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Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

Just Five: Lemon and Arugula Pasta

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

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Recent emergency surgery put me on a bit of a forced vacation. The upsides of this unfortunate situation: catching up on two seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy,” quality time with the dog and my friends delivering my family a few meals. It’s not that my family is incompetent in the kitchen, but this is what people do when a friend is down and out. They drop by with a nice dinner.

I was the recipient of a delicious meal from Pastaria, some fresh bone broth, a smoked turkey and lentil stew I still think of fondly, and this simply amazing pasta dish. Apparently this is my friend’s go-to pasta dish, and it just became mine, too. So the next time you have a friend taken out of commission, bring a pot of water to boil and make this simple delicious meal.

Lemon and Arugula Pasta
3 to 4 servings

1 lb. spaghetti or other thin noodle
¼ cup minced shallot
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cups arugula
Juice and zest of 1 large lemon
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to taste, divided
1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper

• Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup pasta water.
• Meanwhile, in a medium pan over medium heat, saute shallots in the olive oil 3 to 4 minutes until soft.
• Place the shallots and arugula in a large shallow serving dish. Add the lemon zest and juice, ¼ cup cheese and the black pepper and toss to combine.
• Use tongs to transfer the pasta to the serving dish. Add the pasta water and toss well until the noodles are coated. Top with remaining ¼ cup cheese and serve.

Photo by Michelle Volansky 

Dee Ryan is a longtime contributor to Sauce Magazine and regularly pens Make This.

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The Scoop: Katie’s Pizza & Pasta to open Town & Country location

Friday, January 20th, 2017

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Katie and Ted Collier, owners of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta, will take their popular concept west. As reported by St. Louis Magazine, the duo will open a second Katie’s location at 14173 Clayton Road in Town & Country.

Katie Collier said the space, which once housed Einstein Bros. Bagels and the adjacent storefront, will undergo a complete gut rehab. The end result will be approximately 1,000 square feet larger than the Rock Hill location with seating for around 100 inside and 40 seats on the soon-to-be-built patio.

The Colliers spent two years searching for just the right spot. Collier said there were many reasons the Town & Country location was attractive, including plenty of parking, a lack of other pizza and pasta places and a thriving restaurant community.

“The area has a lot of great restaurants that do really well,” she said. “We thought we would be a good complement to them.”

The restaurant will have the same seasonal focus and share the same menu as the Rock Hill location. Collier said she hopes for a late spring or early summer opening.

 

Editor’s Note: This post originally incorrectly reported the new location’s address. It was updated at 10:15 a.m. Jan. 23 to correct the error. 

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The Weekend Project: Ravioli

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

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Everyone is happier with a bag of frozen ravioli they can pull out some cold January night and share with those closest to them. Easy to make ahead and freeze, these magical little pouches can be stuffed with any tasty filling and finished with a simple red sauce, a splash of olive oil or brown butter and a little shredded Parmesan.

Laura Schenone, author of The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken, spent several years searching for the story behind her disjointed family and the food that united them. The beguiling Genoese ravioli served at Christmas kept her searching for her family’s “true” recipe. In the end, she realized that all ravioli recipes and the time spent with others in the kitchen preparing pastas, gnocchi and sauces created a sense of community that defined her family and brought them joy.

 

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I am not Italian, and I have not mastered the art of hand-rolled pasta or ravioli shaping, but I remember with great clarity the toasted ravioli I shared with visiting aunts and uncles when they came to town to celebrate. Indeed, one of my favorite Christmas packages I shipped to my cousins in New Jersey was a Styrofoam box of frozen T-ravs.

This pasta dough can be made by hand or using a stand mixer and pasta rolling attachment. Both work equally well, but for simplicity’s sake, I’ve given instructions for the stand mixer in this recipe. If you want to learn how to make the ravioli by hand, I recommend Schenone’s book, as well as Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking for detailed descriptions, photos and helpful tips on how to hand-roll pasta dough.

 

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The Shopping List*
1½ lbs. assorted mushrooms, such as cremini, oyster or shiitake
1 small red onion
1 tsp. dried thyme
4 Tbsp. sherry
¼ cup breadcrumbs
1 medium butternut squash
1¼ cups mascarpone
1½ cups shredded Parmesan
1 cup ricotta
⅛ tsp. grated nutmeg, plus more to taste
5 cups all-purpose flour
8 eggs
4 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. finely chopped pistachios
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
Special equipment: Pasta roller attachment for stand mixer

* This list assumes you have canola or vegetable oil, olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper at hand in your kitchen. If not, you’ll need to purchase these items, too.

