pasta logic

In Italy, there's an unwritten code for what pasta goes with what types of sauce. Like language, the best method of learning this pasta culture is immersion. Only because the rules seem a little arbitrary and silly if you just read about them. But if you can taste the difference, and you can see the way certain sauce clings to different shapes, then pairing garlic and oil with a light angel hair, but pairing alfredo with thicker noodles like fettucini makes perfect sense. (It also helps to have a host mom that just shakes her head in disgust at your untrained suggestions...)

Usually I just go from memory of what my host mom did, but Chow has this great cheat sheet!

And while we're on the subject of pasta, if you've been tempted to make your own, here is a video to help.

creamy sausage veggie pasta -
sauteed garlic, red peppers, zucchini, and sweet sausage
tossed with spaghetti, a little pasta water, cream, and parmesan


drunk crisp

Happy May Day!

Pretty soon it won't be crisp season any more -- my summertime desserts are more along the lines of simple fresh fruit. And in the meantime, well, what is a springtime dessert? It doesn't feel quite right to make a baked apple anything when the weather is teasing us every few hours... cupcakes maybe?

But while we're still bundling up at night and waiting for fresh berries, I'll share this recipe for apple, prune and brandy crisp.

drunk apple and prune crisp
serves 4 (originally from Gourmet magazine)

1/2 C brandy
1 C pitted prunes, halved
2/3 C flour
1/2 C packed light brown sugar
6 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/4 teas salt
1/8 teas cinnamon
2/3 C old-fashioned oats
6 McIntosh apples (or a mixture of sweet and sour apples)
vanilla ice cream, of course

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bring brandy to a boil in a small saucepan and remove from heat. Stir in cut prunes and let stand while making topping.

Mix flour, 6 Tbs brown sugar, butter, salt, and cinnamon together until mixture resembles coarse meal. (Food processor works great so you don't melt the butter with your fingers.) Add oats and stir to just combine.

Peel, quarter, and core apples and cut into 1/2" wedges. Transfer apples to a 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish and toss with prune mixture and remaining 2 Tbs brown sugar.

Sprinkle topping evenly over filling and bake in middle of oven until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling (about 30 mins.)

I tend to like my crisp cold, the next morning, but enjoying it warm with vanilla ice cream is a close second.