The Black Beauty – Squid Ink Pasta

Black on Black
Black on Black

Last week I discussed the difference between Chowder and Bisque… Now , it’s time to talk Pasta! But not just any kind of ordinary pasta … This week the spotlight is on Squid Ink Pasta…

Only a few days ago , I when I was out having dinner with my friends , I had my first encounter with this cool looking black pasta. I was a bit apprehensive at first ,but now I’m 100% sold on it.

I ordered Spaghetti neri all’aragosta , which is black ink pasta , diced whole lobster, bisque ,garlic , fresh tomatoes and chilli.

It was a great surprise…

That amazingly weird looking black pasta is made from eggs, flour, a little salt and ink from squid bottoms. You’ve probably seen squid ink pasta on menus at your favorite italian restaurants, or sold in gourmet food stores. You may have even seen it in a cookbook or a cooking blog, but you will never have seen it prepared on the Today Show (hmmm, why is that?).

Gastronomy above and beyond
Gastronomy above and beyond

Like me, you have never probably thought  about squid ink and making squid ink-infused fresh pasta.

 “Is this gonna stain my hands?” “What about my kitchen countertops?” and, “What does it taste like?” Well, fear not  my lovely pasta enthusiasts. The top  most important concerns an tips of squid ink pasta are revealed here …

Squid ink can be purchased at a cool supermarkets, specialty food stores or decent fish mongers. If you still can’t locate it, you should find it online somewhere. It is usually around 4-5 pounds for a small container of squid ink that was imported from Italy. Italian squid ink, much like their pasta , is far better.

Squid are not the only sea creatures to emit black ink as a defense mechanism. Cuttlefish also produce black ink which is harvested for food coloring and flavoring. Be mindful of this when asking your fishmonger for black ink. They are hyper-sensitive about it and you can easily end up thrown out from their shop…

The ink actually won’t stain your hands…permanently. I mean, it will dirty your hands, and it will make you look like a coal miner, but it will wash off with soap and water. I’m pretty sure it will. Ditto for staining your counter-tops, work spaces or pasta rolling equipment.

Delightful dinner
Delightful dinner

Squid ink pasta has a distinctive iodine, briny flavor that pairs well with seafood, ideally squid. This is probably the most surprising aspect of squid ink pasta. I thought it was merely a coloring agent, but it has its own unique flavor profile. It’s worth the effort if you love seafood .

Squid ink pasta will take the same time to cook as regular fresh pasta. About 3-6 minutes.
Squid ink pasta is arguably the coolest looking pasta to make, serve, eat, take photos of, discuss . Make sure you tell people about it at any available opportunity. It makes for scintillating conversation and ego boosting.
Squid ink can be used in other regional specialties such as risotto or paella.

The "How to" on squid ink pasta
The “How to” on squid ink pasta

The perfect recipe :

2 cups flour

  • 3 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon squid ink
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)
  1. Mound the flour on a clean work surface. Hollow out the center using your fingers making a well in the middle of the flour with steep sides.
  2. Break the eggs into a bowl and add the salt, squid ink and olive oil.  Beat it well and add it to the well, gently mixing together with a fork. Gradually start incorporating the flour by pulling in the flour from the sides of the well. As you incorporate more of the flour, the dough will start to take shape.
  3. Discard the fork and using your hands, continue working the dough until it comes together. If the dough is too dry, add a little water; if too wet or sticky, add a little more flour.
  4. Begin kneading the dough and keep kneading until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Don’t skimp on the kneading time. It will pay-off in the end.

    Different sides of Black
    Different sides of Black
  5.  Set the dough aside, cover it with plastic, and let it rest for 20 minutes in the fridge. You can store the dough in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, but allow it to return to room temperature before rolling it out.
  6. Divide the pasta dough into 4 even sections. Keep each section covered with plastic wrap or a clean towel while you work with each one. Flour the dough, the pasta roller (or your rolling pin), your hands, and the work surface.
  7. If using a pasta machine: Flatten one of the of the dough pieces between your hands or with a floured rolling pin until it forms a thick oval disk. Dust the disk, the roller, and your hands with additional flour. Flour a baking sheet to hold the rolled out finished pasta.
  8. With the roller on the widest setting, pass the pasta through the machine a few times until it is smooth. Fold the dough over into thirds, and continue to pass through a few more times until the pasta is smooth again. Begin adjusting the pasta machine settings to become thinner, passing the dough through a few times at each setting.

    Endless possibilites
    Endless possibilites
  9. If rolling the pasta by hand: Flatten a dough piece into a thick oval disk with your hands. Flour a baking sheet for the rolled out finished pasta. Place the oval dough disk on a floured work surface, and sprinkle with additional flour. Begin rolling out the dough with a floured rolling pin working from the center of the dough outwards, constantly moving the dough and lifting it to make sure it’s not sticking.
Amazing when paired with seafood or veggies
Amazing when paired with seafood or veggies

Well,  that’s all there is on Squid Ink Pasta . I hope some of you will try and make the pasta at home or at least try it at the restaurant when you next see it on the menu.

