As classic as can be, wine and cheese pairings are an integral part of our collective gastronomic heritage. Enjoying this historic combination offers a glimpse of the thoughts, desires, and needs of our ancient ancestors; connecting tomorrow’s lunch with yesterday’s distant forefathers. In an effort to provide continuity with our past - and to facilitate a heightened daily experience - I offer some classic pairings that expand not only our dining pleasure, but also our sense of belonging.
First, let’s address some basic rules you can follow if unsure of a particular pairing. Younger, softer cheese often pairs well with a light bodied, off dry-to-dry style of white wine. On the other hand, older, harder cheese is typically best with a dry white wine that shows a little more body. Sweetness in a cheese pairs well with sweetness in a wine, and a salty cheese is usually best served with a tart wine of high acidity. Red wines, it turns out, are a little trickier to pair. A good, although general rule: lighter cheese is best with a red wine of high acidity and soft tannins, while a robust cheese works nicely with a tannic red wine of light acidity.
Lets get to some pairings. Gruyere is a hard, yellow cheese from Switzerland made from unpasteurized cows milk. In its youth, Gruyere has a delicate, salty-sweet flavor that is best complimented by semi-sweet, light-bodied white wines – think domestic Muscat or Argentine Torrontés. As Gruyere ages, it develops a bolder, earthy quality best complimented by a dry, full-bodied white wine. Un-oaked Chardonnay works well, with Chablis being a perfect match.
From Mexico we get Cotija, a hard, cows milk cheese with salty, grassy flavors in youth that develop into savory, parmesan-like flavors with age. To compliment the salty nature of this cheese look for a light to medium bodied white wine, with high acidity and low sugar. Rieslings from Austria or from the Alsace region of France work great here, as well as – and this should be almost intuitive – Corona with a good squeeze of lime.
So lets talk Spain. From La Mancha, the heartland of Spain, hails Manchego. Made from ewe’s milk, Manchego is aged at least two months, and often for two years or more. This firm, buttery cheese develops a pronounced earthy and nutty flavor with time, as well as - dare I say it - the subtle bouquet of vaquero saddle. While many indigenous Spanish red wines will complement Manchego, I recommend a nice Rioja or Ribera del Duero for an expressive, local example of the Tempranillo and Garnache varietals. With lower acidity, supple tannins, and aromas of sweet tobacco and leather, these wines will complement Manchego’s earthy, nutty, and yes, slightly sweaty flavors.
On to our just desserts, and this, you really must try. From the tiny King Island, off the coast of Tasmania, comes Roaring Forties Blue. This pasteurized, cows milk cheese is aged a mere four to five weeks before being dipped in thick, black wax. The seal created causes an anaerobic environment that halts further aging of the cheese. For this reason, Roaring Forties Blue is a sweet, creamy, and delicate blue cheese with a gentle, nutty flavor. Two words – Tawny Port. With their respective sweet and nutty qualities, this wine and cheese create a haunting echo of one another - while the smooth and creamy Roaring Forties Blue gentles the sting of Tawny Ports’ high alcohol content.
I hope you have the opportunity to try these combinations, and to enjoy a little piece of where we’re from. Be sure to keep in mind, however, that taste is subjective and your own palate should always be the final authority. Enjoy.
Everybody loves certain 'homey' dishes (and I'm not talking thug here, mind you) – those dishes that their family used to make when they were young. Apple pies, chicken and dumplings, etc, etc. Soul food, if you will. Simple to make, cheap, and above all else, delicious.
These kinds of dishes are great to fall back on when struggling to think up something to make, but they can lose a bit of their appeal after you've had them oh-so-many ways. So what do you do, then, if you want something just as tasty and simple as your gramma's cherry pie, but with a twist? Well, the easiest possible answer is to go abroad.
There are countless examples of soul food here in the U.S., but while the moniker may be unique to our locale, the concept is not. Every country in the world has their own hometown, simple style of cooking, and a lot of their dishes are similar (or even the genesis) of our own. Prime example? Well, we're covering it in this episode of the Savage Kitchen.
