Category Archives: pasta

Shrimp Scampi

I’m back you beautiful readers! This dish is peculiarly named. In italian it is like saying “Shrimp, plate of shrimp,”. It is the redundant cooking equivalent of saying “ATM Machine.” No matter how ridiculous it sounds, it is on the extreme side of easy and so fast you won’t believe you can cook this meal faster than you can catch a wounded emu. Oh did I mention it tastes like a meal fit for Poseidon himself? Well if I haven’t, now I have. Dad and I had some time to kill when I was visiting the other night  so we decided to try this. You know it came out fabulously because now it’s on the blog. Begin! This is based on Melissa d’Arabian recipe from the food network.

6 garlic cloves chopped
2 lemons, zested and juiced
5 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp Fresh ground black pepper
3/4 to 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (keep the shells)
1/4 onion chopped
1/4 onion whole (for the shrimp sauce)
3/4 pound thin linguini
2 TBSP butter
1 small bunch parsley, leaves chopped

In a bowl big enough to fit all of your shrimp, toss in the garlic, zest and juice of 1 of your lemons, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, to taste, and the shrimp. Let that sucker marinate. Shimp are quick on the uptake and won’t take too long to catch on to the wonderful flavors.

Meanwhile back on the stove its time to exploit the shrimp shells. In a small pot use medium heat. Add the shrimp shells and 1/4 whole onion. Fill with enough water to cover the contents and boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain into a bowl and throw out the shells and onion. Make sure to take them all the way to the garbage or you will be sorry the next day. Ain’t nothin’ smell worse than rotting shrimp. I once almost lost the friendship of a young woman when I forgot a shrimp carcass in my sink for two days…Oh the humanity!

Now on to the pasta! Boil a large pot of water. Make sure to add salt. Once boiling, add in the linguini (I know, I know the pasta pictured is Fusilli. Give me a break. Most kinds of pasta will work) and cook until al dente! Usually this is 2 minutes less than recommended on the box. Drain and keep about 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Remove the shrimp from the marinade (making sure to keep the marinade) and toss those little flavor explosions into the skillet. Cook until they turn pink and start to caramelize, about 3 minutes.

untitled-7952-3 Set aside the shrimp on a  plate and then add the remaining 1/4 cup chopped onion. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Then ad the left over marinade into the skillet. Cook for few minutes then add 1 cup of shrimp stock, 1/2 cup pasta water . Cook that sweet rue down until it reduces by about half and starts to thicken. Sprinkle in the remaining zest and juice of lemon, the butter and the parsley and stir it like it’s your job.

untitled-7954-3Add salt and pepper, to taste. Toss the shrimp and pasta and sauce all together in the pasta pot.

untitled-7951Serve it right away for the best taste. That said this can be reheated and it is also quite good.

untitled-7955-3This is a perfect summer meal.


This goes well with my Spinach Goat Cheese salad.


Katarina’s Summer Pasta Salad

A few years ago I had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of a lovely, sharp, boisterous, amazing German girl by name of Katarina. She often made this salad for barbeques and I can’t make it without thinking of her living with us that summer in Seattle. This is always a hit at parties because not only does it taste amazing, it will feed the Bundeswehr (an army).

This recipe serves: about 10 people (unless Tyler is there.)

2 bags Tortellini—cheese or pesto filling is fine.
1 pint or more cherry tomatoes or use grape tomatoes
1 cup Kalamata olives
1 red bell pepper
2 bunches green onions
1 small container feta cheese

1 cup low fat sour cream
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
lemon juice from about 1/4 lemon
1 tbsp. pesto and/or fresh basil
salt & pepper

This recipe is EASY and wonderful. If you use the precooked tortellini you’re really not even trying. Come on! And you call yourself a cook?

Anyway I usually grab two -three bags of Trader Joe’s dry Tortellini and boil that up for about 10-12 minutes. Once that is done, set it aside and let it cool off. It’s too sexy for the salad right now. It needs a cold shower and Quaalude. While it is cooling prepare everything else.

Halve the tomatoes and olives, chop the red pepper and green onions all into a bowl.

In another bowl mix the sour cream, garlic, olive oil, balsamic, lemon juice, pesto/basil and salt & pepper to taste. I know this looks like you might be doing some animal husbandry but stick with it.

Now toss it all together in a large bowl. Add in the feta cheese crumbling all the way.

It will be a colorful amazing mess of yum! Anddddddd….you’re done. I told you it was easy.

Make this one for your favorite people. I know when I make it, I think of Katarina!

This one’s for you Katinka :)


Gnocchi the wonder pasta!

So the lovely Ben and Linh asked me to make some Italian food for them. I thought, why not try something I’ve never tired out on dinner guests? What could go wrong? So I had some potatoes and, well, I heard you could make amazing yumminess with them. I thought, why not? I have heard that gnocchi was hard not only to pronounce (nyo kee) but also to make. It really isn’t that hard but you’ll have to be careful to follow my directions…EXACTLY!

