Veal and White Bean Stew with Buckwheat Spätzle

 

(Veal and White Bean Stew with Buckwheat Spätzle)

Normally, when I cook I just take stock of what I have around to concoct something and rarely use recipes. But like any foodie I have a ton of cookbooks. Cookbooks for me are a bit like inspiration, it gives me general ideas, but I find I usually need to augment the recipes – either to make them gluten-free or to our tastes.

That is the story of this buckwheat spätzle, a dish I made some time back in the height of winter. One of my favorite cookbooks is Black Forest Cuisine by Walter Staib the executive chef at the historic and famed City Tavern in Philadelphia. I have always liked German cuisine, but never made it at home. With this cookbook that all changed. The recipes range from simple home cooked meals, to comforting gastropub fare and fancier hotel restaurant fare with more international influences. I got this cookbook as a way to explore another ancestral cuisine, although my ancestors hail from Bavaria, there is a lot of crossover, including spätzle which is considered a classic Bavarian dish.

(Buckwheat Spätzle – in Italian we would call my spätzle, Spätzle-one, or giant spätzle )

The flavors of the Black Forest are homey and delicious, the ingredients, simple and flavorful.  The chef in the introduction talks a lot about traditional German fare, about abundant family gardens, food preservation skills and my favorite story of all – that it is common for German families to take a walk through the woods on the weekend to get to a specific restaurant, pub or café serving some specialty – maybe a confection or cake or perhaps a home-style hearty meal to enjoy. I just love the idea of that. We did something similar in Italy, taking the Via Francigena to San Gimignano and enjoying a lovely meal of gnocchi with truffle sauce and stewed wild boar. One of the best meals of my life. Food tastes so amazing when it is well deserved.

It was this romantic thought that inspired this meal. I imagined myself taking an invigorating walk through the black forest, coming out of the forest, with a scent of something savory cooking in the air and following my nose to a cozy warm gastropub to enjoy a hearty meal.

The veal and white bean stew is entirely of my creation. The buckwheat spätzle is based on the original spätzle recipe in the cookbook.  We had originally made the spätzle to accompany a recipe for kielbasa and lentils from the same cookbook, being its traditional accompaniment.

(Kielbasa and lentils with buckwheat Spätzle )

We used some homemade kielbasa and it was good, but not nearly as outstanding as this combination!

Veal and White Bean Stew:

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of cannellini beans, cooked (I use dry beans, soaked overnight in warm water and a TBS of apple cider vinegar and then cooked until tender)

1 lb of veal stew meat browned in 1 TBS butter

2 onions, caramelized (cooked down with red wine vinegar and a little water to prevent burning)

2 cups beef stock – homemade is preferable

1 cup of water

Bay leaf

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 TBS tomato paste

2 carrots, chopped

2 cups green cabbage, shredded

Season with salt, pepper and thyme

METHOD: The day before, cook the beans, or you can use canned. You might also want to caramelize the onions, brown the veal and make the spätzle. The day of cooking place all the ingredients in a crock pot, except for the spätzle . Cook on the high setting until it comes to a boil (about 2-3 hours). Then add the spätzle and cook on low for another 5-6 hours until everything is heated through. You could put the spätzle in at the start and just cook on low for 10-12 hours, but it might become a little more mushy.

(Making Spätzle  using the “cutting board method”)

Buckwheat Spätzle

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of buckwheat flour

4 large eggs

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp fresh ground nutmeg

1 cup cold water

METHOD:  Combine the flour, eggs, salt and nutmeg in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (I don’t have an electric mixer and make the dough using my hands). Mix on medium until combined and slowly pour in the water until the batter is smooth, mix for five minutes more until the dough is elastic.

Bring 2 quarts of lightly salted water to boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Scrape dough into a potato ricer or colander with large holes and press dough into boiling water. Alternately, place dough on a cutting board and scrape dough into the boiling water. Cook until they are tender but still firm, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes, they will rise to the surface when done. Lift the spätzle out of the water with a large slotted spoon, shake off the water and place in a bowl, mix with some butter or olive oil to prevent sticking together. Spätzle is also very good, reheated by sautéing in butter until golden.

*Note, I used the cutting board method, and as this was my first time making spätzle, they were a bit bigger than what is traditional, but I think they were the perfect size for my slow cooked stew, if they had been smaller, I would not have allowed them to cook with the stew, but stirred them in at the end before serving.