The Game Plan
Day 1: Make the butternut squash filling. Make the roasted mushroom filling. Make the pasta dough.
Day 2: Roll and fill the pasta dough. Freeze or cook the ravioli.

 

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Roasted Mushroom Filling
2 cups

6 to 8 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil, divided
1½ lbs. assorted mushrooms, such as cremini, oyster or shiitake, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 small red onion or shallot, thinly sliced, divided
1 tsp. dried thyme, divided
4 Tbsp. sherry, divided
⅓ cup mascarpone
½ cup shredded Parmesan
½ cup ricotta
¼ cup breadcrumbs
2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Day 1: Warm a large wide-bottomed skilled over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil to coat the bottom of the pan and wait until it begins to smoke.
• Add enough mushrooms to fill the pan in even layer, one-quarter of the red onion and ¼ teaspoon thyme. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and pan roast 4 to 5 minutes, until the mushrooms release their liquid and are browned. Stir the mushrooms occasionally, adding 1 tablespoon sherry and more oil as needed to prevent burning.
• Place the cooked mushrooms on a baking sheet to cool and repeat the process, cooking the mushrooms in batches. Let cool completely.
• In the bowl a food processor, add the cooked mushrooms, mascarpone, Parmesan, ricotta, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper to taste and pulse until combined. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.

 

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Butternut Squash Filling
2 cups

1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 tsp. kosher salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
¾ cup mascarpone
½ cup shredded Parmesan
½ cup ricotta
⅛ tsp. grated nutmeg

Day 1: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
• Place each squash half skin-side down on the baking sheet. Liberally coat each half with 1 tablespoon olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt and pepper.
• Roast 1 hour 15 minutes, until the squash is golden and the flesh is tender. Let cool completely, then remove ½ cup roasted squash and place into a clean dishtowel or cheesecloth. Squeeze the cloth over the sink to remove as much water as possible. Reserve the remaining squash for another use.
• In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the squash, mascarpone, Parmesan and ricotta. Stir to combine, and season with the remaining 2 teaspoons salt, the nutmeg and pepper. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.

 

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Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce
4 dozen

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more to flour countertop
8 eggs
1 batch Butternut Squash Filling (recipe above)
1 batch Roasted Mushroom Filling (recipe above)
½ cup water
4 Tbsp. butter
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 Tbsp. finely chopped pistachios
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Grated nutmeg to taste

Special equipment: Pasta roller attachment for stand mixer

Day 1: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix 2 cups flour and 4 eggs on medium speed until evenly combined, then knead 7 to 8 minutes. The dough will be smooth and not sticky. Add flour 1 teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
• Wrap the dough tightly in plastic. Repeat with the remaining 2 cups flour and 4 eggs.
• Refrigerate the dough at least 20 minutes or overnight.
Day 2: Dust a large section of clean countertop with flour. Dust 1 baking sheet with flour.
• Cut the pasta dough into 4 equal portions. Using a stand mixer fitted with the pasta roller attachment on the thickest setting, gently feed 1 portion of dough through the roller on low speed. Repeat, then adjust the roller to the next thinnest setting and gently feed the dough through twice more. Repeat, passing the dough through twice on each progressively thinner setting until it has passed through the thinnest setting.
• Place the long sheet of pasta dough on the floured countertop. Dollop about 1 tablespoon butternut squash or mushroom filling on the bottom half of the sheet about 1½ inches apart.
• Dip a brush or finger into the water and wet the dough around each dollop of filling. Fold the top half of the dough over the filling and line it up with the bottom edge, but do not seal.
• Working from the top to bottom, gently press the dough together around each filling dollop, pressing out as much air as possible and gently sealing the dough.
• Use a ravioli cutter or a sharp knife to cut the ravioli into individual pieces and place them on the baking sheet.*
• Repeat the rolling and sealing processes with the remaining batches of dough and filling.
• Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees.
• Meanwhile, add the butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Swirl gently until the solids take on a caramel color, 4 to 6 minutes.
• Working in batches, boil the fresh ravioli 2 minutes, until the pasta is cooked and evenly colored.
• Remove with a spider or slotted spoon and place them in the brown butter. Swirl to coat, then remove to a large serving dish and keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining ravioli.
• Garnish the butternut squash ravioli with Parmesan, toasted pistachios and grated nutmeg. Garnish the mushroom ravioli with chopped parsley and pepper.

