Thursday, May 6, 2010

It's Official

I've moved.

Slow Home Grown

My next post will be available at WordPress, so head over there for me :)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Brussel Sprout, Leek, and Bacon Scramble

Do all you food bloggers out there know how inspiring you are? I'm sure some of you do. If you don't know it, though, you are.

This recipe is inspired by so many of the wonderful things I have seen posted lately. Particularly this and this.

And just because I enjoy them and they recently made me smile, you should check out this lovely lady as well this this other lovely lady.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I'm considering moving over to WordPress right now. I am moving to WordPress.

I'm also attempting to sort out a schedule for myself, when I started this, it was kind of an impulsive decision. I really enjoy it and I'd like to have some consistency in my posts, for all of us really. That's something that's hard for me to do regardless of how much time I have on my hands.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Flooding and Stock

So, Spring is here now.

It wasn't last week when it rained for two and a half days and our apartment filled with water. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but it's the reason for my absence. It was like moving, but we didn't leave the apartment. The living room was in the kitchen for about five days and we're still camping on our air mattress in the bedroom.

Needless to say, I haven't been able to be in the kitchen much. We're finally getting things back to normal.

Before this whole ordeal though, I made chicken stock (with the intention of making matzoh ball soup which still needs some tweaking).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Travel Mugs

This is food related. Mostly.

It's about a really timely food-on-the-go issue because I really like my coffee. A lot. Granted, I like it a lot less than I did when I was juggling five classes, a job, and design responsibilities. But I still don't consider a day started until I've had my cup of coffee, even when it doesn't happen until six or seven in the evening. (Creating a "grown-up" schedule is extraordinarily difficult and I don't know how you all do it. Mornings. What are those? I'm still having trouble working breakfast into my routine. Meaning, it never happens.)

(Photo courtesy of and

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Technical Difficulties

I apologize for my absence!

I've been sick with a very headachey cold and then my computer was first having internet issues and then got doused with a good, strong gin and tonic. Needless to say it needed a couple of days of alone time.

But it seems to be working and we seem to be back in business.

So soon I will return with delicious food posts, though tonight it may just be a post about how delicious spring is because I've been a little lazy with the cooking because of the sickness.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Improvisational Ravioli

I know I'm a little late. What can I say? I'm still adjusting. I've also been living off of one big bowl of brown rice salad that I will discuss a little later in the week.

But better late than never, that's what I always say.

And I do want to talk about improvisation because improvisation is the backbone of my cooking. I think people are scared of improvisation (like I was, until recently, with baking), but it doesn't have to be scary. It can be fun and exciting and challenging. You just have to be comfortable with the fact that sometimes things don't always work out just right.

But really you just look in the fridge and you say, OK. I have some tomatoes and some garlic and boy do I like both of those things roasted.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


The calendar page turned to March and all of a sudden Long Island has realized that we have had enough of winter. It is time for Spring. Spring is also the time for puppies to learn to behave themselves on their leashes.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Birthday Cake

It was my birthday on the 27th. I turned 23. Obviously, this required cake. Not just any cake, either. It required a cake that would fit my exact specifications of what a good cake should have.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ribs and Slaw

I've been craving summer. I've been craving the beach, long walks with Zepp (who is really not enjoying leash-training at all; if only I could convey to him how much fun we'll have once he decides to behave himself on it), and most importantly, barbecues. Dinner-party barbecues. Our friends, blenders full of margaritas, chicken, ribs, burgers... name it. I'll grill it.

But, this is still a few months away. To satisfy this end-of-winter longing, I turned to my oven.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Deviled Sweet Potatoes with Garlic-Parsley Pesto

I am very exciting to be participating in Beet n Squash You month hosted by She Simmers and Gourmet Fury. Monthly events like vegetable challenges and book clubs excite me (though book clubs seem hard to come by and I'm not one for really going out and... mingling. I have very fierce group loyalties. I'm like a good guard dog, really.). Luckily, Beet n Squash You exists for extroverted-internet-introverts like me!

