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October 2011 COTM: Splendid Table: Pastas and The Sweet Pastas of the Renaissance

Please use this thread to discuss and review recipes from the chapters about Pastas and The Sweet Pastas of the Renaissance.

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  1. Lasagne of Wild and Fresh Mushrooms, p. 171. This is in the oven right now, and smells good. Took the better part of the day to make, so it had better be good. (I made my own pasta, so that added quite a bit of time to the prep.)

    ETA: Fantastic! Definitely worth the effort. (I don't think I'd like this with dried pasta, however -- the ultra-thin homemade pasta married well with the somewhat scant mushroom sauce and Parm/cream topping.)

    2 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      We had the mushroom ragu from this recipe over storebought tagliatelle this evening. Id call it very good but not great - great mushroom flavor and enjoyed by all eaters -I think it would be better layered with besciamella or the cream- cheese mix in the base recipe - thats what we will try next.

      1. re: pikawicca

        Lasagne of Wild and Fresh Mushrooms, p. 171.

        Interesting how three of us made this right away. As pikawikka rightly notes, this is not a time-saving recipe but I think that the successive layering of flavors really pays off. Prepare yourself for a rather leisurely process. First, dried porcini are softened in hot water; meanwhile chopped onions, prosciutto, and parsley are sauteed. Then sliced fresh mushrooms--I used a combo of portobella and cremini--are added and sauteed. Then the reconstituted porcini, chopped, are added. Some minced garlic, rosemary, and fresh (or dried) sage leaves are added to the pan. Man, does the kitchen smell good by now. And now it's time to add in the saved and strained porcini-liquid till it's reduced quite a bit, and then some white wine (ditto) and then, a pound an a half of canned crushed tomatoes and their liquid. Simmer away until "richly flavored and reduced."

        So THEN ( or meanwhile) you cook 12 oz. lasagna noodles (dried and imported in my case) and when done just to al dente, layer in a baking dish with successive parts of the mushroom-tomato sauce, freshly grated Parm (imported of course) and a 3/4 cup of heavy cream and milk, mixed with several TBs more of the cheese. Bake, covered, at 350 F for 30 minutes and then uncovered for 15 minutes, until bubbly. Let stand a bit, and serve to your salivating family.

        It was delicious. Lovely woodsy funghi flavors, somehow slightly sweet. Even the mushroom-disliker at my table said it was good. I agree with pickawicca that the completed lasagne can turn out to be a bit dry if you use dried pasta, which I did. Next time I will double the cream-milk-cheese mixture to pour over. But meanwhile we're still munching on the leftovers.

        Served with the lemon chicken and green beans with pesto from this book.

      2. Lasagne of Wild and Fresh Mushrooms, p. 171

        Another happy customer; glad to hear others have enjoyed it. My husband made his usual birthday request this week, for both veal parmesan and lasagne bolognese, which I made for a dinner party last night. But I decided to add a dish of this mushroom lasagna to the mix, for those who might be less carnivorous. I made the mushroom sauce Fiday, and the pasta early the next morning. (Luckily, cooler temperatures have rolled in last night, justifying all this rich, hearty food!)

        I started by preparing the dried porcini. After soaking 1 ½ oz. in 2 c. hot water for about an hour, I took the mushrooms from their soaking water, rinsed them off in a colander and wrung them out in some cheesecloth before chopping them. I then strained the soaking liquid twice. (I’m a bit neurotic about this; I buy dried porcini in bulk, and there always seems to be a lot of grit.)

        Next, I heated a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy (LC) skillet and sauted minced onion (about 1 ½ c), ¼ c chopped parsley, and 1 oz. chopped prosciutto. (The prosciutto is optional, and I’ve left it out when I wanted to make this dish vegetarian or for folks who don’t eat pork. I personally think it adds another level of flavor that we enjoy—but the dish is still delicious without it.) Rossetto Kasper says to cook until the onions are “barely tinged with gold,” about 5 minutes. That never seems to happen to mine, and since I don’t want to risk burning them, I add the sliced mushrooms (I used a mix this time: about 12 oz. of button and 4 oz. of chanterelles) once the onion is soft and the prosciutto begins to crisp. I cooked these 7-8 minutes, over high heat, and then added the chopped porcini and sautéed them over slightly lower heat for a couple of minutes, before adding chopped garlic (1 lg. clove) and chopped fresh sage and rosemary (about a tsp. of ea.) and sautéing that another minute or so.

        I then added the strained porcini liquid to the pan and cooked that until, as Rossetto Kasper directs, it forms a “film.” (This always takes me longer than 5 minutes, more like 12-15, but I think it’s important to cook it down well as it really concentrates the mushroom flavor.) Next, I added the 2/3 c. wine (I used pinot grigio) and cooked that down (about 5 minutes). For the tomatoes, the recipe calls for 1 ½ to 2 lbs. canned, drained of most of their liquid, and then “crushed.” I always use a 28 oz. can, with most, but not all, of the liquid—after making this several times, I’ve decided I like the sauce to be a little, well, saucy—and mash the tomatoes w/a potato masher so as not to puree them. I then cooked the sauce for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat, and I find that that is about right to get the sauce to a consistency I like—still saucy, but not soupy or watery. At this point, I add a little salt—but be careful: although the sauce tastes like it needs salt, there’s a lot of parmesan added to this dish later, which adds a good measure of saltiness.