*To freeze for later use, place the baking sheets of ravioli in the freezer 1 to 2 hours, then store in zip-top freezer bags up to 6 months. Cook from frozen in a large pot of salted boiling water 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Strain and serve in brown butter sauce.

 

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Photos by Michelle Volansky

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The Scoop: Vero Pasto to deliver pizza and pasta kits

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

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After a limited trial run earlier this year, Katie and Ted Collier, along with Katie’s mother Belinda Lee and brother Johnny Lee, have secured a space in Creve Coeur where they will launch Vero Pasto – a meal delivery service initially offering a weekly selection of pizza and pasta. The Colliers, who also own Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria, hope to have the business open by the holiday season.

Unlike some other local options, Katie Collier said Vero Pasto (that’s “real meal” in Italian) will deliver the raw ingredients and customers will cook the dishes courtesy of written recipes, as well as You Tube tutorials.

“We’re doing this because we love our restaurant and love serving the community,” said Collier. “With a restaurant we can only reach so many people and we’ve been thinking how to expand and reach more people with our food.”

Meal kits will include the raw ingredients necessary to prepare pizza or pasta at home, including handmade pizza dough and extruded pasta along with raw vegetables and other components. New kits are available each week. The Lees and Colliers plan to source fresh, seasonal ingredients and hope to use local vendors like Volpi and Salume Beddu.

“We want this to be a fun experience,” said Collier. “We want it be easy but interesting so people can cook then say, ‘Wow, I made that.’”

Orders will be placed online. Delivery will follow a couple of days later with ingredients arriving in temperature-controlled packaging. Pricing is still being determined, but each kit pizza kit will contain items for two pizzas, and each pasta kit will serve four people and will run between $25 and $30.

“We’ll pivot and learn as we grow,” said Collier. “We’re starting off humbly and small, but we chose a space where we can grow quickly if we need to. The meal delivery system, like Blue Apron, is a new phenomenon within the last few years. We’ll learn and grow it naturally.”

 

By the Book: What Katie Ate on the Weekend by Katie Quinn Davies

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

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I’ve been following Katie Quinn Davies’s blog, What Katie Ate, for years. In fact, her travel photos of Positano, Italy are the reason I made a trip to the Amalfi Coast a couple years ago (Let’s just say I’m highly influenced by pretty pictures.). In the last year, Davies blogged less and focused on creating her next cookbook, What Katie Ate on the Weekend. This is her second book, and like her blog, the food photos are delicious and the travel photos inspire.

I chose to make her crab, lemon and chile spaghetti. It’s what I imagine Italians eat every day on the southern coast while sipping chilled white wine. The recipe is simple: a few ingredients combine for a simple lemon zest, olive oil and breadcrumb topping that adds bright citrus and crunch texture to sweet crab and pasta. This is a perfect summer dish: sweet crab, a little heat from the chile and fresh lemon. All it needs is that glass of wine.

Skill level: Medium. There’s range here. Most of the recipes are easy with a few more complicated recipes here and there.
This book is for: People who like to cook or just want a cool coffee table book.
Other recipes to try: Self-saucing mocha pudding
The verdict: Check back next week when What Katie Ate on the Weekend takes on the next challenger, Food 52: Genius Recipes.

 

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Crab, Lemon and Chile Spaghetti
4 servings

2/3 cup olive oil
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
14 oz. spaghetti
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 long red chile, seeded and finely chopped
15 oz. cooked fresh crabmeat, drained and shredded if chunky
Lemon wedges, to serve

• Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs, lemon zest and salt and pepper, then cook, stirring, for 6 to 8 minutes or until toasted and lightly golden. Transfer to a bowl to cool, then stir through the parsley and set aside.
• Cook the spaghetti according to the packages instructions, then drain, reserving some of the cooking water.
• Meanwhile, wipe the skillet clean. Add 4 teaspoons of the oil and place over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes or until softened. Add the chile and cook for 1 minute, then add the crabmeat and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until warmed through.
• Add the lemon juice and the remaining oil to the pan and stir to combine. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse.
• Add the hot drained pasta to the pan along with a few tablespoons of the cooking water to moisten. Toss together to combine well, then add half the breadcrumb mixture and toss again to combine.
• Transfer to a platter and scatter over the remaining breadcrumb mixture. Serve immediately with lemon wedges to the side.

