Sunday, February 27, 2011

Homemade Pasta

My sister gave me a pasta machine for Christmas and I couldn't wait to try it. I knew I wanted to save it for an evening where I'd have time to devote to it and have a special meal, so things kept coming up and I didn't get to use it until late February. This was well worth the wait and yielded the most perfect pasta. This recipe is a combination of tips from a couple food blogs I regularly follow - Annie's Eats and Life's Ambrosia. The whole process took a very enjoyable hour and a half.

If you don't have a pasta maker, you could still achieve similar results by using a rolling pin and hand cutting, so no excuses!

Homemade Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Olives, Parmesan and Pine nuts

1 cup all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1 cup semolina flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
8 sun dried tomatoes packed in oil
1/3 cup pitted olives, diced

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 cup shredded parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste

To make pasta, combine flour and salt. Make a well in the middle and add eggs. Thoroughly combine, then turn out on a floured surface and knead about 8 minutes, until it's nice and elastic. Divide into 4 balls and cover with a damp cloth. Let set for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prep the pasta toppings. Mince the garlic and slice the sun dried tomatoes and olive. Shred parmesan and set all ingredients aside.

Once dough has s
et for 20 minutes, lightly flour one ball and pass it through the pasta maker several times until you reach desired thickness, adding extra flour as needed to avoid sticking. Set aside for at least 10 minutes and continue with the 3 remaining balls.

Now, pass the stretched dough through the cutter for the desired shape. Lay out to dry out a bit, or hang on a pasta dryer if you have one (I don't and it worked out fine).

While pasta is drying out, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In a large nonstick skillet, warm olive oil. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add sun dried tomatoes and cook about 2 minutes. Stir in olives. Keep warm.
Cook the pasta about 4-6 minutes in salted water until desired consistency is reached. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Toss in olive oil, tomato and olive mixture and add pasta water as needed for moisture. Add 3/4 cup parmesan and pine nuts and toss to combine.

Serve with additional parmesan for serving and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Italian Grapefruit Cocktail (or mocktail)

Following up on my Grapefruit, Beet and Salad recipe, with the additional Rio Star grapefruit we had on hand, I decided to make this Italian Lemonade recipe from Giada de Laurentiis, but with a twist. We enjoyed the first half of the batch with Italian sparkling water at our picnic, and the second batch we enjoyed with Champagne the next day at brunch!

Italian Grapefruit Cocktail

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 bunch basil
3 Rio Star grapefruit
1 bottle Italian sparkling water OR 1 bottle Chamapgne

First, make your basil simple syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a medium sauce pan and simmer until sugar evaporates. Stir in basil and simmer 5 minutes. Strain out the basil leaves and place in refrigerator to chill.

Next, juice the grapefruit so you have about 2 cups. If you're smart, you'll juice a few extra for more tomorrow (I did!)

To assemble the drinks, pour 1 part basil simple syrup, 2 parts grapefruit juice and 2 parts Italian sparkling water or champagne in a fun glass and stir to combine. Taste and add additional simple syrup to match your preference, but this ratio was perfect for me. enjoy!

*I wrote this post on my own free time and not for work. Full disclosure, TexaSweet Citrus is a client of mine, but I love Rio Star Grapefruit and wanted to post this anyway. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Grapefruit, Beet and Burrata Salad

Rarely do I have inspiration come from so many places to meet for one delicious dish. Let me explain: One of the food clients I represent is TexaSweet Citrus, and as part of a program we were doing right here in Austin to promote Rio Star Grapefruit, we hosted a dinner at FINO with several bloggers and area food media to enjoy a dinner with some juicy, red grapefruit. At the dinner, one of the dishes was a salad with red grapefruit, beets and burrata. I've been hearing a lot about burrata in the past few months but hadn't tried it yet. It was such a unique, luscious texture and flavor that I was determined to use it myself. I recalled Jodi of Tasty Touring mentioning they sell it here in town at Antonelli's Cheese Shop, so I went there to pick some up.

Another embarrassing confession, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've had beets, and I've never prepared them myself. This salad made me realize that they are, in fact, delicious! I asked Teddy from
Fun With Your Food about how to prepare them, and she said simply peeling and cubing them like you would squash, tossing with olive oil and salt and pepper and roasting a while would yield delicious flavor. Thanks Teddy - you were right!

Finally, while flipping through the March issue of Food and Wine, I came across a recipe for Spinach Salad with Citrus and Roasted Beets. Um, perfect! So, I tweaked this recipe by using fresh spinach instead of steamed and added in a healthy dose of burrata. This salad was delightful, I hope you'll try it!

Grapefruit, Beet and Burrata Salad

4 small beets
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Rio Star grapefruit
6 ounces fresh spinach or spring mix
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
4 ounces burrata cheese, torn in pieces

Preheat oven to 350. Peel beets and cut into 1-inch dice. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper; toss to combine. Roast about an hour to an hour and 10 minutes until they are tender.

Meanwhile, combine sliced red onion and red wine vinegar in a bowl and let sit for about an hour.

Slice the top and bottom off of the grapefruit, then stand on one end and cut off the remaining peel with a knife from top to bottom. Next, use your knife to cut along the section and pop out. Continue until all the sections have been cut out. Here's a link with better instructions and photos:

Combine the spinach with sectioned grapefruit and roasted beets. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the red wine vinegar from the onions and whisk with remaining olive oil, dijon mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Toss with salad. Toss in burrata pieces with your fingers and enjoy!

Salad and a sandwich picnic with a view at Mt. Bonnell