This month's vegetable is sweet potatoes, a vegetable I don't really cook with that often because... well, because I didn't really know what to do with them besides mash them and cover them in marshmallows. That is, until I had some incentive to think creatively about sweet potatoes. I also had to think creatively about what I had in the fridge to use because I am on a budget. I had a lot of eggs left and I realized that sweet potatoes would mix fabulously with deviled eggs


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hearty Beef Soup

Winter in New York is an interesting season for eating, to say the least. There aren't a lot of options out there for fruits and vegetables. The cold, wet days make me not want to leave the house (in nicer weather, I am much more apt to make a journey to pick up some dinner ingredients). I crave thick, satisfying foods that feel like home and warmth.

I am also madly in love with my dutch oven and will look for any excuse to use it (and having the oven on for a few hours makes a slightly chilly apartment so much nicer).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lovely but Ugly Raspberry Tart

Today I want to talk about love.

A little late, I know. But yesterday was filled with all kinds of love for me. Yesterday, another man came into my life. His name is Zepp:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chicken with Bok Choy

I love my frying pan, in case you haven't noticed. I love the versatility of them and I love how easy they can make my dinners.

I also love bok choy.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Lunch - Pasta with Tomatoes, Onions, and Mushrooms

This is Dan:

(Isn't he handsome?)

Dan and I have been lucky enough to have Sundays off together for the past few weeks. Today we didn't have any obligations so we've been lazing around the kitchen table.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Easy Vegetarian Chili

{Silly me. It was not my browser that would not allow me to upload pictures, it was the fact that my photos were in the wrong format. So that's all fixed now and I can tell you about the chili I made the night before last (which we are still eating for lunch and breakfast). In fact, after I finish writing this I think I'm going to fry me an egg to eat with some of it (maybe sprinkled with some crumbles of gorgonzola...).}

I love chili, it's one of my favorite dishes, but I've never made a vegetarian chili before. Last night, however, I didn't have any meat in the house and Dan has decided that store bought ground beef grosses him out. So until I get a meat grinder, apparently we will not be eating ground meat (I have yet  to find out how hard and fast this rule is for him because sometimes I just want a hamburger).

This recipe is basically a great jump off point for any kind of vegetarian chili you want to make. Use whatever vegetables you have in the house, whatever beans are in your pantry, and it will be delicious. I'm including cilantro and lime in the recipe even though I didn't have any to use because they were definitely missing from the dish. It tastes great without them but it would taste even better with them.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Book Review - Slow Food Nation

I really want to tell you about the vegetarian chili I made last night, but I'm having issues with photo uploads on a couple of different websites (I think Firefox is telling me that it REALLY wants to be updated, even though it just got updated a few days ago). Instead, I thought I'd tell you about a book I just finished reading.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Comfort Food - Chicken Soup with Dill

I'm shaking off the winter blues (or trying to) with the knowledge that yes, it is February, yes it's a bleak month (though it contains my birthday). However! It also means that spring is just that much closer and I will only be confined to the apartment for a little longer. Soon I will be able to walk to the Sound comfortably and sit on the beach with my reading/knitting/camera and enjoy the sunshine.

Last week, instead of wallowing, I did what I should have done yesterday. I made comfort food. Not just any comfort food, winter comfort food.

Growing up, one of my favorite things my mom made was chicken soup. Whenever I was home from college, my mom's chicken soup was always on the list of meals that had to be prepared before I returned. That's how good it is. Surprisingly, though, I've never ventured to make it myself.  But my love of my dutch oven and an intense craving for soup made me realize that it was about time I ventured into the world of chicken soup.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cabin Fever

Winter's kind of hard when you don't have a lot of money to spend, when you only work part time so there's a lot of time at home (and your boyfriend works all the time, so he's rarely home). Needless to say, I'm in a bit of  a cabin-fever-inspired rut. I don't really feel like cleaning up the messes that already exist, nor do I feel like creating another mess in the kitchen.

I took down the Christmas tree. That counts, at least. I read a book. It was exciting.

But now I'm done reading, I'm done being on the internet, I've knitted my brains out, I've been cooking up a storm (I'll update with a chicken soup recipe tomorrow)... and there's still another month or two before the weather warms up enough to be comfortably outside. Which is what I need.

