the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur (plonq) wrote,
the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur

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Kitchen ... stuff.

This has been a day for experimentation in the kitchen for me. Two of the items stem from reading or hearing something in passing that put a bug in my ear, and the other is something that has become a semi-regular thing for me, but I tend to mix things up every time I do it, so it falls under the heading of experiment as well.

The semi-regular thing is fettuccine. We bought a pasta roller shortly after we were married. I seem to recall that it was on sale at the time, and we both naively jumped to the conclusion that we were responsible adults who would make good use of such a device. We did use it once, or maybe twice. After our second use, it sat on the lower shelf of our cupboard like a silent, heavy indictment every time we had to dig back there to get food processor or industrial plastic wrap. Over the years I have made tentative plans to pull it out and roll out some nice spaghetti, or maybe a linguine, but that was like ... work.

I finally snapped a few weeks ago and decided that, come hell or high water, I was going to dust off the pasta machine and make some fresh noodles for dinner. I looked up a recipe online for basic egg noodles and then spent the next couple of hours struggling with the proportions of water, egg and all-purpose flour until I had what I thought was probably the proper texture. The resulting noodles were a little on the tough side, but worth the effort. I have since found recipes that skip water in favour of just eggs and oil and, as I discovered with the one today, have the proportions entirely wrong. I followed the instructions and ended up with a sticky slurry.

I know it would have firmed up a bit if I had worked it more, but I added a couple more handfuls of durum until it felt more like dough and then worked it for the next twenty minutes. The last couple of times I made pasta I used durum flour instead of all-purpose, and the results are very good. Normally I mix up the dough using the hook in our standing mixer, but I felt the need to burn off some energy today, so I mixed it by hand. If you have never made your own pasta, I heartily recommend it. Kneading and pounding the dough is very cathartic, and the resulting pasta is a step up from the stuff you get from the store. If you don't have a pasta machine, you can always flatten it with a rolling pin, roll it up and then cut it into noodles with a sharp knife.

Pardon me while I pause to scream about the fresh dump of snow we got this weekend.


The two other experimental items were peppered coffee, and black bean brownies.

The brownies come from a comment I read on Reddit, in a thread about things that people really should try, even if they do not sound appealing on the surface. One poster mentioned brownies make with black beans instead of flour. At first I was not sure if he was trolling, but after a bit of research I found a few recipes that listed them as a vegan/gluten free alternative to regular brownies. My curiosity was officially piqued. It is not that either of us are vegan, or have a gluten-free requirement in our diets, but it was something different, and I am not one to shy away from trying something new.

The brownies are done, and are currently cooling on the stove, and we will probably be getting into them after dinner this evening, so I will report later on how they turned out. Either I will be singing the praises of this new discover, or post my tale of them here as a warning for future generations. "BROWNIES OF WOE. DO NOT ATTEMPT AT HOME."

Well, we shall see. They smell good, but read you will from the picture thereof.
Black Bean Brownies

The third thing I tried today stemmed from something that a guest minister at church said today. Stefan was talking about the early Universalism movement in our province, and mentioned a particular minister who ran into some trouble with the Lutherans when he started adopting the concept of universal salvation. He mentioned that this minister had a penchant for peppering his coffee, and that many of his followers adopted the same practise, which led their detractors to paint the lot of them with a demeaning label relating to it.

I missed the next bit of what he said, because my brain latched onto that and went, "Pepper in your coffee? Really? That sounds interesting. I wonder if it's any good?"

After we got home this afternoon, I ground enough coffee for a cup and added about 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper into the coffee before I brewed it. If I had not known that somebody had added pepper to the coffee, I would have noticed something slightly different about it, but would have been unable to place what it was. Knowing that it was black pepper, I could identify it immediately in the flavour of the coffee.

I like it.

I may not do this with every cup I brew, but I rate it up there with cardamom as a nice addition to add some zip to a cup of joe.
Tags: brownies, food, pasta
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