Simple Pasta

I have been focusing a lot lately on recipes I have found and fixing them to something I like. Today, however, I approached dinner with my husband out of town for the week after all of us were gone for the weekend. You may have guessed, I have not been grocery shopping so it was time to test my other skills.

My examination of the the possibilities yielded 3 Italian sausages, two partial packages of farfalle pasta, and two cups of cherry tomatoes. I always have herbs outside (until the hard frost), cream, butter, and garlic…my idea formed.


It came together quickly. I minced my garlic, chopped the herbs, cut the tomatoes, and sliced the sausage while the water came to a boil.

    

After adding the pasta to the pan and setting it to cook a couple minutes shy of al dente, I heated a touch of olive oil in my skillet and added the sausage over high heat. It was already cooked, so I simply wanted to heat it through and start browning the sides of the slices.


I added in the garlic with a quick stir and followed with the tomatoes and herbs.

  
It only took a few minutes for the tomatoes to start to soften, at that point I added the pasta and a cup of the pasta water to continue the cooking. While stirring I added about ½ cup more of the water and just a dash of pepper flakes.

  
When the pasta was done and the liquid mostly gone, I added just a bit of cream and stirred in some Parmesan.

  
A tablespoon of butter and some fresh basil brought it all together at the end with a slice of garlic bread.

  
A perfect meal.

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Tortellini with Pesto

It’s the second to last dinner for my eldest before he heads off to college so I picked an old favorite from his childhood. It’s one that we all love and has carried through as the years go by, of course it’s hard to go wrong with homemade pesto. 

When we found out that he was allergic to nuts I went on a mission to find one that I liked that was nut-free. This one has stood the test of time. 

I started with my basil: a mix of Thai and regular basil (any basil works, I had extra since I’m using it in my dessert tomorrow too). Once it was cleaned I pulled off my leaves and separated it out into portions.


The portion for the pesto went into the food processor with a few cloves of garlic. 

      

Then I started the grill and the water. The Italian sausage took 10 minutes so I started those first, then came in and blanched the basil for tomorrow in my pasta water.

.              

Then I cooked the pasta in the basil water and turned the sausage.

  
I blended up the pesto in the food processor just before the pasta finished, adding salt, pepper, and olive oil after the basil was chopped and finishing with the Parmesan.  

         

While the pasta drained I pulled the sausage off the grill.

  

Then I came in and tossed the pasta – dinner is served and I have a happy boy. 

    

Tortellini with Pesto
Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!

Cook 10 minutes ∙ Makes 4 ∙ Difficulty Easy 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups basil leaves, fresh, packed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1½-2 pounds tortellini, cooked

DIRECTIONS

In a food processor, pulse the basil and garlic until roughly chopped. With the machine on, slowly pour in the oil until just blended. Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper and mix until just blended. 
Toss the pesto into cooked tortellini. 

This can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Corn Carbonara

Corn isn’t yet in season here in Michigan, but we are beginning to get in good corn from Florida. If you can get good corn this is an awesome spin on a traditional Italian dish that highlights the sweetness of fresh corn. 

Before I start on my activities, I wanted to share a few tips for ensuring that the corn you eat is the best possible. First and foremost, never peek or shuck the corn at your store or market, the minute you peel back the corn husk you will show your naïveté. It will start to get starchy and dry immediately, it is perfectly protected in it’s husk until just before you are ready to cook it. At farmer’s markets they watch for people who do this, and have to throw away those ruined ears. Instead, here are some tips to pick the best corn, without looking. And if you’re still worried, buy an extra ear, they aren’t that expensive. 

  1.  Look for tiny holes in the husk, especially brown and towards the top. Those are wormholes, and, naturally, worms are best avoided.
  2. Feel the kernels through the husk; they should be plump and plentiful. If you can feel gaps in the rows where kernels should be, then choose another.
  3. Look at the silk on the top of the ear, if it’s dry or black, then it’s an old ear of corn.
  4. Check out the color of the husk. If it’s a bright green and tightly wrapped against the cob, then the corn is fresh. (In some cases, it will even feel slightly damp. 

Also, after you shuck it, if you do find a small soft spot, you can remove it with a sharp knife, you do not have to throw the whole ear away, as you can see with one of the ears I used.
     

It was rather warm when I made this, but not quite enough for the air conditioning to be on, so I decided to do all my prep first and then cook everything outside on the grill so as not to make the kitchen unbearable. 

