Pasta

Ode to Autumn

Posted by on Oct 6, 2016 in Pasta | 2 comments

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Fall is coming in Costa Mesa when the mammoth French Maple hovering over our patio drops its dinner plate sized leaves, now twisted brown and crunching on the concrete; no cool breeze nor whiffs of embers (unless there’s a brush fire stoked by Santa Ana Winds inland or south), only tumbling withered curled leafy notes shoved in corners, serenaded by pesky wild parrots, descendants from a couple of lost pet birds in the 70’s.

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The coconut oil solidifies in the jar; we place designer pumpkins and autumn-hued mums on our porches and maybe put a blanket on the bed. Oh my, palm to head, we fabricate.

I see myself in October Vermont (it’s a real place) wearing a cute sweater, splitting and stacking wood, tapping maple trees, and lollygagging with a pumpkin pie tweeting Christopher Kimball inside an old red-worn covered bridge.

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Summer does spoil me; cooking is merely roasting stone fruits and veggies, whisking together citrusy vinaigrette, then, assembling the caboodle with layers of fresh greens, grilled shishito peppers, maybe fresh fish and other farmers’ market or garden bounty on a clean white platter.

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So with the doors wide open,

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I counted eighteen ingredients for this Cooking Light Veggie-Packed Bolognese, including the water. Since bread, pasta, meat, and cheese are all shameful in some way—the sting was removed from the dish by allowing six ounces of 90% lean beef (not a half a pound), steered guilt-free by four ounces of whole wheat pasta, twelve ounces of spiralized squash, finally bolstered by two kinds of mushrooms and finished with a ton of vegetables and walnuts.

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A few notes before I eat crow parrot.  Take time to prep the vegetables in small dice; pulse the mushrooms and garlic in the food processor; size matters.

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The neck of the squash spiralized beautifully but was only half of the amount needed;

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So, either julienne the rest of the round bottom (where you’ve removed the seeds) or use two squash.

If you are opposed to beef (I used 8 ounces), ground turkey or chicken would work as well; or make it vegetarian by using a pound of mushrooms.  Don’t be tempted to skip the porcini; they add a rich woodsy umami.  I opted for fresh oregano and loved the floral note; it’s super strong so, scale it back to taste or go with dried oregano.

Skip the pasta; the sauce is gluten- free (bulk up the veggie noodles).  Omit the pasta and cheese; it's Whole30 compliant ( check tomato product labels for sugar).

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In my opening, I poked fun at  the random sundry ingredients.  This sauce is rich and toothsome with a surprising depth without long simmering.  It teems with versatility; like a sauce for baked pasta or pooled over grilled polenta--- Bellissimo!

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I usually don’t apologize for lousy photos—but these were hard colors to shoot once tossed at twilight without ‘people’.  Trust the online photo that accompanies the recipe 🙂

Projected Path and Intensity

In addition, my tongue in cheek look at our weather is just that.  My prayers today lie in the eye of Matthew and those in harm's way...

Photographs and text used on cococooks belong to me, Peggy Lunde unless linked otherwise.

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Fast Forward

Posted by on Jun 30, 2016 in Cookies, Pasta | 0 comments

Looking back—that’s what I mentioned; then it happened--

m and L grad

in two short years since my sweet sixteen post, Madelynne has graduated from high school with honors and awarded a Nursing scholarship; participating in the Next Generation Service Corps at ASU.  She’s buying dorm room linens, packing her bags, and the rest of us are holding back the years.

Maddy and Luke baloons

Rather than busting out the tears, I’ll show you one of the major cookie sensations I baked up for her graduation party with minor thoughts of Fourth of July sweets on the horizon as well.

Sally’s Baking Addiction probably blew up the internet when she posted a recipe for Toasted S'mores Chocolate Chip Cookies. The cookie is not a last minute treat; it requires a detailed process and patience, so plan ahead.  You are going to love this one…

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The cookie dough is prepared first with melted butter and a secret ingredient, cornstarch, and MUST chill for a couple of hours up to 3 days.

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Proceed by shaping the cookies into balls and baking for 10 minutes (I’m still getting accustomed to convection cooking times and temperatures).

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Check the cookies at eight minutes.  Meanwhile, round up the s’mores toppings to be placed on top of the nearly baked cookies.  Little collections of 3 worked for me.

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Quickly poke them on top of each cookie and bake for 2 more minutes.

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I wasn’t brave enough to broil them for 30 seconds to replicate the toasted s’more ethos; instead I got out MP’s giant blow torch and made quick work of those babies!

