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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.”

________________________________________

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.

Pucker up

10 Apr

joelens.blogspot.com

A study of pasta and lemon:

We’ve been whipping up lemony orzo since teenhood. Citrusy chicken broth emboldened with black pepper and parmesan is spring in a bowl. It screams for something green: grassy parsley, sweet peas, steamed broccoli, tender asparagus.

Turkey cutlets with lemon thyme cream sauce even made an appearance on the pages of our beloved 1980s-era Seventeen magazine.

Meyer lemons are finally available in our vincinity, though they are a luxury.
We begin with the best of the web, courtesy joelens.blogspot.com:

ITALIAN CHICKEN WITH LEMON THYME CREAM SAUCE
4 (4 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups flour, plus 1 tablespoon
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp Italian seasoning

Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.

Mix dry ingredients in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in the mixture, shaking off any excess.
Heat 3 Tbsp oil in a large skillet. Cook chicken breasts over medium-high heat until golden brown and crisp (2-3 min). Add more oil for each batch as necessary.
Place cooked chicken breasts on a baking sheet and transfer to preheated oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.

LEMON THYME CREAM SAUCE
recipe adapted from Food Network
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/2 white wine
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 lb cooked angel hair pasta
fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
2 ounces Parmesan cheese to garnish

In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring often until the shallot is translucent. About 1-2 minutes.

Add the wine to the sautéed shallot pot. Cook over high heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the cream and the thyme and turn down the heat to a simmer. Cook until it reduces by half. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Add the hot pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Plate the pasta and top with chicken. Garnish with Parmesan and parsley.

LEMONY PASTA WITH ASPARAGUS
FOOD52
Sea salt
1 pound asparagus
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
Grated zest of 1 lemon (Meyer, if possible)

1/2 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Juice of 1 lemon (Meyer, if possible)

Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving
4 tablespoons fresh ricotta

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the asparagus where the tip and stem meet. Cut the stems into 1/2-inch pieces.
Warm the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, until softened on the edges. Add the asparagus and season with salt. Cook, stirring to turn and distribute the asparagus, until crisp-tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest. Remove from the burner.
When the water comes to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Scoop out about 1/3 cup pasta water, and set aside. Drain the spaghetti and add it to the asparagus along with the butter. Place over medium heat. Use tongs to toss and melt the butter. Add half the lemon juice and toss again. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more lemon juice and salt if needed. If the spaghetti is dry, fold in some of the pasta water.
Divide among 2 plates. Season with pepper. Sprinkle with parmesan. Drop 2 tablespoonfuls of ricotta on top of each. Devour.


LEMON SPAGHETTI
1/2 pound spaghetti or angel hair or other
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, Parmesan, and lemon juice in a large bowl to blend.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the lemon sauce, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding 1/4 cup at a time as needed to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped basil.

 

Cilantro’s Lemon Conchigliette

Yield: 4

250 g dried conchigliette pasta shells*

1/3 cup red onion, chopped

1 poblano pepper, julienned

1 tsp garlic, chopped

8 prawns

8 scallops

3 Tbs + 1 tsp (50 mL) dry white wine

1⁄2 cup (120 mL) heavy cream 35%

2 Tbs chèvre (soft goat cheese)

2 Tbs chopped fresh basil

To taste salt and pepper

1⁄2 cup fresh grated Parmesan

Boil the pasta until it’s cooked al dente, cool and set aside.

Sauté onion, pepper, and garlic on medium–high heat for 3-5 minutes.

Add prawns and scallops, and continue to fry for an additional 3 minutes. Deglaze with the white wine and continue cooking until the wine is reduced by half.

Add the cream and goat cheese, let simmer on low-medium heat for 5-8 minutes then add pasta shells and fresh chopped basil.

Toss and heat just until the pasta is hot, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with Parmesan and serve.

(*) Cilantro makes their own conchigliette with lemon juice. Add 1Tbs of lemon zest at the end to achieve the same flavour.

Sunday gravy

1 Mar

Friends, Romans and hungrymen!

