Noodles IV: Rotini and Bleu

Friday, February 22, 2008

Many people think of cost per volume or cost per weight when looking for a good grocery buy. This is easy to figure because this is how many foodstuffs are sold. There are other ways to look at food value, however. Cost per usable weight often comes out differently than the cost of what you buy, for example - about one third of a banana's weight is skin. Considering cost per nutrition leads the shopper to healthier, if more expensive foods like dark coloured greens or whole grain foods rather than their blander, paler counterparts. Convenience is a valid measure of grocery value, though it often comes at a price of flavour and nutrition. Then there is cost per pleasure or cost per flavour. Blue cheese ends up being a great buy on this scale; a small amount packs a great deal of character and flavour.

This is one of those pasta dishes that can be ready in slightly more than the time it takes to boil the noodles. A noodle with high surface area for the sauce to cling to is ideal. I like eating this richly sauced pasta with a pile of steamed vegetables, either greens or squash, that can be cooked over the pasta water. You could also chop some tomatoes to stir in at the end.

Boil 3/4 cup of rotini or other short pasta in salted water. Meanwhile, heat 3 tbs of cream with 1 tbs blue cheese, more or less to taste, in microwave or other container. You can use a pretty strong blue like Gorgonzola or a Danish blue here, or a milder one if desired. Add a pinch of salt to balance cheese if needed. Drain pasta well and stir in sauce til coated. Serves one.

Noodles III: Loch Ness Noodles

Sunday, February 10, 2008

My homemade noodles always morph into something monster-like - larger than life and not too pretty. They take more work than I usually do for one meal too, so I don't make them very often. I really love how they taste, however, and they satisfy my childhood wish to have bigger noodles, and more noodles, in my soup. This is a good recipe for a day when you can put off all your outside tasks and spend an hour or so in the kitchen.

Start by making the noodle dough - one and two thirds cups of flour, two eggs, and two tablespoons of milk. Mix together thoroughly (dough will be moist) and then work in enough additional flour to make a kneadable dough. Knead til smooth and elastic and wrap in plastic to rest for a few minutes.

Chop the vegetables for the soup next. This soup is all about the noodles, so you want really little pieces that will mostly cook down. Cut about one cup of finely diced celery and the same of onion, three cloves of garlic, and some carrot if desired. Sweat these vegetables in a dutch oven or large saucepan with about a teaspoon of salt til they are limp and giving up their flavours. I added two thirds of a cup of chicken, chopped small like the vegetables, but you can easily leave it out. Add one and a half litres of chicken stock and one chopped tomato. Bring to a boil; then simmer.

This is where you shape the noodles. I either roll them thin and cut them with a knife, or just pull off little pieces of dough to roll with my hands. Doesn't seem to make much difference.

Anyway, taste the soup and make sure there is enough salt (the noodles will absorb some) before bringing to a boil. Drop in noodles and boil noodles for several minutes, until they are cooked all the way through. It's tough to eat these with a spoon so we attacked them with chopsticks. Serves 3-4.