Buckwheat Noodles with Mushrooms and Sour Cream

 

Now that the hub-bub of the holidays is winding down, I know I am looking forward to more simplicity when it comes to meal times and I am craving earthy dishes to offset the sweets I have been eating. Although I love the holiday season and all of its indulgences, after several weeks of big celebratory meals, it is nice to get back to basics.

This dish has become one of our favorites, we eat it about once a week. It is a quick and easy go-to kind of meal when you are tired and just don’t know what to cook! We came up with it during the holiday season, when we were busy and/or tired of cooking. It is perfect now also for winding down and simplicity.

I must admit I am not a huge fan of pasta…my guess is because my body knew I was gluten intolerant long before I did, and so subconsciously it dreaded that king of all gluten-ey dishes…the big bowl of pasta. But I am seriously addicted to this bowl of soba noodles mixed with sweet leeks fried in brown butter, deeply earthy mushrooms and thick and creamy sour cream. So so good, you will love it.

A note of caution, if you are gluten-intolerant make sure that the package of Soba or Buckwheat noodles you throw in your basket is in fact gluten-free. Oftentimes, I find packages that also contain wheat.

INGREDIENTS:

2 TBS of browned butter (to make browned butter, place butter in a small saucepan and melt, keep cooking past melting until the butter begins to brown, once is smells sweet and delicious, take it off the burner, it is ready to use)
1 cup of reconstituted dried mushrooms, squeezed dry (keep the water to make mushroom stock or use in other recipes) – chop if the pieces are really big
½ cup sliced leeks (you could also use caramelized onions)
1 large clove of garlic, finely minced
1- 8 oz. package of Soba Noodles (I use King Soba Organic Sweet Potato and Buckwheat Noodles)
½ cup organic full-fat Sour Cream (Greek yogurt would work beautifully as well)
Grated parmesan cheese to taste
1-2 more TBS of butter to mix in your pasta

METHOD:

Start your pasta water. Make the browned butter, then sautee the mushrooms over medium heat in the butter for about 5 minutes, or until nice and soft, then add the leeks and garlic, sautee another 5 minutes. Now cook your pasta – it only takes about 3-5 minutes. Once it is finished cooking, drain the noodles and add them to the skillet with the vegetables. Add the sour cream, parmesan cheese and extra butter, mix and serve.

Guest Post: Orecchiette Carbonara, or a Procrastinator’s Tale

The final installment to this series of guest posts, comes from a very funny pastry chef, and by funny, I mean extremely humorous. I have known Jenni for a while now, and even though her focus is on pastries (and I keep begging her to delve into gluten-free versions of her goodies) that I can’t eat, I love her down to earth and hilarious posts. She does also feature more savory dishes on her blog, The Balanced Pastry Chef,especially her Sunday Suppers series.

I read a lot of diverse blogs, and for many reasons. Some I learn from, some help me stay up to date with longtime blogging friends, some are inspirational, and some are just downright FUN to read, and that’s Jenni’s blog. She is so very down to earth, and as a former teacher turned pastry chef, she is here to help people who want to cook learn the methods and techniques that arm the average person with the skill to cook amazing meals at home! So please check out her blog!

We have a lot in common – she also raises chickens, and cares about food waste in the world. She founded the Four Pounds of Cheese Project, which is now a facebook group that discusses tips and tricks for reducing food waste. So check that out too!

 

First off, I must say that I am very Excited to have been asked to write a post over here at Jenn’s place. I’ve known Jenn online since we were both miserable in Florida (apologies to any Florida lovers out there). Now, we’re both happy–me in North Carolina and her in Vermont. Which I’m a little jealous about, since I have always had a non-specific but real Desire to visit Vermont. At any rate, I am happy that these words, at least, are on a blog that originates from The Green Mountain State. Thanks for having me, Jenn, and hello to all of Jenn’s readers!

orecchiette carbonara with bell peppers

When Jenn asked me to write a guest post, I knew that I wanted to make something utilizing local ingredients. And that, of necessity, means that if you don’t live right around here, you can’t use exactly what I use. But that’s okay. It’s more than okay, actually. It’s the way it should be. Pricey gourmet shops have sprung up like mushrooms because the Fancy cook book or magazine recipe says that you have to use pollen from Peruvian llacon* or the leaves of the Malaysian pandan tree*. But cooking should be local. It should be about what is growing in your yard, or your neighborhood or your community.