Reprinted with permission from Viking Studio

By the Book: “Battersby” by Joseph Ogrodnek and Walker Stern

Friday, March 11th, 2016

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When I see anything with pistachios on a menu, I have to order it. The pistachio ravioli at Pastaria hooked me – ravioli in a rich browned butter sauce finished with cheese, pistachios, mint and lemon. I now add pistachios to whatever I can: salads, pasta dishes and desserts. When flipping through Battersby: Extraordinary Food From an Ordinary Kitchen by Joseph Ogrodnek and Walker Stern, the farfalle with Gorgonzola and pistachios naturally caught my eye.

The sauce was easy: a little garlic and chile flake (I used dried red pepper flakes instead of the hard-to-find Calabrian chile.), a lot of heavy cream along with Gorgonzola, pecorino and Grana Padano. Toss that with cooked farfalle and finish with pistachios for crunch, basil for a little sweetness and orange zest for a burst of freshness. The dish is rich but balanced by the bright orange zest and basil.

Skill level: Moderate. Many of these recipes take patience but they don’t seem complicated.
This book is for: Home cooks who want to elevate their game
Other recipes to try: Vanilla-glazed beets with Gorgonzola and walnuts, shrimp with pimento pepper, potato and chorizo
The verdict: Check back next week when the next restaurant cookbook takes on Battersby.

 

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Farfalle with Gorgonzola and Pistachios
6 servings

Gorgonzola sauce
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. chopped Calabrian chile
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 oz. Gorgonzola cheese
1½ Tbsp. finely grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1½ Tbsp. finely grated pecorino Romano cheese

To serve
Kosher salt
1 lb. fresh farfalle, homemade or store-bought
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
½ cup finely grated Grana Padano
¾ cup pistachio nuts, toasted and crushed
1 orange
8 to 12 small fresh basil leaves

• To make the sauce, heat the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and chile and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add the cream and slowly bring it to a boil. As soon as it boils, remove the pot from heat, season with salt and pepper and pour the mixture into a blender. Add the Gorgonzola, Grana Padano and pecorino and blend to emulsify, about 20 seconds. Serve immediately or let cool and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.
• To serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 2 minutes.
• Meanwhile, bring the reserved sauce to a boil in a wide, deep saute pan over medium-high heat. Swirl in the butter, melting it.
• When the pasta is done, drain it in a colander and transfer it to the pan with the sauce. Toss well to coat the pasta. Add the cheese and pistachios and toss well.
• Divide the pasta among 6 plates. Finely grate some orange zest over each serving and garnish with the basil leaves. Serve.

Reprinted with permission from Grand Central Life & Style 

Just Five: Pasta with Braised Onion Sauce

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

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Alchemy: The medieval forerunner of chemistry based on the supposed transformation of matter. It was concerned particularly with attempts to convert base metals into gold or to find a universal elixir. See: braised onions.

Cooking onions over low heat for a long time is one of the most magical food tricks around. Also it’s simple to do – it only requires patience. Those pesky tears resulting from slicing onions will be transformed into tears of joy when you taste this super simple pasta dish. With a great flourish and an abracadabra, dinner is served.

 

Pasta with Braised Onion Sauce
4 servings

½ cup (1 stick) butter
1½ lbs. (about 3 to 4) yellow onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup Marsala wine or Madeira
1 lb. spinach fettuccine or other long noodle pasta
¼ to ½ cup grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

• In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and saute about 10 minutes, until evenly coated in butter and softened. Add the salt* and stir well. Reduce the heat to low and slowly caramelize, stirring occasionally, 35 to 45 minutes, until the onions are jammy.
• Stir in the Marsala and cook 3 to 4 minutes, then remove from heat. Set aside.
• Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and add the pasta to the skillet over medium heat. Toss to coat.
• Divide the pasta evenly among 4 bowls. Serve with Parmesan cheese and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

*Stubborn onions refuse to caramelize? Add 1 tablespoon sugar with the salt to urge the process along.

