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March 2014 Cookbook of the Month - Stir: Mixing it up in the Italian Tradition: A Passion for Pasta (111-175)

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  1. Rigatoni with Spicy Sausage and Cannellini Beans, Pg 135

    We made this dish when I first got this book and it was, simply stated, Perfect. Tons of unmistakable Italian flavors especially with a reduction of a 2009 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico DOCG in the sauce.

    Used all the required ingredients without substitutions. One half teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes was just right for us. Hot and spicy in-house (local Italian market) made pork sausages, De Cecco rigatoni, Pomi chopped tomatoes, imported Parmigiano, Goya tinned cannellini. G had three helpings! We'll have to make it again this month.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      what could I substitute for the sausage?

      1. re: jpr54_1

        Hi jpr... you know, up here in the Boston area we can get both chicken and turkey sausage. Would you be able to use either of those? If not, perhaps heavily spiced chicken pieces. For this sauce the casings are removed so perhaps bite size pieces of other meat would do.

        The recipe calls for the addition of crushed red pepper flakes so there's a little heat, not too much, just enough. Good Luck!

      2. re: Gio


        Another dish I’ve made a few times since my first review. Posting it here to add to the discussion:

        On a cold winter’s day we were in need of some heat and this dish came to mind. Funny that Lynch comment’s that the dish “is perfect for a chilly night” and I didn’t read this until after dinner! This pasta has a lot going for it in that it’s quick to pull together w minimal chopping, primarily relies on pantry ingredients and, tastes fabulous. I prepared as directed and in hindsight, I’d taste the sauce prior to adding the suggested amount of chili flakes since our final dish was pretty darn spicy. Obviously our Italian sausages were spiced more aggressively than usual! No pasta water was added to the sauce, it was loose enough as is. Lynch has this as an optional step. Fresh basil was a nice touch. I’d make it since, w less heat so it’s fun for the whole family vs just me!!

        1. re: Gio

          Rigatoni with Spicy Sausage and Cannellini Beans, Pg 135

          This dish hit the spot on another cold and sleet-y night, even with some substitutions based on what I had on hand. I had some chicken sausage which needed to be used up, as well as a bottle of half-drank Italian Red wine which was taking us space in the fridge. This seemed like a perfect dish to use those up. It turned out my chicken sausage was kind of blah on its own, but I hoped this treatment would perk it up. PLus with more winter weather heading in and the kids released from school early, didn't want to have to head to the store for anything.

          As Gio and BC describe, this is a quick dish to put together. Very weeknight doable. I had to leave out the fresh basil at the end, since I didn't have it, but I think this dish is pretty forgiving. Even my less than stellar chicken sausage turned out being great with this treatment. It's amazing how simmering with onion, garlic and red wine can make a sub-par sausage taste great. I also felt like this recipe could feed a small army. A pound of pasta usually just feeds my family of 5, but we had 2 serving left over for lunches this week. Score!

          1. re: Gio

            Rigatoni with Spicy Sausage and Cannellini Beans Pg. 135

            This was dinner for us yesterday and we quite liked it. For my part, sausage and pasta is one of my favourite combinations.

            In this case I followed the recipe as described by others and the results were good. The pasta and beans are toothsome companions and the sausage sauce is rich and coats the pasta beautifully. I have to say I didn't really note the butter that was added at the end and I wouldn't be keen to increase it so I might simply omit it next time and see if I can note a difference.

            I would also venture a few suggestions that would possibly suit our tastes a touch better. I felt that white the basil was nice, it was a little too subtle, so I would likely add a bit more next time. Same for the parmesan that is added to the actual pasta. Lastly, Ina Garten has a recipe for "weeknight bolognese" which calls for crushed tomatoes instead of diced, as well a shot of about 1/4 cup of wine in the last 5 minutes or so of cooking. I always find that the crushed tomatoes make for a nice consistency, and the shot of wine makes the sauce a touch more assertive (which is a good thing for me).

            On the whole however, a very good dish.

          2. Saving my spot on this thread in case I decide (sigh...) to get this book :-)

            1. BUTCHER SHOP BOLOGNESE – pg. 121

              I've made this dish on several occasions, always to rave reviews. I thought I'd post my original review here for folks who may not have come across it.

              What separates this Bolognese from others we’ve tried is the combination of meats used. Ground veal, pork and lamb are added to sage and finely chopped (at least in my case!) chicken livers that have been browned and seasoned along with the usual onion/carrot/celery mix. Wine, chicken broth, chopped tomatoes are then added in to simmer away and, perfume your home with their meaty, delicious aromas! Prior to serving, ½ cup of heavy cream is stirred in.

              The lamb and livers really did deepen the flavors of this sauce that was almost “stew-like” in flavor. This is a real stick to your ribs meal that just hit the spot on this very cold, snowy Toronto evening. Oh, and the red wine played an excellent supporting role.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                That sounds luscious, BC. Looks like similar ragus I've had too. I must look at the recipe.

                1. re: Gio

                  It really is special Gio. A very big, bold ragu, perfect for this horrifyingly cold weather we've been getting!