Anyone have any good remedies for the winter doldrums?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Learning to be a Morning Person

I am not a morning person. At least, I thought I wasn't a morning person, until lately. Working nights at a bookstore (as part of my employee contract, I'm not allowed to blog about it, so I will just leave the name of the chain anonymous), I realized that my sleeping-in habits weren't really conducive to having a life. When you get up at noon and go into work at three, where is your day? It doesn't exist. I struggled for awhile, then Dan got another job that has him up at seven most mornings. Slowly over the past few weeks, I have been easing into the habit of getting up with him (today I managed 9:30, which is pretty epic for me). This new sleeping pattern has shown me a whole new world of life, and let me tell you: I love mornings. I have time to read about food, I have time to write, I have time to make things for later in the night or the following day, I have time for breakfast.

I've never been much of a breakfast person at any point in my life. I remember trying to choke down breakfast in the mornings as a second grader with my mom telling me how important breakfast was. I just couldn't do it. I think it's because I associate breakfast with all of these heavy greasy and/or sweet foods. I'm not ready for that mere moments after waking up. As I've grown, I've realized that it was up to me to shape my breakfast into something more personally palatable. But, I've still been ignoring the meal and waiting to eat until noon or one when I finally found myself feeling hungry.

Not today! Today I woke up, I made coffee, and I decided I was going to have breakfast. I've been carrying around these packets of instant grits since last year when I got into a grits phase (and in college, instant everything was the name of the game), so I decided that would be the base of my meal.

Then I fried up an egg. Now, I may be a little pathetic when it comes to making scrambled eggs, and my omelettes are admittedly an Americanized diner/college cafeteria version of the French classic. But my fried eggs are where I really shine. All you need is a dab of butter over medium heat until it gets a little bubbly, then you drop your egg right into the pan:

Cook the egg until the whites are firm enough to slide a spatula under. I like my whites well-cooked, if you like yours more on the runny side, leave more of the center white uncooked. Then gently slide your spatula under and flip the egg. If you want your yokes runny, you only need to let this side cook for a few seconds, if you want your yoke fully cooked, let it cook for about 30 seconds to a minute (if you're going for fully cooked, you can always flip the egg over carefully for a quick peak and flip it back if it needs a little more time).

I like to sprinkle some salt and (a lot) of black pepper on mine. Today I served the egg over the grits and had a side of tortilla chips and salsa (the same from my juevos athenos omelette).

I also had a glass of my hand-squeezed orange juice with it. Yum!

As I'm writing this, I'm eating my lunch consisting of leftovers from last night. I just mixed my salad with some leftover tomatoes and string beans with a touch of my salad dressing. I didn't warm anything up and it's all wonderful cold and mixed up together! And my salad dressing seems to be holding up well on the counter. In fact, it's even better now since all of the ingredients have had some quality time together and are really blending and enjoying each other. In fact, I think I'm going to take what's left into work to eat during my break and pass up my normal sugary cafe treat.

(One of these days I will start drinking more water, I drink entirely too much coffee.)

Oh, and we definitely woke up to snow today after I had just been marveling at how all the snow from before was finally gone. C'est la vie. It is pretty.

Our backyard:


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Eat More Green Vegetables!

Dan and I have decided, for both financial and health reasons, that we are going to eat significantly less meat and focus more on vegetables. I had to go to the grocery store anyway today, so I decided to grab an array of fruits and vegetables (my major annoyance being that the peppers I bought were all brown and splotchy on the inside... my grocery store has a really pitiful produce/meat/anything I want to buy section). I really had no idea what I was going to make tonight, so I just followed my heart. But I'll get to tonight in a second.

First, I want to tell you about my delicious curry-carrot bread... which was not meant to be.

I have Michael Ruhlman's book Ratio, which I love. I've had good luck with other doughs and batters I have made from it... but something with this quick bread went terribly wrong (and I think it had something to do with me browning butter, not beating the eggs slightly before I added something that probably should have been cooled longer, and just being generally unpracticed in baking).

The batter looked kind of weird to begin with:

What are those chunks?! Are they butter? Are they egg? They tasted like butter... but there's a lot of butter in this recipe, so who really knows. I tasted it and I couldn't tell. But whatever, right? I figured everything would just melt and cook up in the oven. Why not?