Ok, so first go find an old Italian women with nothing to do and have her teach you everything she knows about making gnocchi. If that falls through, read on.

2 pounds of starchy potatoes (2 large russets)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup of flour
 salt  to taste.

The first thing you’ll need to do is put a pot of water on that can submerge the potatoes. Wash those little russets off, cut them in half and toss them in. Salt the water and watch it boil. Once it is boiling it should take about 30-40 minutes to boil the potatoes. Once you can stick a knife through one with a little resistance they are done. Be careful not to overcook them. This will ruin you gnocchi. Once they start absorbing too much water this will adversely affect your final product.

Next take the potatoes out of the water and skin those naughty potatoes like you’re taking off a lover’s clothes. Quickly and with reckless abandon! No really do it quickly cause they will be hot and you will burn your hands. SAVE the potato water in the pot.

Then take the potatoes and using a potato ricer (I don’t even know what that is) (UPDATE from Simone: Ricer) or a fork shred the potatoes into tiny pieces. You want to make sure that there are very few big lumps here. DO NOT put it in the food processor. You will ruin the gnocchi.

Once they are all shredded, mold them into a mound, yeah, like the scene in Ghost. You all know what I’m talking about. Make a little divot in the middle and pour in the egg and sprinkle the whole thing with about half of your flour. Using a knife cut and scrape the flour into the dough. Once it is all incorporated it should be a nice light fluffy dough. If it is too sticky add more flour, but you already know that.

Now divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a long snake about 1/2 an inch wide. Now chop up that little snake, cutting it into 1 inch pieces. Once you have all of this done you’ll realize why you don’t make gnocchi for just anyone. It’s a labor of love.

Take each piece and roll it on a fork to give it little grooves. This step can be skipped if you are pressed for time. Then boil the water and toss in the gnocchi in batches of about 20.

When they rise to the top of the water, they’re done! Congratulations.

You’ve done it. Though there is an Italian grandmother somewhere rolling her eyes.

Simple pesto
Mix together:
1 bunch chopped basil
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbs of raw pine nuts
3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano
2 Tbsp (to taste) Extra virgin olive oil
1 Juice from a quarter of a lemon

Use the tomato sauce from Melanzane alla Parmigiana.

We made both!  Happy Ben and Linh!
Apply the sauces to the gnocchi in a bowl and mix. Yumm. We applied on top because Linh didn’t want it to be all or nothing. I know Simone, you are supposed to always mix pasta with the sauce in the bowl!


Labels: potatoes, Italian, pasta, gnocchi

Pasta alla vodka sauce

This is super easy. For those of you who are kitchen phobic, this vodka’s for you! For those of you who think that everything’s better with booze, also your recipe. Ok, lets get started.

2 cloves garlic
1 big ass leek (you can also use a shallot)

1/4 yellow onion

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 400gr (14.5-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained

3 fresh tomatoes

1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup vodka (rum also works pretty well)

1/2 cup cream

1 Tbsp all purpose flour 
250gr pasta of your choice

So first you chop up all of your ingredients. Ok don’t chop up the vodka. If you attempt to chop the vodka this may indicate you’ve had too much to drink. If this is the case, set down the knife, get a cup of coffee, and go kick the dog for a while or whatever it is that drunks do.

Once you’re sober, heat up a large sauce pan with the olive oil in it. Throw in the onion, garlic, and leek. Make sure they are all finely chopped. Let that cook for about 5 minutes.

Then cut the tomatos into big chunks (I quartered them) and throw them in the pot. Add in your can of peeled whole tomatoes. Make sure to drain them like you did that bottle of vodka earlier. Sprinkle with pepper flakes. These are optional if you’re a total wiener and can’t handle the heat. I believe however that if you can’t handle the heat, you best get out the kitchen.

Where were we? I like “where were we” it’s kind of like veni vidi vici. Well, in this cause you’re about to conquer your taste buds.

Add in the cream and vodka. I know you were wondering when I was going to get there. Let it all simmer for about 5-10 more minutes. The sauce should turn a brilliant orange color, or if you’re colorblind like me, it turns mauve.

Cook and drain the pasta of your choice during or before you make the sauce. I used big fatty shell-shaped pasta which I have loved since I was a small child. I think there is something magical about how the shell can hold the sauce, a great vehicle of flavor.

Serve up the pasta and plop on some of this amazing sauce. You will delight and astound onlookers and tasters.There, that wasn’t so damn hard, was it?

Tomorrow night I’m going to Marina’s to learn some Cuban and Andalucian cooking! I can’t wait and I bet, neither can you.

Until next time,

Labels: pasta, Italian, vodka, sauce