100 Day Project: Days 81-90
I'm finally going to finish my 100 day project posts. Its only been 3 months right? Better late than never? This is Part I of the final posts - here we go!
Just to recap - back in June I decided to start a (late) 100 Day Project; the official start date is in April. The 100 day project is an instagram project where you commit to doing a creative act every day for 100 days. Most sane people choose something artsy like drawing/painting, or practicing/playing an instrument. I had been making pasta for a few months and was looking for a project so I thought I should do a pasta project. Fast forward a few weeks, I realized 100 days was a REALLY long time. Like really long. I stretched it out a little, aiming to make pasta 5 days a week and started inviting friends and family to join me for dinner because basically everyone loves pasta. In doing this I realized that I loved sharing my passion for cooking and food with people. This led to me making some big life changes/decisions that I will expand on more in a special blog post (I guess lets call it part III of these final posts). For now though, here are the best and worst of Days 81-90
The Tastiest: Ricotta Gnocchi with Cherry Tomatoes + Spinach
It is very possible that I remember this being the tastiest because I'm now writing this in the middle of winter. The idea of fresh tomatoes is so appealing right now, winter tomatoes are so sad and gross. My parents were in town when we made this, and it was at my mothers suggestion that we make ricotta gnocchi instead of potato. They were hard to work with (the dough was so wet) but the results were wonderful. The gnocchi were light and fluffy, we pan fried them a little before adding the tomatoes and spinach too so they wouldn't break up in the pan. It was fast and easy and something I can't wait to make again. Tomato season cannot come soon enough
The Most Exotic: Raviolo with potato, leeks and bacon
Exotic might not be the right word for this, but it'll have to do. This was a riff on potato leek soup inside a ravioli; it definitely could have been inspired by the pierogi we made a few days before. Was it a little weird and scary looking? Yes, but it was also pretty tasty.
The Most Disappointing: Udon with Spicy Eggplant
Making udon is a bit more of a process than I realized. It takes a few hours of kneading (most recipes suggest using your feet) and resting. Let me quickly explain the feet thing - the dough is exceptionally tough, they ask that you put it in a sealed bag, wrap in a towel and then suggest flattening it with your body weight via walking on it. You then take it out of the bag, fold it over and do it again. We did not do this. The noodles were really good, chewy like udon is supposed to be, but my spicy eggplant was too sour and weird, so the leftovers got tossed. Lesson learned (I've become much more proficient in Asian cooking since)
The Prettiest: Pinwheels with pesto
This could easily be my favorite photo from this project. The dough was just my standard egg dough, cut into squares and folded like pinwheels. The results were these really clean, pretty geometric shapes. Was it the most practical shape to make? Definitely not, but have you ever heard the saying you eat with your eyes? These certainly fit the bill by being both pretty and fun to eat.
The one you could make tonight: Strozzapreti with spinach + tomatoes
Honestly, a lot of these are quick easy dinners. Because (I suspect) that I made a lot of these during the height of tomato season I want to explain how I make a quick cherry tomato sauce. I also want you to know that strozzapreti means priest stranglers because its an awesome cool fact. Apparently they were so good that priests would eat them to quickly and choke. The more you know am I right?
Now for the sauce. In a saucepan I'll put equal parts canola oil and butter in a pan (usually a tbs of each) the canola oil helps raise the smoke point of the butter so it doesn't burn. once hot, I'll add my halved cherry tomatoes skin side down (if you can, I know its tricky). They'll cook down, try not to move them for a few minutes (2-4 at least) so they brown and crisp up. You can salt and pepper them at this time too. Continue to cook using the same technique, stirring, letting them sit for 2-4 minutes then stirring again until they are soft and hopefully brown in some spots. Add your garlic, once it browns add spinach and turn off heat. Mix the spinach in until melted, then add pasta + some pasta water + a little more butter. Turn the heat back on, stirring the pasta water + tomato + butter mixture until its as thickened as you like. Feel free to add fresh herbs (basil or parsley) a squeeze of lemon (for some more acid) or more salt, tasting as you go. Serve hot!
Here are some of my favorite pictures from these 10 days, to see photos of all 10 finished dishes check out this link to my #100daysofpastafresca on instagram!