Posts tagged Pasta

Waste Not, Want Not

Radish Green Pesto 

*Recipe follows story

I invited Su over to try out one of my newest concoctions - radish green pesto - because I’d been thinking about it all weekend long.  

While I ambled home from the market, in a sweaty stupor, I thought:  Oh yeah, radish greens.  Instead of sauteing you, I’m going to make pesto out of you. Oh yeah.  Oh yeah, you dirty radish greens.  I’m going to clean you and make an oily, edible mess happen.  You will be reinvented.  And we’ll both be better for it.  

I have issues, and I take them out on my produce.
Sometimes I talk to my fruits and vegetables like we’re starring in the next big food porno…  

Moving on…

I was also inspired by a pasta dish my brother ordered when we went out to dinner last week.  He had spaghetti mixed with peas, radishes and ricotta.  He shared a few mouthfuls with me, in the name of research.  It was light and delightful and really gave me something to think about…

Albeit being a pain in the ass sometimes, Tommy is a fine brother.  He’s pretty good about sharing his food.    

I thought a radish green pesto might be a nice way to tie in the peppery flavor of the diced radish and really make the dish come together so each bite would be slightly more elevated.  The spaghetti Tommy had was delicious, but the peas and radishes felt extraneous - like add ons - and not fully incorporated into the pasta as a whole.  Every bite was wonderful because it was bathed in ricotta, but I was thinking of how to make it better.  Instead of ricotta I introduced my boyfriend, MASCARPONE (with a little bit of acid).  For no reason other than the fact that I’m addicted to the stuff.  And because I used Mascarpone in Ina’s Spring Green Risotto and the creaminess was killer.  

MASCARPONE is also only to be pronounced with a strong Italian accent.
Like Giada, go heavy on the E. 

I was proud and excited over dinner.  I cooked out all of my worries and stress and sat down to eat with Su.

But our meal conversation took a scary turn…

All laughs and giggles…
I think not…

During dinner I shared a few life concerns with Su.
That of being sexless and single.

But, you know what’s worse than being sexless and single?

Being stalked.

I always make twisted jokes:  Hehehe.  Wouldn’t it be great if I had a stalker who ended up being hot and charming and hot and tall and hot and tall and charming and tall?

For once.

Someone tall?

I can’t spend one more moment outweighing or being taller than another man I date.
I don’t want to bench press you, I want a human jungle gym.  And I have no intention of losing any more weight or reducing my carbohydrate intake.  

But, unfortunately, hot, tall, rational, normal stalkers don’t exist.
They only exist in the sick female mind.  
I know you’ve thought about it too, so don’t read this and start with your silent judging - like you never thought about having a hot stalker.  

Stalker is a terrible word and implies creepiness, with reason.  Why I’ve been using the word all these years like something good was going to come out of it…

Well - lesson learned.  

I started telling Su that I was nervous because I was recently approached by my neighbor, we’ll call him Uncle Haris…

But before I continued to unravel my twisted tale of terror, I plated seconds.
We poured over Uncle Haris as we slurped up the second coming of the radish green pesto… 

It all began on a late March morning, when Uncle Haris told me I was beautiful, then asked me if I wanted a ride to the subway.  And just a few weeks ago, he caught me off guard and asked for my phone number.  I tried, 3 times, to deny the request - but he defeated me.  I broke down and gave it up - and when he texted to ask me out…

I lied.  
I said I was currently seeing someone, and it wouldn’t be right to go out on a date with someone else.  Uncle Haris doesn’t need to know the only thing I sleep next to at night is a king sized pillow - while I fall off into dreamland fantasizing about an 8 oz. container of cheese.  An 8 oz. container of cheese that goes by the name of Mascarpone.  

I was unsure as to whether or not I was being a bit hasty, deeming the man that lives 2 doors down from me a bit stalker-esque…

Then he asked me, again, if I wanted a ride…
And two days later, he texted to let me know he saw me walking down the street…

But Susana confimed  my sneaking suspicions.

Su gave me the time to tell my story and then chimed in.
You’re not going to believe this, he used to ask me if I wanted rides in his car too… 

Turns out my good friend has also been a victim of Uncle Haris’ antics…

I knew I was on to something.  
I’m not just neurotic, high on food and little bit reclusive…   

Susana used to live in my same apartment, so she also lived 2 doors down from Uncle Fitzpervert.

