Monday, August 10, 2009

Kneading, chopping, cooking, eating

When I got home from the store with my groceries on Sunday at seven, I had a lot of work to do in a short amount of time.

First thing would be to start the pasta. How is homemade or fresh pasta different from store bought dry? Well, the main difference is that it is made with flour and eggs, whereas most dry pasta from a box is made only with flour and water (noodles and some fettucini being notable exceptions). It tastes lighter and softer but also springier than pasta from a box. The other difference of course is that it takes a lot longer than opening a box! I do it often, but usually for special occassions. It was interesting to just do it as part of my bang-it-out-get-it-done worknight cooking routine.

The type of flour used in pasta is debated a lot. 100% durum...semolina...type 00...there are so many terms floating around, and a good deal of misinformation and misnaming. I think its enough to put people off trying to make it, which is unfortunate, because at the end of the day you can get fine results using just all-purpose flour, and making it is not difficult. I won't go into the techniques here, but I learned do to it from Jamie Oliver and Marcella Hazan--they are both very opinionated and quite expert, and sometimes contradict each other. I actually find this forces you to go into it with an open mind and try new things. There is no 100% ultimate formula--and its supposed to be fun!

Anyway, I decided to use half all-purpose and half whole-wheat flour, to make it a little healthier, and to make a double batch. The doubling was a terrible idea. I heaped up a big mountain of flour, made a well in the center, cracked in four eggs and...they leaked out and made a huge mess. It was pretty sad. Egg running down the counter attracting roaches (I could do a whole blog about those little bastards!), my hands already covered in sticky dough...ugh. But I salvaged it. The dough felt firmer than usual because of the whole-wheat (and the volume I suppose), but I just kept kneading it and beating it to death for about 15 minutes. It's a good workout. Anyone who thinks pasta is fattening should try making it--the calories in probably equal the calories out.

I saved half the ball of dough for another time, and rolled out the rest. It made a ton and was perfect, didn't need any reflouring. Here it is, honey-blonde thanks to the whole-wheat. A nice departure from the usual platinum.

While the pasta was resting (before I rolled it out) I did a bunch of other things.

Granola: I mixed up all the stuff from before shopping with roasted pecans that I crushed by hand, shredded coconut, and rolled oats. Not sure about any quantities. Think there was about as much oat as there was everything else. I heated up some canola oil and honey, mixed it together, and spread it out on two baking sheets. 300 degrees for about 45 minutes, and the house kind of smelled Christmasy. Delicious! When I packed it in Scott's lunch the next day, I added chocolate chips.

So, I also had to consider the beverage side of things. We don't drink alcohol at home, but we do drink other bottled bevs, especially Scott: the new sugar-free vitamin waters, diet Coke, and my favorite, Topo Chico mineral water. But this would have to stop, or at least reduce. So I made a big pitcher of hibiscus tea, using Nile Valley tea bags. I just found the flowers in bulk, but had these bags on hand. I fell in love with hibiscus tea in Mexico (it is also called flor de Jamaica). I add a little sugar but keep it pretty mild. Scott loves it too. So we've been chugging that the last two days.

At some point in all of this I got the lettuce ready for the week. This is part of my usual routine but thought I'd share since it's a good trick. I chop it up and wash it and spin it dry, and then store it in the salad spinner in the fridge. It keeps it pretty fresh all week and is always ready for sandwiches and salads. A tip: the less you can cut it, the better, as it's the cut edges that turn brown. Isn't it pretty?

Finally, time for dinner. I had decided to do the pasta tossed with shrimp and collard greens. So first I had to peel and devein the shrimp, a chore about which I am extremely thorough. My father and I had a big fight about this on vacation once, as he doesn't do it. Lots of people and restaurants don't. If you are eating a shrimp that doesn't have a cut down the outside of its back, it hasn't been deveined.
(If you don't know what this is all about,

is removing the shrimp's intestinal tract, basically. Pretty much a bunch of gross brown grit. It won't harm you to eat it, but sometimes you can taste/feel the grit, and I just simply refuse to eat any amount of shrimp excrement, no matter how small. Call me uptight, I don't care. My shrimp are always tender and NEVER gritty.)

So I did all the stupid shrimp, sliced the collards into ribbons, and chopped up about half the parsley. I sauteed about three cloves minced garlic in olive oil, then added the shrimp and greens at the same time.I had enough shrimp and collards and parsley that I only cooked half. There would be enough to make this again tomorrow. When everything is all cut up and ready to go, it's almost as easy as leftovers.

The pasta only had to boil for a few minutes. Tossed up half with the shrimp and greens, and let the other half cool uncovered before covering and fridging. We did add grated parmesan (wrong, I know...and it wasn't even Parmigiano Reggiano...hey that stuff is like 15 dollars a pound! I can't buy it every time) and I seasoned liberally with cayenne because I am a jackass who always craves the spice. It was great, both Sunday night and Monday when we had it again.

I finished everything by 10 pm. Outrageous to most, normal for us. (And don't tell me it will make me fat because I have lost about 25 or 30 pounds in the last two years and eat between 9 and 10 almost every night!)

Pasta with Collard Greens and Shrimp

Serves 2 twice, or serves 4
Medium pour of olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch collard greens, sliced into thin ribbons and chunkiest part of stem removed
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 (about) bunch Italian parsley, chopped
About 1 pound pasta of your choice, homemade if youwant

In a heavy bottomed pot big enough to hold everything, heat olive oil and garlic, cooking till garlic is soft and fragrant. Add shrimp and greens (or, if you like the greens softer, add them first) and cook until shrimp is cooked through, about 5 or so minutes. Season all with salt and pepper. Serve with pasta of choice, and grated parm if you want to laugh in the face of tradition.

No comments:

Post a Comment