Making Pasta

Hello Carb lovers! I found a Russian cook book. I am enamored with cooking ’round the globe, but one of the most fascinating types for me has always been Eastern European peasant food. I love the rugged textures of the noodles and dumplings, and how simple dishes with minimal seasonings can taste so good.


I made the basic noodle dough for pasta, as you can see in the first picture above. It came out very well, but note: it is a VERY dry dough to work with. I doughn’t (hee hee) mind a strong kneading, but OMG guys – if you have a pasta roller, I really recommend breaking it out for this recipe.


I don’t have a pasta roller, so I did it by hand. It was possible, but rather tiring. I only made half of the recipe (below) and my forearms were sore for days afterwards. I could barely type the next day (OH, THE HORROR!!!). I think I’ll need to find a roller, because this pasta is freaking good, and I want to eat it every day. Either that, or I will be easy to identify by my bulging forearm muscles. (New blog name: AlbanyHulkSMASH!)


Once the dough was as thin as I could roll it, I sliced it haphazardly into strips with a pizza cutter. I boiled the noodles in water for about 12 minutes, but times certainly will vary given the thickness. I just kept testing the noodles every 2-3 minutes after 8 minutes. The plumped up a bit, too.


The cooked noodles themselves were fabulous! It had a wonderfully chewy, thick texture and were tasty just covered in a bit of butter and sour cream. They retained their heat for a while without overcooking or going mushy. I can’t wait to sauce these with other toppings.

Half of the recipe fed 3 people (as a side) very well. Plenty of food for 3rds. I also attempted to roast a whole chicken, but that didn’t go over so well (let’s just say bits and pieces had to go back in the oven and I am leaving whole chicken to Albany John’s domain).


AAannnddd – pierogies! My favorite. I had to try the dough out as pierogie dough.

The tweaked the dough a little so it would be a hair more tender, but still have springiness and chew. I made 2/3 of the recipe below (modified for dumpling dough) and this fed 3 people as a meal.

The filling was:
Diced Onions sauteed in bacon fat (mmmmm)
salt
1 gigantic (or 2 large) Potato, cooked and peeled
3-4 T cottage cheese
(You could also toss some butter in there too. Wouldn’t hurt)

I added them all to a bowl and mixed until the potato was smooth and everything was well incorporated.

Pinch off pieces of dough, then roll it out into a circle and fill the center. Fold one side over the other and seal closed. Once you’ve made them all, plop them into boiling water (I had to do them in a few batches – there were a lot) and once they rise to the surface, they should be done. Give one a test if you’re not so sure. I was kind of surprised at how quickly these cooked – I made them thicker than the noodles and they were done in a fraction of the time, it seemed.

These were… a lot of dumplings. Thankfully my brother was also over when I made these montrously sized pierogies, so he helped us polish them off. We ate them with saurkraut, sour cream, and copious amounts of salt (wait, that was just me).

How’d they taste? A deliciously chewy dough and a pleasantly mushy-soft interior. As they got colder, they got tougher. I enjoyed that extreme chewiness as well (marketers: make pasta flavored bubble gum). Just eating pierogies makes me feel warm and fuzzy – I still haven’t really tried other non-potato based variations because the potato filling is always a winner with me.

My only regret? That we were out of bacon/sausage, and that I completely forgot about the Bacon Salt sitting in the cabinet.

Noodle Dough

3 C flour
3 egg yolks
2/3 C cold water
Salt

Add egg whites and 3 T sour cream for dumpling dough, or springier/chewier noodles

Mix all together and knead for several minutes until dough feels springy.

Cover and rest 30 minutes. Roll out and use.

(This is a pretty easy recipe to increase or decrease since everything is kind of in a 1 unit: 1 unit ratio)

Tampa, FL

Albany John and I went to Tampa, Fl for Grandma’s funeral over the weekend and for a bit of this week. The funeral was short and very sweet.