Hearty Italian Meat Sauce (Sunday Gravy)
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Episode: Saucy Italian Favorites

1 rack baby back ribs (about 2 1/4 pounds), cut into 2-rib sections
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 pound hot Italian sausage
2 medium onions, chopped fine (about 2 cups0
1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 cans crushed tomatoes
2/3 cup beef broth cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Meatballs
2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, crusts removed and bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 medium garlic minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound meatloaf mix
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto. chopped fine
1 ounce Pecorino Romano, grated (about 1/2 cup
1/2 cup olive oil

Pasta
1 1/2 pounds spaghetti or linguine
2 tablespoons table salt
Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Adjust oven rack to lower- middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Heat oil in large Dutch oven until just smoking. Pat ribs dry and season with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add half of ribs to pot and brown on both sides for five minutes each. Set aside.
Brown sausages, 5 minutes. Add to plate with ribs.

Reduce heat to medium, add onions and oregano, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown. Add tomato paste and stir until dark, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes and broth, scraping up browned bits. Return ribs and sausage to pot; bring to simmer. Cover pot place in oven. Cook until ribs are tender, about 2½ hours.

Meanwhile make meatballs by combining bread cubes, buttermilk, parsley, garlic, egg yolk, salt, and red pepper flakes in medium bowl. Mash until no bread chunks remain. Add meatloaf mix, prosciutto, and cheese to bread mixture; mix with hands until thoroughly combined. Divide into 12 pieces; roll into balls, and refrigerate until ready to use.

30 minutes before sauce is done, fry meatballs until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain on paper towel.
Remove sauce from oven and skim fat from top. Add meatballs to sauce and gently submerge. Cover and return to oven for about 15 minutes.

Cook pasta and reserve ½ cup cooking water; drain pasta and transfer back to cooking pot.

Pluck out meatballs, ribs, and sausage and transfer to a serving platter, cutting sausages in half. Stir basil into sauce and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Toss pasta with one cup of sauce and reserved pasta water to lightly coat pasta. Serve pasta, passing remaining sauce and meat platter separately.

New Year’s

31 Dec

AT NEW YEAR’S, we especially think of lobster although the mere thought of  this recipe makes our jeans feel tighter. Damn you lobster spaghetti. Damn you!

We have been hoarding saving two versions of this famous Montreal recipe. We have both the restaurant’s offering and a home version from Bonnie Stern. We are thinking that Bonnie’s might be the winner, as she goes the extra step of steeping lobster shells in the cream for more flavour. Also, peas? Really? We’ll stick with Bonnie’s version below.

JOE BEEF’S LOBSTER SPAGHETTI

3 lobsters, cooked, meat and shells reserved

3 cups (750mL) whipping cream

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tbsp (25mL) cognac or brandy

1 sprig fresh tarragon

½ tsp (2mL) Tabasco sauce

4 oz (125g) thick bacon, cut into 1″ (2.5cm) pieces

1 pkg spaghetti

1 tsp (5mL) salt or more to taste

½ tsp (2mL) freshly ground coarse black pepper

2 tbsp (25mL) chopped fresh chives or tarragon

Cut lobster in large chunks. Reserve. Place cream in a large saucepan and add garlic, bay leaf, thyme, brandy, tarragon and Tabasco. Bring to a boil. Add lobster shells. Cook very gently about 1 hour. Strain cream into a deep wide skillet or wok. Cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Just before serving, cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling, salted water until almost tender. Add lobster pieces to cream and gently reheat. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup (250mL) pasta cooking liquid. Add spaghetti to cream. Add bacon. Cook gently until sauce coats noodles well. Season to taste. If mixture is too thick add some reserved cooking liquid. Serve in a mound with fresh herbs and additional pepper sprinkled on top. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

____________________________________

LOBSTER SPAGHETTI Recipe from Joe Beef’s

2 4 1-1/4 lb. lobsters, cooked, chilled and cracked

1/2 lb. spaghetti 8 slices bacon, diced

1/4 cup brandy

1 cup peas

3/4 cup 35% cream

3/4 cup half-and-half cream

Salt and pepper

Chopped chives Remove meat from lobster tail, claws and knuckles. Chop into large chunks. Reserve. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling, salted water until tender. Drain and reserve. Meanwhile, sauté diced bacon in large frying pan over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove all but 1 tbsp of fat from pan. Add brandy and boil 15 seconds. Add peas and sauté until tender, about 1 minute. Add cream and bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute. Add half-and-half and lobster meat and cook until heated through. Add pasta and combine well using tongs. Season well with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped chives.

