Pasta and Rice





Basic Pasta Dough





Ingredients

  • 3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • pinch of kosher salt
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Mound 4 cups of the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs, olive oil and salt.
 
 
Step 2: Using a fork, beat together the eggs and oil and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape. 
 
Step 3: The dough will come together when half of the flour is incorporated. At this point, start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands. 
 
 
Step 4: Once there is a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up and discard any leftover bits. Lightly re-flour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky.
 
Step 5: Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
 
Step 6: Roll and cut to desired shape. 
  
 




Braised Beef Short Rib and Caramelized Onion Ravioli with Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce

 
Ristorante Tosca, located in Washington, DC, makes the best short rib ravioli that I've ever had.  After trying theirs, I was on a mission to re-create the dish and decided to make a party of it. I invited 6 of my "foodie" friends over to help.  This recipe is very good but we didn't quite re-create Tosca's version. 
 
Makes 6-8 servings
 

Ingredients

For the Short Ribs:

  • 4 pieces short ribs, 2" cut
  • 32 ounces red wine (I used a Sangiovese blend)
  • 1 tablespoon shallots
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 leeks, diced 
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 32 ounces beef stock
  • Salt and pepper

For the Caramelized Onions:

  • 3 large white onions, julienne
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 ounces water

For the Truffle Vinaigrette (makes 40 ounces):

  • 250 mL bottle truffle oil
  • 1 tablespoon shallots, minced
  • 1 ounce white wine vinegar
  • 2 ounce blended oil
  • 375 mL Marsala wine

For the Truffle Cream Sauce:

  • 16 ounce quart heavy cream
  • 1 ounce truffle oil
  • 1 tablespoon shallots, sliced
  • 1/2 ounce truffles, sliced
  • 4 ounce reserved braising liquid
  • 12 ounces  wild sauteed mushrooms (I used a combination of shitakes, oyster, cremini, portabello, and enoki)
  • Salt and pepper
 

Instructions

 
Step 1: TO PREPARE THE SHORT RIBS: Marinate short ribs in wine, shallots, garlic and herbs overnight. Save the marinade. 
 
 
Step 2: Sear short ribs in heavy sauce pot until brown on all sides and remove. 
 
 
Step 3: Add Mirepoix and caramelize on high heat, then deglaze with marinade that you reserved. Bring this to a boil and add back the short ribs and add beef stock. Cover and put in 350 degree oven for 3 hours. Remove from oven and strain liquid, while hot pull meat off the bone and set aside. Reduce liquid by half and reserve.
 
Step 4: TO PREPARE THE CARAMELIZED ONIONS: Place in sauté pan and cook on low heat for about 35 minutes until golden brown.
 
Step 5: TO PREPARE THE TRUFFLE VINAIGRETTE: Reduce Madeira in sauce pot by 2/3. In bowl add remaining ingredients. Once the Madeira is ready, add to mixing bowl and whisk to blend. Season with salt and pepper.
 
Step 6: TO PREPARE THE PASTA DOUGH: Mix all ingredients together and knead until smooth. Below is a pictorial tour of our pasta making.
   
 
  
Step 7: TO PREPARE THE RAVIOLI FILLING: Take the braised short rib meat and mix with caramelized onions and 6 oz. of Truffle Vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Add filling to ravioli.
 
  
                
 
Step 8: TO PREPARE THE MUSHROOM CREAM SAUCE: Saute mushrooms and shallots over medium high heat for 8 minutes. Heat cream and simmer for 20 minutes. Add braising liquid, sauteed mushrooms and shallots, and salt and pepper. Simmer until thickened and reserve.
 
Step 9: TO SERVE: Take 5 ravioli and place in pot of boiling water for 3 minutes or until ravioli floats. Remove and toss in a sauté pan with 3 oz. of the reserve sauce. Serve on a plate and garnish with grated parmesan cheese and chopped chives.
 
Now Kayla understands why they say making pasta is a "labor of love."
 

Bucatini all' Amatriciana

Adapted from Mario Batali: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home

Makes 4 servings
 




Ingredients

  • 12 ounces thinly sliced guanciale
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced, about 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups of simple red sauce 
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound bucatini
  • Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Being 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt. 
 
Step 2: Place the guanciale slices in a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan in a single layer and cook over medium-low heat until most of the fat has been rendered from the meat, turning occasionally. Mario recommends that you thinly slice the guanciale. However, if you don't own or have access to a professional meat slicer (to ensure that you have evenly sliced thin pieces of guanciale),  I would recommend that you coarsely chop it so that it's easier to distribute through out the pasta.   Remove the meat to a plate lined with paper towels and discard half the fat, leaving enough to coat the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes. 
 
 
Step 3: Return the guanciale to the pan with the vegetables, and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until the onions, garlic and guanciale are light golden brown. 
 
Step 4: Season with salt and pepper, add the tomato sauce, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. 
 
Step 5: Cook the bucatini in the boiling water according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the simmering sauce.
 
Step 6: Divide the pasta among four warmed pasta bowls. Top with freshly grated Pecorino cheese and serve immediately. 




Butternut Squash Gnocchi With Sage Brown Butter

 
Life can be very busy and chaotic and that’s exactly how I would describe my life these past 6 to 8 months.  Sadly for me, I’ve had no time to do what I love most -  cooking and posting recipes on La Cucina Grandinetti. This past Saturday, I was able to set aside some time to get together with three of my friends, drink wonderful exquisite wine, and create something spectacular to eat. 
 
My friend, Lynne, suggested that we make Lidia Bastianich’s butternut squash gnocchi recipe.  This was the perfect suggestion since I had just gone to Lidia’s restaurant, Felidia, located at 243 East 58th St, in NYC. I would be remiss not to mention that the food and service at Felidia was fabulous. If you are in NYC and looking for a great place to eat, you should definitely try Felidia.  Ok, let’s get back to the recipe. 
 
I like a potato gnocchi that is light and fluffy and melts in your mouth. And in my opinion, making gnocchi with these characteristics is not the easiest thing to do.  It takes practice and experience and it helps to know the feel of the dough.  Here are a few helpful tips that my friends and I learned last night. 
  1. Consider and limit the amount of water from the potatoes and other ingredients. The original recipe instructed us to boil the potatoes; however, in order to reduce the amount of water in the potatoes, we baked them instead. We also wrapped the cooked and pureed butternut squash in a cheesecloth to squeeze out the excess water. 
  2. Use only the amount of flour needed to make a dough that’s cohesive and not too sticky.  Keep in mind that dense gnocchi results from having excess water in your potato mixture and then having to add more flour to give you a cohesive dough.
  3. Work quickly when mixing and handle the dough as little as possible. 
 
This recipe truly encapsulates the essence of fall and gives you the lightest, fluffiest gnocchi that you’ll ever have —that is, if you follow the helpful tips listed above.
 
Gnocchi recipe adapted from Lidia Bastianich
 
Makes 6 servings
 



 

Ingredients

  • 3-pound butternut squash (you’ll need 1 cup of packed squash puree)
  • 2 12- to 14-ounce russet potato
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 1- 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • Additional grated Parmesan cheese
 



 

Instructions:

 
Step 1: Preheat oven to 400°F. 
 
Step 2: Cut squash lengthwise in half; discard seeds. Place squash halves, cut side up, on baking sheet and brush with oil. Roast until squash is very tender when pierced with skewer and browned in spots, about 1-1/2 hours. Cool slightly. 
 
 
Step 3: Rub the potato with olive oil and prick it with the tines of a fork. Place potato on a baking sheet and cook for 60 minutes, until the skin is crispy, and sticking it with a fork meets no resistance.
 
Step 4: Scoop the flesh from squash into food processor and puree until smooth. 
 
Step 5: Wrap the squash puree in a cheesecloth and squeeze excess water out of it.   Measure 1 packed cup of the squash puree (reserve remaining squash for another use.
 
  
 
Step 6: Peel cook potato and while potato is warm, press through potato ricer into medium bowl; cool completely. Measure 2 cups (loosely packed) riced potato (reserve remaining potato for another use).
 
 
Step 7: Mix squash, potato, 1/2 cup Parmesan, egg, nutmeg, and salt in large bowl. Gradually add the flour, kneading gently into mixture in bowl until dough holds together and is almost smooth. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls. We used a little over half of the flour that the recipe calls for us to use.
 
 
 
Step 8: Turn dough out onto floured surface; knead gently but briefly just until smooth. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces.
 
  
 
 
 
Step 9: Line large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Sprinkle parchment lightly with flour. 
 
Step 10: Working with 1 dough piece at a time, roll dough out on floured surface to about 1/2-inch-thick rope. Cut rope crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll gnocchi along back of fork tines dipped in flour, making ridges on 1 side or roll gnocchi on a gnocchi board. Transfer gnocchi to baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour. Can be made 6 hours ahead. Keep chilled.
 
   
 
Step 11: Working in 2 batches, cook gnocchi in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, 15 to 17 minutes (gnocchi will float to surface but may come to surface before being fully cooked). Using slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to same parchment-lined baking sheets. Cool. Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover loosely and chill.
 
Step 12: Cook butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat just until golden, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes. Add sage; stir 1 minute. 
 
Step 13: Add gnocchi; cook until heated through and coated with butter, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 
 
 
Step 14: Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Serve with additional Parmesan.



 

Cannelloni al Forno

Adapted from Mario Batali: Molto Italiano, 327 Simple Recipes to Cook at Home

 

Makes 4 servings
 




Ingredients

 

For the cannelloni filling:

  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, plus more for garnishing pasta
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 recipe basic pasta dough
  • 1 cup simple red sauce
  • 1 cup besciamella

 

For the Besciamello:

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

 





Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the besciamello: In a medium saucepan, heat butter until melted. Add flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until light golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes.
 
   
 
 
Step 2: Meanwhile, heat milk in separate pan until just about to boil. Add milk to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth and bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes and remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg and set aside.
 
 
Step 3: To make the cannelloni filling: In a large skillet, heat the butter over high heat until it foams and subsides. Add the ground pork and veal and cook over high heat until it begins to brown in its own fat. 
 
  
 
Step 4: Drain the excess fat and add the Parmigiano, the flour and the milk and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly, then remove from heat and allow to cool. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir in the egg. Set aside.
 
  
 
 
Step 5: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
 
Step 6: Roll the pasta out to the thinnest setting on a pasta rolling machine and cut it into rectangles measuring 4 inches by 6 inches. 
 
Step 7: Drop the pasta rectangles into the boiling water, 5 ot 6 at a time, and cook until tender, about 1 minute.  Transfer to an ice water bath to cool for 1 minutes, then drain on kitchen towels, laying the rectangles flat.
 
   
 
Step 8: Spoon about 3 tablespoons of meat filling just above one long edge of each rectangle, and roll the pasta up around the filling to form a cylinder.
 
  
 
Step 9: In an 8 or 9-inch square, oven-proof casserole, spoon half the tomato sauce across the bottom in an even layer. Carefully lay each pasta package in the casserole so that they are in a single layer. 
 
  
 
Step 10: Top with the remaining tomato sauce, then the bechamel. Finish with the freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.  
 
  
 
Step 11: Bake in the oven 20 to 25 minutes, until the sauces and cheese are bubbling and the edges of the pasta are crispy and browned. Serve immediately from the cooking dish.
 
 
 
 




Dan Dan Noodles

My friend Lynne Yao taught me how to make Dan Dan Noodles and I will be forever grateful. The first time I tried Dan Dan Noodles was at Bob’s Shanghai 66 in Rockville, MD. Now let’s not confuse Bob’s Shanghai 66 with Bob’s Noodle because they are not the same restaurant. I’ve never been to Bob’s Noodles but I have been to Bob’s Shanghai 66 many many times and it is the real deal. Great Chinese food at a reasonable price. The Dan Dan Noodles at Bob’s Shanghai are called Szechuan Style Noodles on their menu and they are one of my favorite noodle dishes to order there. 
 