        Into a lightly oiled lasagna dish, I spooned just enough sauce to barely moisten the pasta sheets that went in next. I spread about 1/3 c. sauce and 3 T. grated parmesan over the pasta sheets and layered until I’d used up the pasta and sauce (I ended up w/ 5 layers). I spread the parmesan-cream-milk mixture over the top, covered the dish, and refrigerated it all day until about an hour before putting it, covered, into a 350F oven for 30 minutes. After removing the foil cover, I baked it another 15 minutes, and then let it rest for 10 or so before cutting. This is dryer than most lasagnes and thus cuts into nice neat portions.

        For the birthday celebration, I served this with an antipasti course (meats, olives, artichokes), the aforementioned meat lasagna and veal parmesan, some roasted Brussels sprouts, and a tossed green salad (and birthday cake for dessert).

        Although this is a fine main dish if you happen not to share a table with a die-hard carnivore, I usually serve it as a side to roast chicken or duck or grilled steak. (A few times, I have made a variation of this, adding torn/shredded leftover roast chicken between the pasta layers, but it definitely needs some added moisture, which I’ve accomplished by adding chicken stock and cream to loosen the mushroom sauce.)

        I really love mushrooms, and this is my very favorite mushroom lasagne—and perhaps my favorite recipe (of those I’ve tried) from The Splendid Table. As others have noted, ) it’s time consuming (like all good lasagne)—but for me, well worth it.

        18 Replies
        1. re: nomadchowwoman

          I have to say, reports on this recipe have my mouth watering. Unfortunately right now I just don't have the time to invest in making this, but man, I couldn't stop thinking about mushrooms this morning on the treadmill after reading the first reports. Impressive.

          1. re: LulusMom

            It does sound great! I'm not buying the book this month so will have to be content with imagining other people's delicious meals!

            What is weird to me though is the concept of pasta as a side dish. It would never occur to me to serve it thus for some reason.

            1. re: greedygirl

              Aside from maybe macaroni and cheese, I feel the same way about pasta as a side dish - seems odd. But it is done.

              I didn't buy the book this month either. If my library re-opens during the month, I should get the one copy they have, but otherwise I'm without. I do, however, have the adjunct book, so I'll play with that.

              1. re: LulusMom

                I was going to suggest to greedygirl that she check out the library! I'm a librarian so I'm obligated to say that. I picked up a copy at the Oakland Public Library, and many libraries have excellent cookbook collections. :-)

                1. re: lkrier

                  true enuf but greedygirl is in the UK - harder for people in the UK to find US books in their libraries - and US people have the same problem with UK books.

              2. re: greedygirl

                if the meal is being served all at once rather than in courses it makes sense.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  Yet, on page 68 of "The Italian Country Table" half way down under the heading Serving Pasta Rossetto Kasper says, "Pasta is best eaten on its own as a first course or a main dish. It's far too complex to be a side dish."

                  1. re: Gio

                    That's what I've always done, and it's never eaten as a side dish in Italy.

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Me too GG... Not only is it "too complex" but for me it entirely too filling to eat with other food. .

                      1. re: Gio

                        I agree in principle--especially the "filling" part. In Italy, while I always like the separate pasta course, I usually fill up on it (no self control) before the next course comes. In my home--and this is purely the function of sharing my table with a man who thinks it's not dinner if there's no meat or seafood--a meat lasagne or any pasta w/meat or seafood sauce would serve as the main course, but mushroom lasagne or a pasta absent meat gets served (in smaller portions, of course) as a side. Personally, I could easily make a meal of spaghetti w/olive oil and garlic . . . or butter and parmigiano.

                    2. re: Gio

                      I thnk that just reflects the italian food philosophy. If you have grown up in America with all the food on a single plate, with a parent who teaches you it is polite to eat around your plate rather than to eat one dish at a time, it has less resonance.

                      while its true that some pasta (and rice) dishes may be too complex or rich to be an accompaniment to meat, many pasta dishes could serve or be a good contrast. For example why would fettucine with a simple cheese and butter dusting, be a poorer plate companion with roast meat than say gratineed potatoes. If anything its a bad idea because the pasta trulyovershadows the meat.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        As the Italians invented pasta, I'll go with their philosophy! I actually think it makes a lot more sense to eat the pasta as a separate course/meal by itself. It just doesn't lend itself to being a side dish imho, especially as the secret to a plate of good pasta is the right ratio of sauce to starch. Add meat/fish to that combination and the balance of the dish is upset.

                  2. re: greedygirl

                    This is what I love about COTM. The wild mushroom lasagna is a recipe I had passed over for years and years. With all these fantastic reviews and tips about using fresh pasta, it will go on my short list of recipes to try this month. Thanks fellow chow hounders!

                    1. re: dkennedy

                      Do let us know about how the recipe works for you, dkennedy!
                      If I can find good fresh lasagna pasta, I will try it again using it instead of the dried that I had on hand.