Cozy Shack Job

10 Dec

Amanda Hesser brought white bolognese and rigatoni to our radar in her book Cooking for Mr. Latte.

This is everything good Italian food is: rich, cozy and deeply flavourful.

We find the hearty comfort of these luxurious tastes mingled with wine and pasta utterly romantic.

The recipe also takes us back to a dreamy getaway at the elegant Palazzo in Las Vegas where the Mister declared himself over a gorgeous plate of turtei con aragosta (lobster and leek ravioli with shrimp, diced tomato and lobster-cream sauce) at Il Fornaio. The rest of the week was so, um, celebratory, we missed an opportunity to dine at Mario Batali’s CarneVino. Perhaps the recipe for Pappardelle Bolognese from The Babbo Cookbook will soothe our pining; perfect for digging into together on a cold night.

Another keeper is this Turkish variation of deconstructed lamb and eggplant dumplings, substituting farfalle for wrappers. It’s just as cozy and romantic to cook and share.

Similar to another amazing Batali recipe: Mint Love Letters with Spicy Lamb Sausage

So here are four — count ’em, four — recipes for staying warm on a cold night with the one you love…

White Bolognese with Rigatoni
Recipe from Amanda Hesser, Cooking for Mr. Latte

Unless we really effed up on proportions, we found this excessively meaty. We would happily up the veggie quotient, but still have plenty of sausage and beef.

Also, we should have tossed it together harder and smothered it with more cheese.

We expected the sauce to look a little more stroganoff-ish. It’s a rich dish to be sure, and the pasta does soak up the sauce. It is lovely.

extra virgin oil
1/2 a sweet onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped.
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb mild Italian pork sausage meat, removed from casings.
1 lb ground beef(not lean)
1 1/2 cups dry Italian white wine
1 cube beef bouillon dissolved in 2 cups simmering water
1 1/2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms rehydrated in 3 cups lukewarm water
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 lb rigatoni
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Add enough oil to a large, deep saute pan to coat the base and place over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion, carrots and celery and saute until glassy and just tender, about 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the sausage and beef to the pan, breaking it into walnut-size pieces, and brown well.
Pour in the wine and keep at a rapid simmer until the pan is almost dry. Then pour in 1 1/2 cups beef bouillon and lower the heat to medium. Simmer gently, uncovered, until the bouillon is nearly gone, stirring now and then. Meanwhile, chop the rehydrated porcini into small pieces, reserving the liquid.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add mushroom liquid to the sauce to cover the meat halfway(about 1 cup) along with the porcini and continue simmering until the sauce is loose but not soupy, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, it should be highly seasoned. When the consistency is right, fold the cream in. Remove from the heat and cover.
When the pasta water is at a full boil, add the rigatoni and cook until still firm, but not hard, in the center. When the pasta is almost done, scoop out 1 cup of pasta water and reserve. Drain the pasta and then return it to the pot. Pour the pasta sauce on top and fold in with a wooden spoon. The pasta should not be dry. Add a little pasta water or mushroom liquid to loosen it. (It will continue to soak up sauce on the way to the table.) Serve in one large bowl or indiviual bowls, passing the cheese at the table.

Pappardelle Bolognese
Mario Batali’s The Babbo Cookbook

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 lbs veal, ground
1 lbs pork, ground
1/4 lbs pancetta, ground
1 can tomato paste
1 cup milk
1 cup dry white wine
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of pepper
Directions
In a 6- to 8-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic, and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the veal, pork, and pancetta and stir into the vegetables. Brown over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking. Add the tomato paste, milk, wine, and thyme, bring just to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with pappardelle pasta (use Trader Joe’s egg pappardelle pasta).
Grate Parmigiano-Reggiano over pasta and ragu.