                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                  ...I realized that the 2nd photo I posted above (and subsequently deleted!!) was of a different dish from Stir! Here's the plated dish:

                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                    Butcher Shop Bolognese, p. 121

                    I was dying to try this bolognese. I've rarely met one we didn't love. But it didn't wow initially. I followed the recipe to the letter, and I'm not sure if my choice of wine (an inexpensive Côtes du Rhône we had on hand) was the problem but after a two-hour simmer, the sauce was overwhelmingly wine-y, both in aroma and in its unappealing, well, wine color. I also wonder if the Pomi chopped tomatoes (which I rarely use as it's difficult to find Pomi) weren't the best choice as the tomato pieces never really melded into the sauce but retained their shape and texture. So after two hours, I added another 1/2 cup of tomatoes, a little more stock, and a tablespoon of tomato paste and threw in a couple of cheese rinds and cooked it for another hour before adding the cream, which helped the color a bit although my sauce still did not look like Breadcrumbs's (I'm including my photo, which suggests a better color than the sauce actually had). We ate this over a very nice pappardelle, and while it wasn't our favorite bolognese, it was a fine meal, one I'd eat happily anytime.

                    The repurposing a couple of nights later did wow us, however--in lasagne. To the leftover ragu, I added about 3/4 c. ea. canned tomatoes (which I mashed roughly myself) and the roasted chicken stock, cooked it briefly and then layered it with fresh mozzarella and a bechamel/parmigiana sauce. It made for several more absolutely delicious meals.

                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                      I made this following the on-line recipe listed on the general "Stir" thread. This is very meaty in flavor - the chicken livers add a strong meaty element without registering as "liver". The lamb contributes to the meaty flavor too.

                      I ended up adding some tomato paste and a little of a dried pepper blend to adjust the flavor to my taste. My batch was very grey. The bits of carrots added more color than the tomato. My only other change was to use a can of Italian plum tomatoes which broke down with a little spoon action during cooking.

                      My first helping was just a bit too intense. I like meat but this was meat X 10. I hoped the leftovers would improve and they did. The second night I enjoyed the dish much more.

                      I think using the sauce with ricotta stuffed shells or lasagna will balance out the meatiness for me.

                      I don't think I'll make this again. The effort and range of ingredients didn't pay off in the final dish. I will take some of the ideas and use in a simpler variation.

                      I plan to decrease the chicken liver and lamb, keep the pork and substitute mushrooms for the veal. The mushrooms should stay true to the texture but reduce the (for me) overwhelming meatiness of the dish. My hand problems made the fine chopping a chore. I will roughly chop, cook until softened and then use the immersion blender.

                      It was a good exercise and I got to try a few new things with this recipe. And the leftovers won't go to waste!

                    2. re: Breadcrumbs

                      Butcher Shop Bolognese Pg. 121

                      I have to say I wasn't sure what to expect from this one as the reviews are generally positive but there have been a few concerns with colour (grey) and flavour (too meaty). That said, I am happy to report that we really loved this dish. My fellow chowhounds have summarized the prep very well, so I will simply add that the only modification I made was that I used ground beef, lamb, and pork as I couldn't get my hands on any veal the day of. I simmered the sauce for a good four hours, and let it sit in the fridge for a few days before serving with about 1 lb of a good quality dried tagliatelle.

                      The result is definitely a bit bland in terms of colour, but once it is plated and sprinkled with a bit of pepper and parm, the colour was a non issue. The flavour however was very deep with a meaty but varied flavour. The liver brought in a touch of umami, and the other meaty companions gave me the sensation that I was actually enjoying a slightly less lamby, lamb sauce. As good carnivores this sauce was definitely hitting the right notes for us. I do see however how someone might find it a bit dense and too meaty.

                      My only modification would be to add a bit of basil at the end as the long cooking pretty much eliminated any basil notes for me. A touch of green and a bit of additional basil flavour would definitely improve the dish IMHO.

                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                        I was really excited to try this recipe. The addition of chicken livers sounded different and interesting. I more or less followed the recipe; but, having read other reviewers concerns about the sauce being a bit gray, I added two cans of tomato. I also increased the amount of lamb a little, while decreasing the amount of pork.

                        Overall, I thought it was a good bolognese. But, it didn't rock my world in the way I hoped it would. I would consider making it again; but, may continue my search for the perfect bolognese before revisiting it.

                        Side note: I used the leftover sauce to make stuffed bell peppers. I cut the top off red bell peppers and pulled out the core and seeds. I then placed the peppers cut side down in a steamer and steamed for 10 minutes. I then mixed the bolognese with some white rice, filled the peppers, and baked at 350 for about 30 minutes. It was very good, and an excellent low carb alternative for the leftovers :)


                        Yet another fabulous recipe from this book. A dish I've made previously but thought I'd share my review here for folks who may not have read it.

