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Baked Ziti

23 Nov

Baked Ziti: a new Saucy Cherie house special?"

Baked Ziti: a new Saucy Cherie house special?"


Our obsesssion with baked ziti stems from every gangster movie we’ve ever watched, and seeing slices of crispy NYC pizza topped with the stuff.

So when Mother Nature lost her effing mind this week, plunging us into a deep-freeze, we knew it was ziti time.

Only we couldn’t decide which of our two hoarded baked ziti recipes to try. So we combined them AND IT WAS FREAKING FANTASTIC. A bit of a Bittman/Rachael Ray mashup — Bittman’s simple tomato sauce and sausage with Ray’s rich bechamel nestled on top. It was the perfect mix of red and white sauce.

We did make use of some chopped celery and carrot we had lying around, and a splash of red wine was a good excuse for opening yet another bottle…

We love how simple this is. No ricotta or eggs necessary. The secrets here are easy: undercook the pasta, and use cubes or curds of cheese in the middle so you get surprise pockets of molten cheese.

BAKED ZITI
Time: about an hour

Salt and pepper
1 pound Italian sausage, preferably bulk or ground meat of any type, or a combination
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic, optional
1 28-ounce can tomatoes, chopped, with liquid (we’re going to try adding a half a cup tomato sauce to make it clingier, although the sauce was great as is.)
1 pound ziti or other large cut pasta
1 pound mozzarella, grated and chopped
Olive oil or butter as needed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

White Sauce (although we halved this amount for calories’ sake.)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
Freshly grated nutmeg

Bring large pot of water to boil; salt it. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Distribute meat in large skillet over medium high heat and cook, undisturbed, until browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Stir, cook another 2 minutes undisturbed, then add the onion and garlic, if using. Lower heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft; add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer while cooking pasta, stirring and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste; do not let sauce become too thick.

Once you have the red sauce working, make the white sauce: Place a medium-size saucepot over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the flour, stir to combine and cook for about a minute. Whisk in the milk, add the bay leaf and season with some salt, pepper and a couple of grates of nutmeg. Bring up to a bubble, turn the heat down to low and gently simmer, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Cook pasta until just tender; it should still be too hard to eat. Drain it (do not shake the colander; allow some water to cling to the noodles) and toss it with the sauce and half the mozzarella. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and spoon mixture into it.

Top with the white sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella and grated Parmigiano over the top, transfer to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until top is browned and cheese bubbly, 20 to 30 minutes.
Yield: 6 servings.

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Rosy Rooster

3 Nov

Rosy Rooster Pasta, captured in all its glory via ghetto bberry photo


This isn’t exactly a recipe in need of recording — it’s a pretty basic, straightforward pasta and sauce.

We are having a serious crush on the chicken/rose/pasta combo, especially Wolfgang Puck’s delicious looking chicken bolognese.

But in our quest to fine tune a rose sauce, we like the ratio for this one. And we loved how our Barilla linguini soaked it up. We like using whole milk for this, because the extra fat in cream gives us the shakes.

This is a worthy contender for our new project, House Special, wherein we devise half a dozen no-brainer dinners that can be thrown together with ingredients on hand (or in this case, a quick trip to the market on the way home for sausages and celery. The rest we had in the pantry and fridge.)

SAUCY CHERIE’S ROSY ROOSTER PASTA

We whipped this up fast by sauteeing finely chopped shallots, carrot and celery with shitake mushrooms and minced garlic in olive oil.

We deglazed with a cup of white wine and added three Spolumbo chicken/red pepper sausages before covering the lid to simmer. We also added a generous splash of chicken broth. When the chicken is cooked, slice into rounds and return to pan. The liquid should be low at this point.

While we waited for the linguine to cook, we added three generous tablespoons of roasted garlic tomato paste to the saute pan, and nutmeg and herbs, and thinned it with a cup of whole milk.

Once that was mixed, we sprinkled a handful of asiago we had in the fridge.

We drained the pasta, but not too well. Must remember to reserve a cup of starchy pasta water. We added the still dripping noodles back into their pot and topped with the sausage and sauce, mixing with tongs.

Top with parsley and more cheese.