The first task (after shucking the corn) was to cut it off the cobs and divide it into two equal portions, the half in the blender container will be used for the sauce. 

  

The next task is to use the back of your knife (carefully) to extract the corn milk for the sauce. After you cut the corn, there is still a part of each kernel stuck in the cob, that along with any liquid from those kernels is what you are scraping out. I took a picture of before and after side by side so that you can see the objective. This gets added to the kernels in the blender.

      

Then I chopped my bacon. I always am a bit heavy handed with the bacon, since my youngest assures me that everything is better with bacon. 

  

I also minced my garlic and finished adding the ingredients for the sauce and blended it up. N

    

While I took care of this, I had started my water inside (the side burner is strong enough to maintain, but not to bring the water to a boil) and preheated the grill with the cast iron pan. So, as soon as I was done with the prep I started the bacon and the pasta.

When the bacon was close to crispy, I also started some chicken apple sausages.

When I set aside the bacon, I added my garlic to the pan, soon followed by the kernels of corn and cayenne pepper.

    

At this point it all comes together rather quickly, drain the pasta and put it into a large bowl with ½ of your cooked kernels, ½ of the bacon, ½ of the basil, the Parmesan, and all of the sauce.

    

Once you thoroughly toss this together, the rest of the toppings go on the top and you serve with additional Parmesan. 

Simply awesome. Served with a simple Greek salad and fresh bread. 

  

Fresh Corn Carbonara

Makes 4 Servings ∙ Source Bon Appétit | August 2015
INGREDIENTS

  • 12 ounces spaghetti or linguine
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon (about 6 ounces), cut into 1/4″ strips
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 ears of corn, kernels cut off (about 3 cups), cobs reserved
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces), plus more to serve
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped, divided

DIRECTIONS

Fry bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Remove excess grease from skillet; keep 2-3 Tbsp. Add garlic to the skillet sauté briefly then add corn kernels and stir in cayenne, cook until some are blackened and all warmed through, ~5 minutes.

Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain.

While pasta is cooking, scrape excess corn milk from cobs into a blender or food processor by firmly running the back of a chef’s knife down the sides. Add cream, half of the corn kernels, ¼ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper. Purée until a smooth sauce forms.

Toss hot pasta with corn sauce, ½ cup Parmesan, and half each of the remaining corn kernels, bacon, and basil in a large bowl.

Divide pasta among bowls and top with remaining corn kernels, bacon, and basil. Season with pepper and top with Parmesan

Grad Party – Success

It took a lot of work and our parents were amazing, it was a lot of fun and a great success. Our graduate is incredibly appreciative of both the party and the generosity of our guests. 

The cooking went as expected without a hitch and I had plenty of food. I would probably make a recommendation for those considering ribs for a large party to think about the type of ribs they have when calculating how many to make. All of my reading lead me to account for 3 ribs per person when serving other proteins. A typical baby back rib weighs 1½-2½ lbs., the ones I had were 3½-4½ lbs, I would have come closer to what I needed if I had done my calculation with the thought of 2½ ribs per person. 

On the day of the party, I started by getting the ribs and mac and cheese out so that they could come to room temperature for more even cooking. Everyone in the house chipped in; this included both boys, my mom, and my in-laws. Once everything was set, excluding the food, I sent my team on missions, boys to get the fried chicken, moms to get the cake, and men to get the beer. 

    
I set about to cooking and put the mac and cheese in the oven and started on the ribs. 

  

I took each pan of ribs out to my grill, and brushed one side with my glaze, and once they were on the grill I glazed the other side. 

  
I moved them through from one side of the grill to the other and ultimately transferred them to a cutting rack for my dad to cut them into single and double ribs and put them in the trays covered with foil to stay warm. 


Just before the party we set everything out and started the slide show. 


The recipes are as follows and can obviously be scaled as needed. I hope that you enjoy! Please ask questions if you have any regarding the recipes.

Thank you to everyone who helped!

Cole Slaw

Salads, Summer, Tested and Approved!

Makes Serves 10-12 ∙ Difficulty Easy

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head cabbage
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp canola oil
  • salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS
Shred cabbage. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over cabbage. Salt and pepper.

