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CookTeaser

Photos, Recipes & CookTales For Those Who Enjoy Cooking

Category Archives: Pasta


A CookTale

To those who remember Gino’s on Lex and 61st, I’m certain you’ll recall their famous Segreto Sauce. Never would they reveal the recipe – when asked their answer was always, “come back tomorrow”. Opened in the 40s, they closed after 65 years, and the Segreto Sauce closed with them. Before that regrettable event, I persuaded friends who were coming for the weekend to do their utmost to wangle a quart container from Franco, a partner and the chef. They did, and I transferred it into four 8 oz containers to be frozen and enjoyed as a wonderful reminder. Last evening, the last one found its way to the dinner table. I wonder if it might have been the last ever to be enjoyed anywhere? If Gino’s brings back memories to you, I’d love to hear about them.


RECIPE
taken directly from a Mario Batali Food Network recipe

Serves 2

A CookTale

More often than not, our eating decisions are “of the moment” – that is, unless we purchased something special, like fresh Sardines. Last evening was a case in point, nothing was preplanned and we were not in the mood to cope with a kitchen of pots and dishes. When I make a Pasta Sauce it’s always a full casserole’s worth, with ample leftovers to fill 8 ounce containers for freezing. My all-time culinary hero Mario Batali’s Ragu recipe is the source of the sauce I used, and I’m happy to share it.

INGREDIENTS

5 TB EVOO
3 TB Butter
1 Carrot, finely diced
1 medium Onion, diced
1 rib Celery, finely diced
1 clove Garlic, sliced
1 lb Veal, ground
1 lb Pork, ground
1/4 lb Pancetta or slab Bacon, ground
1/2 tube Tomato paste
1 cup Milk
1 cup dry white Wine
Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano for grating

METHOD

1. In a 6 to 8-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the Olive Oil and Butter over medium heat. Add the Onions, Celery, and Garlic and sweat over medium heat until the Vegetables are translucent and soft but not browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the Veal, Pork and Pancetta and stir into the Vegetables. Add the Meat over high heat, stirring to keep the Meat from sticking together until browned. Add the Tomato paste, Milk and Wine, and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Season with Salt & Pepper to taste, and remove from the heat.

2. When ready to use, the cooked Pasta should be added to a saucepan with the appropriate amount of hot ragu Bolognese, and tossed so that the pasta is evenly coated by the ragu.


RECIPE

Serves 2

A CookTale

Among the many good thing about being handy in the kitchen is the ability to satisfy one’s sudden urges. Monday I craved Asian Potstickers, last evening it was Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs. It’s still too early in the day to determine tonight. Fortunately, Cathie either goes along with my culinary whims or retreats into a plate of Broccoli. I love the fact that the food life is full of surprises.

INGREDIENTS For the Meatballs

1 pound of ground Chuck & Sirloin Beef
1/2 cup of fresh Bread Crumbs (from a good white bread)
1/3 cup of Parmesan (finely grated)
1 heaping TB of chopped fresh Basil (optional but desirable)
1 heaping TB of chopped fresh Parsley
1 tsp of Kosher Salt + 1/2 tsp of Black Pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 Garlic Clove (minced)
1 Egg
3 TB of EVOO

METHOD

1. In a large bowl, lightly mix all ingredients except the EVOO. Take a portion of meat in hand & form a ball that is firmly packed but not compressed. Repeat, making each Meatball no more than 2 inches in diameter & weighing 2 ounces. (I rely on a scale.)

2. In a large, heavy pot, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. When it begins to shimmer, add meatballs. Do not crowd, cook in batches if necessary. Brown well on their bottoms before turning, or they might break apart.

3. Continue cooking until completely browned . As each batch is finished remove them to a plate . Allow the Meatballs to cool slightly. Keep them warm or refrigerate until needed.


 

RECIPE
Serves 1

A CookTale

Cathie and I both agreed that Shrimp would be the main ingredient. We also agreed to combine it with Pesto. I had fresh Cilantro and Basil waiting to be dealt with, knowing that unless something was done and right now, there would be no tomorrow. At $3.99 a bunch it’s criminal to see Basil go bad overnight. Naturally I opted for Pasta, while Cathie was happy with a green vegetable. With something as simple as grilled Shrimp, there’s no problem with “to each one’s own”.

INGREDIENTS For the Basil Cilantro Pesto & the Pasta

2 TB of Pine Nuts (toasted)
1 bunch of Basil (leaves only)
1/2 bunch of Cilantro (leaves & stems)
2 Garlic cloves
1/2 cup of EVOO
Lemon Juice (optional)
1/3 cup of freshly grated Pecorino Romano
Kosher Salt & fresh Black Pepper (for the pesto)
2 oz of Spaghetti
1 TB of Salt (for the pot)

METHOD

1. In a small skillet, toast the Pine Nuts, shaking the pan occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes.

2. In a food processor, pulse the Pine Nuts with the Basil, Cilantro, Garlic & 1/2 cup of the EVOO until combined. Add the Pecorino Romano & pulse until smooth. Scrap the Pesto into a bowl & season with Salt & Pepper. A squirt of Lemon Juice is optional.

1. Bring a large pot of Salted water to a boil. Add the Spaghetti. Boil according to the package instructions, about 12 minutes.

