Sunday, January 13, 2008

Keeping the Stove Fires Burning

I meant to cook more yesterday, but by mid-afternoon I had run out of steam, so I pushed the bulk of this weekend's cooking to today. When I rolled out of bed, then, I knew I needed to get started early to get everything done. So hang on to your hats -- here's the day's wrap-up:

Since I had set myself a goal of trying to keep my pantry supplied with basic foods, I thought I'd better get some fresh pasta made. While I toasted homemade bread for my breakfast, I pulled together the pasta ingredients, and once breakfast was over, I finished mixing and kneading the dough, setting in the fridge for a while.

Once it had firmed up, I pulled the dough out and rolled it out, cutting it first into long ribbons to dry and then into shorter ribbons that I folded and twisted:

I can't remember the name of this particular kind of pasta (gemelli, maybe?) but thought the chunkier twist would be good for the pasta e ceci I intended to make for dinner tonight.

In the midst of the pasta-making, I started on a new dessert. The Southern Belle gave me a copy of Simply In Season for Christmas, not knowing that I had already read it and loved it but not bought it, and I found a recipe for Pear Custard Bars that would help me use up the last jar of home-canned pears (opened over Christmas for the gingerbread).

I threw together a pecan shortbread base and baked it, and after a while, I returned to the kitchen to whip up the cream cheese filling, adding a bit of candied ginger before topping it with the pear slices and a cinnamon-ginger sugar sprinkle.

Simple, but luscious and wonderful! I'll enjoy those for desserts and possibly my morning coffee breaks this week.

As lunchtime drew near, I pulled out the recipe for somsas, an Uzbek variation on samosas that I've made before, and set up my work space.

Like the pasta dough, the somsa dough pulled together very quickly, and I let it rest while I sauteed one of my onion-garlic-hot pepper disks from the freezer. I mashed the remaining steamed butternut squash, added a variety of spices, and tossed that mixture into the aromatics, letting it all warm up before I filled the turnovers. And a short while later, I had lunch!

The little twist I added to the spices gave the somsa filling a hint of Indian flavors, so I spooned up some of my cantaloupe chutney with lunch. These turnovers are so savory and filling that I know I'll enjoy having them for lunches this week!

After turning to another project for the afternoon, I finally headed back into the kitchen to make dinner. I had pulled two whole tomatoes from the freezer, and after skinning them, I mashed them together with the remaining cooked chickpeas and some more Bulgarian feta. Then, after sauteing some garlic and rosemary (both local, yum), I tossed in the tomato mixture and let it simmer a while before adding the pasta twists.

And there you have it: pasta e ceci! The sauce wasn't quite as smooth as usual, but it still tasted pretty wonderful.

So tonight I'll kick back, prop up my feet, and pat myself on the back for a productive day's work. Those dishes won't last too long, but I feel pretty good about getting back into the swing of cooking this weekend.

Now, where did I put that dessert...?


At 1/19/2008 9:00 AM, Blogger Ed Bruske said...

Jennifer, I like a dense, chewy pasta. I'm hoping before winter's over to get around to making a whole wheat pasta that's pressed through the meat grinder.

At 1/20/2008 12:01 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Interesting thought, Ed... I look forward to hearing how that works for you. I do like how both the whole wheat and the spelt pastas I've made taste and feel in the mouth... substantial and satisfying. And with the twists, it's even better (and works well with a thick sauce). Good luck!


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