So, if you live in Peru, go harvest some llacon pollen. If you’re Malaysian, by all means use pandan leaves. But if you can’t find those things, don’t let it limit you. Let it free you to do your own experimentation.

Let me just say now that I am not a homesteader. I don’t make my own kefir or yogurt. And I don’t own goats. I think it is the Height of Awesome that Jenn is living her dream, but I know my limitations. I am limited by a Procrastination Gene that prohibits me from working too hard. Being a procrastinator does not mesh well with being a homesteader. We do keep chickens, but only for eggs. And God forbid we try to have goats. I hear they can’t wait until I finish Lounging to be milked. So, we try to buy happy meat or no meat at all. Happy meat, by the way, is my short-hand way of saying “naturally raised, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, romping-in-pastures, eating a natural diet, allowed-to-have-sex animals who lived carefree lives. Until they were slaughtered in as humane a way as possible. So we can eat them.” But that takes a long time to say, let alone type, so I normally just go with Happy Meat.

I’m happy to buy what I don’t have the time –or want to take the time–to make, and I try to strike a balance between local/organic and cost-effective. It’s not always easy, but I feel like we generally do a good job. And we eat pretty well, if I do say so myself.

As a matter of fact, sometimes my tendency to procrastinate results in a Surprisingly Yummy Meal. Take, for instance, last night’s meal. I knew that my husband and I had to attend a class at our chiropractor’s office at 6:30. I knew it all day long. Until I finally stopped knowing and started realizing, at about 5:45, that I should probably make something to eat because we’d have to be Out The Door by 6:20 to get there on time. And once I am committed to action, there is no stopping me.

Here’s what went on in my brain:

Okay, pasta is fast. It’ll take about 6 minutes for the water to boil and another 10-11 for the pasta to cook. In that amount of time, I can have a reasonable meal on the table. What to do…what to do. Oh, there’s a lovely pepper from Roberta’s garden (next door neighbor)! And we have marinated feta from Prodigal Farm. Onions…half&half…olive oil. Oh, eggs! I’ll beat an egg and add it in with the sauce to make a kind of carbonara-type deal.

Heat a pan…chop some onions…add some olive oil. A lot of olive oil. Toss in the onions to sweat…cut the pepper into strips but reserve them so they stay crisp. Turn the heat down and melt in some of the feta. Wow, that doesn’t melt too, well. Oh, well, it’ll taste Amazing and should mix in well with the half&half and egg…

I won’t subject you to any more of my crazed stream of consciousness mental cooking chatter. Suffice to say that the meal was Quite Good. It was a bit rich, but the barely-cooked peppers added a nice green counterpoint to all the dairy goodness. And if you’re gluten-free, you can absolutely sub rice pasta for the wheat pasta. I’ve had a lovely rice penne from Trader Joe’s, and penne would work really well in this recipe.

Prodigal Farms Marinated FetaSo, are you going to be able to use Roberta’s peppers or Prodigal Farm marinated feta? Probably not. But you will be able find some sort of vegetables. (Asparagus would be perfect for this. Now I have to wait for spring…) And you will be able to scare up some cheese and some milk (or cream or half&half) and an egg. Use whatever short, fat pasta you have on hand, and prepare to Wow your family. You don’t need to wait until the last minute to make this, but I find that victory is so much sweeter when you have to rush a little!

Procrastinators’ Delight: Orecchiette Carbonara
Carbonara usually contains bacon, and you can certainly add it here. I left it out because it was one extra step between me and dinner and being on time. This served 2 generous portions. Scale accordingly to serve 4, 6 or even 8.

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • hot pepper flake, to taste
  • about 1/4 cup marinated feta
  • 1/4 cup half&half
  • 1 small bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 8 ounces orecchiette, or other short, fat pasta shape
  • 1 egg, beaten with about 1 tablespoon half&half

Put on a large pot of water and let it come to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat and then add the olive oil, garlic, onion, salt and pepper.

Sweat the vegetables until soft–you might need to turn down the heat a bit as you don’t really want anything to brown.

Turn the heat down to medium-low, and add the hot pepper flake and the marinated feta. Mash the feta so it sort of melts into the oil. It will look a bit grainy. Don’t worry, that’s how feta looks melted.

If your water is boiling, salt it so it tastes like the ocean, and add the pasta. Mine took about 11 minutes to cook.

