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Linguine Alla Carbonara

12 Apr

Yesterday, I had a bad case of the Monday’s.  I was exhausted when I got off work, and I actually made one of those Bird’s Eye Viola! frozen bagged meals for dinner.  It was awful.  My boyfriend couldn’t believe I was actually serving that for dinner.  We ate it, but that won’t be something I’ll ever buy again.

Today I felt like I needed to redeem myself from last nights sub-par meal, so I thought I’d make something simple, comforting, and delicious.  Linguine Alla Carbonara!  My friend made it for me a couple of months ago, and I’ve been wanting to make it ever since.  So, I bought all the ingredients after work, stopped by my friend’s house for the recipe, came home, and started cooking.  The result?  Amazing.

Linguine Alla Carbonara (Recipe Adapted from Lidia Matticchio Bastianich’s Lidia’s Italian American Kitchen 2001)

What You’ll Need:

  • 6 Ounces Bacon, cut into ¼ in strips
  • 2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, Chopped.  (The original recipe calls for 2 onions, but I think that’s too much, but feel free to use two if you really love onions).
  • 1 ½ Cups Hot Chicken Stock (plus more if needed)
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 Cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ¼ Cup of Heavy Cream (optional, not traditional… but yummy!)
  • ¼ Cup chopped flat leaf parsley (optional, mainly for color)
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • Salt

Method:

Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in an 8-Qt pot over high heat.

Heat 2 TBS of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add bacon strips, and cook for about 6 minutes, or until the bacon is slightly browned, but still soft in the center.

If your bacon has rendered more than 4 TBS of fat, pour off the excess.  If there is less and that, add olive oil to measure the amount missing.  Add the onions, and cook until wilted, but still crunchy, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the stock, and bring to a boil.  Adjust the heat to a “lively simmer” (don’t you just love that???  HAHA).  Cook until the liquid has reduced by half.

Meanwhile, stir the pasta into the boiling salted water, return to a boil, and cook, semi-covered, for 8 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Ladle off a cup of the pasta-cooking water (you may need this to add more liquid to your sauce, if needed).  Remove cooked pasta directly from the boiling water, to your bacon, stock, and onion mixture.  Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, and coat the pasta with the sauce.  If there isn’t enough sauce to coat the pasta, supplement with the pasta-cooking water you reserved.  Check the seasoning, add salt if desired.  Remove the pan from heat, and add the egg yolks, one at a time, stirring well after each.  The heat from the pasta will cook the eggs.  Add the grated cheese, stir well.  Add the heavy cream, and mix well.  Season the pasta generously with coarsely ground black pepper.  Garnish with parsley (optional).  Serve immediately.

Lasagna

5 Feb

When it is cold outside, you want something comforting and hearty.  Sometimes soup doesn’t cut it.  Tonight I made a lasagna for dinner, just like my mom made when we were growing up.  Except my mom made her own sauce.  It’s not that I can’t make my own sauce, it’s just… jars of spaghetti sauce were buy one get one free, and I couldn’t pass up a bargain.  I’m definitely not a purist, anyway.  You’ll notice that I use cottage cheese instead of ricotta, which sounds disgusting, but trust me… it’s good.  I hate cottage cheese.  With all the sauce, cheese, meat, and pasta, you won’t even know it’s there, but it adds a creaminess to the dish.  Also, it’s cheaper than ricotta, and I don’t care for the graininess of ricotta.  My boyfriend, who claims not to like lasagna, really enjoyed this lasagna.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce (or if you’re feeling ambitious, homemade)
  • 1 1/2 cups small curd cottage cheese
  • 1 (5-ounce) package grated Parmesan
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 9 lasagna noodles (boiled or oven-ready)
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages shredded mozzarella

Method:

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

In a large pan, combine beef, sausage, onion, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat until meat is browned and crumbled; drain.

Return meat to pan and add spaghetti sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 to 45 minutes.  Since you’re using a pre-made sauce, you can eliminate this step, but if you have the time, it really gives you a more robust flavor.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine cottage cheese, parmesan, and eggs.

Spoon 1/4 of sauce into bottom of a 13 X 9 X 2-inch baking pan. Place 3 lasagna noodles on top of sauce. Do not overlap noodles. Spread 1/3 of cottage cheese mixture over noodles, top with 1/4 of sauce and 1/3 mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, ending with sauce, reserving 1/3 of mozzarella cheese.

Bake 45 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

*I know it’s hard to resist cutting into it right away, but you can’t skip this step, or you’ll have a gloppy mess.  I put the garlic bread in the oven while I was letting the lasagna rest.

Resting...

 

Pancit Bihon

20 Jan

My friend Michael pointed out to me, a brand new shipment of Filipino products we’re now carrying at work.  I was excited to see a sauce packet for Pancit.  Pancit is a noodle dish from the Philippine’s.  According to my boyfriend, who is half Filipino, there is no one way to make it… except last time I made it… I made it WRONG.  In my defense, I didn’t have a recipe, and I had never had it before… so I thought it was just stir-fry rice noodles.  Well, it isn’t… and it’s way better than stir-fry noodles.  Next time I make it, I won’t even need a sauce packet, because I read the ingredients, and it’s basically bullion and soy sauce.

What You’ll Need:

  • Pancit Bihon Rice Noodles (soaked in warm water for 10 minutes)

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 1 packet of Mama Sita’s Pancit Sauce mix, dissolved in 2 cups of water

  • 4 chicken thighs, boneless/skinless, diced
  • Sliced green onions and sliced boiled eggs to garnish (optional)
  • Limes or Lemon wedges to squeeze on top

Method:

Cook chicken thigh pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper, in a skillet until done.  Set aside.

Coat the bottom of a large skillet (or wok) with oil and heat over medium-high.  Add garlic, and cook until golden. (I know, I didn’t want to add the garlic first either, it goes against everything I’ve ever learned about cooking, but just trust me here…)   Next, add the onions, and cook until translucent.  When the onions are fully cooked, add the cabbage, carrots, cooked chicken, and pre-soaked Pancit noodles.  Pour the sauce mixture over the noodles, and bring to a boil.  Cook for 2 minutes. That’s it!  It couldn’t be easier.

Place noodles in a large serving bowl, and garnish with sliced green onions, boiled eggs, and lime wedges.