A few months ago, Lynne invited me over for dinner and she made her version of Dan Dan Noodles (or Szechuan Style Noodles). I have to honestly say that Bob’s version can’t hold a candle to Lynne’s version. Lynne has ruined me. I will never be able to eat the noodle dish at Bob’s ever again. Below is Lynne’s recipe. Lynne taught me many things the night we made the noodle dish together and I want to share what I learned with you. 
 
First, you must and I mean “must” make your own chili oil.  It really is simple and the instructions are straightforward. I promise you this, if you buy your chili oil, it will not have the same depth of flavor as homemade. It will not be as good.
 
Second, Szechuan peppercorns are not spicy hot and they do not come from a pepper plant.  So although Szechuan style cooking is spicy hot, you can’t blame the spicy hotness of the Szechuan cuisine on the peppercorns. The peppercorns are actually dried berries from a Chinese ash bush. They have a very floral fragrance and I guess I would describe their taste as herbal or flowery. They are not even remotely hot. Do not try to substitute them for something else. Look for them in an Asian market. 
 
Third, Chinese cinnamon sticks are not the same as cinnamon sticks that you buy in the spice section of a regular grocery store.  You should also buy your Chinese cinnamon sticks from your local Asian market. 
 
And lastly, Chinese sesame paste tastes slightly different than tahini paste so again, buy your Chinese sesame paste from your local Asian market.
 
I really love this dish and have officially renamed it "Damn Damn Noodles" because it is just so damn good.  Also, the picture I took doesn't really do the dish justice.  The next time I make it, I'll try to get a better picture.
 
Recipe adapted from thewokoflife.com avalilable at http://thewoksoflife.com/2014/11/dan-dan-noodles/



 

 

Ingredients

 

For the Chili Oil:

  • 2 tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 inch-long piece of Chinese cinnamon
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup crushed red pepper flakes

 

For the Meat:

  • 3 teaspoons oil
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 4 teaspoons sweet bean sauce or hoisin sauce
  • 4 teaspoons shaoxing wine
  • 2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon five spice powder
 

For the Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste 
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon Sezchuan peppercorn powder (we ground whole Sezchuan peppercorns in a mortar and pestle)
  • 1/2 cup of your prepared chili oil (scary, but yes!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
  • 1/2 cup hot cooking water from the noodles

 

For the Noodles and Leafy Greens:

  • 1-1/2 pounds fresh or dried white noodles, medium thickness
  • 1 small bunch leafy greens (spinach, bok choy, or choy sum)
  • chopped peanuts (optional)
  • chopped scallion (optional)

 




 

Instructions:

 
Step 1: To make the chili oil: In a small pot, add the Sezchuan peppercorns, cinnamon stick, star anise, and oil. Over medium low heat, slowly heat to 325 degrees, and then turn off the heat. Wait 6 - 7 minutes, then remove the peppercorns, cinnamon stick, and star anise with a slotted spoon.
 
Step 2: Add the crushed red pepper flakes and allow them to steep in the hot oil. It should start smelling fragrant, almost like popcorn. Allow the oil to cool. This makes more chili oil than you’ll need, but you’ll be glad to have it on hand for use in other dishes. Store in a glass jar and keep refrigerated.
 
Step 3: The crushed red pepper flakes are quite spicy so if you want a milder chili oil, use whole dried red chilies, de-seed them, and then use a food processor to chop them into flakes to make the oil.
 
Step 4: To make the meat mixture: In a wok, heat a teaspoon of oil over medium heat, and brown the ground pork. Add the sweet bean sauce, shaoxing wine, dark soy sauce, and five spice powder. Cook until all the liquid is evaporated. Set aside.
 
Step 5: To make the sauce: Mix together all the ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning if you like. You can loosen it with more hot water, add more Szechuan peppercorn powder, five spice powder, soy sauce or sesame paste.
 
Step 6: To prepare the noodles and bok choy: Cook the noodles according to package directions and drain. Blanch the greens in the noodle water, and drain.
 
Step 7: To assemble:  add all the sauce to a large bowl, followed by the noodles and the leafy greens. Add the cooked pork over the top. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and scallions and mix everything together.
 
 
 



 

Fettuccine al Limone

 

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 jalapenos, seeded and cut into thin slivers
  • Zest and juice of 3 lemons
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/4 pounds basic pasta dough, cut into fettuccine
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano

 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt.
 
Step 2: Meanwhile, in a 10-to 12-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until almost smoking. Add the onion and the red pepper flakes and sauté until softened and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes.
 
 
Step 3: Add the jalapenos and sauté for 1 minute.
 
 
Step 4: Add the lemon zest and juice, bring to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
 
 
Step 5: Drop the fresh pasta into the boiling water and cook under tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain.
 
Step 6: Toss the hot pasta into the pan with the lemon mixture, return to medium heat, and mix well, stirring gently. Add the pecorino and toss quickly. Transfer to a warmed serving platter, and serve immediately. 
 

Gnocchi con Ricotta

 





Ingredients

  • One 15 ounce carton low-fat ricotta cheese, well drained
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • about 3 cups unbleached all purpose (or low protein) flour
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Place ricotta, eggs, and parmesan in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process for about 30 seconds to combine.
 
Step 2: Add 2 cups of flour and turn on the machine to combine. With the machine running, add more flour through the feed tube, about  1/4 cup at a time, until the dough forms a ball and comes away from the sides of the bowl. Add the pepper and nutmeg. The dough should be soft but not sticky.
 
Step 3: Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for 2 minutes. The dough can be used at once to make the gnocchi; it can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours, tightly covered; or it can be wrapped and frozen for later use.
 
Step 4: To form gnocchi, cut off a small piece of dough and roll it firmly between the palms of your hands, then lightly with the palms of your hands on the work surface, to form a rope or cylinder about 1/4 inch in diameter. Cut the cylinder into 1/2 inch pieces. 
 
Step 5: Roll each piece across the tines of a fork or on a gnocchi board, pressing firmly so that the dough is marked with ridges and a small pocket is formed.
 
 
Step 6: Place the rolled gnocchi on clean kitchen towels or paper towels, cover and let dry for 15 to 20 minutes.
 
 
Step 7: Cook gnocchi in plenty of boiling salted water or freeze. The gnocchi are done 30 seconds after they rise to the surface of boiling water. If frozen, cook unthawed for 6 to 8 minutes. Serve with simple red sauce.




Gnocchi di Patate

My father makes the best, tender, melt in your mouth gnocchi in the world, and a close second is Michael Chiarello’s, one of my favorite celebrity chefs. I once tried Michael's gnocchi several years ago at Bottega, his restaurant in Napa Valley.  By the way, whenever I go to a new Italian restaurant for the first time, I use their gnocchi as my benchmark for rating the restaurant and determining if I’ll return for another meal. Gnocchi, if made right, should be light and airy and have a melt-in-your-mouth texture. It should, in no way, shape, or form be dense or heavy, like most gnocchi I've had in Italian restaurants. Michael Chiarello's gnocchi did not disappoint - they were soft, delicate, and delicious with a silky-smooth texture—just like my father’s.  And I can't wait to go back to Bottega. Below is Michael Chiarello's recipe for potato gnocchi. I’ve adapted it only slightly, using Yukon Gold potatoes instead of Russet.  
 
Makes 4 servings
 
 



 

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes
  • 3 to 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Reggiano Parmigiana
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting board and dough
  • 1 recipe for simple red cream sauce
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
 
Step 2: Bake potatoes until a bit overcooked, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let sit until cool enough to handle (about 10 minutes), cut in half, and scoop out the flesh. It's important to make the dough while the potatoes are still hot, or you risk  serving tough, chewy gnocchi. 
 
Step 3: Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer. You should have about 2 cups. 
 
 
Step 4: Make a mound of potatoes on the counter. Add half of the flour on top of the mound of potatoes.  Make a well in the middle, add egg yolks, the cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Start mixing with hands. 
 
 
 
Step 5: As you mix, fold the mass over on itself and press down again. Sprinkle on more flour, little by little, folding and pressing the dough until it just holds together. Try not to knead it. Work any dough clinging to your fingers back into the dough. If the mixture is too dry, add another egg yolk or a little water. The dough should give under slight pressure. It will feel firm but yielding. To test if the dough is the correct consistency, take a piece and roll it with your hands on a well-floured board into a rope 1/2-inch in diameter. If the dough holds together, it is ready. If not, add more flour, fold and press the dough several more times, and test again.
 
 
Step 6: Keeping your work surface and the dough lightly floured, cut the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 1/2-inch in diameter. Cut into 1/2-inch-long pieces. Lightly flour the gnocchi as you cut them. You can cook these as is or form them into the classic gnocchi shape with a gnocchi board, ridged butter paddle, or the tines of a large fork turned upside down. 
 
Step 7: To use a gnocchi board to form your gnocchi: Rest the bottom edge of the gnocchi board on the work surface, then tilt it at about a 45 degree angle. Take each piece and squish it lightly with your thumb against the board while simultaneously pushing it away from you. It will roll away and around your thumb, taking on a cupped shape -- with ridges on the outer curve from the board and a smooth surface on the inner curve where your thumb was. The indentation holds the sauce and helps gnocchi cook faster.
 
 
 
Step 8: As you shape the gnocchi, dust them lightly with flour and scatter them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or waxed paper.  If you don't plan to cook the gnocchi until the next day or later, freeze them (see Step 10).
 
Step 9: When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Drop in the gnocchi and cook for about 90 seconds from the time they rise to the surface. Remove the cooked gnocchi with a skimmer, shake off the excess water, and serve as desired.
 
Step 10: To freeze shaped gnocchi, line baking sheets with waxed paper and dust with flour. Spread the gnocchi on the prepared sheets and freeze until hard. Remove to individual-portion-size freezer bags. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month. To cook, drop the frozen gnocchi into boiling salted water. Cook for about 2 minutes after they rise to the surface.
 
Step 11: Serve immediately with your favorite sauce. I used a simple red cream sauce.
 



 

John Besh's Crawfish Agnolotti with Morels

Adapted from John Besh's "My New Orleans, The Cookbook

 
My friend, Maria, who is from New Orleans and loves food as much as me, turned me on to John Besh.  I must say, after reading his "My New Orleans, The Cookbook," I have developed quite a crush on the man.  His crawfish agnolotti recipe caught my attention and it was the first recipe I decided to make from his cookbook.  John Besh's instructions are on point and my first attempt at this recipe was a huge success. The agnolotti were fabulous. There are many steps so my only word of caution is to read through the entire recipe before starting.
 

Ingredients

For the Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup peeled and deveined fresh crawfish tails
  • 2 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon
  • salt
  • 1 recipe for Basic Pasta Dough

For the Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped bacon
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup cleaned fresh morels or other wild mushrooms, halved lengthwise (I used shitake mushrooms)
  • 1/4 cup shelled peas
  • 3/4 cup Basic Shellfish Pan Sauce (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup peeled and deveined crawfish tails
  • 2 small tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, diced

For the Basic Shellfish Pan Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced fennel bulb
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • leaves from 1 sprig fresh tarragon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 1 cup basic shellfish stock (see recipe below)
 

For the Basic Shellfish Stock:

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, white part coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 pound shells from shrimp, blue crab, crawfish, or lobster
  • 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
 

Instructions

 
Step 1: For the filling: Heat the oil in a medium skillet over moderate heat.  Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the crawfish. Transfer to a food processor, along with the mascarpone, tarragon, and a pinch of salt.  
 
