Sunday Parmesan Marinara

My household eats a lot of pasta. Vodka sauce, meat sauce, alfredo sauce. Love it all. Marinara (aka classic tomato sauce) is my absolute favorite. Such fresh and vibrant flavor. San Marzano tomatoes (from outside of Naples, Italy) are ideal for this sauce. They’re sweet, low in acid and have a deep red, firm body. Make this recipe when you’ve got a little extra time on the weekend. Your pasta will thank you all week long. If you’re so inclined, double the recipe and freeze some! I’m all about the classics. This one’s a keeper for life.

Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic gloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 28-oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 carrot, peeled and halved
  • 2 fresh basil sprigs
  • 2 2-inch pieces of Parmesan rind
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

In a medium-size deep skillet or wide saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sweat until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their juices, red onion, carrot, basil, Parmesan rind, bay leaf, and salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often with a wooden spoon, for about 25 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature. Discard the onion, carrot, basil, rind, and bay leaf. Pass the sauce through a food mil or puree it with an immersion blender and chill completely. The sauce will keep for 4 or 5 days in the refrigerator, or transfer to freezer containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, Happy Cooking, 2015.

Chestnut Fettuccine and Tortellini in Sage Cream Sauce

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Happy Sunday, all! A little encouragement, from one friend to another:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 43:2

The new year has me thinking a lot about my future and my family’s future. My husband is in medical school. A lot of our future is unknown. Just last week, I took a shot at something new in my life. I wanted so badly to believe it was meant to be and that I deserved it. When everything fell silent, I had thoughts like “this isn’t fair!” and “doesn’t God want me to be happy?” While God does want to bless us to overflowing, I didn’t have the right attitude in that moment. His plan is abundantly better that ours. He sees things that we can’t see yet. I’m believing that if this wasn’t the right thing, He has something else in store that is 100x better!

In my frustration during the last week, I opened up my Bible on Friday morning and read this about how Jesus calmed a raging storm (Luke 22:8-25):

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, weʼre going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

 

I thought to myself: Were the disciples crazy? There they are, with Jesus right there beside them. How could they have been afraid? How could they have doubted for one second that he would protect them and bring peace to the situation?

It hit me like a brick, and I cried. That boat is my life. I’m in the boat. Jesus is also in the boat, right there along side me. Through all of my frustration, my anger, the chaos around me– Jesus is there. He has always been there. Where was my faith? How could I have doubted for one second that He was in complete control? I had forgotten about simple faith. I was choosing anger instead of trusting Him wholeheardetly. In our weakness, God is strongest. Emotionally, I collapsed and humbly spoke out: “you’ve always been there.”

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He’s right beside us, ready to calm the storm if we only trust him. Have child-like faith. He’s in control and will never let you drown. No fear, no doubt. This is going to be a great year.

#NOODLEHOLICSPARTY!

I’m so excited to be sharing this recipe as a part of Soe @limeandcilantro’s #Noodleholicsparty! Head over to Instagram and check out our virtual noodle feast.

Around holiday time, my grandfather always brings a bagful of chestnuts with him. He brings his own pan for roasting, weathered and blackish-brown with age. A family tradition, we score the chestnuts, toss in a pan and roast at 425F for 45 mins to an hour. They come out sizzling and hot. We burn our fingers in impatience as we peel and eat. Inside, the chestnut flesh is tender and sweet.

In honor of our tradition, I used chestnut flour and chestnut puree to make pasta, two ways: fettuccine and tortellini filled with ricotta cheese and chestnut puree. I tossed both in a sage cream sauce. For me, this is ultimate comfort on a chilly night. The act of passing sheets of homemade pasta through the fettuccine attachment is THE most soothing thing for me.

