Linguine and Sausage

I picked up a family-sized package of Hot Italian Sausage at the grocery store the other day. The store-brand sausage is not my personal favorite, but... with slim pickin's in the store, one cannot be too particular about some things...

On the other hand, making do with what you have is always a fun project - and Victor chose to take this one on - with fresh, homemade pasta!

Victor is the king of pasta-making. I don't even bother.


He used his standard pasta recipe from Alon Shaya...

For the sauce, he cut up the sausage and browned it in a skillet. From there, he added a jar of his pasta sauce I canned a few months back, let it simmer, added some Parmigiano-Reggiano, and dinner was served - along with some of the bread I baked...

Irish Country Bread

Making do with what we have - and as long as we have each other... we have a lot.



Meals in the Time of Cholera

... with apologies to Gabriel García Márquez ...

Who knew that going grocery shopping would become such an ordeal?

Having retired after almost 17 years in groceries, I thought I had seen it all - the frenzy of the days before Thanksgiving, the panic-buying before Hurricane Sandy, the run on milk, bread, and eggs the minute 2 inches of snow was forecast. But nothing in all of those years prepared me for this - panic-buying and the constant and continuous empty shelves.

We've been once-a-week shoppers for a really long time - even for fresh produce. Over the years, I've gotten really good at using up those last stray bits in a soup or some such thing. I'd buy our basic staples - flour, beans, canned tomatoes during the winter, bananas, rice, yogurt... we do cook at home pretty much every meal. And once every few months I'd pick up the family-sized packs of toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues, laundry soap, and bleach...

I never gave it any thought. Granted, I'd never shop on weekends or the day before a major holiday, but shopping was always a brainless exercise - I'd go in, get my stuff, mentally complain about three cashiers open out of 23 registers, bag my goods, and go home.

Really simple. A chore, but a really simple one.

And now?!?

All of those things I took for granted are in short supply. And, to add insult to injury,  I stopped my online buying of bulk foods anticipating our moving west... I thought we'd just pick up the odds and ends, here, and restock at the new home. What a horrible time to be practical! All of a sudden, we don't have those bins of lentils, beans, and flour - even core spices are running low. Things I just never thought of running out are getting low.

Being 68 years old, I really appreciate the early morning senior citizen shopping hours at a couple of our local stores, but... on my first trek out, the shelves hadn't been very well stocked at 6 ayem. All those staples were missing. Hopefully, it will be better when I venture out, tomorrow. We're far from destitute, and I could probably get really creative with dried fava beans and sweetened condensed milk if I had to, so I'm not concerned about going hungry. It's just the uncertainty of it all.

In the meantime, we're getting by quite well. We're both stay-at-homes, for the most part, so being in the house isn't a chore, for us. Granted, it is a bit strange knowing that we can't do all of the things we never did, anyway, but... we're getting by - and as long as the flour holds out, we'll continue to eat well, too.

Last night, Victor made the best pappardelle with cherry tomato sauce. Totally awesome!

He used his basic pasta dough from Alon Shaya:

Pasta Dough

  • 1 1/4 cup 00 flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Mix flours. make a well and add the eggs, egg yolks, and oil. Slowly mix in the flour and knead until smooth. Let rest 30 minutes before rolling to desired shape.

And the sauce... ::sigh::

Simple Fresh Sauce

  • cherry tomatoes
  • garlic
  • onion
  • anchovy paste
  • kalamata olives
  • oregano
  • S&P

Saute tomatoes, garlic, and onions in olive oil until tomatoes begin to break down. Add anchovy paste and olives, mixing well. Add oregano, and S&P, to taste. Add a bit of pasta water, if it appears too dry.

Add pasta that has been cooked about 9/10ths of the way and finish cooking in the sauce.

We had it with the rolls I made the other day - toasted in the oven with garlic butter olive oil and parmesan cheese. It was totally delicious. I pretty much licked my plate clean.

This morning, I made a batch of Lentil Soup. We've been doing soups for lunch for quite a while, now... they are one of the best and most nutritious things one can make - and they hide a multitude of sins.