 

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Spring Eats

Posted by on May 31, 2016 in Pasta | 1 comment

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On that Friday, before I admitted I was ill, my friend Martha (who used to live here), and I lunched at Mozza, where Mario Batali’s unapologetic cutting edge playlist descends foremost; received either like a raised brow frown or a high beam grin.  Next, aroma and hospitality glide you to your table and time rests for a while, in the manner of fine dining or spontaneous respite and virtuous sourced food shaped by gifted hands ought to.  Although we didn’t eat much, we splurged on ultra-special antipasti with abandon—our conversation and connection never missing a high or low note after nine years!

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Spring Peas Salad with Mint and Cacio de Roma cheese; a young, tangy, semi-soft Italian sheep’s cheese.

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Creamy, oozy Buratta, imported from Puglia--with chunks of rustic bread elevated with Maldon Salt

Fantastic!

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Get out the slow cooker…

Posted by on May 16, 2016 in Pasta | 0 comments

Slow Cooker Baked Ziti

slow cooker ziti_blog_PSphoto source: 12 Tomatoes

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One more time; a bird’s eye quick video clip complete with Italian tunes cajoled me into assembling 12 Tomatoes Baked Ziti in the slow cooker.

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I followed instructions and painted butter on the inside of the pot before assembling layers of marinara, ricotta mixture, pasta, and cheese.

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A little tip I learned from a chef here-- Place a cartouche (a fancy name for a piece of parchment paper) over the pasta to help contain the moisture.

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After four hours on high, load on the final cheese layer and hit the road...

Remember those crazy days that stretch from May until the school bell rings (or buzzes) in June announcing –it’s over.

Ultimately, this yummy crock of pasta was on call dishing out comfort in waves to my kiddos stretching 4 o’clock, after volleyball practice until 9ish when Ty and Luke cleaned up the toasty edges—so I heard.

maddy with pasta

♥ ♥ ♥

 

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Bless Her Heart

Posted by on Apr 13, 2016 in Pasta | 0 comments

Daphne Oz takes a lot of social media heat and she glows by the fire; I am a fan.  Among other things, she brings a healthy, kid-friendly balance to otherwise cheffy dishes on ABC’s, The Chew.  Before we left on MP’s award trip (more about that later) I put together her simple, lightened up Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese. 

Daphne Oz

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In addition, I used fresh cubed squash available in most markets now.  Gluten-free kiddos?  Use appropriate pasta.

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There are other variations; Daphne’s technique mimics a rich, indulgent béchamel sauce by steeping the squash in milk; cool trick. I will add, don’t worry if the milk looks curdled.

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Once the squash is tender, add to a blender (I used a food processor) and puree until smooth.

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Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet; add the minced shallot (and a hefty pinch of crushed red pepper in our pot) and sauté shallot until tender seasoning with salt and pepper.

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Pour in the squash puree, stock,

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a generous amount of nutmeg, and cheese. Simmer about 5 minutes until thickened.

Cook the elbow macaroni according to package directions.  The recipe calls for a full pound—I suggest 12 ounces or three-quarters of the pasta. Drain the pasta, reserving ½-3/4's cup of pasta water; add enough pasta water to loosen the sauce.

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Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings; then toss with the elbow macaroni.

A final step includes topping the dish with toasted panko breadcrumbs—but I skipped this

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and served it straight up garnished with freshly chopped parsley, a handful of halved cherry tomatoes, and a snowy shower of more cheese.

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Not particularly fancy, but satisfying, veggie sweet and creamy without going overboard.

I dug it, although it wasn’t MP’s favorite—Silly Poppy!

Let me know how Kate, Lauren, Wyatt, and Sawyer like this one.

♥ ♥ ♥

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Positively Irresistible

Posted by on Apr 6, 2016 in Pasta | 1 comment

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Blame it on all the hiking; craving pasta and this happens.

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A perfectly ripened Pinkerton avocado, a cup of spinach, end of the week basil, cherry tomatoes, and Meyer lemon connect; spinning and whirling for a green magic moment—then at divine peace-- slithering over whole wheat spaghetti strands.

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Load a food processor with the sauce elements and boil the pasta according to the package instructions (usually 10 minutes).  When the pasta is done, drain reserving ¾ cup of the cooking water.

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Process the sauce until smooth, adding ½ cup (or more) of the warm pasta water until it is loose enough to combine with the pasta.

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Unlike Cooking Light’s, Spaghetti with Spinach-Avocado Sauce, I added halved cherry tomatoes and toasted pine nuts as a garnish; omitting the rather silly addition of twelve cannellini beans.  You know MP got out a nutty wedge of Parmesan cheese too, right?

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You’ve been warned;

I swooned just like when you think you sing like Adele.

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