Archive | June, 2011

Bacon and tomato pasta

17 Jun

Rain or shine, winter or summer, this is happiness. Another one of our favourite family pasta dishes, thanks to its simplicity and ease.

We love all things tomato, but this is a nice variation of all’Amatriciana (minus the pork cheek) or arrabbiata (plus bacon). The ground chili pepper flakes spreads the heat evenly — we could still feel a happy burn it in our esophogus an hour later.

Steamy, spicy, chewy, viscous. It’s lovely. The sauce looks sparse, but the tomatoes break down nicely and starchy pasta water keeps the sauce loose, coating every strand. Using less than a pound of pasta helps keep it from tasting bland.

Adapted from Guy Fieri
4 to 6 servings.
2 tablespoons kosher salt
16 ounces spaghetti or bucatini pasta (closer to 3/4 of a box instead of the whole thing)
1 pound thick-cut bacon or pancetta, chopped
up to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup red onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground red chili flakes (if using flakes, increase to 1 to 1 1/2 tsp)
3 tablespoons garlic, minced
3 cups Roma tomatoes, diced (or more)
1/4 cup red wine (or white)
4 tablespoons basil, chiffonade
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Boil water and cook pasta.

In a large saute pan over medium heat, add bacon and saute. Remove bacon to drain on a paper towel-lined plate and remove 3/4 of the bacon fat from the pan. Add extra-virgin olive oil, onions, and red chili flakes. Cook until onions are translucent, add garlic, cook for 2 minutes then add tomatoes. Saute for 5 minutes, then deglaze with wine.

Drain pasta and add to the tomato mixture pan. Add basil and bacon. Toss with Parmesan, and add salt and pepper, to taste.

Hungry for the Hamptons

16 Jun

That beach house. That furniture. That kitchen. We can’t stop rewatching Something’s Gotta Give, even eight years later. Nancy Meyers has a way with house and food porn.

Despite the romantic midnight pancake scene and the dangling suggestion of leftover coq au vin (there’s even a recipe posted on the film’s official website)
in that amazing East Hampton refrigerator, we remain obsessed with the menu from the awkward dinner scene.

The steaming platter of lobster, an inviting white ceramic bowl holding a tangle of linguini, clams, white wine, lemon juice, garlic, shallots, roasted cherry tomatoes, topped with loads of grassy parsley, an herby looking salad, crunchy baguette and white wine. What a beautiful, summery meal to share on a rainy or mild evening.

Grab your iPod, put Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get it On, and Louis Armstrong’s inimitable version of La Vie En Rose on your playlist and get cooking.

adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
3/4 pound linguine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 pound large peeled shrimp (about 16 shrimp or fewer larger prawns) and clams
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 lemon, zest grated
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons) (or white wine)
1/4 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds (note: some readers have said the lemon is overpowering, and bumped up zest instead of adding slices or all the juice).
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the shrimp, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.

When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot.

Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serves 3.

The technique here is to flavour the olive oil with garlic, and remove it before it gets too browned. America’s Test Kitchen likes shorter pasta and chopped shrimp for a better fork ratio.

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen
Serves 4

Marinate the shrimp while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

9 cloves, divided: 5 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press

(about 5 teaspoons), plus 4 medium cloves, smashed
1 pound large shrimp (21-25), peeled, deveined, each shrimp cut into 3 pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
Table salt
1 pound pasta in short, tubular shapes, such as fusilli, campanelle, or mezze rigatoni
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine
3/4 cup clam juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice plus 1 lemon, cut into wedges
Ground black pepper

Marinate the shrimp: Toss 2 teaspoons minced garlic, shrimp, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Let shrimp marinate at room temperature 20 minutes.

Flavour the oil: Heat 4 smashed garlic cloves and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is light golden brown, 4 to 7 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and use slotted spoon to remove garlic from skillet; discard garlic. Set skillet aside.

Cook pasta: Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta. Cook until just al dente, then drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water, and transfer pasta back to Dutch oven.

While pasta cooks, cook shrimp: return skillet with oil to medium heat; add shrimp with marinade to skillet in single layer. Cook shrimp, undisturbed, until oil starts to bubble gently, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir shrimp and continue to cook until almost cooked through, about 1 minute longer. Using slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to medium bowl.

Add remaining 3 teaspoons minced garlic and pepper flakes to skillet and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute; stir in vermouth and cook for 1 minute. Add clam juice and parsley; cook until mixture starts to thicken, 1 to 2 minutes.
Off heat, whisk in butter and lemon juice. Add shrimp and sauce to pasta, adding reserved cooking water if
sauce is too thick. Season with black pepper.

Serve, passing lemon wedges separately.

Back to our saffron/seafood/pasta obsession.
How beach house is this recipe?

