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

Fusilli with Fresh Tomato and Olive Sauce

I have talked before about making pasta sauce, using fresh tomatoes is one of my favorites. On Labor Day after an enjoyable weekend with friends at their cottage, I did my shopping. It was very nice to sit in the sun by the water and make my list. By the time I got home it was close to 4 and then 5 to get back from the grocery. Thankfully pasta is quick.

One of the items I picked up was a pound of pancetta which I had sliced thick and diced when I got home.

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I also had several tomatoes, some from the farmers market and some from my neighbor.

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I started my pasta water boiling and used it to blanch my tomatoes so that they would be easy to peel.

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While they cooled, I prepped my other ingredients.

 

I started by browning the pancetta, until nice and crispy.

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While it browned I chopped my onion and Kalamata olives, and I peeled my tomatoes (making sure to stir the pancetta occasionally.)

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When the pancetta was done I set it aside on paper towels to drain and proceeded to slowly cook the onion.

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Meanwhile I opened my can of tomato paste, peeled my garlic, and coarsely chopped the peeled tomatoes.

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When the onions were done I added the garlic and the pepper flakes.

 

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Once they were fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes, I added the tomato paste and the chopped olives to the pan.

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When the tomato paste began to darken I added the red wine vinegar and the chopped tomatoes, and then brought them to a boil. And then reduced it to a simmer and covered it up so that the tomatoes would fall apart.

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Part of my inspiration was the basil I keep in my flower bed which is growing out of hand. I cut several sprigs so that I would have one cup of chopped leaves.

 

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I also got out my remaining ingredients, and boiled my pasta.

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In the meantime my sauce had thickened.

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I added the pasta, Parmesan, pancetta, and basil to the sauce and stirred.

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With a little extra cheese on top and fresh bread with butter, dinner was served.

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Fusilli with Fresh Tomato and Olive Sauce

Beef and Lamb, Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!

Prep 15 mins ∙ Cook 45 mins ∙ Makes 6 ∙ Source Bon Appétit | August 1999

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½-2 pounds plum tomatoes (about 8 large), peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 lb. pancetta or small meatballs (optional)
  • 2 T. cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ⅓ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives, pitted, chopped
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 pound fusilli
  • 1½ cups Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 cup fresh basil, chopped

DIRECTIONS

In a large pot (suitable for the pasta) bring about 6 quarts of water to a boil. Cut a very shallow “X” (try to just cut the skin) in each tomato and then immerse in the boiling water for ~1 minute. Remove from the water with a sloted spoon and allow to cool until safe to touch. Peel the tomatoes, coarsely chop, and set aside. .
Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. (If using meatballs or pancetta, brown, remove from pan with a slotted spoon, and set aside to drain; remove excess oil.)

Add onion and heat until translucent, about 10 minutes. Then add garlic and crushed red pepper and sauté until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Stir in olives and tomato paste then continue cooking for a few minutes longer. Add tomatoes and vinegar, season to taste with ground pepper, then simmer unil tomatoes have fallen apart, at least 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions.

Stir the cooked pasta into the sauce toss with 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese, (meatballs or pancetta if using), and fresh basil then toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper (NO salt with pancetta). Serve with remaining Parmesan cheese.

NOTES

Stirring in the basil at the end keeps it fresh and green in your dish.

Paprika Recipe File

Linguine with Garlicky Shrimp

I am so thankful to have the best Guinea pigs on the planet, my husband, kids, and in-laws never complain and they eat everything. Granted I think it’s practically impossible to say no to good food, or any food…but I’m very thankful anyway. My understanding from friends is that my kids, who do try everything I put in front of them, are the exception.

Sunday, I made a treat, another homemade pasta. I was not in the slightest bit concerned: garlic and shrimp are always a perfect combination. I have had this on my list for 3 weeks, but with the activities associated with the end of the school year and spring sports, I needed to find the right day to make pasta.

This is another from the pasta cookbook I got for Christmas and it was another win.

Although, as is fairly typical, I started with dessert when I got back from the grocery store. A couple of weeks ago you may have noticed Bailey’s Cream Cheese Brownies on the list, I was not happy, they were cake-like instead of fudge-like even though the flavor was perfect. I threw a large chunk in the freezer to give it new life. Homemade ice cream is a wonderful treat, and even better with Bailey’s and brownies.