Fusilli, you crazy bastard…

29 Oct

We always crack up when we think of this 1994 New Yorker cartoon by Charles Barsotti. So we thought it would be a good idea to use fusilli for The Mister’s first crack at homemade mac and cheese. A little aged white cheddar, a little asiago, some fried onions and crumbled bacon et voila:

Just look at him. In the kitchen. Trying. This is going to be easy!
We used this recipe but remain confused about the ideal cheese/milk ratio, as all of our hoarded mac and cheese recipes are different.

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups whole or 2 percent milk
3 cups white cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup or more shredded asiago
pinch of nutmeg, but wish we’d used 1/2 tsp
500 grams twisty pasta

Heat a medium, deep skillet over medium heat. Add butter, when bubbly, add flour and combine. Gently cook, whisking flour and butter together, until smooth and flour has had a chance to cook, about three minutes.

Slowly add milk while continuing to whisk. Gently bring milk to a bubble while stirring frequently. Allow the milk to thicken a bit, then stir in two cups of shredded cheddar cheese a handful at a time.

Season sauce with nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Taste and add a little salt, if you like. Add cooked pasta to sauce and coat completely by turning over and over in the cheese sauce.

Transfer to a baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Place baking dish under a hot broiler and brown the cheddar cheese on top.

 

Gourmet Macaroni & Cheese
Best of Bridge Grand Slam

(try adding some bacon or ham to this)

2 1/2 cups macaroni (625 ml)

1/4 cup butter (60 ml)

1/4 cup flour (60 ml)

2 cups milk (500 ml)

1 tsp. salt (5 ml)

1 tsp. sugar (5 ml)

1/2 lb. processed cheese, cubed (250 g) (Velveeta)

2/3 cup sour cream (150 ml) (fat free is fine)

1 1/3 cups cottage cheese (325 ml)

2 cups grated old cheddar cheese (500 ml)

1 1/2 cups soft breadcrumbs (375 ml)

2 Tbsp. butter (30 ml)

paprika

Cook and drain macaroni and place in a 2 1/2 quart (2.5 L) greased casserole. Melt butter over medium heat; stir in flour; mix well. Add milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Add salt, sugar and cheese. Mix well. Mix sour cream and cottage cheese into sauce. Pour over macaroni. Mix well. Sprinkle cheddar cheese and crumbs over top. Dot with butter and sprinkle with paprika. May be frozen at this point. Bake at 350F (180C) for 45-50 minutes.

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“This vibrant pasta, tossed with beet greens and creamy goat cheese, is an ode to Charles Barsotti’s 1994 New Yorker cartoon of a rigatoni noodle on the phone to a friend, exclaiming, “Fusilli, you crazy bastard!” Tarry Lodge chef Andy Nusser says, ‘Mario [Batali] and I saw the cartoon at the same time. It became the punch line to every joke.'”

Fusilli Alla Crazy Bastard
Recipe by Andy Nusser
1/2 cup walnut halves
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fusilli pasta
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 pound beet greens, rinsed and coarsely chopped
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1/2 pound soft goat cheese, thickly sliced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Directions
1.Preheat the oven to 350°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toast the walnuts for 7 minutes, until lightly browned; let cool slightly. Coarsely chop and transfer to a bowl.
2.Raise the oven temperature to 450°. On the rimmed baking sheet, toss the cherry tomatoes with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for about 10 minutes, until browned in spots.
3.In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the fusilli. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, 2 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes, beet greens and crushed red pepper and cook, crushing the tomatoes slightly, until the greens are just wilted, 3 minutes.
4.Drain the fusilli, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta, the reserved cooking water and the sliced goat cheese to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, tossing to coat the pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to a bowl, garnish with the chopped toasted walnuts, top with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve immediately.

Family Fettuccini

6 Oct

Our darling sister-in-law whipped up this gorgeous creamy pasta while we were visiting seaside.

We were excited to finally try it, as it has been elevated to family lore.

We were quickly won over — swooned, in fact — and days later began googling to find a similar recipe (Victoria’s ReBar published its version in 2001 for its wild mushroom ravioli with leeks, cranberries and citrus-sage cream).

Lo and behold, we discovered it is a creation close to home… from our own local Best of Bridge ladies.

