How to Make Fresh Kale Pasta at Home (recipe)

I’m totally one of those people that finds “weekend (or weeknight) cooking projects” to be deeply satisfying (yes, I know, food need alert!) and making homemade pasta is one of those things for me. Call me cheap, but when I see fresh pasta being sold for $15.99 per pound (darn, these New York City prices!), I remind myself that I can do the same thing at home for 3 eggs, a couple cups of flour and some elbow grease–so what the heck am I still standing in the store for, I gotta get home and get started!

And that’s how this kale pasta recipe happened. In all honesty, I was already set on making fresh pasta and had some kale just lying around in the fridge and thought, why not throw it in the pasta? As I like the pretty pattern the green kale makes when swirled with the yellow egg pasta, I only roughly blended it into the eggs, but if you want more of a uniform color, by all means, go ahead and puree the shiz out of the blanched kale before proceeding.

FRESH KALE PASTA

Fresh Kale Pasta

Ingredients:
2 Cups Flour (plus a lil’ more for rolling out the dough)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 – 1 Bunch Tuscan/Lacinato Kale (I’m sure you could use green kale too, but I had Tuscan in my fridge)
3 Eggs
1/2 Teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Pepper

Directions:

1. Blanch the kale:
Heat a pot of water to boiling on high. In the meantime, remove and discard the stems of the kale, keeping the leafy greens. Once the water is boiling, cook the kale leaves for 2 to 3 minutes, or until tender. Drain and run the cooked kale under cold water to stop the cooking process. Using your hands (and maybe some paper towels), press out as much water as possible from the kale, then roughly chop (if you’re using a blender later) or finely chop (if not).

2. Combine the kale and eggs:
If using a blender, combine the eggs, olive oil, as much freshly ground black pepper as you’d like and the chopped kale until smooth. If you’re not using a blender, just combine everything in a bowl. (Personally, I like the combination of the bitter kale with the zesty kick from the pepper, so I used a lot of black pepper here. Yum!)

3. Make the pasta dough:
In a large bowl or on a clean work sufrace, combine the flour and salt. Make a small well in the middle (the steeper the sides the better) and pour the egg-kale mixture in. Then, using your hands, gradually incorporate the flour by pulling from the sides and into the well. As you incorporate more flour, a dough will form. (If you find the dough to be too dry, add a little water. Too dry? Add a little more flour. It’s not a perfect science, but just “listen” to the dough and give it what it needs.)

4. Knead the dough:
Knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic, then cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. (I like to take this time to reset [ie. clean up my previous mess & pull out my pasta machine], oh and crack open a bottle of wine–that is, if I haven’t already done so…I mean, you have to have wine with pasta, right? I studied abroad in Italy and we had wine with every meal sans colazione.)

5. Roll out the pasta:
Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Then, working with each piece one at a time, flour it throughly and press it out with your hands until it’s about 1/2-inch thick and no wider than your pasta machine. Then crank that bad boy through your machine, gradually turning the slot down to make it thinner and thinner with each pass. (Since the dough will get sticky as it gets thinner, make sure you have extra flour on hand. You don’t want this beautiful dough getting stuck all up in your machine.) Once your pasta is at your desired thinness, cut into whatever width you like–say fettuccine- or paperadelle-width or leave it super wide for lasagna. You’re grown, I’ll let you choose.

6. Cook the pasta:
To cook the pasta, heat a large pot of salted water to boiling and drop the pasta in. Give it a good stir and cook it for 3 to 5 minutes, or until it floats near the top. Then drain and throw it into your favorite sauce. Buon appetito!

7. Freeze the pasta:
Whenever I make fresh pasta, I always end up with leftovers, which I ain’t mad at because they’re great to have on hand for a busy weeknight. To freeze the pasta, shape it into a nice, rounded circle or basket and generously flour. Place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Whenever you’re ready to cook it, carefully and gently (you don’t want the fragile noodles to break), drop the pasta into boiling water and cook. (Frozen pasta usually needs an extra minute to cook.)

And that’s that. I threw this particular pasta into a delicious bolognese sauce, but I’ll post that another time. Hope you enjoy!

Anyone tried any other cool pasta flavor variations?

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Yes, please! Homemade Oreos

Oreos have always been one of my “problem foods.” Once in college, 3 buddies and myself sat on the floor of our hallway dorm and proceeded to eat an entire bag of Oreos (with milk, of course)! Needless to say, as much as eating these deliciously sweet sandwiches is fun, making them is just as satisfying. Not only can you customize the flavors to your perfect balance, but you can make them BIG, like as big as a huge lollipop big, so big that you’ll put those storebought cookies to shame. Oh yeah, that’s what I’m talking about!

