Showing posts with label spinach. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spinach. Show all posts

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini with Asparagus, Leeks and Pancetta

Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini with Asparagus, Leeks and Pancetta

For me, this is all about redemption.

Inspiration Behind the Dish

Last month I published my first attempt at a tortellini dish that I made from scratch. Everything about the dish was satisfactory to me except for the shape of my pasta. I'll be honest and note here that the flaw haunted me, so I needed to exorcise my demon to retain my sanity. In addition, I also used the opportunity to document with more detailed pictures the process of making the tortellini.

Dish Details

I used my tried and true pasta dough recipe which can be found on pages 102 to 104 of Cook Like A Rock Star by Anne Burrell with Suzanne Lenzer. I pulled from a number of sources for the tortellini filling including Two Peas and Their Pod, and Cooking with Manuela. In addition, I relied upon a number of YouTube videos in order to shape each tortellino. I paired my tortellini with a seasonal vegetable side dish from page 174 of Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking By Michael Chiarello with Janet Fletcher. I would hope that this dish would be at home at any Italian trattoria.


For the filling:
8 ounces chopped spinach, rinsed
10 ounces ricotta cheese, drained overnight
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta dough:
4 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water, plus more as needed
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the vegetable side:
1 1/2 pounds medium asparagus, tough ends broken off, then cut into 1-inch lengths
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces pancetta, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 cup leek, thinly sliced, white and pale green sections only
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Prepare the filling. Place the wet spinach into a nonstick skillet and season with salt, then place over medium low heat and cover until wilted, approximately 5 minutes. After the wilted spinach has cooled, combine the it with the ricotta, parmesan and egg, then season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside while the pasta dough is prepared.

2. Prepare the pasta dough. Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, olive oil and water in a small bowl, then set aside. On a clean flat surface (I recommend a rimmed baking sheet in the event the well breaks), place the flour and dig a well in the middle so the flour resembles the shape of a volcano. Add the salt to the well, then pour in the wet ingredients. Using a fork, stir the eggs in a circular motion while simultaneously adding flour to the eggs slowly until the eggs are thick enough not to spill over the side of the well. Add the remaining flour to the eggs, and once it has become a homogeneous mixture, knead the dough by rolling it over onto itself with the heels of the palms of your hands, then turning it 90 degrees and repeating the process until it is tacky but not sticky adding more flour or water, as needed. While kneading the dough, ensure its consistent throughout by periodically piercing it with your finger to test the inside. Once the dough is kneaded, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest for one hour, however the dish can be prepared one day ahead up to this point.

4. Roll the dough. Open the setting of a pasta roller to its widest. Cut off a portion of the pasta dough and flatten it, ensuring to re-wrap the remaining pasta dough that isn't being rolled. Dust a clean working surface with flour and pass the portion of the dough through the pasta roller, then fold it into thirds and pass the dough through the roller a second time at its widest setting, dusting the dough with flour if it feels too sticky, as needed. Fold it into thirds again, passing the dough through the pasta roller a third time at the widest setting and again, dusting the dough flour if necessary. Adjust the pasta roller to the next thinnest setting (i.e. if the roller is widest at setting 1, switch it to setting 2), and pass through the pasta roller just once at that setting. Continue to pass the dough through the roller once at the next thinnest setting, dusting the dough with flour as required, until your pasta sheets have reached the desired thinness. (My Atlas machine has six settings, but I rolled my dough to setting 5.)

5. Shape the tortellini. Once the pasta sheets have been rolled to the desired thickness, use a ring mold to cut circles into the pasta sheets and retain the excess for another use.

Place 1/2 teaspoon of filling in the center of each, then using your finger, wet with water the edge of one-half of the circle, as demonstrated by the grey shaded area in the picture below.

Fold the circles in half and seal the filling inside, ensuring that no air has been trapped inside the tortellini.

Fold one corner towards the center and, using a finger, wet the tip as demonstrated by the grey shaded area in the picture below. Fold the second corner towards the center to seal the two corners so they stick together.

As you finish each tortellino, place them onto a flour dusted sheet pan and put the sheet pan in the freezer so the pasta doesn't dry out.

6. Prepare the vegetable side; boil the pasta and finish the dish. Bring two pots of salted water to a boil over high heat-one medium and one large. While waiting for the water to reach its temperature, render the pancetta in olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat until slightly crisp, approximately 5 minutes. Add the leek to sweat.