NOTES
Add red cabbage and carrots, or use other vinegars for altering flavors and adding color.
Sticky Balsamic Ribs

Entrées, Grilling, Pork

Makes Makes 8 Servings ∙ Difficulty Medium ∙ Source Gourmet | July 2009

INGREDIENTS
For ribs:

  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 8-12 pounds baby back pork ribs, (8 racks; see cooks’ note below)
  • 1 cup water

For glaze:

  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed

DIRECTIONS
Marinate and roast ribs:

Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt. Stir together with rosemary, brown sugar, vinegar, cayenne, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Rub evenly all over ribs and transfer to roasting pans. Marinate, chilled, 8 to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 425°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.

Pour 1/2 cup water into each roasting pan and tightly cover pans with foil. Roast ribs, switching position of pans halfway through, until meat is very tender, about 1 3/4 hours. Remove pans from oven and transfer ribs to a platter.

Make glaze and grill ribs:

Add 1 cup hot water to each roasting pan and scrape up brown bits. Skim off and discard fat, then transfer liquid to a 10-inch skillet. Add vinegar and brown sugar and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil until reduced to about 1 cup, about 15 minutes.

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas).

Brush some of glaze onto both sides of racks of ribs. Grill, turning occasionally, until ribs are hot and grill marks appear, about 6 minutes.

NOTES
If you can only get larger ribs (4 racks), you will need more glaze; use 12 large garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary, 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar, 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper.

Ribs can be roasted and glaze can be made ahead and chilled separately (covered once cool). Bring to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before glazing and grilling. 
Sally’s Mac & Cheese

Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!

Cook 30-40 minutes ∙ Makes 8-10 servings ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Aunt Sally

INGREDIENTS

  • 2-3 eggs beaten, large
  • 24 ounces cottage cheese
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • 4 cups cheddar, shredded
  • 4 cups macaroni, cook as directed in salted water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Mix the ingredients in order and salt and pepper to taste. Optionally, top with panko or crushed saltines.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

NOTES

Can be mixed in an oven proof bowl and baked directly or for more crispness on the top, bake in a 9 x 13 pan. Also scales well for large groups.

I have played with this recipe successfully including substituting Picolini for the elbows, dropping the cottage cheese down to 16 oz. and replacing with feta, and replacing half the cheddar with other cheeses such as smoked Gouda.

To make this as Bacon Mac & Cheese, use 3 eggs, and reduce cheddar to ~1 cup, and add 1 block of shredded sharp white cheddar, 1 block of shredded Boar’s Head 3-pepper co-jack, and ~1 pound chopped cooked bacon.
Sweet Rolls

Breads, Tested and Approved!

Difficulty Hard ∙ Source Grandma

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups milk, lukewarm (less amount of water used to dissolve yeast)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 envelopes yeast
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, soft
  • 7 – 7 1/2 cups flour

Icing

  • butter, soft
  • powdered sugar
  • vanilla
  • cream or half and half

DIRECTIONS

Dissolve yeast in a small amount of warm water. Mix milk, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and heat to ~105℉. When the milk is warm pour into a large bowl and mix in the yeast. Stir in the eggs and butter. 

Start mixing in the flour, stirring until thick and then kneading until soft and elastic. 

Allow to rise for 2 hours (until doubled) then punch down. Butter pans (allowing dough to rest) then make the rolls. Allow to rise until light. 

Bake at 400℉ for 15 minutes.

NOTES

Use light colored metal pans to bake the rolls, dark and glass pans can tend to over bake the bottom.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Breads, Tested and Approved!

Prep 2-2½ hours ∙ Cook 30 minutes ∙ Makes 3 loaves ∙ Difficulty Medium ∙ Source Mom

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 envelopes yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 5 – 5 1/2 cups flour

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, salt, and yeast. 

In a pan, heat water, milk, honey, and oil until warm. Pour liquid over flour mixture and mix for two minutes with a mixer. 

Add white flour until smooth and elastic; knead for 5 minutes. Raise for 60-90 minutes (until doubled). Punch down and shape into loaves. 

Let raise for 45-60 minutes. Bake 30 minutes at 400℉.

Grad Party – Part 2

Between yesterday and today I have finished up the ribs. After each batch has cooked, I have collected the drippings in my stock pot. Tomorrow I’ll be making the glaze with it, but in the meantime I’ve been reducing it so that it all fits in the stock pot. I’ve also been skimming off the fat from the top, which is easiest to do after it’s been chilling in the fridge. This image is just after my final addition.  


With that done, I’m onto the mac and cheese. I’m made this before with the mention that it scales well. I’ll be making four triple batches for this party and it’s quite the pile of ingredients (just ignore the beer). 

