garganelli (like penne with an overlap)

The other night, I was into my 47th viewing of Big Night.  I love the movie.  At one point they begin making a timpano, a drum-shaped, pasta-encrusted, baked macaroni type of casserole The first step is making the macaroni for it.  The screenshot below is Primo and Secondo making the individual pasta.

From what I've been able to determine, it's garganelli, a type of pasta that looks like penne embossed with a heavy ridged pattern and done individually (unlike the smooth, extruded tube that is penne).  It's made on a wooden jig with a pattern engraved in it and a tiny rolling pin.  The pasta rolls into a tube, then gets mashed into the indentations on the wooden jig.

I got a little obsessed when I saw this.  Not so much for the timpano, but the patterned pasta looked tasty.  I also never imagined making little pieces of pasta would be feasible (but it is!). I looked it up and made a jig (these can be purchased somewhere, but I'm too cheap) out of a 2 x 4 and burned the grooves into it using an angle grinder.  The metal cutting blade on my grinder burned the grooves into the 2 x 4 making a nice pattern that looked appropriate for this type of pasta.  I used a 5/16" diameter oak dowel for the mini rolling pin.

The next thing to consider was the dough for the pasta.  It had to be dry enough to retain the shape of the impressions from the jig, *release* from the jig and mini rolling pin, but also soft enough to roll out.  Pasta sticking to equipment is a big consideration in how dry/wet dough is mixed.  

My preference is to roll pasta by hand.  I like to use a rolling pin, because I hate to clean extra equipment.  I realize rollers can achieve a thinner pasta with slightly better texture, but I still like to roll my own.  I used the following dough recipe (3 servings)

egg, 3, then add enough water to make the total =150 g (the contents of a large egg is 50 +/- 2 g)
olive oil, 15 g
salt, 3 g
unbleached white flour, 300 g

mix together, knead lightly, squish into a ball and let rest at least 15 minutes.  Scale to 10 x 40-50g logs.  Roll each log into a long strip, ca. 1.5 - 2.0" wide and ca. 14" long. 

Cut the pasta strips into little rectangles.  Each piece will get wrapped around the dowel, then rolled slowly and firmly into the grid of the rolling jig.  This will crimp the dough closed and give the requisite exterior pattern.   See next 3 images.

 Pasta rolled around the dowel.

 Once rolled around the dowel, use the dowel like a rolling pin and press the wrapped piece into the grooves.  A pasta this dry should not stick.

As the wrapped pasta is rolled/mashed into the grooves, the diameter of the tube will expand and release itself from the dowel; slide the pasta off of the dowel and admire your teeny weeny work of art.

Final product.


Firedome: Pizza on a Weber Kettle, a 5 year retrospective

5 Years ago, I burst out of my 9to5 gig at about 11:00 am.  With a strange idea, a pocketful of index card notes and a vacation day, I made this.  Then I modified it a million times and made the same thing, but kept the flange of the lid intact, it's a much more stable build.  I've tweaked this thing many times and always returned to a similar design.

Cooking on this is not like a normal wood fired pizza oven that uses burning embers as the heat source.  This uses burning wood - not just embers - to do the job.  Study a bunch of ovens and you'll appreciate this difference.  The biggest change between my modified kettle now and when it was conceived - I use hardwood and no briquettes to fire it, less ash, hotter and easier to maintain a fire by loading wood on the fly.  It's not too much effort to maintain a fire for hours.

After 5 years, I still get excited cooking on it.  When @lleian expressed an interest in trying one out,  I was ecstatic at the chance to share and offered to make one for her.  She dropped off a CraigsList standard issue 22.5" kettle.  A few bucks in hardware and some blissful minutes with my angle grinder and voila, a Firedome pizza oven.

Consider the following post a user's manual for a new Firedome.

The new grill.  Standard 22.5"Weber kettle with a door cut into the lid (stays open for cooking) and ca. 8"diameter hole cut into the base to kick up some air flow.  It's basically a starter chimney big enough to make a pizza in.   Here's how to light it.
 To ignite this beast, ignite a few briquettes, ca 10 or so.  These will be used to start the wood.  I use a chimney starter - or a large can of tomatoes with holes drilled in it.

Once the briquettes are started, dump ém out. '

Add a few logs.  I get dry hardwood at the supermarket.  Two bundles will get you about 4 hours of cook time.

Place the Firedome lid on with the door lid open.  Keep passing in logs.  Sometimes they stick out.  Ideally, supermarket logs would be 3/4 the size they are, You can cut a bundle in half or let them hang out while they fire up.  The best igniting bundles have smaller diameter pieces.  Large logs burn slower and not as hot.  Toss in logs and let things burn down for about 40 minutes.

Check the surface of the pizza stone for temperature.  When it's at least 600-700F you're ready.  For surface measurements use an IR thermometer.  With a little practice, getting a cooking stone temperature close to 900F is possible.  But 700F is a little easier to cook on.  The pie should cook uniformly bottom and top.  900F is tricky, takes practice and familarity.

Stone's hot, fire is cresting over, ready!

Before I cook pizzas, I take a 100 g piece of dough and make a test pita.  If it puffs and cooks uniformly top and bottom, it's ready.  My usual pizza dough is: unbleached white flour (Montana Sapphire 600 g), water (400 g), Fleischmann's rapid rise yeast (1 pkt), salt (2t), sugar (2t), olive oil (50 g).  This sits in the fridge about a day before baking.

@lleian Godspeed.  This is an insane way to cook pizza but worth it.
And, thanks for the SPAM MUSUBI!!!


chicken and chickpeas, 25 minutes to a great meal

Some time back, triggered by @TestKitchen's work with pressure cookers, I began and continued my love affair with my Faygor 8 qt pressure cooker.  Last night I winged it and came up with something pretty special.  A hearty and flavorful Indian meal of chickpeas and chicken (thighs).  The key to this dish's success is the chickpeas and chicken thighs cook in about the same time in a pressure cooker.

I happened to make it the night before because I knew I was going to be busy, but it would've been good the night I made it. Also, no pics, we ate it all!  I don't usually post dishes we had for dinner here, but I'm proud of this.

onions/carrots, finely chopped, 1C
ginger/garlic, mix ground or finely diced into a paste (2 cloves garlic, bunch of ginger)
tomatoes, fresh or canned, ca. 14 oz
olive oil 2-4 T
mustard seeds 2T
cumin seeds 2T
paprika, spicy, not sweet, 2T
salt, ca. 1T
pepper, 1T
garam masala, 1T
coriander seed 1T
coriander ground, 1T
boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat, 2 lbs
dry chickpeas, 400 g/2C dry, soaked in salted water 2-24 hours, drained
coconut milk, a can

I made this all in the pressure cooker:  Saute chicken a few pieces at a time in olive oil.  Remove chicken when it's browned - I had to tear mine off the bottom of the pan, don't worry.  Add to the pot all spices and saute until fragrant.  Then add onion, garlic/ginger and tomato, this will deglaze the pan.  The whole seed spices will nearly disintegrate on cooking, don't worry about them.  Dump in the sauteed chicken, chickpeas and 1L water.  Bring to boil, cap it, let cook on high pressure a full 25 minutes!  That's a lot in a pressure cooker.  Let it release pressure and gaze upon the magnificence of your dish.  Add the can of coconut milk (or some cream) and serve over rice.  SO GOOD.

Next time I do this, I'll put a pic here.