Tag Archives: pasta

Picspam: Gyoza Wrappers from Scratch

I’ve been cutting back on my grocery shopping trips so when I had a craving for potstickers/gyoza, rather than going out and buying a couple of packages of the ready made wrappers, I finally buckled down and decided to make them from scratch using this recipe.

The ingredients are simple, flour and salt and boiling water. And time … to let the dough hydrate and to roll them out.

Pleating also takes some time and, of course, practice.

After all that, I’m quite pleased with the results for a first try and WILL be making them again.

Pasta for One: Pasta Carbonara

I revised my old carbonara recipe because I was inspired by a ‘saucier’ version I saw posted on FB yesterday. Pretty amazing, if I do say so myself.

Pasta Carbonara for One

90-100 gm dry pasta
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp bacon fat or olive oil
4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, divided
pasta water, as needed, cooled slightly
3 strips of crispy bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
freshly ground black pepper
salt, to taste
dry parsley flakes

Time is crucial for a carbonara as it waits for no-one to be served.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Remove about a cup of the pasta water to a bowl and let cool slightly. Drain the pasta and reserve for a minute or two as the sauce is prepared.

In a small bowl, whisk together the yolks, bacon fat and 3 tbsp of Parmesan cheese. Whisk 2-3 tablespoon of cooled pasta water into the egg mixture, a tablespoon at a time.

Pour the carbonara sauce in a large saute pan and place on the stove over the lowest heat to barely warm up the sauce and melt the cheese but not enough to start cooking the egg yolks.

Add the drained pasta and the bacon pieces to the pan, toss with a pair of tongs until the pasta is well coated and everything is warmed through. If the sauce starts tightening up, add another tablespoon or so of cooled pasta water to the pan.

Plate and sprinkle the parsley flakes over the top. Add more grated cheese if desired.

Pasta For One: Pasta Alfredo

Continued from previous post.

Another pasta dish which is fast and easy to prepare and not that pricey, depending on the protein used.

Today’s post features shrimp and mushrooms. I like to pair a protein and a vegetable.

Basic Alfredo Recipe for One

90 gm pasta (fettuccine, linguine, spaghetti)
2 tbsp butter, extra virgin olive oil or equal parts of each
3-4 mushrooms, thickly sliced
100-125 gm raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Fresh or dried parsley and more grated Parmesan for garnish

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large saute pan over medium high heat, add one tablespoon of butter and when it has melted and starts to bubble, add the mushrooms. Cook until golden brown on one side, turn and repeat with second side. Remove the mushrooms to a large bowl and reserve. Depending on how much butter remains in the pan, add a second tablespoon and when it melts, add the shrimp. Saute quickly, flipping over until both sides have begun to turn pink, then remove to the bowl with the mushrooms.

Add the minced garlic and saute briefly, stirring, until the garlic barely begins to pick up some colour, turn down the heat to medium and add the whipping cream and Parmesan cheese. Stir until the mixture starts to bubble, the cheese melts and the mixture begins to thicken. Add the cooked pasta, mushrooms and shrimp, stirring to coat with the Alfredo sauce.

Transfer to a plate and serve immediately garnished with some more grated Parmesan and parsley for colour.

Other options: chicken and asparagus or ham and green peas.

Pasta For One: Building on the Basics

The simplest Italian pasta dish is spaghetti aglio e olio, pasta with garlic, red pepper flakes and olive oil. If you’re on a budget, this is an inexpensive dish when paired with a big bowl of soup and a salad.

But you can build on this basic dish if your budget is more generous.

Instead of olive oil, you can use butter (or use both) and add some leftover roasted chicken. Or shrimp if you’ve just been paid. A bit of shrimp (100 gm per portion) can make you feel like you’re dining out at a fancy Italian restaurant, especially if you add a glass of a dry white wine to your meal. Clams or mussels are other protein options. Or a nice piece of salmon. If you’re avoiding meat but still want some protein in your dish, add a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas.

Add some jarred pasta sauce to the previous meal for a change in colour and flavour. And tomatoes are veggies, aren’t they? If you have tomatoes in your garden, dice up one and add that to the meal above. Grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half, are another option.

If you’re not in the mood for tomatoes, transform your aglio e olio into an Alfredo sauce with the addition of whipping cream and grated Parmesan cheese. Sometimes the cheese goes on sale and it freezes well, grated or ungrated.

