Monday, November 30, 2009

Il Quadrato di Pasta con gli Funghi Marsala e Cappasanta

Last night I was able to make homemade pasta!

In class it was so simple that I purchased a pasta maker.
Chef taught us how to bring the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Chef says the texture of the dough should feel like pleather. I don't feel that on a regular basis, but once you feel the pasta, youll understand the reference. We also sheeted the pasta in the machine, and Chef taught us the french translation of that action is nous sheeton (say it out loud, go ahead... ok thats not really the french translation, but it sounded good). We made squid ink ravioli with goat cheese and herb filling and a butternut squash sauce, orange and black in honor of Halloween.

When I tried a few weeks ago my dough seemed way too wet and I had to add a lot of extra flour to the recipe. When  I rolled it out, the dough broke, it almost looked like there were air bubbles in my dough. I thought the flour wasn't a big deal, but apparently I had the wrong kind.
When I tried again last night I used 00 Italian Flour (which I got at Giolitti's in Annapolis). The dough came out perfectly.
The chorus of mmmms coming from the diners suggested a successful recipe...

Il Quadrato di Pasta con gli Funghi Marsala e Cappasanta (Pasta Squares with Mushroom Marsala and Scallops)

Photo by Robin


Pasta Dough:
1 cup 00 Italian Flour
2 large eggs
pinch of salt
1tsp olive oil


Drop the flour on the counter and make a well in the center. Put all of the other ingredients into the well and then take a fork to gently break the egg yolks. Starting from the top edges and working into the center, use the fork to fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Continue mixing with the fork until dough forms a mass. Use your hands to knead the dough, adding flour until the dough no longer feels sticky when you kneed it. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 20-30min. Meanwhile start the sauce...


Put a pot of water on to boil.


Funghi Marsala:
1lb mixed fresh mushrooms
2oz dried mushrooms (something with a lot of flavor)
2tbsp butter
1tsp olive oil
1 med shallot
1 bag baby spinach
3cups chicken broth (homemade is really best here) NO SALT ADDED
1cup sweet marsala wine
1 pinch fresh tarragon
2-4 fresh sage leaves (I used 4 small ones)
1 clove garlic, smashed
salt and pepper to taste


Put your dried mushrooms in a container and add 1cup of hot water over them to let them rehydrate, stir once in a while.
Melt butter and oil in a skillet. Sautee mushrooms with a pinch of salt until almost cooked. push the mushrooms aside and add garlic clove and minced shallots to the pan (add more butter or oil if necessary so they dont burn). When shallot begins to look translucent reincorporate with mushrooms. Add Tarragon and Sage.
Add 1 cup chicken broth and allow to reduce au sec (till the pan is nearly dry). Then add 1/2 of the wine and allow to reduce again, until au sec.
Add enough chicken broth to allow the spinach to cook down, about 1.5 cups, and the water from the dried mushrooms. Be sure to add salt and pepper over the spinach while it is still dry so that it will season the leaves.
Add more chicken broth and marsala to taste.


After you make the sauce it can sit on a very low simmer until you are ready for it.


Sheet the pasta and cut it into your desired shape.


Be sure your Scallops are dry. I let mine sit on some paper towels for about 5min, flipped and let sit again. Salt and pepper both sides. In a hot skillet with a thin coating of oil, sear the scallops on both sides. Do not flip the scallops if they dont want to be flipped, tilt the pan to move the oil around if you are afraid they might be burning. When they are the correct amount of brown they will release from the bottom of the pan and you will easily be able to flip them.


Let the scallops rest for a minute while you finish your pasta. The pasta should take about 4min to cook. Warm up the sauce, check seasoning, add pasta, enjoy!


Shhh.... don't tell any real italians but I actually served the seafood with fresh grated parmigiano.


I also made some fresh garlic bread which I coated in cheese and put under the broiler.


Next time I make this I may try adding a touch of champagne vinegar or something similar to the sauce. When I tried to cut the sweetness of the wine with chicken broth, it became too watered down no matter how little broth I added. I think a little vinegar reduction would heighten the flavors. I had considered anchovies and decided against it to be safe, but I might try that too. Porcini powder might also be a nice addition to strengthen the mushroom flavor.


This dish would also be great with a crisp caesar salad.

Lima restaurant in DC

1401 K Street, Washington, D.C.

Robin and I went to Lima the day before Thanksgiving with her parents, sister, and sister's boyfriend. The food was really good. Robin and I shared the tuna ginger ceviche appetizer. The tuna was tender and full of flavor. We got a meat and cheese platter for the table. Those were average, although I really liked the blue cheese made from a mixture of goat's and cow's milk. It tasted a lot like ValdeĆ³n, except slightly more mellow. Oh, and the marinated olives were good too. For dinner, I had Lima's signature dish, the Chilean sea bass, crusted with cashew and cilantro, with lima bean sauce, served with wild mushrooms and roasted root veggies. The sea bass practically melted in my mouth, and veggies were so soft they must have been roasting all day long - delicious! Robin had 2 appetizers as her entree; the pork ribs with guava-BBQ glaze and the lime-breaded Ecuadorian shrimp with ginger-passion fruit sauce. For dessert, Robin's dad and I each had the chocolate cake which, like a creme brulee at most restaurants, required a 20 minute prep time. Luckily, we ordered ours when we ordered our entrees. The cake came out not just warm, but hot, fresh out of the oven. The dulce de leche ice cream was a perfect partner to the chocolate cake.


If you like good food, you should definitely check out Lima. The dining room is actually upstairs, and quite nice, with wood floors, stainless steel railings, glass panels, dark wood tables and chairs, and good views of the street below if you're near the front window. Downstairs is the "lounge", although I wouldn't call it that. It's a typical "hip" bar. Too many lights, chairs that are more fancy than they are comfortable, bartenders who have permanent smirks on their faces, grossly underweight female clientele in expensive cocktail dresses, male patrons still in the suits they wore to work that day. The Lima lounge is just the type of place I would hate to hang out. When we walked in, everybody there turned and looked, not just a casual glance but a moment or two-long stare that obviously meant, "what are you doing here?", although I think, in dark chinos and a button down shirt, I probably made them more uncomfortable than they made me.


Oh well, the food was great, and the dining room was nothing like the lounge.


Lima on Urbanspoon