When we first arrived, we were a bit jet lagged. Basically, we both were up all night Friday doing our respective things, and got about 2 or so hours of sleep before heading to the Albany International Airport at Butt O’Clock in the morning. On the plus side, we were able to enjoy beautiful Tampa tropical air when we walked outside.

We also flew Southwest Airlines (which I find funny, being the Northeast and all) and snagged a direct flight and hotel for just under $700. We rented a car and got a coupon from Bjsvacations.com (I don’t think you need to be a member) for renting a car, which ended up being just under $200 for 4 days. Not too shabby for a last minute trip, if you find yourself in similar circumstances.

Now, as Albany John said, “There are worse places to be than Tampa in March”, so we managed to enjoy ourselves on this trip as well. He is quite right – Tampa was so very nice in comparison to the 29F degree weather in Albany. After booking into our hotel, we called up one of our relatives!

You see, I was kind of excited to meet all of Albany John’s extended family I had not already met. We called his younger cousin, and his mum (who is now my new sister in the Cult of Hello Kitty) and they drove over to meet us at our hotel.
Luckily, my awesome new Hello Kitty Sister is also into fooding and took us over to Ybor City to nosh at The Columbia! http://www.columbiarestaurant.com/


I ordered a glass of sangria for $4.95, which ended up tasting oddly soapy. Even the replacement glass.
Buuuut, the rest of the food? Total YUM.

Bread – nearly a loaf, for each person. Crusty on the outside, and warm and soft on the inside. Mmmm

Gazpacho – zesty, light, and yet still creamy in texture. I liked this a lot, and normally gazpacho is something I’d never think of ordering (Albany John got it)

I was a piggy and ordered El Combo de Cuba ($12.95) which was a sample of everything. Boliche, roasted pork, an empanada, black beans and yellow rice, and some very sweet platanos. YUM. This was so, so, so good. My favorite was the boliche, which was meltingly tender and slathered with gravy.

Our cousin, Tampa John, ordered Corvina “Russian Style”, which is a white fish with a lemony sauce. It looked very good, and he enjoyed it!

Hello Kitty Sis ordered a sandwich-salad combo. The cubano sandwich with the 1905 salad (one of the Columbia’s specialties). I got a bite of the salad (which they mix table side), and boy was it good! They accidentally gave her one of the soups instead of the salad, but eventually brought out the salad.

Albany John ordered the boliche main – the boliche is a slice of eye of round (a lean and tough cut) with a chorizo center, and cooked until tender. Then slathered with gravy. What isn’t good slathered with gravy? But seriously – fork-tender, with a seriously deep flavor.


The inside of my empanada. I think the outside could have been more tender, but this was well flavored inside.


We went late in the afternoon on Saturday and had a 20 minute wait. Not sure if they were overstaffed, but the waiter was a bit scattered and slow, but very nice.

To finish up, Hello Kitty Sis and I split a guava cheesecake ($6.50, I think…) which was like a soft, whipped cheesecake filling with a hint of the warm tropical flavor guava brings. It made me go “Oh, cheesecake… oh, wait… OHHHHH.” *drool* There was also a squiggle of guava syrup/sauce on the side, which really emphasized the guava in the cheesecake.
Thanks for the lunch, HK Sis!

And then we hit up the Sanrio Store at one of the malls. I LOVE YOU FOR TAKING ME HERE, Hello Kitty Sis!!

Later that day, Mama and Papa Amherst came in, and the troops were rallied. We went to WhatABurger for dinner (ok, based on my giddiness, and Papa John wanting some food ASAP). I think it was good, but not as good as I remembered it – it was probably nostalgia that made it taste so good before. This time, it was just OK. Sorry bout that one, guys.

Original WhatABurger

Inside of it (no mayo, ketchup, etc)

Fries
Papa Amherst got the patty melt.


Menu Board

Papa Amherst also got the chocolate shake. I got the vanilla malt, and woah – chocolate lovers – order this. Even I liked it. It was blastingly full of chocolate flavor.