 
Step 2: Pulse until the mixture is smooth. Scoop the puree into a pastry bag fitted with a large or medium round tip and refrigerate.
 
Step 3: For the pasta: Cut the pasta dough in quarters. Re-wrap the remaining 3 of the 4 pieces in plastic wrap and set aside. Begin working with the 1 unwrapped piece of dough. On a lightly floured work surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll out the pasta dough until it is 1/8-inch thick (you can also use a pasta machine and roll out the dough to setting 6). Lay the resulting pasta sheet on a lightly floured surface with a long side facing you. Trim the edges so they are straight. 
 
Step 4: Pipe 1/4 of the crawfish filling onto the past in one long line, about 1 inch from the edge of the long side closest to you. With a pastry brush, dipped in water, moisten the pasta on the other side of the filling (to help seal). Then, carefully roll the dough over and around the filling one and a half times. Repeat with the remaining pasta.  
 
           
 
Step 5: To shape agnolotti: Using your two index fingers spread 1-1/2 inches apart, make indentations along each roll of pasta, starting at one end and continuing all the way down to the other. 
 
 
         
 
Step 6: You have now formed little pillows in the dough. Crimp the pillows where you've indented them by pinching them closed at every crimp, carefully sealing the dough so that they don't burst open while cooking. Using a pastry or pasta wheel, cut between pillows at each crimp. Place agnolotti on a cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal.  Place the agnolotti in the refrigerator (or they can be frozen) until you are ready to cook.
 
    
 
Step 7: For the Basic Shellfish Stock:  Heat canola oil in a large pot over moderate heat. Cook the onions, celery, carrots, leeks, and garlic, stirring often, until they are soft but not brown, about 3 minutes.
 
     
 
 
Step 8: Add the shellfish shells, the bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, and 3 quarts water. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low and gently simmer, skimming any foam that rises to the surface, until the stock has reduced by half, about 2 hours.
 
 
Step 9: Strain through a fine sieve into a container with a cover. Allow the stock to cool, cover, and refrigerate, then skim off the fate. Freeze the stock in small batches to use later.
 
Step 10: Basic Shellfish Pan Sauce: Heat oil in a small skillet over moderate heat. Add the onions, garlic, fennel, and pepper flakes. Cook the vegetables, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add the thyme, tarragon, bay leaf, cream, vermouth, and stock, increase heat to high, and reduce the sauce by half, 10 to 12 minutes. Strain sauce.
 
Step 11: For the sauce:  cook the the bacon in a medium skillet over moderate heat for about 2 minutes.
 
 
Step 12: Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring a few times for another 2 minutes. Add the morels or wild mushrooms, the peas, and the shellfish pan sauce and cook for another 2 minutes. 
 
  
 
Step 13: Stir in the crawfish, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and butter. 
 
 
Step 14: Cook until the butter melts, about 1 minute.
 
Step 15: While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water over medium high heat. Working in batches, carefully add the agnolotti to the boiling water and cook them for 2 minutes. Use a large slotted spoon to transfer the cooked agnolotti to a large platter, and drizzle a little melted butter to keep them from sticking to one another.  
 
 
Step 16: Just before serving, spoon the sauce over the pasta.

Lasagna Bolognese





Ingredients

  • 1 pound package lasagna noodles
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • l tablespoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, ground using mortar and pestle
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (28 ounce) can tomatoes, broken up
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 (15 ounce) container Ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated




Instructions

 
Step 1: Cook lasagna noodles in boiling salted water for 12 to 15 minutes.  Drain.  
 
Step 2: Saute onions and garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil until onions are translucent. Add Italian sausage and ground beef.  Stir meat every 4 minutes for about 10 minutes. Strain meat through a colander to remove the excess fat.  
 
    
 
Step 3: Add next seven ingredients and simmer 20 to 30 minutes.  
 
 
Step 4: Combine egg, ricotta, parmesan cheese, parsley and salt.  
 
Step 5: In bottom of a 13x9 pan inch baking dish spoon about 1-1/2 cups of meat sauce.  Layer with lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the meat sauce, 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture, and 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layering.  Cover with foil.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes;  remove foil and bake uncovered 25 minutes longer.  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.




Lasagna Ricotta e Spinaci

Many dishes are often named after the pot or pan in which it is cooked, such as a tagine, tiella, or cassoulet. And so it goes for lasagna.  Lasanum is the word for a Roman cooking pot and eventually the word was used to refer to the noodles which were traditionally layered in the pot.  I found this recipe, posted in Italian on an Italian cooking blog, "Le ricette di Terrore Splendore."  Below is my version translated in English.  This lasagna is flavored with a hint of nutmeg and has delicious layers of a rich béchamel sauce, creamy spinach and ricotta, and parmesan cheese.
 
The first time I made this recipe was for my parent's 60th wedding anniversary party and I made fresh homemade lasagna noodles. It literally took me hours to make and was a lot of work- it was definitely a labor of love. I  kept thinking about this delicious lasagna during one of my recent marathon training runs - a 20 mile run from Silver Spring, MD to Old Town Alexandria, VA. I think about food a lot when I run.  And since I'm a back of the pack runner, I had hours to think about what I wanted to eat and this recipe, in particular. When I got home that evening, I wanted this lasagna but I was exhausted, and I didn't have the energy or time to make fresh homemade noodles. I decided to go the easy route and use store bought no bake noodles.  It was so quick and easy to make that way, and honestly just as delicious as the first time with the homemade noodles.  My advice, take the easy route and use the store bought noodles (but don't attempt this after a 20 mile run).
 
Makes two 8 X 8 or one 9 X 12 lasagna
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the béchamel sauce:

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
 

For the lasagna:

  • 2 pounds fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmgiana Reggiano cheese
  • No bake lasagne noodles
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: For the béchamel: Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat.  Add flour and whisk together in a saucepan to make a roux.
 
Step 2: Gradually add the milk to the roux, whisking continually until it comes to a simmering point and has thickened. Over a low heat, cook the sauce gently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and place some plastic wrap over the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside.
 
Step 3: For the lasagna: Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then add spinach leaves, sprinkling them with a little salt as you go. Place the pan over a medium heat, cover, and cook the spinach for about 2 minutes, stirring halfway through. 
 
Step 4: Drain the spinach in a colander and, when it's cool enough to handle, squeeze it in your hands to get rid of every last drop of liquid
 
Step 5: Chop the spinach finely and place in a bowl. Add the ricotta. Add the nutmeg and season with salt. Mix together thoroughly. 
 
Step 6: To assemble the lasagna: Spread a quarter of the bechamel sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Place sheets of no bake pasta on top of this and on top of that, add a third of the spinach-ricotta mixture, followed by the béchamel again and then 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.  Continuing layering by repeating the whole process (i.e., noodles, spinach-ricotta mixure, bechamel sauce, and parmesan cheese).  You should finish with a layer of pasta, béchamel sauce, and the remaining parmesan.
 
Step 7: Cover the lasagna with foil and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, until the top is bubbling.  Continue to bake uncovered for 10 minutes until the top is golden. Remove it from the oven and let it settle for about 10 minutes before serving.
 



 

Lemon and Eggplant Risotto

 
My brother, Philip, and his wife visited London briefly last September where their best meal was at Ottolenghi Notting Hill. They arrived moments before closing time, chose their colorful dishes at the deli, and ate at the family style table in the sleek white dining room they had all to themselves. Kathy said she knew instantly that I would want to own the cookbooks and gave me two for Christmas this year.
 
This is my first attempt at making a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty.”  I chose this recipe because I had never had an eggplant risotto before and was curious about the combination. Well after making it, all I can say is WOW, what a perfect combination. This risotto is amazingly delicious and easy to make, and the addition of lemon gives it a vibrant burst of flavor. I have absolutely fallen in love with Chef Ottolenghi and his lemon eggplant risotto. If I’m ever in London, I’ll will definitely visit one of his four restaurants. I can’t wait to work my way through my two new Ottolenghi cookbooks.
 
 



 
Makes 4 servings

 

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 ounces good quality risotto rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine 
  • 3-1/4 cups hot vegetable stock 
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese 
  • 1/2 cup shredded basil leaves
  • Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Roast one of the eggplants in the oven. Pierce the eggplant with a sharp knife in a few places. Put it on a foil-lined tray and place directly under a hot broiler for 1 hour, turning a few times. The eggplant should deflate completely and its skin should burn and break. 
 
 
Step 2: Once the eggplant is ready, remove it from the heat and make a long cut through it. Scoop out the soft flesh while avoiding the skin. Discard the skin. Chop the flesh roughly and set aside.
 
  
 
Step 3: Cut the other eggplant into a 1/2 inch dice. Heat up 1/3 cup of the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the eggplant dice in batches until golden and crisp. Transfer to a colander or paper-line plate and sprinkle with salt. Leave to cool.
 
 
 
 
Step 4: Put the onion and remaining oil in a heavy pan and fry slowly until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes. 
 
 
 
Step 5: Turn up the heat and add the rice, stirring to coat it in the oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes. 
 
 
Step 6: Add the wine and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until nearly evaporated. Turn the heat down to medium. Now start adding the hot stock to the rice, a ladleful at a time, waiting until each addition has been fully absorbed before adding the next and stirring all the time. 
 
  
 
 
Step 7: When all the stock has been added remove the pan from the heat. Add half of the lemon zest, the lemon juice, roasted eggplant, butter, most of the parmesan and 3/4 teaspoon salt. 
 
 
Step 8: Stir well, then cover and set aside for 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt, if needed, plus some black pepper.
 
Step 9: To serve, spoon the risotto into shallow bowls and sprinkle with the diced fried eggplant, the remaining parmesan, the basil, and the rest of the lemon zest.
 
 



 

Linguine Mendiant (Beggar's Linguine)

 
This is a sweet and savory pasta that's wonderful to serve on a cool evening. The combination of nuts, dried fruit, and parmesan cheese is very rich and extremely satisfying. Loaded with protein, it's a great vegetarian option, and Linguine Mendiant is the perfect dish to make if you're in a rush for dinner.
 
 
Makes 4 servings
 




Ingredients

  • 1 pound linguine

  • 1-1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped

  • 1/3 cup almonds, coarsely chopped

  • 8 plump dried mission figs or 3 dried kadota figs, finely diced

  • 1/4 cup plump, moist golden raisins 

  • 1/2 cup grated Reggiano parmesan 

  • Grated zest of 1/2 orange 

  • Minced chives and/or parsley leaves, for serving (optional)

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Cook the linguine according to the package directions.  
 
Step 2: About 5 minutes before the pasta is ready, melt butter over medium heat in a large high-sided skillet or casserole. 
 
Step 3: When the butter is melted, hot and golden, stir in the nuts, figs and raisins.  
 
 
   
 
   
 
Step 4: Allow the butter to bubble and boil – you want it to cook to a lovely light brown. The butter should have the color and fragrance of hazelnuts – and when it’s reached just the color you want, add the pasta to the pan.  
 
Step 5: Stir the pasta around in the butter to coat it evenly and to tangle it up with the bits of fruit and nuts.
 
Step 6: Turn the pasta into a warm serving bowl, add the grated cheese and season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper.  Toss and turn the pasta to incorporate the cheese, then dust the top of the mound with orange zest and chives and/or parsley, if you’re using them. Serve immediately
 
 




Linguine con le Vongole

Makes 4 servings 
 




Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 16 ounces linguine
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup clam juice
  • 48 littleneck or manilla clams, rinsed and scrubbed
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta 1 minute less than package instructions for al dente. 
 
Step 2: While pasta cooks, heat oil and butter over medium in a Dutch oven or 5-quart heavy pot with a lid. Add garlic, and red-pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 to 3 minutes.
 
Step 3: Add clams; cover, and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, shaking pot occasionally.
 