Clafoutis is an incredibly simple and easy dessert from the Limousin region of France. The name comes from the verb clafir (meaning 'to fill') and is basically a pancake batter poured over fresh fruit and baked off. No need for complex dishes or crazy ingredients. It can easily be 'spiced' up with fresh vanilla bean or other spices, and you can always use different fruit as the base. The basic version consists of pitted cherries inside the clafoutis, whereas this recipe uses fresh blueberries for a fun twist.
Peaches, apples, pears and most other fruits do great in a clafoutis, and it's a great dish all year long. If you're using fruit that needs a bit more cooking time (here's looking at you, apples), you can roast or poach the fruit before pouring the batter over the top. Also, since you're cooking the whole dish, you can even use frozen fruit if you get a hankering for a certain flavor at an inopportune time of the year.
So broaden your horizons, and start looking for those simple dishes from other countries – you'll find great alternatives when your momma's apple pie needs to take a break for a bit.
(makes 4 individual 6 oz. servings, or one large cake pan sized clafoutis)
1 ½ Cup Milk
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
½ Vanilla Bean
3 Large Eggs
¼ Cup + 1 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
1 ea 6oz. container Blueberries
Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into ¼ cup of the sugar and rub with your fingers to separate beans. Combine the vanilla sugar with the milk and the scraped vanilla bean in a small saucepan and bring to almost a boil.
While the milk is heating up, combine the remaining ¼ cup of sugar with the flour and the eggs in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth.
When the milk is ready, pour a small amount of the hot milk into the egg mixture to temper. Mix well, and then add the remaining amount of the milk.
Prepare your dishes by rubbing a small amount of butter along the insides and then dusting with a bit of sugar. Spread the blueberries evenly between the dishes.
Pour the batter over the blueberries, dividing evenly between the dishes. Use all of the batter, or, if using smaller dishes, fill as much as you can.
Place the clafoutis dishes in a pan large enough to hold them all, and place in a 375 degree oven. Pour hot water into the pan holding the dishes, up to about 2/3 the height of the dishes.
Bake until golden brown on top and the custard is set, about 20-30 minutes depending on the oven.
Carefully remove the water bath from the oven and let the dishes cool.
Clafoutis is best served warm, and is especially tasty with some vanilla ice cream or a dusting of powdered sugar.
Okay, we may have talked about meat fabrication and portioning before, but it's a topic that I really feel needs greater attention. It's not simply the fact that you can save quite a bit of money, nor is it just the fact that you can get exactly what you want – there's a growing rift between the fruits of the world and the dinner table (even to the kitchen, mind you) and anything that can narrow that rift is a great boon to chefs and cooks all over.
Buying individual, frozen, plastic-wrapped salmon filets can be convenient, sure - but you're stuck with the pre-determined sizes and the freshness is a bit... lacking.
Getting a whole filet of salmon (or a whole tenderloin, or a full New York Strip, or even a chicken fryer) helps reinforce the connection between the plate and the animal that was harvested for your dinner.
Some people demand going full-tilt, saying you can't truly experience the full impact of eating meat unless you go hunting for it yourself; there may be a bit of truth to that, but I'm not about to advocate everybody going fishing before dinner. If you can, hey, that's great! If not, don't fret about it, head over to CostCo or Sams and pick up a side of salmon. It'll make you a better cook, and you'll get a whole bunch of extra bonuses.
When you portion whatever protein you have on-hand yourself, you can pick and choose what to use and how much of each to use – and you can use everything. I love picking up chicken fryers rather than the nigh-artificial cellophane wrapped breasts. The reason is that breaking down a chicken, just like a salmon, doesn't take a ton of time – a few minutes at most. Then you can grill those breasts, toss 'em in a soup, or freeze them for later. The legs can be boned out or cut in half, or grilled whole – it's up to you. Once you break down the whole chicken, toss all the leftovers in a pot and make some stock; it's way better than canned stock, and you'll feel good using every bit of your purchase, and you won't have that giant styrofoam tray leering at you from your trashcan.
For the salmon, portion out your steaks to provide easy dietary guidelines, or ensure everyone gets an equal portion. Any trim can be roasted and made into salmon mousse or used as a filling for a salmon wellington or coulibiac (mushrooms, dill, and salmon in pastry). You can also take a whole side, brine it to make some lox or smoke it for great sandwich meats. Setting up either doesn't take much effort, and the monetary savings you'll enjoy are nothing to scoff at.
