COOKING BASICS:SIMPLE SAUCES AND HOMEMADE PASTA

3 Mar
 

Menu

Basic Pasta Dough

Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce with Fettuccine

Shrimp and Asparagus in a Light Tomato Broth with Farfalle

Orecchiette with Broccoli and Italian Sausage in a Garlic and Oil Sauce

Gnudi in a Sage and Brown Butter Sauce

 

 

 

 

This week’s class was a wonderful success and I had the opportunity to meet some great people who prepared some delicious dishes by the end of the night! Thank you ladies for joining the class,  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. For those of you not in my local area, here are the recipes we prepared in class as well as the “notes”. For pictures  and step by step instructions on homemade pasta check out this earlier post. https://lessonsinfood.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/the-lactose-challenge-cousinschefs-take-on-homemade-ricotta-ravioli/

Thoughts on homemade pasta and simple sauce making

  • Fresh pasta is not considered better, just different: Fresh pasta is a lot of fun and a lot of work. It is very different in texture and has a doughier yet lighter feel to it. In Italy it is not considered better than dried pasta just because it is made fresh; it is simply just a different method.
  • Fresh herbs should be added towards the end of a dish so they retain their color and fresh taste and dried herbs should be allowed to cook for a longer period of time.
  • Tossing cooked pasta in the sauce helps the pasta absorb all of the flavor and it properly “dresses” the pasta equally.
  • Pasta needs an abundant amount of salted water to “swim” in as it cooks. Always save pasta cooking water to extend your sauce. It is seasoned and starchy from the pasta and works better than water.
  • Fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried pasta but it is still important not to over cook it or it will become mushy. It won’t exactly be “al dente” in the same way dried will, so test it often your first time cooking it.
  • Homemade pasta depends on the weather: Depending on the moisture in the room you are working in, your pasta will need more or less flour. Don’t add all the flour at once; you can always add more if it’s too sticky but you can’t take it out if it is too dry.
  • If you don’t have a pasta rolling machine you can use a rolling-pin to roll sheets and cut shapes by hand. If you are looking in to purchasing a pasta rolling machine and you already have a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, I highly recommend the pasta rolling attachment. The hand crank ones work well but require a little more time than the attachment.
  • In the world of tomatoes, fresh is not necessarily better than canned: Most taste testers prefer the depth of flavor from a quality canned tomato. I prefer San Marzano canned whole plum tomatoes. A fresh tomato sauce gives a very light subtle flavor in comparison, it is delicious but very different from the deep rich tomato sauce most people are used to with pasta.
  • Quality ingredients really matter: I made a soup last week with a boxed broth that I didn’t like the flavor of and in the end, just as I knew would happen, I didn’t like the soup. If you start with fresh quality ingredients that you prefer, your dish will be that much better. In my opinion freshly grated cheeses are a completely different flavor than the pre-grated jar kind.  Many chefs highly encourage the use of extra virgin olive oil but I happen to dislike olives and find extra virgin overpowering for my taste, even when I have purchased the really good kind. The point is to invest and buy the best you can find of what YOU like and what matters most to you in a dish.
  • Taste, season and taste again: Never wait until the end of recipe to taste it. The most important thing you can do to improve your sauces is to taste often and adjust the seasonings accordingly.
  • Use kosher salt or sea salt and freshly ground peppers: Kosher and sea salts have a cleaner less chemical flavor. They are also larger and therefore season more evenly. Freshly ground peppercorns have a bright fruitiness and bite that truly blow the pre-ground stuff away.
  • Reduction=Flavor: What does water taste like? Nothing. The more you cook something, the more the water in it evaporates. As water evaporates the remaining flavors concentrate. Therefore the more you reduce something, the more concentrated the flavor becomes.
  • Garlic and onion flavor changes depending on cooking method and size: Minced garlic and onion is strong and pungent as compared to sliced or diced, which is milder and mellower. Burning either of these ingredients turns them bitter and will ruin a dish completely, but gently caramelizing them until golden brown turns them incredibly sweet. It really depends on what type of flavor and level of “bite” you want in your dish.
  • Recipes are flexible:  Each person that prepares a recipe will prepare it in their own way, with every subtle change they make, the recipe changes. If you see something is not working the way you think it should, adjust it. Add things you like, take out things you don’t. A recipe should be adapted to each person that prepares it. Unless you are baking, which has direct changes to the product when steps or ingredients are changed, feel free to add your own creative touches.

Basic Pasta Dough – adapted from Mario Batali 

·         2 cups flour

·         2 large eggs

·         1 tablespoon olive oil

·         1/2 teaspoon salt

 

1.       In a bowl, combine salt and flour.

2.       On a clean work surface, pour 1 1/2 cups of flour salt mixture out into one mound.

3.       Make a well in the center of the flour mound, making sure the walls of the well are even in height.

4.       In a bowl, beat together eggs and olive oil.

5.       Pour eggs into the center of the well.

6.       Using a fork, begin to gently incorporate the eggs into the flour by whisking the inner rim of the well into the eggs.

7.       Continue mixing until you can gather the dough into one mass.

8.       Clean work surface of any remaining pieces of dough.

9.       Pour out the remaining flour and knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until elastic and smooth.

