Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Aren't you tired of cheesy pasta?

For a girl who has never known her limits...um, yeah...I kinda am tired of the barrage of pasta dishes. Sorry. Maybe this will be the last horah for a little while.

Saturday night, we tried another recipe out of How to Eat Supper. This time, it was in the name of using up tomatoes (I know, you've heard it all before). The title sounds dramatic:

Cheese-Gilded Linguine with Smokey Tomatoes

What you'll need:
* 5 quarts salted water in a 6-quart pot
* Extra-virgin olive oil
* 6 thick slices bacon, sliced into 1/4-inch-wide sticks (I didn't use thick bacon)
* 1 medium to large onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
* Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
* 5 large garlic cloves, minced
* 2-1/2 to 3 pounds delicious ripe tomatoes, cored and fine chopped (do not peel or seed); or one 28-ounce can whole tomatoes with their liquid, plus one 14-ounce can, drained(I used one can whole and one can chopped)
* 1 pound imported linguine (We used Mark's homemade chive pasta)
* 1 generous cup fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for the table

What you might do:
1. Make fresh pasta a la Mark Barrett

false start pasta... too sticky to be salvaged and sad about it

2. Boil then generously salt water.

3. Lightly film a straight-sided 12-inch saute pan with oil (I didn't add any oil), add the bacon, and set over medium-high heat. Saute until the bacon is golden. Remove it with a slotted spoon, setting it on paper towels to drain. Pour off all but about 3 tablespoons of the fat from the pan (We only had about 6 tablespoons total, so we transferred three into the next pan over--kale side dish, mentioned below).

4. Return the pan to the heat, and stir in the onions, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes. Reduce the heat to medium. Sauté until the onions soften and start to color, 5 to 8 minutes.

5. Blend in the garlic, cooking for 1 minute, and then add the tomatoes. If using canned ones, crush them as they go into the pan. Stir in the cooked bacon. Bring the sauce to a lively bubble and cook until it is thick, 7 to 8 minutes, stirring to keep it from sticking. Remove from the heat, taste for seasoning, and cover the pan. The sauce can wait on the stovetop for up to an hour. Bring it to a bubble before adding it to the pasta.

6. Drop the pasta into the boiling water, and cook until it is tender but still a little firm to the bite. Drain, and turn it into a serving bowl. Toss with the 1 cup cheese until it clings to the noodles, then toss with the sauce. Serve hot, with additional cheese at the table if desired.

My process was a bit different as I was multi-tasking like the well-oiled efficient kitchen machine that I am. I sauteed a side dish of extremely well-seasoned and delicious kale (believe me, I was impressed as I haven't had much luck in the past) with baby turnips. Also, at the same time, I prepped a second recipe from the very same book for Carrie's brunch the next day:

21st Century Mac & Cheese

Here's the recipe from the book that serves 4, but we doubled it

  • 1/2 pound (2 cups ) raw penne pasta, cooked and drained (I used organic elbows)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 small clove garlic (um, yeah right)
  • 3/4 medium onion, coarsely chopped (2 onions)
  • 1 generous cup (5 ounces) shredded good quality, extra-sharp cheddar cheese ( 1 c. Grafton's cheddar + 1 c. mixed bag of Gruyere, Pecorino Romano, and a bit more cheddar)
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, crumbled (as the recipe was supposed to be "doubled," I didn't remember the measurements while shopping, so I only used 1 8 oz. bar of cream cheese--organic--believe me, I used to be the biggest ol' el cheapo ever, but if you're going to all this trouble anyway, what's 60 cents? I can honestly taste the difference in organic dairy and I could talk for just about forever on the subject, but I won't, maybe later)
  • Generous 1/8 teaspoon each hot red pepper flakes, salt, and freshly ground black pepper
  • Generous 1/4 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika (I was careful with the paprika this time)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (I didn't make a crust because of time constraints)
  • 12 saltines, coarsely crumbled (you don't need saltines if you don't opt for the crust)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a shallow 1 1/2 quart baking dish, and add cooked macaroni.

2. In a blender or food processor combine egg, milk, and garlic, and process 3 seconds. Add onion, cheeses, peppers, salt, and paprika, and blend 10 seconds. Turn into dish, folding into macaroni. Casserole could be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 24 hours at this point.

3. To bake, bring casserole close to room temperature. As mentioned earlier, I didn't make the crust because I woke up too late, but if you're good and set your alarm, you might: melt butter in a small saucepan. Coat crackers with butter and spread over top of casserole. Bake about 20 to 25 minutes, or until thick yet creamy. If top is not golden, slip under broiler for a minute. Remove from oven, let stand about 5 minutes, and serve.

Though this is my first undertaking of homemade mac and cheese, I've been around and read a few recipes and this one was different in that you don't start by making a roux, you just input everything into a food processor. I thought it questionable, but proceeded confidently knowing that Lynne and Sally wouldn't do me wrong.

As it turns out, it was quite nice:

The overabundance of cheesy noodles was due to the fact that Carrie was having a Sunday brunch. Mark's here with a montage of the highlights:

Also, here's Mark explaining to Alex how his new haircut, when the bangs are combed straight down, makes him look like Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber

For reference, the real Lloyd Christmas (in case you forgot):


BetteDavisLies said...

I just wet my pants. I remember seeing Dumb and Dumber for the first time at the Milan Ritz Theater downtown. Thanks for the memories.

Rachel said...

Parker's had a few "Lloyd Christmas haircuts", too...
I think I need to acquire a copy of that cookbook. Everything on here out of it looks really good! Love you kids