Ladle me this, ladle me that

Dear Carolyne,

I was excited to hear that Wesley moved in with you, based on the lovely things you said about him the last time I saw you. I’m jealous and wish I was around to partake in the fun.

I don’t recall you ever bringing me homemade pasta back in Wash 6, which obviously means you don’t actually love me. ūüė¶

Kidding, kidding. By the way, I am still working through the red sauce you made me and impressing family and roommate alike.

My own time in the kitchen has been limited lately due to, like, life happening and stuff. I got into a minor car accident right before Halloween that resulted in a prescription for muscle relaxers. I wasn’t really hurt, thankfully, just really sore. My car also wasn’t hurt too badly, but the guy who hit me’s insurance company is paying for some body work.¬†

Also, I quit my job without notice, which is the most irresponsible thing I have ever done in my entire life. Luckily, I start a new one on the 27th.

So, with all this funemployment vacation time with which I find myself, I finally can get back to making things!

Yesterday I stripped a rotisserie chicken for the purposes of a) having chicken meat around to use, b) to have a chicken carcass (ew, I hate the word carcass) so I can make stock, and c) to make chicken wild rice soup. I had just had some really excellent chicken wild rice soup at Tilia that cited bourbon as one of its ingredients, so I was itching to make some for myself.

It turned out awesome, albeit pretty thick. I am having this problem lately where I cannot make a thin-brothed soup for the life of me. I made Drew some chicken noodle soup a week or two ago because he had a cold, and he told me it was good but so thick it was more like white chili (I’m sure all the cayenne and black pepper didn’t help in that respect). The thing is, I like my soups thick. I have this carrot ginger soup from Trader Joe’s in my fridge right now that tastes lovely, but the texture bums me out. It needs cream or chunks of butternut squash or something to punch it up. I hate to see a good soup wasted just because it doesn’t meet my texture demands.

Anyway, my wild rice soup is almost too thick to even be called soup, but I like it that way. Here is basically what I did:

6ish Tbsp olive oil

2 c. chopped celery and onion (I had this leftover stuffing starter from Trader Joe’s that was celery, onion, and some herbs that was ideal for this kind of thing)

1.5ish c. chopped carrot

3ish Tbsp flour (here is my whole problem, I am sure)

3ish tsp mustard powder

Lots of garlic powder, because all of my actual garlic had gone bad :/

1/3 c. bourbon

1 of those cardboard things of chicken stock, it’s like 4-6 cups or something

1 Tbsp poultry seasoning

2ish c. shredded rotisserie chicken

1/2 lb of uncooked wild rice (probably the other part of my problem)

1/3ish c. of half and half

salt and pepper to taste, of course

Pretty much you know the routine here. Saute up your veggies in the olive oil, then add the flour  + mustard powder, garlic, curry. Then the bourbon, then the stock, then the rice. Let it simmer while the rice cooks. Once the rice is cooked, add the chicken and let it heat through. Add the poultry seasoning. Lastly, add the cream and the salt + pepper. Oh, I am pretty sure I put a hit of cayenne in this too, because I always do and cayenne is good at bringing out the other flavors. Just a hit, though. Like, 1/4 tsp tops.

 

I am really happy with how it turned out. I mean, minorly irked at the thickness, but only for the sake of tradition. I like it thick *eyebrow waggle*.

 

Today I am going to make my mom’s pumpkin bar recipe. Did Mom ever send pumpkin bars with me to Wash 6? I feel like she probably did, but I can’t recall. Anyway, here is the exact e-mail she sent me with the recipe, and I appreciate the air of, “Eh, whatever,” that comes with it as well as all of my mom’s recipes.

 

this cookbook had the most stains so I think this is the one I use.

FROSTED PUMPKIN BARS

1 3/4 C. SUGAR                                     1/2 TSP CINNAMON
3 EGGS                                                 1 8 OZ PKG CRM CHEESE, SOFTENED
3/4 C. OIL                                               6 TBS BUTTER
1 CAN COOKED PUMPKIN                      4 C, POWDERED SUGAR
2 C. FLOUR                                            1 TSP VANILLA
3/4 TSP BAKING POWDER                     
3/4 TSP BAKING SODA

Combine first 8 ingredients together in order given. Pour into jellyroll pan.  Bake @ 350 for 20 to 25 minutes.  Mix cream cheese, butter, powered sugar & vanilla until spreading consistency.  Spread on top of cooled bars.  ENJOY!!

(I use more cinnamon and a pinch of what everelse I have, like pumpkin pie spice, cloves & or nutmeg.  Use what you like)  let me know how they turn out.

 

Ah, mom. I am looking forward to trekking back to Iowa next week to see her and the rest of the fam. Also the pets. I anticipate coming home covered in scratches and dog hair. What are your plans this year? I’m guessing you’re not coming back to the corn capital of the world. One of these years we need to be in the same place for Thanksgiving so we can do the dinner ourselves. Can you imagine? Everyone we invited would die from awesome.

 

Love and cinnamon,

Anne

 

 

Pasta Straight from My Kitchen

Dear Anne,

I have not been doing enough cooking lately.¬† Because things have been busy, and they aren’t going to stop any time soon now the holiday season is upon us, most of my culinary adventures are relegated to the weekend.¬† Fortunately, the holiday season means I can bake to my heart’s content and people at the office will make less fuss about me constantly bringing in food. This weekend I got a little crazy and made pumpkin pancakes and cavatelli from scratch.¬† However, I heard no complaints from roommate Wesley.

