Audrey Hepburn’s Favorite Pasta

Spaghetti Al Pomodoro

INGREDIENTS:

1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced small
2 stalks celery, diced small
2 large cans (28 oz. each) peeled Italian Roma tomatoes
1 large bunch fresh basil, washed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. spaghetti pasta
Salt to taste
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot combine onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and tomatoes. Drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil. Take half of your basil and remove whole leaves from the stems (you should end up with about ½ cup of leaves). Add the basil leaves to the pot. Bring sauce to a simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking apart the larger tomatoes as they cook.

While the sauce is simmering, fill another large pot with 4 quarts of water and slowly heat it up. Take the remaining basil and cut the leaves into small pieces using a pair of scissors—this will help prevent bruising and blackening of the leaves. Reserve.

After 45 minutes, or when the diced vegetables are tender, turn off the heat. Let the sauce rest for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the pot of water to a rolling boil. Add salt, if desired. Cook your spaghetti pasta until al dente (retaining a little bit of snap to the core). Drain and rinse the pasta with lukewarm water to prevent sticking.

Taste the sauce, add salt to taste if desired. Serve pasta topped generously with sauce, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and the remaining freshly cut basil leaves.

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Italian Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

Sea salt
1 pound of spaghetti or tonnarelli
2 cups of finely grated Pecorino Romano
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Directions:

Note: Steps 1 and 2 should be done simultaneously.

1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Salt the water. When the salt has dissolved, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 1.5 cups of the Pecorino Romano, the pepper, and a small ladle of pasta-cooking water. Using the back of a large wooden spoon, mix vigorously and quickly to form a paste.

3. When the pasta is cooked, use a large strainer to remove it from the cooking water and quickly add it to the sauce in the bowl, keeping the cooking water boiling on the stove. Toss vigorously, adjusting with additional hot water a tablespoon or two at a time as necessary to melt the cheese and to obtain a juicy sauce that completely coats the pasta.

4. Plate and sprinkle each portion with some of the remaining Pecorino Romano and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

NOTE: Pecorino Romano cheese is not the same as Parmesan. I used Parmesan Reggiano cheese. It tasted great but did not work well.

NOTE2: 2 tbsp of black pepper is too much. I almost killed my mother when she tried to eat this.

NOTE3: I could not get this sauce to form a paste. It was a lumpy mess. But it tasted good.

Spinach Lasagna

Bechamel Sauce:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons for the lasagna
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk at room temperature
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Tomato Sauce:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional

Ricotta Filling:
Salt and white pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds ricotta cheese
3 large eggs

1 pound lasagna sheets, cooked al dente
2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions:

  1. Make bechemel sauce.
  2. Make tomato sauce.
  3. Lay tomato sauce at bottom of lasagna pan.
  4. Lay lasagna sheets in pyrex.
  5. First layer: Ricotta and spinach.
  6. Second layer: Ricotta and mozerrella.
  7. Third layer: Ricotta and parmesan and spinach.
  8. Top layer.
  9. Cover with tomato sauce.
  10. Bake 375 F for 30 min covered with aluminum foil. Bake 15-30 min uncovered.
  11. Enjoy!

Torta del tre

This is a traditional Tuscan recipe. You will need a kitchen scale to duplicate this recipe well.

INGREDIENTS:

3 eggs
300 g fresh ricotta
300 g sugar
300 g flour
1 tsp baking powder

FLAVORING:

zest of one lemon (or orange), or 1 tsp vanilla extract, or rum, or sambuca, chopped nuts, chocolate, or dried fruit.

GARNISH:

confectioner’s sugar for dusting

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Beat together eggs, ricotta, and sugar.
  2. Add flour and baking powder.
  3. Fold in flavoring.
  4. Bake 350 F for 40 min.
  5. Garnish with confectioner’s sugar.
  6. Enjoy!

Torta Quattro Quarti

Sounds fancy, right? It’s Italian Pound Cake. AKA Four Quarters Cake.

Ingredients:

Equal weight of:

eggs
flour
sugar
butter

Seriously, get a kitchen scale. One bowl awesomeness forever.

