fresh pasta with green onions and roasted red peppers

To make fresh pasta, all you need is flour and eggs. And a pasta roller. There are some eggless varieties as well, although I haven’t attempted those yet. The pasta here is about 60% whole wheat.

the eggs in their well of flour

the pasta roller

Some of our sage plants have been getting strangely woody, so I cut some back and threw the leaves with the basil. While chopping the herbs, I was pretty sure I was committing a form of culinary blasphemy. But surprisingly, sage and basil actually works.

basil, flat-leaf parsley, and sage

In other news, I have come to the decision that everyone should roast red peppers. Daily. Place a bell pepper under the broiler for about twenty minutes, turning every once in a while. The skin will blacken and blister. After you take it out, seal it tightly in a brown paper bag. Once cooled to room temperature, its skin will slip right off. Heaven.

roasted red bell pepper, just out of the oven

the summer’s first sweet onion

green onions in cool water

saffron rice pudding

decorated with cinnamon, hickory nuts, and orange zest

I was so sure that this pudding was not going to work.

Yet, for the most part, my first rice pudding actually turned out. I simmered the pudding on the stove for an hour longer than Batmanglij suggested. It was not thickening. At all. I was more than a little nervous. The culprit may have been the brown basmati rice, which is fairly hard to break down. On the other hand, perhaps the pudding didn’t need to thicken so much on the stove, and would have done its major thickening in the refrigerator anyway. Not sure.

Regardless, it thickened up eventually. And we ended up with a cool, creamy, even refreshing little dessert. I don’t think of “refreshing” when I think of rice pudding. But then, I don’t think I’ve ever had rice pudding before last night.

This was my second time working with saffron. As far as I can tell so far, saffron has an extremely delicate flavor. It was pretty much crowded out by some of the bolder ingredients in the pudding. I am excited to continue working with this spice. Perhaps I should try it in something simpler next time. If anyone has experience with saffron, I would love to hear your stories!

I used some visiting family members as guinea pigs for this dessert. Apparently, raw pistachios are incredibly hard to find around my hometown, so I decorated the pudding with hickory nuts, a family favorite.

I have completed 23 of Batmanglij’s 268 recipes. Percentage complete: 8.58%

garden peas and green onions

The garden officially is in productive mode! Well, sort of. The pea plants have started producing, and I took the few we could find along with some of our garden’s green onions to make a delicious little lunch today. I also learned a new trick. Rather than chopping the scallions as I usually do, I just bruised them up a little with the back of my knife. Like this:

It worked quite well. The long pieces of onion were really very pretty, and gave the dish an extra bite. I finished the dish with chopped basil and a dusting of black pepper. Success.

Take a look at these photos from our garden:

green onions
photo taken June 19, 2012

garden peas
photo taken June 19, 2012

basil
photo taken June 19, 2012

rose water cream roll

My knowledge of desserts is lacking. Considerably. But, if I want to get through these books of mine, I had better get baking. When earlier today I saw this cream roll that features both rose water and rose petals, I could think of no better place to start.

After musing over how we might find edible roses, my mom decided to grab a few of our own growing in the backyard. Soon, we were well on our way to brewing our own rose water infusion.

The rose water really comes through in the finished dessert, scenting the entire roll with a delicate, floral aroma. The rose pairs well with the citrus bite of the orange zest. And the roll is surprisingly light, even with its filling of heavy cream, whipped, folded throughout.

My only complaint is that the roll seemed somewhat wet. But, I really think I should have let it chill longer in the refrigerator, allowing it to set further. But well, it was eating time. Successful dessert, over all. And look, I made a pastry sheet! Exciting day.

I have completed 22 of Batmanglij’s 268 recipes. Percentage complete: 8.21%

borscht

I have been meaning to make this classic soup for some time. The presence of beets in one of our smallish, local supermarkets seems to signal the heart of summer. And when I saw them available earlier this week, I grabbed them quickly with this soup in mind. As you can see in the photo, the liquid broth is still a bit thin. I was worried about this at first. I usually like my soups thick, like porridge. Yet, there is something beautiful about this soup’s dual offering of lightness and heaviness. It offers a harmony that not many foods can match.

This soup, of course, would have been heavier if I had included the beef brisket. Beef brisket? Nah. Not needed. At all. This borscht is lovely, as is.

I have completed 21 of Batmanglij’s 268 recipes. Percentage complete: 7.84%