Archive for the 'Pasta' Category

Recipe: My Ricotta Gnocchi

|April 29, 2012|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

My Ricotta Gnocchi

approx. 15 oz. ricotta – I say that because that is the approximate amount I get from making my homemade ricotta
2 large eggs
about 1 c. flour – enough to make a soft dough
pinch salt

Combine and work as my potato gnocchi.

repost from my potato gnocchi -

Add about a cup of flour and couple eggs, pinch of salt. Using a pastry scraper for this makes it easy.

As far as adding the flour goes, you don't want a tacky dough and it all depends on the weather, humidity, etc.

Once my dough is ready I cut off a piece and roll by hand into a long rope, cut in about 3/4-inch pieces.

Many shape the dough pieces using the tines of a fork – my family has what we call "gnocchi thumbs" that do a fabulous job without the fork.

Cook in boiling water (like any pasta – boil the water, add salt and return to a full boil) in batches if necessary. They will float when done. Drain and continue to use in your recipes.

Recipe: My Potato Gnocchi

|April 22, 2012|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Gnocchi has always been one of my favorites – and it is so easy to make –

I love them in sauce, soups, casseroles and salads!

Once again, forgive me for the measurements, I never learned to measure – unless of course you call using a coffee cup and and dessertspoon measuring like mom, gram, great-gram, etc.

Boil about 2 pounds potatoes in salted water – russets are nice for this, peel, mash while hot.  Don't over-mash – just remove the lumps.  Allow to cool a bit (you don't want to cook your eggs when you add them).

Mash – yes, mash and not with a potato masher – use a fork – no I do not like the "ricer routine" – to us it's a waste of time.  

Add about a cup of flour and couple eggs, pinch of salt.  Using a pastry scraper for this makes it easy.

As far as adding the flour goes, you don't want a tacky dough and it all depends on the weather, humidity, etc.

Once my dough is ready I cut off a piece and roll by hand into a long rope, cut in about 3/4-inch pieces.

Many shape the dough pieces using the tines of a fork – my family has what we call "gnocchi thumbs" that do a fabulous job without the fork.

Cook in boiling water (like any pasta – boil the water, add salt and return to a full boil) in batches if necessary.  They will float when done.  Drain and continue to use in your recipes.

Recipe: Pork and percitelli

|March 26, 2012|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Just a quickie meal – pork and percitelli -

I don't care what anyone says, even though I love meat sauce using ground meat, there is just something about adding pork to your sauce to give it "that" flavor.  Many times I add pork to my meat (beef) sauce, and I also love chicken added.  I don't add chicken legs, nor do I add thighs or breasts with bones in them.  I have this fear of someone choking and chicken in sauce is stringy enough without me having to worry about adding bones!  A good skinless, boneless piece of chicken is heaven in sauce.

I fried my pork (this was boneless country ribs) in olive oil and seasoned with my garlic, Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, parsley.  When just about done, I added my puree and paste.  I had a couple fresh tomatoes that were getting a bit too ripe so I scored them and plunged in boiling water to skin; then chopped and added to the pan with a bit of water.  Season with fennel (yes, fennel really adds when you have pork in your sauce, basil, parsley, garlic, Kosher salt, fresh ground black peper, a bit of onion powder, sprinkle of sugar, and fresh grated Pecorino-Romano.

Allow to simmer while you bring a large pot of water to boil – add your salt, return to boil, add perticelli and cook al dente – which only took about 8 minutes.

 

A simple side salad with homemade vinaigrette and a chunk of homemade bread to sop up everything.

Yeah – I still break bread………

Recipe: Making a quick sauce in 10 minutes or less –

|August 26, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

It’s Thursday!

Yep – it’s pasta day and I have no time for much today – but I still have to cook.

Place the pasta pot on the stove with cold water in it and bring to a rolling boil; add salt and wait for the water to return to a full boil; drop in 1 pound spaghetti and cook al dente.

Meanwhile, heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a can of diced tomatoes with sweet onions; season with just a bit of Kosher salt (very little – because I am adding olives that are highly salted), cracked black pepper, onion powder, garlic, parsley and basil; bring to a simmer to desired thickness; add green pimiento-stuffed olives. Heat through.

Drain spaghetti. Mine was tossed with the tomato-onion sauce with olives; while the rest was drained, placed in a hot pot of oil and seasoned with Kosher salt, cracked black pepper, garlic and parsley. I had to have tomatoes – others wanted spaghetti in oil. Just a light sprinkle of grated Pecorino Romano to top it off.

Crusty Italian bread to complete a very easy to prepare meal!