Another option is to add some whipping cream to the tomato sauce. The result is a fancy ‘blush’ or pink sauce. You can add white wine to thin out a leftover Alfredo sauce if you’ve got some in the your cupboard or fridge. Vodka is another add-in to a blush sauce instead of the white wine.

And, if you’re a veggie fanatic, add blanched spinach or Swiss chard or kale to your pasta dish.

Kale is a bit on the bitter side so you may want to blanch it ahead of time or sautee it with your olive oil and garlic. Asparagus is another alternative. And, of course, you can sautee your favourite mushrooms in the olive oil until golden brown and remove them from the pan before adding your garlic, and return them to the pan along with your cooked and drained pasta to warm through.

Pasta Al Limone (Lemon Pasta)

Today’s supper came to the top of the posting queue because it’s an amazing combination of two simply prepared dishes, a main and a pasta side, and a green salad of your choice.

I’ve made pan fried breaded chicken cutlets before so that wasn’t a big deal. It was the pasta dish that took it over the top.

The recipe came from this Youtube video but the ‘bones’ of the recipe are very simple: whipping cream, the zest of one lemon and a tablespoon of butter. Simmer together for a few minutes in a large saute pan until the sauce reduces a bit, add some grated Parmesan or Romano cheese and your freshly cooked pasta, stir it together tasting for seasoning (salt and pepper) and then serve with some more grated cheese on top. The recipe suggests adding some lemon juice as well, but, in my opinion, it didn’t need any. If you have a fetish for something green for a garnish, sprinkled some freshly chopped parsley over the top.

And gobble it down before it gets too cool.

Forget taking pictures for your blog.

FORGET it, I tell you!

Creamy Chicken Piccata for Two

Meal planning strategy: I haven’t cooked anything Italian in some time, there was a jar of capers languishing in the fridge and a couple of boneless, skinless, chicken breasts in the freezer, so I looked for a recipe for Chicken Piccata that used ingredients that I already had. The breasts weighed a bit over a pound so I split them horizontally into four, more or less equal sized portions, and made some adjustments to the recipe I found here since I wanted to toss the pasta in the sauce.

Chicken Piccata – serves 2, generously

200 gm fettuccine, linguine or spaghetti

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, ~1 pound/454 gm
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided

For flouring chicken cutlets
1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
pinch ground black pepper
1 1/2-2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

For lemon sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock, or a dry white wine
1/4 cup whipping cream (optional)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp brined capers, drained
1 clove garlic, finely minced or 1/8 tsp garlic powder (optional)

1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley or 1-2 tsp dried parsley, for garnish
3-4 thin slices of lemon, for garnish

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, stop the cooking by transferring the noodle to cold water and then, if needed to wait for the sauce, transfer the noodles to warm water.

To make chicken cutlets, cut each chicken breast horizontally into two equal sized pieces or butterfly and cut in half. If the thickness of the cutlets is uneven, put them between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound them with a meat hammer to 1/4 inch thickness.

In a shallow pan or pie tin, mix together the flour, salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan. Rinse the chicken pieces quickly in water, drain well and dredge them in the flour mixture, until well coated.

Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium/medium-high heat and when heated, add the chicken cutlets. Do not crowd the pan to ensure even cooking. Cook in half batches. Brown well on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and transfer to a plate with a rim to retain any juices that may be released by the breasts. Cook the other breasts in the same manner. Cover to keep warm.

Add the chicken stock or white wine, lemon juice, and capers to the pan. Use a spatula to scrape up any browned bits. Reduce the sauce by half. (NOTE: For additional lemon flavour, add the sliced lemons at this point so the lemon oil from the zest can infuse into the sauce. If your sauce volume seems low or you want a creamy sauce, whisk in the whipping cream and let reduce for a few minutes.)

Whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter (cut into 2-3 pieces), a piece at a time until each piece just melts. This may not be necessary if you’re using the whipping cream as that will thicken the sauce.

Drain the pasta well. Add the pasta to the saute pan so it can warm in the sauce, if it’s cooled down. Divide the pasta between two plates.

Plate the chicken over the pasta and serve with the sauce poured over the top. Sprinkle with parsley before serving and add a slice or two of the lemon for garnish.

I didn’t notice that I hadn’t sprinkled the parsley over the top until after I’d plated the dish. Oh well…

I set aside two of the cutlets for use in other dishes as there was too much chicken for two servings.

