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archive for pasta

for the cheese lovers

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Recipe: pastitsio

Just this past weekend, I was walking through Whole Foods with one of my besties from high school (she was in town for a conference) when Emily said, “I could give up meat in an instant, but I could never give up cheese.” I smiled because I have several friends who are bona fide cheese fiends. It’s quite the accomplishment that I can eat Gruyère, but that is about as exotic as I get… which I realize isn’t terribly exotic at all. Still, when presented with the opportunity to receive a review copy of Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, I could not wait to crack it open.

224 pages of cheesy goodness

Stephanie and Garrett – two incredibly talented individuals – are the masterminds behind the book (Garrett is one of my favorite food writers). They teamed up to present countless hours of research and recipe development in this glorious collection of all things pasta, cheese, and more cheese. As I stated before, I am not a cheese person, but found myself mesmerized by Matt Armendariz’ seductive photos of melty cheese and pasta. After perusing fresh salads, creamy stovetop dishes, hearty mains, and sweet recipes, I settled on pastitsio for my test drive. Hot casserole-style dishes are especially welcome during our Arctic cold snap in the Rockies.

the meat sauce: tomato paste, canned tomatoes, olive oil, white wine, salt, ground lamb, pepper, oregano, bay leaves, rosemary, cinnamon, allspice, garlic, onion

for the pasta and mornay sauce: olive oil, milk, penne, pecorino romano, butter, eggs, salt, flour, pepper

The recipe calls for Kefalotyri, which I could not find, so I used the recommended substitution of Pecorino Romano. That’s another nice thing about this book. Even though I know zip about cheeses, Stephanie and Garrett introduce the reader to new and exciting varieties while offering more common cousins in case you can’t source the original. Other than the cheese, all of the other ingredients are easy enough to find. Oh wait, except bucatini – I couldn’t find that either and opted for penne, a pasta for which I have strong affections.

start the meat sauce: add browned ground lamb to sautéed onions and garlic

add wine, spices, tomato paste

pour in the canned tomatoes

simmer it down for 30 minutes

**Jump for more butter**

quick comfort

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Recipe: pasta carbonara

The other day as I was wrapping up a product shoot, I noticed Kaweah lying on the floor next to a light stand, looking bored. I walked over to stroke her silky ears and she casually lifted her front paw asking for a belly rub. Kaweah was in a mellow mood, which used to be a rare thing but is now the norm. Instead of putting the studio gear away, I pulled the background down to the floor and coaxed the dog over with treats. I need to remind myself to do this more often while she’s still with us. It’s so easy to get busy and tell yourself that you’ll do it later, and then one day… later is just too late.

she reminds me of a plush toy sometimes

kaweah got bored

the half-bambi

We took care of house things on Saturday which involved lots of running up and down the stairs to do laundry, to seal the driveway before the next snow storm, to consolidate our recycling and trash to take to the dump, to move our deck furniture into the basement until summer. That sort of house stuff. Kaweah, in her old age, no longer likes hearing loud sounds (despite being mostly deaf). She also dislikes seeing furniture or large appliances moved about. And it makes her nervous when we go in and out of a room too much. So after getting wigged out for most of Saturday and hiding in the office, she finally emerged when I started making dinner.

pasta carbonara: linguine, olive oil, pepper, parmigiano-reggiano, eggs, pancetta, salt

Yes, leave it to cured pork (or any meat) to pique Kaweah’s interest. Truth be told, I was interested too. I’ve never made pasta carbonara before. It’s something I have seen and heard praises about for eons, but I had never even tasted it. Pasta carbonara had been sitting on a long list of dishes I wanted to make and/or try. I had no idea it was so simple.

dice the pancetta

grate the cheese

**Jump for more butter**

we are safe

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Recipe: pappardelle with chanterelles

My email has been inundated with inquiries from family, friends, and readers about our situation amidst the devastating flooding in the Colorado Front Range. Jeremy, Kaweah, and I are safe. Our house is fine. Our little mountain town of Nederland is more or less fine with only one viable route out of town – we are near the top where our water catchment area is relatively small. Thank you for your concern. Sadly, several neighboring mountain and canyon communities (Lyons, Jamestown, Salina) have been cut off and badly damaged from heavy flooding, mass wasting, road and ground collapse. All canyon roads in Boulder County are closed due to damage (sections of roads completely washed away) and/or rock slides, and it could be months before some of these roads open again. A normally 25-minute commute to Boulder might wind up becoming a 90-minute commute for a while. On the flats, parts of Boulder and surrounding cities have suffered terrible flooding as a year’s worth of rainfall collected in the mountains in a matter of a days and came funneling down the mountains as a wall of destruction and energy.

People poke fun at and bag on Boulder all the time. I just smile and sit on my hands so I don’t accidentally punch anyone. I suppose it is an easy target with all of its enlightenment, local food movement, yoga, ultra athletes, ultra outdoors people, food allergies, restrictive diets, casual atmosphere, dedication to local businesses, lovely parks, extensive bike paths, public services, love of dogs, Subarus, and countless independent coffee shops. It’s a special kind of place, one that I love dearly. It has a lot of heart and community. Good people live there and make it the great town that it is. Even though the rains have not yet stopped, people are already helping friends and strangers alike clean up flooded homes and neighborhoods.

If you would like to help with a financial or material donation or to volunteer, please visit Help Colorado Now for more information.

Over the past several days, Jeremy and I have been safe, but stuck at home with an occasional walk around our neighborhood. Authorities requested that everyone stay home and let rescue and repair crews work. All parks and trails are closed. We snatched tidbits of news from friends, emergency status pages, and university alerts. Our hearts ached with every flash flood warning and flood surge that raced down the canyons. And we sighed with relief each time a friend checked in on Facebook, Twitter, via text or email. We even caught a few short breaks from the rains on Friday.

that’s my colorado

and a nice sunset to boot

Saturday was Jeremy’s birthday. He turned 40, which is a milestone year because we are a decimal-based society and because he was awarded tenure a few months ago. His present is our second home in Crested Butte, so I didn’t feel compelled to get him anything else. We were going to have friends up to celebrate with a nice meal until those plans washed away with the roads leading up to our place. We didn’t want to risk the safety of any of our friends and decided to cancel. But that didn’t mean Jeremy wasn’t going to get his multi-course dinner party… I split it up into lunch and dinner since there was so much food. It’s all of his favorite dishes, which he gets to enjoy throughout the week.

salumi, charcuterie, cheese, crackers, pickled things, bubbles

pan-seared scallops on frisée, corn, cherry tomatoes with white wine reduction sauce

a bowl of lobster corn chowder

miso black cod with baby bok choy and pickled ginger

I had multiple desserts lined up for our guests, but since it was just us, I stuck with the cake. We settled on one candle per decade so we wouldn’t burn the house down. Jeremy had requested a white Russian cake and I decorated it with little chocolate-covered crisped rice pearls. Placing each of those pearls on a cake is a labor of love.

white russian cake with valrhona crunchy chocolate pearls

four layers soaked in boozy goodness

We had the noodle dish at lunch because the Chinese tradition is to eat uncut noodles on your birthday for long life. There are so many noodle dishes to choose from, but I already knew he loves this one in particular and with good reason! It has chanterelles.

pasta, bacon, chanterelles, parmesan, garlic, butter, salt, parsley, cream, white wine, pepper

**Jump for more butter**