Recipe: A meal in less than 30 minutes – from May 2010

|August 25, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Recipe: Lazy Eggplant Lasagna

|June 25, 2011|read comments (6)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

We've all heard about Lazy Pierogie – so why not try Lazy Eggplant Lasagna?

This didn't take long to make at all – it's so hot and humid that I took a jar of my homemade meat sauce out of the freezer the day before to thaw so that I could use it and not need to have a pot of sauce simmering on the stove! 

 This is a smaller eggplant than I would normally use because I made a smaller lasagna than normal. - - 

 

First, I combined my whole-milk ricotta with my chopped spinach.  You can wilt fresh spinach – but I chose to use frozen, cook and drain well and chop.  I used barely half the box – saved the remainder for another meal.  Allow to cool before adding to the cheese.  Seasoned with Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, fresh minced parsley (dried is fine to use) and mixed well.  Cover and refrigerate.

 

 

Wash and peel your eggplant.  Normally I would slice my eggplant – but this time I diced it instead.  I wasn't using lasagna noodles so why go for the slices?

 

Dip in beaten egg and dredge in seasoned bread crumbs – dry bread crumbs, Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, garlic, onion powder, fresh minced parsley (dried is fine to use).

 

Well – you know the routine – heat your skillet, add your olive oil, heat your oil, and THEN add your breaded eggplant.  Fry until tender/light golden.

Meanwhile, I placed my pot of water on the stove to boil to cook my macaroni.  While waiting, I transferred the cooked eggplant to a dish to cool for just a bit, sliced my brick of mozzarella (which could easily have been grated – I sliced by choice) and I spooned about a half a quart of my sauce into a bowl.

Once again – you know the routine – pot of water comes to a rolling boil, add your salt and wait for the water to return to a full rolling boil, add your macaroni and cook al dente.  Drain well and do not rinse.

I used a few handfuls of medium shells, rotini, and cut ziti – a great way to use up macaroni!  And since they all cook at the same time – it was easy.  Once thoroughly drained, I stirred the cooked macaroni into my bowl of sauce and coated well.

 

I placed a couple spoons of sauce into my baking dish and topped with half my macaroni; spread my ricotta/spinach mixture over the top.

 

Then top this with cooked and partially cooled eggplant.  At this point you can sprinkle with grated mozzarella if you want.  I didn't do it this time.  Top with remaining macaroni, added a bit more sauce to the top of that and spread sliced mozzarella around the top.

 

Even though it was so hot and humid – I still preheated my oven to 350* F. and placed the lasagna in for 20 minutes – because this is not a big casserole dish.  A larger dish would take longer.

 

Enjoyed with a nice salad of greens and some onion bread.

If you didn't read my post about Chinese Meatballs then you missed my onion bread recipe – it's right up there with garlic bread – if not better:

Combine softened butter, fresh minced parsley (dried is fine), a bit of Kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper, a sprinkle of onion powder, and fresh grated onion.  Slather on thick-sliced Italian or French bread.  Placed on a baking tray (can be done in the broiler or toaster oven as well) and in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes while the lasagna was heating through.

Mangia!!!

and so simple – did not take long at all to make!

I hope you try this one!

 

 

 

Recipe: Just a couple simple pasta dishes……

|June 13, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Today I would like to share a very simple and delicious pasta dish that is one of our favorites! It’s done in no time and on those busy days – it’s a lifesaver.

Penne with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Simply cook your pasta al dente (you know the routine – bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add salt and wait for it to return to a rolling boil, add pasta and cook).

Add to pot, olive oil and fresh minced garlic, saute – do not brown the garlic (burned garlic is very bitter – toss and start over) add cooked pasta back to pan, pour in the oil from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil (all depending on your taste and how much you are making); stir in a small jar of (drained) marinated artichoke hearts; heat through, season to taste with Kosher salt and fresh ground or cracked black pepper, and serve.

This goes well with a nice salad and of course – crusty Italian bread.

This is very similar to my macaroni and oil – cook pasta as directed above – drain. In same pot, drizzle olive oil and add fresh minced garlic, saute – do not burn. Add pasta bake to pan, season to taste with Kosher salt, fresh ground or cracked black pepper, fresh minced parsley; serve hot.

Once again – this goes great with a salad and crusty Italian bread.

Either one of these dishes can be made with any type of pasta – the choice is yours.

These are just two of the dishes we enjoy on Fridays, or on meatless days during Lent, etc.

If you are a meat eater on those days – no problem. Enjoy as a side with your favorite entrée. And no one said that you can’t add fish or seafood to this!

Just a few notes:
The oil from the sun-dried tomatoes gives this a fabulous flavor. A
mix of equal amounts of olive oil and the oil from the tomato jar is a good ratio to start with – you can adjust from there. Diced or jullienned sun-dried tomatoes go farther than the whole ones do. Add as many drained, marinated artichokes as you want.

