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Posted by on Mar 30, 2011 in BettyBecca Reviews, Store-bought Remix, Try Something New | 0 comments

Best Day Evar

Mr. J did great on my gifts this year for Christmas. He got me several cooking classes, and I LOVED them. You’ve already seen the cake decorating class, and there is also a basic knife skills class that I’ll post soon. Here’s the recap of my favorite one…Pasta Making!

On a Thursday morning in February, I headed over to Franklin to The Factory. The Factory is a great place all its own, but one of the great things about it is the Viking Cooking School. I had trouble finding it at first so I was a few minutes late, but I didn’t miss much. We had an appetizer at our places around a huge wooden table along with an instruction manual for what we were going to do for the day.

Our teacher was a true Italian, and I loved how she taught the class. She told us stories about her family and gave us lots of little tips and tricks. She was very chill and laid back.

We broke into groups of 3-4 and made a basic pasta dough first.

Next, we prepared our fillings: one pumpkin and one goat cheese.

Then, we set off to make fettuccine from a prepared herbed dough. We practiced running the dough through the pasta maker, making it thinner and thinner and thinner. We cut it into strips, and we had our first finished pasta, ready to be cooked. The instructor taught us that you should never put oil in your pasta water. You should only put salt, lots of salt. The water should taste like sea water.

After that, we went to work on prepping the dough for our filled pastas from the basic dough we made at the start of class. I had a rock star lady on my team that hand-rolled all of her dough. She makes a lot of pies and was a whiz with the rolling-pin. We had a nifty little gadget to make the raviolis with. You can see it on the left of the ravioli picture. For the tortellinis, we cut rounds and then folded them up to form the tale-tell bishop hat shape. That was pretty much the highlight of my life.

For sauces, the instructor made a wine and mushroom sauce for the herbed fettuccine. We made a browned butter and fresh sage sauce for the pumpkin raviolis, and for the goat cheese tortellinis, we had a fresh sauce, called a concasse, from tomatoes and herbs that was similar to bruschetta topping.

All of it was delish, and I felt so satisfied having made it all. The bummer was that I had to go into work after class, but I felt so good after the class from eating all of the fresh ingredients! I haven’t had a chance to make pasta at home, but I’ll definitely try it soon.It was a great experience!!!

Check out the photo recap below…

Tortellinis

Raviolis

Pasta Work Station

Finished platters

My plate - time to taste!

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Posted by on Mar 14, 2011 in Our Favorites, Try Something New | 0 comments

Tofu Homerun

I’ve done a lot of experimenting with tofu. I’ve baked it, fried it, boiled it, steamed it, eaten it raw…as to not sound like Bubba, you get the idea. I think a lot of people are intimidated by tofu. Don’t be scared. I found a great recipe a while back that I finally got around to trying this week. It has a few random ingredients, but now that I have them on hand, I’ll make this regularly.

Tofu can be found two ways, fresh or on the shelf (usually in the organic section). Tofu is completely bland in flavor so it acts as an artist’s canvas for whatever flavor you want to impart. I’m usually skeptical when people say they don’t like tofu because you can do so much with it. For folks out there with texture issues, I can’t help you with that one.

You’ll want to start out by pressing out some of the liquid that the tofu comes in. This will allow your flavors to permeate better. Typically, I like to marinate the tofu to impart flavor, but this recipe has a great flavorful sauce that does the trick. Since you’ll be frying it, you’ll want to get out as much liquid as possible. Pour out as much as you can, and then press between two plates with a couple of paper towels (for about 10 minutes or while you’re prepping other stuff).

I started out by cooking some rice and vegetables. I have this little guy, and it does the trick. I have to keep an eye on it though because it will scorch the rice. I use short grain/sushi rice from the grocery store. I made 1 cup (dry measure) of rice, but for a good ratio, I would recommend 2 cups. In the steam tray, I put in julienned carrots and celery, diced onion (in place of the green in the recipe), snow peas, and sliced mushrooms.

