Posts from the ‘Pasta’ Category

“You know, there’s a million fine looking women in the world, dude, but they don’t all bring you lasagna at work. Most of ‘em just cheat on you.”

Once I made my own meat sauce, the jarred stuff didn’t stand a chance. Unless I am in a migraine-induced cloud, or the flu has got its grip on me, jarred tomato sauce has no place in my house. When you get used to eating homemade sauce, having jarred sauce is an unpleasant experience. It’s sweet, one-dimensional, and unsatisfying. Red sauce is so easy to make, and you can freeze it and pull it out when you need to. So make a batch, and then make this lasagna.

When I make lasagna, it’s this one, or Mario Batali’s  with bechamel. I haven’t found better. These are both David Rosengarten recipes, whom I have had a culinary crush on for over a decade. The man can do no wrong in my book. His book It’s All American Food is my Joy of Cooking.

Classic Brooklyn-Italian Meat Sauce

yields about 3 quarts

2 tbls. olive oil

1/2 cup finely minced garlic

1/2 pound onions, peeled and finely minced

1  carrot, peeled, and finely minced

1 stalk celery, finely minced

3 lbs ground beef


2 (28 ounce) cans tomatoes in juice (I use 1 can tomato puree, 1 can chopped tomatoes)

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

1 tsp. sugar

2 tbls. dried oregano

*I also add 1/2-1 tsp. crushed red pepper, and 1/2 cup of water if sauce gets too thick while simmering.

* I mince vegetables in food processor.

1. Place the olive oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onions, and saute, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and saute for another 5 minutes.

2. Push vegetables to one side of the pot and add about 1/3 of the ground beef. Salt the beef to taste. Cook until starting to brown, about 3-5 minutes. Stir the beef occasionally, breaking up as you do. Push it to the side (or over the vegetables) and repeat with the second third of the beef. After that starts to brown, push it aside and repeat with the remainder part of the beef. When all the beef is done, mix the beef with the vegetables.

3. Add the tomatoes with their juice to the pot. Add the tomato paste, sugar and oregano. Mix well. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, breaking up the tomatoes against the side of the pot as you do.

4. When the sauce is done cooking, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve or freeze.

from David Rosengarten

Classic American Lasagna

Yields: 8 main-course servings

1 ( 1 pound) box lasagna noodles, preferably curly at the edges

1 (15 ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese

1 large egg, beaten

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 quarts Classic Brooklyn-Italian Meat Sauce (above) *I use a little more.

1 pound grated commercial mozzarella cheese (not soft, freshly made mozzarella)*I use a little more.

*If you have access to Tillamook cheese they make a great Mozzarella for this use.

1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano *I use a little more.

1. Preheat oven to *350.

2. In a very large pot of boiling salted water cook lasagna noodles 10 minutes, carefully stirring to separate. They should remain al dente. Drain and cool under running water. Lay noodles flat on a sheet pan, separating layers with parchment or waxed paper. You will probably not need all the noodles in the box, but do cook them all, as some may break, tear, or stick together.

3. In a large bowl, stir together ricotta, egg, and parsley. Season mixture with salt and pepper.

4. Select a lasagna pan that is roughly 14x10x3. (I used a 13×9 inch glass dish, and sprayed with cooking spray.)

5. To assemble the lasagna, season layers as you go with salt and pepper, place 1 cup of meat sauce in the bottom of the lasagna pan. Top with a single layer of noodles that fit perfectly in the pan and cover the sauce; if you have to cut them a bit and reconfigure them to cover the sauce, that’s fine. Top the noodles with half of the ricotta mixture, spreading evenly with a spatula. Top that with a third of the mozzarella, a third of the meat sauce, and a third of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Cover with another layer of noodles. Top the noodles with the remaining half of the ricotta mixture, spreading evenly, Top that with half with remaining mozzarella, half of the remaining meat sauce, and half of the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano. Top with another layer of noodles that covers all. Top noodles with remaining sauce, mozzarella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

6. Bake uncovered for about 1 hour, or until lasagna is browned, bubbling and hot in the center. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes to ensure nice clean slices. Cut into portions, sprinkle with a little chopped fresh parsley and serve.

from David Rosengarten

Off course some garlic bread, a romaine salad with a squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of cheese, and some olive oil, salt and pepper round out this perfection. I ended with apple pie that I cut way too soon, but was worth not waiting for the perfect slice, and homemade vanilla ice cream.

Pie so pretty.

