Friday, April 30, 2010

Homemade Russian Noodles -- Lapsha

I just had to try this recipe for homemade Russian noodles called lapsha. I love making pasta and dumplings and have never made a noddle like this before. To me they are almost exactly like those frozen Reames Egg Noodles, which I had often growing up. I even froze a couple of freezer bags full of these noodles, uncooked, and then was able to successfully cook them from frozen! What a great item to have on hand in the freezer for those days where you crave a comforting noodle dish.

I had not heard of lapsha before this recipe and did some looking around online trying to figure out what they were supposed to look like and to compare recipes. Some people refer to lapsha as a simple noodle and broth soup, while others specifically called the noodles themselves lapsha. I think that traditional lapsha are thinner, but I just was not able to get those super thin noodles by hand. I even hauled out the pasta roller, but this dough would not cooperate with that at all. Back to the rolling pin, I figured I'd just roll them as thin as I could and cut them with a pizza cutter into rough rustic pasta shapes, and even if they weren't technically perfect lapsha, I tried my best :)

Here are the lapsha ingredients as listed in the recipe:

1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 large eggs
5 cups all-purpose flour (I probably used 6 1/2 - 7 cups of flour total)

Here are the base directions from the recipe:

To a large saucepan, add water and bring to boil.
Add butter to boiled water and let dissolve, whisk well to blend; let cool to warm.
In a large mixing bowl, add salt, eggs and beat well.
Gradually add water/butter mixture to eggs and whisk well to blend.
Add flour to egg mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes.
Cut dough into pieces to form dough balls the size of a medium orange.
Cover dough balls with a damp cloth while rolling out dough.
Using a wooden rolling pin, roll each dough ball until paper thin or as thin as possible.

*I bet you could do the kneading in a large food processor (14 cup), with a stand mixer dough hook, or in the bread machine pan just on the knead cycle -- which is what I did and it worked out well, that way I could keep watching it and adding more flour as needed to get to the right pasta consistency.

I got it a bit thinner than the above photo, below are my rustic lapsha pasta shapes...

After all of the dough was done (this is a big project, you need at least two hours) I knew I wanted cook a small batch of the noodles for lunch but was unsure of what to do with the other noodles, do I dry them? I was a little nervous about drying them with so many eggs in the dough so I decided to dust them very gently with flour and portion them out into ziplock freezer bags.

The noodles we had for lunch were simply amazing, I served them Russian style with butter and sour cream. They had a nice texture and chew to them and were just delicious. I did try a frozen bag of noodles, and much to my surprise they were just as delicious as the ones I cooked fresh, just needed a few extra minutes of cooking time (I'd say about 15 minutes total). I am so happy to have tried these and have a feeling I will be making them again as soon as we run out of the freezer stash. These delicious noodles were my pick for My Kitchen My World -- Russia, if you like trying your hand at new cuisines, come cook along!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Baked Penne with Feta and Olives -- I Heart Cooking Clubs

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs the theme was Pot Luck, and let me tell you, I bet this would be one of the first dishes to 'clean out' at a pot luck because it is so delicious!

After seeing Deb's yummy pot luck pasta dish I had a serious pasta craving and paged through Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian until I found a suitor -- Baked Ziti! Bittman calls this old school baked ziti with red sauce a short-cut to lasagna and a pot luck staple -- perfect :)

In the preface to this recipe he says, Whatever you do, don't overcook the pasta! It should be too tough to actually eat when you mix it with the sauce, which will make it perfect after baking.

There are a few variations of the basic recipe listed and I went with the Baked Ziti with Goat Cheese and Olives version, but swapped the ziti for penne and swapped the goat cheese for feta. In the variation you are to swap out the original 1 lb mozzarella in the recipe for the goat cheese, and being the cheese lovers we are, I decided to just use 1/2 the mozzarella and half the goat cheese amount (as feta) so we got some of both cheeses.

Baked Penne with Feta and Olives

3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic (I used 5 cloves of roasted garlic, smashed)
1 - 28 ounce can tomatoes, chopped, with their liquid (I used two 14 ounce cans of San Marzanos)
1 lb ziti or other large cut pasta (penne worked well as a ziti substitute)
1/2 lb mozzarella
1/2 lb crumbled feta
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 cup pitted olives, in large pieces (I mostly halved them and quartered a few)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and preheat the oven to 400.

Add the olive oil to a large pan, add the garlic and cook for a minute or so, then add the tomatoes and olives, bring to a boil. *I added 2 tbsp sugar to the tomato sauce, I was brought up on and love a sauce with a touch of sweet* Turn the heat down so that the mixture bubbles and gently cooks, stirring occasionally, while you cook the pasta; don't let the sauce get too thick.

Cook the pasta until just tender; it should still be too hard to eat. Drain it, don't shake the colander, let some water still cling to the noodles. Toss the pasta with the sauce and about half of the mozzarella and feta.

Grease (or spray with cooking spray) a large 9 by 13 baking dish and pour or spoon the pasta mixture in. Top with the remaining mozzarella and feta and the parmesan.

Bake until the top is browned and the cheese is bubbly, 20 to 30 minutes.