Next, I fried up my tofu. I didn’t dry it out at all the first time, and I wasn’t getting any brown color. I drained out the liquid released by the tofu, and then it started browning up. Remove the tofu from the pan to make the sauce. I use everything except for the sesame oil (don’t have any) and  bottled garlic and ginger. I use two freshly minced garlic cloves instead. I use water instead of broth to make it vegetarian.

 

Ingredients list

  • 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
  • 1  (14-ounce) package extra firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2/3  cup  water
  • 1/4  cup  hoisin sauce
  • 1  tablespoon  sherry
  • 1  teaspoon  cornstarch
  • 2  teaspoons  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1  teaspoon  honey
  • Dash of crushed red pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu, and sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from skillet.

Combine water and remaining ingredients in the skillet, stirring well with a whisk.

Cook 1 minute or until thickened, stirring constantly. Add tofu to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring gently to coat.

Serve with steamed mixed vegetables and 2 cups (dry measure) prepared rice.

Makes 4 servings.

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Posted by on Mar 13, 2011 in BettyBecca Bakes, BettyBecca Reviews, Come Together, Everyone Will Eat It, Store-bought Remix, Try Something New | 0 comments

King Cake Review

Fat Tuesday was this week. Last weekend, I whipped up my first King Cake to celebrate. The recipe makes two. We enjoyed one at home, and I took one to work.

King Cake before baking

Finished King Cake

The history is pretty interesting. Around these parts, not a lot of people take part in Lent, the 40-day period before Easter. So here’s a quick summary. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, and Mardi Gras, which means Fat Tuesday, is the party period that precedes it. King Cake gets its name from the three kings of the Christmas story. If you want to read more, click here.

The recipe I tried was pretty good. I would recommend a few changes, though. First, the oven temp was a bit too high. It was nice and golden brown before the inside was done. I found out that you can take the internal temperature of bread, much like checking to see if meat is done. When the thermometer reads 200 degrees your bread is done. Next time, I would bake it at 350 instead of 375. I would also do more with the filling. I split the filling amounts over the two cakes, and I would probably put that amount on one. This may take it away from the traditional taste, but I think it needs a little more moisture and flavor. The cream cheese and pecan filling sounds really good, too. The icing was the best part. It was lemony and a perfect compliment to the cake.

Sadly, I couldn’t find a baby to put in it. I’ll be on the hunt all year so I’ll be prepared next time. I also went with more of a party/celebration look instead of the traditional purple, green, and gold sugars.

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Posted by on Feb 27, 2011 in Try Something New | 0 comments

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

I was dying to try risotto, especially a mushroom one. I will say that it is definitely a lot of work. I had a class at the Viking Cooking School yesterday, and one of the ladies was making a mushroom risotto for a cooking demonstration later in the day. She was a professional chef, and she was having trouble getting it to come out just right. She called in the chef I had for pasta making (a true Italian) to help her get it back on track.

I don’t know enough about different types of mushrooms so I just went with the basic button mushrooms that you find at the grocery store. I wish I’d been more adventurous, because I could have definitely used more mushrooms. It would have added to the flavor, too, I think. I used a recipe from Tyler Florence that I found after a quick Google search (this was before Google Recipes, though).

Ingredients

  • 8 cups chicken broth, low sodium (2 large boxes)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, diced, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 1 small container of button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 T Italian seasoning
  • 1 T parsley
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • S&P
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Parsley, for garnish

Directions

Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 onion and 1 clove garlic, cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, herbs and butter. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned, season with salt and pepper. Saute a few more minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.

Coat a saucepan with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Saute the remaining 1/2 onion and garlic clove. Add the rice and stir quickly until it is well-coated and opaque, 1 minute. This step cooks the starchy coating and prevents the grains from sticking. Stir in wine and cook until it is nearly all evaporated.

Now, with a ladle, add 1 cup of the warm broth and cook, stirring, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to cook and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy, not mushy. This process may take quite a while (45 minutes or more). Transfer the mushrooms to the rice mixture. Stir in Parmesan cheese, cook briefly until melted. Top with parsley before serving.

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