You know what else I found in Tampa?? Grocery Stores we don’t have up here! Like a Publix! And within that Publix was…

Passion Flavored Smirnoff Ice!!! Can we get some of this up here? SOOOO good. It really tastes like a passion fruit spritzer.

Our hotel was really noisy, so I ended up getting woken up around 2 am every morning from the wannabe frat boys on spring break, and then at 7 am from southerners shouting at each other. So here’s a photo of the hotel pool at 7:30 in the morning. Yep, that’s a waterfall in the back ground.
The next day we went over to First Watch for breakfast.


Here’s what it looked like waiting to be seated. Lots of people!


Albany John and I each got gigantic pancakes ($2.99 for one). He got a cranberry-nut pancake, and I a wheat germ. They were very light and fluffy. The butter wasn’t even necessary!
Mama Amherst and Hello Kitty Sis ordered the fruit filled crepes with strawberry yogurt on top. The fruit was very fresh (Mama Amherst gave me a bite), but the crepes could have been thinner. They came with mondo muffins, and Albany John went on about how they were muffins only in name, because if it’s double-chocolate-chocolate-chip, then it’s a cupcake. Aww, bless. We gals argued that it was a muffin – there was no icing. Ah, we like driving our menfolk crazy.

Papa Amherst ordered, um… that. Some kind of omelet with potatoes and an English muffin. Sorry, can’t remember!


Afterwards, we headed out to the beach. Which beach? Any beach! Mama Amherst and I decided Sunday was so beautiful, we absolutely had to set our northern bones on some sandy, Floridian beaches.

We went to Ft De Soto, led by Albany John’s uncle, Tampa Tom (Tampa John’s papa). Man, what a great place he picked. It wasn’t too busy (free parking) and there were ample beaches to choose from.


Ft De Soto is also a no-booze beach, which I found out after I fell asleep and Albany John put one of my Passion Fruit Smirnoff’s on my back and one of the beach patrol folks came by and asked me what was on my back. Wheeewie, disaster avoided, though! While it might be a no-booze beach, plenty of folks were drinking beers and such (but maybe this was covert) on the beach.

For supper, we headed to Skipper’s Roadhouse Grill.

FUN!


If you’re in Tampa, this place is worth checking out. It’s got live music (the night we went didn’t have a cover, bless) and indoor and outdoor areas to sit and nosh and drink. The place is huge.

The food was also cheap, tasty, and came out quickly. What more can you ask for?
I orderd a margarita. Woah, this drink had a LOT of tequila in it. Awesome.


Here is a live band playing on their stage. The stage was covered, but the immediate viewing area in front of it was open.


There were: crawfish poppers (with an addictive remoulade)
Gigantic conch fritters, which were a steal at $5.95 per appetizer order. They were soft on the inside – almost pillow-y, and had a good overall flavor. The fritters came with a mustard that was also great. It was curry-ish flavored, and went wonderfully with the conch fritters. Good call, Hello Kitty Sis! (Also, another cajun crawdad on the side – they were good)

Clam chowder – clammy. Pass on it if it’s your first time here – there are many more awesome things to try.

Albany John ordered Gator Ribs!! $12.99. How adventurous! He loved them. I thought they were an interesting texture. Kind of like fish – a fairly similar flavor profile to frog legs, but a bit tougher in a texture that broke apart like fish. Chicago Velvet Smoove took this picture, since I was sitting across from Albany John. It’s also why the picture looks so good.


Crap. I forgot what this was. I think this was the blackened sandwich Catfish Mama Amherst ordered. As you can see, it came with hush puppies and a pickle.

The bar area of Skipper’s (hey, I’m just breaking up the food pictures for you. What’s that? Stop? Ok, here’s more food)

I ordered the Cajun po’ boy, which came with more fried crawdads! Yummy! The toasted bread was lightly coated in some kind of spicy sauce, and the sandwich was huge. I think it was around $8 – what a steal! These crawfish were so fresh tasting. This was fun to eat with the hands!

