Homemade Pasta

Homemade Pasta

It's been years since I've bought dried pasta.  That may sound impressive, but when you try to make it yourself once and see how easy and delicious it is I promise that you'll be making your own pasta too.  The trick is that you need a pasta roller...it can be a hand roller or an attachment to a fancy kitchen aid.  In my opinion, the latter is well worth the investment.  Back to the pasta...the great thing about pasta is you pretty much always have the ingredients you need to make it in the house.  Flour, eggs and water.  That's pretty much it!  Give it a quick mix and knead and then roll it out and your ready to cook.  We often make double batches of the dough and freeze it in single serving sizes so we can quickly thaw and roll it out with even less work for future dinners.  The difference between dried pasta and fresh pasta is amazing...try it yourself, you'll see!

Candy-Stripe Beet & Carrot Slaw

 

This is a Bon Appétit recipe that we discovered last summer and totally forgot about until recently. It's so simple and delicious that now that we've rediscovered it it will become a regular part of our summer rotation so I thought I would share it here for others to enjoy.

The most labor intensive part of the recipe is julienning the beets and carrots, but if you're like me and you find chopping kind of soothing and relaxing you won't mind it. If you're not like me and even if you're not super handy with a knife it only takes 20 minutes max. Oh, and if that's the case, a quick definition -  julienne means to cut into small match-stick shaped pieces.
Holiday Cookie Party!

The Henricksen Holiday Cookie Party is a long-standing, fabulous tradition. Christian's mom has been hosting her own holiday cookie party since the mid-90s and I was introduced to it back in 2002 when I started dating Christian.  I thought it was such a fun idea and Christian loves cookies so much that we decided to continue with the tradition for our own little family of friends. It's a fantastic way to gather friends together, sample a dazzling array of cookies and imbibe in festive drinks while listening to the Carpenters croon Christmas carols. Be forewarned though, it's a party that almost guarantees a sugar hangover!

 

So, what's on the menu?  You'll be happy to see it's super easy and low key!

  • Cookies of course...some of your own and a batch from every group of guests!
  • A savory table with decadent cheese & charcuterie platters along with all of the requisite accompaniments such as nuts, olives, figs, etc...
  • A crudité platter
  • Homemade Gløgg (mulled wine)
  • Warm spiked apple cider with homemade whipped cream


But first, let's talk about the cookies.  This is a cookie pot luck, if you will.  So I usually bake 3 cookies and guests are required to bring 1 dish of cookies of their own as well.  It's fun because you often get a peek into their family traditions or discover a fabulous new cookie for your own repertoire. Since we've been doing this for so many years and have many repeat guests, our party tends to get a bit competitive...those who show up with store-bought cookies are ridiculed a bit :)

Orecchiette with Melon, Pancetta, Ricotta Salata & Mint

This is phenomenal.  I almost don't want to write anymore than that...just phenomenal. I know it's a bit summery for this time of year, but if you still have some melon in season in your area make this immediately.  If not, make sure to mark it down somewhere for next summer so you don't forget to make it!  It's a fresh, heartier take on the classic prosciutto with melon appetizer. The mint is a divine addition (versus the more traditional basil) and the flaky, salty ricotta salata balances the sweetness of the melon perfectly.

The original recipe from Bon Appétit can be found here.

As a shortcut we used diced pancetta instead of thinly sliced pancetta that you have to break into bite size pieces, but either approach works. We also used more melon than it called for simply because the orange honeydew we had from the farmer's market was so juicy, sweet and amazing.  Otherwise, this recipe is perfect as is. This salad would be great cold as a side dish (you would knock the socks off of your BBQ buddies if you brought this along) or warm as a main dish as we served it. You really can't go wrong with this one...make it soon and make it often!

Brown Rice Salad with Crunchy Sprouts and Seeds

This is the food version of don't judge a book by it's cover...when I told Christian I was adding this to one of our weekly menus he gave me that look that says, "please don't make me eat rabbit food." You see, SavoryGirl isn't always popular but I have to say that more often than not I am indeed a good judge of a recipe just by reading it...and this time was no different. Ha, ha, I win!  Seriously though, bear with me on this one and try it out...it is absolutely delicious.  So much so that we made a second batch the very next week, and it was Christian's suggestion!