So go give it a try next time you've got a party coming up. Don't just buy pack after pack of pre-portioned, overpriced, un-fresh salmon; go get a side, cut it up yourself, and wow your guests with your amazing culinary awesomeness.
We're back again with another bisque – that creamy, deliciously smooth soup we've all grown to love. The timing couldn't be better, really, with the first days of autumn popping up out of nowhere. Fall is definitely here, and warm, hearty soups are the best way to stave off the chillier days.
With every great soup, though, comes a necessary partner – garnish. But we're not talking just simple garnishes, no – we want something with some bite to it, something nice and crunchy to offset that silky texture. Contrasting senses are a great thing in the culinary word, and soup and crackers is probably the most common sense thing you can do.
Wait - crackers?!
No, we're not boring. I'll give you a run-down on three different garnishes that can be used not just for the mushroom bisque, but a wide variety of soups. With a bit of modification, you can turn these three garnishes into great accompaniments for any soup you can dream up.
The first, of course, is the crostini, and this is the closest to the cracker. Take some slices of good sourdough. Then, punch out rounds or cut triangles or make any other interesting shapes you'd like. (I've heard that you can get Star Wars sandwich cutters, you could try those too) Crank your oven up to the broil setting, then put some Swiss cheese on top of the cut shapes. Pop 'em in the oven till brown, and now you've got a toasted and "melty" pairing for your soup. Gruyere or Provolone works wonders as well. Float 'em on the soup or serve them on the side.
The second involves a bit more work. Filo dough is a very thin, sheeted dough used for baklava and other pastries. You can find it in the frozen section of a store, next to pie crusts and the like. On a cutting board, lay out one sheet of filo at a time, brush with butter, and then lightly sprinkle some finely chopped herbs (rosemary, parsley, basil, etc etc) and a bit of salt and pepper. Put another layer of filo on top, repeat the herbs and more filo about a half dozen times, then transfer to a sheet pan with parchment paper. Cut the filo stack into long, thin rectangles, longer than the bowls you'll be serving the soup in, and cook in a 350 degree oven until golden brown (anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes). Once cooled, ladle the bisque into the bowls, place a filo piece on top of each bowl, and serve. It adds great crunch and an interesting visual element.
The final garnish involves another dough, puff pastry. You can find it close to the filo in the frozen section. Puff pastry usually comes as one individual sheet, and you'll want to take a rolling pin and gently roll out the puff a few extra inches around each side. Lightly fold the puff in half to determine the halfway mark, then lightly brush egg yolks over the whole puff sheet. Sprinkle herbs, spices, cheese or whatever you'd like – you can even do a thick, flavorful tomato puree for some real zing – on top of one side, spread out enough to let the egg wash peek through. Fold the puff in half, sandwiching the flavorings, then cut long strips. Twist the strips with your fingers into corkscrews, then lay the pieces on a sheet pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven until golden brown (probably 10-15 minutes). These twisty sticks can be rested atop the bowls, like the filo, or if you use a tall soup cup, you can stand them up in the soup for some height.
Try the garnishes, they're all fun, and the add great flavor; be sure to experiment with their components and you use them for different soups. Enjoy!
The Cliff House’s Mushroom Bisque
Yields 1 Gallon
1/4-cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion (diced)
2 lbs. mushrooms (three types) quartered
(Shiitake, trumpet, Portobello, Crimini,
Chanterelle, domestic button, morel, porcini)
1 pinch salt and fresh ground black pepper
3c dry white wine
4 tablespoon mixed fresh herbs (tarragon, thyme, chives, parsley, chervil)
4quarts heavy cream
4oz Truffle Oil
Heat olive oil in soup pot. Sauté onions until they start to carmalize. Add mushrooms, salt, pepper and sauté over low heat for approximately 10minutes.
Add the wine and simmer until most of the wine has evaporated. Add the cream and simmer for 30 minutes. Blend with hand blender till smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning to your own taste. Finish with herbs and Truffle Oil.
Hang on, before you start freaking out let's sit down and calmly discuss this. Gelatin (or gelatine if you want to be fancier) is a very common item found in huge variety of products, and not all of them are food. It's derived from collagen present in animal skin and bone, so to be honest, gelatin is a savory item from the beginning. Natural gelatin is the reason why veal jus, when chilled, is so darn thick.