My first task was to spray my pans; a loss of mac and cheese to the side of a pans is tragic! After that on to mixing the eggs, cheeses, and sour cream with a healthy dose of salt and pepper. I used my scale to weigh the pasta and cheddar that I purchased in bulk (with the tare set at 1 lb.). 

           
I rinsed the pasta with cold water before stirring it in, since these are going in the fridge rather than the oven. 

  

And then I topped each pan with panko and covered them so that they would be all set. 

I had a little bit left, so it looks like I’ll have 13 ½-trays at the end. 


Only 3 batches more to go and more to come tomorrow. 

Updated Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken

My motivation for dinners come from several places, tonight it was from a Facebook post my husband shared with me earlier in the week. It was almost correct and I immediately replied to the post with a few suggestions including the omission of garlic powder in favor of garlic cloves. When I went to cook it today, I realized that the recipe didn’t match the video and ultimately I made a few other changes. The recipe below includes all of the edits. 

I began with prep work, ending with the chicken. 

  

  

  

  

The cooking is very simple, starting with the garlic and shallots. 

  

   

Followed by the chicken after setting aside the shallots. 

  

I had also started the water for the pasta. 

When I set aside the chicken, I started the pasta and the cream sauce. 

  

    

  

  

It all came together beautifully at the end. 

  

  

Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken

Paprika Recipe File

Entrées, Pastas, Poultry, Tested and Approved!

Makes 4 ∙ Source: Inspired by Getinmybelly.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 jar (~7 oz.) sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced, optional
  • 1½-2 lbs chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into strips (~1″ thick)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 4 cups baby spinach (not packed), washed
  • 1½ cups parmesan cheese, plus additional for topping
  • ½-1 lb. farfalle (bowtie) pasta

DIRECTIONS

Drain the sun dried tomatoes and reserve the oil. Slice the tomatoes into thin strips and set aside.

Season the chicken well with the salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.

In a large skillet heat the reserved olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the smashed garlic and sliced shallot (if using) and cook until the garlic is fragrant or the shallots are crispy, remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon. Discard the garlic.

Cook the chicken in the oil on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes, until browned and cooked until no longer pink in center. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil, and cook pasta as directed.

Remove chicken and set aside on a plate.

Add the heavy cream, chicken broth, and minced garlic. Whisk over medium high heat until it starts to thicken, then add parmesan and continue to stir.

Add the shallots, sundried tomatoes, and spinach and let it simmer until the spinach starts to wilt.

Add the chicken back to the pan and then the pasta stirring to combine.

Serve with additional parmesan.

Prosciutto Pasta Rolls

One of the reasons I like to watch food TV is for inspiration. About a month ago my husband and I were watching an Italian themed Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives; one of the items they showed was a prosciutto pasta roll. I have tried to find that show to link it to no avail. The recipe looked good but slightly bland. It was simmered cream on the bottom of a baking dish and then lasagna noodles rolled up with sliced prosciutto and fontina. And then cream poured over the top, sprinkled with Parmesan and baked. You can tell from my description that something was missing. 

I scribbled some notes immediately and finally got around to trying it. 

Rather than just cream, I melted butter with 2 cloves of minced garlic until it was very fragrant. Then I added the cream and brought it to a simmer.



When I made my original notes I wrote that it would need either nutmeg or crushed red pepper; smelling the bubbling cream, I quickly decided on freshly ground nutmeg along with a bit of tomato paste. 


After a few more minutes of simmering I put a little in the bottom of the baking dish and set aside the rest.


I had set out a couple of square dishes to soak the pasta sheets. Once they were soft I layered each with Boar’s Head prosciutto piccolo (a more cost effective option since I used a pound), shredded fontina (I started with sliced based on the show and quickly decided that shredded was better), and sliced basil.


Then I rolled them up and cut them into ~1½” chunks and placed them in the baking dish.


When the pan was full, I poured the remainder of the sauce over the top and generously sprinkled the entire dish with Parmesan. 

I baked it at 400F on convection bake for 20 minutes. Although I was worried that it would be dry, the result was perfect and delicious. 



Baked Prosciutto Roll-ups

Paprika Recipe File

Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!

