Pasta Non Pronto

I spent the day yesterday covered in flour (semolina and all purpose), and I was thrilled! A few weeks ago, at a neighborhood party, I found out that two of my lovely neighbors, Larry and Marcela, knew how to make pasta from scratch. I started asking a lot of questions and then blurted out,” would you teach me?” They agreed and our day of “not ready” pasta or pasta non pronto came together.

We did what any normal, food obsessed people would do. We had a meeting to talk through what we would make. The types of pasta, the sauces, the wine…. oh there would be wine!

There would be 3 different pasta courses. Ravioli, spaghetti, and fettuccine. The ravioli would be stuffed with pumpkin and served with a butter sage sauce. The spaghetti would be served cacio e pepe, which translates to “cheese and pepper” and the fettuccine would have a fra diavolo sauce – which means “among the devil”, it’s a spicy sauce with seafood. To break up the courses we’d start with salad, then some homemade meatballs as apps and then 3 courses of pasta. This is the anti-Keto dinner people. If you’re afraid of carbs… don’t come a knocking.

But before we feasted – we cooked! Oh boy did we cook… here’s a look at my favorite day this year! Words wouldn’t do it justice, so here’s the photos…

Humble beginnings
That filling was so good we could have just eaten it with a spoon and we might have.
Have you ever seen anything prettier?
Little pockets of perfection
My two fabulous teachers.
A pecan, sage, garlic butter sauce to die for, and the lovely chef who made it!

And now… we eat!

We ate the spaghetti cacio e pepe before I could take a pic… but it existed. And it was amazing.

This is my happy pasta face….

If you can, find some generous, loving people who want to spend a Sunday cooking pasta with you..that’s my happy face.

Ps. My 16 year old son opted out of the fresh pasta and requested this type of pasta for his dinner. Kraft pasta pronto 🙂

Baby’s got back… and ribs

I’m still stressed. This means I’m still cooking. Except this time I’m testing out a recipe for a bbq we are hosting this weekend (Ironically I’m not stressed about this at all, although I should be since we have ordered, cleaned, bought nothing for it). Anyway, if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a life long vegetarian it’s that bbqs mean meat. Usually even the veggie burger is cooked in a nice layer of beef fat left over on the grill. So this time – instead of a vegan veggie friendly recipe… I’m working on ribs. Baby back ribs.

Nothing reduces stress like smelling pork for 4 hours… I read that on a pillow.

I followed about 4 different recipes that I mashed up.

Basically you take a rack of baby back ribs… make sure your babies have some fat to them. This isn’t a time for lean mean pork ribs.

A dry rub needs to go on overnight (or two). You can mix any of the following: salt, onion powder, garlic powder, a packaged mix – like I did. BUT the key is this… add a cup of brown sugar to whatever mix you end up with. I also added a dash of cayenne to shake shit up.

Once marinated – bring to room temperature. Fully. I’m talking 2 hours outside on the counter hanging out. Do it.

Preheat your oven to 250 and add a cup of chicken stock and 2 tablespoons of any vinegar you have to the pan. I used white wine vinegar. These two things help the cooking/tenderizing process – according to Alton Brown circa 1997. Here’s the rub I used if you’re curious.

Cover tightly and leave it alone in your heated oven for 2.27 hours (I only tested this with one rack of ribs so 3 hours was too long and 2 seemed too short. 2.27 seemed right).

This is what it will look like. Mine came apart when I tried to lift it. A good sign.

Don’t get rid of the juices on the bottom. Strain and add to your favorite bbq sauce. My family loves this one. I haven’t found anything veggie to put bbq sauce on so I have no idea if it’s really good or if my family just has simple tastes – both could also be true.

Smother on the sauce and grill on high. Shouldn’t take long.

Baste, grill, repeat.

Cut them up like porky, sticky lollipops and you’re done!

Stress gone. Meat delivered.

Cooking-ish

It’s been a stressful few weeks…months… ok maybe year. Lots of work stuff. Lots of home stuff. I try to keep calm. We aren’t dealing with life or death at work, but sometimes we are at home. Sometimes when I am completely overwhelmed I’ll add one more thing to my day – which sounds crazy – but the one more thing is something I love to do.

I’ll make plans with friends during a busy week or run out for a quick dinner with my husband. Sometimes that one thing is just going to sleep, which isn’t bad either. But sometimes I’ll cook.

This past weekend I went home to see my family and celebrate all June and July Birthdays and Father’s Day, we’re efficient like that.

Even though my birthday was in May – I still scored a few gifts… one of my favorites was from my little bitty sister. She did done good.