This was such a flavorful dish, even with such minimal ingredients. I absolutely loved it the first night. Those who tried it loved it too, but some people, like picky husband, could not be persuaded to try this because of the (small!) hunks of tomato and, gasp, black olives. Sigh. I almost always have to make two meals because he is so picky. Oh-well. This is one of my new favorite baked pasta dishes and I can't wait to try Mark's other variations. I don't know how anyone could pass on this one, it smelled amazing with the the garlic and the feta, who can resist a cheesy saucy baked pasta?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sky High Sweet Cream Biscuits & Swedish Visiting Cake -- Tuesdays with Dorie

Time for Tuesdays with Dorie and I have two treats to share this week! First off, our pick for today, Sweet Cream Biscuits, chosen by Melissa of Love At First Bite -- thank you Melissa! These biscuits were amazing, probably the easiest of all TWD treats we've made, and the end results were completely delicious.

We love biscuits and I make them often, I have a favorite recipe that uses butter and cream (which can be swapped for buttermilk) and is a little sweeter, and we mostly use it for strawberry shortcake which is one of picky husband's favorite desserts. I can't wait to make these Sweet Cream Biscuits again for shortcakes, and see if anyone notices I've switched from my old standby biscuit recipe.

before baking

I almost always skip the biscuit cutters and just pat my dough into a rough rectangle, then slice it into misshapen squares with a pizza cutter. As long as you don't mind biscuits that are not all identical and a little rustic looking, that is the way to go. Pizza cutters are usually sharper than biscuit cutters, and a nice clean cut is essential to the rising. Also when I just cut the dough into squares, it eliminates the need to reshape and cut scraps, because there are none. That way there are no tough biscuits and all are nice and fluffy...

after baking

Speaking of fluffy, look how tall and fluffy these guys got!

I think they even rose more than my usual biscuit recipe! I baked them at 425 as suggested in the recipe, on an insulated baking sheet (which helps biscuits not get burned bottoms), for 12 minutes. I set the timer for 12 just to start checking since the recipe calls for 14 - 18 minutes, and as soon as I checked at 12 I knew they were done.

These were a huge hit for breakfast and I can't wait to make them again, who knows, they might even become my go to biscuit recipe!

Now on to Swedish Visiting Cake, which was last week's pick, chosen by Nancy at The Dogs Eat the Crumbs -- thank you Nancy! This was a fun cake to make and also an easy recipe to put together and get in the oven. I loved baking in my new cast iron pan (this was the first time I used it, after seasoning) and the cake looked just like the photo in the book.

Although I baked along last week, I didn't get to post about the cake last Tuesday because the internet was down, purposely, thanks to the construction of an addition on our home -- a new master bedroom and bath. I am so excited to have more space! I shared the cake with our construction crew and it was a hit :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pumpkin Bread with Cinnamon Rum Orange Glaze -- Sweet Melissa Sundays

This week for Sweet Melissa Sundays, Lorelei of Mermaid Sweets picked Melissa's Sweet Potato Bread with Cinnamon Rum Orange Glaze from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book for us to bake. You can find the recipe here online -- if you do not have the book. The recipe calls for two 15 ounce cans of sweet potato, and after reading that I knew I would love to sub in pumpkin since I had a big 29 ounce can of pumpkin that had been waiting to be used in my pantry for way too long :)

I do love sweet potato, but am not a fan of the canned version and would have probably went with a fresh sweet potato, baked and then pureed. Anyway, this was an easy to put together recipe, and makes a huge batch, that bakes in a bundt pan.

I used my Wilton Queen of Hearts pan, this is sentimental favorite of mine because I got it when my husband and I got married seven years ago, wow, has it really been that long?!?

The glaze is delicious, it calls for freshly squeezed orange juice, sugar, rum, and two cinnamon sticks. I didn't have any cinnamon sticks so used 1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon instead and the flavor was perfect.

Picky husband said this reminded him of pumpkin pie but would only have one bite...must have been the pecans I snuck in there. The kids were fan of this one, and I thought it was pretty tasty as well. It is great as a snack or breakfast treat, and the house smelled amazing while it was baking, thanks to the cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, mmm.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cherry Tomato Cobbler -- I Heart Cooking Clubs

Time for another Mark Bittman recipe for
I Heart Cooking Clubs! Although this week's theme was Pantry Raid, and I also did some fridge raiding for this recipe.

As soon as I saw the title of this recipe, Tomato Cobbler, listed on Mark Bittman's recipe site, I knew it would be one I had to try. I love tomatoes and any recipe called cobbler has me swooning. This recipe is also in
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (HTCEV) -- my newest cookbook that I bought just so I could have fun with the gang at I Heart Cooking Clubs :)

Tomato Cobbler
Mark Bittman

Oil or butter for the baking dish
3 pounds ripe tomatoes (8 to 10 medium), cored and cut into wedges -- I used cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, cut into large pieces and refrigerated until very cold
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk, plus more if needed

Grease a square baking dish or a deep pie plate with the butter or oil. Preheat the oven to 375˚F.

Put the tomato wedges in a large bowl and sprinkle with the cornstarch and some salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine.