 
Step 4: Add wine, clam juice and lemon juice, and bring to a boil; cook until clams open wide, 3 to 5 minutes. Discard any that haven't opened after 5 minutes.
 
   
 
Step 5: Add pasta to clam mixture in pot; continue to cook until pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes.
 
 
Step 6: Remove from heat, and stir in parsley. Season with salt, if necessary.
 




Lobster Fra Diavolo

Adapted from Dave Pasternack's The Young Man and the Sea, Recipes and Crispy Fish Tales from Esca

 
Makes 6 servings
 




Ingredients

  • Four 1-pound lobsters, each cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 chiles (such as habanero, jalapeno, serrano, or banana), seeded and minced
  • 2 cups simple red sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced crosswise
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt until it tastes like seawater for the lobsters. Bring another pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
 
Step 2: Separate the lobster claws, split the tails into four pieces, and discard the bodies. If you buy the lobsters within a few hours of when you're going to use them, have the fishmonger do the dirty work. Note of caution: I recommend calling your fishmonger in advance to make sure he or she will do your dirty work for you.  My friend and I went to the local grocery store close to my house and asked the fishmonger to kill and dismember the lobster as the recipe suggested. Apparently he was morally against killing and dismembering them and refused to do it for us. I have to say that killing the lobster was no fun experience and I can almost understand the crazy fishmonger's moral dilemma.  For step by step instructions on how to kill and dismember a lobster, click on the following link: http://ahungerartist.bobdelgrosso.com/2007/06/how-to-kill-live-lobster.html.  Jeffrey Dahmer or Hannibal Lector, I will never be!  
 
 
Step 3: Reserve lobster tails separately, cooking claws in salted water for 5 minutes. Remove and crack open using the back of a knife. Reserve any interior water and juices from the shells and add it to the final sauce for flavor boost. 
 
 
Step 4: Add spaghetti to the second pot of boiling water and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain but do not rinse, reserving 1 cup cooking water.  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the cooked pasta and toss to coat.
 
 
Step 5: Cut each tail in half lengthwise and then widthwise, yielding four pieces. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large sauté pan over medium heat and add tailpieces (the shell still attached to meat). 
 
Step 6: When lobster meat begins to look white (about 2 minutes), add onions, garlic, and chiles and let sweat until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. 
 
   
 
Step 7: Add reserved pasta water, tomato sauce, cooked lobster claws and simmer, reducing sauce to thicken, about 5 minutes.
 
 
Step 8: Add pasta to sauce, tossing to coat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and any reserved liquid from claws; salt and pepper to taste.
 
Step 9: Divide pasta among four warmed serving bowls and sprinkle with basil.
 




Maccheroni alla Chitarra and Bottarga

I tasted this pasta for the first time at Babbo, one of Mario Batali's restaurants in New York City. I absolutely loved it and had to try to make it myself.  Luckily, I didn't have to figure out the recipe - Mario published the recipe in his "Babbo" Cookbook (this recipe alone was well worth the cost of the book). What I love most about this dish is the slight spiciness of the habanero and the sweet brininess of the bottarga mixed with the roasted tomatoes and simple red sauce. I haven't been able to find bottarga in the DC area but I did find some at Eataly, Mario Batali's Italian Superstore in New York City.  If you can't find bottarga, I would just leave the ingredient out rather than adding a substitute.  This dish is very simple to make and the recipe is right on point. I was quite pleased with how much my version tasted like the maccheroni alla chitarra and bottarga I had at Babbo.

Adapted from Mario Batali, The Babbo Cookbook




 

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 habanero chili, seeded and thinly sliced (or you can substitute red pepper flakes)
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup oven-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup simple red sauce
  • 1 pound maccheroni alla chitarra or spaghettini
  • 1/4 cup whole flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • Bottarga (pressed red mullet or tuna roe) shaved or finely grated - or substitute any caviar
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.
 
Step 2: In a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, combine the olive oil, chili (or red pepper flakes), and garlic and saute until the garlic is almost brown, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce and bring to a simmer.
 
   
 
Step 3: Cook the pasta according to the package directions, until tender yet al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain the pasta and add it to tomato mixture with the parsley. Toss over high heat one minute. Divide among 4 heated bowls, shave bottarga over each bowl, sprinkle with bread crumbs, and serve immediately.
 
 



 

Mario Batali's Black and White Strichetti with Baccala and Marjoram

Adapted from Mario Batali, The Babbo Cookbook
 




Ingredients

  • 1 pound of baccala (dried salt cod)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh marjoram leaves
  • 2 cups simple red sauce
  • 1 cup white wine
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 recipe for basic pasta dough
  • 1/2 recipe for black pasta dough
  • 2 scallions, sliced on bias

 





Instructions

 
Step 1: Place the baccala in a bowl and add water to cover. Cover and refrigerate for 48 hours, changing the water at least once daily. This is necessary to rehydrate the fish and remove the saltiness.
 
Step 2: Drain the cod and pat it dry with paper towels. Break the flesh into small chunks.  
 
 
 
Step 3: In a heavy bottom saucepan, combine the cod, 2 tablespoons marjoram leaves, simple red sauce (I added 1/2 chopped carrot to the onions and garlic  in my simple red sauce to give it a slightly sweet taste), and white wine and mix well with a wooden spoon.
 
 
Step 4: Cook over medium-low heat until it has reduced to a thick ragu, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. You can make this up to 2 days in advance. Keep refrigerated.
 
Step 5:  Divide the white and black pasta dough into 2 equal portions each and roll out each portion in a pasta machine on the thinnest setting. Cut the sheets into 3-inch by 2-inch rectangles, pinching the centers of the rectangles to form bow-tie shapes as you cut. Place the bow ties on a baking sheet and cover with a damp towel until ready to cook.
 
 
Step 6: In a 12- to 14-inch saute pan, reheat the cod ragu almost to a boil.
 
Step 7: Bring about 6 quarts of water to boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Drop the strichetti into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Drain and add to the ragu.  
 
Step 8:  Add the scallions and remaining 2 tablespoons of marjoram and toss over high heat for 1 minute. Divide among warm pasta bowls and serve immediately.
 




Pansotti Con Salsa di Noci (Pansotti with Walnut Sauce)

 

 
December 18, 2010 -  I had decided to try this recipe from Mario Batali's Cookbook  - Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home - and invited several of my friends over to help.  Although the recipe is fairly simple, we somehow got confused around Step 7. I'd like to blame it on the wine instead of me just not reading carefully. Despite our confusion, I have to say that our final product was delicious - I'm just not so sure it's what Mr. Batali intended when he wrote the recipe.  If you decide to make this recipe, I would suggest doing it Mario's way.
 
Makes 4 servings
 




Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons PLUS 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/16-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 bunch oregano, leaves only
  • 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs
  • 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe for Basic Pasta Dough
 




Instructions

 
Step 1:  In a 10- to 12-inch sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil under medium heat until smoking. Add onion and half the garlic and cook until softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. We had no problem with this step.
 
 
Step 2: Add zucchini and oregano (We used fresh basil instead of oregano) and cook until the zucchini is very soft, 3 to 4 minutes. 
 
 
Step 3: Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
 
Step 4:  In another large sauté pan, heat the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat until smoking. Add the remaining garlic and cook until light golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add half of the bread crumbs, walnuts and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring to mix well, for 2 to 3 minutes. 
 
 
Step 5: Remove from the heat and set aside. Note:  Mario says to roughly chop the walnuts.  If I were to remake the recipe, I would chop the walnuts into much smaller pieces than the size in the picture above.
 
Step 6:  In a medium bowl, stir together the zucchini mixture, egg, ricotta, 1/2 cup of the Pecorino-Romano, nutmeg and parsley until well mixed. Season the filling lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside 1/4 cup to finish the dish.  
 
 
Somehow, I managed to reserve 1/4 cup of the zucchini mixture before I added the ricotta and the egg.  I blame this on the wine!
 
Step 7: To make the pansotti, divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each one through the second thinnest setting of a pasta machine and lay the sheets on a lightly floured work surface. Cut the pasta into 3-inch rounds. Place 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling in the centre of each round and fold over to make a half moon, pressing to seal the edges. 
 
       
 
 
Transfer to a baking sheet dusted with flour or cornmeal.
 
Step 8: Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, and add 2 tablespoon salt. Drop the pansotti into the water and cook until the pasta is tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. 
 
Step 9: Add the pasta to the pan with the walnut mixture (I totally forgot to do this).
 
Step 10:  Place the pan over medium heat, add 1/4 cup of the cooking water and reserved filling mix, and toss lightly. I added the cooking water and my reserved filling but without the ricotta and egg to the walnut mixture.
 
Step 11: Add parsley and remaining Pecorino-Romano and toss well, adding more pasta water if needed. Transfer to a heated bowl, sprinkle with remaining bread crumbs, serve.
 
Here is a picture of our final dish.  It doesn't look or probably taste as Mario intended but nevertheless, it was still delicious.  The walnut sauce was obviously dry but the pansotti had a very nice flavor.
 




Pasta alla Carbonara

 

 
Adapted from Tyler Florence: Tyler's Ultimate: Brilliant Food to Make Any Time
 




Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 8 ounces pancetta or bacon
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound spaghetti or pappardelle
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil for the spaghetti.
 
Step 2: Heat a 3-count of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and onion and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until the onion is caramelized and the bacon is crisp. 
 
 
Step 3: While that is cooking, crack the eggs into a large serving bowl. Add the cream and 1 cup cheese and whisk together. 
 
 
Step 4: Scrape the bacon and onion into that bowl along with the cooking fat.
 
Step 5: When water has come to a boil, throw in the spaghetti and stir to separate the strands; cook for 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente. 
 
Step 6: Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and add that to the bowl with the bacon and eggs. Drain the spaghetti, add it to the bowl, and give everything a toss. 
 
Step 7: Invert a plate on top of the bowl to hold in the heat and let the pasta set for 5 minutes. Remove the plate, toss in some salt and lots of cracked black pepper and the parsley.




Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma is a Sicilian pasta dish with origins in Catania, the second largest city in Sicily located on the east coast at the foot of Mount Etna.  It was created and named as a tribute to Vincenzo Bellini’s opera “Norma.” This rustic dish is the ultimate comfort food - pasta in a rich tomato sauce containing deep fried eggplant and topped with ricotta salata cheese. 




 

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium eggplants, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 to 2 cups of olive oil (for deep-frying eggplant)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes (I used Cento certified San Marzano)
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil, plus leaves for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound of pasta of your choice (e.g., penne, ziti, or spaghetti)
  • 1/2 pound ricotta salata, coarsely grated
  • Chili flakes, to taste
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Bring 6 quarts water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.
 
Step 2: Clean eggplant and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes.  Place cubes in a colander, salt liberally, and drain for about 1 hour. After 1 hour, rinse and dry eggplant thoroughly.
 
 
Step 3: While eggplant is draining, in a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, heat the olive oil until smoking. Add the onion and the garlic and cook until soft but not yet browned, about 4 to 5 minutes.
 
 
Step 4: Set up a food mill over a large mixing bowl or a pot.  Pour canned tomatoes into the food mill and churn to strain seeds. Set aside.
 
 
Step 5: Add the sauce and bring to boil, then simmer on medium-low while deep-frying the eggplant. Add fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper to taste. 
 
 
Step 6: Heat 1 to 2 cups of oil in a deep heavy skillet to 375 degrees Fahrenheit or until 1 kernel of popcorn pops.  
 
Step 7: Fry the eggplant cubes in batches until they are golden brown, and transfer them to paper towels to drain. 
 
    
 
Step 8: Add the eggplant to your sauce and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
 
 
Step 9: Cook the pasta according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain well and pour the hot pasta into the sauté pan with the eggplant mixture. Add ricotta salata and heat through.
 