As usual, I didn't follow the recipe exactly as written...but we did follow it pretty closely.  The main changes were that we ommitted the sprouted mung beans (we couldn't find nearby and we just didn't have time to go searching), sprouted our own lentils instead of using dried sprouted lentils (which we also couldn't find), and toasted/salted our own raw pumpkin seeds since we already had some in the house.

Sprouting your own lentils is super easy and kind of fun...you just need to plan in advance since it takes a few days. If you've never done this, here's the process:

Chicken Corn Soup with Chile Mint Salsa

Christian and I often joke that we must have been Mexican in our past lives because we absolutely love anything Mexican inspired...and the spicier the better! We've mastered our very own version of Posole and make Eva Longoria's Tortilla Soup, which is always quite a hit. While we love both of these soups, we've been making them for years so when I first saw this recipe in Bon Appétit described as a fresh new take on Tortilla Soup, I knew we had to give it a try. I sure am glad that I did, because it is fantastic.  Pretty different from your traditional chicken tortilla soup but still spicy and super satisfying.  The chile-mint salsa is a winner and really makes the soup, but beware because a little bit goes a long way!

Since we enjoyed this dish so much I know we're going to make it pretty often, so I would likely adapt the original recipe to make it a bit quicker and easier without sacrificing too much taste (in my opinion). So while the core of the original recipe is based around cooking the whole chicken in the broth you'll see below that I'm making a few adjustments to make it easier and healthier. Otherwise, this recipe is just perfect and delicious as is!

State Bird Provisions – Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurant

The "dim-sum style" cart making it's rounds at State Bird Provisions

I may call myself a foodie but I am never on trend. So when I found myself celebrating our anniversary at State Bird Provisions the very same week that Bon Appétit named it the best new restaurant in the entire country I was extremely proud...especially since I completely agree with their rave review!  So what's all the hype around State Bird Provisions?  Well, in my opinion it's the perfect trifecta of fantastic food, warm and somewhat funky atmosphere and a unique style of service.  It wakes you up out of your "going out for another fancy dinner" stupor and makes you think, eating out should always be this fun!  And while it certainly would classify as sophisticated, high-end cuisine, it's done in an extremely approachable and affordable (in my "Bay Area skewed definition of affordable"opinion) manner.

The atmosphere has a bit of hipster funk to it, but in a mom's kitchen kind of way.  Quirky yet warm.  The service is extremely friendly which is important since the waitstaff interacts much more closely with the patrons due to the table-side explanations.  It may seem a bit slow to some, but I honestly think that's just because they kind of try to leave you alone when they're not explaining the food table-side so that they're not at your table the entire night!  It's a small enough place though, very easy to call someone over whenever you do need some extra attention.  You can also try to grab one of the bar seats overlooking the kitchen, which I honestly think would be the best seat in the house, but I always love watching the kitchen at work!

My recommendation?  Get to State Bird Provisions stat...before all of those globe-trotting foodies start pounding down the door to this small Western Addition gem.  It's the perfect spot before a show at the Fillmore or the Boom Boom Room or even Kabuki Theaters.  But when you go, go with an open mind. Be comfortable with deciding what to eat as you go and not knowing how many dishes you'll actually end up ordering. The dishes that come by dim-sum style ranged from $5-$9 each but they're enough to share 2-4 ways depending on how many you order. Yes, you can order items from the 5-7 items on the "commandables" list...but since that only represents about 1/3 of the actual dishes you'll be presented with throughout the night don't order too many.

For the two of us we ordered 2 commandable main dishes, 1 commandable starter, 6 table-side dishes and 2 desserts.  It sounds like a lot, but we were happily full by the end, not bursting at the seams...and remember, we were celebrating so we indulged a bit!  For all of that variety plus two drinks each and tip we spent about $130, which for San Francisco high-end cuisine and honestly one of the most fun nights at a restaurant I can remember felt like a bargain.  So you ready for the culinary photo tour?  Let's get started... Guinea Hen Dumplings at State Bird Provisions

Guinea Hen Dumplings in a delightful Pho-like broth.  We were slurping up every last drop of broth knowing that if this was the first taste we had a good night ahead of us!