                2. re: nomadchowwoman

                  http://shadowcook.com/2007/11/29/lynn...

                  Two very comprehensive reports but here's a link anyway to a recipe with a list of ingredients

                  1. re: gembellina

                    Nice to read shadowcook's report on this delicious dish! Her recommendation about doubling the sauce is probably the way to go to ensure a moister (but still relatively "austere" as shadowcook terms it) lasagne dish. I made the recipe for the second time last night and kept the final baked result a bit "wetter" by not reducing the various layers of liquids (mushroom liquid, then wine) down to a "sheer film" as Rosetto-Kaspar directs. I stopped the reduction when it was more a thick bubbling layer. The baked dish was somewhat more saucy, which I liked.

                    I love this recipe! It is perfect for chilly October evenings. I think it would be fantastic as a separate first course, and that's what I'll do for my next dinner party, but for a family dinner it is also a wonderful "starch option" side dish served with simpler chicken or other meat preparations. Or even as the star of the show.

                    1. re: Goblin

                      the very best dish I had on my 2008 trip through E-R was a mushroom lasagna, at Arnaldo'sClinica Gastronomic in Rubiera. very thin, squares, with silky thin pasta, only a few sheets, mushroom ragu and luscious besciamella. I havent made the assembled LRK dish, but my choice would be going toward layering in some besciamella, rather than upping the amount of the ragu. I think that would give it a more suave texture overall

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        I made one like that last holiday season for a family get-together. I made a wild mushroom ragu and layered it with fresh spinach sheets and Hazan's bechamel/parmesan combo from Essentials. It was very pleasing.

                3. Pasta all'Uovo, pg. 80

                  Nothing earth shattering about this, since it's just eggs and flour, the way everyone makes pasta! I usually add an extra yolk, though, and I didn't this time. The pasta was still wonderful and I probably don't need the extra yolk! I rolled it to a 6 thickness on my Kitchenaid attachment for tagliatelli, which was perfect - I would take it down to a 7 for lasagne.

                  1. Linguini w/Braised Garlic and Balsamic Vinegar, p. 110

                    I've made this very simple pasta dish several times and decided on Monday night it would be something that could accompany some leftover veal parmesan. This time, however, I had no linguini on hand so substituted spaghettini (De Cecco), but I think I prefer it with linguini.

                    MY major tweak: I always braise whole galic cloves rather than the dice the recipe stipulates. (I've been braising whole garlic cloves this way ever since I discovered a luscious garlic-sauced green bean recipe in an old Bert Greene cookbook.) I'm much less likely to burn the garlic, a risk even on my low burner. As an extra precaution, I set a flame tamer over the low flame.

                    This time I used olive oil (RK calls for OO or butter) for the braising, which takes a bit longer w/whole cloves. I let them go covered for 7-8 minutes and then uncovered almost 15 as my cloves were large. Once they were soft and barely starting to color, I added some of the pasta cooking water, and mashed everything into a paste. (I add this step as I find it really distributes the garlic flavor well, and again prefer it to the diced bits of garlic in the pasta.) I then tossed it into a warm bowl with the hot pasta and more uncooked olive oil (for "brightening"), salt and pepper. Next, another toss w/grated cheese (I used half parmigiano, half pecorino romano as I was at the end of the parmigiano) and finally, a drizzle of balsamico. I usually use a good commercial balsamico (w/out adding brown sugar as RK directs), but decided to go ahead and use some of the "tradizionale" in which I invested on my last trip to Italy although I used much less than she called for--maybe 1/2 tsp. per serving. My husband quickly told me he prefered this pasta with the much less dear "regular stuff," and I had to agree. This sweetened the dish a little too much though we still enjoyed it. (I'll save the fancy stuff for drizzling over roast vegetables or fruit.)
                    I've made this with butter instead of oil, and I think we both prefer it with butter, but that's just b/c I'm such a butter fiend. I like it a lot w/just EVOO. And I'm happy to discover we liked this better WITHOUT the expensive balsamico.
                    All-in-all, I find this an extremely easy, tasty pasta dish (esp. for garlic lovers), which I always serve as a side (usually w/simple roast chicken, pork, or lamb chops), but which could certainly suffice as a main dish. A fried egg on top probably wouldn't hurt either!
                    Side veg w/this and the veal were steamed and buttered brussels sprouts.

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                        Sounds great. How many garlic cloves would you suggest.?

                      2. Anolini di parma in brodo, p. 149.

                        I included this recipe in an Emilia-Romagna inspired potluck. The number of people we used to cook this dish roughly matched the cast of Aida. For the most part, we followed the recipe to the letter. It's quite a workhorse.

                        I began by making poultry/meat stock from p. 66. I used 3 lbs. of beef shank and 9 lbs. of turkey wings. Not surprisingly, the 20 quarts of water took forever to heat up in my flimsy stock pot. Once heated, I let it cook for 15 hours, mostly unattended. Once drained and pressed of juices, there was far less than the 8 quarts she suggested. Since I let it reduce too much, I accordingly diluted the broth when I incorporated it into the remainder of the recipe.