First, add eggs to your mixing bowl. Determine the weight. (For a normal sized cake, use 5 eggs, which would be around 300 grams). Tare. Add same weight of sugar. Tare. Add same weight of butter. Tare. Add same weight of flour. Tare.

Add in whatever flavorings you like:

chopped fruit
chocolate chips
nuts
grated lemon or orange zest
some alcohol

Pour into pan. Bake 350 F until cooked all the way through (the time depends on how much you make, around 12 minutes for cupcakes, 45 for a loaf, 35 for a 9 inch cake layer).

Done and done.

 

Spinach Gnocchi

Ingredients:

1.5 packages frozen spinach
2 tbsp butter
1/2 lb ricotta cheese
salt
pepper
dash mace
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3 tbsp flour
1/3 c grated parmesan

Directions:

  1. Cook spinach in heavy pan until just heated through.
  2. Drain well. Chop fine. Press into towel to get rid of excess liquid.
  3. Combine with butter, ricotta, salt and pepper to taste, and mace.
  4. Cook 5 min or so over very low heat, stirring well.
  5. Remove from heat. Stir in beaten eggs, flour and parmesan.
  6. Cool and refrigerate for 2 hrs.

Forming the gnocchi:

  1. Form into small bowls or cylinders about 1.5 in long, and roll in flour.
  2. Bring water to boil in large pot (gnocchi should not touch during cooking) and add the gnocchi.
  3. They are done when they rise to the surface.
  4. Remove at once and drain.
  5. Serve with plenty of melted butter and parmesan.

Olive Garden Breadsticks

Recipe inspired by Breadsticks in James Beard’s Beard on Bread
This is NOT the Olive Garden recipe, but used to describe how the breadsticks come out, texture wise.
(For example, these are not Pizza Hut style breadsticks).
[For the record, these are WAAAAAY better than Olive Garden breadsticks]

Makes 8 breadsticks

In bowl:

2.5 tsp yeast
2.5 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/8 c oil
3/8 c warm water

Mix well, let proof in bowl for 3 min.

Add:

3/8 c warm water
2 c flour

Alternate flour and water until you have a loose dough.

Knead for a few minutes until springy (like rotli dough).

Dough should be soft but not sticky. Add just enough flour for dough to not be sticky. The amount of flour to get to this point may be less or more than that stated above.

Let dough rest for 5 min under towel.

Cut dough into 8 pieces the same size.

Let rest 5 min under towel.

Get pan ready:

I use a nonstick pan and cover it with a silpat.

Coat lightly with yellow corn meal (around 1/4 c).

Get oven ready: heat to 175 F and then turn off.

Make breadsticks:

Take the 8 pieces, roll them into a log the same height as your pan.

Place breadsticks on prepared nonstick pan with silpat and corn meal.

Place in warmed oven to rise for 20 min.

Make garlic butter.

Mix:

1 stick butter, chopped and melted in microwave for 30 sec
3 cloves garlic, shredded
1/2 tsp salt

Take breadsticks out of oven. They should be slightly poofy.

Preheat oven to 300 F.

Using kitchen brush, brush breadsticks liberally with garlic butter. Be careful not to deflate the poof. The poof makes your breadsticks light and airy instead of hard and chewy.

Sprinkly with:

Italian seasoning
Parmesan cheese

Olive Garden Breadsticks

Bake for 20 min, check. Add another 5 min to make breadsticks cooked and barely light brown. Add another 5 min to make breadsticks dark brown and crunchy (I did not do this!).

I like the breadsticks after 25 min in the oven, their taste and texture is like Olive Garden breadsticks (but so way better).

Enjoy!

Note: If you have leftovers, wrap in aluminum foil. When you want to eat them, take the wrapped and covered breadsticks (like when you’re making a baked potato) and place in a 300 F oven for five minutes or so. The breadsticks will come out almost like they were freshly baked.

You can freeze unused breadsticks too, then reheat as above in foil. These take like an hour to make including bake time, so I’m not sure why you’d freeze them instead of baking them fresh. But just so you know you can.

Note2: Recipe doubles well.

Note3: You can make bigger loaves instead of the small stick size for small sandwich bread. Bake time will increase, I don’t know how much. I think making three loaves from the above recipe should cook in around 45 min or so. This is all a guesstimate, YMMV.