He used the same line on her:  I never realized I had such a beautiful neighbor …

That’s where it all started for her too…
I’m creeped out writing this… 

I asked Su if she wanted thirds of pasta.
She said no.
I could’ve kept going, but I stopped. 

As I thought about our similar encounters with Uncle Haris, I could have lost my radish green pesto…

Susana has a boyfriend, and she had a boyfriend at the time - who lived with her.
She said Uncle Haris would stare down Frank.
And Frank is burly and bald and fully tattooed.  
He could kick middle aged Uncle’s ass.

But Uncle would still insist on asking Su if she wanted a ride to the train…

Fortunately, our night ended on a lighter note.  We moved on from tales of stalking and closed with talking about weekend plans …
I walked Su halfway home, packed a giant tupperware of pasta - to bring to work the next day - and went to bed, holding my king sized pillow tightly.   

I haven’t heard from Uncle in a week.
Maybe he smells my radish green pesto breath, seeping out from underneath my front door, and he’s been scared in to submission…

I’ll keep you posted… 

And I don’t want you to make this uber nommy pesto and think about being stalked.
No.  Make a new happy memory…
That’s the problem with this writing space…
For better or worse, there’s a story that comes with every meal.

For Pesto

1 bunch of radish greens
3 cloves garlic
1/2 c. walnuts
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. grated parmigiano cheese

-Place garlic, radish greens and walnuts in a food processor fit with a steal blade
-Pulse until completely chopped
-Slowly drizzle olive oil through food processor feed tube
-Remove from food processor and stir in cheese
-Put aside 

For Pasta Assembly

1 lb. spaghetti cooked al dente
1/2 c. mascarpone whisked with 2 T. lemon juice
2 T. lemon zest
1/4 olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Parmigiano for serving 

-Toss spaghetti with pesto
-Gently mix in mascarpone/lemon juice
-Sprinkle with lemon zest and drizzle with olive oil - gently tossing together
-Top with cheese and freshly ground black pepper 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011   ()

The Picnic Basket Business Part One

Mixed Cherry Tomato Sauce

*Recipe follows story

There are a few things going on that have me doing a happy dance.

The happy dance exists in my mind (when I can’t just break out into full blown dancing happiness rapture - as that would be scary) and looks something like a Macarena with extra boob shaking.

The happy dance also exists at home and in the office.

At home:  in front of the mirror with accompanying Shakira like hip movements.  But not Shakira like at all.  Make sense?

At work:  busting into Susannah, Ana or Pam’s offices with a little cabbage patch meets butterfly. Or, in my chair and looks something like my booty popping up and down, swaying left to right and head moving in synch to booty.  

So, the things that make me want to get up and shake it:

-thoughts of picnic baskets
-outdoor concerts
-drinks with friends
-making out

But the latter seems like it might not ever happen again.

So, we’ll focus on what we can control.


And since I like spicy, the next three recipes to be posted on Nom Noms either use red pepper or jalapenos.

I was giving my sauce and my dips the business.

The spicy business.

The first in the picnic basket roll-out is a spicy mixed cherry tomato sauce:

1 pint each of red cherry tomatoes & yellow cherry tomatoes
3 T. olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic (peeled and smashed and left whole)
1 T. red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
1/4 c. toasted pignoli nuts (you can also substitute with toasted walnuts)
1/4 c. toasted breadcrumbs (unseasoned)
1 lb pasta (I like a thicker, long pasta and used my homemade pappardelle.  I think a linguine or fettuccine would be nice with this)
Parmigiano for grating

-Heat a large saute pan with olive oil, add garlic and red pepper flakes
-Once garlic begins to slightly brown, add tomatoes and sprinkle with salt
-Let tomatoes cook until they break down, about 10 minutes or so
-Boil water and cook pasta while tomato sauce is cooking
-Once tomatoes are broken down/cooked, put aside
-Strain pasta and top with sauce
-Sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs, pignolis and parmigiano

If you plan on taking this in your picnic basket, let cool and place in a tupperware. This business tastes even better in the park, with some wine and served at room temperature.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011   ()

While The Greeks Celebrated Their Independence…

Tortellinis Filled With Roasted Acorn Squash & Portobello Mushrooms
(topped with fried garlic & walnuts in a butter & olive oil sauce)

*Recipe follows story

Sunday’s are for slowly sipping coffee, blanket forts, Charles Osgood, cooking while music is blasting, and a long, healthy walk or two.  

