Archived entries for pasta

We Love Homemade Ravioli

Finding a reservation for a Valentines Day dinner was never as affordable or as easy as this year!  Ira and I decided to stay home and make food together.  Since we had an afternoon of quality time to fill up, we decided to pull out our new pasta maker and assemble some homemade raviolis.  Although raviolis are very easy to make, they can be a bit time consuming.  Who cares about time though, when you’re in love…with your new Kitchenaid accessory!  Here’s the result of our love making.  Ha ha.

Spinach and Pork Stuffed Raviolis

Spinach and Pork Filling

  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 c.  raw spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 c. shredded provolone
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs yogurt
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan

Assemble your egg pasta dough and let rest for 20 minutes. Here is the egg pasta dough recipe we use.

Assemble filling: Mix sage, salt and pepper into the ground pork.  Brown pork in a saute pan.  When pork is halfway cooked; a little brown and pink, add the chopped spinach and finish sauteing until pork is fully brown and spinach is wilted.  Add the rest of the ingredients, mix and set aside.

Press dough: After your dough has rested, press your sheets of pasta dough.

Cut your ravioli dough:  I don’t have a specific ravioli cutter, so I just use a drinking glass.  Make sure it will cut a large enough circle to handle being stuffed.  A large water glass or pint glass works well.

Stuff your raviolis:  Crack an egg into a bowl and mix well.  Brush each ravioli circle with your egg wash using a pastry brush.  Spoon a tsp of filling into the center of your dough circle.

Pinch edges of circles together to form half-circle.  Using a fork, press edges securely shut.  Try not to pierce through the dough with the ends of the fork tongs.

Cook raviolis:  Heat water to a rolling boil. Add a pinch of salt and a splash of olive oil to water.  Place raviolis in water.  Once water comes back to a rapid boil, boil raviolis for 5-7 minutes until soft.  Strain.

Eat up! Serve raviolis with your preferred sauce.  I used our homemade roasted marinara and served our pasta with a nice side salad. This was about 2 hours of quality time in the kitchen and we definitely reaped the rewards of our labor!  I hope you all had as happy a Valentines Day!

Pasta From Scratch Made Easy

I love scratching things off my to-do list.  I’m currently taking out my New Years Resolution list and x-ing out make pasta from scratch.  I did it.  Ha! Feels so good.

Fettucinne with Pesto

The pasta press attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer makes pasta from scratch super easy!  Although I wouldn’t catagorize this process as being super fast, its so much fun, the time seems to speed by!  I know a lot of you may not have a Kitchenaid or if you do, you may not have the attachment, but I can only say, if you have the opportunity or resources to get them, DO IT!

How It Works:

Make your pasta dough:  Although I usually like to be wild and inventive even when trying something out for the first time, I decided to go with the standard pasta dough recipe given in the book.  Here is the basic egg pasta recipe, along with my notes, which I have posted separate for easy future reference.

Attach the press to your blender:  The pasta press comes with a few attachments, one roller and two cutters.  They will all be labeled and easiy distiguishable from another.  The pasta press fastens into the motor port which is easily found covered by a circular metal cover which flips open at the top of your blender.  Slide the press atttachment in and screw down with the black nob.  Now you’re pretty much ready to go.

Press your dough: Now we get to the exciting part! This is where the magic happens.  Take your dough and seperate it into 4-8 parts.  The guide says 8, because it may be more easily handled, but I like four because it’s quicker (and I didn’t have any problem handling it alone).   Your press attachment will have a dial at the end with numbers 1-8.  These numbers designate the space between the rollers controlling the pasta thickness.  At 1, the rollers are really far apart and this is for starting the pasta out.  You keep tightening the rollers as you pass the pasta through the press to make it thinner and thinner.

Start Dial out at 1: Since we’re just starting, we want the rollers as far apart as possible.  Set the dial to 1 and set your motor to speed 2.  Take one of your chunks of dough.  I found it quickened the process to give a quick roll with a rolling pin to my dough to flatten it out a bit.  Feed the flattened dough roll into the press.

