Homemade Mushroom Pasta

Mushroom Pasta

I love making my own pasta and am always playing around with flavors. I thought it would be fun to make mushroom pasta. I dehydrate mushrooms, and often powder them up- to use in sauces and soups. I figured I could do the same thing with pasta dough. I just added some of the mushroom powder to the dough. The result was really special. The mushroom powder added a great flavor to the pasta dough.

To serve it, after boiling it about 3 minutes, I drained it and tossed with butter and some parsley. I hadn’t planned to do anything special with the pasta- since this was just a trial run. I could see a lot of dishes and sauces I would use this pasta for. My Busha’s Polish mushroom soup comes to mind.

So here is the recipe. Keep in mind that fresh pasta cooks very quickly.

 

Mushroom  Pasta

 

3 c. flour, more if using electric pasta machine. See note.

½ c. mushroom powder- made from dried mushrooms*

1½ t. salt

4 eggs

Water, as needed

 

Mix flour, mushroom powder and salt. Stir in eggs, kneading until dough is smooth and elastic. Dough will be very stiff. Add a little water, as needed, to hold dough together. You may wish to mix the dough in a mixer or food processor. Cover dough and let rest  at least 15-20 minutes before rolling. Under kneading your dough will result in coarse, crumbly pasta. This batch makes about 1 pound. Serves 4-6.

 

Roll dough out on a well-floured board or with a pasta machine until desired thickness in reached. Add flour as needed to prevent sticking. Cut into strips or whatever shapes are desired. You might want to let the noodles dry 1-hour or more before cooking, but this is not necessary. Pasta can be hung to dry or separated and allowed to dry flat on a table. When pasta is not hanging to dry it must be turned occasionally to dry evenly. Although you may hear otherwise, homemade pasta, even when dried, should be frozen for long term storage. Storing at room temperature can lead to spoilage. Fresh pasta can also be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two.

Cooking fresh pasta happens quickly. For most noodles you are looking at 2-3 minutes at the most. Thicker cuts and ravioli would take a little longer. Watch it carefully. Drain after cooking, and toss with your favorite sauce.

Mushroom powder

*You might be tempted to powder up some store bought dried mushrooms. I would advise against that. Commercially dried mushrooms have not been washed before drying, so you might get dirt in your mushroom powder. I clean my mushrooms thoroughly before dehydrating.

Note: All electric pasta machines vary slightly and you should use their recipes as much as possible. Still, for most models, adding 1/4 c. flour for each cup in a hand rolled recipe works the best. Also recipes that contain seeds and vegetables may clog an electric pasta maker. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions.

Blueberry Lemon Trifle

Blueberry Lemon Trifle

This blueberry and lemon trifle was a perfect finish for a Spring dinner with friends. I hadn’t planned on making a trifle. I went shopping and there was a marked down angel food cake in the bakery…. I just had to have it.

Once I got home, I realized I had to do something with the cake.  I thought of trifle right away. Trifle is one of those desserts that can be whatever you want it to be. The basics of a traditional trifle are sponge cake, layered with some sort of pudding or custard and fruit. The cake is sometimes soaked in sherry or some other alcohol. Trifles are often topped with whipped cream.

I had just finished canning blueberry pie filling. That would be the fruit element of my trifle. I also had a few lemons that needed to be used soon, so the lemon curd was a good choice. Besides, lemon and blueberries pair so nicely together.

Once you have all the ingredients, the trifle is simple to assemble. Pick a nice, glass bowl, so you can see the layers in the trifle. It is best to put your trifle together a bit in advance, so the cake can soak up some of the moisture from the berries and the lemon curd. It also helps the trifle to stay together. I could actually slice the trifle to serve it.

 

Blueberry Lemon Trifle, ready to serve

 

 

 

 

So here is the recipe. I made the pie filling and lemon curd from scratch, but you can use store bought, to save time.

