Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

Sometimes, you need an easy weeknight meal. And this can be an easy weeknight meal with just a smidge of forethought.

This dish comes together in the time that it takes to boil pasta PROVIDED you have some roasted garlic. So just make sure you have that ready, m’kay?

How to roast garlic: preheat your oven to 350 degrees, take a head of garlic, lop off a little of the stem (not the root) end, put it in a piece of foil, coat it in oil, close up the foil tightly around the garlic and roast for about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle – squeeze roasted garlic from each of the cloves.

Store: use right away, freeze or refrigerate in airtight container for up to a week tops.

Anyway, I had a craving for pasta with peas in a cream sauce and came across this one from Wolfgang Puck that sounded like it would fit the bill. He uses goat cheese, I use mascarpone. I like feta, but plain old goat cheese is a little too rank for my likings. Hence the swap.

Pasta with Peas and Prosciutto in Mascarpone Cream Sauce

Adapted from Wolfgang Puck
Serves 4-6

3 T olive oil
1/2 medium white onion (4 oz), chopped fine
2 T of roasted garlic
1.5 cups Chicken stock
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 oz Mascarpone cheese (Puck uses goat cheese here)
1 T butter (Puck uses 4 T…I couldn’t do it)
1/2 t minced fresh oregano
1/2 t minced fresh thyme
12 oz pasta (Puck uses Penne)
8-10 oz shelled peas (Puck uses 8 oz, but a bag has 10 so…)
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes cut into strips
1/4 cup prosciutto cut into strips
chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook till al dente.

2. While the pasta is cooking, in a large saute pan, heat the oil. Over medium heat, saute the onions until golden.

3. Stir in the garlic, stock, Parmesan, Mascarpone and butter. Cook until the sauce thickens slightly. Season with the oregano, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add the cooked pasta to the saute pan. Stir to coat.

5. Stir in the peas and tomatoes and cook 1-2 minutes longer. Just before serving, stir in the prosciutto. Adjust seasonings. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley if desired.


Ms. Pantry Raid

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Wolfgang Puck's Pappardelle with Beef Bolognese. Restaurant taste, including all the fat.

So I put one of the techniques I learned in class to the test today by peeling and seeding five pounds of tomatoes for Wolfgang Puck’s Bolognese sauce.


1. So you know how I injured myself in class coring tomatoes? Yeah…I didn’t learn. Sliced the same finger. Doing the same damn thing. Christ…

2. You do not honestly want to know how bad food in restaurants is for you. Case in point – Puck’s bolgnese sauce. It is a heart attack on a platter. I couldn’t even bring myself to put in as much olive oil as it called for. I’m thinking the calorie count in this has to be over a thousand per serving. But it sure was tasty…

He sort of has a two-pronged approach for making this sauce, which was fine for me cause I made it over two days (well, three really – I tried making homemade pasta as well…without a pasta machine…but that’s a story for another time).

First you make the bolognese sauce on it’s own. And then you add it to a crap ton of oil, butter, herbs and chicken stock. I think you can probably do without part two, but I put the whole thing together as directed just to see what it was like. Cause somehow, my thighs don’t jiggle enough these days…

Another surprising things about this bolognese? It doesn’t use any milk. I’m sure that to purists, that means this doesn’t qualify as a bolognese. But hey, the recipe came from an Austrian celebrity chef, not an Italian. So being “purist” is probably not much of a concern for him.

Wolfgang Puck’s Beef Bolognese

From Pizza, Pasta and More!

Beef Bolognese part

NOTE: You can just make this part as a good sauce for pasta, or you can go all out and put the whole thing together (see Putting it all together section after Bolognese recipe)

5 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds coarsely ground chicken, preferably dark meat, or, 2 pounds of coarsely ground beef
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium white onion, (about 2 cups), trimmed and cut into small dice
2 medium carrots, (about 1 cup), trimmed, peeled, and cut into small dice
1 medium celery stalk, trimmed and cut into small dice
4 or 5 garlic cloves, cut into small dice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
2 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped fine
3 cups chicken stock, heated
Pinch or minced fresh oregano leaves
Pinch minced fresh thyme leaves
6 or 7 chopped fresh basil leaves
Pinch red pepper flakes, or to taste


  1. In a 10 or 12-inch saute pan, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Saute the ground chicken or beef until lightly browned, breaking up the pieces as they cook. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Remove the chicken or beef with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander. Set aside until needed.
  3. In the same saute pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Over medium heat, saute the onion, carrots and celery until they just start to color, 6 to 8 minutes. Do not brown.
  4. Add the garlic, stir in the tomato paste, and cook a few minutes longer.
  5. Deglaze the pan with the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
  6. Add the tomatoes, cook for 2 or 3 minutes, then pour in the stock and reserved chicken and season with the oregano, thyme, and a little salt and pepper.
  7. Cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 30 minutes. If the sauce has thickened too much or you prefer a thinner sauce, add a little more stock.
  8. Stir in the chopped basil and the red pepper flakes and adjust the seasoning, to taste.

NOTE: You could stop at this point and serve the sauce over pasta, or you could clog your arteries big time by doing the following –

Putting it all together:

4 T unsalted butter
6 T olive oil
2 cups Beef Bolognese sauce (from above)
1/2 cup Chicken stock
1/2 t minced fresh oregano leaves
12 oz pappardelle
2 T minced fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Shaved fresh Parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)


  1. Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil.
  2. In a large saute pan over medium flame, heat all of the butter and 4 T of the olive oil. Stir in the Beef Bolognese sauce, stock and oregano. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pappardelle until al dente and drain. Add to the sauce and stir to coat well.
  4. Stir in the parsley, grated Parmesan and remaining 2 T olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. To serve – divide the pasta among 4 heated plates or bowls. Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.


