Friday, January 8, 2016

Pasta Carbonara

This recipe was a necessity for me to learn, since my husband ate Carbonara every day during our honeymoon in Italy. I copied down the recipe used by La Carbonara in Rome, from a travel show I was watching one day. I have altered it to my own taste. The traditional Carbonara is made with spaghetti, but I have never liked the texture of spaghetti and am not enough of a slave to tradition to make this recipe with it. I have also added more cheese and eggs for a creamier taste without resorting to using cream. Fettucine is pictured here: 

1 lb linguine or fettucine
5 eggs, 2 whole and 3 extra yolks
1/3 lb pancetta cut into a small dice
Freshly ground black pepper corns
3/4C Romano Cheese
3/4C Parmigiano

While you are boiling the water for the linguine, slice, dice and saute the pancetta until it's lightly browned on the edges. If pancetta is unavailable, you can substitute a lean non smoked bacon, but do attempt to find panchetta, as it is a better tasting product. Better yet, use guanciale, the traditional Italian ingredient. Then lightly drain off the fat and set aside. The point to sauteing the pancetta is to render the fat, not to make it very crisp.

Place the shelled eggs and extra yolks into a small bowl and beat until well blended. Grind the fresh black peppercorns into a medium courseness, then add and beat into the eggs. Set the bowl aside, with the grated cheese and mix them together just before adding to the drained pasta.

As soon as the linguine is al dente, drain the pasta and take a cup of the pasta water and set aside. Turn off the heat, and place the pancetta into the bottom of the empty pasta pot, and proceed to add back the pasta, then stir them together. Now add the cheese into the bowl with the egg and mix to combine them. The pot will be hot from the boiling water and that residual heat is what will cook and thicken this egg sauce. Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the pasta and stir quickly to create the thickened sauce.

Use a little of the reserved pasta water, if necessary to help the cheese to melt and the egg to become creamy. Use 1T at a time, only if the pasta looks dry and is difficult to stir. Adding too much will ruin the recipe; adding too little can easily be adjusted. This particular making of the recipe did not require any of the pasta water at all. The last photo clearly shows that the cheese had melted and the sauce was already creamy.
If you have failed to turn off the heat, you will have scrambled egg pasta, not Carbonara.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Pasta Frittata

Ever since I heard that Italians made a frittata with leftover pasta I’ve been wanting to try one. Nonna ate plenty of leftover pasta for breakfast, and Nana reheated pasta all the time with a tiny bit of water to keep it from drying out, but neither of them ever mixed it with an egg, nor had they fried it in olive oil.
For more years than I can remember, we never accumulated leftover pasta. But now, I find myself not eating portions as large as they used to be, so on this occasion the leftovers were available, although there wasn’t a large amount. I had about a cup of leftover perciatelli, that is a bit wider than spaghetti, made with my standard meat sauce and sprinkled with Pecorino Romano cheese, so I mixed it a little at a time with 3 extra large eggs.
I heated a non stick frying pan with a little extra virgin olive oil and brought it to a medium temperature, then added the egg and pasta mixture. I lowered the heat slightly and when the edges looked brown, took a peek underneath to see of it looked ready to turn over. With a spatula I did turn over the frittata.
It was a beautiful golden brown, so I cooked the 2nd side to match, then plated the entire thing. This dish could work very well as part of a brunch menu.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Monkey Shine


I’m now getting curious as to whether or not I can come up with a good cocktail recipe. The answer would have to be no because everything I like to drink is sweet, so a serous mixologist would have a good laugh at my expense. However a drink to be served with dessert is right up my alley.


It amazes me that we have accumulated so much alcohol, since I barely drink, but manage to do the lion’s share of the purchasing in our household. Anyway, I had many wonderful items to select from to create my first dessert drink. Naming it was fun and definitely based on the fact that I mixed a coconut syrup and banana flavored vodka into the concoction.


