3/31/10

1 I Just Want to Clarify Something....


Did you know that if you cook with butter on high heat, it will burn?  What causes it to burn?  Milk.  Clarifying butter is simply taking the milk and water out of butter.  Plus, if you are lactose intolerant, this butter's for you!





First, you will need a heavy bottomed sauce pan that will keep the heat nice and even.  I think I had a little over a pound of butter here.


Turn your heat to medium-low.



The butter will begin to quickly melt.









The white foam that is on top is milk solids.  I used a silicone spatula to move the milk solids, allowing me to check the color and transparency of the butter fat below.




Your butter may begin "popping" at this point.  That is the water that is in your butter.  Turn the heat down if this happens.

Use a spoon to skim off the milk foam....









and discard it.  It is super airy and very salty.  I read somewhere that this is good for popcorn...






I tried to pour the remaining butter fat to catch what I could not skim off through a fine sieve.

It did not work that well.

If you have a coffee filter or cheesecloth, that may work better.


As my butter cooled slightly, I was able to skim a little more milk solids off the top.







If you look at the bottom of the measuring cup, you will also see that some milk solids have settled on the bottom.

I just poured it into another container, being extra careful not to pour the white stuff in...


Now I have clarified butter, ready to use any time I want to saute or pan fry something with the taste of butter.


Since this butter does not have any milk in it, you can leave it at room temperature for up to a month without it going bad.  In your fridge, 6 months.  In your freezer, a year.


Special Thanks for the Reluctant Gourmet for video demonstration ~

3/29/10

4 Homemade Fried Three Cheese Ravioli


The first time I ever heard of fried ravioli, I didn't want to try it.  I put it in the 'weird' category of fried twinkies, candy bars, etc.

It wasn't until I saw a couple of cooking shows that I really wanted to try this.

Ready?   I am!

Making pasta dough is easy peasy using a food processor or a mixer with a dough hook.


After the dough came to a lump, I took it out and kneaded it by hand until it looked like this...


Smooth......baby bottom smooth....


Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest.  Can't roll it out just yet ~


Speaking of rolling, if you want to build muscle-y arms like the Italian women of yesteryear, go ahead.
Me?  I prefer to use my trusty Atlas Pasta roller, a gift my sister-in-law gave me many moons ago...




Meanwhile, I cleaned out my food processor and blended my three cheeses:  ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan.  Added some garlic and parsley, too.

After rolling out a thin sheet of pasta, I laid it out on my Norpro Ravioli maker.  It's a good idea to make sure you have your pasta well floured, or it will stick...

You don't have to use a ravioli press.  You can cut them by hand.


After the first sheet is laid down, you press a plastic mold on top to create the indentations that will hold the filling.

Remove the press, and you're ready to fill!

I found it handy to use my small (1 Tablespoon size) cookie scoop to place my filling on the pasta.

Brush the edges of the ravioli to make sure the second sheet of pasta will hold.

Lay the next sheet of pasta on top and use a rolling pin to press/cut the shapes.  Easy!

Of course, my feelings would not be hurt at all if you purchased your ravioli....that's what shortcuts are for ~

Dip the ravioli in a beaten egg, 



Then in Italian breadcrumbs,



(use a spoon or a separate hand...one for the egg, and one for the crumbs)


Then carefully place in hot vegetable oil.  Your frying temperature must be at least 350 degrees or your ravioli will soak up extra oil and be too greasy. If your oil is too hot, your pasta will not cook all the way through.

Put the fried ravioli on a paper towel....

Are you drooling yet?



Fried Three Cheese Ravioli

3/26/10

3 Bertolli's New Pasta Sauce & Fried Ravioli

Have you ever tried Bertolli's pasta sauce?  If not, you should.







FoodBuzz and Bertolli sent me not one, but two samples of their latest pasta sauces to try.  It came in this cool, heavy duty box with recipes to try.







I was thrilled to try the Four Cheese Rosa....every time I eat out in a restaurant, I always order marinara sauce and alfredo sauce together....it makes a very delicious 'Rosa' sauce.






I made some homemade three cheese ravioli (post to come), but of course, you can purchase some fresh or frozen ravioli.  Fried ravioli is puffy, crispy, and delicious ~ can be eaten as an appetizer dipped in one of these sauces, or eaten as a main dish.





I tried the Four Cheese Rosa and was happy with it's creamy, mild tomato taste.  It's made with fresh cream and with no preservatives.  My picky eater son thoroughly enjoyed this sauce and had a second helping.






I bravely tried the Arrabbiata, bracing myself for the spicy kick.  The sauce was thick and chunky, with a very fresh tomato taste.  I was surprised that it wasn't too spicy...the red pepper balanced out the sweetness and acidity of the tomato sauce.






Here's a sneak peek inside....





Thank you, Bertolli & FoodBuzz!



3/24/10

6 Frozen Hashbrowns or Shredded Cheese?

A funny story....a couple of years ago, a good neighbor of ours was cleaning out their fridge/freezer as they were planning to move out of state.  She gave us a huge box of goods.  In this box was a large, brown bag of....something.  We didn't know what it was and didn't even think to ask....we were just so grateful ~





One night, while I was out of town, my husband called me to tell me what he made for dinner.  (Isn't that great?  He actually cooks while I'm gone!)  He opened the large, unmarked brown bag and was thrilled to see that it contained shredded mozzarella cheese in it.  He sprinkled it on his dish and put it in the oven to allow the cheese to melt.