Don't let that delicious, crisp, perfect golden-brown complexion fool you. Inside, it was a mushy, eggy, greasy mess:

It wasn't even edible. You could taste how it would have been delicious had something more chemically-correct happened inside.

I thought I could salvage it by making croutons out of it (which is going to be a future project, because seriously, how awesome would curried croutons be in a salad?), but by the next day they were just soggy lumps again. How sad.

So that was that.

Today, on the other hand, was very successful. I started out by restocking our juice supply with some more orange juice and grapefruit juice (this is, admittedly, pricey... but the containers last for 2-3 days before they go bad, we moderate our consumption, and it's like eating an orange or half of a grapefruit every time you have a small glass). I didn't strain the grapefruit this time because Dan likes the chunks when it's not coming from a carton. Now let me tell you, oranges are the easy, laid-back hand-juicers... grapefruits are the opposite. They are the high-maintenance, attention-demanding fruit. Oranges I squeeze and it's done. Grapefruits make me deal with these:

Not only did they have large seeds, they had all these tiny seeds which couldn't all be picked out before juicing. So because I'm a good girlfriend (keep in mind, I can't handle grapefruit in it's pure form, so I don't drink this stuff) I went after each round of juice with a spoon to pick as many of them as possible out - and that is, of course, after getting as many as possible before juicing with the pointed tip of a steak knife. I need to buy a fine mesh strainer because this was a little much even for me. But now we have fresh juice in the fridge, which is a great after dinner treat or an anytime snack (I like getting a glass when I want to eat because I'm bored).

Then it was time to figure out dinner. I knew it had to involve salad because I had red leaf lettuce in the fridge that had to get used real soon.

So I chopped up the lettuce and added two carrots-worth of carrot peel into the mix for some color and texture:

(My dad made the serving set! He's awesome!)

And then I whipped together some dressing because I had a cut lemon in the fridge from cocktails I don't know how many days ago. This is an easy and delicious salad dress:

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (which I think is worth spending a few extra dollars on; there is noticeable quality difference between your supermarket's store brand and a brand a few notches up. You don't have to go all out, but I think it's a worthwhile expense especially when oil is one of your only condiments.)
1 Tbs dijon mustard
1/2-1 lemon (depending on how lemony you want it to be; you can use a lot without it being too overpowering - everything else in the dressing cuts the intense citrus very nicely)
garlic powder - I would say about 1/4 tsp (I do all spices to taste, always start with less and taste; you can always add) (ALTERNATIVE: for added zing, use 1-2 cloves fresh, crushed - preferably through a garlic press - cloves; because the garlic isn't cooked it will add a significant amount of spice to the dressing. Keep that in mind if you don't like things very spicy. If you're worried, stick with garlic powder. The other option is to infuse the oil with garlic by gently cooking the two together over low-medium heat... but that's for another day!)
basil - dust the surface of the olive oil with it so it's fairly covered*
parsley - same as basil
chives - quarter sized dollop in the palm of your hand
thyme - same as chives
a shake/pinch of crushed red pepper flakes  (totally optional, but delicious)
salt and pepper to taste
*If you're using fresh herbs, chop them up very fine and use a couple of fair-sized finger pinches

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl or measuring cup. Instant dressing!

I'm going to keep some unrefrigerated for a few days and see what happens. From what I can gather from the label of the mustard bottle (which is the only thing I was kind of concerned about just sitting), there really isn't anything that I wouldn't keep out of the refrigerator as separate ingredients in it. Which, of course, doesn't mean anything (please, if someone has learned this lesson already, let me know), but I'm willing to see what happens.

This salad was being made while I roasted tomatoes in the oven. They were tossed in a bit of olive oil, some red pepper flakes, parsley, a dash of cayenne, and some salt and pepper and baked in a 350 degree F oven until they were sizzling and just beginning to look crispy.

Towards the end of their time in the oven, I filled a medium saucepan with water and got it to a rolling boil because I had frozen string beans that needed to be blanched quickly before they could be sauteed. I love string beans and they never look good in the supermarket here. You can find frozen string beans without any salt added; a nice alternative to fresh. Right before the water reached a boil, I began cooking the garlic (much to my neighbor's bane!). To infuse the oil, start the garlic and oil together in a cold pan over medium, medium-low heat.