I woke up early to write.  Not to write for the blog, but for life outside of this space. The morning started out somewhat quiet, sun creeping through the blinds and warming my face.  I knew it was cold out, but I didn’t care, the sun went through my body as  I laid in bed, looked up at the ceiling, breathed deeply and smiled.  I looked to my left and stared at a photo of my brothers.  I miss them.  They’ve been on my mind. I talked about them a lot this week, my family in general, and I haven’t been able to turn off.

And, as happy as I was when I woke up, there was an air of sadness in my heart. I made a mental list, which is too long and boring to site here,  and I realized there was no use in over thinking anything.  

My focus for today was to use the acorn squash that was lying fallow in my empty fruit bowl; not to dwell on things I can’t change.  

I always let go when I’m cooking, but today I was completely in touch with everything around me.  I was hyper aware and in tune with all of my senses. Today everything was heightened. I concentrated on feeling the acorn squash between my palms as I tossed it in olive oil.  I took the time to hold the whole piece of nutmeg, smelling it as I grated it over the squash.  I cleaned the mushrooms under a light stream of cold running water, letting the water numb my hands and watching goosebumps appear down on my arm.  I tasted the shallots and garlic cooking in their butter bath, letting the oily mixture sit on my tongue and coat my mouth and lips before I swallowed.

In between roasting vegetables and tortellini making, I opened my front door, which leads right to the street.  I sat on my stoop and I stared at the small garden that occupies about 5 ft. of space in front of my apartment.  I imagined taking the small space and making it mine. I curled my legs up to my chest and let the sun swallow me while I laughed, cried, and related to the stories in Alone In The Kitchen With An Eggplant.  While reading, I recounted all of the reasons I love to cook.  I cook because I love to share.  I cook because it makes me feel less lonely.  I cook because ordering too much take out seems sad.  I cook because it makes me feel safe and accomplished. I cook because every meal shared is a new memory.  I don’t cook because sometimes I need a break and I’d rather eat peanut butter on an apple and concentrate on a subtitled movie.  Or sometimes I want popcorn, a handful of honey roasted peanuts and a glass of wine for dinner.

I made the tortellini and had two.  I packed the remainder into freezer bags, and I’ll wait to share them when the right time comes along.  
I wasn’t very hungry today anyway.

I took a long walk around the park, sat on a bench and deeply missed Josie and her pig noises.  
I closed the night with tea and toast and too much thinking.

Tortellinis Filled With Roasted Acorn Squash & Portobello Mushrooms
*makes 50 tortellini
*here’s a reference to Giada’s Roasted Butternut Squash Tortellini which is where the use of the wonton wrappers came from

1 medium acorn squash (peeled and cubed)
1 box baby portobello mushrooms (cleaned and cubed)
5 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
3 shallots (diced)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
3/4 c. ricotta
2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 pack wonton wrappers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. warm water (to seal wontons closed)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Line 2 baking sheets with foil
-Toss each acorn squash and portobello mushrooms with 2 T. of olive oil, salt, pepper and nutmeg
-Spread acorn squash and portobello mushrooms, evenly, on separate pans
-Roast for 35 minutes and set aside
-Heat a small skillet and add remaining olive oil and butter, then add shallots and garlic and saute for 5-7 minutes until fragrant
-By now, your vegetables should be cool, so in a food processor fit with a steel blade - pulse acorn squash until creamy then place in a large mixing bowl
-Chop portobello mushrooms, then add to acorn squash puree
-Add shallots and garlic to the mixing bowl, along with ricotta, cinnamon and salt/pepper if necessary
-Combine all ingredients, thoroughly, as this will serve as your tortellini filling 
-Remove 4 wonton wrappers from package and place on a clean work surface
-Scoop 1-2 tsp. of filling in the center of the wonton paper, then proceed to wet all edges with warm water, folding wrapper into a triangle
-Pick up each edge at the base of the triangle and pinch together, sealing with water  
-As each tortellini is made, place on a tray and cover with a tea towel
-Repeat process until all wrappers have been used, making sure to clean your work surface after every batch you make
*I take out 4 wonton wrappers at a time and cover the remainder in a sopping wet paper towel so they do not dry out, as this process is not difficult but time consuming 