Campanella with Mushroom Sauce
Cook’s Country Magazine, February / March 2015

10 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed

16 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

2 large shallots, minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh sage

4 garlic cloves, minced

¼ ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed and chopped

½ cup dry white wine

4 cups water

¼ cup hot water

12 ounces campanelle pasta

1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for garnish

juice of ½ lemon, about 1 tablespoon

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Slice half the white and shiitake mushrooms (or to save time you can purchase them already sliced). Chop the remaining mushrooms into a smaller dice, set aside.

Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons butter and all the shiitake and white mushrooms. Season with ½ teaspoon salt, cover and cook until mushrooms release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook stirring occasionally until all liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms being to brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic, sage, porcini mushrooms and shallots. Cook and stir for 1 minutes. Add the wine and cook until evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Add 4 cups of water, the campanelle pasta and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook stirring occasionally until the pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the Romano cheese, ¼ cup hot water, ground black pepper, lemon juice and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Quickly stir to combine and continue stirring vigorously for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with chopped chives and extra grated cheese.

 

 

Pasta With Turkish-Style Lamb, Eggplant and Yogurt Sauce
recipe from New York Times

1 large eggplant, about 1 pound, in 1/2 -inch cubes
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, more to taste
3 fat garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, minced
1 pound ground lamb
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, preferably Turkish or Aleppo (see note), more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or dill, more to taste
1/2 pound bowtie or orecchiette pasta
2 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, to taste
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta.
Toss eggplant with 4 tablespoons oil and a large pinch of salt. Spread on a baking sheet, making sure there is room between pieces, and roast until crisp and brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and the shallot and sauté until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add lamb, 1/2 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Sauté until lamb is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in mint or dill and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir eggplant into lamb. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter: the amount is to your taste. Let cook until it turns golden brown and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together yogurt, remaining garlic and a pinch of salt.
Drain pasta and spread on a serving platter. Top with lamb-eggplant mixture, then with yogurt sauce. Pour melted butter over top. Sprinkle on additional red pepper and more mint or dill. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 to 3 servings.

Note: Turkish or Aleppo (Syrian) red pepper flakes are sold at specialty markets and at kalustyans.com. You may also substitute ground chili powder. Do not use crushed red pepper flakes; they will be too hot for this dish.

Mint Love Letters with Spicy Lamb Sausage
Recipe by Mario Batali
Kosher salt
1 pound shelled sweet peas, fresh or frozen
2 cups mint leaves, 16 leaves reserved for garnish
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 recipe Basic Pasta Dough
1 recipe Basic Tomato Sauce
1 pound Merguez (spicy lamb sausage), cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 pound Grana Padano cheese, for grating

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Set up an ice bath nearby. Submerge the peas into the boiling water and cook until tender yet still bright green, 1-2 minutes. Remove the peas with a slotted spoon, reserving the boiling water, and plunge them into the ice bath to cool. Once the peas have cooled, remove them from the ice bath and allow to dry on a plate lined with paper towels.

Using the same water, blanch the mint leaves for just 10-15 seconds. Transfer immediately to the ice bath. Drain well.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the peas, mint, Parmigiano-Reggiano and heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper and pulse to form a smooth paste.

Using a pasta machine, roll out the pasta dough on the thinnest setting and then cut the pasta sheets into 3-inch squares. Place 1 tablespoon of the pea filling on each square and fold over to form rectangles. Continue filling and shaping until all the pasta and filling are used. Cover and refrigerate until needed or place on baking sheets between layers of dish towels and freeze overnight. The next day, place in freezer bags and store up to 1 week.

In a medium saucepan, bring the tomato sauce to a boil. Add the sausage, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 1 hour, skimming off the fat as it is rendered from the meat. Remove the sauce from the heat, cool briefly, and pulse it in a food processor until smooth.

Transfer to a 12-inch skillet and keep warm.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the sauce. Toss gently over high heat for 1 minute. Add the reserved mint leaves, toss 1 minute more, then divide evenly among eight warmed dinner plates. Grate the Grana Padano over each plate and serve immediately.