Hint: You can set your motor speed to 2-4 depending on your skill at this press. If you are just beginning use a slower speed, which will press the pasta slower, allowing you more reaction time.  If you are a seasoned pro, set it to 4!

The rollers will grab onto the dough and feed it through.  Don’t worry if the first time through or even the first couple of times through the roller, the dough comes out all broken.  After each time through the roller, its getting broken in, and will soon start to behave.

Take broken pieces and fold over themselves and keep feeding into the press, until a smooth sheet comes out.  (Don’t worry if the edges are a bit frayed).

Move Dial to #2 and on: Once the dough has been pressed into a flat sheet, dial up a notch and pass through the second dial a few times.  This will begin to flatten the dough out even more.  Once the dough comes through the press, fold it over on itself and refeed through.  This folding will provide a consistent thickness.  Once the dough is consistent enough at this thickness move on to the next dial number.

Hint: After feeding dough through press, do not hold dough but let it rest over the right edge of the pasta press.  This will let the press help feed the dough through the press and eliminate the rough edges.

Check thickness suggested for your pasta: Each pasta has a suggested thickness range.  If you plan to use the fettuccine cutter, this will require a thicker pasta then the spaghetti cutter and will require less passes through the press.  Keep passing your pasta through the various numbered stages until your desired thickness has been met.

Hint: Each dial number will require less passes through the press. When in dial 1 stage, multiple passes through the press are necessary to get the correct consistency.  In stage two you won’t need as many as stage 1 and on.  You don’t need to keep feeding the dough through multiple times when  the dial is set at 4 or 5. Once or twice should be enough. Just feel your way through.

Roller Settings For Noodle Types:
1 or 2:   Kneading and thinning dough
3:           Thick noodles
4:           Egg noodles
4 or 5:   Lasagna noodles, fettuccine, spaghetti and ravioli
6 or 7:  Tortellini, thin fettuccine and linguine fini
7 or 8:  Angel Hair

I chose fettuccine for this pasta test, so we only pressed the pasta through until the 5th setting.

Hint:  If your sheets are too long for you to handle, use less dough in the first stage. At each turn of the dial, your pasta sheet will get longer and longer.  This is where the size of dough ball you use in stage one comes in.

Sprinkle each sheet with flour and lay flat on a floured surface while you continue to press other dough balls.  Repeat this process until all your dough has been pressed.

Cut your dough: Now its time to cut this stuff up.  The basic pasta kit comes with a fettuccine cutter and a spaghetti cutter.  As I said above, I chose fettuccine for my first pasta, so I attached the fettuccine cutter in place of the pasta press.   If you’re making lasagna, ravioli, or tortellini, you can move on and cut it by hand.

Hint:  Before feeding through the pasta cutter, cut your sheets down to your desired noodle length. Once your noodles are cut, they are not as easy to deal with.

Feed Pasta sheets through the cutter: After place the pasta cutter attachment on to the blender motor in the same position the press was in, you can begin feeding your pasta through the press.  Feed the sheets through the press in the same way as before.  Allow the end feeding through to rest over the edge of the pasta cutter and this will allow the machine to guide the pasta through better.  Catch your cut pasta with both hands as it comes out of the left of the cutter.

Sprinkle with flour and set aside on your floured surface until all pasta is cut.

And that’s it!  You have just made your own pasta! Doesn’t it feel good.  Now you can cook it up and top it with whatever you feel like.  Making your own pasta is guaranteed to help you win friends and influence people.  Use organic eggs and flour to seal the deal.  So don’t be intimidated.  Get out there and make some pasta!

Hint: Oh wait. Don’t forget to clean up.  Never wash or submerge your pasta presses in water!  Just remove the excess flour with a brush.  Easy!

All the photos in this post were taken by and courtesy of Meena Singh.

Basic Egg Pasta Dough Recipe

This is the basic egg pasta dough recipe given in the Kitchenaid booklet for their pasta press attachment with a few of my own helpful hints..  I am posting it separate from the How-To post for future quick reference.

