Make vanilla extract as a Christmas gift for Stephanie’s coworkers.
- gallon container
- 2 oz. glass bottles with caps
- white vinegar for sanitizing
- turkey baster
Making the Extract
- Fill container with vodka
- Slit beans lengthwise with a sharp knife
- Place in vodka, close tightly.
- Store in cool, dark place for 2 months.
- Sanitize bottles in 50/50 vinegar-water mix for 10 minutes
- Use turkey baster to fill bottles (weigh on a scale to ensure even distribution)
- Cut some vanilla beans in thirds (cross-section) and place in bottles.
Results and observations:
Very fragrant. There seems to be enough flavor left in the beans to be able to repeat the process.
To turn a simple pasta dinner into an hours-long ordeal. Sauce from Smitten Kitchen.
- Double recipe Fresh Pasta for 2 dough.
- Pasta roller
- Food processor
- For pasta filling and sauce
- 100 grams sliced almonds
- large handful of basil leaves
- some parsley leaves
- olive oil
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled and de-veined
- 2 cloves garlic
- handful of spinach
- 2-3 oz Parmesan cheese
Start making the filling and sauce while the pasta dough is resting.
Step 0. Decide that a homemade sauce isn’t gourmet enough and that you’re a fancy pants cook who is going to make tortellini instead.
- In a pan/Dutch oven/skillet, toast the almonds in a teaspoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes.
- Pulse in a food processor until the almonds are about the size of orzo. (Or however fine you want them.) Leave aside in a bowl.
- Add basil, quarter cup of olive oil, pinch of salt, garlic cloves, into food processor and process until smooth.
- Switch out the chopper for the grater in the processor and grate cheese. Fold into sauce with a spatula.
- Fold in about 80 grams of the almonds.
- Sautee shrimp with 1 clove of garlic and one teaspoon of olive oil.
- Add bunch of fresh parsley.
- Chop finely (quarter-inch shrimp pieces), place in bowl
- Mix in the rest of the almonds
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Add some other seasoning if you want
- Roll the pasta really really thin. I got it to about a #6 on the KitchenAid pasta rolleer
- Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut the pasta sheet into circles.
- Add a half-teaspoon of the filling into the center of the circle. Brush edges with a little water.
- Fold it into a semi-circle. Fold corners towards each other. Pinch them together.
- Repeat steps 1-4 for a while.
- Get tired. Decide tortellini was a poor life decision and that ravioli would be easier.
- To do, start with step 1 (roll the pasta thin).
- Cut the sheet into a clean rectangle.
- Spoon out a teaspoon of filling with onto one half of the sheet about .75 inches away from each other (and a half inch from the edge).
- Dab some water onto one edge of the sheet.
- Fold over the pasta sheet. Squeeze out air and press the pasta together around the filling. Slice halfway between the filling mounds.
- Run out of filling.
- Turn the rest of the dough into tagliatelle.
Cooking the Pasta
- Bring salted water to a boil.
- Boil pasta for 4 minutes.
- Drain pasta, conserve quarter cup of pasta water.
- Use about 1 cup of the pasta sauce, add some pasta water to the pot and heat.
- Toss with pasta.
Results and observations:
Nom. But next time I’ll go straight to the regular pasta and toss in the shrimp.
Welcome to my first blog post since studying abroad in college! I just finished my PhD in September, and I now have much more time to perform experiments in my second laboratory, our kitchen. I am a biochemist with a background in working with yeast, and I love to bake. My husband, Ryan, also enjoys cooking and baking and, conveniently, photography. During grad school I kept an electronic, but private, laboratory notebook, and I thought it might be fun to have a public lab notebook blog for our kitchen experiments. You can expect roughly
weekly monthly posts in a roughly scientific format. I promise to report both successful and failed experiments, and I welcome discussion of the results and conclusions!