I’ve been following this food writer all year, watching her videos on Bon App (that’s what the cool kids call it). I know what you’re thinking, an Indian cookbook? Not very original of me – but who said I was original? I like Mindy Kaling too (no I don’t think I look like her, and she doesn’t look like my sister or my cousin either and thank you).

Priya Krishna, the author/cook grew up with a mash-up of Indian/American food. This was very different than how I grew up. We ate food no one recognized, flavors that were nowhere to be found in restaurants – turmeric and okra and daikon. It was the 80s. Even chips and salsa hadn’t taken off yet. Plus I just wanted to be normal. I didn’t want my house smelling of garlic and onion all the time – ironically now this is my favorite part of going home, smelling all the cooking.

What was I talking about? Oh yes, I’m stressed and I need a distraction.

Some things about this book. It’s illustrated by Maria Qamar, a Desi (which means of Indian decent) pop artist out of Canada. She published a book a few years ago called, Trust No Aunty. I found out about her because my daughter loved her (this is the way I find out about a lot of cool stuff). Online she’s also known as @hatecopy. Check her out.

I love getting a new cookbook. I read it like a book book – know what I mean?

I knew the first recipe I’d try right away. It had all my favorite things. Poblanos! Serranos! White beans substituting cheese (damn you lactose)… here’s the recipe

I immediately added cilantro to this mix because… you know… cilantro. I also didn’t have fresh garlic so I used garlic in a tube… which is fresh-ish.

Funny side story – when I checked out at the grocery store with my stuff, the cashier, a nice young dude, said to me,” uhh just so you know, these aren’t jalapeños they are Serrano’s which are way spicer.” I was so impressed! I love people who give a shit. I told him how cool that comment was asked if he liked to cook, he said,” nah there’s just a lot of people who come back yelling that they got the wrong pepper.”

Yelling? About the wrong pepper? There’s so many questions I have for the pepper yeller. How was the wrong pepper choice the store’s fault? Is there really that big a difference? And lastly, ARE YOU INSANE??

Anyway, back to the recipe.

So here’s how it goes…

If you want to do it right, put the oil in first and once heated toast the cumin seeds in it first until fragrant before adding the onions. If you want to be like me… put everything in together while talking on the phone with a friend. Then add coriander and let it get nice and translucent.

  • While the onions get cooked I chopped the Serrano – not attractively but I got the job done.

  • Back to the onions… which got well-done by mistake because I ignored them while hacking away at the peppers.
  • Now…take the beans and mash them up.
  • Once mashed chunky, add the onions, the “fresh” garlic, the Serrano’s, lime and salt.
  • Again… don’t be like me. I sliced the poblanos in half so they looked like green alligators.
  • This is adorable but not the right way to stuff a pepper like this. I should have only cut half of it. Oh well. You live and learn. Except I didn’t learn and cut the others the same way.
    So I shoved the stuffing in and put them on a lightly oiled sheet pan. Here’s all my poblano alligator heads ready to go in.
  • Now go and wash your hands carefully because you’ve touched Serrano’s and poblanos. Wait about 45 min and bam!
  • Lol! Ok. So my peppers weren’t exactly stuffed. It was more like a roasted pepper with a mashed bean cake on the side but it was delicious! More importantly I did something not work for 2 hours of my day.
  • Mission accomplished.
  • ps… this is what they were supposed to look like. I debated posting this and saying I did it but of all the things to lie about, is this what I want to choose? Ofcourse not. Then I’d be no better than those wackos yelling in Shoprite that they were sold the wrong pepper. No thank you. I’ll save my lie for something else, like my weight or the success of my children or something… like a normal person.
  • Pardon the interruption…

    But had to share this. I love my husband. I’ve loved him on and off for 23 years of marriage and 27 years together. He’s a creature of habit. Once he likes something he sticks with it.

    Can you guess what he likes currently?

    Rao’s, we have a problem.

    I think I’ve told you all before that growing up we only had Ragu Traditional. I had Saturday morning spaghetti while watching cartoons – The Smurf’s usually. Why breakfast? I dunno. My Indian mother didn’t know too much about pasta hours I guess.

    But this is where we are now. Rao’s for the whole town. You want to try another type of sauce? Too bad. This is what you’re having at our house.

    Also – I didn’t line them up like little soldiers for this photo. This is how I found the cabinet.

    Send help, or maybe a nice pesto we can have for a change.