Till next time everyone! 🙂

Hanna

Chowder vs. Bisque – Demystified

Amazing lobster bisque
Amazing lobster bisque

Another week passed by so I’m here again to discuss something new with you All.

Chowder or Bisque – Bisque or Chowder? Are they the same? Similar? Or completely different?

To tell you the truth I was confused and lost in this subject, but I noticed I wasn’t the only one.

How can you tell the difference between a bisque and a chowder?

The origins of the word bisque in relation to soup are debated. Some food historians believe that the word refers to the fact that the soup is cooked twice” ,bis  cuites”, while others suspect that it is related to the Bay of Biscay. Cuisine from Biscay often includes spicy ingredients similar to those used in bisque, and another type of soup, called Biscay, involves the use of heavily spiced game birds in a recipe very similar to that used for bisque.

Creamy veggie bisque
Creamy veggie bisque

Traditional bisque begins with sauteeing seafood in a heavy pan. If crustaceans are being used, the shells are left on. Next, a broth is made in the pan by combining wine and soup stock with aromatic spices, and the seafood is simmered until it is cooked through. The entire mixture is pureed, including the shells of the crustaceans. After being pureed, cream is added and the soup is cooked and allowed to thicken even more before being served, usually sprinkled with parsley and freshly cracked pepper on top.

Traditional serving of Bisque
Traditional serving of Clam Chowder

Bisque is also a close relative of chowder, another creamy seafood soup.

Another possible (and maybe more probable) source could be the French dish called chaudrée (sometimes spelt chauderée) which is a sort of thick fish soup from the coastal regions of Charente-Maritime and Vendée.
The term comes from the French word “chaudiere” the pot in which the chowder was cooked.

The broad range of soups that use flour as a thickening agent are called chowders. To most Americans it means clam chowder, either New England with a cream base, or the tomato based Manhattan style. The main ingredient of a chowder can range widely, from corn to clams.

Chowder and stew have thick chunks of ingredients in the rich creamy base, while bisque has a uniform creamy texture. Bisque is served at fancy events because of the even texture, complex flavor, and beautiful color. Chowder is usually considered a dish of lower class, and therefore rarely appears at formal ,posh dinners.

Clam chowder and white wine
Clam chowder and white wine

The word “bisque” is also used to refer to any sort of creamy, pureed soup, and thus menus often feature tomato and squash bisques.

So just to summarize :
Bisque is a thick, creamy soup that traditionally is made from puréed shell fish.
Chowder is a  soup that uses flour as a thickening agent.

The picture is clear now on Chowder and Bisque, altough in gastronomy there are more types of soups and sauces like  consommé ,cream soups , gravy, stews and broth.

But let’s take it step by step…

I hope, I helped to understand the difference and the relations between our beloved soups.

Since tomorrow is Sunday, I’ll try one of them , I’m not saying I will cook one from scratch, I rather have one made by a professional chef at the nearby pub 🙂

Have a nice weekend everyone ’till next time!

Hanna

Pie Perfect!

 

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Well, I suppose it’s time for me to grab my laptop and share with all of you what I’ve been working on and thinking about in the last few days…

This week has been ruff , both at work and at home as well.

Long hours at work…then you go home to an empty flat , you have little else to do than, to take your keyboard some food and browse on Pinterest…

I don’t really understand why , but whenever I feel low or exhausted , Pinterest is the place I can find some shelter… I feel home there , it’s a home away from home, where everybody understands you and gives you some hope ,when everything seems to be lost…

In my previous post I wrote about Kale and it’s wonderful properties, now I wan’t to spread the joy of making pies…

d913daf944cb40b19cdaf0f1f87b663b Yes, you heard me PIES!

I know that nowadays baking cupcakes is more fashionable , but there is something about a pie, makes the whole house filled with love, all you need is a family to eat the magnificent creation…if you have it written the in the right way, ehh…which for a long time I didn’t.

I am hunting down a proper homemade pie-crust recipe for over a year now  , but  with no luck until now…

The problem was always the crust…Crumbs, pieces  , cracks, dry edges…  So I decided my pies are in a desperate need of a MAKEOVER!

Works on Women , will work on my Pie-crust as well!- I thought.

My looong search for the perfect homemade crust recipe ……(drumrolll)….been discovered !

Not long ago about 2 weeks  , I stumbled across a picture of a very fine looking Peanut Butter Cookie, on Pinterest…I clicked on the image, when I saw that it could take me to the original website it has been pinned from… Baking a Moment is the site’s name, it is written by a lady named Allie.