I decided to toss it in a butter, sage, shallot, cream, white wine sauce. Well, because… these are a few of my favorite things!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Chestnut Fettuccine and Tortellini in Sage Cream Sauce

Makes about 20 tortellini and 1 lb fettuccine

Pasta Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur) plus extra for dusting
  • 1 cup chestnut flour (You can find it at specialty Italian grocery stores)
  • 34 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 34 cup ricotta
  • 14 cup unsweetened chestnut purée*
  • 12 tsp. salt
  • 2 pinches ground nutmeg

Sage Cream Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage or crumbled dried leaves
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

*chestnuts are naturally pretty sweet. Adjust the puree to your liking.

  1. To make the pasta, in the bowl of your stand mixer add the all-purpose flour, chestnut flour, and salt. Stir to combine. Form a well in the center and add the eggs and egg yolks. Begin to stir on low, gradually picking up speed to medium until the dough forms. It will be crumbly and thick.
  2. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and incorporate any crumbs from the bowl. Knead until the ball of dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Dusting lightly with more flour as needed. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
  3. To make the filling, in a food processor add the ricotta, chestnut purée, salt, and nutmeg. Process until smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate in a sealed container up to 1 day. You will have filling left over, if you decide to also make the fettuccine.
  4. To make tortellini, set a small bowl of water next to your workstation. Slice the chilled dough into 5 pieces. Flour lightly. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the others refrigerated. Save 2 of the 5 pieces for fettuccine, if making. The dough will be thick, so roll out the first piece of dough into a small 1/2″ rectangle by hand with a rolling pin. Using a pasta sheet attachment, pass through the sheet roller on the 1, 3, and 5 settings until you have a nice thin sheet. (If it’s crumbling at first, keep folding and passing through until it holds together). Cut out rounds using a 2-inch cookie cutter. Working one round at a time, place 1teaspoon of filling in the center. Very lightly wet the rim of the round with water, then fold the ends over the filling to meet and form a half-moon shape. Press together firmly to seal. Lightly wet both of the pointed tips, then fold them together to meet and form a ring. Set on a lightly floured baking sheet and repeat with the remaining rounds and pieces of dough. (If not using that day, you can freeze the tortellini on the baking sheet; once frozen, store in resealable plastic bags or containers. Boil from frozen.)
  5. Using the same method, roll your thin sheets of dough through the fettuccine attachment. Be sure to flour so they don’t stick together.
  6. In a pot of boiling, salted water, add the pasta. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta floats to the top, about 4 minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon and transfer to a large serving bowl.
  7. To make the sauce, melt butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sage. Sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and cream. Turn heat to med-high and reduce until thickened, about 5 minutes. Lower heat and stir in parmesan cheese. Taste and season carefully with salt and pepper. Parmesan is already a little salty.
  8. Toss pasta in sauce and coat well. Serve warm.

Pasta recipe adapted from Saveur Magazine.

Take a look at what our other fun partygoers have contributed:

Pho Ga (Vietnamese chicken noodle soup) by @beyondsweetandsavory
Alfredo Pasta by @mylavenderblues
Beef Ragu with Pappardelle by @cloudykitchen
Malaysian Laksa with Pumpkin by @vermilionroots
Vegetarian Tteokbokki by @husbandsthatcook
Shrimp Scampi with Tagliatelle by @upcloseandtasty
Vegan Jjajangmyeon by @the.korean.vegan
Duck Noodle Soup by @lindsaysfeast
Kuching Style Laksa by @passmethedimsum
Meatball Pasta by @insearchofwonders
Shanghai Onion Oil Noodles by @omnivorescookbook
Oak-Smoked Pasta Cacio e Pepe by @harvest_and_honey
Aceh Noodles (Mie Aceh) by @whattocooktoday

Persian Noodle (Reshteh) by @noghlemey

Thanks so much to Soe @limeandcilantro for setting up this fun virtual #noodleholicsparty! Be sure to check out the recipes from all the talented blogger partygoers on Instagram by searching #noodleholicsparty.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

These are a staple on my family’s table. Mushrooms have that wonderful earthy, deep flavor. Organic white caps are perfect for stuffing. I love a good drizzle of olive oil and a light stuff with cheese, breadcrumbs and fresh herbs. The more cheese, the merrier. Roasted nice and long so that the cheese and crumbs become crispy and golden brown. You can’t have just one.

