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Carpionata Piemontese

Now I am quietly waiting
for the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.
The country is grey and
brown and white in trees,
snows and skies of laughter
always diminishing, less funny
not just darker, not just grey.
It may be the coldest day of
the year, what does he think of
that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,
perhaps I am myself again.

Frank O’Hara, excerpt of “Mayakovsky” from Meditations in an Emergency

This passage kind of perfectly expresses those mean reds I mentioned a week and a half ago that have taken up in casa TMFP. It hasn’t helped that it was a fairly rainy week and therefore the sky grew dark out even sooner than it should, and in one of those rainstorms Michael’s new car was lightly clipped by some jerk near his office. And ugh–as I write this it’s gotten grey and moody outside again. It’s like the weather is gleefully pissing all over my “Operation: Abolish Mean Reds” efforts with every cold, grey, sodden day. It’s why we curled up with the second season premiere episode of Mad Men in all of its angsty glory but at the same time pushed ourselves from a culinary perspective–we may be indulging our grumpiness in some ways, but tasting something new and different could also be the jolt we both need. First up: our anniversary dinner on Sunday and going back to a genuine happy place.

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Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe

Guilt can be a powerful thing–and as with all things powerful, it must be used in responsible ways. Michael is headed for a conference this coming weekend, leaving me to fend for myself for six days.* Naturally we’ve had periods of separation before–usually because I’m the one traveling for work–but this will be the longest period we’ve had to deal with since I moved to Connecticut five years ago. I know Michael feels bad about leaving me to have to cook for myself for a whole work week because not only did we have pasta on Sunday night, he was the one suggesting to make it and he acquiesced to my request for cacio e pepe without much protest.

In other words, he brooked no opposition to us having a dish that is, in essentials, pasta and cheese. Yep, that’s guilt. Read More

Garganelli with Duck Ragu

We’ve been a bit quiet this past week for several reasons, namely travel and work, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t been cooking up a storm during our increasingly limited free time–and we sometimes spend our evenings making labor-intensive meals. There’s something so…comforting, or freeing, or delightful about sitting at a dining room table and hand-rolling your own garganelli after hitting road blocks with a work project–especially when you realize you’re not half-bad at it. Michael even compared me to Iron Chef Italian Masahiko Kobe in the eventual speed I picked up in rolling the little squares into quills.

When you’re having a less-than-awesome day or even weekend otherwise, the little compliments like this can light your grin for the rest of the day. Read More

Insalata di Caprese featuring Kumatoes

Having access to great food stores means we can usually get our hands on some pretty unique ingredients. Sometimes the best can be found at the Greenmarket, while others can be hiding next to something as innocuous as grapefruit that you only see because you’re making a beeline for the good deal on peaches just beyond that display.

This is precisely how we stumbled across the oddly colored kumato. Read More

Bruschetta over Multigrain Crostini

When friends come to visit and ask for a home-cooked meal of the Italian persuasion, the proper host puts his machinations for chipotle-glazed meatloaf on hold and break out the macchina-de-pasti.  Tomatoes are coming in nicely and the first choice was essentially a no-brainer.  Bruschetta with tomatoes, lemon (zest and juice), basil, some Italian olive oil, salt+pepper and you’re on Nebbio Nove. Read More

Papperadelle with Sauteed Mushrooms and Ricotta Cheese

A few weeks ago, Michael started in his recent kick of craving pasta with some kind of sauce with this dish.  He knew he wanted to do either a tomato or a mushroom sauce for fresh pasta, and remembering how delicious my plate of fresh fettuccine and mushrooms at Pisticci was a few months ago, I cast my vote for the little fungi.  What he didn’t know at the time, though, was that I wanted to mix in some fresh ricotta into the pasta as well–and thus sparked a debate in Whole Foods on the virtues of ricotta versus mascarpone cheese.

We’ve used both in the past to mix in with delicate fresh pasta, and both are delicious, but I was really feeling Team Ricotta this time around, and eventually, I won over the husband–though I know that the next time around we will be buying a tub of mascarpone from Vermont Butter and Cheese…ah, compromise.

Making this dish is very, very easy to do:  thinly slice a mixture of mushrooms (here we used 8 ounces of cremini and shiitake mushrooms), and saute them in a pan with a few tablespoons of butter and olive oil for about 10 minutes or so.  Deglaze with some red wine, and let the mixture cook down more, stirring occasionally, for another ten-fifteen minutes until the mushroom mixture has cooked down some more.  Mix in a half cup of ricotta cheese with the mushrooms, and then add in cooked fresh pasta (either store-bought or homemade), and toss with the mushrooms and serve.

Buon apetito!  We’re back from our holiday break and we have some amazing meals to share with you over the next few weeks…stay tuned!

Mushroom-Provolone Ravioli in Rosemary Brown Butter Sauce

Mushroom-Provolone Ravioli in Rosemary Brown Butter Sauce

It’s adorable to watch the Mrs. get all enthusiastic about dinner while in the throws of our weekend food shopping, sometimes even on the subway ride.  Keeping her in suspense is easier than you might thing since typically I have no idea what I want to make until I’m wherever we’re going.  It’s a bit existential, I know, but lately I’ve felt compelled to well… not plan anything.  I think being in a new place has something to do with it.  I also think that it’s almost impossible to get used to something as large and multifaceted as NYC.  As far as choice goes, I feel literally spoiled by it.  This makes for some wonderfully spontaneous evenings in the kitchen, but pulling a culinary Hail Mary carries some amount risk. Read More

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