                        This is a lovely dish and perfectly suited to the fall IMHO. We loved the harmonious flavours in the sauce where the celery and apple blended beautifully and added a welcome crunch to the dish. The sauce is also terrific because it is made ahead w the final ingredients being added just as the pasta cooks. We served this alongside some chicken cooked in a similar style to Saltimbocca chx cutlets w a sage leaf and prosciutto slice atop that were dredged w seasoned flour then browned and cooked. Lovely. We'll definitely make this dish again. I have not made my own agnolotti though…yet anyway!

                        1. PASTA WITH POTATOES, (BEANS) AND PESTO – p. 126

                          Another recipe I’ve made previously. Re-posting my review here for folks who may be interested. We never seem to tire of this dish.

                          Amazing! Though this combination of ingredients didn’t seem to be an obvious choice for a pasta dish, I put my faith in Ms Lynch as she’s never let us down and this time was no exception. I had some green beans on hand so I decided to add them to the dish as well. The preparation method allows the flavours and textures of the vegetables to shine through and the finished dish was exceptional, it really surprised us. The sauce was rich and somehow creamy tasting – so much so that it reminded us a little of Carbonara. I ended up cooking the potatoes along w the pasta to save a step and, some time. This was so good we’re having it again this week. Scrumptious!

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                            Breadcrumbs, I'm curious, is the pesto in Stir the same or similar to the one in this link, which struck me because BL makes it largely with butter rather than olive oil? If so, that would certainly give credence to the rich and creamy description!


                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                              Interesting Caitlin. No, not at all. This pesto calls for 1/2 c. pine nuts that you toast until golden brown, 1/2 c. of fresh basil , 2 cloves of garlic which you chop, and 3/4 c. of evoo along w s&p. One heaped tbsp of pine nuts are reserved for garnish everything else goes into the blender.

                              I think its the potato that somehow makes this taste richer. I've since made the dish and sauteed the green beans with some leeks. We love it w leeks. This is arally a special recipe.

                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                Potatoes with macaroni always seems a peculiar pairing to me. One my mother would never have done, but I suppose it must have evolved because of mountain folks who needed a hearty dish.

                                1. re: Gio

                                  It seems odd to me, too, Gio, however I have learned that pasta with potatoes, green beans, and pesto is a very traditional Genovese dish.

                                  1. re: Gio

                                    Seemed odd to me the first time too, but I love it. Also love very thinly sliced potatoes on a pizza (with pesto as the sauce).

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      This is how they eat it in Genoa, which is the port city in Liguria, where the pesto originated. I first discovered the potatoes many years ago through Genovese friends of my parents. It didn't make a lot of sense to me as a kid (primarily because I didn't really care much for potatoes), but it does now.

                                      1. re: Gio

                                        I think you must be right about the origin Gio. That said, when mr bc & I were first married I used to prepare a rice and potato dish that was born out of mr bc's preference for potatoes as a side dish and mine for rice. I remember one of mr bc's friends dropping by unexpectedly for dinner one night and he thought the dish was brilliant...his wife still prepares it for him so many years later!! (though we long since retired it from our menu).

                                  2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                    Pasta with Potatoes and Pesto Pg. 126

                                    This was a winner for us, but I must admit to doctoring a touch. I added some parmesan to my pesto, as well as just a touch of cream. I started out with the parmless pesto, but after tasting it I found it a bit flat and really wanted that rich umami flavour I love in my usual pesto, so in went some parmesan and a splash of cream.

                                    I did simmer the beans, potatoes, and pasta separately, which added a bit of time but maintained the texture of the potatoes and beans. That said, end to end this dish can be done in about 30-40 minutes and it is very tasty. Definitely a stick to your ribs meal, and one who's flavours were very much appreciated at our house.

                                  3. PAPPARDELLE WITH TANGY VEAL RAGU – pg. 138

                                    This was the very first recipe I made from Stir. Here’s what I thought of this wonderful, rich and delicious dish:

                                    Veal shanks are seasoned, floured and browned then removed from the pan to make room for the trinity of carrot, onion and celery, which are softened. Lots of red wine and some balsamic vinegar join in to bubble away ‘til syrupy. The veal is then re-introduced to the pot along with tomatoes, beef stock, water and herbs and I then popped the pot into the oven to simmer away. In the hours that followed our home smelled so delicious! Though Lynch suggests that the braising liquid be strained to remove solids, we couldn’t part with them so we just broke up the meat and served as is. Aside from being truly scrumptious, what I really like about this dish is that it could be made ahead in stages so it would be an excellent company dish, especially at this chilly time of year!

                                    …re-reading this today as we endure this seemingly never-ending deep freeze, I’m thinking it might be time for a re-do!!

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                      Wow BC you are back with a vengeance ha ha. Those pasta dishes all look and sound great.

                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                          PAPPARDELLE WITH TANGY VEAL RAGU
                                          pg. 138

                                          When we picked up our lamb, the farmer threw in some veal shanks for good measure. And they have sat in the freezer for two years. Somehow 3 veal shanks, of unequal size, just never called to me. This is primarily a dairy farm, and his veal isn't "traditional" veal at all. Though less than a year old, it is just barely, and the young cows have full access to the pasture alongside the sheep. This isn't tender veal, but really a young cow.