There's no flavor to it, unless you overheat it, and then it actually gets kind of a meaty note. It became really widespread in sweeter products due to its general lack of taste, and, for a large part, its greater thickening ability over other ingredients, such as pectin, starches and the like.
When most people think of gelatin, they immediately swerve to the sweet side (probably because of the aforementioned Bill Cosby product), but there is a whole family of savory items that greatly enjoy the benefits of gelatin. Terrines, mousses, and aspics are all very classic garde manger items, and while most home cooks have little exposure to these, they can be quite fun and interesting for entertaining guests or just putting together a unique dinner.
Since we don't have to worry about any flavor in gelatin, we can focus purely on whatever stock we're using for the terrine, and please - make sure it's strong! Heat has a side benefit of enhancing flavor, and cold the reverse, so make sure that vegetable stock is packed with flavor. Also, since gelatin is clear, use a nice, clean, strained stock, which will give you a translucent product that will show off the ingredients in the terrine perfectly. While you're showing off, make sure you have something to show – as in the video, layers and clever designs can be easily made, and are always preferable to a simple pile o' vegetables.
Oh, and one last thing – if presented with the choice of 'sheet' or 'powdered' gelatin, the choice is really up to you. There is quite a bit of ease with the powdered gelatin, and it's much easier to measure out a few teaspoons of gelatin than go about breaking whole sheets into sections. Either kind will produce the exact same result, though, so the choice is yours!
Once your realize that gelatin isn't exclusively Jell-O, you'll start to see how many ways it can help your own cooking, from giving form to a terrine to even giving a typically thin sauce a bit more body and mouth feel. Just know that when you're cooking with savory gelatine, you're kicking it old school.
Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until blended.
Cut all vegetables lengthwise into 1/8-in-thick slices and add to the marinade. Toss to coat.
Line 3 baking sheets with oiled parchment and spread out the vegetables on top in a single layer.
Roast the vegetables in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.
Place gelatin in cold stock and allow to bloom. About 5 minutes. Heat the gelatin over a hot water bath or in a microwave on low power to dissolve the granules.
Line a terrine mold with plastic wrap, leaving an overhang, and assemble the terrine by alternating layers of vegetables and the gelatin until the terrine is filled. Fold the plastic wrap over and smooth the top. Place in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours till gelatin sets.
To un-mold the finished terrine, invert it (in the mold, in the plastic wrap) onto a flat work surface. Hold one end of the plastic wrap onto the counter and lift the mold away with the other hand. To serve, place the wrapped terrine on a cutting board and cut into 1/2-in-thick slices, cutting through the plastic wrap. Remove the plastic wrap after the slices are arranged on plates or platters.
Souffles are one of the dishes that balance precariously between the opposite realms of the savory and the sweet. A diner could possibly have a souffle for every course of his meal - from a rich, truffle infused goat cheese souffle with endive for his appetizer, to a savory sweet potato souffle served alongside his entree, ending with a decadent chocolate and toasted pecan souffle for dessert.
How, one might ask, is this possible? How can one dish be so interchangeable?
Let's start from the beginning. A basic souffle, savory or sweet, is based upon a mixture of whipped egg whites and pastry cream. What's pastry cream? Well, heat up some milk, add sugar, roux, and eggs, and you've got pastry cream. In previous episodes we've covered bechamel, the roux-thickened milk sauce, and pastry cream is almost identical but for the added eggs and sugar, giving a thicker product. Some variations use cornstarch in place of the roux, which is easily substituted for the flour and recommended to convert the souffle to a gluten free dish. Pastry cream is a go-to item in the pastry kitchen, being used as a base and filling for countless desserts – removing the sugar gives you a simple template that can be used for savory dishes, as in – you guessed it - the sweet potato souffle.
Now, to throw you off just a bit more – you can easily make a dessert or a main dish souffle, savory or sweet, by only swapping out a few ingredients. While a main-dish sweet potato souffle will have some shallots, herbs, mustard, and maybe a bit of cheese or such, a dessert sweet potato souffle will have spices, brown sugar, and maybe a caramel sauce. Where your savory souffle might be inverted and served on a plate with your grilled lamb, the sweet souffle will probably come out still in its baking dish, hovering like a cloud and served with enough pomp to please a queen. Of course, beyond this point we're just playing around with the inherent existential question about what actually defines a dessert versus any other part of the meal – but we'll leave the culinary navel gazing for another episode.