 

 

Blueberry Lemon Trifle

1 angel food cake, sliced thin

2 c. blueberry pie filling- homemade or store bought- recipe follows

2 c.  lemon curd- recipe follows

1 c. whipping cream

1/4 c. powdered sugar

Place a layer of cake slices in the bottom of the bowl. Spread half of the blueberry mixture on top of the cake. Place another layer of cake slices on top of the blueberry layer and press down a little to even it out. Cut cake pieces to fit as best you can. Add half of the lemon curd and top with more cake. Repeat the process one more time. Don’t worry if something isn’t perfect in the layers- that is kind of the charm of a trifle. Just be sure to get all the ingredients in the bowl. Cover and chill the trifle. When ready to serve beat the whipping cream and powdered sugar together until stiff peaks form and spread over the trifle. You can do this part ahead of time, if you prefer, Just keep trifle, covered, in the fridge, until ready to serve. Serves 6-8.

Blueberry Pie Filling

3 1/2 c. blueberries

3/4 c. sugar, or to taste

1/4 c. Clear Gel*

1 c. water

1 T. lemon juice

In saucepan, bring blueberries and sugar to a boil, stirring often. Combine clear gel with water and lemon juice and add to the blueberry mixture. Return to the boil and cook until thickened and bubbly. Makes 4 cups. You might not need the whole batch for the cookies.

*Clear gel is a modified cornstarch. It is used in commercial pie fillings and in homemade pie fillings, as well. Unlike regular cornstarch, Clear Gel retains it’s thickness, even if you reheat it. You can find it online or in some specialty food stores.

Lemon Curd

1/2 c. lemon juice

zest from one good sized lemon- you should have 2-3 teaspoons

1/2 c. sugar

3 eggs

6 T. unsalted butter- cut into little cubes

In medium saucepan combine all ingredients. Whisk the mixture until the eggs are well blended. Cook over medium low heat, whisking often, until the mixture thickens. This will take 5-7 minutes. Whisk more often as mixtures warms and starts to thicken. Better to heat over lower heat and take longer than over too high a heat. You don’t want the eggs to scramble. Once the mixture is thickened , transfer to a bowl or jar. Cover the surface with a piece of plastic wrap to keep the surface from developing a skin- like any pudding will do. Chill until ready to use. Makes about 2 cups. Will keep in fridge a week or two.

Homemade Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

Lemon curd is such a versatile dish. It’s a sort of lemon pudding and can be served plain, or with a dollop of whipped cream. It is also great in trifle or served as a topper for any number of cakes and sweet treats. I especially like to make lemon curd to serve with scones. It is also really nice served with berry shortcakes. I am using this batch in a blueberry lemon trifle.

 

It is easy to make and packed with fresh lemon flavor. Lemon curd is just a few ingredients, cooked over low heat until it thickens up. You can make a batch in under 10 minutes. The longest part of the prep time is just waiting for it to cool down after cooking.

 

 

 

So here is the recipe for the lemon curd. If you never made your own- you might want to give it a try. Certainly worth the effort.

 

Lemon Curd

1/2 c. lemon juice

zest from one good sized lemon- you should have 2-3 teaspoons

1/2 c. sugar

3 eggs

6 T. unsalted butter- cut into little cubes

In medium saucepan combine all ingredients. Whisk the mixture until the eggs are well blended. Cook over medium low heat, whisking often, until the mixture thickens. This will take 5-7 minutes. Whisk more often as mixtures warms and starts to thicken. Better to heat over lower heat and take longer than over too high a heat. You don’t want the eggs to scramble. Once the mixture is thickened , transfer to a bowl or jar. Cover the surface with a piece of plastic wrap to keep the surface from developing a skin- like any pudding will do. Chill until ready to use. Makes about 2 cups. Will keep in fridge a week or two.

Honey Bunnies

Honey Bunny

If you are looking for a fun dish to serve for Easter, you might want to bake a batch of bunnies. The honey sweetened yeast dough, is rolled into ropes, and then the ropes are formed into these bunny shapes. Once the rolls are baked, they are brushed with a mixture of warm honey and melted butter. This is also a fun recipe to make with kids. I make them every Easter. Sweet and so cute, they are sure to be a hit when you make them.

The dough is chilled before rolling, so you can mix up a batch in the evening- put in the fridge- then roll them out the next day.

