Oh My! Homemade Pasta and Sauces, Carbonara Arancini, Caesar Dressing, Sausages, Chargrilled Oysters & Clams

Next weekend, Jake and I will be hosting a mini Oktoberfest, mostly as an excuse to make sausages and enjoy some time with friends. So, this past weekend, we had our friend, Lindsay, over to do some sausage prep. And of course anytime Lindsay comes over, we have ourselves a cooking fest. This is what was on the menu Saturday night (linked to the recipes we followed, if applicable):

Sausages

We recently bought a stainless steel sausage attachment set for the stand mixer and were excited to try using it. Jake first prepared the meat by cutting it up into smaller pieces and then he placed them in the freezer for a little bit so they would get really cold. He also put the grinder attachment in the freezer to get that nice and cold. While waiting for that, he ground a lot of the spices needed, like fennel, caraway seed, coriander, marjoram, etc. Since we don’t have an herb grinder, he used the coffee bean grinder that we have. I think it might all be the same thing anyway.

Then, he ground all the meat. For the chicken and apple, he actually fed some of the apple through the grinder, as well. Then he added all the different seasonings. These were then placed back into the refrigerator to keep them cold.

Finally, he stuffed the casings. And in the case of the chicken and apple sausage, he used vegetarian casings! The verdict is still out on how all of these sausages taste, since we won’t be cooking then until next weekend, but they look delish!

Arancini

Lindsay made arancini for the first time and it was fantastic! She prepped the risotto and the filling before coming to my house. The filling calls for pancetta, but she used prosciutto. I think it gave the same overall flavor profiles, except probably less smokiness than intended. It did give a sharp saltiness, which was do good and complimented the smoother, creamier flavor of the risotto.

She did the two-step breading with egg first, then rolled in breadcrumbs. A

And instead of pan frying, baking, or deep frying, we decided to use my handy air fryer! Success!

20181014_132800.jpg

Homemade Caesar Dressing

With all the heavy foods, lindsay and talked earlier in the day about trying to incorporate some greens/veggies into the cooking day. She also tried another first for her. She made a caesar salad with homemade caesar dressing. It was really good! Unfortunately, I was so full by the time it was done that I only just tasted it and didn’t get to eat a lot! She was originally going to plop all the ingredients into a blender, but we used the immersion blender instead. This was so easy and really should be a simple weeknight meal for anyone – just a few chopped romaine hearts and this dressing, maybe with chicken on top. Perfect!

20181013_192530.jpg

Chargrilled Oysters

The third dish Lindsay made was charbroiled oysters and clams. The intent was to just do oysters, but all the stores she went to were low on oysters! The inspiration was a trip to New Orleans this past March for my bachelorette party; we had grilled oysters that Lindsay wanted to recreate. (In my opinion, the ones Lindsay made last weekend were sooo much better.) We employed Jake to try to shuck these, but the oysters were too hard, so we ended up cooking them for a few minutes to get then to open up a bit. Then, we opened them and added the butter sauce. Ugh, these were so good, too!! I’m telling you, we really had a feast. I love seafood in general, but pair it with butter, garlic, parsley, and cheese…incredible. I swear you could put those ingredients on dirt and it would still taste delicious. Haha!

Bolognese

I actually prepped the bolognese sauce earlier in the day because I luckily reviewed the recipe and saw that it needed to simmer for 3 hours. This was simple, but time consuming! Waiting for the milk to first boil down, then the wine to boil down, then the 3 hour simmer…I could’ve taken three naps! It was a really nice recipe and totally yummy, but it didn’t taste like I expected for some reason. I think I’m more used to some of the bolognese recipes I’ve had at restaurants (authentic or not) that don’t have the carrots, celery, etc. I expected it to be a little thinner//less tomato-y. I’m not sure I’d make this again, only because I think I’d like to experiment with more bolognese recipes. I’m determined to find the right one for me!

Pesto

The pesto was so easy and, oh my goodness , it was so fantastically good. I was hesitant about making the pesto because I’ve always been a little “iffy: on the flavor, but this sold me. This was a nut-free recipe, so it really let the basil and cheese shine. In fact, I’m about to drizzle this over our Monday night’s shrimp dinner.