For now, enjoy the 'gray' area of cooking – the dishes that defy us to easily classify them as one thing or another. You'll be glad you did.
1 1/3 C MILK
5 EA EGG YOLKS
½ OZ DIJON
3/4 LB SWEET POTATO (boiled and pureed)
1 FINE CHOPPED SHALLOT
¼ ts TOBASCO
1/3 OZ LEMON JUICE
SALT & PEPPER TO TASTE
10 EA EGG WHITES
Make roux with butter & flour and toast on low heat for 3-4 min
Incorporate milk slowly over med heat, when sauce thickens simmer 3 min
Whisk in egg yolks and cook 1 min on med heat
Remove from heat and add all remaining ingredients except egg whites
Allow soufflé base to stand for 30 min
Butter 10 soufflé ramekins (6oz)
Whip egg whites to medium stiff peaks
Fold into soufflé base gently with a spatula (do not use a whip)
Fill soufflé ramekins to just below the rim
Place filled ramekins in a 2-inch baking pan
Put the hotel pan into a 350 degree oven (Do not close door to oven)
Fill the hotel pan with hot water half way up the sides of the ramekins
Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 min
Let soufflés stand in water bath on the counter for 15 min
Remove ramekins from the water bath and allow to cool for 20 min
Run a paring knife around the rim to loosen and gently invert soufflé into hand and place on a parchment lined sheet tray
For service: Re heat at 350 for 8-10 min and serve immediately
Now that you've got the best darn pork marinade ever – what's next? How do you marinate other meats? Any other good tips? Let's find out...
The first thing to discuss is what exactly a marinade does to meats. A good marinade will have a fair amount of acid in it (vinegar, lemon juice, etc.) and these acids start to break down the tissues in the meat. This softens up tough meats in particular, and helps with the absorption of liquids from the marinade, giving you a flavorful and juicy product. Surface area is key here – the more meat you have exposed to the marinade, the more flavor you can introduce into your protein. That's why you want to marinate cut steaks or single portions – you don't have to wait all day for the meat to be ready. If you want to marinate a full roast, go ahead and give it more time in the marinade, and maybe consider making a sauce with similar flavors to further enhance the cut roast pieces.
What about other meats? With the ginger marinade, most meats would do fine. Pork does well with the extra sweetness in this recipe, which makes it an ideal candidate, but you can substitute chicken or shrimp easily. Matching up flavors in your marinade with whatever starches and vegetables you are serving is easy to do – just replace the ginger and garlic with chopped herbs or spices, the rice wine vinegar with balsamic vinegar and so on. If you don't want a sweet product, take out the honey or corn syrup and replace with something salty – soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce. It's easy to mix and match marinade components, and as long as you have your key acid and some potent flavors, you can't really go wrong.
One last tip – if you want to marinade some meats, but don't have the time or energy to whip up a marinade, a quick and super easy solution is to just buy a bottle of a flavorful vinaigrette or dressing. The vinaigrette is going to have all the necessary components of a good marinade, and most stores have a wide variety of flavors to choose from. Just soak your meats in a bit of the vinaigrette and use the rest on the salad – you've just knocked out two parts of dinner.
Once you see how easy and delicious marinated meats are compared to just plain ol' meat on the grill, you'll never go back. It does take a bit of advanced planning, since you want at least an hour of marination, but don't let that be a detraction. Nestle your meats in that marinade, let 'em soak up the flavors, and as soon as you try it you'll be a believer.
MARINATED PORK TENDERLOIN
Makes 6 servings
In a glass or stainless-steel mixing bowl, combine the following:
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar (or wine vinegar)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced pared gingerroot (or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger)
Add to the above mixture:
1 and 1/2 pounds lean pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight
Preheat broiler. Arrange pork on rack in broiling pan, reserving marinade.
Broil until done to taste, about 5 minutes on each side.
Add 1 teaspoon cornstarch to reserved marinade, stirring to dissolve cornstarch.
Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 2 minutes.
To serve, arrange pork on serving platter and top with marinade sauce.
A whole pork tenderloin in the marinade can be baked at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until done.
If grilling an entire tenderloin, turn the meat often and baste with marinade.
Internal temperature should be 150-155 degrees.
Whipping up a batch of vinaigrette is kind of like throwing a party and inviting a bunch of people you know don't really get along. Things are fine for the first hour or so, with everybody milling around, chit-chatting and wrecking your carpet, but then they slowly start to separate into their cliques and groups. Thankfully, parties don't have to last very long, and it's usually at this point you start ushering everyone out the door before they find those extra bottles of wine you stashed away.
Vinaigrettes are, of course, emulsions (or colloids if you want to be really technical) and they are considered 'oil-in-water' emulsions since the particles of oil are suspended within water – in our case, vinegar. The main thing you need to know about emulsions is that they really don't want to be that way – they'd much rather separate out into their own parts. As mentioned in the show, honey and mustard are both great additions to the herb vinaigrette not just because of the flavors they add, but also because both honey and mustard are what's known as surfactants or emulsifiers because they help stabilize the vinaigrette. They're kind of like party games – they keep all those guests who want to separate together, at least for a little while.
That's all well and good if you want to make a vinaigrette that contains some kind of emulsifier – say, egg yolk for your caesar dressing or hollandaise – but what if you want just a plain ol' garden vinaigrette without the mustard tang or sweetness of honey? You may wonder how that Italian dressing you get from the store stays so nice and even – well, they're using commercial grade emulsifiers, of course, stuff not really available to the average consumer.
So what to do? Well, don't sweat it, that's what you do! Given the amount of time it takes to whip up a batch of vinaigrette (minutes, really) and how simple the recipe is (3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar + herbs or what-have-you) just make however much you need for that salad you want. This allows much greater customization for each salad you make, and you won't have bottles and jars of various specialty vinaigrettes in your fridge. If you've got a nice shake-able vinaigrette bottle, go ahead and make enough for a day or two – all you've got to do to bring that party back is shake it up a bit. So go experiment, bust out that immersion blender, and get to mixing!
FRESH HERB VINAGERETTE
2.5 oz DIJON
5 oz CHAMPAGNE VINAGER
5 oz RED WINE VINAGER
2.5 oz HONEY
2 oz SHALLOTS (fine dice)
1 C CHERVIL (fine chop)
1C CHIVES (fine chop)
1C PARSLY (fine chop)
½ t TARRAGON(fine chop)
32 oz BLENDED OIL
½ OZ TRUFFLE OIL
In small mixer combine all ingredients except oils
Mix until incorporated
On high speed Slowly add Oil to Emulsify
Salt & Pepper to Taste
If using a hand blender place all ingredients except oils in a 1 gallon container and mix till incorporated and then slowly add oil.
If you think that browsing the pasta section of your local grocery is an exercise in finding the strangest shape pasta for your dish, let's change your thinking. Pasta is a beautifully simple ingredient that's easy to make and provides a strong basis for your dish. Countless dishes from dozens of countries have arisen with pasta as their basis – it's cheap, filling, and good for you. Since it's been around so long – the earliest discoveries of pasta-related items in China date from 2000 B.C.E – it's been mixed, matched and rethought hundreds of times.
The multitude of shapes that pasta can be rolled, cut, extruded or almost molded into all came about for one reason or another. A lot of the short-cut extruded pastas are fanciful designs, named for their resemblance to common items – conchiglie - “shells,” farfalle - “butterflies,” and radiatore - “radiators,” just to name a few. Kid's macaroni, shaped like movie or cartoon characters, fall in the same group. The squat, stout shape of these pastas lend them well to thick, rich sauces, such as – you guessed it – an extremely cheese-y mornay.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the longer, rolled-and-cut noodles, like linquine - “little tongues,” fettucine - “little slices,” and capelli d'angelo - “angel hairs.” These can be used for a wide variety of sauces and dishes, with the thinner, lighter noodles better for soups, broths, or chicken and fish based sauces. The thicker, wider noodles, like lasagna and pappardelle, do great with very thick and robust sauces. Most pasta rollers have at least two different pasta cutters on them, so even if you're making pasta at home you can match the size of your pasta cut to the dish you're composing.