Lentil Soup

This is a throw-together of:

  • lentils
  • celery
  • carrots
  • fennel
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • French herbs
  • cayenne pepper
  • S&P

For the large pot, I used 3 cups lentils, 5 carrots, 4 celery stalks, half a fennel bulb, and herbs and spices, to taste. After sweating the vegetables, I added the lentils, filled the pot with water, and brought it to a boil. I kept it at a low boil, adding the cayenne, herbs, and S&P, until the veggies and lentils were tender.

It's pretty fool-proof.

So... keep eating, get creative, and don't worry about not having an ingredient or how something will turn out.

It will be fine. We will all be fine.

Just stay home and limit those outside trips to ones that are truly necessary.



Shrimp Ravioli and Sourdough Bread

We're still cooking and eating - it's just that there hasn't been a lot that has been truly remarkable, lately. Looking back over the archives, how many times can I write about a particular dish?

So... when Victor said he wanted to make a shrimp ravioli - based upon a lobster ravioli he had seen made - my ears and tying fingers perked up!

My second thought - the first just being drool - was we would need a loaf of bread for this. Victor is the pasta-maker. I'm the bread-baker. Teamwork!

He used his basic pasta dough from Alon Shaya:

Pasta Dough

  • 1 1/4 cup 00 flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Mix flours. make a well and add the eggs, egg yolks, and oil. Slowly mix in the flour and knead until smooth. Let rest 30 minutes before rolling to desired shape.

and then made a simple filling of:

  • shrimp
  • ricotta
  • egg
  • parmigiano reggiano
  • lemon zest and juice
  • salt & pepper

And, finally, a sauce of

  • butter
  • sage
  • lemon

Very simple - and ridiculously flavorful.


The trick in making the ravioli is after rolling out the dough, brush half of it lengthwise with an egg wash. Place the filling in dollops along the unbrushed side, fold over, press. and cut. It's so much easier than trying to brush edges and they seal so much better - not a single one leaked!

Since I knew the night before that we were having the ravioli, I decided on a sourdough bread, using our friend, Susan's sourdough starter.

I didn't follow a specific recipe - it was more just some basic technique. And even that was streamlined.

I used bread flour and Anson Mills Rustic Red Fife Bread Flour at about a 50/50 ratio. The starter was all basic bread flour.

It had a really nice, chewy crust and a really delicate crumb.

It made a pretty large loaf, so half went into the freezer.

It really was the perfect dinner.

Cauliflower Bolognese

I received my latest Bon Appetit magazine the other day and found a recipe that intrigued me - Cauliflower Bolognese. It was especially timely as I had just bought a head of cauliflower with no particular idea in mind - it just looked good so into the basket it went.

We keep the basics around the house - onions, garlic, celery, carrots, mushrooms - but the other fresh vegetables vary with my shopping mood. I don't plan meals in advance, so it all depends on what looks good.

Victor had just bought a new pappardelle cutter attachment for the pasta roller, so... dinner, as they say, was served. He used his favorite pasta recipe from Alon Shaya. He wasn't totally sold on the new pasta cutter - it's actually quicker to cut by hand - so we ended up with some varying widths of pasta. Regardless of width, it tasted fabulous.

Pasta Dough

  • 1 1/4 cup 00 flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Mix flours. make a well and add the eggs, egg yolks, and oil. Slowly mix in the flour and knead until smooth. Let rest 30 minutes before rolling to desired shape.

Fresh Pasta

The Bon Appetit recipe is vegetarian, but I had some spek in the freezer, so I used it for some added flavor. And since I already had the food processor out, I used it for the onion and pepper, as well. It made it all pretty easy.

Cauliflower Bolognese


  • 4 oz speck
  • 12 oz mushrooms
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 6-8 oz tomato paste
  • 12 oz white wine
  • finely grated Parmesan
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • Pasta of your choice


Pulse mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped. Set aside.

Pulse cauliflower in food processor until pieces are about the size of a grain of rice. Set aside.

