Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe

The beauty of this dish lies in its Roman origins and it’s simplicity.

Pasta cacio e pepe (“cheese and pepper”) is made with Pecorino Romano and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

1 – pound spaghetti
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, lightly toast the pepper in the olive oil, then turn the heat off and let it sit until the pasta is ready.
  3. When the pasta is done, turn on the heat to oil, add the pasta to that pan along with some of the pasta water. Toss, add the cheese, continue tossing, add more pasta water, season with salt; toss again and serve.
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Mushroom and Fontina Pizza

Here is a very simple pizza recipe.

Makes 1 12″ Pizza

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Ingredients

1 packet active dry yeast
3 cups flour
salt
3 tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
6 oz. assorted wild mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
3 medium shallots, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 plum tomatoes, seed and coarsely chopped
2 cups freshly grated fontina
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

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  1. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes. Combine flour and 1 tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture to yeast, a little at a time, moistening  with up to 3/4 cup water as you mix. Alternately, you could pulse the mixture in a food processor just until it forms a ball. Dough should be soft but not wet.
  2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, 10 minutes. Form into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a damp towel; set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, 2 – 3 hours.
  3. Set a pizza stone in the middle of your oven and preheat oven to 500 degrees. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms, seasoning with thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Heat remaining oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until wilted, 5 minutes. Add vinegar slowly, cook for 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, cook for 2 more minutes, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. To assemble the pizza, stretch the dough into a 12″ round, pinch the edges to form a ridge, and sit dough on a pizza peel dusted with flour. Cover with half the fontina, all the mushrooms, and all the tomato mixture. Top with the remaining fontina and parmesan. Slide the pizza into the oven, onto the stone. Bake until crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Garnish with more thyme sprigs.

NB: A bit of truffle oil strewn across this pizza can only bring happiness!

Prosciutto & Cheese Bread

  

This bread is absolutely delicious. The fat from the prosciutto melts with the cheese directly into the bread creating a cheesy and salty goodness.

Recipe:

3 cups bread flour, more for dusting
1/2 pound prosciutto, chopped
1/2 pound provolone, chopped
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups water

  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour with the yeast and salt. Add the water and stir until blended (the dough will be very sticky). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 12 to 24 hours in a warm spot.
  2. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and lightly sprinkle the top with flour and some of the prosciutto and the provolone. Fold the dough over on itself several times, adding prosciutto and cheese between each fold. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a floured kitchen towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Generously sprinkle a baking pan with flour and corn meal and arrange the dough balls on the baking pan. Let the dough rise for 2 hours.
  4. Brush the dough with an egg and sprinkle with your favorite seed (sesame, poppy, fennel…).
  5. Bake for 30 minutes in a pre-heated 400 degree oven.

 

Feel free to get creative:

  • Add fresh herbs.
  • Substitute other cured pork products for prosciutto.
  • Use any cheese you like or any combination.
  • Eliminate the pork and cheese and use only rosemary for the best Rosemary Focaccia.
  • Vary the shapes and size of the bread to suit you.

Gnudi

This recipe is taken from my cookbook: 
Ricette di Maria – Maria’s Recipes

The word gnudi means naked because these delicate little dumplings are simply made by boiling a ravioli filling, otherwise known as naked ravioli.

It’s ravioli without the pasta or you may also call them ricotta gnocchi.

Serves 4

1/2 stick of butter
4 cups ricotta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablepoons flour
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Sage

  1. In a large bowl combine the ricotta cheese, eggs, flour, half of the Parmesan, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Mix to combine then place in the refrigerator for about an hour to allow the mixture to firm up.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bring a pot of salted water to boil.
  3. Lightly flour your hands and roll 1 tablespoon of the mixture at a time into small balls. Gently drop the balls into the water and boil for about 5 minutes or until they slightly puff. Using a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi and set them on a towel to drain.
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and coat the bottom of a 10-inch baking dish. Arrange the gnocchi in the dish in one layer about ¼ inch apart. Melt the remaining butter and pour over the gnudi. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan, some freshly chopped sage leaves and bake for 5 minutes. Serve.

Linguine with Tomatoes & Parmesan Crumbs

Here is one of those pasta dishes that is ready minutes after the water boils.

Set a pot of water to boil. Heat about one tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped garlic and stir briefly. Add chopped ripe tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, halved, along with some chopped scallions.

When the tomatoes start to soften, season them with salt and pepper. Drop your fresh pasta into the boiling water. When the pasta is cooked remove with a slotted spoon and add to the sauce along with some of the pasta water. Toss to coat evenly, adjust seasoning and finish with more extra-virgin olive oil. Plate the pasta and top with parmesan seasoned breadcrumbs.

NBFresh pasta cooks in less than 2 minutes. If using store-bought dry pasta, drop the pasta into the water and then start making the sauce; the sauce will be ready with the pasta.