Pie not so pretty. Look at that crust on the table. Irresistible.


Foodbuzz 24×24: Ebony and Ivory

This month I participated in a Foodbuzz 24×24 dinner. My black and white dinner proposal was chosen, and I couldn’t be more pleased. I love the food-blogging community aspect to it, and the making-black-food-appealing challenge. Here is a little bit about what they do every month:

“Showcasing posts from 24 Foodbuzz Featured Publisher bloggers, the monthly Foodbuzz 24 highlights unique meals occurring around the globe during a 24-hour period. “-from Foodbuzz

The only thing not black and white was my apron, and my lipstick. The only hitch in making this dinner was broken glasses, and hands full of super glue. It was a classic comedy show the day before this dinner, but good things come to those who wait. And boy did good things come. This was one of the most enjoyable multi-course dinners I have made in a long time.

After removing super glue from ten fingers, two palms, and nine knuckles, and confirming every potential chance to replace my glasses before dinner the next day was moot because it was Thanksgiving, a second tube of glue was bought, and with glasses mended, all was well. The show, or in this case, the dinner must go on.

My legally blind self was thankful this year for only frames being broken, and lenses staying intact. And science. The science that made super glue.

Celery root soup with Oregon black truffle

Strangely the only celery root at my market stand was a little over 3lbs, which was exactly what I needed. Another sign of good things to come.

Celery Root Soup

serves 810

from David Lebovitz

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, cleaned and chopped
sea salt
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
one large celery root (about 3-pounds, 1.5kg), peeled and cubed
3 cups (750ml) chicken stock
3 cups (750ml) water
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly-ground white pepper
scant 1/8 teaspoon chile powder (I used Rancho Gordo)

1. In a large pot, melt the butter with the olive oil.

2. Add the leeks and cook for about five minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic cloves and season with salt, and continue to cook until the leeks and garlic are soft and translucent. If the pot begins to brown too much on the bottom as they cook, add another pat of butter or pour of olive oil.

3. Add the celery root and stock. (Or use all water.) Bring to a boil, then reduce to a strong simmer. Cook, with the lid to the pot ajar on top, until the celery root pieces are soft and easily pierced with a paring knife, about forty five minutes.

4. Add white pepper and chili powder, the purée using a hand mixer, or let the soup cool to room temperature and whiz in a blender until smooth. Taste, and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. If the soup is too thick, it can be thinned with water or stock.

To serve, rewarm the soup in a saucepan and ladle into bowls.

Variations: Celery root has a distinctive flavor, but don’t hesitate to experiment with adding other ingredients. Cubes of pear or apple could be cooked with the cubes of celery root and puréed, a dusting of nutmeg, or some tangy crème fraîche instead of the olive oil are all worthy additions.

I’m a big fan of chunks of crisp bacon floating around in there, or you can even add a swirl of another root vegetable soup, such as beet or carrot. And if you’re feeling opulent, this soup lends itself very well to shaved truffles scattered over the top.

*I added two red pears along with the celery root, 1/4 cup of cream, and 2 tbls. of sour cream at the end of cooking. This soup could be a meal itself.  So full of flavor. A soup that makes you smile.

At under $6 this apple wine was a perfect dinner companion. Not too tart, or sweet. Very mellow.

Black bean-stuffed eggs with Hawaiian black salt

Black Bean-Stuffed Eggs


Black beans, canned or soaked and cooked


Sour Cream

Salt and Pepper

Pinch of Cayenne

Garnish with radish, and black-eyed pea

Black Salt (optional)

Cover eggs in cold water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Rinse in cold water. Peel, halve, and reserve yolk for another use. (sprinkle on a salad,  throw in a breakfast hash, or put on a roast beef sandwich)

Smash black beans with desired amount of mayo, and sour cream. Add cayenne, salt (only a pinch if using the black salt), and pepper. Stuff eggs, add garnish. Sprinkle salt on plate.

Cheese log with black tie sesame seeds

Sesame Cheese Log

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened, but still cool

1/2 shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup mild goat cheese, I used Drunken Goat cheese

1 tbls. Dijon, or garlic mustard

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Salt and Pepper

Sesame seeds

Crackers, or bread for serving

Mix all ingredients with mixer. Pour sesame seeds onto a piece of plastic wrap (use enough to cover log well), and flatten into a square, about the length you would like your cheese log.  Scoop cheese onto the sesame seeds. Start to roll in seeds, and form into log using plastic wrap. When shaped well, and covered in seeds, wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve with crackers.

