Pasta all Gricia

A 15 minute dinner from beginning to end with few ingredients — super delicious and so easy to make. Be sure to save a cup of the water you cook the pasta in. I’m straight up licking every drop off my fingers, it’s that good.

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INGREDIENTS
Kosher salt, to taste

1 pound spaghetti

1 tablespoon olive oil

7 ounces guanciale, cut into 1½-by-½-inch strips. I can’t ever find guanciale in the third world country of Silicon Valley, so I buy 4 slices of pancetta at the deli counter and ask them to cut it in about 1/4″ slices.

½ cup white wine

1 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for garnish

a pinch of red pepper flakes, or to taste

2 tablespoons minced parsley

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Season the water with salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 9 to 11 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. DON’T FORGET TO SAVE THE WATER!!!

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the guanciale and cook, turning often, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Add the white wine and red pepper flakes, and cook until slightly reduced, 2 minutes. Pour in the reserved 1 cup of cooking liquid and bring to a simmer.

4. Add the pasta and the grated cheese and toss to coat. Cook, stirring vigorously, until a thick, silky sauce forms, 2 to 3 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Divide the pasta between plates and garnish with the minced parsley and more grated cheese and freshly ground black pepper, and eat it up!

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Mexilicious Rice

When I left home and had to figure out how to cook for myself, one of my staples in my limited repertoire for a “fancy” dinner was a box rice product called Herb and Butter rice — but I can’t remember the company name.  It wasn’t Knorr — or Rice-a-Roni . . . but I can see that box in my mind as clear as day.  My OTHER favorite rice from the same company was what they called “Spanish” rice.

A lot of years have passed , and I now have a favorite scratch recipe for Mexican rice.  This makes quite a lot, but it’s what I pack for my work lunch for a few days after I make it.  It’s easy to make, and as always, fresh ingredients–the best you can find — take any recipe from meh to amazing! ARRIBA!!

mexican-rice

Ingredients:

12 ounces tomatoes, very ripe and cored
1 medium white onion
3 medium jalapenos
2 cups long grain white rice
1/3 cup canola oil
4 minced garlic cloves
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste (may omit if using canned tomatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 lime

Directions:

1.  Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350.
2.  Process tomato and onion in processor or blender until pureed and thoroughly smooth. Transfer mixture to measuring cup and reserve exactly 2 cups. Discard excess.
3.  Remove ribs and seeds from 2 jalapenos and discard. Mince flesh and set aside. Mince remaining jalapeno. Set aside.

4.  Place rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear- about 1 1/2 minutes. Shake rice vigorously to remove excess water.This step removes the starch from the rice so it will be dry and fluffy in the finished dish.
5.  Heat oil in heavy bottomed oven-safe 1o or 12 inch straight sided sautee pan or Dutch oven with tight fitting lid over low-medium heat about 2 minutes. Drop a few rice grains in, and if they sizzle, the pan is ready. Add rice and fry stirring until rice is light golden and translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Be careful that the oil doesn’t get too hot too fast or the oil will splatter.

6. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and 2 minced jalapenos and cook , stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes.
7. Stir in broth, pureed mixture,tomato paste, and salt. Increase heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.

8. Cover pan and transfer pan to oven to bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30-35 minutes. Stir well after 15 minutes.
9. Stir in cilantro, minced jalapeno to taste, and pass lime wedges separately.

Couscous Salad with Tomato and Cuke

My current favorite summer salad! Be sure to use Israeli or pearled couscous — it’s the bigger and tastier version of the conventional kind.  Cool and refreshing!

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INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous (pearled couscous)
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to taste (I usually split the lemon juice with white wine vinegar — 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar)
  • 1 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • ½ pound ripe tomatoes, very finely chopped
  • ¾ pound cucumbers (1 European or 4 Persian), seeded if using regular cucumbers, cut in fine dice
  • 1 bunch scallions, finely chopped, or 1/4 cup chopped chives, or thinly sliced red onion
  •  Salt to taste

Tastes great with crumbled feta cheese!

PREPARATION

  1. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan and add the couscous. Stir until the couscous begins to color and smell toasty, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 2 cups water and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until the couscous is tender. Drain if any liquid remains in the pan.
  2. Transfer the couscous to a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice, parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions or chives and salt to taste. Add the olive oil, toss together, taste and adjust seasonings. Serve over with lettuce leaves.

Burrata and Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

I have been cooking . . . a lot. But work interferes with free time, and my recipes are stacking up.  Time to retire!  Eventually.

BS burrata

This is my new favorite pasta — 15 minute prep time and then put it in the oven. Delicious autumn-y, cheesy, lemony comfort food.

