Monday, August 8, 2011

That's a SOUPer idea!!!

By now you know that I love all things VINTAGE, and that applies to cooking as well.  I vowed a year ago that our meals would be prepared and not from a box or a can, old school, homemade. 

So, last Friday, I find my daughter going through our kitchen pantry.  I asked her what she was looking for, she said soup.  Obviously bored with our routine summer lunches, I agreed we needed to shake things up.  Cooking inside hadn't taken place since summer began, the grill had become my "go-to" cooktop, easy to use, great taste, no clean up required.

Chicken soup is my usual homemade soup of choice.  Everything is made from scratch, broth, noodles, everything!  I don't even use dried spices, instead I chop fresh.  This started with a whole fryer chicken I picked up on sale.  Meats are usually discounted a day or two before the use by date, this is when I purchase and then freeze immediately.  Buying bulk ground meats can cut costs as well and freezing them in smaller weights for easy use is very helpful.

With the chicken boiling with fresh veggies (turnip, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, whole black peppercorns, bay leaves) to make the broth, I started preparing the egg noodles.  Using flour, eggs, and EVOO, the dough began to shape.  I find that kneading it for AT LEAST 10 minutes with a lot elbow grease, makes a good elastic dough.  Another hint, do not over flour, you want a good dough, easy to work with and can hold up even when being reheated and frozen.  Back in the day, I thought I needed a great amount of flour, but the noodles would turn into little chunks once cooked instead of the long noodle it started as.  After kneading is done, form into a ball, coat with EVOO, wrap with cling wrap, and set aside for at least 30 minutes.  This allows the gluten to relax. 

The pasta machine has become a new friend of mine, especially since I make noodles more often.  The clean up still drives me crazy, but it is a love/ hate relationship, lol!  Starting with a #2 setting, I begin pulling it through, yes, pull and stretch the dough through the rollers.  Three times is my magic number, then it is placed to a #5 or #6 setting.  Once again, pulling and stretching, making a very smooth, elastic sheet.

After all sheets have gone through, take them through the cut of choice, fettuccine, spaghetti, it's your preference.  This time, I went with a very thin fettuccine noodle.  As soon as they have been cut place them in individual bird nests for drying, once again, this is the best way to boil or freeze the noodle.

Finally the broth is made, noodles and chicken are added and time to serve.  Add kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.  VIOLA!!!

What extraordinary dishes have you made lately?  Do you have any helpful hints you would like to share?