Ms. Pantry Raid

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   Spaetzle =/= pasta

Spaetzle = Homemade German noodles

Right, so I know it’s Thursday and technically, Hobo Mondays are supposed to take place on, um, Monday, but I’m sick so give me a break. Plus we’ve been out of town for the past two weekends in a row and I’ve had other things to do. Bitch and moan, bitch and moan.

Ok really, I feel like such complete ass that I wasn’t sure I was gonna partake in this month’s Hobo showdown, but at around 4:30 I got semi ambitious and rose from my position on the couch to make dinner. Mostly cause I knew I had a really, really cheap recipe up my sleeve and I couldn’t resist the challenge.

This month the goal was to make dinner for two people for $3. “Too hard! It cannot be done!” you say. Well, I’m here to say it certainly can. Especially if you have a pantry stocked with staples. So take that!

Today I made spaetzle outta my pantry. Well, the intention was to make it out of my pantry cause the ingredients list said “milk and flour” and I said, check and check! But when I whipped it together…

Things I hate? Shitty recipes that obviously have not been tested

I started with a spaetzle recipe out of Simple to Spectacular: How to Take One Basic Recipe to Four Levels of Sophistication by Jean-Georges Vongerichtan and Mark Bittman. Ingredient list said 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup milk. THEN when I got to the directions, somehow the recipe had changed to only 1/4 cup milk. Lets just think about it for a sec. Mix 2 cups flour with 1/4 cup milk. What do YOU think would happen?? Hmmmm…

Right, so then I added 1/2 cup like the recipe said in the ingredients section. Still not enough you say? Yeah, you’d be quite right. So off to Google and it appears that MOST PEOPLE make spaetzle with egg in it. Thank God I just happened to have 4 eggs in the fridge. Nevermind that the expiration date was in April and it’s…June. Yes, I did the egg float test and all four passed, albeit just barely. Alright, so first crisis averted (yes, there were more).

Next up – the making the spaetzle part.

I looked at my colander – the holes seemed too small. But the holes on the steamer insert of my pasta pot seemed just right. I threw the steamer over the pasta pot, tossed in the batter and forced it through with a spoon. This, of course, was not going fast enough for my liking so I threw the spoon aside and used my hand. I can certainly understand why older German ladies have a lot of upper body strength – this was a royal PITA. But I persevered and continued to push the batter through the holes. I gave up when there was a thin layer of batter left in the steamer – my hand started to get hot.

At that time, I figured the spaetzle had cooked enough – it had taken a few minutes to get all the batter through the holes. So I dumped the spaetzle into the colander in the sink. But the water wouldn’t drain out of my colander. Some sort of accident ensued (I don’t want to talk about it) and half my spaetzle went down the drain. In a mad panic to save it, I tried scooping it with my bare hands back into the colander.

Ever tried picking up hot pasta right out of the pot with your bare hands? Yeah, it’s not a bright idea.

So now I have burns on my fingers and the majority of my dinner is in the disposal. Did I mention that I’m sick and I have no patience??

Oh yeah, and ever tried to wash things in hot water when you’ve got a burn on your hand? That would be crisis number three of the evening.

Arghhh…anyway, so then I made the sauce part. And of course cause my patience was waning, I didn’t quite make it the way I had originally intended (it was supposed to be a sage BROWN butter, but I didn’t want to wait. In retrospect…).

Without further ado, and cause I’m tired and need to go back to being fully horizontal, the breakdown:

Flour – pantry (thus free)

Milk – $0.16 for half a cup

Eggs – $1.04 (I really have no idea since they were bought so long ago – but I used 4 out of a pack of organic, cage free, happy chicken eggs. Cost will be MUCH LESS if you use the regular factory farm eggs. But that’s on YOUR CONSCIENCE my friend).

Corn – $1.10 for a small can

Sage – I’m growing it so it’s free

Onion – $0.20 for half a cup diced

Butter – I could say this is a pantry item too, but I’m being nice and I’ll include it. I used about 2.5 oz (I’m working on a block of Plugra right now – so hard to tell tablespoons and whatnot). $0.50

Total = $3.00. And would have been less than $2 if the stupid spaetzle recipe hadn’t required eggs!

Spaetzle with corn and sage

Ingredients (spaetzle part):
2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
1 t kosher salt
pinch freshly ground nutmeg

1. In a bowl, mix together the flour, milk, eggs, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

3. Place your colander, spaetzle maker, steamer insert (basically – whatever you’ve got that has pretty decent sized holes – you need that batter to go THROUGH the holes here – so use your best judgement) over the pot of boiling water. Pour the batter in your colander and force through the holes. Use a spoon, spatula, your hands, whatever it takes but just get that stuff through the holes.

4. Let spaetzle boil for a few minutes (it probably already has by the time you get it through the colander).

5. Drain and rinse with cold water until spaetzle is cool to the touch. Set aside.

Ingredients – Brown Butter with Corn and Sage  part:
1 T canola or veg oil
1/2 cup minced onion
small can of corn (11 oz)
3/4 stick of butter (let your conscience dictate here – but it’s gotta be enough for a sauce)
8 sage leaves
salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat 1 T of oil over medium – medium-high heat in a saute pan.

2. Add onions and saute till soft – about 5 minutes

3. Add butter. Continue to cook till it turns light golden brown.

4. Add sage and corn and heat till warmed.

5. Remove from the heat if the butter starts to get too brown and add the spaetzle (otherwise, leave on the heat and add spaetzle). Stir to coat and cook till spaetzle is warm.

6. Remove from the heat if you haven’t already. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.


Ms. Pantry Raid

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