Thursday, December 30, 2010

Noms: Raviolis

The bf's mom is Italian and therefore is charged with teaching me EVERYTHING she knows about Italian cooking each time she comes for a visit. Luckily, I think she enjoys passing on the family secrets and tricks of the trade so we have a good time together. This trip I insisted on learning the art of making handmade raviolis. When I say art, I certainly mean it. Creating each perfect pillow of divine nosh is like creating a masterpiece suitable for any gallery or museum worth mentioning. So basically - you can just call me Picasso!
Raviolis are actually not complicated like I originally thought. However, they take FOREVER and you must be meticulous. Here is the step by step guide if you are interested in becoming an artist like myself:
Make the dough.
This involves 1 cup of flour for each person eating and 1 egg per cup of flour. We had to add an additional egg because our dough was VERY dry that day. This all depends on the weather, the humidity etc so just make sure your dough a tad sticky and you should be golden. Let the dough rest.Wrap in plastic wrap to preserve the moisture for about tens minutes. Trust me - your arms will thank you for the break.
Roll out the dough.
This requires a pasta machine with an electric piece (or guns of steel and entirely too much time for someone as popular as myself). Cut small chunks from the rested dough and begin kneading through the machine. My machine had seven settings so you want to go through each setting a few times. Setting one made it longer and flatter, setting two made it even more flat and long, etc, etc until setting seven when we had a full sheet of pasta!
Create the raviolis.
Use your ravioli pan (they have stamps too) and begin by laying one sheet of dough on the bottom. Then, stuff the dough with your filling (we used butternut squash, but you can use whatever filling you like) and topped the filling with another sheet of dough.
Seal the raviolis.
Use the tiny rolling pin that came with your pan to seal the raviolis. Don't be afraid to use some force. You want to ensure each ravioli is seal tightly! Then, pop them out!

Set out to dry.
Flour the raviolis and place on a pan to dry. We let ours dry over night since we weren't eating them until the next day; however, I am sure you could eat the same day. You will have to shmagoogle that one on your own kids.
Cook.Serve.Accept adoration and applause.Instruct all to address you by your official title, "Chef Betty Croker Picasso."
After bringing the water to a boil, we cooked the raviolis for three minutes and topped with a delish butter sage sauce.
Now that I am a pro, I am excited to attempt more fillings. I need to find the best of the best out there and experiment. I think I will make a million one day and freeze them for last minute dinners. What is your favorite ravioli filling?

Chef Betty Croker Picasso out!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Travel Tips: Oktoberfest

The bf and I took a quick trip to Munich in September for a little festival you might have heard of - OKTOBERFEST! I know, first thing you are thinking is, "umm aren't you a month early?" No my dear friends, Oktoberfest actually takes place in September. A quick history lesson for those of you less booze inclined: the very first Oktoberfest was actually the best wedding reception ever held in honor of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. The reception was such a hit that the event was held again the following year and so on. Traditionally, the festival last either 17 or 18 days leading up to the first Sunday in October. This year was the 200th anniversary of the world's largest festival which annually attracts over five million guests. Try to imagine the biggest state fair ever in combination with the largest beer tasting in history. You have Oktoberfest! The set up itself is a large section of the city center with 14 beer tents. The guests typically wear the traditional German lederhosen and dirndl. Here are a few tricks of the trade to make your next journey a success: 1. Look the part. The bf and I arrived in Munich sporting our typical travel ensemble of jeans and sweater. Turns out we are the ones who looked ridiculous! Take some time to find some lederhosen or a dirndl. It is worth the bucks to look like a local.
2. Learn how to order beer in German. Thankfully, the bf did this VERY well and we were served post haste!
3. Make reservations at the beer tents NOW! We had no idea that Oktoberfest is basically the Oscars minus the celebs and plus a few mean German ladies. We were lucky enough to finagle our way into THREE beer tents and even ended up SOMEHOW in the famous Hofbrau House at the end of the night. However, we were VERY lucky. Make reservations now for your favorite brewhouse to ensure you get prime seating a at least one stein of the magical deliciousness. 4. Hydrate. The beers in Germany are serious. The beers in Germany are huge. I don't care if you won every beer guzzling competition at your frat house. You are not prepared for this. Make sure you take a time out between steins to gulp some good ole H2O. You can thank me later.
5. ENJOY. This was hands down one of the most fun times we have had in Europe so far. It is impossible not to enjoy yourself once you are inside one of the famous tents. Grab a beer, eat a pretzel, make new friends and most importantly don't forget to PROST!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Boogie Woogie: Holiday Playlist

In all walks of life, there are different types of people. There happen to be flip flop people and non flip flop people. There are cargo short wearing frat boys and die hard jean hipsters. And of course, there are holiday music people and grinches - I mean non holiday music people. I, of course, happen to fall into the holiday music people category. The first day after Thanksgiving when I am in Atlanta I immediately preset my radios to 98.5 for all holiday all the time. Sigh - it is so good! I live in the South and for the most part we don't get snow. So, I have to supplement my holiday atmosphere by adding over the top obsessions like holiday music. I literally do not listen to ANYTHING else from Thanksgiving to New Years Eve. It makes my heart happy and annoys the crap out of some of my favorite men i.e. the bf and the daddy dearest. WHAT could be better than that?! A few of my favorites for your consideration.

What is your favorite holiday song?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Words of Wisdom...

I couldn't agree more. Eight more days and I am on my way! Now all I have to do is get through the work week sans wingwoman, purchase one final Christmas gift, cook the best food ever, spend time with the family, take a million pictures annnnnnnd PACK! I just put my suitcase away YESTERDAY and already need to pull it back out. Life is tough my friends.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010