 

By the Book: “Mastering Pasta” by Marc Vetri

Friday, January 29th, 2016

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A confession: I have never made pasta. I don’t own the fancy pasta roller attachment for my mixer; I don’t even have the one that attaches to the countertop. So I was in a tad over my head when I picked up Marc Vetri’s manifesto, Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi and Risotto for this week’s By the Book. The first two chapters don’t even include recipes, just a meticulous scientific discussion of how complex combining wheat, egg and water really is.

I waded into the pasta-making pool with Pici Aglio E Olio, one of Vetri’s recipes that didn’t require a pasta roller. All I needed was bread flour, water, a touch of oil and elbow grease to churn out long ropes of pici. Though Vetri wanted noodles as long as 6 feet, my lack of counter space and coordination meant I halved the pasta dough and went for 3-foot-long noodles instead. Fresh pasta takes only a few minutes to cook, and my noodles hopped from boiling water into olive oil spiked with garlic and anchovy-based fish sauce in less than five minutes.

The final dish was simple, yet oh-so rich with yard-long toothsome noodles coated in a golden, pungent sauce. Don’t skimp on quality ingredients here; good olive oil and quality fish sauce are the primary flavors, so get what you pay for. Vetri’s recipe is almost overly detailed, but as a pasta novice, I appreciated the attention to technique. Without such specific instructions, I doubt my dish would have been as successful. Maybe it’s time to buy that countertop pasta roller after all.

Skill level: Intermediate to advanced cooks
This book is for: People with an Aziz Ansari-level of love for pasta and are prepared for complex sauce recipes, too.
Other recipes to try: Heirloom tomato and burrata lasagna, potato gnocchi with corn crema and corn salad
The verdict: After much debate, the reigning champ was dethroned. Mastering Pasta takes the crown.

 

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Pici Aglio E Olio
4 servings

1 lb. pici dough (recipe follows)
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Semolina or cornmeal for dusting
10 cloves garlic, cut into matchsticks
1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes
3-4 Tbsp. garum or good-quality Asian fish sauce
1½ Tbsp. chopped mixed herb (parsley, oregano and thyme are nice)

• Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface about 1/8-inch thick and about 18 inches square. Rub the surface of the dough with about 1 tablespoon of the oil, coating it evenly. The oil enriches the dough and keeps it from drying out as you work.
• Pour a pile of semolina or cornmeal near the corner of the work surface. Cut the dough square into strips ¾-to 1-inch wide. Starting at one end of a strip, use the heel of your palm to roll the strip gently back and forth on the work surface, stretching it lengthwise until forms a rope about ¼ inch in diameter. If necessary, rub a little water on the work surface to help the rope stick and roll more easily. As you roll, set the shaped portion of the rope into the semolina or cornmeal pile to prevent it from sticking to itself. You should end up with a rope 5 to 6 feet long in the pile of semolina or cornmeal. Pick up one end of the rope, drape it around a finger, and then continue to drape the entire rope around your fingers. Place the rope in parallel lines on a rimmed baking sheet dusted with semolina or cornmeal. Repeat with the remaining dough. Use the pici immediately or cover them and let them stand at room temperature for up to 2 hours. You can also freeze them in a single layer, transfer them to a zipper-lock bag, and freeze them for up to 1 month. Take the pasta straight from the freezer to the boiling pasta water.
• Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the pici and cover the pot to quickly return the water to a boil. Cook the pasta until it is tender but still a little chewy when bitten, 2 to 3 minutes.
• Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 cup oil in a large, deep saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook it, stirring occasionally, until aromatic but not brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of the pepper flakes and 3 tablespoons of the garum.
• Using tongs, drain the pasta by transferring it to the pan of sauce. Reserve the pasta water. Add 1¾ cups of the pasta water to the pan and stir vigorously over medium-high heat until the sauce reduces slightly, gets creamy, and coats the pasta, 2 to 3 minutes. Keep the pasta moving until the pasta and sauce become one thing in the pan. Taste it, adding more pepper flakes and garum until it tastes good to you. Stir in the herbs.
• Dish out the pasta onto warmed plates.

Pici Dough
1 pound

2¼ cups bread flour (11.5 percent protein), plus more for dusting
1 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup water, or more if needed

• Sift flour into a bowl. Mix in the oil and water with a fork or spoon until the dough comes together. It will look raggy at first; continue adding water by the tablespoon until the dough can be gathered into a ball. You may need to add up to 5 tablespoons more water, depending on the humidity in the room.
• Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it until it feels soft and smooth, about 3 minutes. Cover the dough and let it rest so it can relax, at least 5 minutes or up to 1 hour. Or wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to 3 days.