Basic Egg Pasta

  • 4 large eggs (7/8 c. eggs)
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 3 1/2 c. sifted flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Place eggs, water, flour and salt in mixer bowl.  Attach bowl and flat beater.  Turn to speed 2 and mix 30 seconds.

Exchange flat beater for dough hook.  Turn to speed 2 and knead for 2 minutes. At this point, my dough still was not kneaded together, but appeared in the bowl still crumbly.

The manual states: “A good pasta dough is firm and leathery to touch but also pliable. It should never stick to your fingers or crumble and fall apart.  Many factors, such as humidity, brand of flour, and size of eggs may affect dough consistency.  Pinch a small amoutn of the dough together after mixing with the flat beater.  If the dough stays together, without sticking to your fingers it should work well.  It may be necessary to add a small amout of water to reach correct dough consistency.”

I added a bit of water and beat with the paddle for 30 more seconds or so.

Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for a few minutes. I only got my dough to come together  during the hand kneading.  You want the dough to stick together, but don’t worry if it is still a little dry as it will come together when pressed.

Let the dough rest for 20 minutes before pressing.

Use pasta press and cutter to press and shape the noodles.

Cook the pasta: You may opt to add salt and oil to the water if you choose.  2 tsp salt and 1 tsp oil for 6 quarts of water.  You can of course estimate that.  Boil gently to cook.  Pasta will float when cooking, but not when it is necessarily done.  Stir to keep pasta cooking evenly.  Take a noodle out and test bite.  The desired “al dente” should be slightly firm to the bite.

Cooking time:
Dry pasta: approx. 7 min
Fresh pasta: approx: 2-5 min depending on thickness.

What? Pierogi Lasgana! That’s Right. You heard me.

I love pierogies! My favorite flavor of this Polish pasta pleasure is potato and cheese.  Yummerz!  Why not take these same ingredients and put it in another loved format?  Lasagna.  Yes, please.  Here’s our recipe.

Pierogi Lasagna with Kielbasa

  • 9-12 sheets of Lasagna noodle
  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 c. mashed potatoes (made with salt and butter)
  • 1 large smoked kielbasa, sliced (…or not, if you’re vegetarian)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2-3 red and/or green pepper (or substitute roasted vegetables like red pepper and zucchini as seen in the post photographs)
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1 Tbs horseradish
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/2 lb Swiss cheese

First layer of noodles and mashed potatoes.

1)  Make your mashed potatoes. You can use instant potatoes if you wish, but I always like freshly mashed: ~6 potatoes, boiled and mashed with at least 1/4 c. each butter and milk, salt and pepper.

2)  Boil Lasagna noodles. Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop your noodles in.  Cook until almost al dente but still firm.  (Noodles will cook more when lasagna bakes).  When done, drain water.  In a bowl, mix noodles with olive oil and salt.  Set aside.

Roasted vegetables with grilled onions layered with kielbasa.

3)  Grill vegetables.  Thickly slice onions and peppers.  In a saute pan or cast iron pan, grill vegetables until cooked and slightly charred.

4)  Make horseradish sauce.  Mix sour cream, horseradish, black pepper and salt.  Set aside.

5)  Assemble lasagna. In a greased 12″ x 9″ cake/casserole pan, layer 3-4 lasagna noodles on bottom.  Spread 1/3 of mashed potatoes over noodles.  Spread half of your grilled and/or roasted vegetables and half of your sliced kielbasa .  over mashed potatoes.  Top with 1/2 of your horseradish cream sacue.  Layer with 3-4 more lasagna noodles and repeat previous layer.  Top with with your final noodles, and the last of your potatoes.

6)  Bake Lasagna. Place lasagna to bake for 30 min. at 350.  After 30 min, remove from oven, top with your Swiss cheese, sliced or grated.  Replace in oven and bake for 10-15 more minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted.

7)  Eat and enjoy.  This is the best part!  The best parts of a pierogi meal in one, easy-to-eat package.  Besides being a delicious dinner it also reheats to make a kickass lunch.  This meal will destroy people’s brains and tastebuds, all at the same time.  Two for the price of one!