                                          Breadcrumbs has outline the process very nicely. Creating a syrup from the wine and balsamic vinegar was a most fascinating smell, and very different from other braising recipes I have tried. I chose to use the Steven's braising method, and covered the pot with parchment paper and the top. I also was reluctant to throw out the vegetable matter, but I had thrown in celery leaves so I pressed the liquid through a fairly robust strainer getting all the goodness, just mashed. I chose to pull the meat apart with my fingers to make sure that any "bits" didn't end up in the sauce.

                                          The papparadelle recipe uses far more egg to flour than my standard Hazan recipe. It was easy to work with, and the results were delicious. [Duh! More fat, more calories, of course it was!] But, it stood up to the ragu very nicely.

                                          To serve, we each received 5-6 pappardelle noodles and half a cup of the sauce-meat mixture. So more noodle than she states, and less ragu. For us, this was the perfect balance.

                                          Tomorrow, I will serve with polenta, and the third portion went straight into the freezer for "one of those nights."

                                          1. re: smtucker

                                            So glad you enjoyed this smt. A truly rich and most delicious dish!

                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                              Really luxurious. Right up there with the Duck Ragu from "All About Braising."

                                        2. Ricotta Gnudi, p.153

                                          I really thought these would be more of a challenge, but after working through the proverbial learning curve I was able to put the dough together and form all the dumplings in about 1 1/2 hours.

                                          A dough containing ricotta, flour, egg, and S & P is quickly mixed together, with a floured work surface nearby. I was able to find Calabro ricotta (in the plastic tub; Barbara discusses ricotta on p.34) and used this, although I'm tempted to make my own after seeing the recipe on p.35 as the cost savings would be significant.

                                          I then used a pastry cloth to roll small handfuls of dough into narrow logs. The dough is quite wet, but if your hands are floured and there is a decent amount of flour on your work surface it won't be hard to work with. The rolls are cut into 1" pieces, rolled into balls, then worked across the tines of a fork to produce grooves. I found that if I rolled the balls around on the floured cloth again after I formed them they didn't stick to the fork and it was easy to apply the pressure necessary for the grooves.

                                          As the Barbara suggests, I flash-froze the gnudi on a large, floured cookie sheet, then divided the pieces into freezer bags. When it was time to cook, I dropped about a dozen at a time into the pot and sure enough, they did float up to the top in about 2 minutes. I had a bowl of Odd Fellow Marinara (p.120) to sauce them with, and topped each serving with grated Parmesan.

                                          They did indeed taste like a puff of ravioli filling and thankfully I didn't detect any taste of flour - just the light, delicate flavor of the cheese. I was able to make about 85-90 pieces, but unless you are serving them as a first-course I would say a full recipe makes about six servings rather than eight (and how great is it that they can be frozen - just a quick boil and dinner is ready!). The full recipe of the Odd Fellow Marinara is plenty for saucing, but any marinara would work well.

                                          11 Replies
                                              1. re: lesliej

                                                RICOTTA GNUDI – p. 153

                                                Leslie’s post and stunning photo were so inspiring I just couldn’t wait to give this a try. I’m embarrassed to admit this but I purchased a hand made gnocchi board in Tuscany 8 years ago and this was the first time I’ve ever pulled it out!!

                                                Leslie also did an incredible job explaining how this comes together so I’ll just share my experience with the recipe. I am fortunate to live near an Italian market where they make fresh ricotta so I picked up a pound for this recipe. I’ve never made gnudi before but I too was surprised how well this came together. DL’s instructions were spot on. At first I was a little concerned about the stickiness of the dough but a little flour on my hands made all the difference and I was soon in business. Once I got the swing of using the gnocchi board I got my rhythm the gnudi-making process sailed into full swing. I will say the little balls of dough were incredibly light and tender and the tough part for me was learning the appropriate amount of pressure to apply as I rolled them down my board.

                                                As DL suggests, I froze the pasta to ensure a successful cooking process. I have to say we were blown away with the final product. The gnudi were airy, super tender and really just seemed to melt in your mouth. As Leslie mentioned the gnudi don’t need much in the way of sauce, as you really want to be able to enjoy the sweet subtle flavour of the ricotta, which the hint of Parmesan somehow seems to draw out. One of my favourite recipes from the book thus far. Thanks for the inspiration Leslie!

                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                  Beautiful! Clearly I just have to make these. Need some good quality milk from a local farm to make the ricotta. Lovely lovely photos.

                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                    So happy to see you enjoyed these as much as I did! I definitely need a gnocchi board - I imagine it's easier to create ridges when rolling on wood vs. the slick tines of a fork. Wonderful photos!

                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                      Those look fantastic. I love that you had a gnocchi board!

                                                    2. re: lesliej

                                                      Quick question about the gnudi (you two have *almost* convinced me to try this) .... would you foresee any problem with making the gnudi over the weekend and then cooking them from frozen as a quick weeknight meal?