Recipe: FETTUCCINE FLORENTINE

|June 10, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

all measurements are approximate -
but this is a dish that is good at any time, as a main meal on those days when meat was forbidden or even as a side dish to compliment a meal –

12 oz. fettucine

Cook pasta in boiling water (bring large pot of water to a full boil, add salt and wait for water to return to a full rolling boil before placing pasta in water) and cook al dente – drain well – do not rinse.

In same pot –
Melt a pat or two of butter and add about 1 teaspoon of olive oil.

Add:
Minced garlic – to taste – saute until soft

Stir in 1 lb. fresh spinach and cook to wilt (a 10 oz. pkg. of frozen, thawed and thoroughly drained spinach).

Return pasta to pan and pour in 1 cup heavy cream heat through.

Transfer to serving dish.

Sprinkle with fresh grated Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan and serve hot.

Recipe: Thursdays in an Italian home

|June 4, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

In our family, as in most Italian families, it was pasta every Thursday and Sunday (as well as holidays and also occasionally on Fridays for those meatless days!) I love my pasta – I could eat it every day. (Even on Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas we still had ravioli, lasagna and "rags" along with the turkey, ham or roast beef and all the trimmings!)

Since tomorrow is Thursday I will continue with the family tradition -

Skillet fried homemade Italian sausage cut into chunks using a bit of olive oil and of course – fresh garlic and fresh parsley.

While that is frying up I will boil my water for pasta…..penne pasta for tomorrow….cooked al dente.

Cooked sausage chunks will be transferred to the pasta platter; penne will return to pot after it is drained with olive oil, julienned sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (and of course a good drizzle of the oil from the jar) and marinated artichokes, drained….heat through. Transfer to pasta platter and mix well with sausage.

Served with a large green salad – romaine, red onion, romas, pepperoncini, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, cracked black pepper, basil and sprinkled with Reggiano….and I won't forget the crusty Italian bread (unsliced of course so we can "break" it!)

For dessert – chocolate chip ice cream spooned into homemade pizzelles shaped into ice cream cone shapes and of course – just plain pizzelles for tea and coffee. I'll probably make chocolate ones too and roll a few into ice cream cone shapes as well.

Recipe: PASTA

|June 3, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Pasta. I think everyone loves pasta. I could live on it.

I learned early in life – there are two types of people in this world – the Italians and those that wanna be! C’mon – face it – you eat pasta, pizza, etc., don’t you? Well – there you have it! Then you’re Italian too!

But seriously – I honestly love pasta.

I don’t care about carbs – your body needs them. Ask any Italian and they will tell you that. During the Great Depression Era – pasta and bread kept our family alive.

Take a good look at Sophie Loren – and she eats pasta every day of her life.

So many think of pasta and think of a larger platter of spaghetti and meatballs! Oh what a wonderful picture! But of course – there are thousands of ways to prepare pasta.

My preference is – HOMEMADE.

There are many different recipes out there for pasta – many written by the “experts” (some of these experts are a joke – the men in my family would throw it instead of eat it!) and then of course, as it is with every nationality and every family, there is the “right,” “genuine,” “authentic,” “only,” etc. way to make pasta. And I love the fighting and arguing among family members about who has the REAL recipe – and believe me – they do that with every recipe.

Pasta or macaroni?

Let’s see – think about this one – although I use the term PASTA – there is also MACARONI and don’t forget the term NOODLES.

So what’s the difference?

The term “pasta” is basically a generic term for all forms of “pastes” consisting of flour and/or semolina, eggs or egg whites but using no water.

The term “macaroni” refers to a “paste” made of flour or flour and semolina, salt and water.

And then there are “noodles” which are thin strips of pasta which are usually dried but can be fresh. Dried noodles are reconstituted by boiling or soaking in water; usually made with flour and/or semolina, whole eggs, and egg whites.

Regardless – as I stated above – pasta (I will use the term pasta for what I am talking about for now) comes either dried or fresh. Dried pasta is the boxed/packaged pasta that you purchase at the supermarket. Fresh pasta is homemade (to me) and you can now purchase it in the refrigerated section of your supermarket. (OMG are my ancestors turning in their graves over that one!)

To me – there are THREE types of pasta – dried, refrigerated from the store, and fresh – which is homemade.

Sorry – refrigerated pasta that can sit on the store shelves for XXX amount of time and still be good to eat? Not in my house. Can you imagine what is in it to make it last that long? Like your body needs more toxins in it! Yes – those chemicals are toxins – we don’t need them.