Now and then

11 Sep

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We would never dream of monkeying with our recipe for spaghetti carbonara. How chopped bacon and onion have their slippery way with noodles, the creamy egg yolk and parmesan coating every strand, the gorgeous grassy bites of fresh parsley. Perfection. True, we’ve slipped in a dash of red pepper flakes and a weensy bite of garlic, but they are truly unnecessary. We astonished our younger self making this for a family dinner after clipping ripping it from Seventeen Magazine (circa 1980-something-embarrassing, see below). So simple. So perfect.

NYC carbonara

NYC carbonara 2

After hearing us moan on and on about this hoarded cherished recipe, our betrothed took his first crack at this recently:

doug's carbonara

And wouldn’t you know it. It turned out perfectly. Sigh. Is there anything that man can’t do?

Spaghetti Carbonara

Recipe adapted from Seventeen Magazine
UPDATE: We like one egg and 1/4 pound or 113ish grams 4 oz) of pasta per person, so just multiply that for a group. If you’re boiling a pound/454 grams/16 oz, that’s for four so use four eggs. We also now beat the eggs and mix in the cheese, minced parsley, black pepper (a splash of heavy cream if we have it). Makes stirring into hot noodles coated with bacon-ey goodness that much easier

8cf3eefd-6be4-44d2-a9ee-560333bb7b98a1c81474-f833-42c6-99ab-0c3cc9ca112c4 quarts water

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 lb bacon

1/2 medium onion, chopped

16 oz thin spaghetti (we served three people using 3/4 of a box)

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup chicken broth

3 eggs

1/2 cup chopped parsley

3/4 cup grated Parmesan

Bring water to boil. In the meantime, chop bacon into 1 inch pieces, chop onion, parsley. Brown bacon and remove, draining all but 2 tbsp fat. Add onion to pan and saute until soft. Add bacon again. When spaghetti is cooked, drain but reserve some starchy water. Pour chicken broth into pan and scrape up browned bits. Add spaghetti and toss in butter, stirring until butter melts.

Remove skillet from heat. Add three raw eggs and stir quickly to blend. The heat from the noodles will cook them nicely; leaving the skillet on the stove would scramble them. The noodles should be loose enough to stir easily. If they are too tight, add reserved water to loosen.

Mix in parsley, and sprinkle with Parmesan. Toss well until cheese is evenly distributed. Serve immdiately. Makes four servings.

Mario Batali’s

  • 1/2 pound guanciale (or pancetta or good bacon)
  • Salt
  • 1 pound dry spaghetti
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  1. In a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan, render and cook the guanciale until it is crispy and golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Do not drain the fat from pan and set aside.
  2. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Cook the spaghetti, until tender yet al dente. Drain the spaghetti, reserving the pasta cooking water.
  3. Reheat the guanciale in the pan with the fat and add approximately 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Toss in the cooked spaghetti and heat, shaking the pan, until warmed through, about 1 minute. Add the grated cheese, egg whites and black pepper and toss until fully incorporated. Divide the pasta among 4 warmed serving bowls. Make a nest in the center for the egg yolk. Gently drop an egg yolk into each serving, season with more freshly ground black pepper and grate additional cheese over the top. Serve immediately.

THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW

Since preparing carbonara in our teenhood, we’ve adapted a signature way of preparing other baconish pasta. Our favourite on-the-fly pasta (a spicy tomato clam dish) begins with adding olive oil to a hot pan, followed by a sprinkling of sea salt, crushed red pepper flakes, and… wait for it… a few slices of pepperoni. We routinely save some thin rounds in freezer bags for such emergencies. Sliced into matchsticks, the pepperoni fat and flavour melts into the oil, making it positively dreamy. Once things are sizzling and smelling like heaven, we add a drained can of clams and some fresh garlic. True story. When they’ve had a good bath, we pour in a can of diced tomatoes with their juice and let the whole thing simmer. We’ve dared to add a splash of wine, a shot of vodka, or a splosh of beer to the bubbling mix as we allow it to reduce ever so slightly.

A sprinkling of fresh parsley and a bit of parmesan as you’re serving, and you’re done. Yum!

It’s a versatile dish. You can forgo said clams in favour of shrimp, salmon chunks, or anything else you can think of.