 
Step 10: Garnish with chili flakes and basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.



 

Pasta with Eggplant Pesto

 
I had this wonderful pasta dish at a little hole in the wall restaurant near Mt. Etna in Sicily. The restaurant was small, had one big communal table, and about 5 to 6 little tables. The menu was handwritten on a chalk board and they served their pastas family style. I really wish I could remember the name of this place, so if anyone who was with me on the tour, or has ever been to a place like this near Mt.Etna, and knows the name, I would very much appreciate it if you could let me know in the comment section of this recipe.  
 
Back to the pasta - I had never had anything like it before and it was so delicious that I knew I just had to try to recreate it when I returned home to the U.S. The chef called it an eggplant pesto and because I asked, he tried to explain (in Italian, of course) the recipe.  But since my Italian is not so good,  I only understood about half of what he said.  I heard him say that the recipe was simple to make and used basic ingredients, such as eggplant, olive oil, and parmesan cheese - that I could have figured out on my own - and the rest of what I understood him say was not extremely helpful either.  The recipe below is my recreation based on my memory and my limited understanding of Italian. I have to say that my version is fairly close in taste and look to the original dish. This pasta is a great vegetarian option and an easy dish to make if you are in a hurry for dinner.
 
Makes 4 servings
 



 

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 eggplants (about 1 to 1.5 pounds)
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves (about 1/2 cup packed)
  • 1/4 cup blanched almonds
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano 
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cup extra virgin olive oil
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Roast eggplants in the oven. Pierce the eggplants with a sharp knife in a few places. Put it on a foil-lined tray and place directly under a hot broiler for 1 hour, turning a few times. The eggplant should deflate completely and its skin should burn and break. 
 
Step 2: Once the eggplant is ready, remove it from the heat and make a long cut through it. Scoop out the soft flesh while avoiding the skin. Discard the skin. Chop the flesh roughly and set aside.
 
Step 3: Blanch the basil for a few seconds in a pot of boiling salted water. Then, remove it with a slotted spoon and dip immediately into a bowl of ice water in order to retain its bright green color. Remove the basil from the ice water, dry thoroughly, and place in a bowl with about 1/4 cup olive oil. Puree with an immersion blender until you have a smooth sauce. Set aside.
 
 
Step 4: Puree the eggplant in a food processor until you have a thick sauce.  Add almonds, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.
 
 
Step 5: While the food processor is running, slowly add 1/4 cup olive oil to the eggplant mixture and process until smooth.
 
Step 6: Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water according to the instructions and time indicated on the package. The pasta should be cooked al dente.
 
Step 7: While the pasta is cooking, transfer the eggplant sauce to a pan, add salt and pepper to taste, a little bit of the basil sauce, 1/4 cup of the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and a drizzle of olive oil. Warm up the sauce over medium heat, while stirring. 
 
 
Step 8: Add al dente pasta immediately into the pan with the sauce. Toss it in the pan and serve immediately on plates garnished with a little bit of the remaining cheese and basil sauce. 



 

Pork and Crab Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao)

The first time I had Chinese soup dumplings was at Joe’s Shanghai, located at 9 Pell Street in New York City. These delicious little dumplings had me at first bite. I was in love. Xiao Long Bao (or little dumplings in a basket), are dumplings filled with a solid meat aspic along with a pork filling. The aspic melts upon heating and voilà, you have a delicious savory soup inside the dumpling.
 
When I returned home to Maryland, I was in search of these dumplings and found something very close to Joe’s at a restaurant in Rockville called Bob’s Shanghai 66 (and definitely not to be confused with Bob’s Noodle 66).  Bob’s Shanghai is located at 305 North Washington Street. If you are ever in the vicinity of these two restaurants (Joe's in NYC or Bob's in Rockville), I highly recommend you go and try the soup dumplings.
 
I have been bugging my girlfriends for some time to make them.  I’m pretty sure they thought I was crazy because their first response was, “why would we want to make them when we could go to Bob’s right here in Rockville and have dumplings made by professionals.”  Of course I persisted, and a little over 2 years after I first tried them in NYC, my friends and I got together to make them. 
 
Below is the recipe we used.  Ours didn’t come out perfect - it took us three tries to get steamed dumplings with some delicious soup inside, but it was all well worth the effort.  Our steamed soup dumplings were delicious.
 
 
Adapted from Food and Wine
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the jellied chicken stock:

  • One 3-pound chicken, quartered
  • 1 pound boneless pork shoulder, sliced 1 inch thick
  • Eight 1/4-inch-thick slices of fresh ginger
  • 2 scallions, halved crosswise
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
  • 2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 quart water
  • 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
 

For the dough:

  • 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1-1/2 cups bread flour
  • Boiling water
  • Large pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
 

For the filling:

  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • Boiling water
  • 3/4 pound ground pork shoulder
  • 1/4 cup Asian crab paste (optional; see Note)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mushroom soy sauce, such as Healthy Boy (see Note)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 3 cups Jellied Stock (recipe above)
  • Goji berries, for garnish (optional)
 

For the vinegar dipping sauce:

  • 1/4 cup Chinese black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, julienned
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the chicken stock: In a large, deep pot, combine the chicken, pork, ginger, scallions, carrot, broth and water and bring to a boil. 
 
 
 
Step 2: Reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Remove the chicken and, when it is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones.
 
Step 3: Return the bones to the pot and simmer over moderately low heat until the broth is very flavorful and reduced to 6 cups, about 1-1/2 hours longer. 
 
Step 4: Strain the stock and skim the fat from the surface. Reserve the chicken meat and pork for another use.
 
Step 5: In a small bowl, combine the gelatin with 1/3 cup of cold water and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk the softened gelatin into 3 cups of the hot stock until melted. Reserve the remaining stock for another use.
 
 
Step 6: Pour the gelatinized stock into a 2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight. The jellied stock can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
 
 
Step 7: To make the dough: In a medium bowl, stir 1/2 cup of the the all-purpose flour with 1/2 cup of the bread flour and 1/2 cup of boiling water until thoroughly combined. Turn the hot-water dough out onto a work surface and knead until fairly smooth, about 5 minutes.
 
 
 
 
Step 8: In a glass measuring cup, combine 2 cups of room-temperature water with the saffron and let stand for 5 minutes. 
 
Step 9: In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, blend the remaining 4 cups of all-purpose flour and 1 cup of bread flour with the salt. Add the saffron water and beat at medium speed until a smooth dough forms, about 5 minutes. 
 
Step 10: Add the hot-water dough (made in step 7) and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 5 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead it into a smooth ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight. 
 
Step 11: To make the filling: In a small bowl, cover the dried mushrooms with boiling water and soak until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain, squeezing out any excess liquid; discard the stems. 
 
Step 12: Finely chop the mushroom caps and transfer them to the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle. 
 
Step 13: Add the ground pork, crab paste, chives, potato starch, sesame oil, dark and mushroom soy sauces, sugar, ginger, salt and white pepper. Beat at medium speed until thoroughly combined, about 5 minutes.
 
 
Step 14: In a food processor, pulse the jellied chicken stock until finely chopped; beat into the pork mixture at medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
 
 
Step 15: To form and steam the dumplings: Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Working with one piece at a time and keeping the rest covered, roll the dough into a 1-inch-thick rope.
 
 
Step 16: Pinch or cut the rope into 3/4-inch pieces and roll them into balls. Then, using a small dowel, glass bottle or Chinese-style rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into a thin 3 1/2-inch round, dusting with flour as necessary. 
 
  
 
Step 17: Lightly dust the rounds with flour, transfer to a floured baking sheet and cover with a damp towel to keep them from drying out. Repeat with the remaining dough. You should have 4 dozen rounds.
 
Step 18: Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper and dust lightly with flour. Working with 1 dough round at a time and keeping the rest covered, spoon a well-rounded tablespoon of the filling onto the center of the round. Using your fingers, pinch and pleat the dough around the filling, leaving a tiny steam vent at the top; transfer to the baking sheet and top with a goji berry, if using. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Freeze uncooked dumplings on a baking sheet; seal in a plastic bag and freeze for up to 2 weeks. Steam until cooked, 10 minutes.
 
  
 
Step 19: Fill a pot with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Arrange the dumplings in a bamboo steamer basket in batches, leaving at least 1 inch between them. Cover and steam over the boiling water until the dough is shiny and the filling is soupy, about 5 minutes. Serve right away while you steam the remaining dumplings.
 
  
 
  
Dumplings at Joe's Shanghai in NYC.
 
Dumplings at Bob's Shanghai 66 in Rockville.
 
 
 
 



 

Risotto aux Girolles

 
Girolle (or chanterelle) mushrooms are generally in season in France in late spring and early fall.  Since we've had such a cold spring this year, the mushrooms were perfect for picking in early July, and I was lucky enough to be in France for mushroom season.   My brother's French friend, Franck, picked these mushrooms for us in the early morning hours one Sunday and I was thrilled. I couldn't wait to make this lovely risotto.  
 
Makes 4 to 6 servings
 




Ingredients

  • 3 cups chicken stock 

  • 4 tablespoons butter 

  • 2 peeled shallots
, minced
  • 4 cups cleaned girolles

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 cup short-grain rice, such as carnaroli or arborio

  • 1/2 to 1 cup grated Reggiano parmigiana
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Clean girolle mushrooms by cutting stem ends first and then soaking mushrooms in cool water.  Rinse as often as necessary to remove sand and dirt. Dry thoroughly and cut bigger mushrooms in half.
 
   
 
Step 2: Bring chicken stock to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low to maintain simmer.
 
Step 3: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium deep pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook for 1 minute. 
 
   
 
Step 4: Add girolles and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then transfer to a bowl.
 
   
 
Step 5: Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in same pot over medium heat, add short-grain rice, and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. 
 
 
Step 6: Stir in 1 cup of the hot chicken stock and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is almost absorbed. Continue adding stock, about 3/4 cup at a time, stirring frequently, until rice is tender but firm to the bite and mixture is creamy but not soupy, about 25 minutes. 
 
   
 
Step 7:  Add girolles just before last addition of stock. 
 
 
Step 8: Remove pan from heat and stir in parmigiano-reggiano, adjust seasonings, and serve immediately.
 
   




Saffron Rice with Chorizo and Shrimp (Arroz con Chorizo y Camarones)

Makes 6 servings
 

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 small red pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound chorizo, sliced
  • 2 cups medium grain rice, uncooked
  • 4 cups chicken stock 
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
 
 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan; saute shrimp until golden brown about 2 minutes per side. Transfer shrimp to a plate and set aside.
 
Step 2: Add 1 more tablespoon olive oil to the pan and add the onions and peppers, cook for about 5 minutes until onions and peppers are caramelized.
 
Step 3: Stir in the garlic, mix well. Cook until aromatic.
 
Step 4: Add the chorizo and cook for a couple of minutes until the oil fro the chorizo is released. 
 
Step 5: Stir in the rice to coat the grains with oil, about 2 minutes.
 
Step 6: Pour in the stock stirring to remove any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the saffron and bring to a simmer.
 
 
Step 7: Cover and cook for about 18-20 minutes until the rice is tender and most of the stock is absorbed.
 
Step 8:  Add the shrimp back into the rice and cover cover pan again.  Cook to absorb the remaining liquid and the shrimp is cooked through. 
 
Step 9: Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Saffron Risotto with Asparagus





Ingredients

  • 3-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion , minced
  • Salt
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 pound of asparagus, tough ends snapped off and spears cut on bias into 1/2-inch thick pieces
     




Instructions

 
Step 1: Bring broth and water to simmer in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to lowest possible setting to keep broth warm
 
Step 2: Melt butter in 4-quart saucepan over medium heat; add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft and translucent, about 9 minutes.
 