When they start to turn a light golden-brown around the edges, you can throw in the string beans. Be careful if you just blanched them - shake out as much water as possible from them to minimize oil splatters. The garlic will finish cooking and develop a nice crust without really burning while the string beans cook. Sautee them, stirring occasionally until they too start to brown (or a little before, whichever you prefer). In the middle of cooking:

(Check out that fine pan Steve bought me for Christmas)

A couple of minutes before I took the tomatoes out of the oven, I sprinkled some gorgonzola cheese over them and let it melt.

I also cooked up a couple of servings of couscous while I was finishing the beans. It's easier to make than pasta (which I thought was impossible)!

Boil 1/2 cup of water, some salt, 1/2 pat of butter.
Add couscous.
Stir virogrously and immediately take off heat and cover.
Let sit 5 minutes.
 Fluff with fork.

It does not get any better than that when satisfying the need for a starchy sidedish. And you can add in basically whatever you want for flavor. I used parsely, but any combination of herbs, spices, and dressings would be welcome.

And then I put all of the elements together on one beautiful, tasty plate:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rainy Day Lunch: Juevos Athenos

While I wanted nothing more than to run to the supermarket so I could make pies in a jar (Mrs. Scrimp shared a glorious link to the recipe from Our Best Bites), the weather is really too dismal for that. Between the rain and the wind, I feel damp just looking out my kitchen window. But it's warm enough in here, and, upon waking up this morning, I realized that our rescued poinsettias were thirsty. Dan took them home when his boss at the pizzaria got tired of having them around. There's a lush white one, a trooper of a pink one, and a Charlie-Brown-Christmas-Tree red one:

Charlie Brown was basically leafless, aside from his blooms, when we got him. On the day I took the above pictures, I was so proud of him for making little leaves! And today, while I was watering him, I discovered that he's even working on more blossoms:

I haven't had any cooking projects going lately because on Friday we were supposed to do an Iron Chef competition at a friend's house, and that got canceled. Saturday I worked from 11-7, which really killed my prime cooking hours and I ate leftovers upon getting home. And yesterday we were at another friend's house watching the Jets lose.

Today, I have all day, but admittedly, rain makes me lazier than I already am. I really want to make bread, but that might continue getting put off. I did, however, make an omelette (well, an American omelette) for lunch with the feta cheese and salsa I had in the fridge. I love omelettes because you can really do whatever you want with them and you really can't mess them up - you can make them look less than pretty, but even if you wind up with a mashed together mess, it's still going to taste good.

Start with a pat of butter in a cold frying pan; while that's warming you'll mix up your eggs.

I made a two egg omelette and I just eye-balled all of my ingredients. Omelettes are all about taste preferences, in my opinion. You put as much or as little of a filling as you like on the inside. If you're making a big omelette for a number of people, I recommend moderation on all fillings.

And what's the secret to great eggs? Why, dairy, of course! Adding a splash of milk or cream (or, like me, half-and-half) to eggs for omelettes or scrambled eggs makes for more delicious eggs (I need to do some more research into this... my dad claims that the milk helps make scrambled eggs the appropriate fluffy consistency).

I don't salt my eggs when I'm cooking with cheese (especially feta) because I think the cheese adds enough saltiness on it's own for me. Again, a matter of preference!

2 eggs
splash half-and-half (or milk, cream)
pepper (to taste)

Whisk all the ingredients together quickly with a wire whisk or a fork for a minute or two. You don't want any gooey gobs of egg poking through, basically.

When you're done doing this, your butter should be nice and melted and sizzling a little. With a spatula (never use metal tools on nonstick surfaces!) spread the butter around the pan, coating it as evenly as possible. Pour your beaten eggs into the pan. They stay fairly controlled, but you can always nudge at the edges a little to get it to stay a certain size.

