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Pasta Week

MONDAY - HOMEMADE GNOCCHI BOLOGNESE

2 potatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Peel potatoes and add to pot. Cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool and mash with a fork or potato masher.
Combine 1 cup mashed potato, flour and egg in a large bowl. Knead until dough forms a ball. Shape small portions of the dough into long "snakes". On a floured surface, cut snakes into half-inch pieces.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in gnocchi and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until gnocchi have risen to the top; drain mix with the sauce.

Sauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon for tossing the pasta
½ cup chopped onion ⅔ cup chopped celery ⅔ cup chopped carrot ¾ pound ground beef chuck (or you can use 1 part pork to 2 parts beef) Salt Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
1 cup whole milk
Whole nutmeg
1 cup dry white wine
1 ½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds pasta

Put the oil, butter and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well.

Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.

Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating -- about 1/8 teaspoon -- of nutmeg, and stir.

Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at a simmer, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

Toss with cooked drained pasta, adding the tablespoon of butter, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.

FRENCH BREAD

2 1/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon instant or active dry yeast
3/4 tablespoon salt (see note)
2 tablespoons olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oil or avocado oil
5 1/2 – 6 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour (see note)

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water sugar and yeast. If using active dry yeast, let the mixture bubble and foam before proceeding (this can take 3-5 minutes). If using instant yeast, proceed with the recipe (no need to let the yeast activate).
Add the salt, oil and 3 cups of flour and mix. Add in 2 1/2 to 3 more cups of flour gradually. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl and form a soft ball that doesn’t leave a lot of dough residue on your fingers. Knead for 2-3 minutes until the dough is smooth. If the dough starts to cling to the sides of the bowl (or the center column if using a Bosch or other mixer with a center), add 1/4 cup of flour at a time until a sturdy but soft ball of dough forms.

RISING METHOD 1: Leave the dough in the mixer, cover with a lid or towel, and let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Stir it down by turning on the mixer for 10 seconds or so. Repeat the “rest and stir down” cycle five more times.

RISING METHOD 2: Instead of letting the dough rest for 10 minute spurts and then stirring it down, transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with a towel or greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled, about an hour or so, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
Turn the dough onto a lightly greased surface and divide in half. Pat each section into a thick rectangle, 9X13-inches or thereabouts (doesn’t have to be exact). Roll the dough up starting from the long edge, pressing out any air bubbles or seams with the heel of your hand, and pinch the edge to seal. Arrange seam side down on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I use separate baking sheets for each loaf).
Cover with greased plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, and let the loaves rise until noticeably puffy and nearly doubled in size, about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and make sure an oven rack is in the center position. With a very sharp knife or baker’s lame cut several gashes at an angle on the top of each loaf (see pictures above in the post for a visual).

OPTIONAL: Place the baking sheet in the hot oven and immediately toss 3-4 ice cubes on the bottom of the oven (this gives a delicious, classic, French bread crispness to the crust). Close the oven door quickly.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and baked through. Remove from the oven and slather with melted butter (optional, but delicious). Repeat with the 2nd loaf (or if you have convection setting, the loaves can bake at the same time, just rotate the baking sheets halfway through baking).

NOTES:
As with all yeast doughs, I never use the flour amount called for in the recipe as a hard fast rule (unless a weight measure is given and then I pull out my kitchen scale). Because humidity, temperature, altitude and a multitude of other factors can impact how much flour you need in your yeast doughs, I always judge when to quit adding flour by the texture and look and feel of the dough rather than how much flour I’ve added compared to the recipe. This tutorial on yeast may help identify how a perfectly floured dough should be.

Also, I often use half to 3/4 finely ground white whole wheat flour with good results – and sometimes I get crazy and use 100% whole wheat flour (always finely ground white wheat) but the bread is a bit more dense with 100% whole wheat flour. If using part or all whole wheat flour, add a few minutes to the kneading time to help develop the gluten (adding a couple tablespoons of gluten flour can also help the whole wheat bread bake up light and fluffy).

The original recipe called for 1 tablespoon salt; over the years I’ve decreased that amount just slightly.

If you don’t have an electric mixer, this dough can be made by hand using a large bowl and a wooden spoon the good old-fashioned way!


TUESDAY - HOMEMADE PASTA

3 large eggs, beaten to blend
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix eggs, flour, oil, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with your hands. Knead with dough hook until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Or put it in the food processor.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes.
Cut and roll as desired.

ALFREDO SAUCE

½ cup butter
1 pint heavy whipping cream (2 cups)
4 ounces cream cheese
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan add butter, heavy whipping cream, and cream cheese. Cook over medium heat and whisk until melted. Add the minced garlic, garlic powder, italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Continue to whisk until smooth. Add the grated parmesan cheese.
Bring to a simmer and continue to cook for about 3-5 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Toss it with your favorite pasta

BRUSCHETTA RECIPE

5 ripe tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
6-8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced* or chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more or less to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more or less to taste
1 baguette French bread or similar Italian bread
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
*To thinly slice basil leaves, stack the leaves on top of each other and roll up like a cigar. Then make thin slices from one end of the basil cigar to the other.

Blanch and peel the tomatoes: Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. As the water is heating make shallow cuts in a cross pattern at the tip ends of the tomatoes (this will make the tomatoes easier to peel).
Once the water is boiling, remove the pot from the heat. Put the tomatoes in the hot water and blanch for 1 minute.

