Saturday, January 03, 2009

Ice sculpture and anolini update

These of course melted last weekend (when it was in the 50s, for cryin' out loud! in Vermont!), but we were downloading the Christmas photos off the camera and thought we'd share these with the internet. Made from the 30-50 pound blocks of ice that slide off our roof and our neighbors' roof on occasion:

The butternut squash anolini that I made yesterday with the kids (see previous post) were quite delicious, mostly because, hey, anytime you make something out of your own homemade pasta it's probably going to be delicious. Yeah, it might have been a little better if I'd made a fancy filling like this one, but I just mixed together some cooked butternut squash, some leftover canned pumpkin that was needing a home with some softened butter, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a couple of pinches of nutmeg. The pastas were very good, topped with some brown butter with dried rubbed sage. However, I learned two things, more by error than by trial:

1. If you're going to mash up softened butter with something straight out of the fridge, let the something come to warm temperature first, or microwave a bit to warm it up — otherwise, it will re-harden the butter into chunks as you try to mush it all together. In fact, if you keep your house at 62 in the winter like we do, it's not a bad idea to microwave it to a bit over "room temperature," since butter isn't as softened at 62 as it is at the temperature of warmer rooms.

2. My various cookbooks were a little vague on how to store filled pastas for a couple of hours between when you make them and when you cook them. So I, um, guessed, and kept them on plates on the counter, covered by saran wrap. This was fine for the anolini that the kids made for themselves, filled with small chunks of pepperoni and mozzarella, but the moister squash filling made my pasta all soggy. They tasted fine once cooked, but getting them off the plate and into the water was a bit of a challenge — I ended up having to kind of scrunch them off with a spatula, which made them all crinkly and brain-looking. Next time, we'll try drying them on a rack or something.

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