 

Honey Bunnies

 4-5 c. flour

2 packages yeast

1 t. salt

2/3 c. evaporated milk

½ c. each water, honey and butter

2 eggs

Raisins, optional

Honey glaze

1/2 c. honey and 1/4 c. butter or margarine heated together until warm.

In bowl combine 1 c. flour, yeast and salt. Heat together milk, water, honey and butter until very warm and beat into the flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes on high speed. Beat in 1 cup flour and eggs. Beat 2 more minutes, until batter thickens. Stir in enough flour to make a stiff batter and chill, covered with plastic wrap for 2-24 hours.

Place dough on lightly floured surface and divide into 15 equal pieces. Roll one piece of dough into a 20- inch rope. Cut rope into a 12- inch piece, a 5-inch piece and 3 one-inch pieces. Coil 12 inch piece to form body, five inch piece to form head and one inch pieces to form ears and tail. Place the body on greased cookie sheet and then place the head next to the body, making sure they are touching. Place ears and tail on the bunny, making sure they make good contact with the rest of the “bunny”. I tuck them under a little. Repeat with the remaining dough. Let rise, covered until doubled, about 25 minutes. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove to cooling rack and brush with honey glaze. Place raisins on each to make eyes, if you like. Brush with additional glaze before serving, if desired. Makes 15 bunnies.

 

Dough is rolled out and cut into pieces for each of the bunny parts

Dough is rolled out and cut into pieces for each of the bunny parts

Unbaked bunny

Unbaked bunny

A colony of rabbits!!

A colony of rabbits!!

Brushing baked bunnies with honey/butter glaze

Brushing baked bunnies with honey/butter glaze

 

Fresh Mango Chutney

Fresh Mango Chutney

If you never had mango chutney, it might be a little hard to describe. When you look at the list of ingredients, it might also seem like an odd combination. Fruit with garlic? Sounds funny, but it works well together- really!!

Chutney is a condiment that has its roots in India. There are plenty of variations out there-but I am partial to mango chutney. Mango chutney is sort of like a sweet pickle relish, but not exactly like a sweet pickle relish. There is the element of sweet and sour, through the combination of fruit, sugar and vinegar. The addition of ginger, garlic and hot sauce just add to the wonderful flavor of the chutney.

Chutney can be used as a side sauce- so it can be served with whatever food you are eating- sort of like cranberry sauce. You can also add chutney to a food before serving- like folding some into your favorite chicken salad. I find myself just spreading some on bread when making a sandwich. It can also be used to cool down the flavor of spicier foods.

Chutney is actually pretty easy to make. Just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t scorch. Once cooled, keep in a jar in the fridge. You could freeze it, if needed. I never seem to have a problem using it up before I have a chance to freeze it.

So here is my recipe.

 

Fresh Mango Chutney

 

2 large unripe mangoes, peeled, seeded and diced- about 2 cups

½ c. water

½ c. cider vinegar

1 ½ c. sugar

2 T. peeled, freshly grated ginger root

½ c. raisins

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

1-2 t. hot sauce- or to taste

Salt to taste

 

Place diced mango in saucepan and add the water and vinegar. Simmer for 10 minutes, to soften the mango a little. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook over medium/low heat until mixture thickens. This will take about 20 minutes. Stir more often as mixture thickens. Adjust seasonings. Cool, then store in fridge until ready to use. Makes about 1½ cups. Will keep in fridge a few weeks.

Vegetable Soup Base

Vegetable Soup Base Ingredients

I have made a lot of stuff from scratch- could I make my own soup base? I could and I did! Not soup stock, but the stuff in jars that you just mix with water for instant broth. I wanted a no-meat soup base for when I was cooking meat-free.

I made a vegetable soup base that is a mixture of vegetables, both fresh and dried, herbs, mushrooms, nutritional yeast,  spices and salt. There is pretty good amount of salt, but I wanted to be able to store it in the fridge and be safe. Figured out that every teaspoonful of the finished base has less than 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Not great, but a lot less than bouillon cubes.

If you want to make yours with less salt or no salt- you’ll have to freeze the mixture in ice cube trays and take it out of the freezer as needed. Sort of like your own bouillon cubes.