Pulse onion, garlic, jalapeno, thyme, and rosemary. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high. Add speck and cook until lightly browned. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 4–6 minutes.

Add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft and golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Add garlic, chile, and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened and mixture is very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until paste is slightly darkened, about 2 minutes.

Add cauliflower and cook until cauliflower is cooked down slightly and begins to stick to bottom of pot, 6–8 minutes. Add wine and stir well and cook until boiling and cauliflower is tender. Season with salt and pepper, then keep warm over low heat.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until almost al dente, about 1 minute less than package directions.

Transfer pasta to pot with sauce. Add Parmesan cheese and increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is cooked and sauce is clinging to pasta, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

Divide pasta among plates. Top with more Parmesan, then drizzle with oil.

Fresh Pasta

The sauce took literal minutes to pull together. Victor has pasta-making down to a science, so it took him no time at all to make the dough, roll, and cut.

Fresh Pasta

A bit of crusty bread and dinner was complete.

Between the mushrooms and the cauliflower, it had a real meaty flavor and consistency. The speck was a really nice addition, but it still would have been a good dish without it.



Stuffed Ravioli

Happy New Year

The meal is different but this is a reprint of last year's New Year's Eve post... I can only wax poetically about new years so much...

If my mom ever cooked anything special for the new year, I really don’t remember it. The first time I recall hearing about good luck New Year’s foods was when I was in the Navy. Working with lots of guys from down south, Hoppin’ John entered my vocabulary. As I got older and moved around the country, more traditions arrived.

When I lived at Lake Tahoe, working for the Hyatt, I worked with a lot of Mexicans. They made tamales and brought them in for everyone to share. Somewhere, I remember King Cake – that was probably Boston. Black-eyed peas and cornbread followed me around the USofA, and landing in Pennsylvania, it became Pork and Sauerkraut. Victor would divorce me if I ever made pork and sauerkraut – so much for good luck.

After years in the restaurant and hotel business, the very last day I want to be out is New Years Eve. It’s even worse than Mother’s Day. I don’t know if you can even imagine the horror of delivering pizzas on such a night, or dealing with drunks throwing glasses in the general vicinity of a casino fireplace. We were still finding shards of glass for weeks after that one…

Other than a few small house parties, First Night in Boston was probably the most fun of the New Year festivities I’ve experienced. Definitely the most unique. Outdoors in a cold, snowy Boston with performances ranging from classical to contemporary in a score or more different venues. And the crowds were relatively well-behaved.

We had bullets raining down on us when we lived in San Leandro – why people think it’s a good idea to shoot guns into the air boggles my mind. We flew across the country on New Year’s Eve 1999 to bring in the year 2000 with Victor’s family – on a near-empty flight in deserted airports. And being locked out of Times Square after seeing The Producers with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick less than a half-block away was pretty aggravating. We ended up heading back to our hotel and had a champagne toast with the bartender, the Beverage Manager, and a couple from Norway as the clock struck twelve.

Normally, I eschew crowds – especially the throngs out on a New Year’s Eve – but I do think I’d like to ring in the new year in a European city, Rome, London, Paris, Florence, Barcelona… I dunno… Outdoors in a huge plaza, somewhere – and within walking distance of wherever we were staying. The biggest stipulation being within walking distance of where we would be staying. I wouldn’t want to have to deal with any sort of transportation. And I could definitely envision a moonlit walk through Paris at 3am

It's nice to dream...

But what I didn't have to dream about was last night's dinner... Victor made a egg yolk-stuffed ravioli that was simply out of this world.

Stuffed Ravioli

It was one of those meals that simply could not be improved on. It was perfection on a plate.

The pasta dough is based on a recipe from Alon ShayaThe filling is pure Victor!

Pasta Dough

  • 1 1/4 cup 00 flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Mix flours. make a well and add the eggs, egg yolks, and oil. Slowly mix in the flour and knead until smooth. Let rest 30 minutes before rolling to desired shape.