Italian Pasta and Bean Soup (Pasta E Fagioli)

This delicious Italian soup is filling and usually inexpensive to cook up. The name says it all … “pasta and beans”. I used a copycat Olive Garden recipe that I found on line many years ago, and adjusted the recipe for ingredients and amounts that I liked and had available. I’ve re-posted the recipe below.

I was being stingy with the amount of cannellini (aka white kidney) beans I used in this soup, since they’re pretty pricey at my local Italian grocery store, but you can’t beat the delicious, creamy texture of the beans once cooked. I added about a third of a pound of light red kidney beans, that I already had in my pantry, to make up the difference. Unfortunately, they took longer to cook than the cannellini so the latter were pretty much falling apart at that point.

Oh well.

And then there’s the pasta. I used just a very small amount of tubetti which I cooked separately, just until they were “al dente” or with a bit of texture left, and then added them to the soup for the last five minutes or so to finish cooking.

You can add meat or leave it out. I had about two thirds of a pound of ground beef which, added to two/two and a half cups of cooked beans, was plenty.

Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli – makes ~4 quarts/16 cups, quantities of ingredients don’t need to be exact

1/2-1 tbsp vegetable oil, depending on how fatty your beef is
454 gm/ 1 lb lean ground beef
6 oz/ 1 cup onion, small dice
7 oz/ 1 cup celery, small dice
7 oz/ 1 cup carrots, small dice
24 oz/3 cups canned tomatoes, diced
1 cup cooked red kidney beans*
1 cup cooked white kidney beans*
5 cups beef stock (or chicken or vegetable stock or water)
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
salt as needed, start with 1/2 tsp
2 1/2 tsp chopped parsley (or 1 tsp dried parsley)
3/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
24 oz/ 3 cups spaghetti sauce
4 oz/ 1/2 cup/113 gm small shell macaroni (or any other small pasta)

*  Or use 2 cups of whatever type of cooked beans you like

Saute ground beef in oil over medium/medium-high heat, in a large 5 qt pot until the beef starts to brown. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and saute for 5-7 minutes just until the onions get translucent and start to pick up some colour.

Drain and rinse the beans, if using canned, and add to the pot. Also add beef stock, oregano, pepper, Tabasco, spaghetti sauce, canned tomatoes and pasta. Taste and add salt as desired.

Add the chopped parsley and simmer until the celery and carrots are tender, about 25-30 minutes.

NOTE: Make sure to stir all the way to the bottom at least every 7-10 minutes as the ingredients, especially the beef, settle and may stick and burn. I threw in some frozen corn for the last 5 minutes for added colour. If the soup seems too thick before serving, add a bit of water. You may garnish the soup with some grated Parmesan cheese.

Other vegetable add-ins you can include: cubed zucchini, fresh, torn spinach, and frozen green peas.

For One Pasta Duo

The website where I found the ‘for one’ cake recipes also has savoury dishes. Especially pasta dishes.

Like this Ham and Pea Alfredo for One … I made it with linguine

I improvised this Turkey Cutlet Parmigiana with a quick and easy marinara sauce and one of the cutlets from my freezer.

Turkey Cutlet Parmigiana for One

Turkey Cutlet Parmigiana for One

1 turkey cutlet
1/4 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
100 gm dry pasta, cooked according to package directions

Quick Marinara Sauce for One – enough to dress about 100 gm dried pasta

1 cup canned, diced tomatoes, with juice
1/2 tbsp butter or margarine
1/4-1/2 cup water, as needed
1/8 tsp minced onion
1/8 tsp dried oregano
pinch of garlic powder
salt to taste
fresh oregano (sprig) and 2-3 fresh basil leaves, torn (optional)
sugar, as needed

In a large saute pan, combine the tomatoes, butter, 1/4 cup water, onion, oregano and garlic. Bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer, cover the pan, and simmer for 10 minutes. Puree the tomato sauce.

Add the fresh herbs and a pinch or two of salt. Add more water if needed. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. taste and add sugar and salt, as needed.

Add the cooked pasta and toss in the sauce.

Push the pasta to one side of the pan. Add the turkey cutlet, sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top and put the lid on the pan. When the cutlet has warmed through and the cheese has melted, transfer to a serving plate. Garnish with fresh herbs.

Homemade Savoury Boursin … Spread and Pasta Sauce

I recently found a recipe for boursin, a soft and creamy cheese, posted on “The Frugal Hausfrau” website and knew that I had to give it a try. It makes an amazing spread but it also works as part of a creamy pasta sauce. I made a change to the original recipe … I substituted purchased crispy fried onions for the dried chives since I didn’t have any.