Anywho, try it out for yourself and let me know what you think. Happy dunking! (Apologies for any typos, I wrote this up on the fly while riding the subway.)

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HOMEMADE OREOS
Recipe adapted from Deb Perleman, Smitten Kitchen

For chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 Cups Flour
1/2 Cup Natural Cocoa Powder
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Instant Espresso Powder
1/2 Cup + 2 TB Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1 Egg

Filling:
1/2 Cup Butter, room temperature
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

To make the cookies:
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Combine the flour, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa and salt. (Sifting, optional)

3. Combine the butter and espresso powder and, using an electric mixer or food processor on low speed, add to the flour mixture until the butter is thoroughly incorporated and the mixture resembles wet sand.

4. Beat in the egg until a dry batter forms.

5. Drop rounded teaspoons (or bigger) onto a baking sheet or sheets about 2 inches apart. Then, using wet fingers, press the dough into round circles. (Go big or go home, baby!) Bake 9 minutes, or until the cookies are set, rotating halfway through.

6. Remove from then oven and let stand for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

To make the filling:
1. Using an electric mixer, gradually beat the sugar and vanilla into the room temperature butter. (You may not need all of the sugar.)

To assemble the cookies:

Transfer the filling mixture into a piping bag (or sandwich bag with one corner cut out), and pipe into the center of half of the cookies. With the remaining cookies, top the “filled cookies” to create amazing and delicious Oreo-like sandwiches. Yum!

Red Quinoa & Kale Stuffed Butternut Squash

RED-QUINOA & KALE STUFFED BUTTERNUT SQUASH

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Ingredients:

Butternut squash, scooped out, then roughly chop the scooped out squash
1 Teaspoon Cumin
1 Teaspoon Coriander
1/2 Cup Red Quinoa
1/2 Onion, small diced
1/2 bunch kale, destemmed and roughly chopped
1 Cup Vegetable Broth
3 Tablespoons Currants
2 Tablespoons Almonds
2 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
Gruyere Cheese for shaving

Directions:

1. Prep & roast the butternut squash halves:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on medium-high heat. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds. Cut or scoop out as much of the butternut squash as possible for the filling. (This can be tough, so if you get frustrated, just try to scoop out enough so you can partly fill the squash.) Drizzle the insides of be squash with a little olive oil and half of both the cumin and coriander and rub in the spices. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, or until slightly browned and tender when pierced with a knife.

2. Cook the quinoa:
Once the water is boiling, add the quinoa and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly.

3. Start the filling:
While the squash is roasting and the quinoa is cooking, in a large pan, heat a little olive oil on medium-high heat until hot. Add the onion and chopped butternut squash. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes or until softened. Add the remaining cumin & coriander and toast the spices for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until throughly combined, stirring frequently.

4. Finish the filling:
Add the kale, currants and vegetable broth. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the kale is wilted, the currants are plump and most of the vegetable broth has cooked off. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the drained quinoa, almonds and half of the Parmesan cheese. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until thoroughly combined and heated through. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

5. Bake the stuffed squashes:
When cool enough to handle, sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese inside the baked squash halves and fill each halve with as much filling as possible. Line the sheet pan with any remaining stuffing. Then, using a vegetable peeler, create shavings of Gryuere cheese and lay on top of the filling. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Beer Buzz

Over past couple weeks, beer has been catching my eye in the news. Here’s a look at what’s happening in the world of brews:

Americans Are Drinking Less Beer (Marketplace.org)

via Marketplace.org

According to a recent Gallup poll, only 36% of Americans who drink alcohol say beer is their beverage of choice. No need to signal any alarm bells though, beer is still at the top of the alcohol industry as a $100 billion market, opposed to wine ($35 billion) or spirits ($62 billion) says Nancy Koehn of Harvard Business School.

Japan Brewing Up Wacky Summer Beers (wsj.com)

Double Cultured Fermented Milk Beer

via Asahi Breweries Ltd.

In an effort to attract younger drinkers (especially women) who prefer sweeter drinks, strange pours are a brewing in Japan. Kirin, for example, is selling 12 creative beer cocktails including the colorful Ichiban Shibori Two-Tone Draft, featuring beer layered on top of cassis liqueur. Other notable flavor combinations include beer mixed with pineapple, lemon and blueberry liqueurs and even fermented milk (pictured).

Get Your Ice, Cold Frozen Beer (foodbeast.com)

Personally, I’m pumped about this because I cannot drink a beer fast enough before it gets warm. (It’s just too filling.) Can’t wait to try one of these out ASAP!