Ahi Crudo with Quinoa and Chrysanthemum Greens at State Bird Provisions

Ahi Crudo with Quinoa and Chrysanthemum Greens...the delightful surprise in this dish was a combination of perfectly cooked quinoa with toasted crunchy quinoa sprinkled on top. Fantastic juxtaposition of textures.

Heirloom Tomato and Corn Salad with Salmon at State Bird Provisions

Heirloom Tomato & Corn Salad with Salmon.This dish had another great crispy crunch sprinkled on top and the salmon was cooked perfectly rare.  Lovely sophisticated touches added to one of my favorite summer salads.

Calabrian Chili Tofu with Pickles at State Bird Provisions

Oh, this reminded me of something you might get at Mission Chinese Food (another one of my quirky faves!).  Not nearly as spicy as it looks or what you would get at MCF but the Calabrian Chili Tofu complemented with a unique take on pesto and crunchy pickles was just so unique and delicious.  The texture of the tofu was divine as well...I'm not sure if it was homemade, but the firmness was just perfect.  Absolutely loved this dish.

Nectarine & Blue Cheese Salad with Plum Vinaigrette

This is a super simple recipe...one that you may have even come up with on your own in the past, but it's so yummy that I wanted to share it just to ensure it makes it into your summer repertoire.  The original recipe is from this month's Bon Appétit and can be found here but I've revised it slightly based on our preferences and ingredients.  I found that the vinaigrette as specified in the original recipe wasn't quite "plum-y" enough for me so most of my slight adjustments are focused there.  Otherwise this is a super flavorful and satisfying salad to serve alongside just about anything or enjoy on it's own.  Perfect way to enjoy the amazing nectarines in season right now!
Corn Pudding with Mushrooms

Whenever I think of savory puddings I immediately think of the Brits.  I'm not 100% sure that's historically accurate but since the London Olympics are in full swing I'm going with it!  It also doesn't hurt that the corn in season right now is so ridiculously sweet and tender that I'm trying to figure out ways to work it into all three meals a day.  So when I saw this recipe in my current issue of Bon Appétit it simply felt like all the stars had aligned and I needed to make it right away...and wow am I glad that I did!

In terms of the recipe itself, you all know by now that I'm not a huge fan of typing recipes up if I don't have to...so you can find the original Bon Appétit recipe here. I chose to omit the ham since we were serving it as a side dish alongside pork (Tenderloin with Plum Chutney if you're curious). I would also suggest using 6-7 ears of corn vs. the 4-5 they recommend.  I used white corn since that's what they had at my farmer's market and you can see my pudding still came out pretty and bright but yellow corn would likely make the dish even more striking visually.

Other than that I followed the recipe exactly.  It's pretty straightforward, but one technique that may be a bit new to some is using a box grater to grate corn kernels directly off the cob. It's a pretty genius technique, both removing the kernels from the cob quickly and "milking" the corn all at the same time so you get a nice wet mushy pile of grated corn as the base for your pudding.  The only watch-out is that it splatters like crazy, so I would suggest draping a clean towel over your grater and work station to contain the mess.  But be careful if you do this since you won't be able to see what you're doing as well...keep those fingers away from the grater and go slow!  Another option is to put your bowl down in a clean sink and do all of your work there with an apron on (although my face still got quite a splattering when I tried this approach!)

DIY Pizza Night!

We've been making homemade pizza in the SavoryGirl household for years now…but to be honest, we make a pretty sucky crust.  Until now.  Finally!  We’ve found a no-knead pizza dough recipe that is practically foolproof and makes amazingly crisp and blistered crust.  Just the way we like it…and seriously, it’s artisan pizzeria quality right at home.  The recipe is from Jim Lahey of New York's Sullivan Street Bakery & pizza spot, Co. and you can find it here The one trick, with this dough is that it’s a multistage, overnight process as you can see below, so make sure you build in time and plan ahead.

Step 1: Mix together all ingredients from the recipe.  Tranfer to a clean, large bowl, cover loosely with cling wrap and leave for 18 hours in a warm, non-drafty part of the kitchen.  I put the bowl in my oven overnight…even thought it’s off the pilot light keeps it a bit warm in there.