Source Shannon Stacey (inspired by Triple D)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound fresh egg pasta dough, or lasagna sheets, softened
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ⅛ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 pound prosciutto, sliced very thin
  • 1 pound fontina, shredded
  • ¼-½ cup basil leaves, sliced
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, for topping

DIRECTIONS

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the cream and bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce the sauce a bit, about 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and the nutmeg; stir to incorporate. Continue cooking the sauce until it is the consistency of buttermilk, about 2 minutes. Spread a small amount in each baking dish. Set the remainder of the sauce aside.

To form the pasta roses:

On each pasta sheet, layer prosciutto, fontina, and basil, then roll the sheet up like a jelly roll and cut into sections, ~1½-2″ wide. Set in a single or individual baking dishes.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Pour the remaining sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a light brown crust forms on top. Remove from the oven; let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Bacon Makes EVERYTHING Better

Sadly, I still don’t think my sister will try this recipe. 

The main ingredient is One of my faves, butternut squash. It falls in her least favorite foods, orange vegetables. 

A few years ago, I saved a Bon Appétit recipe for a butternut squash pasta. I hadn’t tried it because it called for half of a butternut squash (seriously…what do you do with the other half). 

When we went to pick up our Christmas tree from our corner farm market they were giving away a new butternut squash variety they had planted; it harvested late so they had extras for free. I grabbed a couple and kept them in the garage, each a perfect half squash. 

I started with the squash, peeling and then shredding with my food processor. 

  

And then I diced my pancetta. 

  

And sliced the sage.

That is all of the prep work before starting the water for the pasta. 

This includes a few modifications to the original recipe: pancetta (as mentioned, bacon makes EVERYTHING better), the length for browning the butternut squash, and freshly ground pepper (which I should have added to the squash during cooking instead of just at the end). 

While the water took its time coming to a boil, I cooked my pancetta. 

  

Once it was crispy I set it aside to drain on paper towels and added butter to the pan. I also used this opportunity to add the pasta to my now boiling water.

  

  

I cooked the squash and sage similar to how I cook hash browns, stirring occasionally and allowing the bottom to brown between stirring. 

  

When the pasta was done I added it to the squash with pasta water (ultimately about 1½ cups), the pancetta, and Parmesan.

  

  

Meanwhile, my husband washed some lettuce for a salad and used a loaf of roasted garlic bread to make a nice accompaniment.

And while eating was really the best part, I was very excited to use the new pasta dishes that I received from my MIL for Christmas. 

Ultimately an easy weekday meal. 
Pasta with Butternut Squash

Paprika Recipe File

Entrées, Pastas, Pork, Tested and Approved!

Makes 6 servings ∙ Source Bon Appétit | February 2013

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ lb. pancetta, diced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ~5 cups shredded butternut squash (from about 1½-2 lbs. peeled squash; shredded with the coarse grating attachment on a food processor or on a box grater)
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh sage
  • pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 pound fiorentini, campanelle, or other short curled pasta
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano plus more

DIRECTIONS

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

While it comes to a boild, cook pancetta in large skillet over medium-high heat. When crispy, set aside with a slotted spoon in a dish lined with paper towels.

When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook as directed for al dente.
Melt the butter in the oil and increse the heat to high. Add squash and sage, season with pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash begins to brown, about 8-10 minutes, then reduce heat to medium.

Drain pasta, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.

Add pasta and ½ cup pasta cooking liquid to squash and stir to coat. Cook over medium heat, stirring, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Stir in ½ cup Parmesan.

Divide pasta among bowls; top with more Parmesan.

Pillows of Happiness

That’s what I decided to call them anyway, Pumpkin Ravioli with sage butter. My husband’s parents have been taking care of some family matters and as a result missed Thanksgiving with us (I know it was really hard to resist the garage turkey). They arrived back so I decided to do a special Sunday dinner and try to make something that I had not attempted before. As you know from my posts it is fairly recent that I have attempted and tackled homemade pasta. For several years I have been considering a recipe that I found at Williams-Sonoma, that also just happens to be in the pasta cookbook I received last Christmas: Pumpkin Ravioli. 

In additition to being inspired by the recipe, I have had a ravioli form since we got married that I had not used. As intimidated as I was by pasta, I was equally intimidated by a filled pasta. 

To go with the ravioli I decided on chicken apple sausage and roasted Brussels sprouts. It was a busy day with an early morning game and lots of shoveling so I was thankful to my boys who both helped in the kitchen. While my elder son shredded a chicken for the following night’s dinner my younger son cleaned the sprouts and I got to make the pasta dough.


The pasta recipe is from the same cookbook as the ravioli, and for efficiency I use the food processor. 