FETTUCCINE WITH SAMBUCA AND CRANBERRIES
Best of Bridge: That’s Trump (2001)

1/4 cup butter
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed (shrimp and scallops would be divine).
2 garlic cloves, minced (we used more)
3 cups (750 ml) whipping cream
1/4 cup Sambuca liqueur
1/4 cup orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste
1 – 14 oz. can (398 ml) artichokes, drained & chopped
3 oz. pkg. (85 g) dried cranberries
1 lb. fettuccine
chopped fresh parsley & orange zest for garnish

In a large frying pan, heat butter and saute cubed chicken and garlic until barely cooked (do not over cook!). Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
Add whipping cream, Sambuca and orange juice to pan and stir well.
Add Parmesan, nutmeg, salt and pepper, stirring until smooth. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Add chopped artichokes, cranberries and chicken; simmer and stir for 10 minutes. That’s it for the sauce! Now, cook the fettuccine according to package directions.
Carefully fold sauce into pasta and garnish with parsley and orange zest.
Serve with garlic toast.
Serves 6-8
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Creamy Seafood Citrus Pasta
Thrifty Foods
* 1 Tbsp. olive oil
* 1 medium onion, finely chopped
* 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
* 1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
* 250 grams halibut fillet, cubed
* 16 medium prawns, peeled with tail portion intact
* 1/2 cup white wine
* 16 mussels
* 3/4 lb. linguini or fettuccini
* Finely grated juice and zest of 1 orange
* Finely grated juice and zest of 1 lime
* Finely grated juice and zest of 1 lemon
* 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
* 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
* Salt and white pepper to taste

Method
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Heat the oil in very large skillet over medium-high. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper and cook 2-3 minutes. Add the halibut and prawns and cook, gently stirring, 2-3 minutes more. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Add the mussels and cover and cook until they just open. Transfer seafood mixture to a large bowl. Cook pasta in boiling water.

Add the citrus juice and zest to the skillet and cook until almost evaporated. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Return the seafood to the skillet. Stir in dill, salt and pepper. Toss in the cooked pasta and serve.

Spaghetti Western rides again

10 Jul

We can’t lie: we are obsessed with our Spaghetti Western theme (check out our Stampede category for the evidence). We have amassed a small collection of beefy, beery versions of party-style pasta just perfect for Stampede.

COWBOY SPAGHETTI WITH CHEDDAR CHEESE SAUCE
Rachael Ray
1 pound spaghetti
Salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), 1 turn of the pan
3 slices smoky bacon, chopped
1 pound ground sirloin
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons hot sauce (eyeball it)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (eyeball it)
1 tablespoon chili powder (a palmful)
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin (half a palmful)
1/2 bottle pale beer (eyeball it)
1 can, 14 ounces chopped or crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, finely chopped
4 scallions, chopped
Yields: 4 servings
Preparation
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt, then the pasta and cook spaghetti until al dente according to package directions.

Heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add EVOO and bacon. Brown and crisp bacon, about 5 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve. Drain off a little excess fat if necessary but leave just enough to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add the sirloin and crumble it with a wooden spoon as it browns, 3-4 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, and season with salt, pepper, hot sauce, Worcestershire, chili powder and cumin. Cook for another 5-6 minutes. Add the beer, cook for 1 minute more then add tomatoes and tomato sauce. Bring up to a bubble and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
While the meat sauce is cooking, make the cheese sauce: Heat a small sauce pot over medium heat and add butter. When the butter melts, stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the chicken stock and then the milk. Thicken for 2 minutes then stir in the cheese and melt, for another 2 minutes. Stir in the jalapenos and scallions. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Drain spaghetti, add to the meat sauce and combine.
Pour into a large serving bowl and pour the cheddar cheese sauce over the top.

It begins and ends with bacon

15 Jun

Our beloved spaghetti carbonara recipe is rivaled only by amatraciana.

We love this straightforward, simple recipe because it seems a little Seventeen-esque, if you ask us. Easy and delicious!