Sauce & Cooking Tortellinis

1/4 c. olive oil
4 T. butter
8 cloves garlic (peeled & sliced thin)
1/4 c. toasted walnuts (chopped)
Parmigiano for grating/serving

-Heat olive oil in a large skillet, over medium heat, and fry garlic until crispy - about 5-6 minutes and put aside
-Add butter and remove from heat, mixing butter into hot oil and allowing it to melt
-Bring water to a rolling boil, with 1 tsp. salt, and add tortellinis
-When tortellinis begin rising to the top of the water, they’re done (this should only take 2-3 minutes)
-Strain tortellini with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large serving bowl
-Drizzle fried garlic, olive oil and butter mixture over the top of the tortellini
-Finish with toasted walnuts and parmigiano
-Serve and nom

Sunday, March 27, 2011 — 6 notes   ()

The Dough Girl Trilogy: Part 1

Homemade Pappardelle With Roasted Portobello Mushrooms & Brown Butter And Sage Sauce

*Recipe follow story

Oren, my coworker, friend and nom nom idea generator was kind enough to loan me the pasta attachment for the Kitchen Aid mixer.  Last week, he wrote himself a note and showed up to work bearing the tool for my weekend project.  

I’d been planning on making sweet pasta love to myself, all week long, so I was anxiously awaiting the weekend.  Sunday’s rain could not have been timed out any more perfectly.  I woke up early, put on my beater and bandana and got to it.

A note to everyone out there…
Making pasta is SO much fun.
I made Duane work it this weekend and he turned it out.  
It is confirmed, I will now be purchasing the Kitchen Aid Mixer pasta attachments so Duane and I can have more naughty weekend fun.  Can you say tortelloni, ravioli and other nommy pastas I plan on making and eating?

This Sunday I planned to pasta alone because my two neighborhood love birds have been in bad shape.  Su’s back problems and Nan’s knee issues were bound to leave me solo nomming…

But my ladies turned up.  In the pouring rain, Su managed to get here and Nan did too.

This was my first attempt at homemade pasta, and the ladies thought it to be a success.  I kept the sauce simple and light, so the pasta could really be enjoyed and tasted.  We had a big salad to finish and homemade focaccia for sopping up all of the little pools of butter and oil that coated the bottom of our bowls.   

When the 3 of us laze about the apartment and eat and laugh and act like fools, my mind shifts back to 2003 - which is when we all met.  I made a comment that this Sunday dinner felt like it was flashing back to another time, and ten minutes later Su chimed in saying (as I was cleaning up the kitchen):  Tina, it does remind me of us living together.  Just listen to the way you’re banging the pots.

Su and Nancy cracked themselves up by joking around about my pot banging habit.

I am totally a pot banger.  I admit it.  It’s a disorder. Not because I’m angry and not on purpose, but I’m gauging it could be genetic - as my mother suffers from the same disorder.  

And, much like the times when we lived together - after cleaning up and settling down to watch television - I decided I was going to make a spur of the moment dessert.  

Focaccia and Blondie recipes to follow in the coming days.
For now, pasta making should keep you pretty busy.

Homemade Pappardelle With Roasted Portobello Mushrooms & Brown Butter And Sage Sauce

Homemade Pappardelle

*To make the pasta, since this was a first time experiment, I used 2 recipes to guide the way.  This one was great for the recipe and provided a thorough step by step model to make pasta with the Kitchen Aid Mixer.  I also employed Michael Chiarello’s method for cutting the pappardelle and for arranging/flouring before cooking.

2 c. bread flour
2 c. semolina flour
2 eggs
1 T. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. water

Follow the instructions here, for making dough and using your Kitchen Aid Mixer pasta attachments.  

Roasted Portobello Mushrooms

2 10 oz. boxes baby bella mushrooms (cleaned and left whole)
2 T. butter (melted)
2 T. olive oil
1 T. chopped parsley
5-6 leaves of fresh sage
Fresh grated nutmeg (about 1/4 - 1/2 tsp.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

-Preheat oven to 450 degrees
-Coat mushrooms in a butter, olive oil, parsley, sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper and place in a shallow baking dish
-Roast mushrooms for 40 minutes, remove from oven and slice mushrooms
-Put mushrooms back in the oven and continue to roast for another 15-20 minutes
-Reduce oven heat to 250 to keep the mushrooms warm

Brown Butter & Sage Sauce (and pasta plating)