Roasted chicken and creamy boursin and mushroom fettuccine

Creamy Boursin and Mushroom Pasta – serves 2 or 3

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter or margarine
1 1/2 – 2 cups (~227 gm) mushrooms, halved and sliced (white and cremini)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup boursin cheese spread (purchased or home made*)
salt and pepper, to taste
200-210 dry pasta, cooked according to package directions, reserve about half a cup of the pasta cooking water to add to the sauce in case it tightens up before serving.
2-3 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

* See recipe below

In a large saute pan over high heat, add the oil and butter. When hot, add the mushrooms and saute until lightly browned. Turn the heat down to medium/medium-high and add the whipping cream and cream cheese. Stir gently until the cream cheese melts into the sauce and the cream starts to bubble a bit. Add the cooked pasta and stir through. Serve with some chopped parsley on top, for garnish.

Savoury Boursin Cheese

Savoury Boursin Cheese – makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp crispy fried onion

In a medium sized bowl, cream together the cream cheese, butter, salt, white pepper and garlic powder with a hand mixer. Stir in the parsley and fried onions by hand.

Transfer to a small bowl or ramekin, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate so that the flavours will marry. Remove from the fridge 1 or 2 hrs before serving so that the boursin will be soft enough to spread.

Pasta alla Caruso

I was going to do a giant post featuring the two chickens I bought a couple of weeks ago but I postponed it, again, for this Italian pasta dish featuring an item many people may not associate with Italy … chicken livers.

I love chicken livers and have had a craving for a while so I picked up two pounds on Saturday and set aside half a pound for use in this delicious dish that I ran across while net surfing a while ago.

Pasta alla Caruso is a chicken liver dish named in honour of the Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso, who was said to love it, and a speciality of his home town of Naples. The Italian name, “Pasta Con Fegatini Di Pollo, Cipolle E Funghi” refers to the ingredients … chicken livers, San Marzano tomatoes, onions and mushrooms.

Pasta alla Caruso – serves 2

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb (225 gm) fresh chicken livers *
1/4 cup finely diced onion (or 2 tbsp sauted)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 lb (225 gm) sliced mushrooms (half button and half cremini)
1 tsp dried herb mixture (equal parts dried parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup dry red wine (Italian preferred ie Sangiovese)
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 – 1 /2 cups canned, peeled plum tomatoes (San Marzano preferred)
salt and ground black pepper, as needed

* If you don’t like chicken livers, slice a zucchini into 1/4 inch rounds, coat them with flour and deep-fry. Drain on paper towels and then use them in place of the fried chicken livers.

Garnish – grated Pecorino Roman (or Parmigiano Reggiano, if that’s all you have)

200 gm thick pasta cooked according to package directions ie fettuccine or linguine or even bucatini

Puree the plum tomatoes and set aside until needed.

Rinse and trim the chicken livers. Drain well and cut into 1/2 in (12-13 mm) wide strips.  Sprinkle about 1/8-1/4 tsp salt over the liver. Heat up the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the livers and fry over medium/medium-high heat until firm. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside until needed.

Wipe out the saute pan, add the unsalted butter and saute the diced onion over medium heat until it’s started to pick up some colour.

Add the sliced mushrooms to the saute pan, sprinkle about 1/2 tsp of salt over the top, and saute them until they start getting golden brown but are still a bit firm. Add the dried herbs and stir through.

Add the tomato paste and fry for a few minutes until you’ve coated the onions/mushrooms and the mixture is fairly dry. Add the wine and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce and the pureed tomatoes and liquid. Cook, uncovered, for 7-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened and infused into the vegetables.

Add the cooked chicken livers and any juices that may have come out of them and stir through. Cook just until the chickens are warmed through. You don’t want them to get tough.

Taste the mixture and add whatever else you might need – some more salt, some ground pepper, or even a bit of lemon if the sauce seems a bit flat.

Divide the freshly cooked pasta between two plates, ladle half the sauce over each portion and grate the cheese over the top.

Serve with a glass of the red wine.

Enjoy!

The rest of the chicken livers were sauteed in vegetable oil with a sprinkle of salt, Hungarian paprika and a medium sized onion. Just like my mother used to make for me. There’s nothing like chicken livers over mashed potatoes or mamaliga (the Romanian version of polenta). At least, I think so.