Friday, February 27, 2009

Presto Pasta Nights #102 Round-Up

I've had so much fun hosting Presto Pasta Nights this past week. Not only did I get to see all of these great dishes before anyone else I also got to meet a lot of new and interesting bloggers. Thanks to Ruth for giving me this opportunity and thanks to everyone who submitted a recipe.

Presto Pasta Nights #102 Round-up:

AquaDaze from Served With Love really enjoys cooking with sun dried tomatoes. When she first made a pesto with them she was in culinary heaven. Her submission of Fusilli in Sun dried Tomato Pesto looks delicious.

As a special Valentine's treat this year Melissa from Alosha's Kitchen cooked a very traditional Penne Alla Vodka

Jokergirl came up with a great vegetarian alternative to the traditional bolognese. You'll have to head to her blog to find out what the secret ingredient in her Veggie Bolognese is.

Judith over at Think On It has come up with a simple pasta dish that reminds her of Green Eggs and Ham. Hence the name Pasta Dr. Seuss.

Kristin from Sogkonnite Living shares a Cauliflower Feta Pasta Bake that makes a quick and easy week night meal.

When tomatoes are .99 a lb Lesley over at Beach Lover's Kitchen buys them up and makes interesting pasta sauces like her Fettuccine with Shrimp and Pineapple in a Tomato Sauce.

Crab and Cherry Tomato Linguine is a quick and easy dish submitted by Abby at Eat the Right Stuff.

Ever wonder about substituting broccoli for brocolli rabe in a recipe. Well Stacey over at Stacey Snacks does that in her Orechiette w/ Sausage & Broccoli and it looks delicious.

Katie over at Thyme for Cooking is having some horrible plumbing issues but she still manages to turn out a delightful dish of Pasta with Fresh Spinach and Chevre.

Do you wonder what the difference between "Singapore laksa and Malaysia laksa is" well Ching over at Little Corner of Mine shares with us that answer and her recipe for Singapore Curry Laksa.

Spicey Roasted Eggplant Penne is what Terry from Got No Milk submitted. It sure looks yummy.

Lasagna is one of my favorite pasta dishes and it's also what was submitted by Kevin at Closet Cooking.

To make use of some salami that's been in her fridge Pam from Side Walk Shoes shares with us a recipe for Penne with Wilted Arugula and Salami.

Karen of Karen Cooks has dished up, what she calls, a meal fit for a queen: Spinach and Three Cheese Stuffed Shells.

Laurie over at Dalla Mia Cucina submitted this beautiful dish of Peppers and Pasta. I love all the colors.

Daphne from More Than Words decided to experiment with some ingredients and came up with Sweet Chili BBQ Beef on Noodles.

Looking for a pasta dish that's healthy and flavorful check out San Marzano Chicken with Fusilli submitted by Janet from LaDue & Crew.

It's hard to find Chicken Stroganoff in Singapore that's why Starningblue at Deery Lou Aroma decided to make her own.

Ruth the founder of Presto Pasta Nights has a recipe for Porcini Stuffed Tortelloni on her blog Once Upon a Feast. Muneeba over at An Edible Symphony shares with us the very first casserole she's ever made; Chicken Spaghetti Casserole.

Maude of Baking Delights uses the freshest ingredients when she makes Pasta Primavera.

And last is my submission for Penne with Sunday Pork Ragu.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My PPN Entree...Penne with Sunday Pork Ragu

I recently borrowed a copy of On Top Of Spaghetti from my friend Rubee. The authors, Johanne Killeen and George Germon, are the owners of the famous Al Forno restaurant in Providence RI. I've never been to the restaurant but judging by some of the recipes in this book I would sure like to go.

Since I'm hosting Presto Pasta Nights this week (Don't forget your submissions are due by Thursday) I thought what better place to pull a recipe then from a book dedicated to all things pasta. With so many options it was really hard to pick just one. After going back and forth with my husband we finally decided on Penne with Sunday Pork Ragu. I think we both liked the idea of chopped fresh fennel in the sauce.

As always we made a few changes to the recipe:
We used country style ribs (only because we couldn't find pork spareribs).
We added 2 cloves of chopped garlic.
We left out the cup of tomato juice and added slightly more chopped tomatoes.
We used red wine not white.

Penne with Sunday Pork Ragu (adapted from On Top of Spaghetti)

Ingredients 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 pound pork spareribs
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped fennel bulb
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white or red wine
1 3/4 cups chopped canned tomatoes
1 cup tomato juice
1 pound dried penne or spaghetti
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large terra-cotta or heavy-bottomed pot with a lid. Add the pork, and brown on all sides. Transfer pork to a plate; discard fat. Toss onions, carrots, celery, fennel bulb and seeds, salt, pepper, and remaining olive oil into the pot. Cook, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft without browning, about 30 minutes.

Add wine and cook, uncovered, until is almost completely reduced. Return pork to pot, and add the chopped tomatoes and tomato juice. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the pork is falling-apart tender. Keep warm over low heat while you cook the pasta.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Generously salt the water, and drop in the penne. Cook, stirring often, until al dente. Drain the pasta, and transfer to a heated serving bowl. Add enough of the sauce to coat each morsel generously. Arrange spareribs around penne. Serve immediately with extra sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano passed at the table.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Presto Pasta Nights...A Blog Event

I'm hosting Presto Pasta Nights this week. PPN is a blog event created by Ruth over at Once Upon a Feast. This is my first time hosting a blog event and I have to admit I'm a bit nervous.

