How-to-make-pasta instructions almost always include putting flour on your counter or board, forming a well and cracking your eggs into the well.  I almost always wind up with egg white on my shoe when I do this.  It only dawned on me while working on the pasta dough ratio for Ratio that this well method was completely unnecessary and that I would never have to wipe egg white off my shoe again.  The dough is thoroughly mixed and kneaded till smooth so how you incorporate the eggs isn’t critical. I imagine the original reason for the well method was that it saved on cleaning a bowl, but I would rather clean a bowl than my shoe and floor.  The well method is romantic, encouraging a measure-by-eye attitude and evoking images of an Italian grandma in Read On »

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A basic tomato sauce is easy and delicious on its own and an elegant cooking tool as well. Braise beef, pork or lamb in it, add it to ground meat for a pasta sauce, poach eggs in it. It’s delicious plain. I returned from New York on Friday and saw a 24-ounce jar of a “celebrity chef” sauce on the counter. Donna said, “It’s really good.”  Then added, “But it cost nine dollars.” Make your own—50% more sauce, 50% of the cost, 100% more pleasure. The above photo shows the difference between a tomato sauce cooked raw, top, and a tomato sauce made by sauteing the tomatoes before pureeing and cooking them.  Both work fine. The fresh sauce tastes fresh and raw, the sauce made with cooked tomatoes has more depth and complexity. If you Read On »

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Tomato Basil Garlic Pasta with a Tomato-Butter sauce, via my iPhone; and frankly, I’m not happy with the quality, but you will get the idea of the tomato water use; next time back to the HD camera (and now, back to the gym). When I was courting Donna in southern Florida more than 20 years ago, I made a pasta dish of nothing more than tomato, basil, garlic and butter that we both loved for its simplicity and big garlicky flavor.  It’s still a weekday staple for us, especially at the end of summer when basil and fat tomatoes are plentiful.  (Part of the original plan was to load Donna with so much garlic that she would ooze it from her pores the following day to keep other suitors away—so there is a lot of Read On »

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I needed a dinner that was easy and delicious, would please everyone, one that also reheated well in case my daughter’s track meet ran late, and I had to be able to make it long before serving so it would be just a matter of reheating come dinnertime.  There are of course a thousand options that fit these criteria, but last week, I was in a nostalgic mood and thought back to school lunches, one of my favorites, macaroni and beef.  We were always famished by lunchtime and this dish was dependable and impossible to screw up by a 1970′s school kitchen. For a midweek meal I went as simple as could be.  The only way I’d change it, I decided would be to pile a monstrous amount of cheddar and mozzarella on top at Read On »

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As I mentioned today over in Huffington Post’s new food pages, I once used to purchase the Knorr powdered mix for Alfredo sauce.  This is almost like buying dehydrated water.  Fettuccine Alfredo is the world’s easiest cream sauce, and it’s also one of the best. In my opinion, the quality of the dish is dependent on the cheese, good Parmigiano-Reggiano.  If you don’t have that, make something else.  The traditional Italian Alfredo doesn’t use cream but I think the cream is essential for distributing the cheese.  I also feel that dried pasta is too heavy for this—this dish calls for fresh pasta.  Best to make it yourself, but good fresh pasta is available at most grocery stores now.  This dish comes together fast—the hardest part about it waiting for the water to boil. Fettucini Alfredo Read On »

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