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Archive for the ‘pasta’ Category

Homemade Gnocchi

I’m not the “make your own pasta” type. I love fresh pasta. I think the taste of fresh pasta is leagues better than the various dried shapes you get in the store. That being said, I’m afraid of making fresh pasta. It seems like such a chore and so many things could go wrong.

After reading Heidi’s post on How to Make Gnocchi Like an Italian Grandmother, I decided to take the plunge.

I followed the recipe except for two places: I baked the potatoes and I didn’t make the fork grooves (because I’m laaazy). I read that baking the potato could make the gnocchi lighter and fluffier, and they certainly turned out that way. Depending on your belief on how gnocchi should be, I would bake the potatoes for really fluffy gnocchi and I would boil them for a firmer gnocchi. Personally, I liked how light the gnocchi were. There was no carb coma when I cleaned my plate. A good thing.

It was a super easy pasta recipe, and I would definitely make it again. As for the phenomenal, three ingredient sauce you see draped over the gnocchi, that deserves its own post.

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Another Pasta Casserole

Delicious cheeseless goodness.

Delicious cheeseless goodness.

On Friday, Cauli and I came back from a three month stay in Japan. Our condo is littered with luggage and clothes and we are jet- lagged despite our best efforts to ward it off. Our three months in Japan studying Japanese, traveling, and eating was amazing. Travel allows for a new perspective not only on where you’ve been, but where you come from. I hope to incorporate some of this perspective into my cooking.

This recipe is simple, in no way Japanese (there will be time for that later), and healthy. It is based off of Heidi Swanson’s, of 101 Cookbooks, recipe for Almost Cheeseless Pasta. The basics of the recipe are pasta, Greek yogurt, and eggs. If you have these ingredients, you can make this with most anything in your refrigerator. If you haven’t yet discovered Greek yogurt, I urge you to try it. It’s light and airy, and just tart enough. Topped with some honey, it makes for a great dessert.

But I was talking about pasta casserole. You will need 8oz of pasta for this casserole. The binding is made with two cups of Greek yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, two egg yolks, and 3 garlic cloves. I didn’t have garlic so I used 3/8 teaspoon of garlic powder. As for the body of the casserole, anything goes. I used some roasted chicken, tossed in a few handfuls of baby spinach and frozen peas into the boiling water just before the pasta was done. I mixed it all together and put it in a buttered oval baking dish. I topped with some crushed crackers and goat cheese, popped it in a preheated 400 oven and baked for 25 minutes.

Die hard cheese fans will miss the cheese, but this dish is flavorful and healthy. Heidi adds nuts and olives, which makes it even more healthy and interesting.

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Fall is here! And so I’ve declared it in our house – there are fires, slippers, cozy blankets, and comforting fall food.

First up on the list was a fall vegetable pasta bake, or, butternut squash and parsnip bake. I made this on a Sunday night, in anticipation of Cauli’s mom and grandma coming over. This is a good weekend meal to make because it takes a bit of time and makes enough for leftovers for the week.

True Confession: I’d never before this recipe ever eaten a parsnip.

True Confession follow up: Parsnips are very tasty.

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I used a recipe I found online (here) and adjusted it a little bit, using Montalban cheese, adding chicken (Cauli fears I may turn our house into a Vegetable-only house), and omitting the crushed red peppers.

The bake turned out well, though I went wrong a few places: I added more pasta than the recipe called for and therefore should have upped the white sauce more; the fresh sage I used was a little past fresh and so the flavor of the herb didn’t come through as much (next time I’d use 1/4 tsp of dried ground sage); I would cook the parsnip and butternut squash longer than the 10 minutes called for to soften it up even more.

This is a good dish to have on hand. It can feed a lot of people, it’s interesting (butternut squash and parsnips are, in my opinion,  interesting), it can be made with meat (chicken, turkey, pancetta, or prosciutto would work well), and it’s a great comfort dish.

Note: When slicing away the tough peel of a butternut squash (your first experience with the actual vegetable in your kitchen), using the new Shun knives your dad gave you as a wedding present, mind the fingers. The knives work a little too well.

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Homemade Orecchiette Pasta

For last night’s dinner, I’ll refer you to Last Night’s Dinner, a wonderful food blog I’ve been reading. Jennifer has a great post and recipe for orecchiette pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe. Cauli and I used the last of the sausage we had bought at the Farmer’s Market – wild boar with apple and cranberries. Using broccoli rabe that we bought at this week’s farmer’s market, and laboring over tiny little pasta shapes, we had a wonderfully flavorful dinner. The only modifications to her recipe were that we used garlic instead of green garlic and omitted the cheese because we didn’t have any.

Making the orecchiette pasta was a pain in the ass. It  took two episodes of Big Love to roll, cut, and shape those “little ears.” I still like the idea of making my own pasta, but perhaps next time I’ll use our handy-dandy pasta roller.

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“Speak up!” say the little ears.

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At the farmer’s market on Sunday, Cauli and I bought some sausages from Fabrique Delices,  a traditional French charcuterie located in Hayward. We bought a rabbit with prunes and wild boar with apples. Without much of a plan, we cooked the rabbit sausage up Sunday night.

The Sausage Man imparted some Sausage Wisdom to us when we purchased: the best way to cook the sausages was to boil them for about 10 minutes or so and then brown them in a pan. This way they stay juicy during browning.

After boiling, we pan fried the sausages in some wild sage olive oil we picked up at the market, deglazed the pan with some white wine, added heavy cream (leftover from making blackberry ice cream), and reduced the sauce. We added the sausage back to the pan with some cooked penne and topped with diced multicolored heirloom tomatoes. Though not picture worthy (and really, the above isn’t either), the meal was very delicious.

(The cream, the oil, the sausage, and the tomatoes were all local.)

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