When it comes to stuffed mushrooms, I like to keep it simple. I’m not into stuffing with crab or extra fluff. Let the mushroom shine. They’ll steal the show.

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Servings: 24 mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 24 large mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (I prefer a 50% parmesan, 50% pecorino blend)
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella for topping
  1. Clean mushrooms under running water to remove all dirt. Carefully remove stems from mushrooms and chop stems.
  2. In a medium skillet, melt butter and add garlic. Add chopped mushroom stems and saute until lightly brown. Add parsley stir, and remove from heat.
  3. Add cheese and stir to combine. Add bread crumbs, stirring until mixture is crumbly.
  4. Lightly fill each mushroom cap with the sauteed mixture, but don’t pack too tightly.
  5. Set on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 400F degrees for about 24 minutes (if they’re smaller caps, check them after 20 minutes).

Recipe adapted from Food.com

Toronto Road Trip

HILTON TOR 1

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Hello from Canada! My husband Josh and I packed up and drove North on Saturday on our road trip thru Niagara Falls to Toronto. I have been so incredibly excited for this trip. I spent hours in the weeks prior planning out the itinerary (I’m your Type A planner, I LOVE planning). What we’d see, where we’d stay and especially where we’d eat. 98% of the trip itinerary revolved around food. Is that weird? My guess is that if you’re reading this, you agree with me: food is the best part of travel. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

Day 1 & 2: NIAGARA FALLS, ARRIVAL TO TORONTO

Niagara Falls is about a 7-1/2 hr drive from where we live on Long Island. We got up there at about 5:30pm with only little spurts of traffic along the way. Half-way into the trip, I decided to Google “Tips for Crossing the Border.” One would have thought I’d have looked into this prior to getting into the car, but I digress. I already knew we couldn’t bring fruit or vegetables (check). You can’t bring any firearms (check…) and of course, we had our passports (check). The tips I read (you can find them here) suggested you have your vehicle registration handy, as they are always on the lookout for stolen cars. Josh is driving and I start rummaging through my glove compartment sorting through 1,000 Bed Bath and Beyond coupons until I finally find the registration sticker (I’m generally very organized but can’t seem to find the knack for keeping up with the car related stuff– anyone else?) I look down at the expiration date and and ask Josh what date it is. July 23rd. Guess when my registration expired? July 22nd. After overthinking this blunder for a solid 45 minutes, i.e. “We’re not getting into Canada,” “How did you let this expire”, “Border control is going to investigate us,” etc., we decide we’re going to be perfectly fine getting thorugh with the mostly-true story that the new sticker has not come in the mail yet. In actuality it has not come in the mail yet because I haven’t ordered it yet. Cut a girl some slack, alright! I was too caught up planning where we were going to eat…

Regardless of our expired registration, we got across the border in 15 seconds with minimal questioning. I know you were hoping for a more saucy story, but I couldn’t be happier we made it through. The Canada side of Toronto is filled with tourist attractions like falls tours and Bird Kingdom (what?) but we stayed clear of most of it and went straight to our room and conked out. We’re real party people. This is the quick pic I took from a moving car. Not too shabby.

NIAGARA 1

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

The next day, we headed to Toronto and checked into the Hilton Toronto. It’s a beautiful property with nicely designed rooms. We had lunch in the hotel restaurant and later walked to the Spa at the Trump International Hotel. Let’s not get all political, but I’ll say I’m happy to support his properties (#trumptrain). Pure Beauty Salon and Spa is on the 31st floor overlooking the city. Lush interior, beautiful showers and amenities. It’s ranked one of the best in Toronto! I almost fell asleep during our couples massage. This was the ideal prelude to dinner.