 
Step 3: Add rice and crumble saffron threads with fingers into pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until edges of rice grains are transparent, about 4 minutes. 
 
Step 4: Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until wine is completely absorbed by rice, about 2 minutes. 
 
 
Step 5: Add 3 cups warm broth and, stirring infrequently (about every 3 minutes), simmer until liquid is absorbed and bottom of pan is dry, 10 to 12 minutes.  Add asparagus about 3/4 of the way through the cooking process.
 
 
Step 6: Add more broth, 1/2 cup at a time, as needed to keep pan bottom from drying out (every 3 to 4 minutes), and cook, stirring frequently, until grains of rice are cooked through but still somewhat firm in center, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in Parmesan cheese, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately in warmed shallow bowls.




Shrimp Risotto

I made this classic shrimp risotto while I watched my beloved WVU Mountaineers lose to the Texas Longhorns in football. Although it was another crushing and heartbreaking loss for the Mountaineers, the evening wasn't a total disaster. I enjoyed this delicious shrimp risotto paired nicely with a fabulous Chateau Coucheroy Sauvignon Blanc that was produced in the Graves region of France. This risotto is quick and easy to make and along with the wine (of course) is the perfect comfort food when you need your spirits lifted.

 

Makes 4 servings

 




 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1-1/2 pound shrimp (16 to 18 count)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 quarts seafood broth (alternatively you can use chicken broth)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1-1/2 cups rice, Vialone Nano or Arborio
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup
 
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Rinse the shrimp and pat them very dry. Toss them with olive oil and then the paprika and a generous quantity of salt and pepper. Return them to the refrigerator.
 
 
Step 2: Bring 3 quarts seafood broth to boil
 
Step 3: In a 12 to 14-inch frying pan with 3-inch sides, heat olive oil, onions, and tomato paste over medium heat until softened but not brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. 
 
 
 
Step 4: Add rice and, stirring constantly, cook until opaque, about 3 to 4 minutes. 
 
 
Step 5: Deglaze the pan with the white wine, stirring and scraping the pan until the wine has evaporated. 
 
 
Step 6: Begin to incrementally add the warm seafood broth one ladle at a time, stirring frequently. Wait to add another ladle until after the liquid has been almost completely absorbed by the rice. Turn heat to high and, stirring constantly, continue to cook, repeating the process of adding another ladle after the liquid has been almost completely absorbed for about 15  to 20 minutes.
 
 
Step 8: Begin tasting the rice after about 13 minutes to gauge how far it has cooked. The risotto is ready when the rice is still a bit chewy, and the dish has the consistency of thick porridge.
 
Step 9: In the last 5 minutes of cooking the risotto, put the pan of prepared shrimp in the oven and broil for 5 minutes or until the shrimp are pink.
 
Step 10: When the risotto is ready, turn off the heat and stir in the butter and parsley. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
 
 
Step 11: Serve immediately, spreading risotto in pasta bowls and topping with broiled shrimp.



 

Sicilian Ricotta Ravioli

 
You might be wondering what makes this recipe unique to Sicily. Well, while in Sicily, I learned that Sicilians (1) use durum wheat flour to make their pasta; (2) use fresh ricotta cheese (and it was the freshest cow’s milk ricotta that I’ve ever had in my life); (3) add nutmeg to the ricotta filling; and (4) serve the ricotta-filled ravioli dressed in a very delicious pork-flavored tomato sauce. I couldn’t wait to try making this recipe when I returned to the US. I was very pleased with the results - mine were as good as the ones we made there. 
 
Makes about 60 ravioli
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the pasta dough:

  • 400 grams Italian superfine 00 flour
  • 300 grams of semolina flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • pinch of kosher salt
 

For the ravioli filling:

  • 800 grams fresh ricotta cheese 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
 
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the pasta dough: Weigh flours and sift together. Mound the superfine and semolina flour mixture in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs, olive oil, salt and some of the water.
 
 
Step 2: Using a fork, beat together the eggs, oil, and water and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape. 
 
Step 3: Gradually add the water so that the dough will come together. Knead until you have a cohesive mass.
 
 
Step 4: Once there is a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up and discard any leftover bits. Lightly re-flour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky.
 
Step 5: Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 to 60 minutes minutes at room temperature.
 
Step 6: While the dough is resting, combine the fresh ricotta cheese, eggs, parmesan cheese, salt and nutmeg together. Set aside. If you have trouble finding the fresh ricotta at your local supermarket, try looking for it in an Italian specialty store or one of the larger supermarkets, like Wegman's or Whole Foods Market.
 
 
Step 7: To assemble the ravioli,  cut the pasta dough in quarters. Re-wrap the remaining 3 of the 4 pieces in plastic wrap and set aside. Begin working with the 1 unwrapped piece of dough. On a lightly floured work surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll out the pasta dough until it is 1/8-inch thick (you can also use a pasta machine and roll out the dough to setting 6, the next to last setting on your machine). Lay the resulting pasta sheet on a lightly floured surface with a long side facing you. Trim the edges so they are straight.  
 
  
Step 8: Pipe or spoon 1 tablespoon of the ricotta filling onto the pasta in one long line, about 1 inch from the edge of the long side closest to you. With a pastry brush, dipped in water, moisten the pasta on the other side of the filling (to help seal). Then, carefully roll the dough over and around the filling. Repeat with the remaining pasta.
 
 
Step 9: Using your two index fingers spread 1-1/2 inches apart, make indentations along each roll of pasta, starting at one end and continuing all the way down to the other, to form little pillows.
 
Step 10: Crimp the pillows where you've indented them by pinching them closed at every crimp, carefully sealing the dough so that they don't burst open while cooking. Using a pastry or pasta wheel, cut between pillows at each crimp. 
 
 
Step 11: Place the ravioli on a cookie sheet sprinkled with flour. Place the ravioli in the refrigerator (or they can be frozen) until you are ready to cook.
 
 
Step 12: When you are ready to cook the ravioli, add them to boiling water. When the ravioli float, about 2 to 3 minutes, they are finished cooking. 
 
Step 13: Serve each portion with a pork-flavored tomato sauce and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano over each serving.
 
 
 
 



 

Sicilian-Style Spaghetti





Adapted from Tyler Florence's "Tyler's Ultimate: Brilliant Simple Food to Make Any Time"
 
Makes 4 servings
 




Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • head of cauliflower; cored and broken into small florets
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 anchovy fillets, mashed to a paste with the side of a large knife
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Leaves from 1/2 small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving
 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Preheat the oven to 350.
 
Step 2: Saute the cauliflower and the anchovies in a saute pan in 1/4 cup of olive oil. Heat over medium heat until the oil is hot and the anchovies are sizzling. Add 1/4 cup of water and season with salt. Bring to a simmer, heat on medium, cover and and steam the cauliflower for about 5 minutes. 
 
Step 3: Uncover and cook for about 5-7 minutes more until the water has evaporated and the cauliflower is starting to brown. Add the raisins and pine nuts and toss to warm through. Remove the pan from the heat and cover to keep warm.
 
Step 4: On a baking sheet, drizzle the panko bread crumbs with 2-3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and spread out in a layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until it's lightly brown and crunchy.
 
Step 5: Cook the spaghetti until al dente.
 
Step 6: Drain the spaghetti and place in a large bowl. Add a 2 count of olive oil and toss. 
 
Step 7: Dump in the cauliflower mixture, add the parsley and lemon juice, and fold together. Arrange on a plate and sprinkle with the bread crumbs and cheese.
 
 
 




Spaghetti al Pesto Trapanese (Spaghetti with Tomato Almond Pesto)

Adapted from Lidia's Italy
 
Pesto Trapanese is a pesto that originates in Sicily. Its main ingredients are cherry tomatoes and almonds with only a small amount of basil.  I tried this pesto for the first time while dining at Mario Batali's Pasta and Pizza Bar located in Eataly (his Italian superstore located in the Flatiron District of New York City).  I loved this dish and I couldn't wait to try the recipe at home.  This was my first attempt at making this pesto and it was delicious.  This recipe is very easy and straightforward.  If you need to make dinner in a hurry, this is the recipe for you.  
 



 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound cherry tomatoes, very ripe and sweet
  • 12 leaves fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup whole almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed and peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon peperoncino
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for cooking the pasta
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
 
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Rinse the cherry tomatoes and pat them dry. Rinse the basil leaves and pat dry. 
 
Step 2: Drop the tomatoes into the blender jar or food processor bowl followed by the garlic clove, the almonds, basil leaves, peperoncino and 1/2 tsp salt. Blend for a minute or more to a fine purée; scrape down the bowl and blend again if any large bits or pieces have survived. 
 
Step 3: With the machine still running, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream, emulsifying the purée into a thick pesto. Taste and adjust seasoning. Leave the pesto at room temperature if you plan on dressing the pasta within 2 hours. Otherwise, for longer storage, refrigerate up to 2 days. If refrigerated, let the pesto return to room temperature before cooking the pasta.
 
Step 4: To cook the spaghetti, heat 6 quarts of water, with 1 tablespoon salt to the boil in the large pot. Scrape all the pesto into a big warm bowl. 
 
Step 5: Cook the spaghetti al dente, lift it from the cooking pot, drain briefly, and drop onto the pesto. Toss quickly to coat the spaghetti, sprinkle the cheese all over, and toss again. Serve immediately in warm bowls.



 

Spaghetti con le Cozze

 
Makes 4 servings
 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 pounds small mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt.
 
Step 2: In a 12-inch sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until light golden brown, about a minute. Add the wine, raise the heat, and bring to a boil, then add the mussels. Cook, stirring and tossing, until all of the mussels have opened, about 4 minutes.
 
 
Step 3: Meanwhile, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until al dente; drain well.
 
Step 4: Add the pasta to the pan with the mussels and cook over high heat for 1 minute. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and serve immediately.
 

Spaghetti with Caramelized Onions, Anchovies, and Toasted Bread Crumbs

 
 
Makes 4 servings
 




Ingredients 

  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large Spanish onions, cut lengthwise in half and then into ¼-inch-thick half-moons
  • 5 salt-packed anchovies, filleted and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • ½ cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 cup toasted bread crumbs
 




Instructions 

 
Step 1: In a 10- to 12-inch sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive olive or butter over medium low heat.  Add bread crumbs and toast until light brown.
 
 
Step 2: In another 10- to 12-inch sauté pan, combine 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and the onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside.
 
      
 
Step 3: Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of water to boil in a large pot, and add 2 tbsp salt. Soak the anchovies in the milk for 10 minutes.
 
Step 4: In another 10- to 12-inch sauté pan, heat the remaining ¼ cup olive oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the red pepper flakes are lightly toasted, about 30 seconds. 
 
Step 5: Drain the anchovies, toss them into the pan, and cook, stirring, until they have broken down, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cooked onions and lower the heat to a simmer.
 
Step 6: Drop the spaghetti into the boiling water and cook until just al dente.
 
Step 7: Drain the pasta and toss into the pan with the anchovy mixture. Add the parsley and stir to coat. Pour into a warmed serving bowl, sprinkle with bread crumbs, and serve.




Spicy Black Bean Pasta with Cauliflower and Pine Nuts

Recently, I was on a marathon training run and as usual the conversation centered around food.  My running friend, Beverly, told me about this black bean spaghetti and recommended that I try it.  I’m generally pretty adventurous when it comes to food but I was a little skeptical about trying a gluten-free pasta made from black beans.  Beverly surprised me at this morning’s training run with a package of this black bean spaghetti.  By the way, below is a picture of my pace group taken this morning during our run around the monuments. 
 