Both Chicago Velvet Smoove and TN Girl’s mom, TN Auntie, ordered the clam strips. They thought these were kind of a bust – too bready.

Fried grouper sandwich our other cousin TN Girl (girl cousin. Makes I.D.-ing the cousins easy for you – Tampa John = Boy, Other Cousin = Girl) ordered with fries on the side.

I wanted to try some onion rings. Holy crap. We didn’t even come close to finishing these. $3.49 for an order of these puppies is quite a good deal. And did I mention our table of about 10 people couldn’t finish them? Woah.

Tampa Tom ordered a fried fish sandwich as well.

Devil Crab – CVS and I ordered one each, not really knowing what they were. For $2.50, it was worth a miss. They kind of were – I expected a crab flavor for something half-named Crab, but meh.

It was kind of too big – like a gigantic stuffed croquette, and had a fairly generic spiced-brown-soft flavor and texture for the filling. I think they used the same breading/coating as the conch fritters, but it didn’t translate well in this dish (but man, could I go for more of those conch fritters).

Mama Amherst got some Key Lime Pie for dessert – how tangy, smooth, and the crust?! Cookies! This dessert was small (possibly the only thing small they serve), and well worth $2.50.

Ok, that’s it for now. I switched memory cards halfway through the trip, and it’s a 40-60 chance I’ll actually get the other memory card out and upload photos.

If I don’t – more fooding was had. The Taco Bus (El Taconazo) is aaawwwweeeesome, as are Mema’s Alaskan Tacos. Ybor City doesn’t have a lot of touristy souvenir shops, and Albany John and I went into a cigar shop that had drinks, smoking, and playboy magazines inside. Bo’s is tasty for ice cream, but not so much for milk shakes.

Even though we came to Florida for a sad reason, it turned out to be a very wonderful experience to meet new family and meet up with those I had met before. Albany John’s family is so close, even if they might annoy each other, they’re still family. I like that, and I am glad I am part of this family.

Mini Foodies

One of the Almost Foodies gang held a miniature themed gathering at her apartment. How many Almost Foodies can one apartment hold? A lot!

You can see a fruit plate of pineapple, blueberry, raspberry, and, I believe, mango. on tooth picks in the bottom left corner. These were so bright and easy to eat. Hello, delicious fruit!

Cheese covered mini chimis (with habaneros!), so good with a nice kick of heat and salsa on the side. And believe it or not, the habaneros didn’t completely burn up my mouth. I even went back for seconds! And thirds! (What? They were tiny!)

Ellsbells‘ beany dip (loved the cilantro in it – so fresh!); uuummm… I am blanking on the name, but these were tiny sweet balls with sesames on the outside – if you love citrus, you will love these bright, chewy, orangy balls.

Crock pot of mini weenies! How fun were these to eat? Tons!

You can kind of see Renee‘s dessert (shortcakes!!) and mine in the background.



But that’s not all folks! Mini Taco dip filled tortilla chips took front and center of the dining table. And what pretty presentation!
In the background are pizza bagels! Mini pizza bagels. With HOME MADE mini bagels. Holy crap, these were soooo freaking good. Soft and yet still chewy. Dude, I need the recipe.

Calzones, I think! The meatballs stuffed in here were so tender (and there was a meat ball-y sauce to accompany the mini-zones!


Here you can see a better picture of Renee’s awesome miniature scones for strawberry shortcake. Crap. I didn’t snap a picture of the whipped cream or strawberries she made either, but trust me, they were delicious. The scones were so light and fluffy! I stopped counting after scone/shortbread #3.


And here is a nice picture from before the chimis arrived. You can see the sweets Renee and I made in the top/background. I made carrot cake balls covered with white chocolate. They were really tasty, too (I ate, like, 12 of them ‘testing’ before bringing them over).
All of the food was really tasty. Good gravy, I do love these Almost Foodies gathering. One day I should try to host my own, but that would mean cleaning my apartment (which means Albany John would clean the apartment since I suck epically at cleaning).