    Greek dump dip

    1. It doesn’t need refrigeration
    2. You can make the topping the night before or 5 min before
    3. It’s 100% store bought ingredients because I love you
    4. It’s vegetarian for all those people in your life pretending to not eat bacon this year
    5. You could remove the cheese and the joy and make it vegan
    6. Someone’s already bringing the chicken buffalo dip so you might as well make this

    It’s as easy as:

    • One large tub of hummus, I used Sabra – or make your own (show-off)
    • One large English cucumber
    • One bunch mint
    • One bunch regular old parsley
    • Olive, feta mix from grocery store salad bar (or just buy black, green olives and feta)
    • Salt
    • Good olive oil (like Martha Stewart good, not Guy Fieri good)

    Chop everything but the hummus into a small dice. I like to remove the middle of the cucumbers, because even the English ones have some seeds in it.

    Grab a platter you’ll leave at the bbq and pick up months later, put a thick layer of hummus on and dump the topping on top.

    Drizzle with olive oil

    Ina Garten and Smitten Kitchen both have versions of this recipe (incase you are overly impressed at my creativity).

    Enjoy and happy weekend!

    Monday confessional

    Ok let’s just say today wasn’t the winningest day I’ve ever had. The theme for my day would be, “two steps forward, three steps back”. Or is it,”three steps forward, two back”? You know what I mean.

    Things that were done got undone. Technology was not my friend today. I went to go pick-up dry cleaning that I never dropped off. True story.

    Anyway – not my day.

    It was time for chocolate cake and tv.

    But because this is opposite of good day – I didn’t even get this right.

    The cake looks good in that pic, because I FaceTuned it. What is that you ask? New favorite app. Spend the $3.99. Treat yo self. As I was saying, the cake looks good but it was just ok. Not that I expected anything else from it. It’s a boxed, aisle cake. I wish it no ill will. It was a sad attempt at saving my day.

    And the tv… I know I know. I should have known better. Even with my low-brow tv habits I haven’t succumbed to The Bachelor (ok I watched season 1-3 but those weren’t bad). But there’s been so much chatter about it that I gave in. It was a weak night.

    Oh god was it bad. Like so bad I am shook people aren’t talking about how bad it is.

    The premise is interesting. He’s a virgin. There’s a house full of vipers after him. It could be so bad it’s good, but it’s so bad that it’s sad. Weird and uncomfortable. Perfect for my day.

    I’m just going to bed. We can try this all again tomorrow.

    Phyllo, fancy parties…and medical marijuana?

    Thursday night my husband and I decided to go out on the town! Have dinner, see a late show, like other people do. But a few too many of these went down.

    And then, long story short,  I went down too. For 34 hours post night out I was out for the count. Coffee didn’t help. Two disco naps didn’t help. I even tried the hair-of-dog…. it didn’t help.

    But last night was our book club – and I was not going to miss it. We had a real, live author coming in. We’re hot like that. The book was the wonderful Smiles and Ductape written by my dear friend April’s sister-in-law, Jesse Torrey (did you follow that?). 

    The book is about the family’s journey after their son Jack develops ALD. It’s sad, happy and full of love. We were having a good discussion by the time Jesse started talking about the latest part of Jack’s story. It involves using medical marijuana. And then our little book club lit up…not literally, just conversationally. We had questions, lots and lots of questions. We became Charlie Rose level interviewers. I’ve never seen us come alive like that.  It was hysterical. 

    And speaking of getting the munchies (just kidding)…

    Usually when I go to someone’s home I like to bring a little bite to eat or some wine or both. My mama brought me up right. But did I mention I was exhausted? And old? Luckily for me my girl is home from college and had plans to meet friends for a “fancy dinner”. She had googled an appetizer she wanted to make and like any good mother I offered to buy her all of the ingredients… and then made her to make some for me to take too. I knew having kids would pay off eventually.

    Now I love entertaining. I have for a long time. But in all those years I’ve never used Phyllo. Or is it just phyllo with a lower case p? In any case I’ve never used it/bought it/thought about it.

    It was a revelation. Easy. Light. Tasty. How come more people don’t talk about Phyllo/phyllo?? 

    Here’s what she made and I stole..

    You need: Phyllo/phyllo cups, 2 tablespoons of heavy cream, 4 oz of goat cheese, 1 block of cream cheese, thyme, honey, red seedless grapes and black pepper. 


    Fillo!! Wtf?? Which is it?



    Combine the room temp cheese and heavy cream and whip


    Bake Phyllo/phyllo/fillo shells to crisp up (this is optional because they are already fully cooked but remember she was going for “fancy”)


    Fill each with the cheese mix – drizzle with honey, sprinkle in the thyme and black pepper, and finish with half a grape. Or one whole grape if you’re a Rockefeller.


    Use fancy Ziploc bag as pastry bag….


    And here’s my girl and her crew at their dinner. And then me with half the bookclub with the author (lower right) below. 

    I’m sure that’s juice punch in that bowl… ahem.

    Previous Older Entries