Reprinted with permission from 10 Speed Press

 

Sneak Peek: Porano Pasta on Washington Avenue

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

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After nearly a year of anticipation, chef-owner Gerard Craft will open Porano Pasta, his new fast-casual concept, Tuesday, Jan. 26. As The Scoop reported last February, this is the James Beard Award winner’s fifth restaurant, and it is located in a massive two-story space at 634 Washington Ave., downtown in the Mercantile Exchange. Executive chef Michael Petres, former executive chef at Pastaria, will oversee day-to-day operations.

Customers will step up to the counter and build their own bowls from a selection of bases, sauces, proteins or vegetables and toppings. They can start with house-made organic semolina pasta, organic farro, romaine and kale lettuce or Italian rice, then add one of 11 house-made sauces including everything from a classic pomodoro to pumpkin seed and lime pesto.

Porano features hormone- and antibiotic-free meat such as slow-roasted pork, beef meatballs and grilled chicken. Veg-friendly offerings like spicy tofu or seasonable vegetables (currently butternut squash or Brussels sprouts) are also available. In additional to bowls, Craft and Petres have created a daily focaccia dish using Companion bread and Panzos, fried dough pockets stuffed with rotating fillings.

The large beverage menu includes a frozen Negroni and a nonalcoholic strawberry-lime slush inspired by Italian granitas. White and red house Scarpetta wines on tap are available, as well as bottled and canned brews, a house draft beer brewed by The Civil Life and several Excel sodas.

In addition to quick, custom meals, Craft said he wants to focus on how he can source locally and responsibly as a fast-casual concept. “We want to rework the way the fast-food industry thinks about the supply chain,” Craft said. To that end, Porano recently purchased whole hogs to break down in-house and use for its porchetta, Sunday sugo sauce and specials. Craft aims to source from many of his current vendors that supply other Niche Food Group restaurants, including Todd Geisert Farms, Newman Farms, Double Star Farm and Berger Bluff farms.

Porano will be open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., though it will operate on limited hours to start. Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect when doors open Tuesday at Porano Pasta:

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky 

Ones to Watch 2016: Ashley Shelton

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

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Title: Executive chef, Pastaria
Age: 26
Why Watch Her: Dreams and dreamy pasta – Shelton makes it all happen.

On a busy Saturday night, Ashley Shelton and her crew can serve up to 500 people in one shift. Instead of barking commands at her cooks, Shelton motivates them in her own way. “When it gets hard, I start singing. The dishes have their own songs,” she said. “And I hand out candy and Kool-Aid. I like to run a fun line.”

Shelton credited her mother, who passed away when she was only 14, for instilling a love of cooking. Three years later, as a high school junior aiming toward culinary school, Shelton landed a job on the line at the venerable Annie Gunn’s in Chesterfield. “That’s where I learned speed, discipline and how to clean a kitchen. … I learned from the best,” Shelton said.

Laser focus then propelled her to The Culinary Institute of America, where she first made bucatini all’a amatriciana, the traditional Italian entree that would become her calling. “That dish was so good, it made me want to study Italian food,” Shelton said. And so she did, moving to Florence to earn a Masters in Italian Cuisine from the Apicius International Hospitality Institute.

Shelton first met chef Gerard Craft in Italy, while he was on a research trip before opening Pastaria. “He interviewed me over dinner, and it was an awful meal. We joke about it now,” Shelton said, laughing. Craft hired her as Pastaria’s line cook before the restaurant even opened its doors, and then, in February last year, offered her the executive chef position.

Craft is proud and supportive of Shelton. “Ashley is a rare breed. She is able to lead a massive kitchen with a smile, a sense of humor and with a confidence usually found in much older chefs,” he said. “Ashley is quite simply the best, and I am guessing that this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

We agree. With her can-do attitude and passion for Italian cuisine, songs will be sung about Shelton – and her bucatini – for years to come.

 

This Friday on Sound Bites, The Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.​ chef Jessie Gilroy, a member of the Ones to Watch class of 2015, and Pastaria chef Ashley Shelton join Sauce to discuss their leadership roles in some of St. Louis’ most prestigious kitchens. Tune in to St. Louis Public RadioFriday, Jan 8. at noon and 10 p.m. for Sound Bites on Cityscape.

– photo by Carmen Troesser

 

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