SPAGHETTI ALL’AMATRACIANA
10-12 strips of thick cut bacon
1 med onion, diced
2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes, pureed
3 1/2 tbls red wine vinegar or wine
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
1/2 cup fresh grated pecorino cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, flat leaf parsley extra
1 lb spaghetti, cooked

Chop bacon into bite sized pieces and brown it in a pan. Remove it and pour out all but a tablespoon or two worth of fat. Brown the onion with red pepper flakes then deglaze the pan with the vinegar. Add the tomatoes, black pepper, bacon back to the pan.
Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn off heat. Stir in cheese and basil. Add the pasta and stir to coat. Serve, garnish with more cheese.

Other pasta recipes here.

Spagballs

8 Jun

We love the lycopene, but our betrothed is not down with thick tomato sauce.
Fair enough — America’s Test Kitchen to the rescue.
The first recipe is a dreamy, creamy sauce for short pasta. We have prepared a vodka rose sauce we served with slices of chicken rosemary sausage tossed with papardelle.
Amazing.
The second is a great bolognese that tastes as if it’s been cooking all day long.

“Readily available, canned crushed tomatoes trumped canned whole and diced tomatoes—theyíre bright in flavor, easy to puree in the food processor, and contain just the right amount of juice. Before adding the tomatoes to the pot, we cooked a few tablespoons of tomato paste with some onion and garlic, and added sun-dried tomatoes, to deepen the flavor of the sauce. A pinch of red pepper flakes, a splash of wine, and a little minced prosciutto added depth and tamed some of the sauce’s sweetness; a bit of reserved uncooked crushed tomatoes and another splash of wine stirred in before serving brought the sauce’s ingredients together. As for the cream, traditional heavy cream can’t be beat; we added it to the just-finished sauce to enrich it without subduing the bright tomato flavor.”

PASTA WITH CREAMY TOMATO SAUCE
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ounce prosciutto, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 small onion, diced fine (about 3/4 cup)
1 bay leaf
Pinch red pepper flakes
Table salt 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 ounces oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes , drained, rinsed, patted dry, and chopped coarse (about 3 tablespoons)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons crushed tomatoes (from one 28-ounce can)
1 pound pasta
1/2 cup heavy cream
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

“Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add prosciutto, onion, bay leaf, pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft and beginning to turn light gold, 8 to 12 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and sun-dried tomatoes and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly darkened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup wine and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.
‘Add 2 cups crushed tomatoes and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened (spoon should leave trail when dragged through sauce), 25 to 30 minutes.
“Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water; drain pasta and transfer back to cooking pot.
“Remove bay leaf from sauce and discard. Stir cream, remaining 2 tablespoons crushed tomatoes, and remaining 2 tablespoons wine into sauce; season to taste with salt and pepper. Add sauce to cooked pasta, adjusting consistency with up to 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Stir in basil and serve immediately, passing Parmesan separately.”

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Our first try with a panade. Highly recommended!
Bolognese-style meat sauce in under 60 minutes. The meaty flavor comes from the mushrooms; the beef is NOT browned to prevent it from becoming rubbery. Do not be tempted to use a different fat-percentage. 80% lean beef will yield a greasy sauce. 90% lean will become chewy.

EASY MEAT SAUCE
America’s Test Kitchen
1/4 lb white button mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced finely
1 slice white bread (high-quality sandwich bread)
2 tablespoons milk
table salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb 85% lean ground beef
6 garlic cloves, minced fine
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes, juice drained and reserved
3 teaspoons fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Directions
Remove stems from mushrooms. Cut into quarters and toss into food processor. Chop finely, 8-10 1-second pulses. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until it smokes. Add onion and mushrooms and saute until soft and very brown, 6-12 minutes.
Pulse milk and bread in food processor until it forms a paste, about 8 pulses. Add salt and pepper. Add beef and pulse until just combined, about 6 pulses.
Add garlic, red pepper flakes and tomato paste to saucepan. Deglaze with 1/4 cup of the reserved tomato juices (discard or consume the rest). Add 2 tsp fresh oregano (if using dried oregano, add all of it now) and stir well. Add meat mixture and stir until no longer pink, but not yet brown. Add drained, diced tomatoes and crushed tomatoes. Stir well, and simmer gently 30 minutes.
6Add remaining fresh oregano and Parmigiano cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve over pasta.