Ricotta Filling

  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano
  • pinch garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg yolk per ravioli

Mix all ingredients – except final egg yolk – together. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble:

Stuffed Ravioli

Roll dough through pasta roller or roll out by hand. Cut into rounds - one slightly larger for the top.

Stuffed Ravioli

Place a scoop of cheese mixture on top and make an indentation for the egg yolk.

Then add the egg yolk...

Stuffed Ravioli

... and top with a pinch of shredded cheese.

Stuffed Ravioli

Moisten edges and place second round of dough on top, gently pushing out the air and sealing well.

Stuffed Ravioli

Cook in lightly boiling water about 4 minutes, give or take.

Stuffed Ravioli

Serve with your favorite sauce...

Stuffed Ravioli

And then cut into it and watch that lovely yolk run out...

Stuffed Ravioli

It's even better if you have a loaf of fresh-baked bread to sop everything up.

Pane Pugliese

This is a loaf Pane Pugliese - one of my favorite breads to bake. Pane Pugliese is a rustic bread from Puglia – in Italy’s heel – and  comes from The Italian Baker by Carol Field.

This bread requires a starter – biga – that needs to be made the day before you want to bake the loaf.

Pane Pugliese


  • 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (or 1/10 package fresh yeast)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 1/4 cup water (room temperature)
  • 3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Stir the yeast into the warm water and let stand until creamy – about 10 minutes.  Stir in the remaining water and then the flour, one cup at a time.

Mix with the paddle attachment on the mixer at the lowest speed about 2 minutes.

Remove to a slightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise at cool room temperature for 6 to 24 hours.  The starter will triple in volume and still be wet and sticky when ready.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Pane Pugliese

  • 1 packet dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3 cups water; room temp
  • 1 cup biga
  • 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp salt

Proof the yeast in the warm water. Add 1 1/2 c water and the biga, mix till blended. Add flour and salt, mix till dough comes together and pulls off the sides of the bowl. Knead 3-5 minutes in a mixer, longer by hand. Dough will be very soft and elastic. Let rise about 3 hours, shape into 2 small round loaves or 1 big flattish one. If you have baking stones, place loaves on baking peel or on baking sheets sprinkled corn meal. Let rise about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 450°, and 10 minutes before baking flour the loaf tops and dimple them with your fingers. Bake 50-60 minutes for big loaves, 30-35 minutes for small. Tap the loaves to test for doneness (hollow=done) and cool on a rack.

The perfect bread for the perfect pasta and a perfect end to the year.



Fresh Pasta

Fresh Pasta and Fresh Tomatoes

We're not done, yet, with those tomatoes! They really are the gift that keeps on giving!

When we cleared out the majority of the garden the other day, we brought in a lot of unripe tomatoes - the upcoming weather was just not conducive to keeping them outdoors.

We had a bunch of yellow tomatoes ripen together, so that started us off on a path to fresh pasta and yellow tomato sauce.

And I have to tell ya - it was a pretty yummy path!

Fresh Pasta

First, Victor made cavatelli - little semolina pasta shells. Perfectly light and tender, but sturdy enough to stand up to the sauce.


  • 1 1/8 cup semolina flour
  • 3/4 cup Tipo "00" flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Mix flours and salt on board. Make a well and add the water and oil. Slowly mix the liquid into the flour forming a dough. Knead about 5 minutes. Wrap and let rest about 30 minutes to an hour.

Roll pieces of dough into a thin rope and cut into 1/2" pieces. Press and roll to make little shells.

Cook in salted boiling water. Drain and serve with your favorite sauce.

For the sauce, I blended several yellow tomatoes in the blender to make a sauce.

Into a skillet went garlic, leeks, and fennel. When it was wilted, I added white wine and cooked it down. Next went the tomato sauce.

I brought it all to a boil and added oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt.

I brought it to a simmer and poached monkfish medallions in the sauce, and then added chunks of yellow tomato.

I cooked the pasta about 3/4 of the way though and then added it to the sauce to finish cooking.

The end result was pretty spectacular for being such a simple meal.

