Archive for ‘Pasta’

March 18, 2012

Weeknight Wow | Pork Jowl Pasta with Monkfish

We all get stuck in a weeknight routine, I know.  I’ve heard the complaints — “I don’t know what to make and I don’t have the time to make it anyway.”

Maybe all you need is to take something familiar and give it a little tweak.

Enter pork jowls.  In Italian it’s guanciale, and it’s sliced and cured in a manner similar to bacon.  But it’s a deeper, richer almost gamey flavor that brings something different to your weeknight plate.  Fry them up, toss them with some familiar ingredients and you’ll have a pasta that’s delicious on its own.  Add some slices of easily-prepared monkfish and you can serve your loved ones something wonderfully unexpected.

Just be sure to maintain the mystery: don’t tell them how easy it was.

Pork Jowl Pasta with Roasted Monkfish

For the pasta sauce:

1/3 lbs. of sliced pork jowl

Pinch of red pepper flakes

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September 19, 2011

An Ohio Casserole Classic | Johnny Marzetti

Food trends come and go.  And ideas, ingredients, or dishes that you might think aren’t exactly cool, always seem to have a way of coming back around.  Being thrifty and using offal and off cuts is fashionable.  It’s hip to garden again.  The values of my Gran are suddenly in vogue.  How charming!

My friend John loves Columbus, loves food and thought it would be great to celebrate Johnny Marzetti with a collection of blog posts from local Columbus food bloggers.  I was so pleased to be included in the crowd and to learn about this dish, not being a Columbus native.  I assured John I’d never heard of or eaten this dish before.  But now what truly fascinates me is that there is a version that made its way to the Rio Grande valley of Texas, a stone’s throw away from where I grew up.   And as it turns out,  it’s something that my Grandma often made for Sunday dinners and potlucks.  I knew it as Macaroni Crunch, but many others knew it as Johnny Marzotti.  Maybe this is the sort of unspoken influence that food has on our lives.

Here’s my version of this Ohio and South Texas classic.  I’ve put my own spin on it by using heirloom tomatoes, fresh mushrooms and peppers from my back garden.  The result is a fresh take on the already entirely delicious French’s-fried-onions-canned-mushroom-soup-and-canned-tomato version with which I grew up.  And somehow, I think Grandma might be proud.  Proud of my garden and my thriftiness and my comfort in the kitchen.

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September 3, 2011

Extra Time on Saturday | Pasta and Focaccia

The quick and dirty version of a Saturday dinner:

Because I made a veal stock today (with lovely bones from Bluescreek Farm Meats), it meant that there was quite a bit of tasty meat left on the bones after the stock was all said and done.  It was dropped into the quick tomato sauce, that I seem to make quite a bit here in the summer.  (It’s just now about time for the last of those tasty orbs.  Get them fresh while you still can.)  This was poured over some homemade tagliatelle.

Served alongside for sopping up all the extra tomato-y goodness was a bit of rosemary focaccia: (1 1/4 c all purpose flour, 1 large sprig fresh rosemary finely chopped, 3/4 t salt, 1 package dried yeast, 1/2 c water all dumped into a bread machine for kneading, then allowed to rise in a covered and very generously olive-oiled bowl for about an hour an a half; punched down on a baking tray and allowed to rise once again for about 30 minutes and then drizzled with more olive oil and torn rosemary, salt and grated parm; baked at 400F for about 25 minutes).  A simpler, no knead version is here.

Playlist included Misery, by New Jersey’s Big Troubles.  How is it that My Bloody Valentine is now retro?  Are we that old?  Le sigh.

July 14, 2011

Summer Produce | Short Ribs Braised in Tomato

This is a Saturday meal.  Not because it’s hard.  (It’s not.)  Not because it takes a long time.  (It could.)   But because if you head to a farmer’s market Saturday morning, or happen to run across some really fabulous tomatoes while you’re doing your weekly grocery shopping, this is what you should make.  This time, I used some beautifully imperfect farmstand tomatoes from an unscheduled stop at a roadside market.

This is, without question, the easiest way to make a fresh tomato sauce.  And perhaps one of the tastiest.  What follows is not so much of a recipe, as a way of cooking.  Let your heart (and perhaps your tummy) lead you.

Braised Short Ribs in Tomatoes, Serves 4, inspired by Scott Conant

2 pounds of really lovely ripe tomatoes, cored

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June 2, 2011

Spargel Pasta | Asparagus in Cream Sauce

While I was in Germany and France last month, just about everywhere I went, sandwich boards proclaimed in German or French “Lust auf Spargel?” “Fin de l’Asperge!” And it seemed every bistro and restaurant had specials celebrating the edible spring perennial.  And truly, it is best savored when it is fresh and local.  I enjoyed a wonderful pasta dish at the Ratskeller in Munich my very first night and remember it wistfully.  With roasted tomatoes, tender asparagus and a drizzle of cream, this easy dish is a satisfying vegetarian meal, even for omnivores like myself.  There is a brief moment here in Ohio in the latest June or the earliest July, when the asparagus and the tomato harvests almost touch, those few precious days would the most wonderful time to enjoy this dish.

Spargel Pasta, serves 4

1 bunch asparagus

1 cup of small tomatoes or

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April 11, 2011

Meatless Monday | Orecchiette with Leek and Pea Shoots

It’s been so rainy today that everything in sight is a variation of green: the yet-to-be-mowed grass.  The budding trees.  The trembling stalks supporting the heavy heads of daffodils.  My dinner of orecchiette bathed in butter, chartreuse leeks, backyard mint and verdant parsley.  Tiny pasta ears cradle pale green edamame, the whole bowl crowned with pea shoots.  It was as close to a taste of spring in a bowl as I’ve come in a long time.  It is long overdue.

Orecchiette de Aprile, serves two, plus a little one who’s almost 4

1/2 pound orecchiette pasta

2 T butter

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February 14, 2011

Are you awake?* | Cacio e Pepe

Late the first night in Rome many years ago, Hades and I wandered.  Blinking in the bright lights of the wedding cake, looking for a spot to grab dinner, tired from our long trip, still adjusting to the time change.  We came across a tiny nameless spot, umbrellas still up outside, despite the late hour.  We stopped in and ordered the first thing on the menu. It was this: spaghetti, copious amounts of finely ground black pepper and pecorino romano.

It is a go-to meal for tired people. It requires not so much thought, but pristine ingredients. Perhaps, when you’re home late one night, don’t have much in the fridge and don’t care much for thinking about what’s for dinner, you’ll give this a try.  You may choose to add a bit of guanciale, or pancetta if it’s lying about.  Perchance an egg yolk.  No one in Rome would approve, of course, but do as you please, it’s late after all.

I am tired.
I am true of heart!

And also:
You are tired.
You are true of heart!**

Cacio e Pepe, serves 4

1 pound of fresh spaghetti, otherwise good quality dried

1 c grated pecorino romano

1 t finely ground black pepper

4 T good quality olive oil

3 egg yolks (optional, make sure they’re good quality)

1/4 c crisp guanciale or pancetta or bacon (optional)

handful of chopped parsley (optional)

Cook the pasta in heavily salted water until al dente.  Drain, but reserve one and half cups of the pasta water.  Return the pasta to the pot, and the remaining ingredients, as many or as few as you wish, adding pasta water as needed to create a silky sauce.

* Playlist included Are You Awake?, by Kevin Shields

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