NO WAY! Just-Add-Water Beer (huffingtonpost.com)

via Pat’s Backcountry Beverages

Camping just got a whole lot better. To be honest, I’ve never been camping, so I’ve always imagined that half the fun is drinking outside, however lugging beer cans to a camp site has never sounded appealing enough to me. Well here’s the solution: just-add-water beer concentrate and an easy-to-carry carbonation system. I was skeptical on how a carbonation system could be easy-to-carry and still work, but after watching this video, I may actually give it a shot.

Beers Implicated in Emergency Room Visits (nytimes.com)

via Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Well, well, well…now isn’t this something. Sorry to end on a serious note, but can you believe that roughly a third of all emergency room visits are due to alcohol related injuries, with the top brands being Budweiser, Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and Bud Light. Not to be offensive, but these all kinda sound like college beers to me…

 

Keep Reading:
More News Posts
More Food Posts

Vegetarian Wedge Salad

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I’m not exactly sure where or when the wedge salad was invented, but the combination of iceberg lettuce, creamy dressing, tangy blue cheese and crispy bacon seems like a quintessentially American creation.

While looking in my fridge one night, I spotted a number of Wedge Salad ingredients and started to get excited, until-–dun dun dunnnn–-I didn’t have any bacon. In search of a quick substitute, I found that I had falafel and thus a (meat-free) salad plan was hatched. To go along with my newly-inspired Mediterranean take on the wedge salad, I whipped up a feta-buttermilk dressing in place of the standard blue cheese dressing and substituted grilled romaine for the typical iceburg lettuce (I don’t think romaine is typically Mediterranean, but I just really like the chargrilled romaine flavor, so I went with it).

VEGETARIAN WEDGE SALAD (Recipe)

Serves: 2

Ingredients

1 head of romaine lettuce, sliced in half
extra virgin olive oil
4 pre-cooked falafel patties
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/3 red onion, thinly sliced then chopped
2 tbsp. cheese; the classic recipe uses blue cheese, I use whatever tangy and crumbly cheese I have on hand
chives
Salt and pepper to season

For the dressing
1 small garlic clove, pureed or finely chopped and mashed
2 ounces feta cheese; again you can substitute whichever cheese you have around
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary (or 1 tsp. fresh rosemary)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
Freshly ground pepper

Preparation

  1. To make the dressing: In a mini food processor or a mortar and pestle blend together garlic, cheese, rosemary, buttermilk and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to a day in advance to allow flavors to meld.
  2. Preheat grill or grill pan over medium high heat. Dress cut-side of romaine with olive oil and salt and pepper. When grill pan is hot enough for water droplets to sizzle and evaporate immediately, place romaine cut side down. For the best and most prominent grill marks, avoid moving and flipping the romaine too often. Ideally each side of the romaine will only touch the grill pan once.Since I like the grilled romaine to be warm when eating the salad, I make sure all of my other ingredients are chopped and ready to go before I turn on the grill pan.
  3. Simultaneously, heat the falafel in your preferred method and chop into smaller pieces.I like to grill the falafel in the same pan as the romaine.
  4. Place one romaine wedge each on two plates and drizzle with feta-buttermilk dressing. Divide and sprinkle remaining ingredients over each wedge and serve.

Tip: For extra protein, add a sprinkling of a chopped hard boiled egg.

Dirty Pickle Martini

When it comes to my drink of choice, I often find myself going on “cocktail kicks,” where I prefer a certain cocktail for a specific period of time. Recently, I’ve been on a dirty martini kick and to mix things up, so started using pickle juice instead of olive juice and the result has been super satisfying–and lip puckering!

Inspired by one of my friends’ favorite shots–the Pickle Back, a whiskey shot chased with pickle juice–the Dirty Pickle Martini is crisp, sour and salty all at once. Though I prefer all of my martinis made with gin, the Dirty Pickle Martini is especially tasty when made with gin. Just a word of warning though, once you find out how good these martinis are, you might be inspired to shake up a few more so you can experiment and taste the various flavors different pickle juices bring–or maybe that was just me? After rigorous testing, my personal favorite–so far–has been spicy pickle juice. Yum!

Dirty Pickle Martini by Judith Pena

 

Serves 2

Ingredients

5 ounces gin
2 ounces pickle juice
1 ounce dry vermouth
2 pickles, for garnish (pickle slices could work as well)
ice

Preparation

Pour gin, pickle juice and vermouth into a shaker filled with ice. Stir (or shake, if you must) with a (bar)spoon for 1 minute. Strain into two chilled martini glasses and garnish.