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Archive for the ‘Entrees’ Category

Teaser–Falafels

Recipes and explanations are soon to follow.  I will explain how to make pitas, falafel, and tzatziki sauce.  Everything you need to have a falafel night at your house. 

Falafel with tzatziki

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Noodles

pasta noodles

Yesterday I sprained my knee trying to break up a potential fight.  Long story.  So, that leaves me with a few days at home.  I got really bored since I finished watching season 2 of Torchwood and got caught up with LOST, and I decided that I would start making dinner at 2pm.  Yup.  Bored.  I have never stayed home from work before without being sick so this injured concept is hard to grasp. 

Tonight we are having something with noodles.  I could make noodles while leaning on my worktable and making noodles is very relaxing.  The hum of the KitchenAid doing all the hard work and the soft feel of the leathery noodle sheets makes my mouth water.  It also helps that I have some good Pecorino Romano. 

Anyways.  Here is my noodle recipe.  I have tried many others, like Ratio’s recipe, and this is the one that works every time for me. 

1.5 cups Semolina flour
.5 cups All purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 Tbl water
1 Tbl olive oil (optional) 

In my noodles today I added two cloves of crushed garlic.  I only add things to my noodles when I am using a simple sauce.  If I am making a marinara I don’t bother flavoring my noodles. 

pasta noodle

I use a KitchenAid for this whole process because it makes my life better.  I am glad that Italian grandmothers made their noodles by hand, but I live in an era of electricity and convenience.  If you want to make it by hand just scoop your flour into a bowl, create a well in the middle, crack your eggs into the well, and add water when necessary.  Mix by hand or use a spoon.  Your dough shouldn’t be sticky but you don’t want it dry either.  After a few times of making noodles you will get a feel for what the consistency should be.  Once all of your ingredients have been mixed kneed by hand for a few minutes until the dough becomes smooth.  In a KA throw all of your ingredients in together, put on the paddle attachment, and mix until your dough looks like a bowl of pea sized balls.  Squish your dough together with your hands and kneed for a few minutes until dough becomes smooth.  No matter what method you choose you should let your dough rest for 10-20 minutes in a covered bowl or in a ziploc bag.  Resting allows gluten to form and the flour to hydrate. 

Once you have let your noodle dough rest you can begin to shape it.  This really depends on what you want to do with your dough.  You could use this dough to make spaghetti noodles or you could even take the time to make hand-made cavatelli.  This part is really up to you. 

Home-made noodles cook much faster than dried box noodles.  My rule of thumb is 2 minutes in boiling water.  This hasn’t failed me yet.  To cook the above recipe get 2-3 quarts of water to a boil and mix in 1/3 cup kosher salt.  This seems like a lot of salt, and it is, but this is the one part that you can’t escape.  The grandmas have you here.  If you are using your noodle water in a recipe you might want to skip the salt.  If you are using marinara sauce or some very flavorful sauce on your noodles add the salt. 

In my pictures you will see that I have my noodles on a drying rack.  This isn’t a necessary step.  Most times I start making noodles and getting water to a boil at the same time.  Once you have your dough ready it only takes a couple of minutes to go from dough to noodle.  One trick that I have learned is to let your noodle sheets dry out for a few minutes before cutting them.  If you let the sheets dry out for 10 minutes in the open air they won’t stick together and make noodle clumps.  I put my noodles on the drying rack today because I made noodles at 2pm for a 6pm dinner.  Again, I was bored.

I’m not going to say what dish I used my noodles in, because I want to save that for a different post.  For now, just sit in suspense.

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Seitan pepperoni pizza

Sadly, I cannot claim credit for the recipe for seitan (pronounced “say-tan”) pepperoni.  I got the recipe from Fat Free Kitchen.  I do want to give credit where it is due and I don’t want people to think that I am stealing this recipe.  I would be sad if someone stole one of my recipes.  I did tweak the original recipe in minor ways, but nothing so drastic that I could claim it as my own. 

Dry ingredients:

1 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons smoked paprika or regular paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoons mustard seeds (I used brown seeds and I ground it with my mortar/pestle)
1 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (also ground with mortar/pestle)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ginger

Wet ingredients:

2 tablespoons peanut butter
2/3 cup water
4 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/4 teaspoon agave nectar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix all wet ingredients in a separate mixing bowl.  Make sure to mix the wet ingredients well so that they can be easily incorporated into gluten.  An easy way to make sure peanut butter mixes with water is to heat both up in the microwave for a minute.  This softens the peanut butter enough to mix with the water.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry, stirring well; I use a Kitchen Aid mixer with the paddle attachment. Remove from the bowl and knead for a few extra minutes.  You want to make sure that all your ingredients are evenly distributed.  Tip:  once you mix water or any liquid with your gluten you will not be able to add anything else to the mixture.  This is why it is important to have all of your wet ingredients mixed together prior to adding them to your gluten mixture. 

Roll the mixture into a log shape and cut in half so that you have two shorter pieces.  Normally I will cut this recipe into four equal pieces so they are more like snack sticks.  Once you have created your logs tightly roll them in aluminum foil, shiny side in.  Make sure to use lots of foil because your seitan logs will try to expand in the oven and they will, I have done it, explode out of the foil.  Seal the ends by twisting and pushing in to compact the seitan even more.  You want to make a tight seal.  Place logs lengthwise on oven racks and bake for 1 hour, turning over after 30 minutes.  Undercooked seitan will be gummy and rubbery in the middle so take it out after an hour, cut it in half and take a taste-test piece or just touch it with your finger. 

Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. You do do not need to unwrap them from their aluminum foil prisons to store them in your fridge.  If you want to thinly slice them you will need to do this before placing them in the refridgerator.  Refridgerating them makes it impossible to thinly slice.  I have only had success using my food processor when attempting to make a thin slice.  Anything manual just crumbles the seitan.  My friend thinks a mandolin will work but I have been too thrifty to purchase yet another cutting tool.

The crust for this pizza came from Whole Grain Breads by Peter Reinhart.  It is one of the best whole wheat pizza crusts I have ever used.  Normally whole wheat pizza dough is too sticky, but this recipe produced a crust that was easy to work with.  It had great gluten structure without having to add vital wheat gluten.  I was even able to throw the pizza.  Oh, how I love to throw pizza into the air and catch it again.

Toppings on pizza: 

Half can of tomato paste (I didn’t add spices to the sauce because most of the flavor of the pizza will come from the cheese and the pepperoni)
Spinach
Chopped tomato
Mushroom
Provolone
Mozzarella
Shredded Parmesan
Seitan pepperoni

I pre-baked my crust for two minutes at 550F and then baked for another nine minutes with all of the toppings.

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