I am really going to miss these fresh tomatoes.


Sunday Dinner

Sunday Dinner.

I feel like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof singing Tradition - except I'm Irish eating Italian. I guess it's the ultimate in cross-cultural recognition.

As a kid growing up, we'd have Sunday Dinner now and again - usually a roast or something that could be stretched into several meals in the coming week. My mother was a professional food-stretcher.

Victor's family, on the other hand, did the whole Italian pasta, meatballs, and lord knows what else eat for hours starting early in the afternoon...

Over the years, I've come to embrace that.

Granted, we no longer start early in the afternoon and eat all day, but a homemade pasta with a homemade sauce and homemade meatballs with a homemade loaf of bread sure makes for a great dinner!


Victor’s Pasta Sauce

  • 2 – 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 – Sm can tomato paste
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (or to taste if you like more) chopped fine
  • Olive oil
  • Dried Italian seasonings
  • Hot red pepper flakes (a tsp or more or less to taste)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Red wine (always cook with a decent wine, never “cooking” wine) about a cup or cup and a half
  • Meat – such as Italian sausage or some nice beef or pork ribs or pork chops

Ok…I ALWAYS make my sauce with meat, so start with a deep, heavy pot and add about 3-4 TBS of olive oil. On high heat, once the oil is hot, start frying the sausage or pork, Let the meat get good and caramelized although you don’t have to cook it all the way through because you’ll add it back to the sauce to finish. Once the meat is browned take it out of the pot, put it on a plate and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium and sauté the tomato paste for a couple of minutes until it begins to “melt”. Add the chopped garlic and sauté with the tomato paste for just a minute (no longer or it will burn). Then add about a cup of the red wine and deglaze the pan with it, scrapping up all the good bits that stuck to the bottom when cooking the meat.

When the wine reduces by about ½ start adding the canned tomatoes.  Add one can of hot water for every can of tomatoes you use.

Now start adding the dried Italian seasonings.  I eyeball it but I would guess a good 2 TBS is fine.  Add about another ½ cup of red wine, with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir everything into the sauce. It will be very thin at this point.

Add back the cooked meat. Now this is important….at the bottom of the plate you let the meat rest on will be some of the oil and juices that seeped out. Pour that back into the pot. It has a lot of flavor in it.

Bring the sauce back to a boil then turn the heat down low and let it simmer for at least 1 and a half hours, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes to keep it from burning. It should reduce by about a third or a little less and get thicker. The meat will absorb the sauce and get very tender.

When I make meatballs, I don’t fry them, I bake them on a sheet pan. When I do, I add them to the simmering sauce when they’re done so they also absorb the flavor.

I usually make the sauce early in the day and after it’s done, just let it sit on the stove until dinner then I re-heat it. This should make enough sauce for a couple of dinners or good sized lasagna.


Fresh Pasta

  • 1 cup tipo ’00’ flour
  • 1/3 cup semolina flour
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp water – maybe

Mix flour, salt, and eggs until fully combined. Knead on a floured board until smooth, adding a drop or two of additional water, if needed.

Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, and then roll out using pasta machine. You can roll this with a rolling pin, but a pasta roller is so much easier!


Lightly dust and then fold the pasta strips.

And then cut to desired width.

Unfold and place on a floured sheet pan.

Cook in lightly boiling salted water for about 3 minutes. Then add to sauce and cook an additional 2 minutes.


Aleppo Tomato Bread

  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 pgk dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp aleppo pepper
  • 1 cup tomato juice and pulp from 3 or so fresh tomatoes
  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 tsp salt

Place yeast and warm water in mixing bowl. Let proof about 5 minutes.

Add juice, salt, 3 cups flour, and aleppo pepper. With dough hook, mix well, adding softened butter a bit at a time to make a soft but not too sticky dough. Mix for about 10 minutes.

Turn dough out to a floured surface and knead briefly.

Roll into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise until doubled.

Punch down and form into a round or oblong loaf. Place on a well-floured or corn meal-covered bread peel – if using a baking stone – or onto a floured or corn meal-covered sheet pan and let rise again, until doubled. Make a slit across the top about a half-inch deep.