Left Over Remix: Frozen Cheese Makes Fabulous Lasagna

Yes, you can freeze cheese, as we talked about in the last post. Moving on. What did I do with the left over cheese from our wedding? Well, since, frozen cheese should be melted, a big batch of lasagna.

Lasagna is a quintessential comfort food which is always a crowd pleaser. If you’ve ever eaten one, you can probably make it. The basic recipe is a simple layering technique using noodles, sauce and cheese. A large pan can as easily be made as a small one, so making it in bulk to supply a weeks worth of lunches can save you time and money.

I often take liberties with my recipe substituting anything and everything from tortillas instead of noodles and bbq sauce instead of a marinara. However, to use up my frozen left over provolone cheese along with a jar of last fall’s roasted marinara I have left in the pantry, I decided to make the “classic” version of this recipe, which is usually comprised of layers of lasagna noodles, a meaty tomato sauce, layers of melty cheese and a cottage cheese/ricotta layer mixed with egg which acts as the glue which holds the dish together.

Before you learn to run you learn to walk, so lets walk through this classic recipe so later we can adulterate it all we want!

Classic Lasagna
for 9″ x 12″ pan, makes 12 – 16 servings

  • 16 sheets of lasagna noodles
  • 1 quart of marinara
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 16 oz. container of cottage cheese
  • 2-3 large eggs
  • 1 Tbs Italian seasonings -or- 1 tsp each dried thyme, oregano and basil
  • 2 lbs of cheese (sliced or shredded)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375.

Season ground beef with a sprinkle (1/4-1/2 tsp) of salt and pepper.

Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium heat.

In a bowl, mix cottage cheese, Italian seasonings, and eggs. I also sometimes add Parmesan cheese into the mix if I have it around.

Bring a large pot of water with 1-2 Tbs of olive oil to boil. Boil lasagna noodles until they are slightly soft on the surface but still hard at the center. They should be flexible enough to bend but not tear easily. You want them not fully cooked because they will finish cooking while the lasagna bakes.

Drain boiled noodles. If you pour a small amount of olive oil on the noodles, this will help them from sticking together.

Mix ground beef together with marinara.

lasagna with slices of defrosted cheese.

Assemble your lasagna: In a 9″ x 12″ pan, layer the bottom of the pan with 4 sheets of noodles. Then layer with 1/3 of marinara and meat sauce and then with 1/3 of cottage cheese and egg mixture. Top with slices or sprinkles of 1/4 of the cheese. Place 4 more sheets of noodles on top and continue layering until three layers are complete. Top with your final 4 sheets of noodles and top with the last amount of cheese.

Place lasagna in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Place pan on a baking sheet while baking to collect any overflow if the lasagna bakes over. or until cheese is golden.

Eat up!

$10 Designer Meal: Stuffed Shells with Gorgonzola Skirt Steak

My chest freezer has become a despairing land of forgotten foods. I can never pass up a good sale. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have any immediate need for it, into the freezer it goes. Once that door slams shut though, out of sight out of mind, like the skirt steak I got on super sale for $1.75 lb over a year ago (….OOPS!). It’s been hanging out for quite a while in my guilt complex next to the duck breast which I finally took care of at Easter. The steak seemed sad, missing its once feathered friend, so I decided to send it the same way and maybe they could meet somewhere in the hereafter.

From its long stay in the frozen hinterlands, I was concerned about the meat being tough which can be a problem with fresh skirt steak. One neglected food deserves another, so a bottle of red wine which had turned to vinegar from months of sitting in windowsill would work for a marinade, and help tenderize the meat.

Baked shells with apple chutney sauce.

The Gorgonzola, left over from salad night would go well with the beef. In walking through my pantry, I pulled some large pasta shells which I could stuff and bake. For a filling, blue cheese is a bit strong on its own, so I would have to tone it down using a milder cottage cheese or ricotta. I just needed a sauce. A tomato sauce didn’t sound right, but when I passed some jars of apple chutney, I knew that was the ticket. All in all, I only had to run out for the ricotta which I found at the corner store (just as cheap as the cottage cheese!). Here’s how it came together.

