Pumpkin Ice Cream and Fresh Pasta

Continuing in our series of KitchenAid glory basking, this weekend we thawed out some of our pumpkin puree (most often used in pies), and equipped with all the right stuff (thanks Cheryl!), we made a batch of pumpkin ice cream and tried our hand at fettucine.

Pumpkin Ice Cream

We wanted to stick to the recipes in the ice cream maker’s instructions, but quickly discovered (remembered?) that Germany’s dairy products hierarchy don’t match up to the U.S. or British ones. If we can get Light, Heavy, Single or Double cream here in Germany, we haven’t yet found where. Thus we are limited to recipes requiring Whipping Cream (or Half-and-Half, which we can simulate through a conversion Sarah found online).

So Sarah dug up this one, requiring only whipping cream. It’s kind of hard to pour ice cream batter into the freeze bowl with the moving dasher WITHOUT glooping over the side of the bowl a little.

Fresh out of the freeze bowl after about 20 minutes of dashing, it had a lovely soft-serve-like consistency. 6 hours later at pal Matt’s house, it had the firmer texture — better for scooping — I prefer. The flavor was outstanding — this is what I want my pumpkin pies to taste like, except it was ice cream. Therefore: make and freeze enough pumpkin puree so that you can get your pumpkinny dessert on in the summer, when you can’t be bothered to turn on the oven.

We often skip steps in recipes calling for mesh straining, but it was a good idea in this case, to make sure no accidental egg bits (though I think we tempered the eggs better this time than in earlier attempts) or spice chunks from the custard made their way into the final product.

Semolina Fettucine

Having finished off that batch of goodness, it was time for us to tackle our first semolina pasta. Sarah acquired our primary ingredient from the local fancy market (Sarik, am Kassiansplatz, if you know your way around Regensburg’s Altstadt).

The standard recipe included with our pasta-making attachments was surprisingly easy. Basically: throw eggs, oil, water, flour and salt into the mixer bowl and mix for 30 seconds with the paddle on the lowest speed setting.

Switch out the paddle for the kneading hook and let it knead for 2 minutes for you on the lowest speed setting. Our mixer struggled a bit at times; I think the lowest speed is a little too low for that mass of dough.

Then knead by hand a few minutes.

Next, cut your kneaded dough ball into more manageable pieces. The instructions say 8 lumps, which made for some pretty long flat sheets of noodles.

16 lumps (on a spaghetti attempt the same day) made for shorter sheets, which were much easier to handle, but shorter noodles after running through the cutter. 12 lumps is probably the ideal compromise between flat sheet handle-ability and noodle length. We’ll try that on the next batch.

Sarah was really smart and laid out an old (clean, of course!) towel right at the start on our table. On that surface we can sprinkle flour and clean up the mess quickly.

The instructions (included with the attachments and in tutorial videos on the web) suggest sprinkling with flour between the flattening and cutting stages to prevent sticking, but we didn’t need to do that at all. If you’re going to cut them by hand (say, for your pappardelle), it’s probably a good idea to sprinkle the sheets with flour so you can roll and cut them without sticking.

We did sprinkle the cut noodles with flour to keep them from sticking while in storage.

The big test was the same evening at Matt’s place, where he whipped up a decadent gorgonzola-mozzarella-pancetta-rocket sauce. Our noodles behaved admirably: no sticking, clumping, or tangling.

Can’t wait to get that batch of spaghetti out of the freezer and give them a whirl, too…

Bacon Fried Rice

Here is a great way to use up leftover rice – although we often make rice the day before specifically for this. You could probably throw in other vegetables, too, but be certain to cook them until they’re no longer releasing liquid. Too-wet veggies will prevent the optimal crispness of the rice. We got the inspiration from Culinate, but (as usual) this version is my tweaked one.

4 strips bacon, roughly chopped
12-18 green onions, sliced (white and light green parts only)
3-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 1/2 inch knob ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
4 T soy sauce
4 T white wine (Shao Xing is great here)
1 T Hoisin sauce
2 pinches red pepper flakes
1/2 t rice vinegar
4 c cooked rice, cold
1 t sesame oil
2 eggs, beaten

In a large deep skillet or pot (or wok, if you have one), fry the bacon over medium-high heat. When the edges are just starting to get crisp, remove all but one tablespoon of the drippings and add the onions, garlic and ginger, stirring constantly, until just beginning to get tender and fragrant. Whisk together the soy, wine, Hoisin, pepper flakes and vinegar and set aside.

Add the rice to the bacon mixture, breaking up any lumps and reduce heat to medium-low. Sprinkle the sesame oil over the rice and add the sauce mixture, stirring until well distributed. Let the rice mixture stand undisturbed for one minute. After a minute, lift the layer of rice from them bottom – it should be lightly browned and crisp. Stir the rice so another layer has the chance to crisp and repeat until you’ve almost achieved your desired texture.

Push the rice to the side of the skillet and make room for the eggs. Pour the beaten eggs directly on to the surface of the pan and allow to cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. Once a good skin of cooked egg has formed on the surface of the pan, briskly stir the egg, scrambling it in the small space available for it, until you’ve reached your preferred scrambly-egg texture. Remove pan from heat, stir well to distribute the egg and crisped rice bits and serve immediately.

KitchenAid Customer Service reputation well-deserved!