Place into a 350°F oven and bake about 45-55 minutes.

We were reasonably good - we didn't eat nearly as much as we wanted to - but every bite was perfection.

Viva la Sunday Dinner!

Homemade Pasta

Homemade Fettuccine and Home-Grown Tomatoes

Homemade pasta with a fresh sauce made from tomatoes out of our garden. It does not suck to be us.

Some meals are over-the-top because of their exotic ingredients. Others are over-the-top because of their simplicity. Tonight's dinner was definitely of the latter.

Fresh pasta is flour and eggs. It does not get much more basic. We use Italian flour, but all-purpose will do. We also add semolina - but you can still make a good pasta without it. Don't let the lack of a specialty ingredient keep you from making this.

Fresh Pasta

  • 1 cup tipo ’00’ flour
  • 1/3 cup semolina flour
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp water – maybe

Mix flour, salt, and eggs until fully combined. Knead on a floured board until smooth, adding a drop or two of additional water, if needed.

Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, and then roll out using pasta machine. You can roll this with a rolling pin, but a pasta roller is so much easier!

Fresh pasta

Lightly dust and then fold the pasta strips.

And then cut to desired width.

Unfold and place on a floured sheet pan.

Cook in lightly boiling salted water for about 3 minutes. Then add to sauce and cook an additional 2 minutes.

The sauce was another lesson in simplicity.

Fresh tomatoes - not peeled or anything - with fresh leeks, green onions, a bit of anchovy paste, tomato paste, wine, garlic, zucchini, crushed red pepper, and salt and pepper.

Homemade Pasta

Some freshly grated parmigiano reggiano on top.

Rich and silky-smooth, bursting with flavor. Absolute perfection.

And while we're talking about tomatoes from the garden, we added to our sauces...

We now have sauce from Black Krim tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes, Green Zebra tomatoes, and Brandywine Yellow tomatoes. Hopefully, we'll get another dozen or so quarts before we head to California mid-month.

Tomato Sauces

Pretty awesome...



Fresh pasta

Sunday Pasta

Sunday pasta. What a treat - especially when it's homemade!

Victor has been making pasta for years - and every batch just seems to be better than the last.

There's something about homemade pasta that just can't be compared to the fresh pasta you buy in a grocery store - and it's fathoms away from dried. The lightness, the silkiness, the flavor - the way it takes up sauce.

It's pretty awesome stuff.

Fresh pasta

I love it!

Tonight's pasta is a tagliatelle made with Victor's favorite recipe.

Fresh Pasta

  • 1 1/4 cups Tipo “00” flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Mix and mound the flours on the counter and make a well in the center.

Add the eggs and oil to the center and slowly start incorporating flour into the eggs.

Fresh pasta

When it becomes cohesive enough to start kneading, begin by pressing the heel of your hand down and pushing the pasta, fold it over itself, and repeat. The process will take about 10 minutes. The dough will become rather stiff, but smooth. The more you do it, the more you will get the feel and the more natural it becomes.

Wrap the dough in plastic and let rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.

Fresh pasta

Take pieces of the dough and roll through a pasta machine or by hand,

Fresh pasta

and form into your desired shape.

Fresh pasta

This is half of the recipe. The rest has gone into the freezer for another day...

The sauce was chunks of pancetta, fresh fennel, asparagus, garlic, and fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden. The tomatoes are our San Marzanos from Italy. Unbelievably good.

Part of the beauty of this is its simplicity - just a few good-quality ingredients. The favors all come through and compliment one another rather than something overpowering the dish or cancelling something  out. You get to taste everything.

Make some pasta. Roll it out with a rolling pin if you don't have a machine. Cut it with a knife. The strands don't all have to be the exact same size.

Dress it with some fresh vegetables. You don't need a heavy sauce.

You'll be really happy you did.

Really happy.