                                                      1. re: Westminstress

                                                        No, not at all Westminsress. In fact, even when you make them fresh she has you flash freeze them so they don't fall apart when boiling them. They're really wonderful and definitely worth a try.

                                                        1. re: Westminstress

                                                          That is absolutely the way to go - I boiled the second "serving/meal" of my original batch about ten days after making them (right out of the freezer). Tasted just as good as the first night.

                                                          1. re: lesliej

                                                            Nice, that's what I was hoping to hear! Unfortunately though I forgot to pick up the ricotta on my way home so this project will have to wait until next weekend.

                                                            1. re: Westminstress

                                                              Have some milk? Ricotta is so easy to make.

                                                      2. Odd Fellow Marinara, p. 120

                                                        I made this sauce to accompany Ricotta Gnudi - it paired very well with it and although relatively basic, was very quick and easy to put together. Onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes are sauteed in olive oil, a bit of white wine is added, then a can of crushed tomatoes. The mixture simmers for a few minutes, and basil is stirred in at the end. Plenty for a full recipe of the Gnudi.

                                                        17 Replies
                                                        1. re: lesliej

                                                          Sorry - the photo of the Gnudi somehow linked to the Marinara review...apologies for the duplicate.

                                                          1. re: lesliej

                                                            ODD FELLOW MARINARA – p. 120

                                                            Yum! I’d decided to make the chicken meatballs in this book today and the only item up for debate was whether I’d serve them in the intended Lasagnettes or take a new path. In the end, the marinara was calling to me and I ended up here.

                                                            Marinara is a dish w so many variations. What sets this apart from my own recipe is the inclusion of onions and the chopping vs slicing of garlic. Prep is super-simple. The aforementioned onions and garlic are sautéed in EVOO along w some red pepper flakes. A swish of wine deglazes the pan before the crushed tomatoes (Pomi brand in my case) are added and the whole lot is simmered/seasoned to taste. Fresh basil is stirred in at the end.

                                                            This was a nice Marinara that deepened in flavour and colour as it spluttered away atop my stove. Mr bc loved the inclusion of onions. I’d love to try this atop the Ricotta Gnudi (perhaps later this week as I purchased fresh ricotta today). I served this w fresh rigatoni and the chicken meatballs. We really enjoyed this dish.

                                                            …for anyone interested, this dish gets its name from the “Odd Fellows” building across the street from BL’s restaurant.

                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                              Odd Fellow Marinara, Pg. 120

                                                              We have been making this sauce every Monday since time immemorial. Exactly This Sauce. I used to use Pastene Kitchen Ready tomatoes but a few years ago switched to Pomi and every once in a while use Muir Glen whole tomatoes when specifically needed. It was so funny to see it among the recipes in Stir. I can't get over the fact that Chef Lynch actually sells it by the jar! Good for her, because at least those who buy it are getting a really tasty and quick tomato sauce for their macaroni, or indeed wherever they need such a sauce.

                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                But doesn't it make you wish you'd gone into the jarred sauce business, years ago?

                                                                1. re: MelMM

                                                                  Hell no! I was too busy and wasn't that interested in eating.

                                                                2. re: Gio

                                                                  Hi Gio, that's really interesting that you've been making your marinara this way! I have a question. Are you slicing or chopping your onions? It struck me a bit odd to slice them....

                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                    We chop the onions, BC. Really a medium dice. My mother didn't use onions, just garlic, but G prefers the onion.

                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                      I would definitely prefer them chopped and will do it that way next time. Like G, mr bc really enjoyed the onion in the sauce so I think I'll add them to my standard recipe going forward. I'll continue to slice my garlic though. We're both garlic-lovers so we enjoy seeing those lovely wafer thin slices in there....even though I dread the slicing process every time I prepare the marinara...so time consuming!!

                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                        Ah, Breadcrumbs, let me tell you my solution to the time-consuming garlic slicing dilemma: a garlic mandoline. Yup, it's one of those silly kitchen unitaskers that takes up space somewhere, but it slices garlic super thin in a couple of seconds, and you can throw it in the dishwasher. I picked it up a couple of years ago after seeing a suggestion here on CH, and it's been worth it to me because I'm not fast with a knife in any instance, due to some physical issues with my hands, and I'm no longer avoiding slicing garlic because it's a PITA.

                                                                        This is the model I have: http://hutzlerco.com/products/i/312/

                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                          Caitlin, I can't thank you enough. I ordered this immediately. Thankfully it was available on Amazon Canada. I can't tell you how excited I am about this. I make huge batches of marinara in the summer often slice a full cup of garlic at a time. This will be awesome! Huge thanks!!!

                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                            Cool, I know how much you and your Mr. BC love garlic, so I hope it makes life a bit simpler for you!

                                                                      2. re: Gio

                                                                        My mother only used garlic too, and that's how I make my basic marinara, which I used as a base for my sugo. I usually only use onions in recipes that specifically call for them -- like amatriciana. For me, onion in a marinara overwhelms the delicacy of the sauce and makes it a bit too sweet for my taste.