What if no-one submits a recipe? What if no-one even stops by? I know I'm totally overreacting and that all of you are going to come through with some awesome pasta recipes and make my first hosting event a success. So get busy cooking your pasta dishes and I'll see you all here on Friday, February 27th for the roundup.

If you want to participate, (and you know you do) just post about a pasta recipe (any recipe containing pasta or noodles will work).

Mention Presto Pasta Night in the post with a link back to this site and to Presto Past Nights.

Email your entry to theresa (AT) foodhuntersguide (DOT) com & ruth (AT) 4everykitchen (DOT) com by Thursday, February 26th.

Please include the following in your email:

1. Your Name 2. Your Blog Name/URL 3. Your Post URL 4. A Photo of the Pasta Dish

Complete details for Presto Pasta Nights can be found here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pork Stew With A Twist

A few weeks back I clipped a recipe from the online edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for Mustard Pork Stew with Olives. The idea of Dijon mustard and olives added to a pork shoulder intrigued me. I had never heard of such a combo and was really curious to see how all the flavors would blend.
We made the stew for some friends this past weekend; serving it on top of thick slices of crusty bread. It was a big hit. The flavors were great together. The sauce was very rich with a slight tang; from the olives and the Dijon.
On the side we served some roasted asparagus mixed with chopped hardboiled egg and parsley. Another odd sounding but great tasting combination.
Our dinner guests, who've eaten many meals at our house, said this was their favorite meal yet. I'm not sure I would go that far but it's probably my new favorite way to eat pork shoulder.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Jell-O Product Review

One of the benefits of having a food blog is that occasionally you're given the opportunity to review food products. This is a great way to try new things and to pass on the information to other foodies. I've recently been asked to taste test some new Jell-O sugar-free gelatin and pudding ready to eat snacks. Always on the look out for good low calorie snack options I agreed to give them a try. I was sent samples of the following flavors: Cinnamon Roll and Boston Cream Pie pudding and Raspberry Goji and Strawberry Acai gelatin. All four were low calorie and sugar free; sweetened with Splenda.

I started sampling over the next few days but I just couldn't seem to fall in love with any of the flavors. Although they were creamy and smooth, which was a nice treat, they all had a serious aftertaste that I just couldn't get past.

To be fair to Jell-O I decided to pass some of these samples on to my co-workers and get their opinions. Everyone's reaction was pretty much the same. There seemed to be a strong aftertaste and they seemed to lack distinguishing flavor.

My friend who tasted the Strawberry Acai gelatin said she is a regular strawberry Jell-O eater but found this one very disappointing. "I couldn't taste the strawberry at all," is how she put it.

The Cinnamon Roll taste tester said, "it tastes nothing like cinnamon bun; it doesn't even have a hint of cinnamon flavor."

From the person who tried the Boston Cream Pie I got, "it tastes like plain vanilla with a bit of an aftertaste."

Although I really wanted to give these a good review I just can't. I should've known the words sugar-free and cinnamon roll just don't go together.

If you do try them, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you thought. They're available in the refrigerator section for $3.19 per six pack.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My First Video...Pasta Woodsman Style

There's some benefits to having a husband in the business...the video production business that is. For one I get a cool cooking video, like the one below, for free.

When my husband and his friend Don get together I know there's going to be some sort of filming going on. Little did I know, this past weekend, they'd be filming me.

An entertaining instructional video is how they portrayed it...We'll keep you completely anonymous they promised...Just let us eat the finished product they asked.

How could I resist their pleas.

So we set out late in the afternoon; me to make Pasta Woodsman Style (adapted from Lidia Bastianich) and them to try and make me famous. I'll admit I was a little nervous at first and somewhat stressed. Knowing I wouldn't be seen or heard made it slightly easier to handle. In the end I think it turned out great.

What do you think?

Now I just need to talk them into doing more of these.

Pasta Woodsman Style (my version)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 sweet Italian sausages, peeled and crumbled
1 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned, sliced thin
1 can 28oz canned Italian plum tomatoes
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted and drained
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 lb pasta
Freshly ground black pepper

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

Heat the oil in a wide, heavy skillet over medium heat, toss in the garlic, and cook, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Crumble the sausage into small pieces, cook until the sausage is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Stir about half the mushrooms into the sausage mixture. Add the remaining mushrooms as those in the pan wilt, making room for more. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. If the mushrooms give off liquid, allow time for the juices to boil off before the mushrooms start to brown.

Pour the tomatoes into the skillet, stir in the peas, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook a minute or two. Stir in the stock and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce is lightly reduced about 5 minutes. Pour in the cream and bring to a boil. Spoon the ricotta into the sauce and stir gently to mix.

If the skillet is large enough to accommodate the sauce and pasta, fish the pasta out of the boiling water with a large wire skimmer and drop it directly into the sauce in the skillet. If not, drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and pour in the sauce. Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, stirring gently to coat the pasta with sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup of grated cheese. Check the seasonings, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Spoon an additional cup of ricotta over top of pasta and serve immediately.