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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pasta Puttanesca

Menu choices on working days have to be pretty simple. And since yesterday was a full studio day in my pottery, last night I made pasta Puttanesca. This delicious savory dish was known as whores pasta because the ladies of the evening could cook up a tasy, quick dish that didn't take too much time away from their business. Here's the recipe I use. The one exception was that I used our own cherry tomatoes which are very abundant right now.

Pasta Puttanesca
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti, spaghettini, or linguine fini
  • 5 garlic cloves, forced through a garlic press
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes in juice (preferably San Marzanos)that you've pureed in a blender or food processor
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons drained and rinsed capers
  • Pinch of sugar (optional)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped basil
Have all your ingredients measured and ready to use.
Cook spaghetti in a pasta in salted, rapidly boiling water until barely al dente (about 7-8 minutes).
While pasta is cooking s, cook garlic, anchovy paste, red-pepper flakes, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in oil in a preheated 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and pale golden, about a minute.
Add tomato purée to garlic oil along with olives and capers and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is ready. Add a tiny bit of sugar if needed or desired.
Drain pasta and add to sauce. Simmer, turning pasta with tongs, until pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the chopped basil.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thai cucumber salad and Kosher dill pickle recipes

I was very busy in the garden a couple  days ago - picking a lot of veggies and getting them prepped and stored, in some cases and having some ready to use in recipes. Last night I made nachos using a lot of  the tomatoes and serrano chile peppers and today I'm making a green bean bisque recipe I found on the Internet. It's sounds good - rich, and spicy with a topping of fresh halved cherry tomatoes and shredded Jack cheese.

One of the readers of my Shambhala Pottery blog asked me to post these recipes which I mentioned in that blog a few days ago, so here they are. The Thais cucumber salad is a very refreshing recipe and even people who don't usually like the sour cream, dill cucumber salad, like my husband,for one love this!

Thai cucumber salad Serves 4

2 cucumbers peeled and sliced thinly
4 T sugar
2 T rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
4 T water
Pinch of Red Pepper flakes or to taste
1/4 cup red onion (halve or quarter the onion and slice very thinly)
1/4 cup fresh mint roughly chopped (or to taste. I used only a tiny bit)
Optional: 1/4 cup fresh cilantro roughly chopped

Combine all ingredients except the cucumbers and mix well to dissolve the sugar. Add the sliced cucumbers and lightly toss. (Best made a bit ahead a half hour or more, and refrigerated to develop more flavor .

PS: I omitted the onion and cilantro since all of mine has gonet to seed and it was fine without it.

Kosher dill pickles (These are delicious and easy to make. They taste just like the pickles I remember from the lower easy side of Manhattan, that the pickle man sold out of huge wooden barrels. They were a nickel for a huge pickle and he wrapped them in white paper. It was almost a lunch for a child!)

4 quarts (scant 4) of water
6 tablespoons coarse Kosher white salt
18-20 pickling cucumbers, scrubbed well
8 cloves garlic, un-peeled and lightly-crushed
2 tablespoons pickling spice 
6 bay leaves
1 large bunch of dill, preferably going to seed, washed (If you can't get it, use fresh dill leaves and add some dill seed which you can find in the spice section of the grocery store).

1. In a large pot, bring 1 qt (1l) water to a boil with the salt, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and add the remaining water.

2. Prepare three 1 quart wide jars by running them through the dishwasher or hand washing and then filling them with boiling water, then dumping it out..(I found that with the jars packed full of cucumbers, I had plenty of the brine leftover for a few more jars. So if you have an abundance of pickling cucumbers you might want to have more jars and spices ready)

3. Pack the cucumbers vertically into the jars, making sure they’re tightly-packed. As you fill the jars, divide the garlic, spices, bay leaves, and dill amongst them.