Linguine with Saffron Tomato Sauce and Grilled Seafood Skewers
Canadian Living
Surprise guests — and yourself — with this sophisticated, restaurant-worthy dish. Long elegant strands of pasta marry best with this smooth tomato sauce.
Makes 4 serving(s)

1 (28 oz/ 796 ml) plum tomatoes
3 tbsp (45 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 stalk fresh basil
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp granulated sugar
1 pinch saffron threads
1/4 cup whipping cream
12 oz 375 gm linguine or spaghetti
4 bay scallops
8 colossal shrimp, peeled and deveined

Drain tomatoes, reserving liquid; chop coarsely. Set aside.

In Dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp (25 mL) of the oil over medium heat; fry garlic until light golden and fragrant, 1 minute.

Stir in tomatoes, reserved tomato liquid, basil, 3/4 tsp (4 mL) of the salt, half of the pepper, the sugar and saffron; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until spoon drawn across bottom of pan leaves space that fills in slowly, about 35 minutes.

Stir in cream; discard basil. Puree in blender until smooth. (Make-ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes. Refrigerate, uncovered, in airtight container until cold; cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month.)

Meanwhile, alternately thread 1 scallop and 2 shrimp onto each of 4 small metal or soaked wooden skewers. Brush with remaining oil; sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper. Place on greased grill or in grill pan over medium-high heat; close lid and grill, turning once, until shrimp are pink and scallops are firm, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile in large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until tender but firm, about 8 minutes. Drain and return to pot. Add sauce; toss to coat. Serve each topped with skewer.

Mediterranean Summer

15 Jun


We’ve long enjoyed a quick and easy summer night appetizer (or light dinner) of tuna pureed with olive oil, capers, lemon juice and olives. The smoothness and saltiness makes it a perfect hot weather snack.

We stumbled upon this buttery tuna mousse from David Shalleck’s Mediterranean Summer and it is the bomb. We enjoyed exploring the canned fish shelves at our local Italian markets. Shalleck recommends Ortiz; Flott; Consorcio; A’s Do Mar; Ormaza; Serrats; Calliope. Just recently made this using olive oil packed tuna in a glass jar. Pricy but worth it.

“The Spreadable Tuna Mousse was the favorite recipe of la Signora, the woman who was his boss on the boat, a pillar of Italian wealth and privilege who teetered around the yacht in Chanel pumps.”


Adapted from Mediterranean Summer by David Shalleck
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
10 ounces (280 g) olive oil-packed tuna (2 cans), drained. (Any poached fish will do)
4 or 5 tablespoons (70 g) butter, unsalted, cubed
2 tablespoons heavy cream, crème fraîche, or yogurt

Mix soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice.

In a food processor mix tuna until broken down. Add liquids and process until the mixture is smooth.

Add each cube of butter only after the previous one is mixed in. Take care: the hot machine blade can melt it.

Add the cream until barely incorporated.

Spoon mousse into serving dish, hollow lemons or tomatoes (cherry for hors d’oeuvres) or cooked artichokes.

Served near room temperature, or chilled, with small toasts or crackers, slices of baguette, or celery and cucumber.

Still Crazy After All These Years…

13 Jun

Another exhibit of problem behavior:

Chip Off the Ol’ Block

10 Jun

What goes perfectly with a cold drink on this hot, green June evening?

William Poll’s Baked Potato Thins, of course. Sadly, we are nowhere near New York City, so we will have to improvise.

Thick, crisp, oven dried Yukon Gold potatoes not unlike the deliberately overcooked chips crafted to please a testy Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Slice on a mandoline into 1/8-inch-thick slices, toss in olive oil or brush with melted butter. Season with sea salt, herbes de provence, smoked paprika, whatever you wish.

Bake flat on a greased cookie sheet at 400 F for 15 to 20 minutes. Our oven is slow, so our first batch at 400 took 30 minutes. When we cranked it up to 450 F, it was too fast and cooking was uneven. We will keep trying and maybe reach a happy medium of 425 or 430.

Top potato chips with 1 teaspoon each of caviar and crème fraîche or sour cream, side by side. Our favourite shrimp mousse would be killer with these. Served in our favourite shiny.

Or whip up William Poll’s lobster dip or Ina Garten’s onion dip, both below.

NYT William Poll Gourmet Foods, Manhattan

1/2 pound cooked lobster meat
2 1/2 pounds cream cheese
1 cup sour cream.
In a food processor, finely chop the lobster meat. Place cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer and blend on medium speed until smooth. Add the sour cream and blend to combine. Add lobster and continue blending until smooth. Serve with raw vegetables, thin toasts or chips.


Ina Garten
2 large yellow onions
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup good mayonnaise (maybe less and more sour cream)

Chop onions into slices, and then into manageable dip pieces. You will have about 3 cups of onions. Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to
medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.
Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well.

Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.