Remove with a slotted spoon and let sit until cool enough to handle. Then gently peel off the tomato skins. Cut out the stem base with a paring knife.
Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters and squeeze out most of the juices and seeds.

Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C) with a rack in the top slot of the oven.

Chop tomatoes, toss them with garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt and pepper: Finely chop the tomatoes and place them in a medium bowl. Mix in the minced garlic, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, and the balsamic vinegar.
Stir in the thinly sliced basil and add salt and freshly ground black pepper, adding more to taste. Note, tomatoes love salt; you may need to add more than you expect.

Toast the baguette slices: Use a bread knife to slice the baguette on the diagonal making half-inch thick slices. Brush one side of each slice with olive oil (a pastry brush helps here) and place olive oil-side down on a baking sheet or roasting pan.
The baguette slices will toast best in the top rack of your oven, so you may need to work in batches to toast them all.
When the oven has reached 450°F (230°C) place the slices in the oven on the top rack and toast for 5 to 6 minutes until lightly browned around the edges.

If you want you can toast the bread slices without coating them first in olive oil. Toast them until lightly browned on both sides. Then cut a clove of garlic in half and rub over one side of the toast. Then brush with olive oil.

Serve toasted bread with tomato mixture: Arrange the toasted bread on a platter, olive oil side facing up (the olive oil will help create a temporary barrier keeping the bread from getting soggy from the chopped tomatoes).
Either serve the toasts plain with a bowl of the tomato bruschetta mixture on the side for people to top their own, or use a spoon to gently top each toasted bread slice with some of the tomato mixture. If you top each slice individually, do it right before serving.


WEDNESDAY -LASAGNA

HOMEMADE PASTA

3 large eggs, beaten to blend
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix eggs, flour, oil, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with your hands. Knead with dough hook until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Or put it in the food processor.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes.
Cut and roll as desired.

9 lasagna noodles
1-1/4 pounds Mild Italian sausage
3/4 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (one 28 ounces, one 15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
2 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste
2/3 cup water
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, divided
2 teaspoons dried basil
3/4 teaspoon fennel seed
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 carton (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
4 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a frying pan cook sausage, beef and onion over medium heat 8-10 minutes or until meat is no longer pink, breaking up meat into crumbles. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Drain.
Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, water, sugar, 3 tablespoons parsley, basil, fennel, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a small bowl, mix egg, ricotta cheese, and remaining parsley and salt.
Preheat oven to 375°. Spread 2 cups meat sauce into an ungreased 13x9-in. baking dish. Layer with three noodles and a third of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining meat sauce and cheeses (dish will be full).
Bake, covered, 25 minutes. Bake, uncovered, 25 minutes longer or until bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.


THURSDAY - HOMEMADE PASTA

3 large eggs, beaten to blend
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix eggs, flour, oil, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with your hands. Knead with dough hook until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Or put it in the food processor.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes.
Cut and roll as desired.

PUTTANESCA

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 28.2-ounce can peeled tomatoes in puree with basil
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, halved, pitted
1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
3/4 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes with puree, olives, capers, oregano, and crushed red pepper. Simmer sauce over medium-low heat until thickened, breaking up tomatoes with spoon, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain pasta; return to same pot. Add sauce and parsley. Toss over low heat until sauce coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Serve with cheese.

HOMEMADE BREADSTICKS

1½ cups warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
3½ cups all-purpose flour, add more or less as needed
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 Tablespoon salt

Butter topping
½ cup butter
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water and allow to sit for 10 minutes to activate yeast.
Add flour, salt and melted butter to yeast mixture. Mix with paddle attachment of stand mixer or wooden spoon until fully combined.
Knead dough for a few minutes just until dough is smooth in consistency. Do not overknead!
Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Pull off pieces of dough and roll out into strips. Cover the dough with a light towel and let sit in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour to allow dough to rest and rise.
Once oven has preheated, place the cookie sheet in oven and bake breadsticks for 6-7 minutes. While breadsticks are cooking, microwave ½ cup butter, 2 teaspoons garlic powder and 1 teaspoon salt. After bread sticks have cooked for 6 or 7 minutes, brush the bread sticks with half the butter mixture. Then continue to bake for 5-8 more minutes. After removing breadsticks from oven, immediately brush the other half of the butter on the sticks. Allow to cool for a few minutes before eating.


CHOCOLATE PASTA-Friday

1 Cup Flour
½ Cup Coco Powder
7 Large Egg Yolks
1 Large Egg
1 ½ Teaspoon Olive Oli
1 Tablespoon Milk

Directions
Mix all ingredients in food processor until it forms a ball. Knead the dough 15 minutes. Let rest covered or in plastic wrap for 20 minutes. Roll dough out and feed through pasta press. If you do not have a press you can cut dough into long thin strips. Boil for 4-6 minutes until tender.

Mascarpone Sauce

1 Cup Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean
½ Cup Heavy cream
1 Cup Cream Cheese
1 Pint Mascarpone Cheese

Directions
In a sauce pan mix sugar, vanilla bean and heavy cream simmer until sugar is fully melted. On low add cream cheese and mascarpone cheese until melted and bubbly. Simmer for 4 minutes. Remove vanilla bean and scoop out the center add back into pan.