*You can use any cheese you like!


Baby turnip and apple salad

Baby Turnip and Apple Salad

6 baby turnips, sliced thinly

1/2 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced

juice of half a lemon

drizzle of olive oil

white pepper


Slice turnip and apple. Toss with remaining ingredients.

*This was a great palate cleanser.

Taking a break before the main course

After a little jazz, and a peak at Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis playing in the living room, I was back in the kitchen to the crab that was calling my name.

Said crab, calling my name

Cauliflower and Crab Ravioli

serves 2 or 4 as part of a multi-course meal


    1. 1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
    2. 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
    3. 2 garlic cloves, minced
    4. 1 small head of cauliflower (1 pound), cut into 1-inch florets
    5. 2 tablespoons water
    6. 1 cup heavy cream
    7. 1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
    8. Salt and freshly ground white pepper
    9. 8 round won-ton wrappers
    10. 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Bring a large skillet of water to a boil. In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter in 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. Add the minced garlic and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the cauliflower florets and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, just until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the water, cover and cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the heavy cream and simmer until slightly thickened, about 6 minutes. Add the crab meat and stir gently to heat through. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
  3. Add salt and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the boiling water and cook the pasta sheets until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Lightly drizzle the sheets with olive oil and, using 2 large spoons, toss lightly to coat.
  4. Place 1 won ton wrapper on each plate. Spoon the creamed crab and cauliflower onto the pasta sheets and sprinkle with half of the Parmesan cheese. Cover with the remaining pasta sheets and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Serve right away.

from Food and Wine

*This recipe originally used homemade pasta. I sadly do not have a pasta maker, so I compromised with won-ton wrappers. I always get great results this way, but by all means go for the homemade pasta if you can. This is a great free-form ravioli. It also says it serves eight. Not happening in my house.

Cauliflower and crab ravioli

One of the "mother" bites

Dessert was highlighted by my new favorite thing: butterscotch powder.


Poppyseed and Mascarpone mini-tart

Poppyseed and Mascarpone Mini-Tart


Poppyseed Filling:
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup ground poppyseed, (I skipped the grinding, but recommend it)
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon butter

1 tbls. butterscotch powder

Pre-baked tarts.

Use your favorite tart, or pie dough. Bake at *350 for about 18 minutes for 2-inch tarts. If you have access to good quality store-bought tart shells, these will work too.

Heat milk and when it boils add sugar, flour, butterscotch powder, and poppyseed, stirring vigorously. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Add butter, and then vanilla. Cool filling before adding to crust.

* This makes enough for 10, 2-inch tarts.

When filling is still warm, add 1 8-ounce container of mascarpone, and blend thoroughly. Fill tarts, and serve, or chill until ready to serve.

The poppyseed filling, minus the butterscotch powder is from It is a kolache filling.

Brother Devil’s Creamy Sister

Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way.

– E.L. Doctorow

I realized as of late, there is a DMV-waiting-line of food that I have cooked, waiting and ready to be posted. At first they were patient. Now they are a 16-year-old on their birthday.  Now is the only word they understand. So I am going to be the caving parent, and get these recipe kids on the road.

Not everything I cook evokes something interesting to write about. This dismays me. I love stories. I love when food has some connection to other things, like politics, the science behind the second shampoo (it’s so much more lathery!), or why people use the “word” irregardless. It’s not a word people. I don’t care if it is now officially in the dictionary. So is Googled. As a verb. Shudder.

Without my permission, my blog is sneaking out it’s bedroom window. So for now I will be the ignorant mother, and go with it.

I love Alfredo. The pasta, not the man. Not the cloying crap you get frozen, or at The Awful Garden, the stuff you make at home. People are sometimes picky when it comes to the cream sauce.

No garlic.

Those two words should only be spoken when ice cream is involved, or you are in direct vicinity of a vampire. Which is never. So just the one time.

I also love Fra Diavolo.

I would not put it past me to make and enjoy both of these pastas side by side. I am a glutton. I have been known to go to one fast food joint for a sandwich, and then to another because I like their fries better. Ah, America. We are a spoiled, gross bunch. After two seconds of thought, I was disappointed in myself for having never put these two together. Sometimes obvious things are the ones that stay just beyond arm’s length.

Let’s just say these two sauces hugged like a solider back from deployment, and his wife.