                        As an aside, I reboiled the drained meat/vegetables with a few quarts of water to make a second broth for lunch. Unlike the clear first broth, the second broth was really cloudy, but mixed with a little soy sauce, basil, and some ramen noodles, it made one of the best quick lunches I've had in a long time. The broth is incredible.

                        Anyway, I passed off a portion of the broth to a friend and she made the filling. In short, she seared a pot roast, and then braised it for about 9 hours, adding red wine as it cooked. She refrigerated it, and the next day, continued to cook it again for several hours. The solids are drained and discarded. The liquids are mixed with breadcrumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano and refrigerated to form a filling for the anolini. It apparently pained her to watch so much food reduce to so little.

                        This was one of several pasta dishes we made for the party, so I'm uncertain how much pasta we used for it. I used Cook's Illustrated's food processor method, which uses 3 large eggs for every 3 cups of flour. I rolled the pasta to the thinnest level on my pasta machine (1/32"), and quickly passed off each sheet to a team of helpers to avoid it drying out--- even 2 minutes of drying can make sealing the anolini difficult. They rapidly put balls of filling onto the dough, folded it over, squeezed out the air, and cut each anolini with a cookie cutter. This made over 100 anolini, more than enough for the party, and there was plenty of filling leftover.

                        I let the anolini dry for about 3 hours. Putting them all in 2 1/2 quarts of broth at the same time seemed like a bad move, so I cooked them in 2 separate batches, constantly tasting anolini to avoid overcooking. Once both batches were done, and the broth cooled for a few minutes, I dumped the anolini back in the broth and served. This dish was part of a crazy feast, so I let guests serve themselves 3-4 anolini each and some broth.

                        The broth was rich and meaty, the anolini had a firm yet bouncy texture, and the overall flavor didn't let you forget you were eating the remains of several pounds of meat. Kasper recommends serving this dish with 2 cups of Parmigiano-Reggiano, but I'd recommend against using any--- the cheese overwhelmed the dish, and that's not something you want to do when you've put 30 hours of work into it (she seems to overestimate the amount of grated cheese in her other recipes too).

                        Overall, I liked the dish a lot, but I couldn't imagine making it again or recommending the recipe to anyone. I would definitely make the broth again, but the filling was really wasteful. Also, I enjoyed her game ragu and cappellacci with sweet squash much more, and they required far less work. But that's another post...

                         
                         
                         
                        7 Replies
                          1. re: hyperbowler

                            Brava! Brave! [Cue the standing ovation.] What a tour de force that was. I've seen Aida multiple times and can quite imagine the hords of people waiting in the wings for your anolini...

                            1. re: hyperbowler

                              That's spectacular, can't wait for the next post!

                                1. re: hyperbowler

                                  I feel...inadequate somehow.

                                  THis is a spectacular display.

                                  1. re: hyperbowler

                                    Thanks! This dish certainly makes a fun story. At least for me... I'll have to check back with the 5 people helping me fill these, and the person who made the filling :-) BTW, I'm really glad Splendid Table made COTM--- my dinner party was in late August, and used 12 of its recipes. I wasn't sure what to cook next, and these threads are giving several good ideas.

                                    1. re: hyperbowler

                                      Filled pasta dishes like agnolini and tortellini are a classic dish that italian women make together for christmas...you need the teamwork! some work the pasta, some cut, some fill, some close...and it's so much more fun! You've done it in the true italian style! Brava!!

                                  2. Tagliarini with Lemon Anchovy Sauce (Tagliarini con Bagnabrusca) p. 112

                                    http://www.panix.com/~clay/cookbook/b...

                                    Long work days have me seeking out quick recipes. This fit the bill and nomadchowwoman’s recommendation had me curious to try this one. I looked up bagnabrusca and learned that bagna means bath and brusca means tart or sour. Fitting given the lemony taste. Minced parsley is cooked for a minute, then coarsely chopped anchovies are added (I used salt packed anchovies that were soaked in water for 10 minutes after they were cleaned) and cooked for 30 seconds, next minced garlic is added until golden and then water is added until the anchovies are melted down. Lastly the crushed tomatoes and lemon are added and cooked for a minute and then the sauce is seasoned with black pepper. Add the linguine and sprinkle with parsley.

                                    I agree with LRK when she says this makes a fast and satisfying weekday supper. My husband didn’t like this as much as I did. The lemon taste was distracting to him, but he tends to dislike lemon flavors and he can spot them a mile away. I found the dish to be filling and enjoyed the very bright lemon flavor combined with the rich and savory anchovy and tomato combination.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: BigSal

                                      Tagliarini w/ lemon anchovy sauce p. 112

                                      This was my first foray into salted anchovies. The biggest problem was finding some place that sold them loose (couldn't bring myself to buy a 2 pound can's worth without trying them first). Having solved that one Saturday in Boston, this dish moved to the head of the line for Sunday supper.