The nice part is, I can now make a vegetable soup easily and I know exactly what is in it. It can also be added to chicken or other meat-based stocks, in place of the salt, to add extra flavor.

 

Homemade Vegetable Soup Base

4 carrots, peeled and cubed

3 celery ribs, washed and cubed

1 large sweet onion, peeled and cubed

3 green onions, washed and cut up

1 c. sun- dried tomatoes, soaked in water 30 minutes, and drained

1 c. dried mushrooms, soaked  in water 10 minutes and drained

1 c. chopped cabbage

1 c. parsley, chopped

1/2 c. chopped sweet pepper

1/4 c. nutritional yeast, optional

2 T. turmeric

8 oz. salt- I used sea salt and used a scale to weigh it. It’s around a cup but will differ if you are using a coarse salt

Combine all ingredients, except the salt,  in a food processor and blend until smooth. I have a decent size Cuisinart and still had to do this in batches. Combine in a bowl with the salt and stir well to blend. Store in a clean jar in the fridge until ready to use. I ended up with about 5 cups of soup base. To use, add about 1 teaspoonful to a cup of hot water for vegetable broth. Use less or more according to your taste. Use in place of salt in other soups, stews and sauces.

 

Finished Soup Base

Finished Soup Base

Vegetable broth made from the base

Vegetable broth made from the base

Blueberry Pie Filling

Blueberry Pie Filling

I don’t normally find myself making blueberry pie filling in March, but stuff happens. Sometimes really good stuff. After being gifted a large quantity of blueberries. I had to figure out what to do with them. My friend Mari, needed to free up some space in her freezer. She offered me some frozen blueberries. I didn’t ask her how many. I was delighted to find 5 (2 quart) bags of wild Maine blueberries!!! I didn’t have freezer space, either, so I knew I was going to can them. I made blueberry jam. I also decided to make pie filling.

There is something very satisfying in making your own pie filling. It is so much better than anything you would find in a can. It is a convenient ingredient to have on hand, too. A good quality pie filling can be turned into any number of desserts in no time- even pie!!

You do need to have Clear Gel to can pie filling. It is modified cornstarch. You can’t use regular cornstarch and you can’t use other thickeners. You could just can the berries, then thicken them later, but the Clear Gel makes it so much more convenient to use. I just order mine online, but it is available in some stores- primarily in Amish communities.

I opted to can my filling in pints. I find that size more convenient for me. Let the jars stay in the canner 5 or 10 minutes after they finish processing. It will reduce siphoning. Some foods, hot in the jars- will leak out of removed from the heat too quickly. Pie fillings are known for issues with siphoning.

 

Blueberry Pie Filling

6 qts. Blueberries

6 c. sugar

2 1/4 c. Clear Gel (modified cornstarch, not regular cornstarch)

7 c. water

1/2 c. lemon juice

 

Wash and drain berries. In large sauce pot combine sugar and Clear Gel. Stir in water and cook on high heat until mixtures bubbles and thickens. It is going to be really thick- don’t panic, just keep stirring so it won’t stick. Add lemon juice and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Fold in berries and ladle in hot, clean canning jars immediately. Leave 1/2 -inch headspace and remove any air bubbles with a knife. Wipe rims clean and put on lids. Place jars in boiling water bath and process for 30 minutes. Start timing when water returns to the boil. Turn off heat and let jars sit in the water bath 5-10 minutes before removing to counter to cool.  Cool jars on counter on rack or towel, free from drafts. Check seals next day.  remove rings and wipe down jars with a soft, damp cloth before storing. Makes 14 pints or 7 quarts.

Source NCHFP

 

 

 

Colcannon

Colcannon

I am not sure you can find a more comforting comfort food than colcannon. This traditional Irish dish is a combination of potatoes, cabbage, onions, parsley and butter. I was inspired to make it when my friend, Jill, mentioned she was making it for St. Patrick’s Day. It certainly doesn’t have to be St. Patrick’s Day to enjoy this traditional Irish dish, though. This dish is always a crowd pleaser.

I changed it up a bit by using Brussels sprouts, in place of the cabbage. It was for a dinner with a friend of mine, and since she doesn’t eat bacon, I left it out. But a lot of people do add some bacon to colcannon.

