Monday, May 5, 2008

Birthday Meal

This is what I got for my birthday: a pasta maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer! Looking at the photo, it sure looks like the color of my mixer is pasta dough yellow... In any event, the way we celebrated my birthday was to spend the entire day cooking everything that we could from scratch.

I went to the farmer's market on Friday and bought what was the most fresh looking. I knew I was going to make some sort of pasta to try out my new attachment, but I didn't decide to make lasagna until about mid-day Saturday. The produce I had on hand worked out well for it. The menu evolved as the day progressed. The lasagna noodles are the first pasta I have made from scratch. It took a few tries to get used to how to use the attachment, but once I got the hang of it, it was pretty easy!

Semolina Egg Pasta ingredients:

4 large eggs, 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 3 1/3 cups semolina pasta flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt.

I used some Florida tomatoes to make the marinara sauce for the lasagna. I started by boiling them to soften the skin. Then I peeled them and the simmered them with low heat for many hours with olive oil, onions, bay leaves, etc.

I made homemade ricotta cheese which I mixed with fresh (but blanched) spinach, parsley, an egg, and salt and pepper.

I also made a white sauce (a bechamel with Fontina and Parmesan cheeses melted into it), and I roasted some red peppers, portobello mushrooms, and zucchini with olive oil and Italian herbs.

All of these went into the layers of the lasagna. Above I am assembling the lasagna. Yes, I used my hands to spread the ricotta layer. I like getting my hands dirty!

Here is a slice of the lasagna. It is the best we have ever had! Yes, I am biased! I must not forget to mention that we also ate homemade bread (sampling all day long, as the different kinds of loaves were coming out of the oven).

For dessert we made Crespella Cream Pie, topped with homemade Chocolate Sauce and filled with homemade Vanilla Pastry Cream and slices of bananas and strawberries. To top it off, we also made homemade Strawberry Ice Cream. Everything was outstanding!

I was able to get Florida strawberries at the farmer's market, something I hadn't seen in many weeks, at least a month. I couldn't resist buying an entire flat of them, as they were only $6. There were 12 pints, about 24 cups, of strawberries in my flat. I would say that 25 cents per cup of berries is pretty cheap!! There was a line of people eagerly waiting to buy them, so I was lucky I was able to get a flat before they were all gone. That's the way the farmer's market is here. A random truck of freshly picked produce arrives, and sometimes it will all gone within an hour. If you don't happen to be there during that hour, you miss out!

Anyway, it was a fabulous way to spend the day. We ate very very well!


Ana said...

Happy Birthday Kathleen!!!
(we have close birthdays, mine was on the 29!)
Wow, everything look just delicious and I can only imagine how yummy your fresh pasta was!!
Happy Happy Birthday!!

ColorJoy LynnH said...

Happy birthday to you... a few days late. I want to make pasta, too. I own 3 pasta makers, hand crank ones, but they are for polymer clay classes and can't be used for food.

It's harder to make pasta when you can't use wheat, but I may try anyway. Before all my allergies, we had pasta almost every night. Sometimes we put beans and veggies on, and tossed. Sometimes a tomato sauce, sometimes black olive tapenade and pine nuts.

These days I can buy good rice pasta but we don't eat it as often. I'm thinking fresh would be easier to pull off than something that would dry and then reconstitute perfectly. Might give it a try.


Anonymous said...

Happy belated birthday!!! What a delicious looking meal! Looking
forward to seeing you this weekend..

Madelyn said...

Even though it's a super late congratulations... I hope you had a very nice birthday... I can't believe I forgot or that have been away so long...

This lasagna looks amazing!!!!! super appetizing - Love it!!! I am so glad you got a pasta maker as a birthday present. I am "envious"... but in a good way.

And the desserts... to die for!! COngratulations.