The pumpkin pancakes were not as good as I had hoped, but I think that’s my own fault for building them up in my head.¬† The recipe called for a pinch of cloves, and I was too generous in my pinching, because the clove flavor overpowered the other, more desirable flavors, such as cinnamon.¬† In the future I will most certainly be increasing the cinnamon in this recipe.¬† Also, I served this with butter and real New York maple syrup, but it was too sweet.¬† I spent the rest of breakfast trying to figure out how to make this better.¬† Perhaps a fruit compote, like apples with cinnamon for instance, would be preferable.¬† It wouldn’t be too sweet, but would keep the overall experience from being too dry. (Sorry no pictures because I am the worst.)

Most Sunday evenings, some coworkers and I place euchre.¬† We rotate houses, and whomever is hosting that week makes dinner for all of us.¬† This week, Wesley and I hotsed.¬† Wesley made this beauty of a cheesecake:¬† pumpkin nutella cheesecake.¬† Please take a minute to appreciate the amazingness this dessert.¬† It took a lot of will power to not sneak bites all afternoon.¬† There are two pieces left in the fridge as I type this, and I am thinking about getting one even though I am not at all hungry. It’s that good.

While Wesley encapsulated heaven in cheesecake form, I made cavatelli, which is an Italian pasta with potato in the dough.¬† It’s similar to gnocchi, but it uses much less potato.¬† I guess you could call it a light dumpling.¬† I choose to call it wonderful.¬†¬† Every Thanksgiving, my family makes thousands of cavatelli.¬† Then with our turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, we have cavatelli in red sauce.¬† I may have described the cavatelli-making process with you before, but I’m going to relay it again because 1. I repeat myself often, and 2. I won’t be participating in Thanksgiving cavatelli this year, so I must relive the experience in my mind.¬† At the Comito Family Stead, aka my mother’s kitchen, a myriad of relatives convene.¬† Everyone has their role, one they’ve usually been doing for years with the hope that someday they will be old enough to move up to a new job.¬† However, there really is no upward mobility in the Comito Family Cooking School.¬† You do what you’re told, and you don’t ask questions.¬† For cavatelli, my role is usually “cranker,” meaning I get to feed the pasta through the machine.¬† This is a role I lobbied for years to win, and one from which I do not plan on retiring¬† anytime soon, regardless of my lack of participation in the last couple years. I spent a lot of years rolling dough before I got to be cranker.¬† Anyway, the real magic of cavatelli-making is the atmosphere. It’s hard to accurately describe, but I will sum it for you in this haiku:

Insults thrown, laughing

Vince Guaraldi blasting loud

Who is crying now?

Did I ever make cavatelli for you, Anne?¬† I know I never made it from scratch for you, but maybe I brought some back to Wash 6 and made it with red sauce? Last night, I chopped up half an onion (more accurately, Wesley heroically¬† cut the onion half), sauteed it with some mushrooms, wilted some spinach, tossed it all with the cavatelli, and sprinkled some good parm on top.¬† The group devoured it, and we have no leftovers.¬† However, we do have quite a bit of cavatelli in our freezer since I made a bigger batch of dough than I anticipated.¬† Sometime after Thanksgiving I’ll make some sauce, but don’t think it the recipe will make it to the blog.¬† Nice try, Annes.¬† However, if I can figure out how to ship you some, I will.

Cavatelli

*Note:  This is another vague Comito family recipe, where you are required to go by feel.

Ingredients

Flour

Large Eggs

A mashed potato (use a starchy potato)

Milk

Salt

*These are the basic ingredients.¬† The ratio of flour to eggs is 1:1. For example, I used 5 cups of flour and 5 eggs.¬† When I called Aunt Jackie she said to to 5 cups of flour and 4 eggs, but four eggs weren’t enough for me. I think when my family does this, they use jumbo eggs, which would make the 5:4 ratio more accurate. Also, I don’t think we ever use more than one potato ever.

Instructions

1. Peel and boil potato

2. Mash potato, add a little milk

3. Combine flower and eggs. Dough will be mealy and dry. Add a little potato. Maybe some milk.

4. Knead until you have a slightly sticky dough, and it is malleable enough to form decent ball of dough. (You will likely need to add more milk and potato before you get to this point. Like I said earlier, this is a vague, play-it-by-ear recipe.)

5. Let ball of dough rest under a bowl for 30-60 minutes, or whenever you remember you’re cooking

6. Get out your amazing cavatelli machine, courtesy Aunt Jackie.  Properly assemble.

This is not the exact machine I use, but it’s basically the same.

7. Slice dough into decent sized pieces. (Again, you’ll just have to eyeball this.) (At this point, your dough should be a beautiful and supple ball of dough that is smooth to the touch and bounces back ever so slightly when pressed.)

8. Roll dough into ropes.

9. VERY LIGHTLY DUST ropes with some flour. (For the love that is all good and holy, do not over flour this stuff. It will make your life terrible.)

10. Place a floured cookie tray under your cavatelli machine.

11. Send those VERY LIGHTLY DUSTED ropes of delicious dough through your cavatelli maker.

12. Make sure to spread out the cavatelli as you make them.¬† You don’t want them to stick together.

13. After you fill up a tray, put it in the freezer.  (Letting them freeze makes them easier to handle when putting them in bags or containers for storage.)

14. Keep doing this until you run out of dough.

For consumption:¬† boil water (remember to salt the water), add cavatelli to boiling water, and cook for…I want to say 10-ish minutes. I could be wrong about that.¬† I literally just taste the cavatelli at various points during the cooking and turn off the heat after I’ve determined they’re done.¬† Strain cavatelli, and enjoy with your favorite sauce.¬† We usually just use a red sauce, but you can do just about anything with them.

Kisses and kitten,

Carolyne