Diavolo Alfredo

Alfredo Sauce

• 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• Salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 9 ounces fresh fettuccine
• 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
• 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Bring 1 cup of the heavy cream and the butter to a simmer in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the mixture reduces to 2/3 cup, 12 to 15 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.

2. While the cream reduces, bring 4 1/2 quarts water to a rolling boil, covered, in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta to the pot of boiling water, cook the pasta until just shy of al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.

3. Meanwhile, return the cream mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low and add the Parmesan, and nutmeg to the cream mixture.

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

* Have this ready just as the Fra Diavolo is ready.

Fra Diavolo

* I used Chateau Michelle Sauvignon Blanc.

1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
14 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
7 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 1/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1 2⁄3 cups dry white wine
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Leaves from 2 sprigs parsley, chopped
1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp and cook, turning once, until just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add garlic and shallots to skillet and cook until soft, 3–5 minutes. Add canned tomatoes, wine, and oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and simmer, stirring occasionally and reducing heat if liquid starts to boil too rapidly, until sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.

2. Add parsley, red pepper flakes, pasta, Alfredo sauce, and shrimp to skillet and toss well. Add reserved pasta water if needed. (I didn’t) Divide pasta between two plates (or four, depending on the number of diners), arranging half the shrimp on each plate.

3. Garnish with a little Parm, and parsley, and grab some crusty bread.

adapted from Saveur



Some vino, as per the yoush.

I Have My Own Definition of Minimalism, Which is That Which is Created with a Minimum of Means

There are so many pasta dishes with five or so ingredients, so the freshness and quality of ingredients is almost as important as the flavor profile.

This dish was extra delicious because it was made with little sugar bush tomatoes who grew up in my mom’s yard. If you have a problem with canned clams of course you can use fresh. We always have canned clams in the house due to my mom’s amazing clam dip making, so we made this on a day where we wanted to get to the table and back to lazy TV watching fairly quickly and satisfied.

Pasta with Cherry Bush Tomatoes, Basil, Lemon, and Clams

  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 6-ounce cans chopped clams, drained, juices reserved
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Additional grated Parmesan cheese (or any other cheese that may tickle your dairy fancy)


Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain pasta; return to same pot.

Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes; sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add drained clams and basil; stir 1 minute.

Add clam sauce, 1 cup Parmesan cheese and lemon juice to pasta. Toss over medium-high heat until heated through, adding reserved clam juices by 1/4 cupfuls if pasta is dry. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese.

The other crucial part to a great pasta is bread that you can brag about.

And now for the visual bragging.

Italian bread. The real stuff.

The squish test. It gets none better.With barely no pressure, this bread gives in more ways than one.

“In General, I Think, Human Beings are Happiest at Table When They Are Very Young, Very Much in Love or Very Alone.” M.F.K. Fisher (1908-1992) ‘An Alphabet for Gourmets’ (1949)

I make an effort to celebrate something weekly if possible. I love having a holiday or special day to look forward to. Whether it’s a nationally recognized holiday like Christmas, or Napoleon’s birthday (August 15, 1769), there will be egg nog cookies, or Pot au Feu and bruschetta on the table, and eventually in our bellies. Sometimes I get lucky and have a multi-event day like February 2nd which included Groundhog Day, James Joyce’s and Stan Getz’s birthday. A thick winter stew, some colcannon, or haluski and a babka will pay homage to all. Besides pairing menus with a nationality, I use colors, shapes, music, and personal details to enjoy the lives of some remarkable people, and historical events. I am part Slovak, part Irish, but it’s my part glutton that makes me turn a one-day celebration into a weekend celebration. Hence, Jim and I had our Valentine’s Day dinner on Friday, and then again on Saturday. Today we will have Valentine’s Day  breakfast for dinner. If we wanted to do it right, going out would leave us with about $5 until pay day, and sometimes even cooking at home ends up costing me about $100. Believe me, Jim and I could eat seafood everyday (an easy feat when you live in the Pacific Northwest), but we wouldn’t be able to afford the electricity to cook it if we did. So I opted for this pasta dish of chicken and mushrooms. Chicken can get humdrum sometimes, but this dish is a clown, wrapped in a comedian, wrapped in a circus, wrapped in a vacation to (insert dream destination).
I substituted  pappardelle for the tagliatelle, chicken breast for the tenderloins, and used Chateau Ste-Michelle Sauvignon Blanc, which is my favorite white wine to cook with. It’s affordable, local, and for a red wine drinker enjoyable to drink. Happy Valentine’s Day. Apprecier.