                                      As soon as the anchovies hit the saute pan, Mr. QN said "This is a Burmese dish, I'll cook it", and so he did from there, pretty much just as Big Sal describes above. The results were fine, I liked it well & Mr. QN loved it, which seems to be the general trend with LRK's recipes in our house. Pretty funny, since initially he was much less enthused about this month's book than I was, but after this dinner last night he was flipping through the pages I have tagged and wanting to know when we were going to have this that and the other dish!

                                      1. re: BigSal

                                        Tagliarini with Lemon Anchovy Sauce (con Bagnabrusca) p. 112

                                        I cooked this tonight using spaghetti and made about a third of the recipe for 2 of us, adjusting ingredients accordingly. Quick to put together, simple but good, but I wish I had better quality anchovies. I used a mediocre brand of canned anchovies, which added a little 'muddiness' to the dish which I noticed, though E didn't.

                                         
                                      2. My husband recently made two dishes from this cookbook. The first was

                                        Linguine with Braised Garlic and Balsamic Vinegar, p. 110

                                        We loved this dish. I think it is perfect served with simply grilled anything. I know he followed the recipe as written. Loads of garlic and cheese - what's not to like?

                                        For the vinegar, I broke out a tiny bottle of balsamic bought in Italy. My only comment is the recipe calls for 8-10 tsp for one pound of linguine. I think that is too much. She specifies a tsp per serving. I used, maybe a half tsp drizzle per serving and thought it was plenty. YMMV.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: mirage

                                          this was my college dish...easy, few ingredients and maximum yum.

                                        2. Cappellacci with Sweet Squash, p. 145

                                          I started out following her recipe to the letter. I roasted the sweet potatoes and the squash, mushed them through a drum sieve, and put the cooled mixture overnight in the fridge.

                                          The next day, I mixed in some Parmigiano-Reggiano and spices. The filling was far better than any orangey ravioli I've eaten, but I decided it could some of additional complexity she discusses on p. 148. Based on a combination suggested in Giuliano Bugialli's "Fine Art of Italian Cooking," I wound up reducing the Parmigiano-Reggiano to 3/4 cup, adding 2 1/2 oz. amaretti, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, the spices, and no sugar to the vegetables.

                                          I made a food processor pasta dough, rolled sheets to 1/32" with a machine, and cut squares with a cookie cutter. A team of people helped fill them individually, and we worked quickly to avoid the dough drying out and becoming unwieldy. A piping bag would have worked well, but we instead grabbed a spoonful of filling, and moved it from one spoon onto another until it formed a fairly rounded ball. After putting the filling on each square, we lightly folded it over so that the top of a triangle pointed towards us. Starting from the top, we sealed the dough to remove the air pockets and to surround the filling. This resulted in a shape looking like a Star Trek com-badge. We then folded the bottom corners onto each other, making sure to press them into each other before letting them fall on the belly of the Cappellacci. These then sat out for a few hours.

                                          Cooking and saucing was straightforward. I made them in three batches. The first batch was of 5, one drained every minute, to figure out the appropriate cooking time. The rest were split into two even batches.

                                          They're not that much more effort than a ravioli, but they're far more cool looking and fun to cut with a fork. Cutting the sweet potatoes with the squash, or vice versa, gives a light and fluffy texture without the need for cream, and a wonderful flavor. The amaretti were a great addition, but I could imagine using less next time to better emphasize the puree's flavor. As with her anolini di parma, I think they're fine without any additional grated cheese. Overall, these were my favorite pasta yet from the book and they were real crowd pleasers. I will definitely be making these again in the near future.

                                           
                                           
                                          20 Replies
                                          1. re: hyperbowler

                                            Another stunning display, hyperbowler. You and your team very good at making fresh pasta of the intricate kind. Many thanks for your review.

                                            1. re: hyperbowler

                                              Once again, impressive! Lovely. What did you sauce these with, hyperbowler?

                                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                I used the simple sage and butter sauce that she recommended. The sauce, in the proportion she specified, lightly coated the cappellacci and was just right.

                                                1. re: hyperbowler

                                                  Yes, that would be my preference on squash-stuffed pasta, too--such a delicious combination of flavors. (We actually had sage butter over our storebought porcini ravioli last night--good, but obviously not in the same league as your gorgeous homemade cappellacci.)

                                                  1. re: hyperbowler

                                                    in ferrara you can also find them served with ragu (pure meat ragu, tomato free) which is also really good.

                                                2. re: hyperbowler

                                                  Butternut squash cappellacci, pg. 145 (Cappellacci con la zucca)

                                                  I made a half recipe of these tonight, having made the filling yesterday. I followed the filling recipe to the letter, but I agree with hyperbowler - these could use some additional complexity. My vegetables were quite sweet so I didn't need the additional sugar, but I felt that the sweet potato took over, making these taste more like sweet potato cappellacci than squash. The filling also needed salt (or more cheese), and probably more pepper and nutmeg than I used. If I make these again, I will probably use all butternut squash and try to find a way to reduce it/get rid of some of its water, both to firm up the filling and to intensify the flavor.