Then, I made two different pastas. One was a two-ingredient pasta I wanted to try because it sounded so easy. It was just one can of pumpkin puree and 3 cups of flour. I found that I needed more than 3 cups. I added the extra flour slowly to the mixture. So, if I had to guess, I probably used a total of 3.25 – 3.5 cups of flour so that the dough wasn’t too wet. And wow, this batch made A LOT of pasta. I ended up with probably 24 oz if I had to guess. I froze 6 bundles of about 3 oz for Jake and I and for Lindsay. Then, we probably cooked about another 6 oz. The pumpkin flavor was very subtle and the texture was perfect. I was very pleased with this!

Spinach and Basil Pasta

I was also loving the other pasta, which was made with blended spinach and basil. The color was amazing and the smell was divine. I thought eating it with the pesto would be basil overload, but it wasn’t. Lindsay had it with some bolognese; that didn’t look as pretty, but was still so good!

 

20181013_195110.jpg

20181013_222859.jpg

Now, the diet starts on Monday again and lasts until next weekend’s mini Oktoberfest. You NEED to follow or check back to see what we’re cooking up that day.

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Leftover Lo Mein Pseudo-Arancini

Yep, you read that right. This was a total experiment. Jake and I had leftover shrimp lo mein from our favorite local Chinese food joint. We had about three quarters of the large container left and I didn’t want it to go to waste.

20180917_175307.jpg
Leftover lo mein

The problem was that I didn’t feel right eating lo mein on a Monday night. To me, it seems like a pig out junk food. And since my diets always start on a Monday ;), I felt like I needed to mask it somehow. I decided to pulse it in the food processor, which essentially riced it, and then make it into an air-fried ball. I call it pseudo-arancini because arancini is traditionally made with rice. I’ve actually never made arancini before, but I figured this might be unique and potentially yummy.

20180917_175724.jpg
After pulsing the lo mein in a food processor

I mixed in two eggs and and about 1/3 cup panko breadcrums. I chose panko because I didn’t want to add in too many other flavors to the already-flavored lo mein. I initially started with one egg and approx. 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs. I then added the second egg and additional breadcrumbs because the consistency wasn’t sticky enough for a ball to hold together.

20180917_175924.jpg
Mixing the riced lo mein with egg and panko
20180917_180255.jpg
Egg and panko incorporated to make a sticky mixture

I was trying to decide what should go in the middle of the lo mein ball. From what I’ve read, traditional arancini usually has some sort of cheese, meat, and/or peas. I didnt think that cheese fit in this case and I wasnt feeling the meat or peas. I decided to go with mini frozen chicken and vegetable dumplings I had in the freezer. They are only about 1.5 inches wide, so the size worked out well. I microwaved them first so they weren’t frozen and used one in the center of each ball.

20180917_180405.jpg
Mini dumplings from BJ’s Wholesale Club, used as the filling for the balls

I then simply formed a ball of lo mein around the dumpling. (Be prepared to get messy hands.) I started first by taking a bit, compacting it and flattening it. I then placed the dumpling in the middle and started to cup my hand so the lo mein would begin to wrap around the edges. I took another scoop of lo mein with my other hand, put it on top of the dumpling and just began shaping it. I kept compressing it and rolling it with both cupped hands until a ball shape was formed.

When satisifed with the shape, I rolled the ball in some more panko bread crumbs. Finally, I refrigerated the balls for about 30-45 minutes so they would firm up a bit.

20180917_181300.jpg
Rolling the shaped balls in panko

20180917_182459.jpg

I think deep frying them would’ve been delicious, but I wasn’t ready to put that much effort into it. So, I went with the healthier and easier option – my air fryer. I set it to 400 degrees Farenheit and turned them every so often until they were a golden brown all around. This took a total of about 20 minutes.

The end result was a fun, new dish. I was surprised that the very flavorful lo mein didn’t seem to present itself much when cooked in the ball. Maybe the breadcrumbs and egg dulled a bit of the flavor. If I make this again, I would incorporate some extra seasoning – perhaps some sriracha, a splash of soy sauce, scallion, or something that might make the flavors pop a little more. I made a mayo/ketchup/sriracha dipping sauce and served it with a side of air fried broccoli.

20180917_184240 - Edited.jpg

20180917_193502
Out of the air fryer and onto the broccoli
20180917_193645
Ball cut in half, showing the mini dumpling

Jake thought the dish was very heavy, so if you’re looking for something light, this probably isn’t it. On the other hand, if you are looking for something to do with your leftovers and don’t mind a little experimentation, I’d say give it a try! I would love to see you try this and comment with your experience!

Hope this inspires you to try something new!

Sincerely,
Fu’d