                                                                    2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                      Odd Fellow Marinara, p. 120

                                                                      Made this last night. Served over some pasta, which accompanied the shrimp and green bean salad from p 77. I hard pressed to add anything to what's been said. It's simple, it's quick, it's good.

                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                        Odd Fellow Marinara, p. 120

                                                                        Easy and fresh-tasting. We had this over angel hair (Dreamfields), w/a side of grilled Italian sausage and a tossed green salad for a great minimal effort weeknight meal. Except for the thinly sliced onion (I usually mince mine), this is very similar to my go-to quick marinara. We enjoyed it every bit as much.

                                                                      2. re: lesliej

                                                                        I just love this picture! It looks like little gnudies sitting on a beach. The way the light is low and looks so natural, the flour looks like sand.

                                                                        1. re: daislander

                                                                          Oh, thanks so much! Funny how my impromptu food pics often look far more interesting than the ones I spend way too much time on.

                                                                          1. re: daislander

                                                                            I totally agree with you! Lovely shot Leslie...and thanks for the little reminder of summer with your beach-scape gnudi!!!

                                                                        2. TORN PASTA FAGIOLI WITH SHRIMP POLPETTINI

                                                                          From page 133.

                                                                          I am a sucker for fish balls at Asian places so this was an intriguing recipe although I wasn't sure how well shrimp would partner up with beans and rosemary. Surprisingly well actually.

                                                                          I made the white beans from page 195 earlier in the day. I produced the polpettini, little meatballs, using the meat grinder attachment on a kitchen aid stand mixer. I used half and half instead of cream. I tested right away. Good tasting item, excellent balance between the shrimp and the lemon zest. Texture was excellent, although I'd suspect a food processor not to be as good.

                                                                          Putting together the final dish required me to prepare fresh pasta and poach the polpettini. I was unprepared for the amount of work required. The instructions seem to indicate that one should juggle the poaching, cooking the pasta, and assembling the sauce at the same time. None of which was difficult, but it was a lot to do at the same time. There's a note that the polpettini can be made in advance, and I'd strongly encourage others to do so.

                                                                          Once all the precursors are made this dish comes together quickly. The combination of fresh pasta and the sauce of puréed beans with aromatics is fantastic. The sauce ends being almost a soup although not quite. The fresh noodles make this a much lighter dish than versions with dried pasta. Combined with the light meatballs, this is lightest version pasta e fagioli that I have had the fortune to eat. The meatballs ended pairing quite nicely, to my surprise. The texture of the meatball worked very well with the fresh pasta, while the lemony flavor was a great foil for the herbal notes in the broth.

                                                                          Overall, I'm very impressed with Lynch. She brings a surprising variation to an old dish I associate with leftovers and shows great ability to balance all of the disparate elements.

                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                          1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                            What a wonderful review Chris. I was eyeing that dish yesterday so it's wonderful to read how much you enjoyed the dish. Interesting observation about the food processor. I'm assuming you feel the grind may be too fine? Very good to know. If that's the case, I may also use my meat grinder attachment and I'll definitely heed your advice and prepare the beans and shrimp balls in advance. Thank-you!

                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                              I think the food processor tends to make a paste out of things. It was an easy decision, though, which appliance to use as I lost the food processor in a divorce a few years ago and have yet to replace it. I suspect that a restraurant version of this would use a grinder, but was written for a food processor because they are much more common in the home kitchen.

                                                                              One more thing about the poplettini. To get a nice smooth appearance as in the photo you really do need wet hands as the recipe indicates. I got the first eight or ten that way, but after that the balls ended up pretty rough looking. Just FYI if that matters to anyone who is looking to do this dish.

                                                                            2. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                              I have been eyeing this recipe, trying to figure out what protein to sub for the shrimp. I was thinking chicken thigh meat. Any thoughts for those of us that are crustacean-challenged?

                                                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                                                I'm eyeing this recipe too and I intend to use ground turkey meatballs. The recipe will be used as a template but the two main ingredients will be changed, thus my report will be in parenthesis. LOL.

                                                                              2. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                Now THIS sounds incredible. You had me salivating. If anyone finds a link to the recipe I'd love it.

                                                                                1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                  Just a little note about the poplettini, I used a few on a sandwich roll. They work pretty well that way with mayonnaise and greens.

                                                                                  1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                    Torn Pasta (Tagliatelle) Fagioli with Shrimp Polpettini Pg. 133

                                                                                    It was my turn for this one last night. Chris does a great job above describing both the process and the flavour profile, but I would add that it still worked out quite well with the food processor and dry pasta.

                                                                                    As this was a weeknight meal I opted for dry pasta, but had to go with the tagliatelle as my market had no parpardelle. In the end my pasta was just standard, as opposed to torn up, but the dish still worked very well. The white bean sauce is very thick and clung to the noodles beautifully. My only quibble would be that it was a bit muted, possibly because of my winter herbs, but I would probably go with a bit heavier hand on the herbs and the general seasoning.