1 stick of butter
10-12 leaves fresh sage
Fresh grated nutmeg (about 1 tsp.)
Grated parmigiano for serving
Olive oil to drizzle upon serving

-Bring water to a rolling boil and add homemade pasta, cooking for about 3 minutes
-Place butter and sage in a 10-12” skillet and cook until butter browns, about 4 minutes or so
-Drain pasta and place in a large serving bowl, pour brown butter & sage sauce over top and gently toss, then add grated nutmeg, parmigiano and roasted portobello mushrooms
-Plate pappardelle, garnishing each plate with a drizzle of olive oil, additional nutmeg and parmigiano 

Monday, March 7, 2011 — 4 notes   ()

Sunday Gravy

Sunday Gravy

*No recipe will follow this story.  I can’t give away everything.  Jesus.

To close out the D.C. weekend of noms and friends, we (Stef, Chris, Matt and myself) enjoyed hearty bowls of pasta laden in pork and meat infused gravy.

The epic gravy that was served during my childhood was the dinner request. I was to re-make the gravy my mom prepared, religiously, almost every Sunday (when we didn’t switch it up with a giant roast beef or my other favorite sauce - Genovese - which will be made soon).  Whenever my mom cooked I would hangout at the kitchen table and watch. I used to sit in the same chair every time, the one furthest from the stove, so I could watch my mom prep at the table while still maintaining a well rounded vantage point of the entire kitchen.  As she chopped and cooked, my eyes would examine her hands and all of the veins that were so transparent under her fair skin, her nervously bitten nails, her beautiful gold wedding band.  Then my eyes would travel to her face, where I concentrated on remembering her expressions, her dimples and her smile because I missed her when she wasn’t around. I have these visions of my mom, cooking and wearing my grandma’s housecoat, locked in my head.  We didn’t get to spend a lot of time together when I was growing up, so I always thought watching her and sitting in the kitchen, while figure skating commentary chattered in the background, as our time. Every hour or so Louie would come barreling into the kitchen, ripping apart the leftover bagels from breakfast, and dunk the torn pieces of bagel in to the pot of gravy. But my all time favorite was when he’d put sauce on a giant serving spoon - dollop ricotta and grated cheese on top - then nom. Our kitchen was compact, but my mom made miracles happen in that little space.  

And, so, a chef I had the hots for a while back asked me: what is it with every Italian kid talking about their mom’s sauce?

I love my mom’s gravy because it speaks to tradition. Sunday gravy feels like home.

Sunday gravy with Stef and Chris was the closest I could get to an old feeling. The closest I could get to an old and familiar place.  While the meaty red goodness was cooking, Chris even doused pieces of bread in the pot of gravy. Unlike Louie, Chris left some bits of bread in the pot.  Louie would dunk clean and quick and get out of the kitchen - before my mom had a chance to notice. I love that Chris owned the gravy dunking experience.  

Stef and Chris understand because they’ve experienced Sunday dinner.  Stef grew up on Evie’s sauce.  For years Stef sat with me in the tiny kitchen and watched while my mom cooked.  She also remembered my mom’s love for watching figure skating. And when she and Chris got together he came to Sunday dinner and experienced the meal full throttle.  My mom, to this day, loves Chris (and still talks about him) because he never said no to seconds.

I discussed this post with my friend Oren - before publishing it - and he said it best: some things are just too personal to share.

The recipe can’t be shared.  There’s a recipe, or something like that, but gravy is an experience.  So, enjoy the large meat photos and know there’s some meat and ingredients missing (I didn’t have access to all of the goods in D.C.).

I may be free about my boobs, my emotions, and most of my recipes - but gravy is sacred. 

Stef and Chris watched me cook and, for the first time, I wasn’t even a little bit nervous.  Cooking in their kitchen took me home.  

Friday, March 4, 2011 — 2 notes   ()

Loaded Spaghetti: AKA Poo Poo Platter Pasta

Pasta With Pecorino, Pepper, Pea Puree & Eggs

*Recipe follows story

A quick meal my mom used to make when I was a kid: spaghetti with butter, olive oil, pecorino and a ton of black pepper.  I remember how the oils would coat my lips, the spaghetti sitting on my tongue, sliding down my throat and filling my belly.  


This was a weeknight favorite after my mom would be at the hospital all day with my brother, or if my grandma didn’t happen to leave dinner prepared for us. 

I racked my brain for a bit, wondering what would be the ideal way to pay this meal an appropriate homage.