                                                  Anyway, a half recipe of the filling made about 30 pieces - I made two sizes, just to see which I preferred. The smaller ones (made with pasta about 2.5" square) were preferable to the larger (3.5" squares). I'll post pics later. I rolled my pasta to the thinnest setting on my kitchenaid and I am wondering if they might have been better one notch thicker - I wasn't in love with the filling to pasta ratio. I made two eggs worth of pasta and only needed half of it, which is odd since her recipe calls for 5 eggs worth for a full batch (maybe because she rolls her pasta thicker).

                                                  Anyway, this is one of my favorite filled pastas so I'm sure I'll make these again, but definitely with some tweaks. BTW, the sage butter was lovely but I could have used more sage flavor - I might add some dried in addition to the fresh next time.

                                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                                    These are on my "to do" list for this week, so glad to see your notes, as I was thinking of using just amber cup squash, no sweet potato, and I think you've sealed the deal for me.

                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                      Yes, I would try it - you might try letting the squash drain through cheesecloth though, since it will likely be a little watery-er than the filling with potato included.

                                                    2. re: biondanonima

                                                      Thanks so much for the write up! Before I tinkered with it, I too remembered it tasting more like sweet potato than squash. There are several varieties of sweet potatoes and "yams" so it's possible she designed the recipe for one in particular.

                                                      Do let us know if you figure out a good way of reducing the filling's water content. Breadcrumbs and amaretti work, but they change the flavor of the dish. On the note of flavor, you might consider adding (or making) mostarda to the squash filling. I believe one of her other pasta recipes calls for it.

                                                      1. re: hyperbowler

                                                        I just remembered seeing a recent article from Cook's Illustrated about butternut squash soup and their method for concentrating the flavor. They cut it into chunks and nuke it for 15 minutes so it's cooked through, then drain it in a sieve and reserve the liquid. Then they cook it on the stovetop until it starts to break down and form a fond. I'm not sure the fond step would work in this case, because they deglaze the pan to get the fond up, and that's not what's wanted here - but I think perhaps the microwaving and straining would work, as well as perhaps a more gentle cooking down of the squash once it's pureed. Adding just a tiny bit of flour might work without changing the flavor/texture too much, too.

                                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                                          I made a small batch of these tonight (about 1/4 recipe).

                                                          After reading all of the above, I decided to use just squash, but not butternut, instead I used a small winter squash that one of our local farmers grows, and which has become my favorite baking squash, not sure of the exact variety, but maybe an "amber cup". Anyway the texture is much drier than a butternut, but much smoother than an acorn squash. It worked well in these cappellacci. I cooked, scooped and mashed it per the recipe. I did not use any sweet potato or sugar, nor did I drain the squash.

                                                          For the cheese, I grated a bit in, tasted, grated some more and so forth until I got to a ratio that seemed to balance the sweet to the sharp, at that point it seemed to need a little more seasoning, so also added a pinch of salt, and significant grating of nutmeg.

                                                          My cappellacci wrapping technique still needs some work (how does one get the air out without the pasta sticking to the fingers?), but all in all these were a hit, and worth a revisit.

                                                          1. re: qianning

                                                            hmm... I've never had a problem with pasta sticking to my fingers. Here are some thoughts. Are your fingers wet from filling? If so, make sure your fingers never touch the filling, and if they do, wipe them off and lightly coat them in flour afterwards. Also, don't overfill, and transfer filling to the squares with a spoon or a piping bag. Are you using water to seal the dough? If so, roll out the dough in small batches, and immediately fill them--- the wrappers will stay wet enough that you won't need to moisten them. Is the pasta dough itself too wet? Try rubbing your hands with flour before picking up each square, or dust the dough with more flour as you roll it out.

                                                            1. re: hyperbowler

                                                              i didn't use any flour for dusting, looking at your notes, i think maybe i should have. i also think my pasta dough was just a little tiny bit moister than usual (i've been making whole wheat pasta for a while now, this was the first time in ages that i've used all white flour, my "feel" was probably off)

                                                      2. re: biondanonima

                                                        Finally getting around to posting a couple of photos of my cappellacci - as I mentioned, I much preferred the smaller size.

                                                         
                                                         
                                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                                          yours sure look better than mine did!

                                                          1. re: biondanonima

                                                            Very nice! We used a different technique for wrapping the cappellacci, so I wonder if that might explain your preference for the smaller ones. Once the wrapper was sealed, we connected the left and right parts underneath rather than on top of the central mass. This is tough to describe rather than show... We pinched the left side of the triangle next to the filling with our thumb and forefinger, and did the same with our right hand. This enabled us to curve the tips underneath the triangle and connect them to each other. This action cradles the filling and sometime plumps it up too. It also gives you a nice amount of edge dough surrounding the filling, kind of like you'd get in a ravioli.

                                                            1. re: hyperbowler

                                                              Yes, I noticed that in the picture - more of a tortellini technique. I will probably do that myself next time, although I am more accustomed to seeing them wrapped the way I did it. I actually just found a very cool youtube video of Del Posto's process - the recipe appears very similar, except that they use some mascarpone cheese in addition to the parmesan. I will have to try it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1yWAm...