                                                                                    The polpetinni, as rendered by my food processor, were definitely a bit denser than they would likely have been had I used my grinder, but they were still very nice. The lemon zest gives just enough bright lemon flavour to lift these little meatballs. In combination with the white beans the flavour was lovely.

                                                                                    Overall a good hearty dish.

                                                                                    1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                      I have to say that this sounded so odd to me that I passed it right by in the book, but your report (and delsys77's downthread) has me intrigued.

                                                                                    2. Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Anchovies, and Pistachios - p. 123

                                                                                      This dish surprised me by how richly flavored it was for such a quick dish.

                                                                                      To start, pistachios are roasted and chopped.

                                                                                      Butter is browned. It seemed like an obscene amount of butter (1/2 cup), but I went ahead and used the full amount. Cauliflower florets are then cooked in the butter for a minute or two. Then anchovies and garlic are added to the mix. I made a half recipe and only used 2 anchovy fillets. I found the anchovies a little on the overly assertive side in this dish, but I'm not the biggest fan of them either and it did work nicely with the red pepper flakes. Once the anchovies dissolve into the butter, chicken broth is added and the cauliflower cooks until tender. I wish she had given guidance for how reduced the broth should be. It seemed a little soupy to me even though I let it reduce for a couple of extra minutes.

                                                                                      Meanwhile, cook the pasta. I was using dried pasta with a 9 minute cook time. The recipe would've gone a little bit quicker had I started the pasta before the cauliflower I think. Before draining the pasta, she has you reserve a bit of pasta water, but I didn't need it at all. The drained pasta is then mixed into the cauliflower along with parsley, parmesan, and red pepper flakes.

                                                                                      The pasta is then served and sprinkled with toasted pistachios and more red pepper flakes. She also calls for a drizzle of a tbsp of oil on each serving, but the pasta was already rich enough that I didn't think it needed more. I liked this very much, but I would've been happy with just a bit more cauliflower relative to the amount of pasta.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                                        This one's on my list TxninMtl, I'm glad you enjoyed it and since we love cauliflower, I particularly appreciate your comment about the quantity. I've noted this in my book. Thank-you!

                                                                                        1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                                          This caught my eye to such an extent that, even though I have the book, I searched for an online recipe and found this:

                                                                                          Now I'll match it against what's written in her cookbook.

                                                                                        2. CHICKEN MEATBALLS – p. 149

                                                                                          Lovely! BL accurately describes these as being delicately flavoured and I would wholeheartedly agree. We enjoyed these meatballs with the Odd Fellow Marinara.

                                                                                          I found the recipe online here:


                                                                                          I must note that the blogger has made a couple of changes to the recipe as follows: BL calls for: 2 garlic cloves, 6 tbsp of Parmesan and 1 tsp of chopped thyme.

                                                                                          A note about the prep. BL suggests you form the meat into ¾” balls – “the size of a grape”…the size of a grape!!! When I read this I thought, are you kidding me?!!!! I’ll be here all day shaping these blasted balls. It reminded me of a day many years ago when a neighbour of mine met me in the driveway one Sunday morning knowing I’d just watched Martha Stewart Living (my Sunday morning ritual at the time) she said “breadcrumbs…Martha’s lost it!! She’s cooking fish on GRASS!!!” That’s kind of how I felt about shaping meatballs into grape-sized balls. Madness! In the end, I opted for golf ball sized meatballs and all was well in the world! I should also note that I didn’t have any fresh thyme on hand so I used fresh basil instead. I likely used 2 tbsp of fresh chopped basil.

                                                                                          As noted above, I served these atop spaghetti with Odd Fellow Marinara from p. 120 in this book. Though the meatballs were indeed delicate in flavour, the basil worked well with the basil in my marinara and the dish was cohesive and satisfying. It made for a nice change of pace from my usual veal/beef/pork mix and everyone quite enjoyed the meal. The texture of the meatballs was more dense, likely attributable to the fine texture of the meat and the lack of fat.

                                                                                          I look forward to preparing the Chicken Meatball Lasagnettes recipe where I expect they’ll really shine.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                            They sure look nice. I've used turkey for meatballs several times. Why not chicken? (But I'm with you on grape-sized--madness indeed!)

                                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                              Lovely meatballs, BC :) I actually do not mind them grape size and made some on several occasions. There is a recipe for the most delicious Persian soup in Joyce Goldstein Solo Suppers that calls for tiny lamb meatballs. She says that rolling them is a meditative activity and I agree :)

                                                                                            2. Linguine with Spicy Clam Sauce, p. 128

                                                                                              When I spotted the clams at Costco this weekend, I thought immediately that we were well overdue for linguine and clams, one of my favorite meals.

                                                                                              The recipe is pretty straightforward and uses exactly the same ingredients that I usually do (except that I often add a little butter to the olive oil). BL's method is slightly different, but the result was the same--delicious.

                                                                                              Clams (36) and 1/4 c dry white wine go into a covered DO over high heat until the clams all open (7-8 min.). After removing them, the juices are strained and set aside. After clams are shelled, they get chopped roughly.

