough each time you pass it through, this keeping it from sticking.

Now guide the pasta through the next widest setting a couple times. Guide the pasta through each setting until you've reached the second to thinnest. This is the recommended setting for spaghetti, linguini and the like, although I used the thinnest setting, too and it came out fine.

Repeat this with the remaining dough. Allow the pieces of dough to air dry on the counter at least 15 minutes before passing it through the cutting side of the pasta maker. You want it to be a leathery texture so that the teeth can cut it cleanly. Dust the noodles with a little flour if you are not cooking them immediately.

Cook fresh noodles for 2-4 minutes in salted, boiling water. Taste a noodle for doneness. Strain and add your favorite pasta sauce. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sea Salt Latte

Remember my trip to Maui? One of my foodie highlights was sipping a sea salt latte in Paia town while hippy watching.

The best thing about this latte is the combination of warm and cold elements. Think hot fudge on ice cream. Think ice-cold lettuce on a burger. Think sour cream on nachos.

Hot cold. Cold hot. Warm foam, hot espresso, ice. Salt, chocolate, creamy milk. It's a mouth dream.

Sea Salt Latte
serves 2

2-4 shots espresso (or 1 cup super strong coffee if you don't have an espresso machine)
1 cup milk *(see note below)*
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp chocolate syrup or Nutella

Brew your espresso. Fill glasses with ice. Steam milk using streamer attachment on espresso machine until nice and foamy. Add espresso to ice and stir in chocolate. Slowly pour milk over coffee and ice and spoon foam over all. Top with a sprinkle of sea salt. Use colored salt if you have it. Enjoy!

*skim milk is best for foam, whole is best for flavor. I split the difference and use 2%. I don't normally drink cow's milk at all, but when it comes to espresso drinks, it's my preference. If you can't drink cow's milk, soy milk foams up nicely. Rice milk won't foam at all.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Naked Ladies and Nutella

Hello orange, meet Nutella. Oh, you've met? How nice. Oh, you're in love and planning a fall wedding? Fantastic!

Would you like to come with me to their wedding? All you need is a juicy winter orange and a scoop of Nutella in a bowl and you're invited.

This wedding feast was an afternoon snack for me as I worked on some drawings. I've been attending a life drawing class at the wonderful Donkey Mill art center.

I'm no artist, but drawing is a sort of meditation for me, it quiets the mind as you focus on light and shadow.

And speaking of shadow, I'm into the shadows in these photos. I know it's not technically "right" but I dunno, I think it looks cool.

Enjoy your snack!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Avocado Festival and Recipe Contest

Yesterday we attended the 6th Annual Avocado Festival right here in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

You may not know this, but avocados are hands-down my absolute favorite food. The festival hosted a recipe contest, so I couldn't resist entering my first ever live competition.

Over 50 people voted in the People's Choice contest

I submitted two recipes: Avocado Pie and Pan-seared Mahimahi with Avocado Remoulade (recipe below). Both recipes ended up being winners! The pie took the People's Choice contest while the mahimahi won the hearts of the judges.

The one marked "Gwen Edwards" is my Avocado Pie


The whole thing was quite nerve-wracking for me, as you can see. But at the end of the day, it was a lot of fun to participate and I most certainly enjoyed being part if the Avocado Festival.

There were so many yummy treats and interesting booths at the fest, can't wait to attend next year!

Avo smoothie

Guacamole in a lilikoi cup

Special thank you to the Miyamotos for the wonderful avocados from their backyard tree, this wouldn't have been possible without those buttery beauties!

Pan-seared Mahimahi with Avocado Remoulade (award winning, weeeeeeee!)
Inspired by Simply Recipes

2 large avocados
4-5 TBL olive oil
5-6 TBL fresh lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 shallot
salt & pepper to taste

4 mahimahi fillets
1 TBL cumin powder
salt & pepper
olive oil

In a food processor or blender, combine avocados, lemon juice, shallot, and mustard until smooth. Slowly add olive oil until you reach a "sauce" consistency. You may need to add more lemon juice if you want it thinner. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Sprinkle cumin, salt and pepper over all sides of the fish and gently rub in. Heat a pan over medium high heat and coat with olive oil. You don't want to crowd the pan, so you may need to cook the fish in batches. I did them one at a time. Place a fillet in the hot oil and sear for 5 minutes. Don't touch the fish while it sears. Flip the fillet and cover the pan for another 3 minutes. This last part may take longer or shorter depending on the thickness of your fillets. Again, don't mess with it while it cooks, just touch it with your spatula or finger after the 3 minutes to determine doneness, like you would with a steak.

I served the fish and remoulade with wild rice mixed with a little lemon juice and olive oil. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Skillet Your Way Through the Day (easy breakfast recipe)

When you have a day that starts with a beautiful skillet breakfast, things are about to be grand.

And I'm not talking about restaurant skillets here people. This is the real deal. Like can't-shove-it-in-my-face-fast-enough deal.

We had one of those skillet days this weekend. We were so psyched after eating breakfast that we drove all the way to Hilo, and straight into a candy shop

I'm partial to the unlikely gummy creations; gummy false teeth, gummy sunny side up eggs, gummy turtles. I'm also a fan of the long, skinny hard candy that you eat like a lollipop (pictured: in yellow). It's about the size of a sharpie marker and if you work on it long enough you can fashion it into a sharp shank to stab unwitting friends. At least that's what we did with them when I was little. Or maybe I did that to Dustin on the ride home. Whatever.

Hilo is a great town filled with the greenest parks, quirky old buildings, and on a sunny day, it's a stunner of a coastline. We often sigh and dream of living among the giant ferns and dripping moss. A day trip will do for now.

Want to start your day off right?