When I got home, I was anxious to try the spaghetti.  Since I didn’t feel like making a trip to the grocery store, I created a recipe that used ingredients that I already had at home. I decided to take this Asian pasta and fuse it with my Sicilian roots to make a Sicilian-style black bean spaghetti. The pasta dish was amazingly delicious and I actually loved the black bean spaghetti. It has a texture that I can’t quite describe - maybe slightly chewy but not rubbery and it went perfectly with the cauliflower and pine nuts. The most impressive part about this spaghetti is that it’s super high in protein, certified gluten-free, organic, vegan, and kosher (so all the bases are covered). It’s also rich in fiber and iron, and it’s the perfect fuel for when you are running long distances.  Many thanks to Beverly for turning me on to this amazing pasta.
 

Makes 4 servings

 




 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cups pine nuts
  • 1 head of cauliflower, about 2 pounds
  • 8 ounces of black bean spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • salt to taste
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Bring 8 cups of water to boil in a large spaghetti pot and add 2 tablespoons salt.
 
Step 2: In a 14- to 18-inch saute pan, heat oil until just smoking and add pine nuts, onion, garlic, and sliced jalapeños. Cook until soft, about 5 to 6 minutes.
 
Step 3: Meanwhile, remove leaves and base core from cauliflower and chop into 1-inch pieces. Break the florets away from the central core and size them similarly. 
 
Step 4: Add cauliflower to the saute pan with the onions. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring regularly for about 12 to 15 minutes, until cauliflower is softened and light brown but not mushy.
 
Step 5: Cook black bean pasta according to package instructions, about 7 to 8 minutes, and drain in colander. Before draining pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
 
Step 6: Toss hot pasta into pan with cauliflower, add about 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and continue to cook pasta until water absorbs. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, then add grated cheese, salt and basil. Toss to coat and serve immediately.



 

Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli

Ingredients

For the Filling:
  • 1/2 pound fresh spinach (1/2 cup cooked)
  • 15 ounces ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Pinch black pepper

 

Instructions

 
Step 1:  In a pot of boiling water, cook the spinach until tender. Remove the spinach from the boiling water and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Squeeze out the water from the spinach and chop it up roughly. 
 
Step 2: In a mixing bowl, combine chopped spinach, ricotta, egg, and 3 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano. Season with the nutmeg, salt, and black pepper.
 
Step 3: To assemble the ravioli, cut the dough into 4 pieces. Roll out each piece to form a thin layer (about 1/8 inch) of dough. Place 1 spoonful of filling onto 1 sheet of dough 1/2 inch from the edge. Continue to place spoonfuls of filling along the dough 1-inch from each other.
 
  
 
 
Step 4: Place 1 of the other pieces of rolled out dough on top of the piece with the filling on it. Pinch the dough around the filling to form the ravioli. Use a cookie cutter or a knife to cut out the ravioli. 
 
     
 
Step 5: Pinch the edges of each ravioli with the tines of a fork. Set aside each ravioli on a plate lightly dusted with corn meal or flour. Do not stack the ravioli, because they will stick together.
 
Step 6: When you are ready to cook the ravioli, add them to boiling water. When the ravioli float, about 2 to 3 minutes, they are finished cooking. 
 
Step 7: Serve each portion with a butter sage sauce or simple red cream sauce and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano over each serving.
 

Spring Vegetable Risotto

 
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated,  Published May 1, 2008
 
Makes 4 Servings
 




Ingredients

 

For the Gremolata:

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves , stems reserved
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves , stems reserved
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated zest from 1 lemon

For the Risotto:

  • 1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off and reserved, spears cut on bias into 1/2-inch thick pieces
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and sliced thin (about 4 cups), 2 cups roughly chopped greens reserved (see note)
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (see note)
  • 3 cups water
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1-1/2 cups Arborio rice (see note)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1-1/2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup), plus extra for serving
  • 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon

 





Instructions

 

Step 1: For the Gremolata: Combine ingredients in small bowl and set aside.
 
Step 2: For the Risotto: Chop tough asparagus ends and leek greens into rough 1/2-inch pieces. Bring chopped vegetables, reserved parsley and mint stems, broth, and water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer 20 minutes. 
 
 
Step 3: Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Return strained broth to saucepan; cover and set over low heat to keep broth warm.
 
Step 4: Heat 1 tablespoon butter in large Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add asparagus spears, pinch of salt, and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add peas and continue to cook 1 minute. 
 
 
Step 5: Transfer vegetables to plate and set aside.
 
Step 6: Melt 3 tablespoons butter in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add leeks, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. 
 
 
Step 7: Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes.
 
 
Step 8: When wine is fully absorbed, add 3 cups hot broth to rice. 
 
Step 9: Simmer, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and bottom of pan is almost dry, about 12 minutes.
 
Step 10: Stir in about 1/2 cup hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 3 minutes; repeat with additional broth 3 or 4 times until rice is al dente. Off heat, stir in remaining tablespoon butter, Parmesan, and lemon juice; gently fold in asparagus and peas. If desired, add up to 1/4 cup additional hot broth to loosen texture of risotto. 
 
Step 11: Serve immediately, sprinkling each serving with gremolata and passing Parmesan separately.
 




Squid Ink (Black) Pasta Dough





Ingredients

  • 3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 packets (2 tablespoons) of squid ink
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Mound 4 cups of the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs, olive oil, squid ink, and salt.  I halved the recipe in the picture below.
 
 
Step 2: Using a fork, beat together the eggs and oil and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape. 
 
 
Step 3: The dough will come together when half of the flour is incorporated. At this point, start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands. 
 
Step 4: Once there is a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up and discard any leftover bits. Lightly re-flour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. 
 
Step 5: Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
 
Step 6: Roll and cut to desired shape.
 
      




Summer Tomato Risotto

My own tomatoes, which I’ve only recently started growing myself, are ripening on the vine. I don’t have much land or even enough room in my backyard to plant anything (since my backyard mostly consists of a brick patio). A few years ago, I was visiting my brother and sister-in-law and my sister-in-law showed me a jungle of tomato plants in pots on their second floor deck -- which they planted there to keep the deer away. I was impressed with the quality and quanity of their tomatoes and that they were sucessfully growing them in such a small area. It inspired me to take a stab at planting tomatoes in big pots in my backyard.  I wouldn’t say I am growing prize winning tomatoes but I am very proud of them and I think they are the tastiest tomatoes in the world. I don’t want to be overly dramatic but nurturing, growing, and eating these tomatoes have been the best part of my summer. Here is a picture of my very first homegrown tomato in a pot in my backyard. 
 
 
I have been using my tomatoes to make fresh canned tomato sauce or to make the Grandinetti family's famous insalata pomodoro. Today, however, I wanted to make something different.  I remembered that I had this recipe for summer tomato risotto that I found about 6 years ago published in The Wall Street Journal. I have always thought this recipe was good. However,  when made with fresh, juicy homegrown tomatoes, this risotto is perfect and tastes truly phenomenal. 
 

Adapted from recipe by Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, published in WSJ June 25 - 26, 2011

 

Makes 6 servings

 



 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced small 
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus extra for seasoning 
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4-6 cups water 
  • 1 pound juicy, ripe tomatoes 
  • 2 stalks celery 
  • 2 cups Carnaroli or arborio rice 
  • 4 tablespoons basil, chopped medium-fine 
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice 
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Set a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Swirl in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Sweat onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.
 
Step 2: In another pot, bring water to a simmer.
 
Step 3: While water heats up and onions cook, juice tomatoes and celery. If you don't have a juicer, pulse tomatoes and celery in a food processor or blender until liquefied. Push through fine mesh strainer, reserving juice and discarding solids.
 
Step 4: Turn onion pot's heat up to medium-high and stir rice into the sautéed onions. Toast 2 minutes, or until grains are hot and opaque.
 
Step 5: Deglaze pot with 1 cup white wine. Stir until wine is absorbed and season with 2 teaspoons salt. Adjust heat to keep risotto at a steady simmer. Add 1-2 cups water and continue to stir often.
 
Step 6: Once liquid is absorbed, add another 1-2 cups water and continue to stir regularly.
 
Step 7: When rice has cooked for about 15 minutes, or once it is five minutes shy of al dente, stir in tomato juice. Cook, while stirring, 4 to 6 additional minutes, or until risotto is creamy and rice is al dente.
 
Step 8: Quickly stir in 4 tablespoons olive oil, basil and parmesan. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Taste and season with salt, if needed.
 
 
Step 9: In a small bowl, mix cherry tomatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil and pinch of salt.
 
Step 10: Garnish risotto with tomato-oil mixture. Serve immediately.
 



 

Sun-Dried Tomato Fettuccine





Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Place sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl. Add enough boiling water to just cover the tomatoes. Let stand until tomatoes are soft about 1 minutes. 
 
Step 2: Drain and coarsely chop tomatoes. 
 
Step 3: Heat olive oil in heavy small skillet. Add sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, dried crush red pepper, and pine nuts. 
 
 
Step 4: Saute until garlic is just golden, about 3 minutes. 
 
Step 5: Transfer mixture to large bowl. Add cooked fettuccine and 1 cup parmesan cheese. Toss well. 




Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Pancetta, Chanterelles, Walnuts, and Sage

 
Adapted from Kinkead's Cookbook (Kinkead's, Washington, DC)
 
Makes 6 servings
 




Ingredients

  • 2 large Idaho potatoes
  • 1 Yukon gold potato
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 3 egg yolks 
  • 2 teaspoons  kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted plus 1/4 cup at room temperature
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/2 pound chanterelles, cleaned and sliced, if necessary
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 6 large sage leaves, chiffonade, plus 6 whole leaves for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmigiano Reggiano
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
 
Step 2: Place Idaho, Yukon, and sweet potatoes on a baking sheet for 60 to 75 minutes, until tender and dry.
 
Step 3: Place flour on a clean work surface and form it into a bowl. While the potatoes are still hot, split them and scrape out flesh. With potato ricer, rice all of the potatoes into the flour. 
 
   
 
Step 4: Make a well in the center and add the egg yolks, salt, pepper, cheese, and the melted butter. Using your hands, work into a dough that is moist but not sticky. If too sticky, add a little flour.
 
 
Step 5: On a floured sheet pan or surface, roll the dough into 1/2-inch-wide cylinders and cut the cylinders into 1/2 inch pieces. Roll the pieces into 1/2 inch balls; try to keep them all the same size. Using a gnocchi paddle or a fork, roll the balls along the length of the paddle or fork tines with your fingers to make a small grooved oval shape.
 
 
 
Step 6: When all done, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cooking in batches, cook the gnocchi for 1 to 2 minutes, until they float to the top.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and drizzle with a little olive oil. At this point, you can refrigerate them for up to 1 day.
 
Step 7: In a saute pan over medium-high heat, heat a little olive oil, add the pancetta, and saute until crispy. Remove the pancetta.
 
 
Step 8: Add the chanterelles, and saute until they are tender and starting to brown.  
 
 
Step 9: Add the shallots and walnuts and start to sweat for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the stock and return the cooked pancetta to the pan.  Reduce by 1/3 then whisk in the butter and the sage chiffonade. Add salt and pepper to taste.  
 
 
Step 10: Keep warm. Wipe out the saute pan, and over medium high heat, heat olive oil, and saute the cooked gnocchi in batches until brown and a little crispy on both sides.  
 
 
Step 11: Keep warm. When all are cooked, portion out the gnocchi and top with the pancetta and chanterelles. Garnish each with a sage leaf and Parmigiano Reggiano.