INGREDIENTS

1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
One 12-ounce package jumbo pasta shells
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped and smashed
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (juice of ½ lemon)
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
Two 8-ounce or four 4-ounce burrata balls

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 400° and line a sheet tray with parchment paper.

2. Place the squash onto the prepared sheet tray and season the flesh with the olive oil and salt. Turn them so that they’re cut-side down and roast until tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 7 to 10 minutes, then scoop the flesh into a medium bowl and set aside. Lower the oven to 375°. Yields about 3 cups. Make ahead: The squash and can be roasted and stored in fridge for up to 2 days.

3. While the squash is roasting, boil the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the jumbo shells to the water and cook until barely al dente, 9 minutes. Drain the pasta and rinse under cold running water for 1 minute.

4. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, ¾ cup of the Parmesan, the egg, garlic, parsley, lemon juice and zest, oregano and cooled roasted squash. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Fill each cooked pasta shell with 1½ tablespoons of filling and snuggle the shells into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

5. Tear the burrata over the pasta, letting the curds and cream fall over and around the shells. Top with remaining Parmesan and bake until golden brown and bubbling, 30 minutes. Serve.

From Tasting Table

Baked Penne with Fresh Ricotta and Sausage

This is my favorite comfort food of the year.   You can make it any way that works for you, but it is only sublime with homemade ricotta which takes only 3 minutes of active time — 15 minutes of just letting it sit in a sieve to drain — and which tastes NOTHING like that cheese whiz gunk in tubs that you can buy at the grocery store.  I have made this for everyone I know.

penne

The rest of this recipe is super easy and the outcome is heavenly.  Make it!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 pound hot or sweet Italian fennel sausage, casings removed
  • One 28-ounce can tomato puree
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne
  • 3 cups Creamy Ricotta
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato puree, water, sugar, bay leaf and fennel. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove the garlic, mash it to a paste and stir it back into the sauce; discard the bay leaf.
  • Meanwhile, cook the penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Using a slotted spoon, add the cooked sausage to the pasta, then add 1 cup of the tomato sauce and toss to coat the penne. 
  • Spoon the pasta into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the pasta and dollop large spoonfuls of the Creamy Ricotta on top. Gently fold some of the ricotta into the pasta; don’t overmix—you should have pockets of ricotta. Scatter the mozzarella on top and sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake the pasta for about 45 minutes, or until bubbling and golden on top. Let rest for 20 minutes before serving.

From Food and Wine magazine

Marcela Hazan’s Bolognese

A long lazy simmer on  a Sunday afternoon.

bolognese

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons butterplus 1 tablespoon for tossing the pasta
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  •  cup chopped celery
  •  cup chopped carrot
  • ¾ pound ground beef chuck (or you can use 1 part pork to 2 parts beef)
  •  Salt
  •  Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
  • 1 cup whole milk
  •  Whole nutmeg
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds pasta (used pappardelle)
  •  Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table

PREPARATION

  1. Put the oil, butter and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well.
  2. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.
  3. Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating — about 1/8 teaspoon — of nutmeg, and stir.
  4. Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.
  5. Toss with cooked drained pasta, adding the tablespoon of butter, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.

Copy Cat P.E. Ciao Mein

A Ciao Mein Confession

I don’t eat at fast food restaurants very often at all — an occasional hamburger at In n Out, and in the summer, I’ll swing by Wendy’s once in a great while for a chocolate frosty.  BUT (here’s the confession part) I do find myself at Panda Express once every couple of months for some ciao mein.  I splurge on orange chicken  maybe twice a year, but mostly I pick up two containers of the ciao mein — one for dinner — and one for a couple of lunches, and I’m in junk food heaven.

 

PE CM

 

But tonight, I’m so happy!  I made that ciao mein myself, and even made it a tiny bit better by adding some ground pork (sorry, Mary) to it, and it’s delicious and umami-y and doesn’t have as much  oil as the Panda Express version.  You want quick and easy and super delicious vegie ciao men?  DONE, SON!!!!!

Here’s how.

ce ingre

1 package ciao mein noodles (not the refrigerated kind). Cook these in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then drain and rinse in cool water.

1/2 lb. ground pork (optional), sautéed until cooked through.

3 T. oil (I used peanut oil)
1/2 yellow onion, sliced thinly
8 oz. cabbage, sliced
2 oz. celery, sliced thinly
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce

Slice the onion, cabbage and celery.  Add the oil to a hot pan–I used a cast iron skillet on medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the veggies and let cook for a couple of minutes until they start to caramelize.

Add the cooked noodles and toss together, then add the soy sauce and oyster sauce and mix noodles and sauces well — I added a couple of tablespoons of water because it seemed a little thick. Toss with the ground pork if you’re using it. Break out the takeout box. Total time — 12 minutes.