My favorite go-to book for ice cream is Ben and Jerry’s cookbook. There are lots of ideas in there, but the most important item is the sweet cream base.

Start with the eggs and whip them until they are light and foamy. Then add the sugar slowly and they become thick and creamy. For ice cream, I always use my vanilla sugar; every time I use a vanilla bean it goes in this container of sugar, until I use the next one and swap it out.

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Last add the milk, heavy cream, and in this case Bailey’s to create your base. After that follow your if cream maker’s instructions.

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While it froze, I chopped my chuck of brownie and with a few minutes left I added in the chopped pieces.

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From there I moved onto the pasta. The recipe said it served four so I increased it accordingly, I need not have bothered, with the increase I could have served 10-12.

I used a food processor recipe (still in my broken food processor). Starting with the flour and salt, then the eggs and oil all together.

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Although it appears to be a sticky mess when I turned it out on the floured pastry board, after kneading for several minutes it is a beautiful soft and smooth dough.

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Per the instructions I let it rest under a bowl while I began my preparations for rolling the pasta.

I divided it into six pieces and only worked with one piece at a time, leaving the others under the bowl while I rolled them out to thin sheets. (Thoroughly flour between the sheets so that they don’t stick together!)

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Then they went through the the linguine blade and I spread them out and hung them everywhere.

While it dried I moved onto my sauce, starting by rinsing and cleaning the shrimp.

I blanched my tomatoes in the boiling pasta water so that the skin came off easily.


I then proceeded to my chopping work before starting anything on the stove.

While the water was coming to a boil I started the sauce; the pasta went in about the same time as the shrimp.

The shrimp is added once the garlic is fragrant, once they are just opaque, the tomatoes, salt, and white wine are added. Once the wine had reduced off, the pasta was done and I tossed it all in a large bowl with the fresh parsley.

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As usual, my MIL made a wonderful salad (spinach, sprouts, and water chestnuts). And we had a garlic bread to round out the meal before serving the brownie ice cream for dessert with freshly sliced strawberries.

Linguine with Garlicky Shrimp

★★★★★

Entrées, Shellfish, Tested and Approved!

Makes 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ red pepper flakes
  • 2 roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 Tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • sea salt
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. linguine

DIRECTIONS

In a large pot, bring 5 qt. water to a boil. While the water is heating, make the sauce.

In a frying pan large enough to accomodate the pasta later, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is softened but not browned, about 2 minutes.

Add the shrimp to the pan and sauté, turing once, until opaque, about 2 minutes on each side. Add the tomatoes, season with ~½ tsp. Sea salt, and stir to mix. Stir in the wine and cook until most of the alcohol has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. of the parsley, taste and adjust the seasoning, remove from the heat, and cover to keep warm.

When the water is boiling, check the package directions for the cooking time, then add 2 Tbsp. Kosher salt and the pasta to the boiling water, stir well, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is just shy of being al dente.

Return the sauce to low heat. Drain the pasta, add to the sauce in the pan, and toss until the strands are well coated with the sauce. Transfer to a warmed large, shallow serving bowl, or individual shallow bowls, top with the remaining parsley, and serve immediately.

Paprika Recipe File

Egg Pasta

★★★★★

Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!

Prep 30 minutes ∙ Cook 0 minutes ∙ Makes Servings: 6 ∙ Source Williams-Sonoma | The Pasta Book, by Julia della Croce (Weldon Owen, 2010)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose or “00” flour (see note above), plus more as needed
  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. 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 1 lb. dough.

Paprika Recipe File

Ice Cream (Sweet Cream Base)

★★★★★

Desserts, Ice Cream and Custards, Tested and Approved!

Cook 30 minutes ∙ Makes ~1 quart ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature

DIRECTIONS

Use an electric mixer and whisk the eggs, until they turn light and fluffy (1-2 minutes).

Slowly, add the sugar while whisking the eggs. I usually use an electric mixer in one hand and then use the other hand to pour the sugar in a little bit at a time. Slower is better. When it’s all in there, mix it a minute or so more.

Then pour in the rest of the cream and milk and mix it all together.

  • Vanilla Ice Cream: Add 2 teaspoons of good vanilla extract.
  • Alcohol Flavored: Add ½ cup of liqour(s).