I took the above family favorite and topped with other family favorites.  Pea puree: coming from my mom’s pasta piselli, and the egg from the many nights of eating eggs in purgatory for dinner.

Pasta With Pecorino, Pepper, Pea Puree & Eggs is the poo poo platter of pasta dishes, and if I ever tasted my life in anything - it’s in the above bowl of goodness.

And, for dinner - a very special friend joined me.

Susana and I had a very romantic meal this past Saturday which was much needed.

That evening we also saw 127 Hours.  We both thought it was an amazing story. However, we both know why we’re not thrill seekers.  It was agreed that scaling down rocks and potentially falling into a crack in the earth is not exhilarating, it’s scary.  

I imagined myself stuck between a rock and a wall and became uneasy.  
I wouldn’t have made it past hour one, as the thought of never eating again would’ve broken me.  Weak, maybe, but I’d also be a great girlfriend to a rock climber or any man of athletics, as I pack a bumpin’ bagged lunch and make a monster trail mix.

Just saying.  

It was only the two of us for dinner on Saturday night (so I made less), but the below recipe allots for a bigger crowd of nommers.   

Pasta With Pecorino, Pepper, Pea Puree & Eggs
*serves 6 

1 lb. spaghetti (cooked al dente and 1c. of pasta water reserved)
4 T. butter
4 T. olive oil 
1/2 c. grated pecorino romano cheese
1/3 lb. pancetta (rendered in 2 tsp. of olive oil)
2 cans peas (drained)
6 large eggs

*to time this meal out the right way, pasta must be cooking, peas pureed and eggs should be frying at the same time 

-Bring pasta water to a boil, add pasta
-While pasta is cooking: heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a medium saute pan, add pancetta and render for 2-3 minutes on a medium flame
-Add peas to pancetta, salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook for 7 minutes, or until peas break down
-Remove peas from heat and puree using a food processor or immersion blender and put aside
-Coat a skillet with non-stick cooking spray, add eggs and immediately cover and allow eggs to cook for 5-6 minutes, just until whites are fully cooked but yolks are loose 
-Once pasta is cooked and drained, place in a large pasta bowl
-Add butter, oil and cheese to pasta and toss well (add some of the reserved pasta water if it looks at all dry) 
-Plate pasta, individually, top each bowl with pea puree and a fried egg - finishing with more pepper and pecorino

Friday, February 18, 2011 — 5 notes   ()

D.C. Dining Chapter 2: Birthday Bolognese (Also, almost 3 months late)


*Recipe follows story

To finish off birthday weekend in D.C. - one last nom was whipped up.

Originally, gravy was to be made…  

I was supposed to mark D.C. with my mom’s classic, meaty and pork filled delight - but plans were changed and, suddenly, folks were coming over to watch the Eagles game.  Chris, Stef and I - stood on a street corner (somewhere between their house and Eastern Market) - slightly hungover from dance party antics the evening before - and discussed a new nom strategy.  There was too much talk, walking in D.C. drizzles, texting and almost a minor disaster…

Pizzas were almost ordered.  I didn’t want pizzas to be ordered.  Pizza Sunday?!  Pizza is for Friday’s or manic Monday’s!  

I could give a shit about watching the game. Bah.  I was looking forward to getting my hair all stinky with the scent of sausages and watching my friends overindulge in my noms.   I hate acting, especially when it comes to feigning sports excitement.  I would’ve watched - and happily engaged in man-games - but my heart wasn’t in it - not that Sunday.

Gravy was going to take too long to cook.  Gravy needs time and love and Tina tenderness.  Giant bowls of bolognese seemed like a suitable compromise. Bolognese also  reminds me of childhood Sunday dinner and tables filled with happy faces, so it seemed like a good note to repeat at the end of this perfect celebration weekend. 

*recipe is the combined brain trust of one Mario B. and Emeril, but with quite a few Ms. Nomnom modifications 

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. butter
4 carrots (diced)
2 medium onions (diced)
2 ribs celery (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
3 1/2 lbs. mixed pork, veal & beef
1/4 lb. pancetta (diced)
2 cans tomato paste (unseasoned)
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 c. white wine
6-8 basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

-In a large pot, heat oil and butter, over medium-high heat and cook pancetta for about 5 minutes - until fat is rendered
-Add onions, garlic, carrots, celery and cook for another 5 minutes
-Add meat mixture (pork, veal, beef) and cook until it’s no longer pink
-Add can of tomato paste and stir for 5 minutes
-Add wine, to deglaze pot - stirring for 3 minutes or so
-Add cream - stir - then add basil - and lower heat to a medium-low/low flame and let cook for an hour and a half
*Salt & pepper to taste

Cook pasta and coat well with the bolognese, spooning more on top if you need a meatier treat.  Top with lots of grated parmigiano.  