The last type of pasta that needs to be mentioned are the 'minute' pastas – orzo, cous cous and the like. These are more difficult to make at home, and are typically store bought. These pastas, due to their extremely small size, do best as a dish on their own or as a salad, but they can also be added to soups as garnish, where they will mix in evenly with the rest of the ingredients.
So now that you know about the reasoning behind the nigh-limitless types of pasta, go out and mix and match on your own. If you treat your pasta choice with the same reverence and respect as you would your wine, you'll find a better match for your dinner than you would think possible.
4c Semolina Flour
2tbs Olive oil
Water as needed
Semolina flour is high-protein flour made from Durum wheat, makes better pasta than all-purpose flour. It creates a stronger gluten structure, allowing for more pliable dough.
Salt provides flavor, and the eggs create richer dough, along with binding the dough together.
Olive oil is sometimes added for flavor, or, if the pasta is to be dried, water is used instead of eggs.
Kneading the dough creates the important gluten structure that holds the pasta together. Using a stand mixer with a dough hook or paddle simplifies the process: just add the ingredients and mix till dough comes together.
Start with a large, clean work surface. Make a mound of the flour and salt with a well in the middle.
Add the eggs to the well, and start stirring with a fork, slowly incorporating all the flour until the dough comes together. This will be messy
Knead the dough until it is soft and pliable. This might take several minutes.
This week's episode of the Savage Kitchen demonstrates a play on the classic recipe of basil pesto, or pesto alla genovese, as it is denoted in Italian. The variation demonstrated uses sun-dried tomatoes instead of basil, for a brilliant red color and tangy flavor. Pestos, oils, purees, and other sauces can all be easily cranked out in a blender or food processor, but let's talk about something that many cooks might view as 'antique' – the mortar and pestle.
Electric kitchen utensils are, in the grand scheme of things, a mere blip in the culinary time line of humans. Some of the earliest known documentation of this brilliant device dates from well over a thousand years B.C.E, and even though the device is rather antiquated, there are serious advantages of a mortar and pestle over modern equipment.
Basil pesto, made in a mortar and pestle, will be smoother and pack more of a wallop than if it was made in a food processor. Why? Well, while the food processor rapidly cuts all the ingredients into small pieces, the mortar and pestle crushes and smooths out the garlic cloves and pine nuts, turning them into a fine paste. This releases all of the oils from the garlic into the pesto, and cements all the delicate flavor of the pine nuts into the pesto, rather than small chunks missed the blade and now just get stuck in your teeth. Pureeing the sun-dried tomatoes from this week's episode is, admittedly, easier in a food processor – but you can still start the pesto in one, and add your chopped tomatoes separately.
Aioli is another perfect example. Some people are fine with simply adding some chopped garlic to mayonnaise; others take it a step further and whip up their own aioli base with crushed garlic. The best, though, is to use the mortar and pestle for every step. Crush the garlic to a smooth paste first, then whip up the aioli with your egg yolks and olive oil directly in the mortar. All that wonderful garlic oil you crushed out of the cloves is now in your aioli, not stuck in pieces of the cloves or smeared on your cutting board where you chopped the garlic.
Sure, it may take a bit longer to make your sauce, and it may be a bit more difficult to clean, but once you try a sauce made the old fashioned way, you'll understand how sometimes beautiful things are lost in the switch to modern convenience. Try a fresh garlic aioli or pesto, crushed in a bowl with your own hands, and I guarantee you'll see (and taste!) the difference.
CLASSIC BASIL PESTO
*Yields about 1 1/2 cups
1/4 LB BASIL
5 EA CLOVES GARLIC
¼ C TOASTED PINE NUTS
1/2 C OLIVE OIL
½ C PARMESIAN CHEESE, GRATED
For pesto, in a blender container or food processor bowl combine basil, Parmesan cheese, oil, nuts and garlic. Cover and blend or process with several on-off turns until a paste forms, stopping the machine several times and scraping the sides.
Make-Ahead Tip: Store pesto in airtight containers. Chill up to 2 days or freeze up to 1 month. Bring pesto to room temperature before using. You may substitute 1cup Sun Dried Tomatoes