Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pasta with Pesto Trapanese (tomatoes and almonds)

Adapted from Gourmet.

Use whichever pasta is your fave, but I think a linguine or spaghetti works best with this. I usually go for a wheat or whole grain pasta, but it's all up to you!


3/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds (alternatively, you can use pre-roasted almonds)
1 large handful fresh basil leaves
2 large garlic cloves
Several sprinkles of sea salt
6 ripe plum tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
1 pound linguine or spaghetti


In a large skillet, sauté the almonds in a little olive oil until toasted (if you get the sliced or slivered almonds, not the roasted kind). Let cool, then blend them in a food processor or blender until they are coarsely chopped. Remove from the processor and set them aside.

Put the basil, garlic and a few pinches of sea salt into the food processor and chop. Add the almonds back to the food processor (keeping them separate keeps the almonds from getting too finely chopped) with the tomatoes, cheese and olive oil and process briefly. Season with freshly ground black pepper and adjust the salt to your taste.

Cook your pasta until it is al dente and could use another minute of cooking time. Reserve one cup of pasta cooking water and drain the rest. Immediately toss the hot pasta a bit at a time with the pesto and mix quickly so that it drinks the sauce up a bit. Add more pasta water if needed, and pasta (I usually end up using 3/4 of a box depending on how juicy the sauce is). Serve warm with a heft sprinkling of fresh parmesan or pecorino and freshly ground pepper.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Penne Frittata with Ricotta and Basil

Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

Take a chance on this awesome little pasta dish/egg dish and do yourself a favor. It's good hot, or room temperature snuggled between two pieces of crusty bread.


6 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups cooked and drained penne rigate pasta (or 7oz. dry...or whatever you have in the fridge)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Garnish: fresh basil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together eggs, milk, ricotta, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir in cooked pasta and chopped basil.

Heat a 10-inch ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat. Add oil; swirl to coat bottom and sides of skillet. Pour in egg mixture, and cook until edges are just beginning to set, about 2 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven, and bake until eggs are completely set, 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove to a plate, and or serving dish. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges. Garnish with basil.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Homemade Vanilla

Loosely adapted from Barefoot Contessa, the mixture of alcohol and vanilla beans is simple. Make sure to clean and sterilize the jars beforehand (steep in boiling water for about 10 minutes, then let dry completely.)


1 cup good-quality rum or vodka
3 medium vanilla beans (or 1.5 fat ones)


Using a sharp knife, slice down the side of the vanilla bean, exposing the seeds. Place the vanilla bean(s) in a clean jar. Carefully pour the vodka or rum into the jar and seal tightly. Shake a few times, then place the jar in a dark cabinet, and let rest approximately 8 weeks. And voila! Vanilla.

(Alternatively...and while I obviously haven't tried it yet, you can use mostly vodka, which is what I did, but with a splash of rum on top.)

Also, keep in mind this vanilla is meant to last forever! As you use the vanilla in cooking, refill it with alcohol so it continues to steep. Also add in a new vanilla bean every so often, and remove the old ones. The lovely cycle is bound to continue for years. I'm looking forward to it.