                                                              1. re: biondanonima

                                                                Wow, experience (and better equipment) gave them a lot more uniform a product than I could possibly imagine. And I really need to get a piping bag--- placing the filling took forever, and they made it look so easy. Oh, on replay, I noticed that they used an all egg yolk pasta.

                                                                Their cappellacci were pretty big, and I noticed that they let the dough sit out long enough that the wrappers needed to be moistened to be sealed. The advantage of letting them sit seems to be that, when you pinch the corners together, they form a stiff ring that sits above the belly of the cappellacci. It's a beautiful presentation.

                                                                1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                  I know, I'm VERY jealous of that cutter that lets them cut a zillion perfect squares at a time. I didn't find that placing the filling took too long, but it would have been easier with a piping bag for sure. I think their pasta was also a little thicker than mine, which would contribute to the way theirs maintained that nice ring shape instead of falling onto the belly of the cappellacci like mine did. Anyway, I ate at Del Posto recently and had the pumpkin cappellacci - they were SUPERB.

                                                      3. Gramigna with Wine-Braised Sausage - pgs114/5

                                                        I first made this dish last December and we throughly enjoyed it. A very rich, robust dish that didn't take long to make at all as I used the food processor to assist in the veggie chopping!

                                                        I posted some pics and, my review in the WFD thread at that time so I've pasted the link below if you'd like to take a look:

                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7501...

                                                         
                                                        1. Gramigna [Capunti] with Wine-Braised Sausage (p. 114)

                                                          I was scrambling for something easy last night after I invited a few people over last minute, and remembered Breadcrumbs's enthusiasm for this dish. We all agreed w/her. It was delicious.

                                                          This would be a great weeknight dish as it can be put together very speedily: mince the veggies (onion, carrots, parsley while browning the sausage. Then brown/soften the veggies. Add sausage, sage, garlic, then a pinch of cloves, tomato paste, half the white wine. Reduce wine. Add remaining wine and simmer abt. 10 min.

                                                          Put pasta on to boil (I did not have gramigna, cavatappi, or any suitable egg pasta, but used a very nice capunti that worked well). While that cooks, add chopped tomatoes and their juices, and some grated parmigian. Voila. Dinner is served.

                                                          Great, easy sauce. I was generous adding cheese to the sauce and didn't find we needed any more sprinkled on top. Served this with a simple green salad and my ubiquitous roasted brussels sprouts, glazed with balsamic.

                                                          I'll definitely make this again. My husband loves Italian sausage and will be asking for this again soon.

                                                          1. Tagliatelle With Caramelized Onions and Fresh Herbs.

                                                            This has been a goto dish for many years. In our house it is called "Proposal Pasta" since I proposed to my wife after making it for her one Valentines day. It is now a Valentines day tradition, I think I've made it every Valentines day since. A little out of season in Feb., but with the ready availability of fresh herbs these days, it really can be made year 'round. I usually use a combo of basil, marjoram, oregano, thyme, and a little rosemary and sage. Marjoram is they key, though I think... Maybe its just the strong personal connection, but this has to be one of my favorite pasta dishes of all time. I'm curious what the CH intelligentsia think!

                                                            1. Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna p.165

                                                              If all of the pastas, sauces and ragus are made ahead of time, this dish wouldn't take too long to put together. If not, well then, you would probably have an evening like mine...

                                                              I had made the ragu the night before (thank goodness), but the bechamel and the pasta were made the same day as the day I chose to make two different lasagnes (also made Nonna's Lasagne from The Italian Country Table). Brilliant, I know. I seem to have forgotten how long it takes to make pasta. Deciding to roll out the noodle sheets by hand was yet another time-consuming detail that I could have done without. I'm very grateful that my company ended up cancelling on me, as dinner was not ready until nearly 9, instead of the 5:30 I had figured. I had planned on making the lasagnes with a lovely starter of balsamic pears, garlic crostini, and a salad of tart greens. I didn't get around to making anything but the lasagnes. Sigh
                                                              .
                                                              This lasagne calls for layers of spinach pasta, Country style Ragu (p 48), grated Parm, and a nutmeg scented bechamel. The spinach in the pasta made it a touch difficult to roll out for this amateur, so perhaps my lasagne sheets were a but thicker than called for. I've since decided that I like my noodles with a bit of heft to them, anyway.
                                                              So after the dish is assembled, it is heated until warmed through, about 40 minutes. My husband gave up on me at the assembly stage and ordered pizza for him and the offspring.

                                                              When my dinner was finally ready, I dined alone, standing up at the kitchen counter, surrounded by a heaping stack of dirty dishes and broken dreams.

                                                              The lasagne was wonderful.

                                                              9 Replies
                                                                1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                  <I dined alone, standing up at the kitchen counter, surrounded by a heaping stack of dirty dishes and broken dreams.

                                                                  The lasagne was wonderful.>

                                                                  I have been there. I feel your pain. And I hope the delicious lasagne alleviated it somewhat.
                                                                  The good news is that the leftovers will still be delicious.

                                                                  I made two lasagnes a few weeks ago, thinking along the lines of * if I'm going to go to all that trouble, I may as well do two * instead of * it takes a heck of a lot of time to make enough fresh pasta for two dishes of lasagne * Luckily I had made the sauces on a previous day.