                                                                                              Into a skillet go 2 T OO, 1½ T minced garlic, and the clams to "sizzle" over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Red pepper flakes and the strained clam liquor (BL says a "a couple of tablespoons"; I used more like 1/4 c). The just-boiled linguine (alas, no fresh pasta on hand), chopped parsley (I eyeballed it and ended up w/probably double the stipulated 2T), and a little pasta water were all added to the skillet and tossed w/the clams, no additional salt necessary.

                                                                                              A drizzle of nice olive oil along w/a sprinkle of lemon juice and some grated parmigiano-reggiano (I always break that rule!) finished the dish, and I was one happy gal.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                  This looks amazing-- I'm just starting COTM and recently got STIR so will try this

                                                                                                  1. re: Sfspicegirl

                                                                                                    Sfspicegirl... welcome, and if you make something after the month is over feel free to post a review and/or a picture. These threads continue to be updated which just adds to the collective enjoyment.

                                                                                                2. MUSHROOM- AND FONTINA-STUFFED CRESPELLES with BROWN BUTTER-SAGE SAUCE, p.170

                                                                                                  I had high hopes for these--love savory crepes, love mushrooms, fontina, sage, butter--but, alas, they were a big disappointment.

                                                                                                  Making the crespelles was somewhat time-consuming but easy enough (¾ c [white in my case] WW flour, ½ c AP flour, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp sugar, 1½ c milk, ¼ c cream, 1 egg, 1 T melted butter, whisked and rested for an hour). Bonus: I got to use my crepe pan.

                                                                                                  For the filling I sauteed a mix of thickly sliced buttons, shitakes, and chanterelles w/salt and pepper in grapeseed oil, added butter and finely chopped shallot and garlic, then some white wine, which got reduced by half, and then added chopped fresh thyme. This was divided among the crespelles and then each was topped with thin slices of fontina and chopped fresh spinach (subbed for arugula). (One photo below shows two before baking.)The crespelles are rolled, laid in a dish, and baked at 325F "until cheese is melted" and crespelle are "warmed through."

                                                                                                  The problem was that by the time that happened and the spinach was wilted, the crespelles were crisp--almost crunchy. The brown butter-sage-lemon "sauce" I ladled over them was quickly absorbed into the crespelles, and those flavors were lost. We ended opening up the crespelles and eating the filling, but considering the effort, this was quite a let-down.

                                                                                                  Maybe I should have precooked the spinach (I'm not sure we'd have fared better with arugula); maybe a hotter oven, say 375 or so, would have melted the cheese more quickly , with the crespelles remaining tender. And I don't think this is the right sauce for these. If the crespelles had been tender, I think these might have been good topped with a squirt of lemon, some grated parmigiano, and some chopped parsley--or possibly even a bright marinara sauce.

                                                                                                  At any rate, not a do-over for me.

                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                    That's a shame NMC, all that effort.

                                                                                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                      Some thing strange happen to your crespelles, Nomad, and it is shame. Now I am very curious to read the recipe to try to figure out where the problem comes from. I make a similar dish with meat stuffing instead of mushrooms. I fold crepes around the stuffing in a bundle, not a roll, and fry in butter. Turns out very good. I'll be back if I have any thoughts about your misfortune.

                                                                                                      1. re: herby

                                                                                                        I think they dried out in the oven. But I had to leave them in the oven a while to melt the cheese and get the spinach wilted. They seemed perfectly fine when they were first made. I froze the leftover crespelles for another use.

                                                                                                        I'd love to know how the batter recipe compares to yours, though, herby. It's pretty similar to a crepe recipe I use except that that recipe calls for 2% milk and this uses whole.

                                                                                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                          This looks like a dish that just doesn't have enough moisture/fat. Maybe cream with the mushrooms and the arugla cooked into that. Then a thin layer of cream over the crespelle during the quick bake.

                                                                                                          PS I find an old-fashioned blender makes the best crepe batter.

                                                                                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                            I do not have a recipe; just make by feel like my grandmother did. Next time I make them I'll write them down and share. Looking at the recipe I noticed that BL does not use any levelling agent. I use a bit of yeast and let the bubbles form before cooking crepes. I cook on one side only and they come out very delicate and full of holes. Then I put the filling on the cooked side and fry on uncooked side. Maybe that what makes the difference? I also use 2% milk but will add a bit of fat - melted butter or cream, whatever is on hand.

                                                                                                      2. SPICY LOBSTER BOLOGNESE

                                                                                                        This recipe caught my eye when I first flipped through the book. Then when Whole Foods had a sale on lobster tails, I thought why not.

                                                                                                        Basically you parcook the lobster by steaming it for five minutes. You then remove the meat and use the leftover shells to make a spicy shrimp stock. You then make a mirepoix, and add the stock and chopped tomatoes. While that is simmering you cook the pasta to just shy of al dente, then add the pasta and lobster to the bolognese and let everything cook the rest of the way.

                                                                                                        Overall, it was a fine enough dish. Unfortunately, I can't say it was worth the effort, or the best use of lobster. I don't expect that I will be making it again.