Add the half&half to the skillet and bring the heat back up to medium. Cook for about 5 minutes, and then add the vegetables. You want them warm but still crisp, so how long you let them cook will depend on what vegetables you choose. If you’re using spinach, it’ll only need a minute or two. I let the pepper strips cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat.

When the pasta is ready, reserve about 2 tablespoons of pasta liquid and drain the rest.

orecchiette carbonara sauceWith the skillet off the heat, whisk in the egg mixture and the reserved cooking water until well blended. Add the drained pasta and toss everything together over medium-low heat until the pasta is nicely coated. Do this fairly quickly and keep everything moving so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs.

And that’s really it. Pair this with a nice green salad, and you’ve got a lovely meal. If you’re me, plop some on a plate, be grateful and then inhale it so you’re not late to the chiropractor’s office.

And, whether or not you are Plagued by the Procrastination Gene, it’s nice to know that you can have this meal on the table in about 20 minutes.
orecchiette carbonara with bell peppers

 

 

Gluten-Free Potato Gnocchi

Even though I grew up in an Italian household, I have never been a huge fan of pasta. Don’t get me wrong, I love the filled pastas – tortellini, ravioli, cannelloni, etc. but just regular ‘ol pasta…meh. However, when it comes to gnocchi, I just can’t get enough of it. Maybe that is because I have always loved potatoes, and those soft pillows that just soak in the sauce, have always been irresistible to me.

When I became gluten-free, my pasta options reduced significantly. Pasta is such a quick and easy meal to prepare when you don’t have as much time to spend in the kitchen as you would like, and it is so easy to dress up with veggies, meats, cheeses and various sauces. Plus my husband, born and raised in Italy grew up eating it 2 times a day.  Like Roberto always says, you can eat pasta twice a day your whole life and never get bored of it because of all the various ways it can be prepared.  I can’t say I agree, but I do enjoy the convenience of it once in a while. Commercially I can get corn pasta, in two shapes – spaghetti and elbows. That is fine, but sometimes you want something a little different!

(The First Attempt)

For New Year’s Eve 2011, when my step-daughter Gwen was visiting, we decided to try our hand at homemade gnocchi. I made a big mistake and mixed it in the food processor the first time. It turned out kind of gummy, but was still pretty good. We made the gnocchi gluten-free by using potatoes and potato starch. However, for me, the consistency was still too gummy – it wasn’t just the fault of the food processor.

Gwen was visiting again last week and wanted to make gnocchi again, this time instead of the potato starch, I suggested we use gluten-free oat flour. This made the gnocchi much more like I remember – a bit firmer and toothsome. We served it with a tomato sauce that Gwen and Roberto made on New Year’s Eve – it made a lot, so we froze the leftovers.

I also like these gnocchi served with brown butter cream sauce with truffle oil. When Roberto and I were in San Gimignano, in Tuscany, almost 2 years ago, we had the most amazing truffle gnocchi, and since then, I have been dreaming about it. The version we make at home comes pretty darn close!

Tonight we are going to have the leftovers with butter, peas and prosciutto. Like I said, so versatile!

Making homemade gnocchi is very easy and straightforward and much less time consuming than other types of homemade pasta. Since we have made it a few times, we no longer use a recipe, but this is a good starter recipe from Italian: The Definitive Professional Guide to Italian Ingredients and Cooking Techniques, Including 300 Step-by-step Recipes..

A note about the book – this book includes all the Italian classics, and has detailed process pictures as well. Roberto loves this cookbook because everything we have made from it turns out like an Italian in Italy made it.

Gnocchi di Patate


INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs waxy potatoes, scrubbed
1 TBS sea salt
2 – 2 1/2 cups of flour (we use gluten-free oat flour)
2 TBS butter

METHOD:

Place the un-peeled potatoes in a large pot of salted water, Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender, but not falling apart. Drain, and peel the potatoes as soon as possible, while they are still hot.

On a work surface spread out a layer of flour. Mash the potatoes with a hand masher directly onto the flour. You can also use a food mill or ricer if you have those.  Sprinkle the top of the potatoes with about half of the remaining flour and mix lightly. Begin to knead the dough, drawing in more flour as you knead.  Keep doing this until the dough is light to the touch, no longer sticky or moist, and can be rolled easily. Do not overwork the dough, or the gnocchi will become too heavy.