That’s it. Welcome to the home version of Panda Express Ciao Mein, but seriously, use better chopsticks than their cruddy ones.

Campanile with Butternut Squash and Herbed Breadcrumbs

Live to love pasta.  I’ve tried to quit this insane addiction, but sadly have had to learn to live with it.  Thank you for your sympathy.   I completely love choosing from all the different shapes.  These little “bells” and their frills capture the creamy sauce making every bite HELLACIOUSLY wonderful!  Luscious Fall flavors make me want to wear big, comfy sweaters, leggings and boots and walk through big piles of yellow leaves in the Park blocks.  So, to show your sympathy — make this — for me.IMG_1020-3

Serves 4

  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large leek, white and light-green parts only, rinsed well and thinly sliced
  • 1-1/2 cups 1/4-inch-diced butternut squash
  • 1 cup lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1-1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1-1/2 tsp. chopped fresh sage
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup panko
  • 1/4 oz. finely grated pecorino (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 7-8 sage leaves
  • several slices of prosciutto
  • 12 oz. campanelle or similar pasta

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the leek and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the squash, chicken broth, 1/2 tsp. of the thyme, and 1/2 tsp. of the sage. Cover, and adjust the heat as necessary to simmer gently until the squash is tender, about 10 minutes.

Mash about half of the squash with a potato masher until smooth, leaving the rest chunky. Stir in the cream and cook until it thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the prosciutto slices on a sheet of aluminum foil and bake until crisp — about 4 minutes.

Heat the remaining 1 Tbs. oil in an 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the panko and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining thyme and sage, the cheese, parsley, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Boil the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the water and drain the pasta.

Meanwhile shallow fry the sage leaves until crispy.  Drain on a paper towel.

Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and 2 Tbs. of the reserved pasta water; toss well to coat, adding more water if it looks dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the panko, crumbled prosciutto and fried sage leaves.

From Fine Cooking, October/November 2014

Asparagus, Lemon, and Walnut Pasta

Holy heck!! This is so fresh-tasting, it’s like brushing your teeth!  Easy to make — hardly anything to buy — and so good it’ll make you wanna punch someone in the face!

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  • ounces dried spaghetti (or pasta of your choice–I liked cavatappi because it’s pretty)
  • pound asparagus spears
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • garlic clove, peeled and whole
  • tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • pork of some kind . . . minced and sautéed pancetta, crisped prosciutto — optional
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a strong boil. Season with salt, then add pasta. Cook to  “al dente.” Set aside about 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.
  2. While waiting on the damn pasta, cut off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus. Cut the remainder into 1/3-inch rounds, leaving the tips intact. Heat olive oil and garlic in a large pan over medium heat for five minutes (you’re flavoring the oil, get it?). Add asparagus, salt, pepper, and 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta water. Cover pan and cook asparagus for 4 to 6 minutes, until tender to the bite. Turn off heat and discard garlic.
  3. Once pasta is finished, purée 1/3 of the cooked asparagus and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water in a food processor, blender, or immersion blender until smooth.  Save some asparagus tips for plating.
  4. Add puréed asparagus back to pan, along with sliced asparagus. Mix in cooked pasta, lemon zest, and more pasta water as needed to keep the sauce loose. Heat on low for a minute or two to allow pasta to absorb some of the sauce. Serve immediately, topped with chopped walnuts and a little Parm!

Risotto Cakes with Fresh Chives and Fontina

  • 3 cups (about) low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
  • 1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated Fontina cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 large eggs
  • Canola oil (for frying)
  • Additional grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh chives

Bring 3 cups broth to simmer in small saucepan. Reduce heat to very low; cover and keep warm. Heat olive oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine; stir until absorbed, about 30 seconds. Add broth, 1/3 cup at a time, and simmer until rice is just tender and risotto is creamy, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more, and stirring often, about 18 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in 6 tablespoons Parmesan and butter. Season generously with salt and pepper. Spread risotto in 13x9x2-inch pan and cool completely.

Mix 1/2 cup panko, Fontina cheese, parsley, chopped chives, and 1 egg yolk into risotto. Shape into 1 1/4-inch balls; flatten to 2-inch rounds. Arrange on rimmed baking sheet. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 250°F. Set another rimmed baking sheet in oven. Beat 2 eggs in shallow bowl to blend. Place 1 cup panko in another shallow bowl. Dip risotto cakes into beaten egg, then into panko to coat. Pour enough canola oil into large skillet to coat bottom; heat oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sauté risotto cakes until crisp and brown, about 2 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to baking sheet in oven.

Serve risotto cakes sprinkled with cheese and garnished with chives.

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