Making pasta can be as easy as combining flour and/or semolina with eggs. You can add water, salt, herbs, fresh veggies for flavored pastas, potatoes or ricotta cheese for dumpling-type (gnocchi) pasta, etc.

With the many types of pasta how can you get bored with it!

And there are so many different types of sauces that can be used as well.

I’ll talk about sauces in another post.

I learned to make a basic pasta when I was very young. Mom would scoop the flour onto the middle of the table (thoroughly cleaned, of course! Definite rules when being raised by Antiseptic Annie – and yes, I am my mother, my grandmother and my great-grandmother, etc. down the line!) and make a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the well and sprinkle with salt. Using a fork she would begin to beat the eggs right on the table in the well, incorporating the flour as she went along until she had to surrender the fork and work the flour in by hand. Knead; cover and let rest. When ready – roll and cut.

Do I use the table today – sometimes. But I do use a bowl too.

And do I measure? No. I learned how to cook and bake by looking and feeling. It comes natural.

I also make other types of pasta, adding what I want – all depending on what I am making.

I’ve added baking powder, I’ve added milk or cream, I’ve added water, I’ve added oil, I’ve used eggs, I’ve used just egg whites, I’ve added herbs, maybe spinach or carrots (pureed) – I’ve even made wheat pasta. Although most of my pasta is made entirely by hand – I do have a few pasta machines. The hand-crank that you keep adjusting to narrow that skinny useless strip of pasta dough was used once. After two passes of pasta through the machine – it got shelved! It’s been on “hiatus” for years. By the time you get through playing with that thing you can have perfect pasta made, cooked and eaten.

I have a regular pasta machine that makes all types of pasta – still in the box. I bought it not too long ago – but I’m so used to using my “automatic” machine (good ol’ dependable lefty and righty!) that I just seem to “forget” about it till I’m done.

And of course – I have what I call the “slab” – the ravioli maker that makes those cute little squares of ravioli. Place a narrow strip (like what comes off that crank-thing) on the “slab” fill the little holes with a teaspoon of filling, place another narrow strip of pasta from the crank-thing on top of the filling, and place the cutter/sealer on top! Like I enjoy playing with that as well! I even have those round “gizmos” that they sold on TV that come in different sizes – you know – cut, fill and seal – yeah right. Just give me my favorite plastic cup (which I bought decades ago and is the perfect size for making filled pastas and filled cookies and even good-sized biscuits – and my biscuit baking is another story!) and I’m off and running. Cuts easy, fast – no complaints. Fill, foldover (myself) and crimp with my trustworthy fork. Hey – works for me. Worked for mom, worked for gram, worked for great-gram, etc. I do the same for my homemade pierogies!

I was brought up eating “rags”. I still eat rags – they are the best. Rags are just cut homemade pasta – cut in any shape – sometimes a bit thicker and chewier that are the best in a good thick sauce or even great in soups! They are my favorite. And oh so filling. And when make raviolis (or any homemade pasta) I always have an excuse that the leftover scraps need to be used up – as rags.

Even though I still have my great-grams rolling pin and my gram’s and a few others handed down – I prefer to use a dowel for rolling my doughs – whether it is pasta, pie or cookie dough. I’m so used to using dowels that I don’t like the handles on rolling pins.

And then there is HOW TO COOK PASTA -

All pasta should be cooked al dente – meaning to the bite – edible but still firm. Fresh pasta can never by cooked al dente as it is too soft. Cooking pasta to the al dente stage can be tricky since there is a relatively brief midway stage between under-done (when dried pasta is still hard in the middle and fresh pasta tastes “floury”), and over-cooking, where the dish lacks texture and is considered soft and mushy; cooked just enough to maintain a firm, chewy texture.

Begin with a large pot of water – cold water; cover and bring to a full rolling boil, add salt and return to a full rolling boil before adding pasta. Some drizzle a bit of vegetable oil in to prevent the pasta from sticking to the pot. I have a couple pots that I do not have to do that – my pasta doesn’t stick.

Drain well and do not rinse. The only time I rinse pasta is if I am making a cold pasta salad.

Basic Pasta (one of many recipes)

3 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 – 3 tablespoons water

If you want to use a food processor for this – place flour and eggs in processor bowl; add salt and 2 tablespoons water; pulse until s dough begins to form. If too dry add water – drop by drop. Your dough should be firm but not sticky. Process about 15 seconds to knead. Transfer to floured work surface and cover with an inverted bowl; lest rest for 30 to 60 minutes.

After your pasta has rested, knead briefly on lightly floured surface. Roll and cut in desired shapes.

If not using a food processor – combine ingredients in a bowl adding water as instructed above. Knead on floured surface; cover; etc.

Cook following the directions above.

Mangia!