Divide the dough into 4 parts. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a snake about ¾ inch thick, and cut the dough into ¾ inch long pieces.  Hold an ordinary table fork, with long tines sideways.  Once by one press and roll the gnocchi onto your thumb, making ridges on one side and a depression from your thumb on the other side.

Bring large pan of salted water to boil. Then drop about ½ the gnocchi in.  When the gnocchi rise to the top, after about 3-4 minutes they are done. Scoop them out, allow them to drain and place in a serving bowl. Dot them with butter.  Keep warm while remaining gnocchi are cooking. AS soon as they are done, stir in with other gnocchi and more butter. Then serve with extra butter and Parmesan cheese, tomato sauce or any other sauce you wish.

Serves 4-6

Cooking with Company

One of my favorite activities in the whole world is cooking with the people I love. For me there is no greater way to share the bounty we enjoy here in this part of the world. It is not just a way to share what is offered here, but  to also get creative with my favorite people. People hear me preach the act of eating locally, and cooking from scratch on my blog and in person, and when they come to visit us, we all have a great time together living out that vision. Mostly it is for fun, but it also shows people in a personal way why we decided to make our lives here, and how easy it can be to eat locally and healthfully in a place that really strives to make that ideal a reality.

I have had the best summer because we have had quite a few guests visiting the homestead, and since all of them love food in one way or another, we always, without fail end up spending time in the kitchen or out on the deck at the grill and then of course EATING what we have created together. Such a simple yet magical act that really brings people together in a fundamental way.

Here is our summer of eating so far – in mostly visual terms.

My mom was here earlier in the season, and we celebrated her visit with lots of al fresco dining. One evening we enjoyed mead sprizters – local mead, with a splash of Italian prosecco, garnished with muddled mint and currants from our garden. Sadly at the time of her visit we weren’t harvesting many veggies yet. But we still enjoyed many local meals out on the deck!

When my dad and stepmom came to visit, they both ended up cooking for us. My stepmom Kayzie made her mom’s famous crabcakes – and brought fresh blue crab with them all the way from Maryland! On another night my dad grilled some beautiful local steaks that we enjoyed with local sweet corn.

Roberto and I also got a duck as part of our meat CSA share from Applecheek Farm . I cooked duck once before with my friend Amber (who also came to visit us!!! ) but wanted to try a different method this time. So with the help of my dad, we grilled it on our rotisserie. It was lightly seasoned with herbs de provence and stuffed with orange wedges. I made a cherry sauce with red wine and oranges to accompany it. We also grilled some potato wedges under the duck letting the drippings season them.

Most recently my stepdaughter Gwen is visiting. She loves to cook, and whenever she comes to visit we end up making something yummy! This time we made the ultimate nachos – Tortilla chips covered in 3 kinds of cheese (cabot cheddar, maple smoked cheddar chunks and parmesan), homemade beef and bean chili, tomatoes and cilantro from the garden and green chilies.

Tonight she and her dad made me dinner – their specialty, spaghetti with tomato-cream sauce and garden fresh herbs with a delicious side salad – all veggies from the garden.

Thanks to everyone for your visits – and we look forward to many more wonderful meals with family and friends here on the homestead!

My Sweetie’s Birthday – Lasagna Rolls and Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake

b-day_lasagna_eating

Ooey Gooey Cheesy Lasagna!

In this household we like to indulge in The Birthday Week(TM). This means that when either Roberto or I are celebrating a birthday, each day of our birthday week, we get to pick out some little thing to do – whether it is to go to the movies, to the beach, out for ice cream or a treat of some kind, and one of those days, have a special meal made. Not expensive things, just fun little things to keep the celebration going. For Roberto’s actual birthday, I took him to a favorite restaurant here in Saint Augustine and gave him a very special and personal gift – after almost 2 years of marriage and a very long story, I am now officially Mrs. Campus!

easter_gang

Roberto and I with Mom at Easter – at the table where we were most of the weekend! EATING.

So to close out the week of birthday festivities, this past weekend, my mom came to visit and so we of course had to have another celebration for Roberto. I asked him for his menu of choice, and not surprisingly he came up with Lasagna. It is his favorite, after all.