Shrimp Ravioli

Shrimp Ravioli, Part Deux

When Victor made his Shrimp Ravioli, last month, he made a double-batch. Half went into the freezer. When he made the Goat Cheese a few days ago, the whey went into the freezer.

Tonight, they both came out. So to speak.

Creating new meals from leftovers can be a lot of fun - it's almost always a one-shot deal, never to be replicated. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending upon what it is you're cooking. Tonight it's a bad thing - dinner was great!

We knew we wanted a light sauce for the ravioli, so I went with minimal ingredients - a couple of mushrooms, a fresh red onion, one small hot red pepper, and a couple of yellow tomatoes. And the whey.

I sauteed the mushroom and onion, and then added the pepper and tomato. Next went the whey, and I brought it all to a nice boil, adding a bit of salt and pepper. Finally, I added just a smidge of cornstarch to pull it together. No garlic, no other herbs or spices.

I cooked off the ravioli about 3/4ths of the way, and then added them to the sauce to finish.

Shrimp Ravioli

It was one of those dishes that worked on every level. Rich and creamy, and light, yet filling. The yellow tomatoes from the garden have really been outstanding - really flavorful - and were the perfect foil for the whey, mushroom, onion, and hot pepper.

I kinda doubt the stars will align to make this, again, but I'm really glad they did, tonight. And it's a perfect reminder not to get rid of the whey when you make cheese. It has lots of uses - and lots of nutrition!


Stuffed Artichokes

Gnocchi and Stuffed Artichokes

Tonight's dinner was a bit of a tag-team affair - Victor made the artichokes and gnocchi, and I made the sauce.

I never had stuffed artichokes as a kid - they were always steamed and served with mayonnaise for dipping the leaves. Stuffing them brings them to a whole new level.

The basic recipe is breadcrumbs, grated parmigiano, garlic powder, some crushed red pepper flakes, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix everything together, trim the artichokes, and then pull the leaves apart and stuff the breading into all the cracks and crevases. Place in a steamer and cook until tender.

The gnocchi came out of the freezer - Victor made a double batch the last time he made it.

For the sauce, i started by grilling a pork tenderloin. When it was mostly done, I brought it in to rest.

Into a skilled went a chopped onion, chopped zucchini, about 2 cups of Victor's pasta sauce, and the pork that I sliced.

Everything simmered a few minutes, and dinner was served!

Stuffed Artichokes



Shrimp Ravioli

Shrimp Ravioli

I suppose there's millions of people out there barbecuing and grilling, today. Lord knows we've been there. We just didn't feel like grilling in 90°F weather with thunderstorms and ridiculous humidity. Better to stay indoors with air conditioning.

July 4th is also my favorite brother-in-law's birthday. I've known Mike since the mid-'60s, so there are a few birthday celebrations I have difficulty remembering. today. Our misspent youth was definitely misspent. Or not. How many of you remember the days when you had to make sure you had a wad of cash because ATMs would only give you a paltry amount per 24 hour period and were often Out Of Service after 1:00am?!?

Ah... the good ol' days...

If we were on the west coast, we'd be celebrating with him, today.

But since we're not... we're celebrating with homemade ravioli!

Victor had leftover pasta dough and ricotta filling from the ravioli he made last week, so he pulled it from the freezer and went to work.

Shrimp Ravioli

He took the ricotta filling and added chopped shrimp he sauteed in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Really simple.

He then made a sauce of olive oil, garlic, white wine, clam juice, lemon juice, fresh oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, butter, salt and pepper. When it had reduced by about half, he added the shrimp and in three minutes the sauce was ready. Again, really simple.

Shrimp Ravioli

The pasta was feather light and the filling screamed flavor. Rich shrimp flavor with perfect chunks to offset the creamy ricotta. The sauce was light but rich in flavor. It was the perfect topping.

Meanwhile, I made a loaf of sourdough walnut raisin bread. I screwed it up - more detail than I can go into, here - but, the flavor was excellent.

Raisin Walnut Sourdough

A successful holiday, and a successful meal.

Plus, the DC festivities are in shambles because of the weather... Who could ask for anything more?!?