Creamy Macaroni & Cheese

_MG_4661

I have no control when it comes to macaroni and cheese. I would gladly hold my mouth open wide, giant spoon in hand, as you dumped a truck load of it into my mouth. Screw the repercussions of eating 100 pounds of cheese and pasta, I’m there!

Unfortunately, if I took that attitude to the kitchen with me every day, I’d be really really fat. I’m personally a fan of the creamy kind and that’s probably a result of overdoing it on the Velveeta as a kid, which looking back is the equivalent to eating melted rubber. I might as well have been gnawing on a Stretch Armstrong or something. Consider this your all natural savior to the rubbery stuff.

_MG_4630

CREAMY MACARONI & CHEESE (serves 2):

2 T. butter

1 t. corn flour or AP flour

1/2 c. milk

1/2 c. shredded cheddar or whatever cheese you prefer + 1/4 c. for later

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

1/4 t. ground mustard

1 1/2 c. cooked elbow pasta

  1. In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour after it melts completely.
  2. Add the milk and 1/2 c. cheese until the mixture comes to a simmer/boil and thickens.
  3. Add seasonings.
  4. Pour over cooked pasta and pour into ramekins and sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.
  5. Place nuder broiler for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden.
Advertisements

Tomato Basil Pasta

_MG_4481

I’ve been at it again since my pumpkin ravioli.

Every time I make pasta I feel so accomplished. After a life of store bought shells and ziti, making your own is miles, no, worlds ahead of any boxed impostor. As if there were any more reason to convince you, I’ll do it anyway. It takes some love and time, but once it’s made, it cooks in a flash, makes a very impressive gift and screams perfection when you throw it some homemade sauce. If you use store-bought sauce on homemade pasta, just consider yourself lucky that there isn’t a pasta police. You’d be jailed.

It’s best to do with a pasta machine, but using rollers works just as well too with a little more elbow grease. I use a pasta machine off of Amazon that wasn’t all that expensive to begin with and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Worth every last penny.

TOMATO BASIL PASTA DOUGH:

1 1/3 c. ap flour

1/3 c. semolina

1 T. dried basil

2 T. olive oil

1 egg

2 T. tomato paste

  1. Combine the flours on a counter top in a pile.
  2. Making a well in the center, add the wet ingredients.
  3. Use your hands or a bread spatulae to bring the mixture together.
  4. Knead for 2-5 minutes until the dough is smooth and gives little room to push it down. It will loosen up after it rests.
  5. Rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  6. After resting, using a pasta machine or a rolling pin, roll the pasta as thin as you desire. On my machine I started thick at a 7, rolling it three times through and then moved down to a 5, still rolling 3 times, and then moved to a final setting of 3.
  7. Using a scalloped circle cutter, cut circles from the sheets of pasta and carefully bunch it up by pinching the middle and folding the top and bottom on top of that to create a bow. It’s your blank canvas so, any shape will do!
  8. Either boil right away for 1-2 minutes, refrigerate in air tight container or let dry on a wire rack for longer storage.

**You might be tempted to add some more moisture to the dough, but resist. The semolina gives it a crumbly feeling, but don’t be fooled. It’s just right

 

 

Pumpkin Ravioli with Ricotta and Sage Filling

_MG_2980

In Thailand when my boyfriend and I had first moved into our house, our kitchen left much to be desired. Why? Because we didn’t have one. It was an empty room of only possibilities with the occasional gecko on the wall. We did, however, have a little electric wok that was leftover from me living in an apartment.

As two people from western countries, we don’t always jump at the chance to eat Thai food. Sometimes we just needed a break. In that case, we ate pasta. The ingredients were easy to get our hands on and didn’t require a ton of effort in the heat. More importantly, it wasn’t rice. And just like that, our little wok found it’s purpose. I made cream sauces, tomato sauces, butter sauces, curry sauces, I did it all. When we finally got around to making a proper kitchen we could barely say the word ‘pasta’ without a long tiresome sigh of disinterest.

_MG_2975

Time went by and we eventually began to refamiliarize ourselves with the pasta section in our grocery store. To be honest, it was mainly because we had discovered they started selling lasagna sheets during our absence. When you live in a foreign country and something familiar hits the shelves, it might as well be Christmas. Slowly but surely, we made amends…and lasagna.

After all that you’d think I would’ve abandoned pasta entirely. Nope. Eating endless pasta was one of the first memories the two of us ever made together in our little Thai house. As a result, pasta still touches my plate from time to time.

So, this post is my ode pasta. May our love-hate relationship forever burn in my memory. The good news is that making pasta this fresh breathes a new life into it. I already feel better about it. Give it a try.

PUMPKIN RAVIOLI

1/2 c. pumpkin puree

1 T. olive oil

3 c. flour

2 eggs

  1. Measure the flour first and put into a mixer bowl.
  2. Make a well in the center and pour the other ingredients in the middle.
  3. Mix (by hand or mixer) until it has combined and turn it onto a floured surface.
  4. Knead for 3-5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and almost shiny.
  5. Chill for at least 1 hour to rest the dough.
  6. Once the dough is chilled, remove the dough and cut into quarters. Using a rolling pin, roll it out into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Lightly flour both sides and then move to the roll setting on the pasta machine. Start on one of the higher settings like 6 or 7 and move down until you reach your desired thickness. I ended up happy going from setting 7 to setting 5, and stopping at setting 3.
    • Optional: If you are making spaghetti or fettuccine, follow the same process, but then run the dough through the spaghetti/fettuccine attachment once you’ve reached your desired thickness and move to step 10.
  7. For ravioli, roll two identical size sheets out and place teaspoon size spoonfuls of filling across the dough about 1 inch apart.
  8. Lay the second layer over the top and pat around the lumps of filling, making sure to push the air out.
  9. Using a pasta cutter or a cookie cutter (any shape) cut out the ravioli making sure to leave enough space around the filling. If not totally sealed, pat it down with your fingers.
  10. Either boil right away for 1-2 minutes and put in your favorite sauce or refrigerate in an airtight container for later use. It’s best used within a week of making.

***After about 12 raviolis, I used the rest of my dough to make spaghetti and fettuccine noodles. If you do the same, cut the filling recipe below in half.

FILLING:

7 oz. Ricotta

1 egg

1/4-1/2 c. fresh grated parmesan cheese

2 t. dried sage

1/4 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

  1. Combine all ingredients and use as filling for ravioli.