As for a cake, he was looking for something Tiramisu inspired. I know Roberto is a huge fan of ice cream, so I asked him if he’d like me to make him a Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake – and he was game!

b-day_cake_ready-to-eat

Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake

I spent a few days looking online for Tiramisu flavored ice cream, and a sponge cake or lady fingers to make the cake. We happened to be celebrating his birthday with my mom the day before Easter, which meant we would be baking with my mom too. So I had to plan ahead to make sure all this baking wasn’t going to wreak havoc on me with my wheat issues. Therefore, I modified some Easter bread recipes to include my soaking techniques, and looked for recipes to make cake and bread that was more eggs and less flour. The sponge cake recipe I found for the ice cream cake ended up being more like a big crepe than a cake due to my egg whites not cooperating, but it was perfect for the cake.

b-day_lasagna_preparing

Preparing Lasagna Rolls

As for the lasagna, I decided to make baked lasagna rolls, so I didn’t need to use as many noodles. I used whole wheat noodles and I used a mixture of mascarpone, homemade goat cheese, parmigiano, basil paste and spinach as the filling and I made a simple sauce using a jar of organic tomato sauce, a can of tomatoes, some wine and spices. Roberto loved these rolls, and declared it the best lasagna he has had in the US. So I was pretty happy with that! We served it with a nice bottle of Cannonau, a Sardinian wine, known for its beneficial antioxidant properties :)

This weekend was a very Italian food centered time, which is always great.

To see our Sicilian Easter Dinner with my mom, please check out her blog for the recipes and photos.

Lasagna Rolls:

b-day_lasagna_preparing-2

Cheesing it UP!

INGREDIENTS:

1 package of whole wheat lasagna noodles (12 noodles)

filling:
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
4 oz. homemade raw milk goat cheese
2 inch piece of parmigiano cheese, grated
3 oz. fresh baby spinach
3 TBS fresh basil paste
salt & pepper to taste

sauce:
2 TBS olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
28 oz. can of fire roasted tomatoes
½ jar of organic tomato sauce
¼ cup red wine
oregano, thyme, and basil to taste

12 round pieces of fresh mozzarella

METHOD:

Bring water to boil for pasta, and cook according to package directions, except cut the cooking time by half. Drain and set aside.

Prepare the sauce. Sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil, until translucent. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, wine and spices. Mix together and cook over a medium-low heat for about 35-40 minutes.

While sauce is cooking preheat the oven to 350F. In a bowl mix all the filling ingredients together. Then divide and spread the filling over the length of each noodle, and roll up. Place noodle rolls into a prepared baking dish – place a little of the sauce on the bottom of the pan before laying the rolls on top. Then place a piece of mozzarella on top of each roll, and pour the rest of the sauce over top of the whole dish. Then grate extra parmigiano on top. Bake for 45 minutes, and then remove the foil, and bake for another 10-15 or until cheese is browned. Serves 6.

Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake

b-day_cake_ready-to-eat-2

One recipe of Tiramisu Ice cream from Desert Candy Blog
(the only thing I changed about the recipe, is that I used a tub of tiramisu marscapone, and 8 oz. of sour cream, as well as sweetening with maple syrup instead of sugar)

One recipe of Sponge Cake Roll Recipe
(again I sweetened with maple syrup)

METHOD:

b-day_cake_preparing

Preparing Components for Ice Cream Cake

Prepare the ice cream base the night before, so it has a chance to chill. In the morning, bake the cake according to the recipe – don’t forget to roll it in a towel before it cools. While it cools for about 20-30 minutes, churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s directions.

b-day_cake_preparing-2

Rolling Ice Cream Cake Roll

Smear the cooled cake with the soft, just churned ice cream, and sprinkle with cocoa powder. Roll up and place in the freezer. After about an hour, sprinkle the cake with some more rum, and then let freeze for about another hour. To serve, slice, and sprinkle with cocoa powder and powdered sugar – and extra maple syrup for those with a sweet tooth. Serves 10

Pasqua Night 032_pets_1

Cute Pets, thrown in for good measure! Everyone deserves a treat!

Ancient Grains Penne Pasta with Hearty Red Sauce and Mini Meatballs

ancient-grain-pasta_on-dish

I had about a half a pound of ground grassfed beef in the freezer. It really wasn’t enough to make burgers, and Roberto has been craving meatballs lately. So I decided to make some pasta with red sauce and mini meatballs.