Flour and salt:

Add the oil to the eggs and then pour them into the bowl of the processor.

  

And then mix, using the pulse function, adding flour as needed until it holds together but isn’t sticky.


Once it comes together, knead it for 10 minutes on your bread board until you have a smooth dough. Then let it rest.


If you have gotten out all of your ingredients ahead of time, there is enough time to put together the filling while the dough rests. Alternatively, you could make ahead of time and keep it chilled. 

 While the recipe calls for 1 small pumpkin (~1 lb.), I opted to use my frozen pumpkin (canned would be fine too). 

I had a single container with 2 cups of pumpkin that I mixed with the egg yolk. (I had leftover pasta that I would have preferred to use so please look at my notes on how to adjust accordingly.)

  

And then I mixed in the rest. 

  

 Always better to grind whole nutmeg!

  

By that time my dough was ready to start rolling. I sat the layers aside between sheets of floured parchment under a damp towel until the dough was all rolled out.


To fill the pasta, I began by flouring the form. 


Then 1 sheet goes on the bottom piece (with the holes) and then you press gently with the top piece to make the pockets for filling. Then fill each spot with about 1 teaspoon of filling. To make sure each ravioli seals well, brush the edges of each with a pastry brush and cool water.

  



Lay a second sheet over the top, gently lifting the edges and pressing to ensure no air bubbles are trapped. The use the small rolling pin to seal them firmly and cut the edges.

  



Firmly tap them out onto a floured parchment lined baking sheet(s). Refrigerate until you are ready to cook them or freeze them. 



I clarified my butter and started roasting the Brussel sprouts before starting my water.

      


    

I also started browning some chicken-apple sausages that I sprinkled with a dash of cinnamon.


When the sprouts and sausages were done, I made the sage butter and boiled the pasta.



  

  

Dinner is served! With a wonderful salad from my MIL.





Egg Pasta for Baked and Stuffed Pastas

Entrées, Not Shared, Pastas, Tested and Approved!
Source Williams-Sonoma | The Pasta Book, by Julia della Croce (Weldon Owen, 2010)

Paprika Recipe File

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose or “00” flour (see notes), plus more as needed
  • ½ tsp., scant, fine sea salt
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

DIRECTIONS

To make the dough by hand, measure the flour onto a work surface, mix in the salt and shape the flour into a mound. Using your fingertips, make a well in the center. Break the eggs into the center of the well and add the olive oil. Using a fork, beat until the eggs and oil are blended, making sure the liquid does not breach the walls of the well.

Using the fork, gradually draw the flour from the sides of the well into the egg mixture and beat gently, always in the same direction, to combine the flour with the liquid. Secure the wall of the well with your other hand until the liquid has absorbed enough flour that it will not flow over the wall.

When the mixture is too stiff to use the fork, begin using both hands, gradually drawing in the flour from the bottom of the wall, until you have a soft, moist, but not sticky ball of dough. If the dough will not absorb more flour without becoming stiff, do not use it all. If it is too soft, add more flour, a spoonful at a time. Clean the work surface, dust it lightly with flour and flatten the ball of dough into a disk.

To make the dough with a food processor, fit a food processor with the metal blade. Add all but 1/2 cup of the flour and the salt to the work bowl and pulse to mix. You will use the reserved 1/2 cup flour later to adjust the consistency of the dough.

Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and remove any stray shells. Add the olive oil; there is no need to stir. Pour the eggs and oil into the work bowl. Process until the flour is evenly moistened and crumbly, about 10 seconds. Test the dough by pinching it; if it is very sticky, add more flour, 1 Tbs. at a time, processing until it is incorporated. After about 30 seconds total, the dough should come together in a loose ball and feel moist but not sticky.

Dust a clean work surface with flour. Remove the ball of dough from the food processor and place it in the center of the floured surface. Using your hands, flatten the dough into a disk.

For both methods: Using the heel of your hand, push the dough down and away from you, fold it in half back toward you, rotate a quarter turn and repeat the kneading motion. After about 10 minutes, the dough should be smooth and elastic.