He waited.......and waited....The cheese began to brown, but it did not melt.

Hmmmm....that's odd, he thought to himself.
Then he took a big bite.

That's NOT cheese....it's shredded potatoes!


I had such a good laugh!  I would have done the SAME thing!

Last summer, I got a killer deal on potatoes.  I bought 50 pounds of Russetts, 50 pounds of Yukon Golds, and 25 pounds of reds.  During the winter, I bottled some of the Golds and reds (post to come soon!).

I kept my potatoes in their original mesh sack and hung them from the ceiling in my basement storage.  Potatoes are to be stored in a cool, dry environment with good ventilation in temps between 45-55 degrees F.

Even in these conditions, my taters began to sprout.  My boys did NOT like seeing these alien looking potatoes ~  Sprouted potatoes are fine to eat as long as the sprouts are broken off and the potato has not shrunk in size.  If the potato is soft and mushy....throw it out!






Raw potatoes do NOT freeze well.  They will turn black.

I peeled my potatoes, rinsed them, and put them in a large pot to boil.  I left the potatoes whole and boiled them for about 20 minutes, or until I could barely stick a fork in them.  (These were medium potatoes; larger ones will take longer to cook).

I did NOT want to cook them all the way through, as I wanted them to be firm enough to shred.  Plus, I was planning to freeze and re-cook the potatoes as hasbrowns.

I let the potatoes cool down for about an hour and then put them in the fridge over night.  Cold potatoes will be easier to shred...



These were a dream to shred.  Much easier than shredding cheese....




I put 2 cups of shredded potatoes in a freezer quart sized bag, dated and labeled it.

How did they cook up?

See this post to find out...
Now there's no question it's frozen hashbrowns!

3/22/10

4 Wheat Flour Tortillas!

Sorry I haven't been around this past week!  My computer got 'attacked' again!  I gave in and purchased a Mac ~ There is a slight learning curve in navigating, but so far, I love it!

My Homestyle Flour Tortilla post has been a popular one.  I asked my hubby if he was interested in wheat flour tortillas and he shook his head...."No."



Yesterday, I tried the flour tortilla recipe, using 1 c. whole white wheat flour in place of 1 c. of all purpose flour, added 1 teaspoon of vital wheat gluten and just a teeny bit more water to get the right dough consistency.

I served them with my Cafe Rio Pork Barbecoa and...


Guess what?

My family loooooved them..... didn't even know there was wheat flour in them!


Light Wheat Flour Tortillas
(4x6 printable recipe)    (full page recipe)


The 4x6 template is in Microsoft Word....When I get a Mac version, I will update the recipe.  Thank you for your patience!

3/12/10

24 Homestyle Flour Tortillas!

I have been wanting to learn how to make these since....forever.  I asked a couple of good friends for an authentic recipe and some of them admitted that they buy Costco's Tortillaland fresh tortillas and bake them at home.  I bought a package and my family begged for more ~  It was time to learn how to make them.




The ingredients are amazingly simple:  flour, salt, baking powder, canola oil and water.  You can use shortening, but I prefer baking with canola oil.






Here's my newest favorite gadget.  A 2 c. glass measure with a rubber ring on the bottom.  Won't scoot or tip.  You can read the level markers from inside...cool, huh?






The dough came together very easily enough to mix by hand.  It is only kneaded for 3 minutes and I was a little worried that it wasn't smooth...


Do  NOT over mix...it will develop too much gluten and too "springy" to roll out.


Not to worry, after a 15-20 minute REST, the dough was very smooth and pliable.  I measured each portion to 1 1/2 ounces.

I just love my scale!





Each lump of dough is flattened in my palm...








and the edges are brought to the middle...








and pinched together.








Then the ball is smoothed over by placing it on the counter, holding it loosely.  I rotate clock-wise (for lefties) and counter clock-wise (for right handed people).






Then place each formed ball into a bowl and covered.








With no additional resting time, I take a single ball of dough and roll it out on my clean, naked counter.  No oil or flour is necessary.

A wooden rolling pin works very well.  My marble rolling pin, not so well.




Not quite a perfect circle, but it is rolled out thin enough that I can see through it.







This, ahem, circle is approximately 7 1/2" in diameter.








It is placed on a medium-high heated non-stick skillet.

In about 20 seconds, you will see bubbles forming.


Bubbles in bread are good...



I flip it over with a spatula and press it down in several places to make sure it cooks thoroughly.







It will only take 20 seconds to cook.

Any more will make it too crispy to roll up.






See the measurement?  It is now 6 1/2" inches.


They shrink when you cook 'em.


That's just the way it is.


I stack them on a clean towel, cover them and it keeps them nice and warm...







See how nice and soft they are?

Quick, before they disappear!




A special thanks to Blanca Diaz for the recipe and video.


Homestyle Flour Tortillas
(4x6 printable recipe)     (full page recipe)









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