Next day I tried the recipe and it worked! Miracle on every level…inside and out success. I was so happy, that I instantly baked 2 additional pies, so my friends had something to work on over the weekend!

Now after I wrote all about it, let us see how this great recipe works in practice.

Simply Perfect Homemade Pie Crust

Yield: enough for (1) double crust or (2) single crust pies

Simply Perfect Homemade Pie Crust

How to Make the Most Perfect Homemade Pie Crust from Scratch. Tender, Flaky Layers and a Rich and Buttery Flavor. No Partially Hydrogenated Oils or Artificial Ingredients. A Step-by-Step Tutorial with Pictures.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold
  • approx. 1/3 cup ice water

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add the olive oil, and stir until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  3. Cut the butter into thin slices and toss in the flour mixture to coat.
  4. Dribble ice water in, a tablespoon at a time, mixing just until the mixture can hold it’s shape.
  5. Gather the dough into a ball, and divide into two disks. Wrap the disks tightly, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  6. Roll the dough out to ¼” thickness, and fold into thirds. Fold into thirds again and refrigerate for another hour, or freeze for later use.
  7. If frozen, thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight. Unwrap the dough and roll to about two inches larger than the diameter of the pie plate.
  8. Slip the dough into the ungreased pie plate, and prick with a fork. Refrigerate while preparing the filling.
  9. Fill the pie shell with desired filling, and refrigerate for at least one hour before baking.
  10. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, place the cold pie in the oven, and decrease the temperature to 350 degrees F.
  11. Baking time will vary according to pie filling. Crust should be a deep golden color, and flaky.

http://bakingamoment.com/simply-perfect-homemade-pie-crust/

Not too tricky and it will be worth the all the time and work you put into it.

As you can all see, I linked in the proper website ,so you  can have a look what else is in the oven at Allie’s…

The perfect shelf...
The perfect shelf…

Happy baking, till next time Everyone!

Hanna

“The Queen of super foods” – Kale

Her Majesty - The Kale
Her Majesty – The Kale

As I promised I’m back with a new  topic.

Now that all of our table manners are perfect and we know how to behave….

Let’s talk veg…

I’m probably not the one , who is not a big fan of any kind of green (veggies).

You must wonder what do I mean by that . It basically means I need some other ingredient , some sauce or dressing to go with it, if it’s a salad…

It’s not new , since I was a little girl,my Mom had a problem forcing me on it , but as I grew older, I realized, I can actually enjoy eating them, if they are “disguised” properly.

“Eating a variety of natural, unprocessed vegetables can do wonders for your health.”

I’ve  heard this so many times, but I just waved and said it’s only rabbit-food , I can’t eat that, until 1 month ago…

My relationship with veggies , changed. I found Kale.

"Friendly"greens
“Friendly”greens

I was having lunch with my friend not long before Christmas, I had an ordinary Sunday Roast , with the only green on my plate , Peas. Marie had a salad which looked good, but I told her I won’t be touching it… But she was insistent and I gave in… and I have to say it was maybe the best salad I’ve ever had… Kale, feta cheese, pomegranate and peach salad, with vinegar dressing.

My -my even thinking of it makes my stomach rumble…

Beautiful mix of flavors and colours
Beautiful mix of flavors and colors

Kale, also known as borecole, is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. It belongs to the Brassica family that includes vegetables such as cabbage, collards, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

Kale’s health benefits are the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K .

To find the freshest kale, look for firm, deeply colored leaves with hardy stems. Smaller leaves will be more tender and milder in flavor. Leaves range from dark green to purple to deep red in color.

Breakfast from/with Kale
Breakfast from/with Kale

Store kale, unwashed, in an air-tight zipped plastic bag for up to five days in the refrigerator.The good thing about it,  besides all I mentioned above, you can find Kale all year long, even during the dark and gloomy winter days we are having now.

To find more tips on how to prepare ,choose ,store and cook Kale , you can refer to the link below.

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/kale

To find recipes to make smoothies, salads and all kinds of goodness from my new favorite veg  ,you can use Google. I cannot even recommend just one simple page , because there are one too many of them , and all of those are quite good.

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Everyone of you can find something to load up on vitamins this winter.

Good luck!

Oh, and if anyone finds some desserts with Kale , please let me know! 😀

Hanna

New year – New blog

I was thinking long and hard about how to start my blog.
I realized that I don’t have to try too hard at the first time.

I would like to blog about food, food photography and everything what relates to it. Gastronomy , occasional ratings and personal views of restaurants , coffee houses and much more… as it comes.

Perfect dining
Perfect dining

To start I would like share a picture about the perfect table etiquette .

I hope all who reads this will find it informative.

I’ll be back with more…

Till next time…:)

Hanna