Its about time! I'm finally writing again. I've got a LOT of things planned for this fall, catching up on the blog is one of them. (also, can we talk about how its basically fall? where did the summer go?) I'm working on making my way through all 100 days, am looking to add more recipe content to the blog, and I want to start to offer private pasta making workshops this fall. Its going to get busy, but even though I'm out of school, there's something about the beginning of September that makes me want to buckle down and get to work. Wish me luck!
Here are your much awaited reviews for days 41-50. This 10 day period (I'm really starting to wish I had made it a week, it sounds so much better) wasn't particularly good or bad. I made some shapes that have been on my list for a while (culurgiones which were basically italian periogi), revisited some old disappointments, and got experimental (with some success). Be sure to check out the slideshow at the bottom for my favorite photos!
The Tastiest: Duck Egg Carbonara with pancetta
I make a lot of carbonara. Its something I usually have the ingredients for (eggs+cheese) and its comes together really quickly (20 minutes?), so we eat it pretty regularly. That being said, this was the best carbonara I've ever made. I was gifted a few duck eggs and wanted to use them for something special, this pasta really showcases eggs as opposed to hiding them behind other ingredients. Duck eggs have clearer, smaller whites, and much bigger yolks. Carbonara is all about yolks, they are essentially the sauce so they were perfect for this. I went out and bought pancetta, a cured meat similar to bacon. It was much saltier, and had a more complex flavor that Garrett liked a little more than me ( I think this was the fermenty/cured flavor). The finished product was super rich, the sauce was creamy (it can be challenging to make because its easy to scramble your eggs), and the pancetta was the perfect bit of salty meaty flavor. If you happen to stumble across duck eggs, do yourself a favor, buy a few, and make carbonara!
The Most Exotic: Frascatelli with sweet corn and green onions
If you haven't gone out and bought yourself semolina flavor you might want to do that now. This pasta could. not. be. easier. Have you ever had dip-n-dots? The pebbly little ice cream balls? This is basically the pasta version. You fill a shallow dish/bowl with semolina flour, dip your hand in water, then drip it into the flour. Using a fine mesh colander you sift the drips out. Thats it. Really. It was fun to make (I felt like I was panning for gold!) but I don't think I'd want to make it in large quantities, or if I did I would set up a much bigger pan of flour. The finished product was not very pretty, it kind of looked like beige mush, but it tasted great. I would use it whenever a smaller pasta was called for (think risotto-y flavors, or as an accompaniment for stew type things)
The Most Disappointing: Zucchini Lasagna with garlic bechemel
This was really pretty, really labor intensive, and it fell flat. I was so excited about it, I rolled out super thin lasagna sheets, and made a lot of layers (I recently saw a picture of a 100 layer lasagna and was inspired). I alternated between layers of zucchini pan fried with garlic and olive oil, garlic bechemel, and herbed ricotta. It took forever to cook, and when all was said and done, it just tasted kind of bland. If it had been easier to make I would have probably been happier, but between the time it took to make, and my expectations (based on its looks and the flavors of all the individual ingredients) I just ended up feeling kind of ehh about it. So I had Garrett eat it for lunch all week. At least it looked good right?
The Prettiest: Sweet potato gnocchi with prosciutto and sage
This is becoming a hard category. I really like the way certain shapes look before they're cooked, but after cooking not so much. Or I'll make a pretty shape, and ruin it with an ugly sauce. I settled on these guys because the whole dish was pretty, sauce, pasta and all. Ive made it before, see day 6's most disappointing, but changed it up a little. I browned my butter more (I'm terrified of burning it so usually under brown it), switched up the meat (prosciutto, yum) and added more toasted nuts and sage. It was a lot better, yay! I also made sure to photograph it on my pretty blue/grey plate to really make the orange sweet potato gnocchi "pop"
The one you could make tonight:
Have you tried making pasta yet? If so, good for you! (If not that's cool too, there's still time) This shape is one of the easiest to master. I hosted a pasta making workshop for a friend who had family visiting, they had two kids with them, and I thought this would be a great shape to make with them. Its super simple, the sheets of dough are cut into squares, then pinched in the middle, voila - bow-tie shape. I have a cutter that gives the pasta the distinct zig-zag edges, but you don't need to do that either, any way to cut it they look good. I took it easy on myself that night (cooking for 7 + making two kinds of pasta can wear you out) so we cooked up some sausage and mixed in some jar sauce. now full disclosure, I am a jar sauce snob. I really prefer one brand and its not cheap, so when it goes on sale we buy it in bulk (I currently have 5 jars...) Its the Raos brand, if you see it on sale do yourself a favor and snatch a jar. Oh, and is this sponsored? I wish... Its just really great sauce.
Here are some of my favorite pictures from these 10 days, to see photos of all 10 finished dishes check out this link to my #100daysofpastafresca on instagram!