10.   Cover the dough and lest rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

  

 

Gnudi ( Ricotta Gnocchi) in a Sage and Brown Butter Sauce

 Adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food

 

 

·         1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese

·         1/3 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated

·         1 large egg yolk

·         1 cup flour

·         1/2 teaspoon salt

·         4 tablespoons butter

·         10 small sage leaves, minced

1.       In a bowl, mix together ricotta cheese, pecorino, egg and salt.  

2.       Add in half of the flour gently, by mixing with a wooden spoon.

3.       Pour the rest of the flour onto a clean work surface and place the dough on it.

4.       Gently knead remaining flour into the dough.

5.       Cut the dough into 8 pieces.

6.       Re-flour the work surface and roll each piece into a log.

7.       Cut 1/2 inch pieces from each log.

To cook gnocchi:

1.       Gently drop gnocchi into salted boiling water and remove with a slotted spoon when they float to the surface.

2.       To make sage and brown butter sauce:

3.       In a large non-stick skillet, melt 4 TBL butter and cook over medium heat until the butter barely begins to turn golden brown.

4.       Add in minced sage and fry until crispy but not burnt, about 1 minute.

5.       Add in olive oil and cooked gnocchi and saute over medium heat until then begin to crisp up.

6.       Sprinkle with grated pecorino cheese and serve immediately.

  

Orecchiette with Broccoli and Italian Sausage in a Garlic and Oil Sauce

·         4 tablespoons olive oil

·         3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

·         1 pound Italian sausage, skins removed and crumbled

·         1/2 head broccoli, chopped

·         1/4 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated

·         1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

·         salt

·         freshly ground pepper

·         1 pound orecchiette pasta, cooked

 

1.       Boil water for pasta and prepare as directed. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water for sauce. 

2.       In a large stainless steel skillet, saute garlic in olive oil until slightly caramelized.

3.       Add sausage and cook until golden brown, use a wooden spoon to break it up as it browns, about 5 minutes.

4.       Add broccoli and 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water to deglaze the pan, cover and let steam for 2 minutes.

5.       Remove cover and loosen any remaining fond on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

6.       Taste and season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

7.       Add in orrechiette pasta and toss.

8.       Remove from heat and stir in grated cheese.

9.       Drizzle with olive oil.

 

 

Shrimp and Asparagus in a Light Tomato Broth with Farfalle

 

·         1 tablespoon butter and olive oil

·         6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

·         1 pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined

·         1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces

·         1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

·         1/2 cup white wine

·         1/2 cup chicken broth

·         1 pound bow-tie pasta, cooked

·         salt

·         freshly ground pepper

·         fresh herbs such as parsley, tarragon, or basil, minced

 

1.       Begin to prepare the pasta according to directions.

2.       In the meantime, begin browning about a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet. This brings out a nuttiness and depth of flavor to the butter. Just as the milk solids begin to brown, add olive oil to extend the butter and raise the smoke point of the mixture so it does not burn.

3.       Add the sliced garlic and watch carefully as it begins to turn lightly golden brown.

4.       Pat the clean shrimp dry so it can sear up in the pan and achieve a crust rather than steam and become mushy.

5.       Over medium high heat, saute the shrimp. Flip to the other side when the first side becomes opaque and pink. Once the shrimp has been seared, remove from the pan and place on a plate.

6.       Add the asparagus to the pan and cook for 2 minutes and remove from the pan. It is important not to over cook the asparagus because it will be put back into the pan later.

7.       Add the white wine,lemon juice and chicken broth to the pan along with the drained diced tomatoes. Scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, this will bring more flavor to the sauce.

8.       As the pasta boils, continue to cook the tomatoes over high heat until the liquid reduces by half. This will concentrate the flavor as the liquid evaporates and the mixture reduces. (Flavor = reduction)

9.       Taste the concentrated tomato mixture and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, the flavor will be tart from the acidic wine and lemon.

10.   Remove the cooked pasta directly from the water and place into the pan with the concentrated tomato mixture.

11.   Add olive oil and some of the starchy salted pasta water to moisten the sauce if needed.

12.   Add back in the shrimp and asparagus and fresh herbs of your choice. Toss together and serve immediately.

13.   Garnish with fresh lemon and freshly grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese.

Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce with Fettuccine

 

·         1 large onion, diced

·         3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

·         3 tablespoons olive oil

·         2 tablespoons butter

·         12 medium plum tomatoes, diced

·         1/4 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced

·         salt

·         freshly ground black pepper

·         1 pound fettuccine, cooked

 

1.       Boil water for pasta and prepare as directed. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water for sauce. 

2.       In a large stainless steel skillet, saute garlic in olive oil until slightly caramelized.

3.       Add sausage and cook until golden brown, use a wooden spoon to break it up as it browns, about 5 minutes.

4.       Add broccoli and 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water to deglaze the pan, cover and let steam for 2 minutes.

5.       Remove cover and loosen any remaining fond on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

6.       Taste and season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

7.       Add in orrechiette pasta and toss.

8.       Remove from heat and stir in grated cheese.

9.       Drizzle with olive oil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Response to “COOKING BASICS:SIMPLE SAUCES AND HOMEMADE PASTA”

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  1. Creamy Corn Fettucine with Late Summer Tomatoes and Fresh Basil « Lessons in Food - September 30, 2011

    […] my post for Homemade Pasta recipe and […]

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