Put the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and baking soda in a food processor along with a teaspoon of salt. Add the butter and pulse a few times until the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs. Add the egg and buttermilk and pulse a few times more, until the mixture comes together in a ball. If the mixture doesn’t come together, add a spoonful or two of flour. If the mixture is too dry, add a few drops of buttermilk.

Gently toss the tomato mixture again and spread it in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Drop spoonfuls of the batter on top and smooth a bit with a knife. (Try to leave some gaps so that the steam from the tomato mixture will have a place to escape as the cobbler bakes.)

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until golden on top and bubbly underneath. Cool to just barely warm or room temperature. To serve, scoop servings out with a large spoon.
I made the cheesy topping variation of this recipe, which is simply one cup of shredded cheese added to the biscuit mixture in the food processor, I used Gruyere.

A very important note in this recipe is at the end, where Mark says to cool until barely warm or room temperature before serving. I tried a little taste soon after the cobbler came out of the oven, and the flavor and texture significantly improved after cooling. This could be the perfect light lunch, paired with a salad and some San Pellegrino, yum!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Baked Goat Cheese -- I Heart Cooking Clubs

I'm slipping in just under the wire for I Heart Cooking Clubs very first week of cooking with Mark Bittman! This week's theme is Bites of Bittman, where we are encouraged to pick "appetizers or small plates of his delicious food to pass around and share" -- sounds good to me :)

I was browsing How To Cook Everything Vegetarian and saw a recipe for Baked Goat Cheese, which Mark calls a restaurant staple, surprisingly fast and easy to prepare at home. Wonderful! I love goat cheese, and almost always have a log in the fridge. I use it all the time, tossed on pasta or salad or in tarts and baked casseroles, but I've never attempted those cute little goat cheese medallions that mainly top salads or are served as appetizers at restaurants.

Baked Goat Cheese
Mark Bittman

6 ounces goat cheese, cut into 8 slices or molded into 8 patties
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil --
I measured this amount out but used less
Salt and freshly ground black pepper --
I used Mediterranean Sea Salt and left off the pepper
¼ cup mixed chopped fresh herbs like basil, chives, parsley, chervil, tarragon, or thyme --
I used mixed dried Italian herbs
½ cup bread crumbs, preferably fresh -- yes sir, fresh bread crumbs made from homemade Italian herb bread, yum!

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Brush the cheese slices with the olive oil ans sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the mixed herbs,

then coat with the bread crumbs.

Put on a baking sheet and bake the cheese until it's golden brown and soft, about 10 minutes. Let rest for just a couple minutes and serve warm.

Absolutely delicious! I have to admit I was expecting the bread crumbs to brown a touch more, and then I thought to myself, ahh, I was thinking deep friend goat cheese medallions, not baked. Even though they didn't look quite like I expected, they tasted just right, nice crispy crunch bread crumbs surrounding warm gooey goat cheese. I ended up using a couple to top some left over spaghetti with san marzano sauce -- last nights supper, gussied up for lunch -- and now I don't know how I ever ate spaghetti and sauce without baked goat cheese rounds on top!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mocha Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake -- Tuesdays with Dorie

Thank you to Erin of When in Doubt…Leave it at 350, who picked this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection of Mocha Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake. I thought this cake was absolutely delicious! Husband was not a fan, too much coffee flavor for him, which sounded funny to me because I thought the coffee flavor was very light.

Followed the recipe pretty much exactly, I think I left my walnut pieces a touch bigger than finely ground though, and also used skim milk instead of whole. Baked in a traditional bundt pan for about 55 minutes. I really loved this cake and think it would be great to serve at a brunch buffet! Have to keep this post short, feeling miserable with some kind of cold or allergies :( See you next week with Swedish Visisting Cake!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Irish Cream Scones

We love scones for breakfast and I just had to try
this recipe for Irish Scones from I changed it up a bit, and instead of an egg wash on top I brushed on some Bailey's Irish Cream before baking. Yum!

Irish Cream Scones
adapted from
makes 8 scones

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces (1 stick) butter -- cut into chunks
1/2 cup sugar (you could use less)
1 egg
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp cream

1/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream

Put flour, baking soda, and sugar into food processor and pulse to combine. Add in 1 stick of cut up butter, pulse into you have pea sized lumps of dough, add in egg and cream, process for about 30-45 seconds until combined into a dough.

Press dough into scone pan or shape into 8 inch circle and cut into wedges and place on prepared (with baking spray) baking sheet.

Brush tops of scones with Bailey's Irish Cream...

Bake in 375 degree oven for 20 - 25 minutes, less if baking on baking sheet and not using scone pan.

When tops are golden brown the scones are done.

These scones were delicious, very tender and moist. These are also a sweeter scone, you could easily decrease the sugar and not lose out on flavor. A lot of times scones get a bad rap for being dry but these weren't at all. You can serve them plain with tea or add some butter and jam or honey, fresh fruit would also be great.

I served these sandwiched with butter and sugared lingonberries, absolutely delicious!

These delicious scones are my submission for My Kitchen My World -- Ireland.

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