Chill the mix (either covered in the fridge, or using the double-bowl and ice method) until it’s below 40°F (5°C). It helps to chill the mix before it’s run through the machine, so it freezes faster. The faster the mix freezes, the smaller the ice crystals will be, and the smoother the texture.

If you have a machine with a built-in freezer, turn it on and let it get good and cold. Then turn on the motor so the dasher starts spinning, and pour in the mix.

It’ll take about 30 minutes, more or less, to churn. You’ll probably be able to hear the motor slowing down when it gets close, and you should probably stop it before it really starts having trouble, just so you don’t damage it. It’ll come out like stiff soft-serve ice cream.

Speed counts now. Get all the ice cream out of the machine, into containers, and into the freezer, as quickly as possible. After a few hours in the freezer, the ice cream will harden and be like what you buy in the store. Smaller, pre-chilled containers allow the ice cream to freeze faster, which is what you want to keep it from getting icy.

Paprika Recipe File

Spaghetti Pie

My son says that these words do not go together. Pie is sweet dessert and spaghetti is savory dinner, but he’s learned to trust me and ate it anyway.

I mentioned to my husband that I had been seeing a lot of baked pastas in springform pans lately and that I really wanted to try one. He reads about food almost as much as I do and came across this recipe on another blog (smittenkitten.com). The Romano and black pepper with a touch of greens sold me on the dish.

As always, it is always helpful to gather all of your ingredients before you get started. One of the things you will see in this picture is my pasta, I have recently take to making sure that I use good Italian pasta (if I’m not making it); the instructions are all in Italian, but the flavor is worth it. Of course certain shortcuts are fine – my market sells some of their cheeses shredded for the same per pound price.


As the recipe instructs the broccoli rabe goes into the pasta water first; you can see I use a pasta pan which allows me to remove the broccoli without dumping the water.


I wrapped it all in a white rag and wrung it thoroughly to remove all of the water before I tossed it in a small food processor to mince it.


I had my eggs and milk ready and mixed in the cheese and broccoli rabe as instructed, followed by the pasta.


Once well mixed, it went into the wrapped springform and I topped it with the remaining broccoli rabe and cheeses.


Coming out of the oven the smell was wonderful and the look was beautiful.


It easily came out of the springform pan and I served it with a Caesar salad and Italian sausage that I braised in white wine.



Spaghetti Pie with Pecorino and Black Pepper

★★★★★

Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!

Source Smittenkitchen.com – NOTE: I have only made minor edits to her recipe and the following is in large part her text – Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

  • Butter
  • ½ pound broccoli rabe, chopped into few-inch segments (discard tough stems)
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt
  • 8 ounces aged pecorino cheese, finely grated, divided
  • 8 ounces fontina cheese, grated, divided

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 425°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and this is very important, wrap the outside of the springform, focusing on the places where the ring meets the base, tightly in aluminum foil. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli rabe to the pot and boil for 1 to 2 minutes, until it has some give. Fish it out with a large slotted spoon and drain it well. Set aside.

Add spaghetti to boiling water and cook until 2 minutes shy of done, so very al dente, as the spaghetti will continue cooking in the oven. Drain well and let cool slightly.

Wring all extra moisture out of the broccoli rabe and blot greens on paper towels to be extra careful. Mince rabe into very small bits. You’ll have about 1 cup total.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs and milk together with salt and pepper. Stir in all but 1/2 cup of each cheese and chopped rabe. Add spaghetti and toss to coat.

Pour into prepared springform and sprinkle remaining broccoli rabe and cheese on top. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and a knife inserted into the center of the pie and turned slightly will not release any loose egg batter into the center. If the top of your pie browns too quickly before the center is set, cover it with foil for the remaining cooking time.

Turn on your oven’s broiler. Broil the pie a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until browned on top. Cut along springform ring to loosen, then remove ring. Run a spatula underneath the pie to loosen the base and slide onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges.

NOTES

A few important cooking notes:

  1. You must wrap your springform tightly in foil or you and your oven floor will end up in a very bad mood.
  2. ONLY cook your pasta until it’s two minutes from done as it will continue cooking in the oven
  3. Remove every extra drop of moisture from the broccoli rabe or it will take very long to set.
  4. Good aged pecorino makes all the difference here in providing a salty, funky kick. You can use parmesan if it’s all you’ve got, but you might find that you need more salt if you do.

Paprika Recipe File