I made reservations at TOCA (it stands for Toronto, Canada) located inside The Ritz- Carlton Hotel. The moment we walked in, my breath was taken from me. We were welcomed and led to our seats: a quiet spot just near the cheese cave, an impressive temperature-controlled, glass clad room housing over two dozen international cheeses. At seven o’clock that evening, the dim lighting was moody. The interior was intimate and offered the familiar feeling of home. Clinking pots, pans and silverware rang like bells from the open kitchen. I could tell we were in for an exceptionally good meal.

IMG_1703

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco (@ashcuoco)

The restaurant is collaborating with Chef Oliver Glowig, a celebrated chef in Rome. I spotted the chef’s four-course tasting menu. I eyed my husband for approval. He told me to go for it. The foodie and chef inside me squealed with excitement! Antipasto, Pasta, Main Course and Dessert. From beginning to end, it was the best dining experience we have ever had. Our server graciously offered me the name of the local Riesling of which we had to pick up a bottle. Here’s my take on the four courses:

First Course: Vitello Tonnato (Veal loin, tuna sauce, caper, frisee). The veal was tender and flavorful. The tuna sauce, a unique component, was well seasoned and not overpowering. Capers offered a salty bite. The dish’s cool temperature enticed my palette for what came next.

Second Course: Pasta Mista (Mixed pasta, lobster, potato, tomato, smoked mozzarella, parmesan). A good pasta and seafood dish is my go-to. The mixed pasta along with the small, soft potatoes made for an array of textures with each bite. The tomato sauce was light and soup-like. My only criticism: I got a small piece of lobster shell in one bite. Minus one point (yes, sometimes I pretend I’m a judge on Chopped). Although cheese and fish don’t usually do the tango, the smoked mozzarella was a creamy compliment.

Third Course: Filetto alla Rossini (Filet mignon, foie gras, spinach, pine nut, raisin, truffle jus). This was the highlight! The savory steak cut like butter. A bed of sautéed spinach, pine nuts and golden raisins was nutty, a little sweet and wholesome. The truffle jus (truffle oil) is like earthy, sinful heaven. If you’ve never seen the words ‘sinful’ and ‘heaven’ used in a sentence, now you have! The foie gras (liver of duck) was soft and jam packed with flavor. There’s no denying it— fat is good.

Fourth Course: Tiramisu (Hazelnut cake, mascarpone, almond espresso, vanilla gelato). Intentionally deconstructed, and beautifully presented. The hazelnut cake was soaked in a quality almond espresso. Really soaked, filling every crevasse. That gelato and the creamy mascarpone…I admit to a weakness for cheese. This dish had everything going for it: great texture and contrast between warm and cold. It was a wildly exciting party for the senses! I can only say I wish I had more.

TOCA 1

Second Course: Pasta Mista (Shot by Josh!)

tiramisu

Fourth Course: Tiramisu (Shot by Josh!)

Thank you, TOCA, for the wonderful experience! Your hospitality and friendliness will certainly bring us back for more.

Day 3: BREAKFAST IN BED

My perfect morning was yesterday morning. We slept in, ordered breakfast to our room and relaxed. I love a late breakfast, around 11am. Call it Brunch.  Josh had the buttermilk pancakes with bacon. I had the “West Coast Tostada,” mashed avocado, tomato and smoked salmon with an sunny side up egg and pea shoots. And of course, coffee. The morning light was extra lovely.

HILTON TOR 4

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

HILTON TOR 2

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

HILTON TOR 3

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Day 4: CANADA’S WONDERLAND

Today, I survived Canada’s Wonderland. I am no natural born fan of roller coasters but my love for my thrill-enthusiast husband makes me cave. I went on 23 roller coasters in California on our honeymoon. It was a right of passage, you could say. I made it out of Wonderland alive and (almost) unscathed! My head feels like it was rattled around in a cage but I think I’m on the upswing. A nap and a late dinner really hit the spot. At the Hilton, I enjoyed this grilled cod with zucchini, green beans and tomato vinaigrette.

dinner hilton

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Sigh… we’re headed back home tomorrow. How I wish our adventure in Toronto could continue. Until next time. I’d love to read your comments on your favorite Toronto spots!