Guess what else Renee found??

Mini beers! These were so fun to drink, and they were tiny so I didn’t even catch a buzz off of them! I could probably drink 2-3 of these and still maintain sobriety! My Asian-ness means I have a fairly low tolerance to alcohol, and generally I turn pinky-red after a few sips. Hello, Asian Glow.


And what mini series is complete without Baby Guiness?! So yumm! A baby guiness is a 50-50 mix of Irish Cream and Coffee Liqueur (i.e. Bailey’s and Kahlua)

This was so much fun, and the apartment was so fun, too! (The decor was awesome) I love these Almost Foodies meetings – food, friends, fun! What more can you ask for? (Also, the food is always outstanding. OUTSTANDING)

Shrimp, oh how I love yee

My husbear made some delicious shrimp dishes, with minimal nagging from my department. My favorite was the salad – a light vaguely asiany salad dressing (he whipped something up with a smidge of soy sauce, sesame oil, and uh, other salad dressing-type ingredients) lightly tossed over roughly chopped spinach.

Snoogums – make this again, would you? The shrimp were perfectly cooked – briney and sweet with a little pop/bite when you ate them. The dressing just enhanced them – no masking of their sweet, sweet flavors.


This was poured over pasta – a paprika-milk-cottage cheese combo. I think. Maybe? Albany John? It had onions, peas and shrimp. I liked this as well because it was a light sauce, although it could have been thicker to cling better to the pasta.

Albany John has been really rocking the shrimp dishes lately – the only thing I did was peel and butterfly them. Then I promptly left the kitchen after beginning to nag. See? Good wifey gets out of the kitchen. Only minimal nagging. Silver star (or maybe bronze) – no nagging next time, eh?

Bubble Tea, at home

Ignore the crap behind the cup.
I made bubble tea. Woo hoo.
I bought tapioca pearls for bubble tea at the Asian Food Market on Colvin, along with big straws. I went for shiny bright bubbles, but next time maybe I’ll go for the traditional black bobas.
If you just walked in to the store, the straws are located in the far right aisle on the right, on the bottom/floor shelving past the rice. The ones I got were purple. The tapioca pearls are in the next aisle to the left (the aisle with the noodles on one side and dried stuff and baking goods on the other) in the middle ish area. Basically, look for tapioca pearls, and then look for the biggest ones you can find. Easy. I bought a small bag for under $2.00.
The directions on the bag are for large scale amounts tapioca pearls – I generally only know I want bubble tea when I want it. Not earlier in the day, and I don’t tend to have boba parties.
This time I boiled around 5 cups of water, added the amount of pearls I wanted in a drink, let them boil for 2-3 minutes until they got plump looking, then covered and simmered them another 5 minutes.
Once they were finished, I skimmed them out and put them in my tea and sucked them out with one of those playfully huge straws. Since the tapioca pearls aren’t soaked in sugar or honey before going in the drink, they might seem a little bland, but I really enjoy the chewiness more than the flavor.
The tea was also pretty flavorful – coconut black tea (from the Good Leaf – so intensely coconutty and rich) with some milk and vanilla sugar. The additional bobas were fun and chewy!

Cod Cakes

Things I have not yet made with dried cod: cod cakes!

Or, err, things I have not yet made with dried POLLOCK. Eh, same thing, right?

These were quite tasty, so let’s go with a pictorial recipe!


1) Soak 2 fillets of salted cod in water overnight. Change water once.

2) Put salt fish in a pan & cover with water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook 15-20 minutes, until the fish starts to flake a bit.


3) Flake the fish into a bowl and remove any extra bones along the way.

Add: 1 T paprika, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2 T parsely, ( and maybe 1/2 t cumin and whatever else looks and smells good in your spice cabinet), 1 egg, 1 small diced yellow onion, and 1 handful Japanese bread crumbs (panko).