Shape the dough into a ball, cover with an overturned bowl and let rest for 15 minutes before you roll it out. The gluten in the flour will relax, making the dough easier to roll. Do not let it rest longer or it will be too dry. Makes 1¼ lb. dough.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Butter

Entrées, Not Shared, Pastas, Tested and Approved!
Makes 6 ∙ Source Williams-Sonoma The Pasta Book, by Julia della Croce (Weldon Owen, 2010)

Paprika Recipe File

INGREDIENTS

For the filling:

  • 2 cups cooked pumpkin (from a ~1 lb. Cheese or Sugar Pie pumpkin, calabaza or butternut squash, seeds and strings removed)
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbs. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or grana padano cheese
  • 1 Tbs. ricotta
  • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. dried bread crumbs
  • 1¼ lb. egg pasta
  • 5 Tbs. unsalted butter, clarified (see tip below)
  • 12 large fresh sage leaves
  • 2 Tbs. kosher salt
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving

DIRECTIONS

Transfer the pumpkin puree to a bowl. Add the egg yolk, cheeses, nutmeg and sea salt. Mix well, adding the bread crumbs as needed to bind the ingredients into a cohesive mixture. Cover the filling and set aside.
Using a pasta machine or a floured rolling pin, roll out the pasta dough 1/32 inch thick, then fill and cut the ravioli.

Pour the clarified butter into a small fry pan and place over low heat. Add the sage leaves and heat until the butter is saturated with the flavor of the sage, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

In a large pot over high heat, bring 5 quarts water to a rapid boil. Add the kosher salt, gently drop in half of the ravioli and cover the pot. When the water returns to a boil, uncover and cook, stirring gently occasionally and reducing the heat as needed to prevent the ravioli from knocking against one another and breaking. The total cooking time should be 3 to 5 minutes. To test for doneness, transfer a single raviolo to a cutting board and cut off a corner with a paring knife; if the pasta looks cooked through and the corner tastes tender, the pasta is done. Using a large slotted spoon, lift out the ravioli, allowing a little of the water to cling to them so they remain moist, and transfer to a warmed large, shallow serving bowl; cover the bowl to keep the ravioli warm. Repeat to cook the remaining ravioli.

Drizzle the sage butter over the ravioli and serve immediately. Pass the cheese at the table. Serves 6.

NOTES

Serves 6 with no leftovers (~8-9 ravioli per person); I recommend a double batch of pasta and a triple batch of the pumpkin filling when making pumpkin ravioli so there are leftovers or ravioli to freeze. 

Ragu Sauce

I can’t say enough about making pasta and pasta sauces; yum is really the best word. If you don’t have time to make pasta, please buy good pasta, for the few dollars more it is the difference between a good meal and an amazing meal.

On Sunday it was all about the sauce, I wasn’t even going to post since I didn’t use a recipe. My mom and a good friend asked so here we go, enjoy!

At the end, I remove about half of the sauce from the pot, then add the pasta and mixed until well coated, then I put the pasta in the serving bowl and topped with as much remaining sauce as desired and shredded Parmesan. For the pasta below, I cooked ~1 lb. of pappardelle and had 1 quart of sauce to freeze.

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Ragu Sauce

Entrées, Italian, Pastas, Sauces and Marinades

Prep 30 mins ∙ Cook 2 hrs ∙ Makes Sauce for 1½ -2 lbs. pasta ∙ Difficulty Easy

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup porcini mushrooms, dried
  • ½ cup water, hot
  • 1½-2 onions, sweet (can use some red)
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 1 tsp. thyme, fresh
  • 3-4 tbsp. Italian parsley, fresh
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 4 oz pancetta
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 3-4 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 28 oz. tomatoes, crushed or petite diced
  • ~¼ cup heavy cream
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

DIRECTIONS

Soak the porcini mushrooms in the hot water for 30 minutes.

While they soak, finely chop the onions, celery, carrots, parsley, and thyme (for ease use a food processor).

When the mushrooms are done soaking, strain through fine strainer lined with cheesecloth into a cup to remove the silt and reserve the soaking water. Rinse the mushrooms with cold water and coarsely chop.

Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once hot, melt the butter with the oil, then add the vegetables and garlic; cook until translucent, paying attention so that the onions do not brown, about 10 minutes.

Finely chop the pancetta (or, ideally, cut it into quarters and then pulse it in a food processor until ground). Once the vegetables are translucent, add all of the meat and increase the heat to high. Let the meat just brown, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.

When brown, add the tomato paste, red wine, mushrooms, and mushroom water. Stir to combine then cook until the alcohol is mostly cooked out. Add the tomatoes, heavy cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 1 to 1½ hours, stirring occasionally, to prevent it from sticking or scorching until very thick.

Paprika Recipe