The Yao Family's Chinese Pork and Vegetarian Dumplings





Ingredients

 

For the dough:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup water (may need 1 additional teaspoon of water if dough is too hard

 

For the pork and shrimp filling:

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound shrimp
  • 3 spring onions, chopped fine (do not use food processor)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cups Chinese/Napa cabbage, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine (or cooking sherry) 
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 egg
 

For the vegetarian dumpling filling:

  • 1/2 pound Shanghai bok choy (blanched and drained)
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach (cooked and drained)
  • 2 cakes extra firm tofu
  • 1/2 pound fresh shitake mushrooms (you can also use dried and reconstituted)
  • 1 scallion
  • 1 cup bamboo shoots (fresh is best, but you can also used canned)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil for stir frying
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
 

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil 
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the dumplings: Put flour in a large bowl, add water slowly and mix/knead until a nice dough forms. 
 
  
 
Step 2: Knead again on a floured surface. 
 
     
 
Step 3: Cover with a damp cloth and let dough rest 1/2 to 1 hour while you make the filling. The dough will have a smooth texture when rested.
 
 
Step 4: To make the vegetarian filling: If using dried mushrooms, first soak 6-8 black mushrooms in boiling water for 30 minutes. This step is not necessary if using fresh.    
 
Step 5: Mince mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and tofu one at a time in a food processor, then transfer to a big bowl. Chop spinach, bok choy, and scallions in food processor and set aside. You will have a lot of chopping to do if you do not have a food processor. Try to get all the pieces about the same size so they can bind together more easily. 
 
Step 6:  Sauté with ginger, minced mushrooms, bamboo shoots, tofu, soy sauce, salt, sugar, and pepper in vegetable oil for about 5 minutes until fragrant.
 
Step 7: Remove from heat and add chopped bok choy, spinach, and scallion.  Add sesame oil.  Cool in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
 
 
Step 8: To make the meat filling:  Mix everything together thoroughly. Don't be afraid to use your hands. For the cabbage - it's easiest to chop fine in a food processor, but make sure the leaves are completely dry before you do so—add a little salt and squeeze out the liquid. 
 
 
Step 9: To make the dumpling: Shape the dough into a long cylinder about one inch in diameter.
 
 
Step 10: Cut the cylinder into 1/2 inch pieces. 
 
 
Step 11: Flatten each ball slightly with your palm, and dust with flour. It is important that they are all exactly the same size and shape. 
 
     
 
Step 12: Use a Chinese rolling pin (basically a one inch dowel) to roll from the outside of the flattened ball towards the center, then turn the ball a little, and repeat—roll, turn, roll, turn, roll, turn—until you get a relatively round, flat wrapper, about three inches in diameter. Ideally it should have a slight "pillow" in the center. 
 
  
 
 
 
Step 13: To fill the dumplings: Put one wrapper in the palm of your left hand and put a tablespoon of filling in the middle. Fold the wrapper in half and make one pinch in the center of the half circle. Then pinch together the right corner, then pinch together the dough between the corner and the middle. Repeat on the other side. Seal whatever gaps remain. The dumpling will sit up in a slightly curved shape. Place dumplings on well-floured tray until ready to cook - at this point the trays can be placed in the freezer if you want to save the dumplings to cook later.
 
 
Step 14: To cook the vegetarian dumplings (Boiling method - jiao zi): Steaming is a good way to go for vegetarian dumplings because they are more delicate and break apart more easily when cooking. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (about half filled). Place dumplings in boiling water, stir gently and cover. Wait for the pot to come back up to a hard boil, then douse it with 12 ounces of water and cover. Wait for the pot to come back up to a boil, then douse it again with 12 ounces, uncover and wait for it to boil. They will float when done. Taste one to make sure. Do not overcook or the dumplings will fall apart. Lift out the dumplings with a bamboo strainer and put them on several large dinner plates to serve family style.
 
 
Step 15: To cook the pork and shrimp dumplings (pan-fry method; guo tie—pot stickers):  Put 2 tablespoons oil in a flat frying pan. Arrange the dumplings neatly around the pan, and fry for one minute over medium heat until the bottoms are browned. 
 
 
Then add 3 drops of vinegar to about 12 ounces of water and pour this into the skillet. 
 
 
Cover tightly and cook over medium heat until the water is evaporated (about 10-12 minutes).  Be careful to scrape the dumplings out of the skillet using a spatula.  Alternatively, you can cover the pan with a plate and flip the dumplings upside down onto the plate so that their golden brown bottoms are facing up. Serve with dipping sauce or Zhenjiang vinegar.  
 
 
Prepping Leftovers
 
As the dumplings begin to cool, they will stick to the plate and get soggy underneath. Pick up any leftover dumplings with your chopsticks and turn them over so that their undersides can air dry. Make sure they are not touching each other or they will stick. Before you go to bed, cover the plate with plastic wrap, and in the morning you can pan fry them in oil for breakfast. 




Trenette con Pesto alla Genovese

 




Ingredients

  • 1 recipe for Jennifer White's Best Ligurian Pesto
  • Kosher salt for the pasta pot
  • 1/2 pound red potatoes, peeled, cut in 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed cut in 2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound trenette, trofie, or spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup pecorino, grated
  • 1/4 cup Grana Padano, or Parmigiano-Reggiano grated

 





Instructions

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
 
Step 2: Bring salted water to a boil in the large pot (at least 6 quarts, with a tablespoon kosher salt). Drop in the potato chunks in boiling water, stir, and cook them for 5 minutes.  Drain potatoes, drizzle with olive oil and roast in pre-heated oven until tender and crispy.  
 
Step 3: Add the green beans to boiling water and cook the beans 10 minutes and then add the pasta to the pot and cook 5 minutes until the trennete is al dente. We used trofie for our pasta and it takes a little longer to cook. So if using trofie, start cooking the trofie first. After 5 minutes, add the green beans to the pot and continue cooking for 10 minutes until the trofie is al dente and the green beans are done.
 
 
Step 4: Set the large skillet over very low heat, just to warm it, or warm the serving bowl, whichever you'll use for dressing the pasta. Scrape the pesto into the pan or bowl, and loosen it with a bit of the pasta boiling water (and don't cook the pesto, just warm it).
 
Step 5: When the green beans are tender and the pasta is al dente, lift everything from the pot with a spider and tongs, drain briefly, and drop into the skillet or bowl. Add roasted potatoes. (If you prefer, drain the pasta and vegetables into a colander, being sure to reserve a cup or so of pasta cooking water before you pour it out.)
 
Step 6: Toss pasta, vegetables, and pesto together well-moistened with more pasta water if needed, then sprinkle the grated cheeses over, and toss again. Serve immediately in warm bowls.
 




Veal Agnolotti

Adapted from Mario Batali: Molto Mario
 




Ingredients

For the filling: 

  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced 
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves only 
  • 1 pound ground veal shoulder 
  • 1 pound ground pork 
  • 1-1/2 pounds spinach, washed and spun dry and roughly chopped 
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 
  • 3 large eggs 
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: For the filling: bring 6 quarts water to a rolling boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.
 
Step 2: In a 12-inch saucepan, add 1 tablespoon butter over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and rosemary, and let cook until the garlic is light golden brown, about 5 minutes. 
 
Step 3: Add the veal and pork meat, and brown on all sides, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Do not be afraid to let the meat begin to caramelize a bit.
 
Step 4: Cook the spinach in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain well and add to the meat. Stir in the Parmigiano, 3 whole eggs, a pinch of nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Use a wooden spoon to mix until well combined. Set aside.
 
 
Step 5: Cut the pasta dough into 3 equally sized pieces. Re-wrap 2 of the pieces in plastic wrap and set aside. Begin working with the 1 unwrapped piece of dough. On a lightly floured work surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll out the pasta dough until it is 1/8-inch thick (you can also use a pasta machine and roll out the dough on its thinnest setting)
 
 
Step 6: Lay the resulting pasta sheet on a lightly floured surface with a long side facing you. Trim the edges so they are straight. Using a tablespoon, scoop equally sized spoonfuls of the filling and place along the bottom half of the pasta sheet, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border of dough at the bottom and sides: each dollop of filling should be approximately 1 1/2-inches away from the next. Pull the top edge of the pasta up and over the filling.
 
      
 
Step 7: The dough should form 1 large pocket over the dollops of filling. Seal the agnolotti by gently carefully molding the pasta over the filling and pressing lightly with your index finger to seal the edge of the dough to the pasta sheet; don't drag your finger along the dough to seal, or you risk ripping the dough. When it is sealed, there should be about 1/2-inch of excess dough visible along the bottom of the mounds of filling (where you sealed it). Be certain that you are sealing tightly while pressing out any pockets of air. Seal the left and right ends of the dough.
 
   
 
Step 8: To shape agnolotti: Starting at 1 end of the dough, place the thumb and forefinger of each hand together as if you were going to pinch something and, leaving about 1-inch of space between your hands and holding your fingers vertically, pinch the filling in 1-inch increments, making sure about 3/4-inch of "pinched" are between each pocket of filling. It is important to leave this much "pinched" area between the agnolotti, or when the agnolotti are separated, they may come unsealed. 
 
Step 8: Run a sharp knife or crimped pastry wheel along the bottom edge of the folded-over dough, separating the strip of filled pockets from the remainder of the pasta sheet. Don't cut too close to the filling, or you risk breaking the seal. Separate the individual agnolotti by cutting the center of each pinched area, rolling the pastry wheel away from you. 
 
 
Step 9: Working quickly, place the agnolotti on a baking sheet dusted with a thin layer of cornmeal, which will help prevent sticking. Don't let the agnolotti touch each other, or they may stick together.
 
 
 
Step 10: Repeat with the 2 remaining dough balls until the entire bowl of filling has been used. Let the shaped agnolotti rest for 24 minutes.
 
Step 11: Bring 6 quarts water to a rolling boil, and add 2 tablespoons salt. 
 
Step 12: Add the agnolotti to the water and cook until tender, about 4 minutes total. Drain well and toss with a brown butter sage sauce,  a combination of beef broth and butter, or a sauce of your choice. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley and serve.




Wild Mushroom Risotto





Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 ounces shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces of button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1-1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 cups chicken stock, hot
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for sprinkling
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: In a 12 to 14-inch skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and cook until onions are softened and translucent but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes. 
 
Step 2: Once the onions are translucent add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until toasted and opaque, 3 to 4 minutes. 
 
 
 
Step 3: Add the wine to the toasting rice. 
 
 
Step 4: Once all the wine has evaporated, add a 4 to 6-ounce ladle of stock and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed. 
 
 
Step 5: Continue adding the stock a ladle at a time, waiting until the liquid is absorbed before adding more. Cook until the rice is tender and creamy and yet still a little al dente, about 15 minutes.
 
 
Step 6: Stir in the cheese until well mixed. Serve with extra cheese.




Ziti with Tuscan-Style Cauliflower

Adapted from Mario Batali, The Babbo Cookbook





Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 6 mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 5-inch heads of cauliflower, about 1 to 1-1/4 pounds
  • 1 pound ziti or penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Bring 6 quarts water to boil in a large spaghetti pot and add 2 tablespoons salt.
 
Step 2: In a 14- to 18-inch saute pan, heat oil until just smoking and add onion, garlic, mint and red pepper. Cook until soft, about 5 to 6 minutes.
 
 
Step 3: Meanwhile, remove leaves and base core from cauliflower and chop into 1-inch pieces. Break the florets away from the central core and size them similarly. 
 
 
Step 4: Add cauliflower to the saute pan with the onions. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring regularly for about 12 to 15 minutes, until cauliflower is softened and light brown but not mushy.
 
 
Step 5: Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente, about 8 to 12 minutes, and drain in colander. Before draining pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
 
Step 6: Toss hot pasta into pan with cauliflower, add about 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and continue to cook pasta until water absorbs. Add grated cheese, black pepper and parsley. Toss to coat and serve immediately.