July 22, 2008

Garlic Scapes

I am a little late posting this seeing that we are now past its season, but I wanted to share with you garlic scapes. I noticed these long, curly greens a month ago while roaming the farmers’ market. Intrigued, I picked one up and brought it home to see what it had to offer.

I learned that garlic scapes are the part of garlic that grows above ground (because of course the garlic cloves that you are used to are bulbs in the dirt). Anyway, when garlic first sprouts, it creates these scapes. With time the scapes grow strait and toughen so you must cut them within two weeks of growth while they are still tender, hence why their season is a bit short. They grow in the late spring/early summer.

The flavor of scapes is obviously of garlic but they are not as pungent. Although in the States farmers only recently have been utilizing the scapes in lieu of throwing them out, they have been popular in Europe and Asia. You can use them in place of garlic or green onions in your recipes. For my garlic scape I chopped it up, sautéed it with some butter and olive oil, threw in some pasta water and tossed with pasta and chopped parsley. I loved the nice, subtle garlic flavor.

Enjoy (well, next Spring)!


July 12, 2008

Homemade Orecchiette

Sorry for the delay in posting. The Pearl Onion is still very much alive, but unfortunately my internet has been a bit inactive (i.e., my neighbor who I “borrowed” from placed a password on his wireless internet). Luckily, this weekend I find myself at my “summer house” (aka, my friend’s parent’s suburban house) which allows me access to the internet.

Anyway, my “summer house” has a beautiful, large kitchen that is great for cooking. There is even a local farmers’ market near by on Saturdays. So needless to say I have been really enjoying living the life of those who have real homes (unlike my tiny Manhattan apartment with a kitchen that has 9 square feet in foot space—no exaggeration).

My first creation in the kitchen was homemade orecchiette (meaning “little ears” in Italian due to their shape). As you can probably figure out by the proportion of my recipes that involve pasta, I love it. I especially love fresh pasta and have always been intrigued to try to make it myself. However, I do not have a pasta maker (next on my list of purchases). I saw this recipe for homemade orecchiette in my Gourmet magazine and noticed that no pasta maker was required. Perfect!

On top of my excitement that I could make fresh pasta by hand, I was also pretty excited to see how simple the recipe looked. Yes, there really are only three ingredients and one of them is water.

So I ran out to my market to purchase some semolina (you can find this in the flour section of your market) and continued on my way to the train station to head out to my “summer house.” After some time of relaxation in the house—you know, breathing fresh air, stretching the legs by actually walking more than 10 feet in one direction without hitting a wall, etc.—I began to make the orecchiette. In summary, all you do is mix the ingredients together (5 minutes time), let it sit 30 minutes, make the orecchiette “ears” (20 minutes), let them dry for 30 minutes, and then cook them (5 minutes). As you can see, the active time of making these things is quite minimal.

The final product was so yummy too. I mixed my homemade orecchiette with fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, chopped shallots, fresh marjoram, cherry tomatoes, and salt/pepper. It made the perfect summer evening dinner.

Alright, so here is the recipe adapted from Gourmet magazine’s April 2008 issue (for 8 first course servings, or 4 main course servings):
  • 1/2 cup warm water (105-115°F) (Seriously, who has a thermometer for their water? I just ran the hot water in the faucet until it felt “warm,” and that worked just fine.)
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups semolina (sometimes called semolina flour)
  1. In a bowl add the water and salt. Mix until the salt is dissolved.
  2. Then add the semolina slowly in a stream while beating the mixture with an electric mixer at medium speed. Continue mixing for about 2 minutes until a stiff dough forms.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and elastic for about 6 minutes. Divide dough into 5 sections and let stand under an overturned bowl for 30 minutes.
  4. Lay out 2 dry kitchen towels (not terry cloth) on a flat surface and dust with some semolina.
  5. While keeping the remaining dough covered, on an un-floured surface roll 1 section of dough into a 14-inch-long rope about ¾ inch thick. Cut the rope into ¼ inch pieces.
  6. Using your thumb (lightly dusted with flour), press down on each piece of dough, pushing away from yourself and twisting your thumb slightly to form an indented curled shape (like an ear). Transfer as formed to the laid out towels. Repeat process with remaining sections.
  7. Let the orecchiette sit on towels until dry for about 30 minutes.
  8. Cook orecchiette in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente, then drain and toss with sauce.