Basic pasta dough recipe

The basic pasta dough recipe is really simple but making pasta takes time and best done with company. The more people, the better! Let everyone take turns using the pasta machine. Another way of putting it:  let your friends work for their meal!

The recipe below is good enough for a serving for 4 people. Someone (ie Dan) attempted a double recipe and, consequently, messed up my kitchen. Nice one, Dan.

You don’t have a pasta machine? Personally, I would not make my own pasta without a machine as I will have to roll out the dough using a rolling pin for ages! But if you have the energy or enough pent up frustration, go for it!

You need:

  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 200 g pasta or ’00’ grade flour (if you can’t find this, use strong white bread flour)

Tools:

  • pasta machine
  • baking sheets or trays lined with tea towel or kitchen towel, dusted lightly with flour
  • rolling pin (optional)

What to do:

  1. Put the flour on a clean work space. Create a little well in the centre.

    creating a well for pasta recipe © danandtuesday

    creating a well for pasta recipe © danandtuesday

  2. Beat the eggs lightly using a fork then gradually start to blend the flour to the eggs. Do this until you have a a crumbly mixture. Ditch the fork and start using your hands.

    blending pasta © danandtuesday

    blending pasta © danandtuesday

  3. Work the mixture by kneading the dough. If it starts to stick to the work surface, just sprinkle more flour in. Knead until it feels smooth and elastic.The dough should feel firm. It should be slightly firmer than a bread dough.
  4. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and then leave it to stand at room temperature for 20mins. If you don’t want to use all your dough, you can freeze it.
  5. Before using the pasta machine, divide the dough into about 6 parts.

    rolling the dough © danandtuesday

    rolling the dough © danandtuesday

  6. Set the pasta machine setting to its widest setting and then begin rolling out the dough. Change setting to a narrower one and roll the dough again. Do this until you have reached the right thickness for your pasta. the thickness really depends on how what you want to do with your pasta. If the pasta becomes too long, just cut it in half.

    Monette helping to make pasta © danandtuesday

    Monette helping to make pasta © danandtuesday

  7. Put the rolled out pasta on top of the lined trays while rolling out the rest.
  8. Once the pasta is rolled, you can do many things with them such as make flavoured pasta or ravioli. The pasta we made here was used to make a “silhouette” pasta (recipe soon!) which has different herbs between thin sheets of pasta. I used a clothes drying rack for drying my pasta before cooking them. You can leave them for 5 – 10 mins, if you have the time. Or you can cook them straight away in boiling water for about 3 mins.
  1. drying silhouette pasta © danandtuesday

    drying silhouette pasta © danandtuesday

Béchamel sauce

Béchamel sauce © dan and tuesy

Béchamel sauce © dan and tuesy

There are so many version of this sauce out there. Try the most convenient one for you, practice making it until it’s perfect and you can do it with your eyes closed!

The recipe below is from a new cookbook I just bought on discount called Hamlyn Cookery School. It is my new favourite book with easy to do recipes with step-by-step photos. It’s what we would like our recipes here to look like!

This recipe makes enough for 4 servings.

You need:

  • 300ml, full-cream milk
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • 3-4 flat-leaf parsley stalks
  • 15g butter
  • 15g flour
  • nutmeg, freshly grated
  • salt and pepper

What to do:

  1. In a saucepan, put the milk, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and parsley stalk. Bring almost to a boil then remove the pan from the heat and leave it to infuse for 20mins. Strain milk into a jug.
  2. Melt butter in saucepan until bubbling. Put flour and cook gently, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for about 1-2 mins.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk the milk gradually, still stirring until the sauce is completely smooth.
  4. Return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce comes to the boil then reduce heat to low. Cook for another 5 mins, still stirring until the sauce is smooth and glossy and thinly coats the back of the spoon.
  5. Season to taste, adding lots of nutmeg.

Smoked fish pie

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This is an easy one, and pies look quite impressive, especially if you pretend you made your own puff pastry. Quick! Grab yourself the following ingredients:

450g smoked haddock fillet, skinned
200ml carton creme fraiche
15g plain flour
20g flat-leafed parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
375g pack ready-rolled puff pastry

  1. Preheat a large shallow baking tray in the oven set at 230C (210C fan oven). Try and pull out any stray bones from your haddock. Got them all out? Nothing spoils a fish pie like the fear of deadly little bones lurking inside it. When your fish has been cleared of these nasty little spears, cut it into little chunks.
  2. Save one teaspoon of creme fraiche for later, and put the rest into a bowl with the fish, flour and parsley. Mix it all together and season with salt and black pepper. Lots of black pepper works well for me.
  3. Now you’ll need a second baking tray. Roll out the pastry onto it, and brush the edges with water to moisten it. It’s like licking your envelope ready to seal it shut. But please don’t lick the pastry, especially not if any of your dinner guests are watched. Dollop the fish into the pastry and spread it over one half of the sheet. Leave a border along those wet edges. Fold the pastry to seal your fishy envelope, pressing the edges together. If you’re feeling fancy, you can crimp the edges. I’m just happy if I can get the pie to stay shut.
  4. Mix that last bit of creme fraiche with a little water and brush it over te top of the pie to glaze it, then slash the pastry with some diagonal lines, Freddy Kreuger-style, so that the steam doesn’t get trapped and explosive during cooking.
  5. I often have trouble getting the pie to bake evenly – the base sometimes burns before the top of the pastry has cooked enough to rise. The trick is to put your second baking tray, the one with the pie on it, on top of the hot one in the oven, and cook it for about half an hour (you’ll know when it’s sufficiently golden brown).