Mix well and form into patties.


4) Coat outsides of patties with panko and pan-fry over medium heat until browned and crispy on both sides (2-4 min per side). I tried deep frying, and the cakes lose a lot of texture and sweetness in frying – it tastes like a fish stick instead. Stick with pan frying.


5) Grab a zesty sauce of your choice and slather away!

I really enjoyed these fishy treats – the panko gave a nice crunch to the cakes, and overall, talk about a cheap and tasty treat – dried pollock is somewhere around $3/lb.

I think the seasonings are easily interchanged, as long as the basic cooked cod + diced onion + egg are kept.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Ok, enough of the boo-hoo-hoo I’ve got food poisoning moaning going on. At one point I was able to eat a slice of each of these corned beef roasts.

The one on the left is covered with mustard. That’s it. The one on the right is slathered with Slevin Sauce. If you have ever met Slevin and have never had his sauces, you must implore him to make them for you. I am running low, so I will have to ask the Little Guy to make more.

Underneath the sauces are cabbage and onions, that’s all.


Bake in a 350 oven covered for 25 minutes, then uncovered for another 25-30 minutes or so. The good thing about corned beef is that there’s really no over cooking it.

The slevin sauce’d roast is now on the left, and the mustard roast on the right. Mmm, how nicely they have browned. These even got my appetite up enough to eat a slice or two, plus a sandwich later at night.

Here’s one of the plates I made for the boys. Both of the roasts, sliced, with cabbage and onions on top, and a red potato with butter on the bottom. The veggies really cooked nicely – not too greasy, and a nice corned beefy flavor.

Enjoy with a Guiness or two.

Happy St Patrick’s Day! Sláinte!

Happy Birthday, AoA

I was oh so kindly invited to All Over Albany‘s first birthday bash at the Pump Station last Wednesday night.

Yay, I got to meet awesome people – someone with super long hair, and Sandor!

How awesome was that cake?! That is creativity right there, folks!

So Albany John and I went home a bit early-ish (after the speeches, I’m not a total jerk-o) since my tummy was rumbling, and figured I was just hungry.

No, turns out I had food poisioning. I’ve never had food poisoning. This was not pleasant. I spent most of Thursday sweating, sleeping, and Friday doing the same. Albany John was going to make a chicken shepherd’s pie, but ended up making something else entirely different above, which was quite soothing to my upset tummy, when it would let me eat.
Saturday we caught a bit of the parade. My sister from another mister came up from Orange County, NY and brought this pink vodka-sparkling wine concotion called Nuvo that was quite tasty and girly. I had all of 2 teensy sips of it, though, and well, yea. Tummy no likey. But being outside was nice, and the people of Albany are always so happy at this opening festival of good weather.
In sum, food poisoning totally sucks and I would never wish it on anyone. Maybe if you don’t like eating it wouldn’t be that bad, but the entire time I was ill, people were eating tasty, delicious looking things that I had absolutely no appetite for. And not being able to be at least a week bit tipsy at the St Patty’s Day Parade? Oh, epic fail-fest.
Today I’m still eating oatmeal. Fingers crossed, my bloggie loves, that I get over this tummy turmoil soon!
P.S. – I think I got sick from the leftover chickpeas I made after making Falafel. Evidently cooked beans don’t last longer than 1.5 or so weeks, and maybe you shouldn’t eat them for lunch for 2-3 days before you get food poisoning.

Sherry Lynn’s Opening this Month

Guess what a little birdy dropped by to tell me?

Sherry Lynn’s Grand Opening for the new shop in Latham will be March 21st!

Located at: 836 Troy-Schenectady Toad, Latham, NY 12110

Phone: 518-786-7700

Gluten-free folks (as well as lovers of tasty treats) rejoice! Too bad I’ll be out of town, otherwise I’d be driving over to grab one of the first baked delights.