When the eggs are about half way done cooking (or a little earlier if you like runny eggs... I tend to like well-cooked eggs, but I'm slowly expanding my horizons - I think I'll have to if I want to learn to make real French omelettes) you're ready for your filling. I chose:

salsa (I used a smoked jalapeno salsa from Original Juan Specialty Food - I found it in the organic/natural aisle at the supermarket. Delicious! It says it's medium spicy, but if you're used to regular jarred salsa rankings - whose flavor is tame to begin with - this is more of a hot! than a medium; too spicy for Dan who is generally OK with things labeled medium spicy. Long story short: I am glad I did not buy the hot.)

Plop your fillings in the center of your omelette. While it is up to you how much of each ingredient you want, keep in mind that the goal here is to have the egg wrap around your fillings, so if you use too much you will wind up with a squishy mess in your pan and on your plate:

That's about 3 Tbs of feta and 2 Tbs of salsa.

Once the edges of the eggs are cooked to your liking and are firm enough to fold, create an egg burrito:

Ideally, I should have been able to flip this. But it was going to ooze out the one end if I did (and I did try, and it did make a bit of a mess, but it happens). So in the interest of keeping it together and not having a really big mess, I poked at it a couple of times and then just left it only for a few more minutes to finish cooking on the inside. And then I had my delicious Juevos Athenos omelette:

And what goes better with an omelette than fresh squeezes tangerine/clementine juice (these just showed up in my fridge one day after Dan had been at his mom, Carol's, house, so I don't really know which they are). I got this juicer from Dan's dad, Steve... it's awesome!

4 tangerines/clementines gave me a nice glass of juice.

If you like your juice extra-chunky (and believe me, when it's fresh-squeezed, you might. Leave all your preconceived notions about floaty bits in your OJ at the door and at least try it unstrained once. Dan dislikes pulp in his store-bought orange juice, but he loved half-chewing on the juice I made from oranges and grapefruits last week.) don't strain it. Otherwise, if you have a colander you can half strain it - which is kind of the "grovestand" equivalent of fresh-squeezed juices, and if you have a fine-mesh strainer you can have relatively pulp-free juice. If you do strain it in one way or another, make sure to mash at the pulp in the strainer to squeeze out every drop of delicious juice.

I need to get my hands on a blender now, because I have some ideas of what can happen with this simple little tool. Think of all the cocktail possibilities..... fresh squeezed pulpy lime juice, tequila, ice, and salt? Probably the best margarita ever.... Stay tuned for that one once I get a blender!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Take Two: Shepard's Pie Pierogies with Gravy

There was a ton of pot roast left after last night (and even after my endeavors tonight, there is still a ton of meat left; and technically, I'm not actually done with my endeavors tonight!)

I said yesterday that I was going to use the leftovers to make ravioli... weellll, I did one better and made Shepard's Pie Pierogies. I wasn't expecting to wind up with leftover vegetables last night, but I did. More carrots than potatoes, but I remedied that by just boiling the end of the potatoes I had purchased and adding them into the mix. I think it was a good idea, too, because it added some clear potato flavor since they weren't cooked with everything else.

Now, you may be wondering, what could you possibly add to something already so delicious and make it even better? The answer, as always, is: Dairy! Seriously. Butter and/or cream (in this case half-and-half) make everything better (unless you're vegan, but I'm not; if you are.... you wouldn't be making this dish anyway, but there will be recipes in here for you, too!). So after boiling the rest of the potatoes I added some butter and half-and-half and whipped out my handy potato masher:

1 Tbs. butter
   half-and-half to taste

I kept the heat on medium low when I was melting the butter and adding the cream. Then I took it off heat because it doesn't need to be cooking to add the meat to it. I was going for about a 1:1 ratio between meat and potato/carrot mix. So just cut enough meat to match the amount of potato/carrot you're working with. Chop it pretty fine, big chunks would be a hassle to work with when assembling the pierogies.

Just take that handy potato masher and mash 'em all together! While you're making the dough, the filling can just rest at room temperature. Or throw it in the fridge - this is what I would do next time. My dough and filling wound up being done at about the same time (I actually made the dough while the potatoes were boiling since that takes a fair amount of time), which meant the filling was a little warm while I was working it, which could have been problematic for the dough. Only one wound up breaking, but next time I plan to roll the dough out more and I would definitely want the filling cold in the case.