                                                                  But I had planned on making this dish as my final COTM on Halloween. That simple last sentence of your review has convinced me that I must.

                                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                    A sad story--but you've inspired me, Allegra, to make this particular lasagne (in steps ahead) because any recipe that can put you through ALL of that work and delayed gratification and still be termed "wonderful" has got to be a winner! I've decided to make it on Hallowe'en too, for a party at my daughter's.

                                                                    1. re: Goblin

                                                                      Goblin, Halloween, Lasagne; why does that combination make me smile?

                                                                      1. re: qianning

                                                                        And the part you don't know is that Hallowe'en is my birthday (hence the username)! Mmmmmm, nice meaty country-style ragu. . . . Can't wait to to sink my fangs, I mean teeth, into that delectable recipe. . . . ;-)

                                                                        1. re: Goblin

                                                                          Happy (early) Birthday! Hoping it is a delicious one......

                                                                  2. re: Allegra_K

                                                                    A sad tale, beautifully told. Glad you enjoyed it in the end! Leftovers will probably be even better.

                                                                    1. re: GretchenS

                                                                      Thanks, all! I hope that anyone who makes it will deem it worth the effort.
                                                                      When something takes so long and is a flop (like the other lasagne that I made), it always brings me back down to earth. Reminds me that I am NOT a professional chef. Ah well, at least it keeps me from getting too cocky.....
                                                                      Sandwiches for dinner tonight. Hope I can handle it!

                                                                    2. re: Allegra_K

                                                                      LASAGNE OF EMILIA-ROMAGNA, p. 165

                                                                      Allegra's is a hard report to follow, but I did make this fabulous lasagne for our Halloween dinner. I had made the brodo one day, the ragu another, the spinach pasta on Sunday, and the bechamel just before putting the dish together Monday evening--a drawn-out approach that made for considerably less trauma.

                                                                      Still, the pasta itself did give me fits.

                                                                      OK, I confess, I used my KA w/paddle and then dough hook. The resulting dough was hard and crumbly and nearly impossible to knead, and the spinach was in clumps and did not look like it would ever get incorporated. Then I added OO to the dough and kneaded by hand for what seemed like too long. After the pasta dough's half-hour rest, I worked it and worked it through the pasta attachment. Lo and behold, I ended up with lovely, silky green pasta sheets.

                                                                      And the lasagne really was terrific, lacking the poignant note of Allegra's, but pretty darned tasty nonetheless. We liked it just as well reheated for leftovers.

                                                                      And since I made a double batch of ragu and froze the rest, I WILL be making this again. (And thank you, Allegra, for convincing me that I must see this through.)

                                                                       
                                                                    3. I just saw something on R-K's website about using a whole head of garlic (actually 2) for pesto and NOT taking off the papery skin. Has anybody tried this? She doesn't even say anything about taking off the parts of the root at the base of each clove. Yikes!

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                                                        I couldn't find this on her site. Link?

                                                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                                                          OJ... it's not a pesto recipe but a recipe for roasted potatoes with unpeeled garlic strewn over top along with a broken cinnamon stick, if that's what you're referring to.

                                                                          I've used unpeeled garlic cloves many times when roasting butternut squash chunks and other root vegetables. I slice off the root end of the garlic cloves but leave them unpeeled, season them with oil/S & P and roast either with or without meat.. The result is a nice creamy sweet garlic that's delicious. Sometimes the peel is crisp enough to eat it as well. LOL And I thought I invented this...

                                                                          http://www.publicradio.org/columns/sp...

                                                                        2. Garganelli with Roasted Peppers, Peas, and Cream; Pg. 116

                                                                          This is a delicious pasta dish with lots of comforting flavor. The only thing for me was that the sauce was too meager, G didn't think so though. I'll probably make it again and simply increase a few ingredients to create more sauce.

                                                                          As is my wont, I substituted a few items to accommodate what I had in my pantry. Also, I halved the recipe because I only had an 8.8 ounce box of imported Garganelli instead of a whole pound. The recipe calls for 4 red bell peppers...I used 3 long red sweet Italian peppers, no prosciutto de Parma so I used pancetta, half and half instead of heavy cream. There is a choice of either sweet fresh peas or frozen...I used frozen. So, in spite of all my modifications and adaptations the finished dish was terrific. (Even though I would have liked just a tad more sauce.)

                                                                          The procedure couldn't be more simple: Roast, peel, deseed, slice the peppers. Melt butter in a skillet, add chopped prosciutto and sauté half a minute. Add peppers and cook a half a minute. Add cream (in my case 1/2 cup) and take pan off heat. Make and drain the pasta. Bring pan sauce to a boil, stir in peas, then quickly add pasta. Toss to coat the garganelli and throw in a handful of freshly grated parmagiano. Taste and add salt if necessary and lots of freshly grated black pepper.

                                                                          I really liked all the combined flavors of this dish. I suppose. for those who don't eat pork. butter could be subbed to pretty good effect. I served a tossed salad as recommended in the menu notes.