Monday, December 20, 2010 — 3 notes   ()

Life Could Be a Dream, Sh-Boom

Pasta With Roasted Peppers & Pignolis

*Recipe follows story

The best part of Labor Day weekend: feeling the family love, all of the food & wine, of course, football tossing, amazing weather and Uncle Al playing mix CD’s in the yard.  

The worst part of Labor Day Weekend: I didn’t bring my camera along with me - so I’ve no photos of all the goodness that took place and all of the food my aunt flawlessly prepared.

The best part of re-living Labor Day Weekend the following weekend:  Re-making my Aunt Deb’s roasted pepper pasta, topped with toasted pignoli nuts was the highlight of my Sunday. My kitchen and living room live together, as one big space, and were perfectly swallowed up in the heavy scent  of roasted peppers and garlic.  I listened to doo-wop, and thought about how my brother would ask me to sing Duke of Earl, when we were kids, because I’d sing the baritone parts and act out the song with spastic facial expressions.  I also kept thinking, and wished, I was born in another generation.  I ate alone, in my cherry apron, relished in me time, and slowly rolled into my big princess bed - with a happily filled pasta pooch.

What’s with the left-overs: I shared every last nom with 3 handsome gentlemen; as I lugged a tupperware filled with a pasta and pepper paradise to the office.  The boys came hungry and didn’t complain about garlic breath; or a post-pasta induced coma.  I also indulged in one last bowl and wore a black dress to work, so the growing love in my belly could be masked.  I’m talking about my food baby, not a real one.  Relax, Aunt Deb.    

This pasta dish is my Uncle Al’s favorite - and was something his family used to make. Now it holds a special place in my stomach and heart too.    

Food is love.

Pasta With Roasted Peppers & Pignolis

1 lb. penne (cooked al dente)
6-8 peppers (to be roasted: mixed red, orange and yellow - looks so pretty)
1/3 c. good extra virgin olive oil
26 sicilian oil cured olives (pitted and roughly chopped) 
4 cloves garlic (left whole, peeled and smashed)
1/4 c toasted pignolis
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For Peppers

-Wash peppers with water and dry (leaving whole)
-Since I don’t have a BBQ - in my apartment - I use my grandmas old school method for roasting peppers.  I popped these lobs of love on direct fire…right on the stove burner
-Roast peppers, until blackened, rotating so whole pepper is charred
-Once blackened, place peppers in a glass bowl - covered in plastic wrap
-Peppers should sit in the bowl for an hour or two - the steam build up will allow you to easily peel the peppers
-Remove black from peppers, squeeze juice of pepper in to a separate bowl, open pepper, de-seed and slice
-Place all cleaned & sliced roasted peppers, with all juices, in one bowl
-Add olives, garlic, salt and olive oil - and let sit for a few hours

For Toasted Pignoli Nuts

-In a small saute pan, over medium-low heat, add pignoli nuts and toss until light brown; about 3-4 minutes (toss pignolis constantly to avoid burning)

For Pasta Preparation 

-Cook pasta in salted water and time as instructed on the box, maybe a minute or two less
 *Aunt Deb tip:  once pasta is drained, toss with pepper mixture and let the pasta and peppers sit for 20-30 minutes, in a covered pot, so the pasta turns brown and really soaks in the juices from the pepper mixture.  It’s wise to cook the pasta for less time to avoid mushiness.
-Reserve a cup of pasta water
-Place pepper mixture over pasta, toss to coat and let rest for 20-30 minutes
-Over a low flame, re-heat pasta (add reserved water as necessary)
-Top with toasted pignoli nuts and locatelli grating cheese and nom

A Post Roasted Pepper Pasta Pondering:

-A wad of hot, pan fried goat cheese also would’ve taken this dish to another level.
-Maybe next time, I’ll let fresh thyme sprigs sit in the roasted pepper juices…

I smell round two coming on.
It is to be broughten.  

Monday, September 13, 2010   ()