Breakfast Skillet with Spinach and Avocado
serves 2

1 TBL olive oil
4 small red potatoes, diced
1/2 cup smoked pork meat, cut into bite sized pieces (a couple strips of bacon will do, too)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large handfuls of spinach
eggs (we used 3, but use how many you need)
salt & pepper
1/2 avocado

In a large cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium high. Add the chopped potatoes, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally. Turn down the heat to medium low and add the garlic, spinach, meat, and some salt and pepper, stirring a bit. If your meat is uncooked, you'll need to add it earlier to the potatoes to make sure it gets cooked through.

Crack the eggs into the skillet and cover, 5-8 minutes, depending on how well you'd like your eggs cooked. Check them often, but don't touch them.

To serve, scoop some skillet goodness onto a plate and top with avocado. Add more salt & pepper if desired. Enjoy! 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

How To Dry Lavender

My second wedding will be a lavender theme. Lavender bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, and tables overflowing with lavender filled arrangements adorn the outdoor setting while my guests dance in a lavender haze.

Well, there is no second wedding, but wouldn't that be beautiful? Check out this real life wedding I found on Pinterest

Lavender can be sipped in tea or sprinkled in a relaxing bath. It can be eaten in pizza and scones. Or rubbed on the skin. Choose your own lavender adventure, but don't let those flowers go to waste.

All you need to do is trim off the flowers while they are still blooming, making sure you get a long stem on them. Tie the bundle up with a rubber band, and hang them upside down in a dark, dry place, like a garage. Here's my garage!

What's your favorite way to use lavender? Please share!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Black Bean, Spinach & Barley Soup

"Mmmm...noodle soup." Fifteen 90's points to whoever knows what that's from.

Sorry, this isn't noodle soup but it is very, very easy to put together and very, very easy to eat.

I'm nursing a sore throat today and contemplating calling in sick tomorrow. Things that make me feel better when sick: soup, 7-Up, No Reservations, tea with lemon and honey, the Neti pot, gargling with salt water, laying around in boy style undies, lavender baths, whining.

Black Bean, Spinach & Barley Soup
Inspired by Fitness Magazine
serves 4

3 cans vegetable broth
1 can black beans
1 can crushed or stewed tomato
1/2 cup uncooked barley
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
6 cups torn fresh spinach leaves
salt & pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on high for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until barley is done. Be sure to taste broth before adding salt, some broths are very salty. Easy, yes? Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tortilla Stuffings

Pumpkin and Black Bean Tacos

Now that you've made your tortillas (go Jen!) we gotta fill 'em with some deliciousness.

I made some kabocha squash and black bean tacos that were dreamy. Just look at that orange and black dream. The recipe comes from Closet Cooking. The only change I made was subbing the canned pumpkin for fresh.

Burrito Guts

Or you could insert this Burrito Guts recipe into the fresh tortillas (my version of the above).

Eggplant taco fixings

Get crazy with some purple veg and whip up some Eggplant Tacos with Cilantro Pesto.

Roasting tomatillos

Maybe you'd rather tuck into some Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce.

How about an old standby? I make these Swiss Chard and Feta Quesadillas (and variations thereof) all the time. This two year old post was in the pre-photo days. Wow, blogging for over two years!

Banana Bread Muffins with Millet and Chocolate

Speaking of blogging, my little space on the web had a big day today. My Banana Bread Muffins with Millet and Chocolate recipe was featured as a FoodBuzz Flavor of the Month. Woop woop!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Make your own Flour Tortillas

Guys. I'm making big life steps these days.

Today I went surfing all by myself. Not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I've been working on the whole learning to surf thing for about 5 years now. And I'm not being humble here, my skills are still very beginner.

Getting pummeled by waves happens to be one of my biggest fears. So, as you might imagine, surfing has been an enormous challenge for me. Coupled with my perfectionist and competitive nature, it's something I can't let go of. So today was a huge life step! Surfing without anyone there to hold my shaky little hand.

Today we are going to talk about a big cooking step. Homemade tortillas. It's not hard to do, but like make bread or pizza dough, it's time consuming. You need to know that these babies are delicious, so take a breath and a big step and make these immediately.

Flour Tortillas
from The Pioneer Woman
makes 16 full-size tortillas

2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon sea or Kosher salt
1/2 cup + 2 TBL vegetable shortening (needs to be somewhat cold/hard, if room temperature, it won't cut into the flour)
1 cup hot water

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in shortening until it reaches the coarse crumbs state. I use a fork for this.

Pour in hot water (seriously HOT) and stir together. Knead 30-40 times or until dough becomes cohesive and less sticky. Put it back in the bowl, cover with a towel, and allow to rest for an hour.

Roll in 16 little balls, place on a cookie sheet, and allow to rest for another 20-30 minutes.

Heat up a large cast iron skillet to medium high heat. You will need to play with the heat as you go along to get just the right temp. Roll the balls of dough out, one at a time, cooking them as you go along. I rolled them out on waxed paper because the dough is kinda sticky and you need to roll it as thin as possible, like transparent thin. This is key. Don't worry about getting them into a round shape, it ain't gonna happen.

To cook the tortillas, you will place them one at a time in the hot skillet. It will take maybe 20 seconds on each side, enough time to roll out the next tortilla as that one is cooking. The trick is to flip it just as it begins to brown. You want the tortillas to remain soft and not get crisp. If you are getting crispiness, your skillet is too cool, turn it up. Play with the heat, don't stress if some of them get crispy, you will totally eat them anyway.

Stack cooked tortillas and cover with a towel to keep warm. These also keep very well, you can enjoy them for up to a week after making. I can't stress enough how worth it is to take the time to make these. Enjoy!


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