2. Drain place in a bowl & add the Pesto, according to your taste.

INGREDIENTS For the Shrimp

12 size U-15 Jumbo Shrimp (shelled & deveined)
2 TB of EVOO
A pinch of Red Pepper Flakes (or to taste)
1 tsp of Sweet Paprika
Sea Salt

METHOD

2. Preheat a cast-iron grill pan. Thread the Shrimp on 4 skewers. Grill over a medium-hot heat, weighed down with a grill press, until opaque & cooked through, about 1 minutes on one side, 1 minute on the other.

3. Top the Pesto Spaghetti with 2 skewers of the Shrimp.


RECIPE

Serves 2

A CookTale

Though Italy has sent us hundreds of sauces that perk up our pasta, in my opinion, there are six that will always stand out as eternal classics – Marinara, Carbonara, Aglio e Olio, Pesto, Norma and Amatriciana. Five of the six rely on one main ingredient, Tomatoes, Cream, Olive Oil, Basil or Eggplant. Amatriciana, my number one favorite, although primarily Tomato, also includes Onions, and a wonderful salt cured pork, Guanciale. When the urge for pasta strikes, may I suggest you wrap your fork around any one of the six?

INGREDIENTS

2 oz of Bucatini
4 oz of diced Guanciale (or Pancetta)
1 14 oz can of diced Tomatoes (drained)
Half an Onion (thinly sliced)
2 Garlic cloves (sliced)
A pinch of Red Pepper Flakes (or to taste)
1/3 cup of EVOO
Pecorino Romano (freshly grated)

Method

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the Pasta.

2. Heat the EVOO in a deep sided skillet, add the Garlic & the Onion. Saute until they’re tender. Add the Guanciale or Pancetta, stirring the pieces until they’ve given off their fat & have begun to brown & be tenderized.

3. Add the drained Tomatoes, together with the Red Pepper Flakes. Saute, occasionally stirring, for 15 minutes until the sauce has concentrated & homogenized.

4. Drain the pasta, turn it into the skillet, & cook a minute more , stirring the Pasta to coat the strands. Season with Salt & Pepper, add the grated Pecorino & serve.


 

RECIPE

Serves 2

A CookTale

Before there were celebrity chefs with celebrity cookbooks, there were marvelous Italian food writers like Giuliano Bugialli, Ada Boni, Marcella Hazan, as well as a host of others. Years ago I came upon a recipe in one of their books that called for Tomatoes, Anchovies, EVOO and Chiles roasted in a hot oven until they all melted together. In hindsight it was everything a roasted pasta dish should be, and last evening I took aim at replicating it. Like that movie you thought was the greatest ever seen, until you re-saw it. The pasta was delicious, but was it worth carrying around in my head for years? You be the judge!

INGREDIENTS

1 to 2 lbs of fresh firm Tomatoes
1/3 to 1/2 cup EVOO
3 oz of Anchovy Fillets (a tin)
1 cup of coarsely chopped flat leaf Parsley
Kosher or Sea Salt & Fresh Black Pepper
4 oz of Spaghetti (cooked al dente)
Dried Red Pepper Flakes

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Slice the Tomatoes into very thick slabs

3. In a soufflé dish or similar baking dish with high sides, place a layer of Tomato slices. Top with some Anchovy fillets, a grind of Black Pepper, a sprinkling of Red Pepper Flakes & a pinch or two of Salt.

4. Continue building the layers. You’ll end up with three in total. On the top layer, do not use Anchovy fillets. You want them to melt into the sauce, not get crispy or charred.

5. Pour the EVOO over the Tomato layers.

6. Bake for an hour or an hour & fifteen minutes until the oil & the juices given off by the Tomatoes are bubbling, & the top layer takes on an appealing roasted appearance.

7. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the Spaghetti until al dente. Drain & place in a large bowl & carefully pour or ladle the hot sauce over it.

8. Right before serving, add the chopped Parsley & toss again. Check to see whether more seasoning is needed & plate.


RECIPE

Serves 1

A CookTale

Once upon a time, and not that long ago, I was a passionate fly fisherman, donning hip waders and stalking the wary Brook, Brown and Rainbow Trout in the legendary creeks and rivers of the Catskills. At my side was my friend, fishing companion and first class angler Bill Kronenberg . Over the past weekend, Bill called suggesting that he would like to stop by to drop off our holiday gift. In he came with three unusually large Smoked Trout. Two were at least 18″ long, and the third, 15″. Believe me that’s good size Trout. I vacuum packed two, and saved the third for a pasta dinner in the near future. The future arrived last evening.

INGREDIENTS

2 oz of Fettuccine (I used DeCecco egg pasta)
Sea or Kosher Salt & fresh Black Pepper
4 oz of Heavy Cream + 4 oz of Half & Half)
2 TB of EVOO
2 large Garlic Cloves (minced)
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
2 TB of fresh Thyme or fresh Sage
1 Smoked Trout about 3/4 of a pound, (skin removed, meat flaked off with a fork)

METHOD

1. Bring a pot of well salted water to a boil & add the Fettuccine. Stir lightly until the noodles soften in the water.

2. Drizzle two TB of EVOO in a large skillet & place it over high heat until the oil is hot, but not smoking. Add the Garlic & reduce to medium-low heat for about 2 minutes.

2. When the Fettuccine has cooked for 7 minutes, DeCecco’s instructions, let them drain back into the pot momentarily & add them directly to the skillet. The clingy starchy water will help thicken the sauce. Toss with the Garlic & EVOO.

3. Add the two Creams to the skillet. Add the Parmesan Cheese. Add the Thyme or Sage & Black Pepper. Add the Trout meat & very gently bring it all together. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce slightly thickens.