Saturday, December 9, 2017

12-9-17 Gemelli w artichoke hearts & bottoms

I had dinner all figured out. It was going to be my precious Patience’s favorite ingredients – artichoke hearts and peas.  Alas, not long into the preparations I discovered there were no peas in the freezer. What could I do? What goes with artichoke hearts... artichoke bottoms, which we happened to have in the freezer, and dinner was saved.


1.     Gemelli
2.     Frozen artichoke bottoms
3.     Artichoke hearts in water
4.     Leeks
5.     Garlic
6.     Celery
7.     Olive oil
8.     Fresh dill and dried tarragon
9.     Lemon juice
10. White wine
11. Butter
12. Pancetta diced
13. Red pepper flakes
14. Chicken broth – about 1/3 cup


Note – I’m describing the steps I took as I worked my way through this dish. The key is the ingredients, and how you use them is up to you.

Cook the pancetta, remove and set aside, and remove the grease from the pan.
Add olive oil to the pan and cook the leeks and celery until soft, and them add the garlic and continue cooking over low heat.  Add the chicken broth, artichoke bottoms and hearts, and red pepper flakes, plus a splash of wine, and cook covered  until the artichoke is totally defrosted and soft.  Add the herbs and about 1 tbsp of butter and cook uncovered to thicken the sauce.  Before the pasta is done, add the lemon juice and pancetta .

Add the pasta with some pasta water to the pan and mix well.


We both gave this a 10, easily.

Friday, December 8, 2017

12-8-17 Aglio Olio

The pasta gods have been good to me, granting me another night in pasta heaven.  Working on the outline for a Pasta Journal, I realized that for years I’ve been making Aglio Olio Crudo (oil and garlic uncooked) and not the traditional Aglio Olio. Tonight I decided to change that.


1.     Spaghetti
2.     Olive oil
3.     Garlic – 1large clove thinly sliced
4.     Butter –about 1 tbsp
5.     Red pepper flakes
6.     Parsley
7.     Salt and pepper
8.     Grating cheese


Cook the garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil until golden. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the butter, parsley, and the pasta and mix well. I added about a ¼ cup of pasta water and a few drizzles of olive oil.  Serve with a parsley garnish.


Of all the pasta dishes I prepare this is the most personal. It triggers immediate treasured memories of my parents and our extended family. If I were to be granted oneƄ last meal, it would be this, and I would depart with a smile on my face.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

12-7-17 Spaghetti with anchovies and Ciabatta crutons


If you like anchovies you will love this dish.

I was cooking for myself tonight, so I decided to try something that I know would not be a favorite of Patience.  She appreciates “anchovies light” and I’ve been anxious to try a little “anchovies heavy”.


1.     Spaghetti – linguine or angel hair could easily be substituted
2.     Olive oil
3.     Garlic – 1 large clove pressed
4.     Anchovies – 4 fillets finely chopped
5.     White wine – about 2-3 tablespoons
6.     Red Pepper flakes
7.     Fresh oregano and tarragon
8.     Salt and black pepper
9.     Ciabatta bread cut into bite sized cubes


Coat the bread in olive oil and toast on the stove top (or oven if you prefer). Set aside.
In a small bowl mix the anchovies, garlic and wine and cook in olive oil with the herbs and red pepper flakes until the achovies break down, in a skillet large enough to eventually accommodate the pasta.

Add the pasta to the skillet along with some pasta water and black pepper. and mix thoroughly. Serve with fresh herb garnish and the croutons.


If you love anchovies you will love this dish. All I can say is I loved it and can’t wait to do it again – the next time I’m alone.

With a sprinkling of salt, the croutons are a great snack with a glass of wine.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

12-6-17 Spaghetti w Leek, Zucchini, and Anchovies

This is a “refinement” on a dish I first prepared 2 years ago. (I think refinement sounds much better than variation.) I want to include it in a Pasta Journal I’m working on and thought I could improve on the original recipe by adding 2 ingredients, sundried tomatoes and pancetta.

1.     Olive oil
2.     Garlic- pressed
3.     Anchovy fillets – 3- finely chopped
4.     Pancetta
5.     Leek  white and light green part thinly sliced
6.     White wine
7.     Basil fresh or frozen
8.     3 sundried tomatoes coarsely chopped
9.     Tomato paste – 1 tablespoon
10. Salt and pepper
11. Spaghetti


Cook the pancetta and remove from the pan – set aside to drain. Mix the garlic and chopped anchovies with 1 tablespoon of white wine, then cook in the same pan, adding a little olive oil, until the anchovies dissolve.  Add the Leek , Zucchini, salt and pepper, and Basil and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to brown.  Turn down the heat, add a splash of wine, the sundried tomatoes, and the tomato paste, mixing thoroughly.

Add the pasta and the pancetta to the sauce, plus pasta water as needed and mix thoroughly.  Drizzle with olive oil and serve with grated Grana Padonna cheese.


I had a lot of misgivings about this the first time I made it…until I tasted it.  It turned out to be a winner.  I loved the rustic appearance and taste, the combination of Leek and Zucchini with the Anchovy base is incredible. The addition of the new ingredients made it even better.

NOTE – for all Anchovy haters – they add a richness to the flavor without an Anchovy taste.  Patience always tells me not to tell our guests when I use Anchovies in this way.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Gemelli with buttenut squash sauce


I could not remember what I had in mind when I purchased this package of pre-cut butternut squash from Midtown Market earlier this week, but decided it was time to put it to work tonight...with pasta, of course. Most of the recipes online call for roasting the squash, but I had little interest in doing that tonight.


1.     Gemelli pasta
2.     Butternut squash cut into ¾ “ pieces
3.     Onion and Garlic
4.     Bacon – coarsely chopped
5.     Olive oil
6.     Chicken broth
7.     Sweet vermouth
8.     Sundried tomatoes coarsely chopped
9.     Fresh sage finely chopped
10. Heavy whipping cream
11. Parmigiano cheese


I sort of made this up as I went along, deciding at the last minute to add the wine and the sundried tomatoes.

Cook the bacon until crisp, remove and drain, and pour the remaining fat from the skillet. Add a small amount of olive oil and prepare the onion and garlic.  Finely chop the squash in a food processor and add to the pan, along with a cup of chicken broth. Also add some finely chopped sage – about 2-3 leaves, a sprinkle of bacon bits, the sundried tomatoes, and a splash of sweet vermouth. Cover and simmer until the squash is soft.

Several minutes before the pasta is ready add the cream and about ¼ cup of cheese and stir well. Add the pasta and some pasta water and mix well. Serve with bacon garnish.


I had my doubts about this during the preparation, but they were immediately put to rest with the first taste. Patience, who has no problem telling me what she thinks about the dinner I serve her, loved it. We both agree it would be a good dish for company.

The next time I do this I will not be so lazy and will roast the squash. This dish will definitely be in the Pasta Journal.