For Christmas this year my sister and brother-in-law gave us an attachment for our KitchenAid mixer which had been on our list for quite some time: the ice cream maker. We’d been having problems with store-bought varieties going soft on us — even the upscale brands like Mövenpick and Langnese.

So we thought we’d give it a go making our own ice cream. Sis & BIL were kind enough to provide the necessary equipment (accordingly, they got some sausage-making attachments from us)… or so they thought! The box and instructions inside it both state that the KICA model Ice Cream Maker Stand Mixer attachment is compatible with all [emphasis mine] KitchenAid brand stand mixer models.

Lo and behold, after returning to Regensburg from Michigan, it was not so. Obviously there are different stand mixer versions (owing to different electrical systems around the world), but they don’t all have the same planetary drive hardware, which is critical to the design of the KICA “dasher” (the paddle which churns the ice cream batter for you).

We weren’t the only ones to have discovered this. Google searches quickly brought us to mobileliving.info‘s post on exactly this topic. We didn’t really want to shell out for replacement parts without an assurance from KitchenAid that we wouldn’t be voiding the warranty, so we tried our luck contacting KitchenAid through three avenues:

KitchenAid Ice Cream MakerLive customer chat with KitchenAid USA was a bust; since we live in Germany, we were referred to the support avenues on kitchenaid.de. I gave it an honest try, but the only contact method was via telephone, and I was not willing to call them. Fortunately, we got answers back both via Twitter and email, and Cheryl C., KitchenAid’s Digital Detective, was immediately on the case. Just twelve days later the replacement parts we needed to make our cool, creamy dreams come true arrived, and everything worked just as (originally intended).

Today was the testing of the first batch. Absolutely yummy! Big, big thanks to the Schwester+BIL and Cheryl C. for making that customer reputation well-deserved!


Almost on a whim last week I decided to sign up for a day trip down to Austria with the ski club at work, since some local pals were going, and it had been a while since I’d hit the slopes (can it really have been six years already?!). It was sponsored by Radio Charivari and Reisebüro Venus here in Regensburg. The price was €40,50 for transportation down to the mountains and back and an all-day lift ticket. Not bad, I thought. Then when we arrived at the gondola to take us up the hill, I saw that the going rate for an all-day lift ticket was €37. Meaning, essentially I got a ride down to the mountains and back for €3,50 — can’t beat that!

I took a few pictures while there. Still digging that Olympus E-PL2 (and its art filters) and the f/1.7 aperture lens I bought for it. Renewed thanks to Herr J of Ye Olde Schnitzelbahn.com for both those recommendations.

P1142366 sP1142367 sP1142371 sP1142372 sP1142373 sP1142377 sP1142378 sP1142380 sP1142381 sP1142385 s

Amatriciana Sauce

The food blogs seemed to have a real Amatriciana moment just over a year ago. I think it happened when the home charcuterie trend hit its zenith. The “authentic” preparation (according to the internet, where everything is true) calls for guanciale, cured pig’s jowl/cheek. That would be great if I could get it, but I can’t, so bacon is my fallback.

4 slices bacon, chopped (about 75 g)
3 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T tomato paste
1/4 c white wine
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid (use the best tomatoes you can get – the texture will benefit)
1 t oregano
1/2 t thyme
1/4 t salt
1/2 t sugar or honey
1/2 t ground pepper
10-12 fresh basil leaves, torn

Heat a medium saucepan to medium high. Add bacon to saucepan, stirring frequently, until edges of bacon crisp. Lower heat to medium low and drain all but one tablespoon of bacon grease (or drain bacon grease and add one T olive oil). Add shallots and garlic and sauté until tender and translucent. Stir in tomato paste and cook for one minute, then add wine. Stir in and cook until half reduced.

Add tomatoes and liquid, breaking them up with your spoon. Once you’ve got the tomatoes at the desired texture, add the oregano, thyme, salt, sugar/honey and pepper. Stir well and bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes. Add torn basil leaves and cook until wilted. Toss half the sauce with pasta (whatever type you like, but we prefer it with thick pasta), then top with another spoonful of sauce and grated parmesan.

Help on Hong Kong, please!

200px Hong Kong SAR Regional Emblem svgNeed some help here.

After living in Central Europe for nearly eight years and taking advantage of all the neat travel opportunities, we’re tippy-toeing into some of the rest of the world, starting with Hong Kong in February 2012. Emirates had a special on some airfare, Sarah found us a not-too-shabby deal on booking.com, and we’ve pulled the trigger.

So what should we do while we’re there? Your advice is most welcome!

Points to ponder:

  • Sarah’s never been to Asia before, but I have been to three cities in China now on business.
  • We picked Hong Kong sorta because we’re hoping to get a little semi-Asian experience under our belts before diving into some other place less accessible to Westerners with not a lick of Chinese among them.
  • We’ll be there after the Chinese New Year happens for just about a week.
  • We’re staying in Kennedy Town at a hotel. No idea yet on how to get there from the airport; we’re grateful for any suggestions.

Downtown Rochester by Night

More than a few years ago, we lived in Downtown Rochester, Michigan. Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, Sarah and I got the chance to catch up with a friend from Regensburg who moved near there last year.

It was nice to see him and his son and his sister-in-law again. But despite the chance to visit and the festive holiday decorations on the buildings, it was a sad visit for us, since his wife died this past autumn.

We miss her.