For Christmas my dad got me a pasta dough roller, which is probably one of the greatest kitchen inventions ever. It's not even an appliance.. I associate appliances with electricity, and this requires none! It's fabulous:

The towel is also a good trick to know if you're a home pasta maker and don't have a butcher block counter or a big wood cutting board. You do flour the surface of it, and when you're done, bundle it up and shake it out outside. This is less clean up for me than using another cutting board, especially since there's a lot of flour moving around once you start cranking.

Making pasta dough is super easy. I made a double recipe so it was as follows:
3 cups all-purpose flour (though you will need more handy for surfaces and to really finish the dough)
3 eggs (large)
1 cup water

Create a well in the center of the flour for the liquid ingredients. Like so:

Now make your hand into a claw: your own appendage is going to become a kitchen tool! Start swirling the liquid around the bowl, slowly incorporating the flour into the liquid until you get a relatively solid mass. Use both hands to knead the dough into a ball. If the dough is sticky add more flour - I like to cover the outside of the ball and then knead it in. Kneading is best done in a fold-and-palm-press method. Fold the dough over, must it with your palm, repeat for about 10 minutes (I tend to give up early because I get bored... but it's good to do it for the entire amount). The dough should be pleasantly smooth, almost velvety feeling.

Pasta dough is really a learn from experience type thing... But, it's a dough that's very forgiving. You don't have to worry about overworking it, and you can constantly add water or flour to get consistency right. Don't be afraid to add too much flour, because you can always add a little water to loosen things up, and vice-versa.

After you have your dough ready, divide it out into portions. If you don't have a mechanical roller and you're rolling out by hand with a rolling pin, I would just go for two big sheets. Determine the size that's right for you based on the space you'll have available - you need to have even numbers. If you have a straggler, cut him in half  and have two smaller pieces. Size really does not matter at this point (this is, like, the only time though). This will become clear in just a minute. But here's my dough all portioned out:

Before rolling each piece, I coated them in flour and gave them one final kneading for good measure. The dough likes to be pretty dry, I've found, when running them through the pasta maker. I only rolled them out to a setting of 2, which left them about 1/8" thick. I would roll them thinner next time, maybe a 4, but I was afraid of them falling apart on me. With my left over dough and filling, I am going to make them thinner. They were very good, but the flavor of the dough was very present, and I want it to be a little more in the background than it was.

Rolled out dough:

 Uniform for the most part. If you need to, you can gently tug the edges of the dough and pat them down if you need an extra 1/4" or so. If you're stretching any more than that, stretch at the middle a little bit also otherwise the dough will be thicker in the middle.

Time for filling!
1-2 tsp filling mixture (depending on how wide that particular section of dough is - less room around the edges, less filling. You need enough dough remaining to be able to seal the pierogi without the dough stretching and breaking or the seams popping open.

 Put a second layer of dough on top and press down lightly on top of each mound of filling and also around the edges. Basically you're looking to remove air bubbles. Be gentle here. You want to maintain the shape of the filling and you don't want to rip the dough.

They look like a chain of dough eggs!

Now it's time to cut and shape them. I inherited a dough cutter thing from Dan's great-aunt, but a very sharp knife or a sharp biscuit cutter would also do the trick. Basically cut in between each mound so that they're their own autonomous dumplings. Then press gently down around the edges - if you keep this standardized, you wind up with the pretty little dumpling indentations that are now generally done by machine. And then trim away as much excess dough as you want. If you have a dough cutter, you can actually make them almost circular. It takes a little bit of practice, but I was getting pretty good by the time I finished my last pierogi:

To cook them, just get a big pot of water (salted or unsalted, definitely a taste and health preference) boiling and throw them in for about three minutes. When they start floating, take them out. It will be very obvious.

While I waited for the water to boil, I warmed up last night's gravy. I mixed up a quick roux... about two tablespoons water with a couple of inches of water in a bowl. Whisk those together BEFORE adding them to the sauce. Then whisk it into the sauce, put the heat on high, and bring to a boil... whisking a lot. Then bring it back down to a simmer.

Drain your pierogies and mix them with the sauce (I had just enough gravy to give them a nice coating). They also cooked perfectly, which was a pleasant surprise:


Tomorrow I am actually going to make bread dough as well as make the last round of dumplings and freeze them.