Wanting to use up some dark colored Creme de Cacao that my husband bought, I started with a jigger of that, then went on to add a jigger of the banana flavored vodka. This drink was loosely based on a Black Russian


To continue with the tropical elements of the drink, I decided to use 1 tablespoon of a coconut flavored simple syrup and closed with a tablespoon of Half & Half. It was really good! If you like a White Russian you should have no trouble drinking this.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Farro and Wild Rice



I believe I have become an expert at using up leftover wild rice, when I see small amounts left in the package. It can add flavor and texture to soups and now it can work well at improving eye appeal when mixed with farro as a whole grain side dish. Since they both take the same amount of time to cook, they make great partners.


1C farro

1/2C wild rice

2 1/2C water

2 porcini bouillon cubes

1oz dried porcini



Boil the water over a high flame and add the bouillon cubes to flavor this side dish. Rinse the grains, drain and add to the boiling broth.


Bring the broth to a rolling boil, then add the dried porcini mushrooms and stir thoroughly. Cover the pot with a lid and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, check to see if all the liquid has been absorbed. Continue simmering until the grain has fully absorbed all the broth and when it does remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Add a pat of butter if you’d like and fluff up the grain before serving.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Merguez Lamb Sausage and Dal Soup


Whenever I see Merguez sausages as a specialty grocer I buy a few packages. This recipe was the first time I ever used them to flavor a soup and it proved to be a good concept.


4-6 Merguez sausages

1 medium yellow onion

2small interior stalks of celery

2t dried thyme leaves

2T extra virgin olive oil

2C dal (orange lentils)

Water to cover by 2” (8-10C)



Finely dice the onion and celery stalks with leaves and saute in a small amount of olive oil before adding the thyme.


Slice the Merguez sausages into 1/4 –1/2 pieces and add to the onions and celery. continue to saute until the meat looks lightly cooked. Browning the meat will make the soup richer in taste, but doing so may also over cook the onions which could burn and become bitter tasting. If you want to brown the meat, first push the onions and celery to the edge of the pot and move that portion of the pot slightly off the burner.



Rinse the dal, add to the pot and fill the pot with water so there is 2” of water above the surface of the other ingredients. Boil the water, stir the ingredients and turn the heat down to low. Cover with a lid and stir every 15 minutes until the soup is ready. The red lentils will be soft when the soup is ready.



When I try this recipe again I plan to add diced Yukon gold potatoes towards the end of the cooking process, to enhance the texture of this dish. By the time I took it off the heat, the lentils had completely broken down.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Cumin Seed Omelette



2-3 eggs


3 sprigs cilantro

cheddar cheese

1t cumin seeds

butter or extra virgin olive or both


This was easily one of the best omelettes I have ever made. I wanted a Mexican flavor so after whipping up 2 eggs and thinning the batter with a splash of milk, I decided to make use of the cumin seeds in the pantry. I heated a frying pan with olive oil and a pat of butter and proceeded to toast the seeds, then added the eggs on top and lowered the heat.

As the eggs were starting to set around the edge of the frying pan, I shredded some sharp cheddar cheese and tossed a small handful into the pan. I added the chopped cilantro, then folded the omelette over on itself to finish cooking.


I tried some taco sauce on part of it, but preferred it without.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cranberry Stilton Salad



Romaine lettuce

Red Salad Bowl lettuce

Cranberry Stilton Cheese

red onion

extra virgin olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Salt and crushed pepper



Cut or tear the washed lettuce, pat dry with a cotton kitchen towel and add to a large mixing bowl. Slice the red onion very thin and add to the lettuce. Drizzle lightly with the olive oil, add salt and freshly cracked black pepper, then toss the salad. Crumple the stilton over the top of the salad and add the Balsamic vinegar.


Now all you need to do is toss the salad lightly and plate. This is a refreshing and slightly sweet salad that reminds me of warm weather even in the winter or our overcast summers in San Francisco. It also works well with Apricot Stilton.