In my constant quest for pasta that is good for you, and doesn’t make me symptomatic, I came across another option from DeBoles– my favorite pasta company. Most of their pastas are made with a flour other than or in addition to wheat. I have had 100% corn (my favorite), and a Jerusalem artichoke/semolina mix, and now Ancient Grain. Ancient Grain is a mixture of organic spelt, quinoa and amaranth, along with organic whole grain semolina and organic whole grain durum. It packs 32 grams of whole grains per serving, and cooks up just like regular pasta.

Due to my issues with grains, I don’t cook pasta very often. But every once in a while it is nice to have a nice steaming bowl of pasta with red sauce, and for those occasions, I am thankful that I have these ready made pastas available. When I eat it, I try to eat more sauce than pasta, actually!

I wanted to make a nice sauce to go with it. Roberto, being Italian and a lover of pasta, does eat it more often than I do. For those occasions, he goes with a nice local organic jarred sauce. There was about a half a jar left of sauce in the fridge and a ¾ can of tomato paste. So this is a leftover queen recipe for sure! I added to those the mini meatballs, onions, garlic, wine and dried porcini mushrooms from Marx Foods. There is a giveaway of these porcini mushrooms (and morels) going on over at The Foodie Blogroll this month. So if you haven’t commented over there to win, please do! The mushrooms are excellent and added an amazing depth of flavor to my sauce with a mere pinch or two of the small broken bits and powder at the bottom of the bag. The sauce turned out dark and thick, perfect for coating the penne. With a nice crumble of soft goat cheese and a quick grate of Parmiggiano cheese on top, it was a great and extremely flavorful winter meal.

The other wonderful thing about this dish besides the wonderful flavor, is that it is also extremely inexpensive and would serve a family nicely with a side salad. This is a great way to stretch your grassfed beef, if you are worried about cost. This dish serves 4, and was about $1.75 per serving.

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Corn Pasta w/ Leftovers and 10 things…

corn-pasta_ready-to-eat

As part of my 2010 food related goals, I have almost completed 2 weeks of not eating any wheat. I keep going back and forth with the gluten free thing – and I am still not sure that I have all the answers. So there are going to be some fun experiments coming up! However, as part of my two week abstinence experiment, and my on-going efforts to find a pasta that doesn’t make me fall asleep within an hour, while still satisfying my Italian’s need for pasta, I re-discovered corn pasta. I have made, and enjoyed corn pasta in the past but guess I grew tired of the spaghetti shape. Happily on a recent trip to the health food store, I found corn pasta in an elbow shape from De Boles, a pasta company that I already really like for their use of Jerusalem Artichoke flour in their pasta. So I bought a box to try.

The thing I like about corn pasta is that it looks the same as regular pasta, and cooks the same as well – and I have never gotten a soggy, clumpy result, like I often do with rice pasta. Plus, I think that rice has the same affect on me as wheat. Don’t ask me why…Anyway, corn pasta tastes really good – and works well with any of your favorite pasta dishes.

For this dish, I sautéed 3 links of chicken sausage, added 2 cups of homemade tomato sauce from the freezer, about a cup of frozen peas and 2 cups of leftover roasted cauliflower. I added a dash of red wine, about a cup of homemade yogurt, and some herbs – like oregano and basil, as well as salt and pepper. Then I tossed the pasta in the sauce, and served with a generous helping of freshly grated parmesan cheese. This dish was so good! It made enough for 6 servings. The first night we each had one serving. The next night, we each had two! I justified it as part of the experiment. If I could eat corn pasta two nights in a row, and even double up the second night, and not feel sleepy – then corn would be IN! So for now it is in. Personally I would like to find an alternative, as I am not thrilled with all the modifications that have been done to corn, or how the subsidization of corn has led to a lot of food policy issues in the US. But for now, I am happy to have found pasta that I can enjoy! And my husband is happy too! :)

Next on my list to try is a handmade soaked pasta that I found via MAHM during a recent Twitter #realfood chat,  and also see if I can find any pasta made from buckwheat – my ultimate, super grain!

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Also, my blogging buddy Pam from A Love for NEW Recipes! gave me a Happy Blog Award, and asked me to name 10 things that make me happy. Thanks for the award Pam! These are in no particular order:

1. My husband, Roberto

2. My animals: Nimue, Pepino and Cipollina

3. Coffee

4. Archery

5. Working out and sweating!!!

6. Vermont

7. Milkshakes  – although I rarely have them

8. Good friends and family

9. Music – especially fiddles

10. Growing things and taking care of my loved ones with good food