Archive for July, 2011

Want and Need

July 14, 2011

I’m quite proud of my wine bottle rolling pin.  Ingenuity on the the fly and practically free, it works for the brief stints that I need it.  I don’t roll out dough often, or ever, before my most recent endeavors into dough, but I now have a new reason – the Joseph Joseph adjustable rolling pin.  Outfitted with interchangeable rings that allow for different dough widths, it’s cute, compact, and multi-purpose, just what The Littlest Kitchen needs.

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Lessons in Flour, pt. 2

July 12, 2011

     

Feeling good about my rolling skills with my makeshift rolling pin, i.e. the empty wine bottle, I gave Maureen Evans’ Strudel Pastry a try.  In her 140 characters, a filling isn’t specified, but I had visions of Nutella and chopped hazelnuts in flaky pastry.  Starting with one cup of flour to 2 tablespoons of cut up butter, coarse crumbs are created, mashed together with a potato masher, which is what I assume she means by “mash tater”, not mashing a real potato into the mix.  The addition of 2 teaspoons of yeast dissolved into 2 tablespoons of water barely moistened the dough.  With gradual splashes of water, I could barely form it into a crumbly ball.  This hard ball, more suited to knocking down bowling pins, is supposed to rise?  Well, it didn’t, nor was I able to pull it into a 17″ x 25″ rectangle.  I did what I could rolling it out into a semblance of a crust, having faith that Nutella will make it better.  Alas, it did not.  The result was more like sheetrock than pastry.  Sad.

I suspect that my yeast was dead.  I suspect that given the dry dough, I should have moistened with cream, more butter, or oil, instead of water.  I suspect that adding a mashed potato would have been better than this.

Lessons in Flour, pt. 1

July 7, 2011

     

Following along with Maureen Evans’ tweeted recipes in the Times, I ventured onto her Kashgar Noodles.  I imagined that these are the same hand-pulled noodles that I see being stretched and banged around at the noodle restaurants in Chinatown, a fascinating piece of theater in the grubbiest joints.  Noodles, especially Asian noodles, are so cheaply omnipresent, that I would never think to make them.  It’s like milking my own cow.  But now, I can attempt the role of bad ass noodle maker on the stage of The Littlest Kitchen.

Of course, it didn’t play out as such.  I had no idea on how to make pasta, having never made it in my life.  When I tried to pinch and pull the noodles, they would fall apart instead of behave like trained elastic bands.  Further inexperience was rolling out the dough, not with a rolling pin (which I do not own), but with an empty wine bottle.
From a little bit of research, I learned that the thinner the dough the better (duh), and when she says “cut crosswise”, that means make them long (double duh).  With the first round of dough, I did neither ending up with something more akin to spaetzle.  Eventually, ingenuity won over ineptitude, to make something surprisingly good for something out of nothing – flour, water, egg, salt, and an empty wine bottle.

 

Beyond the basic noodle recipe in 140 characters, I’m left alone on what to cook with them.  The first try is as soup noodles using Nina Simonds’ Mushroom-Beef Udon Soup recipe from Asian Noodles, my thick-ish noodles being very similar to rope-y udon.  The soup is a dashi based broth (another something out of nothing) simmered with mushrooms and scallions, topped with marinated beef and spinach.  The noodles held up to the sturdy soup, and if they weren’t so ugly and deformed, they could go pro.

Since I was never going to make perfect noodles, I thought that it could take a rougher treatment in a stir fry.  Using the marinated beef from the soup, sauteed with garlic and ginger, these made a great lo-mein, with the addition of snow peas and tofu.  The wonkiness of the noodles went well with the fresh mess and freestyle that lo mein or chow fun  allows.  Wider surface area meant for more marinade absorption and the opportunity for crispy, browned effect.  I may not be ready to thwack the noodles at the Chinese restaurant, but I can certainly be their fry cook.

Almost Free

July 5, 2011

On Independence Day, I tried to free myself of clutter and deal with the disorder of my apartment.  Specifically, I had to make space for the air conditioner, which led to reorganizing in general.  Scattered around, I had collected a number of gallery promos from recent and not so recent shows of images that I like.  Not quite ready to file them away, I had the crazy idea of collaging the back kitchen wall.  A productive folly that forced me to do more reorganizing on the pantry shelves and cleaning out the toaster oven, an hour later, I had a different look for the kitchen.  In fact, I need more images to go all the way down to the counter.  All in good time.