The recipe is pretty simple. I used a combination of chicken stock and half and half to cook the potatoes, but you  could use all milk, if you prefer.

Colcannon 

4 T. butter

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 lbs. of potatoes, peeled and sliced

1 c. chicken stock

1 c. milk or half and half- I used half and half

1 lb. Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and quartered

1/2 c. chopped green onions

1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley

salt and pepper to taste

extra butter for adding when serving

I large sauce pan or skillet, heat the butter and cook the onion until tender. Add the potatoes and cook a few minutes. Add the stock and milk or half and half and cook, uncovered over medium low heat, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The potatoes should be pretty tender. Add the Brussels sprouts, cover, and continue cooking until the sprouts are tender. This will take 10-15 minutes. If the mixture is soupy, remove the lid. Most of the liquid should cook off. You should mash the potatoes a bit before serving, so use a potato masher or a large fork to smash them up a bit. This will also thicken the dish up a bit more.  Add the green onions and parsley and cook a few more minutes, over low heat, stirring to keep mixture from burning.  Adjust seasonings and serve with extra butter on top. Serves 4-6.

Blueberry Liqueur

Blueberry Liqueur

I always stock up on blueberries when they are in season. I end up with a lot of frozen berries to enjoy throughout the year. I was cleaning out the freezer and decided to use some of my frozen berries to make blueberry liqueur.

What can I say? It’s been unseasonably cold and I needed something to remind me of warmer days. Not that I need an excuse to make blueberry liqueur.

I made two different ones, actually. One is unsweetened- just blueberries, vodka, lemon zest and a clove. It is sometimes called an eau de vie- French for water of life- or just blueberry vodka.

The other is sweetened a little with a sugar syrup- but you could use honey. That is called blueberry liqueur or blueberry cordial. Both are wonderful. The color is so pretty and they can be sipped, as is, or used in cocktails.  You can use blackberries, too, if you prefer.

It may be cold and snowy outside, but a glass of blueberry liqueur will warm you right up.

 

 

 Blueberry Liqueur

4-c. fresh or frozen blueberries
Sliced and scraped peel of one lemon, optional
1 clove, optional
3-c. vodka or 2 c. vodka and 1 c. brandy
1 c. sugar syrup, optional, recipe follows

Lightly crush berries with a fork. Combine with peels and clove and vodka and steep 3 months. Strain and filter and add sugar syrup. Mature 4-6 weeks.

Sugar Syrup

Simple syrup is made from 1 cup of sugar and ½ cup of water. Bring to a boil, then cool. You will have 1 cup of syrup. Some recipes call for plain sugar and others for honey. Watch when you substitute honey for sugar, as it is sweeter and stronger flavored. Better to use orange or clover honey.

Irish Soda Bread Scones

Irish Soda Bread Scones

If you are in the mood for the flavor of Irish Soda Bread- you can get the same wonderful experience in a scone. I made a batch of these scones this morning. Perfect with some recently made strawberry jam and a fresh cup of tea. Now, if I only had some Devonshire clotted cream.

I will admit that most mornings, breakfast is a bowl of oat bran. Scones are so much more fun. They don’t take a lot of time to make, either. These would be a great addition to your St. Patrick’s Day meal. While traditionally served for breakfast or tea time, scones are really good any time of the day.

I used golden raisins, but you could use regular raisins, currants, or even leave them out.

 

 

 

  Irish Soda Bread Scones

2 c. flour

3 T. sugar

2 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

½ t. salt

1/3 c. butter

½ c. golden raisins

1 t. caraway seeds

2/3 c. buttermilk

1 egg

Milk

Extra sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet. Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl and cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds. Beat together buttermilk and egg and add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until mixture just coming together. Turn onto floured surface and knead 5-6 strokes or until ball of dough holds together. Dust an 8-inch round cake with  flour. Press dough into cake pan. Invert pan over onto prepared baking sheet. I find if I do this quickly the dough comes out more easily. Remove cake pan. This will give you a perfect 8-inch circle of dough. With a sharp, floured knife cut dough into 8 wedges. Brush top with milk and sprinkle with extra sugar. Bake 14-16 minutes. Makes 8.

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