I promise you will want to eat all the pies if they’re as good as this one. You can use different fish if you prefer – the effect will be much the same, and you can serve it with your own choice of steamed or roasted vegetables, or have it with a salad. Better still might be to scoff it out of a paper bag while sitting on a cold, wet, windy sea-front, but that’s just me.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagne

This is in the oven right now as I start writing this. It’s my first attempt at lasagne. Ever. And the greengrocer seems to have sold me some slightly dodgy spinach, so I can’t really vouch for its quality just yet. Maybe Tuesy can report back after I serve it up.

Here’s what you need to do:

1 Butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper

Peel and halve the squash. De-seed that thing. Chop it into big chunks (1 inch square has to be good enough, I reckon), toss it all in a roasting tin with the olive oil, chopped onion and a tablespoon of water. Season with salt n’ pepper. Roast at about 200 degrees (or considerably less if your oven is a fan-assisted raging furnace like Tuesy’s) for 25 mins. While that’s going on, you can get started on the sauce:

25g butter
25g plain flour
1 pint milk

Melt the butter in a pan, stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Gradually add the milk, stirring all the time (you don’t want it to go too lumpy) and then simmer it for about five minutes. It’ll go a bit thick, but not too stodgy.

In the meantime, cook 250g of baby leaf spinach in a few dribbles of water (use a separate pan!). Add salt and pepper.

To finish the sauce, you’ll need:

250g carton of ricotta
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (Tuesy: I did the grating!!)
6 sheets of that
lasagne that doesn’t need pre-cooking (Tuesy: this means, use regular lasagne sheets but you don’t have to pre-cook even if the packet says so. As this is very saucy, the pasta will cook anyway!)
50g of parmesan cheese, grated (we like it cheesy, so we’d go up to 80g for this one. I know, we’re just wild…)

Mix the ricotta into the sauce, add the nutmeg and a bit of salt n’ pepper if you haven’t got enough seasoning already. Here, for atmosphere, is a picture of some nutmeg during the grating process:

Now you get to build your lasagne. In an ovenproof dish, put the squash and onion stuff, nicely roasted by now, in the bottom, add the spinach on top and in between and all over, then about a third of the sauce. Layer the lasagne sheets on top, pour on the rest of the sauce. Finally, sprinkle the cheese on top and still more salt n’ pepper if that’s your thing.

Bake for about half an hour, or until the top part achieves your ideal level of crispy, golden goodness. Mine is nearly ready. Hope it’s good. Tuesy’s getting ready to test out her new food processor with some cup cakes, so there may be a delicious dessert blog to come shortly.

Tuesy: The lasagne Dan made is the best lasagne I have ever had in my flat tee hee… it was the FIRST lasagne I’ve ever had in my flat :-) But but but! It was also the best lasagne in the whole world! I absolutely love it!

The picture below is a macro shot of the lasagne. We love a crispy top!

PS. Dan used the Good Housekeeping guide to cookery for this recipe. He got it from his brother for xmas and it has changed his life! And I am grateful, of course :-)

PPS. Recipe for the delicious dark chocolate cup cake to be published soon!

Duck!

In the absence of full introductions, I should probably explain who we are. We are united by a passion for food. Maybe “passion” is a bit strong. We’re not experts, but we like to have a go in the kitchen. Tuesy is a bit more vegetarian than I am, but I have been eating a lot less meat since we met. We both eat seafood whenever we get the chance. There won’t be too many fancy recipes and, particularly in my case, a lot of this stuff is a bit “experimental”.
For instance, tonight I had duck for dinner. I had a couple of breast in the fridge, and no recipe book to hand. Time to improvise. I mixed some soy sauce, runny honey and wholegrain mustard (optional) in a bowl and dunked the duck into it. You can also roll the duck around in a bit of flour first if you like. I have no idea what this does (told you I wasn’t an expert), but it might help the marinade to stick to the meat. Maybe.
Throw the duck into a frying pan and cook on both sides for as long as you like. I like mine to be a bit pink in the middle, and crispy on the outside. Some may be scared by too much poultry pinkness, though. If you prick the skin before you fry, it’ll cook in its own juices. Because I can’t be bothered washing up extra pans, I took the liberty of chucking in some courgettes and red pepper to cook in the same trickles, but you might find that repulsive. Steam some veg to eat with it if you prefer. It’ll get very fatty in that pan. Sometimes I soak it up with some kitchen roll or just tip it away. You don’t want it to get too greasy before you eat.
Hey, I’m a beginner. But this tasted great, took about twenty minutes to prepare, and I’ve got some left over for tomorrow. It looked like this:

morning muffin


This is from the recipe book GI High Energy Cookbook.

Ingredients
170 g dried apricots, coarsely chopped
170g unsweetened muesli
250 g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
250 ml orange juice (fresh is better!)
zest of 1 orange
3 tbsp vegetable oil
100 ml honey
1 large free-range egg

What to do

  1. Out apricots, muesli, flour, baking powder in large mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix juice, zest, oil, honey and egg. Fold into the dry ingredients, but do not overmix.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the paper muffin cases.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven at 150˚C (fan-assisted oven) for 10-15 mins until golden and risen.
  5. Remove from the oven and serve or transfer to a cooling rack for freezing.