Apple Chutney Conchiglie with Gorgonzola Skirt Steak

  • 16 large pasta shells
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 8 oz. Gorgonzola blue cheese
  • 1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 12 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 c. apple chutney
  • 1 lb. skirt steak
  • 1-2 cups red wine
  • salt and pepper to taste

Marinate the steak in wine; chill for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, boil pasta shells al dente in boiling water with olive oil.

Mix 3/4 of the Gorgonzola with the tomatoes, thyme, ricotta cheese and eggs.

Stuff each shell with filling and place in a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and spoon apple chutney over shells. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

15 minutes before shells are done, remove steak from marinade. Rub both sides with salt and pepper. Saute on a cast iron grill over high heat. (3-5 minutes). You can use a regular pan if you don’t have a grill. Flip to cook second side, and drizzle cooked side with the remaining blue cheese.

Slice steak and serve over baked shells. I sided my dish with steamed broccoli. As a quick tip, I kept the water boiling from the pasta shells and placed the broccoli in a bamboo steamer over the boiling water while I was cooking the steak. After steaming for about 10 minutes, I drizzled with butter, salt and pepper.

Arrrh, this was so good! (So good, I turned into a pirate for a second). I was super happy with how well the steak turned out, especially considering how long it sat in the freezer and how crappy the wine was. This meal cost about $10 in all, if you don’t include the ingredients for the homemade chutney. Now lets play my favorite game: “how much woud you pay for this plate at a fancy restaurant.”


A million years ago, when Ira gave me that incredible Le Creuset casserole pan, I asked for submissions for your favorite casserole recipes. I sort of got caught up in so many different food projects, time got away from me. Paltry as this excuse sounds, please be rest assured, casseroles remain at the top of my list of fav foods to eat on a busy night. We got a lot of great submissions, and I want to thank everyone who participated. One submission however stuck out not only because of its great recipe but by is sensational headline grabbing name. May I present you with Wendy Petrosky’s submission;

The Kick-Asserole!

  • 1 container(7oz) of pesto
  • 14 oz raditore(or rotini) pasta cooked and drained (I like whole wheat)
  • 2 cups cooked chicken breast (pre-cooked in package)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 14.5oz can Hunt’s diced tomatoes w/roasted garlic
  • 2/3 cup feta cheese
  • 14oz can quartered artichoke hearts (rinse)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan for top
Combine all ingredients (except parmesan) in large bowl,leaving artichokes last and lightly tossed in. Spoon mixture into lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle with parmesan.
Bake @ 350 for 35-40 minutes.

All measurements are approximate, and sometimes I add a couple of cloves of chopped garlic, extra tomatoes, etc. As with all casseroles, it tastes even better the next day after you re-heat it.

Thanks Wendy! I made this and it was soooo awesome! It was tasty, easy and so quick, it went from zero to kick ass in less then 15 minutes prep time!

My notes: I had some raw chicken breast in the freezer so I cooked up to substitute for the pre-cooked package. I also added some bread crumbs to the top to give some added crunchiness. To finish the meal off, I made a quick garlic bread and we were ready to go. This casserole is kickassa-rolin into my cookbook!

A Quick Fix: Pasta with Pesto and Fresh Vegetables

At the last minute, my Tuesday night plans changed and 7 p.m. found me and with two friends hungry at my place. Growling stomachs demand quick payment. My Mom always keeps small jars of pesto in the freezer just for this sort of night. Luckily, she sent some home with me on my recent trip home. To complete dinner, all we need is

Defrost the pesto for a minute or two in the microwave, heat up some pasta, do a quick saute of some fresh veggies with a splash of lime, and boom: a quickie for your tummy.

We had to get beer anyway, so Gertie and I, with friends in tow, led the way to our local market to purchase the necessary booze and some fresh broccoli, red peppers, green onions to go along with the Garlic I had at home. Once home dinner came together in about 20 minutes. For a quick garlic bread, I just brushed some fresh dinner rolls with melted butter, roughly chopped garlic and dried basil and finished them off with a quick toast under the broiler. I topped everything with Parmesan cheese, and the only groaning our stomachs were doing was from over consumption.

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