While the leek sweats, add the asparagus to the medium pot and cook until tender, approximately 3 or 4 minutes then drain and add the asparagus to the skillet with the pancetta and leek. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat the seasonings.

Add the tortellini to the large pot and boil until they float to the top, approximately 2 minutes. Remove the cooked tortellini with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. To present, spoon a tablespoon or two of the vegetables onto a plate, then top with 4 to 5 tortellini, then serve immediately.

Final Thoughts

Unlike my previous tortellini attempt, I am pleased with the shape of the pasta I made. In addition, my suspicions were correct! By using a ring mold with a larger diameter, I was able to have better control over the final shape of the tortellini. Also, I might suggest to make the tortellini gradually, as each pasta sheet is rolled to the desired thickness before rolling more pasta dough so it doesn't dry out. Lastly, Mrs. Stuntman thought the vegetable side was seasoned perfectly and paired well with the spinach and ricotta filling. She even requested I prepare it again.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Green and Yellow Artichoke Tortellini with Mushrooms, Pancetta and Spring Peas with White Wine Reduction for an Italian Fest #SundaySupper

Green and Yellow Artichoke Tortellini with Mushrooms, Pancetta and Spring Peas with White Wine Reduction for an Italian Fest #SundaySupper

My long time readers know that one of my passions I've explored on this website is Italian cuisine, so I couldn't let this week's #SundaySupper theme of Italian Fest go without participating. It's hosted by Manu of Manu's Menu. Thank you, Manu!

As this passion has developed over the years, I've tried to learn as much as I can on the topic. What fascinates me is the differences between authentic Italian food and America's version of Italian food which is the reason why I'm so appreciative of an article my friend Caroline of La Cucina Della Prima Donna wrote a few years ago that explains how Italians can still eat healthy despite calorie-laden dishes such as pasta, pizza and gelato.

As I noted in a dish I published this past fall, Italian pasta dishes tend to be simple, so I've struggled to balance genuineness with my desire to continue to prepare foods that challenge me, either in flavor profile and/or preparation. However, I think I found a compromise with an article I discovered several years ago on that reviewed recipes for flavored pastas and have been using it as a source of inspiration ever since. Such is the case with this dish.

Inspiration Behind the Dish

The idea of this dish was born from episode 16 of season six's MasterChef, where the elimination challenge charged the contestants with preparing three fresh pasta dishes. One of the assigned dishes is a squid ink striped farfalle. At the time, I hadn't even considered the concept of striped pasta so I was intrigued and wanted to explore the notion. In addition, my long time readers will remember I prepared a Paglia e Fieno dish two years ago which is the second source of inspiration for this updated version.

Dish Details

When I conceptualized this dish, I imagined it to be served at a modern Italian fine dining restaurant. The dish the contestants on the show I referenced above made pasta with only stripes on one side, so I did a little digging and found a method to ensure the stripes appear on both sides. I also wanted to use seasonal ingredients so, after consulting The Flavor Bible, I decided to use artichokes for my filling in addition to mushrooms, spinach and peas. Think Like a Chef by Tom Colicchio with Catherine Young, Lori Silverbush and Sean Fri played a role in two components of the dish. The reduction was comprised from the basic sauce making technique described on page 75 and the artichoke filling on pages 129 through 130 and 134. Pasta dough was adapted from the article I linked above. I also added the pancetta because The Flavor Bible noted it worked well with artichokes and I've also found I enjoy the pairing of cured pork with mushrooms.


For the artichoke filling:
3 lemons
3 artichokes
1 medium yellow onion, peeled
1 leek, tops trimmed and green outer leaves discarded
1 celery stalk, sliced thin
7 to 8 baby carrots, sliced thin
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs lemon thyme
1 3/4 cups white wine

For pasta dough:
8 ounces raw spinach
6 cups all-purpose flour, divided plus more as needed
Kosher salt
8 eggs, divided

For the vegetables and reduction:
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 ounces pancetta, diced
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced thin
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 medium shallot, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Lemon thyme sprigs, for garnish


1. Complete the artichoke mise en place. Combine the juice from 2 1/2 lemons and 2 quarts water in a large bowl. Trim the stem (leaving only 1-inch), then remove the outer leaves and cut off the inner leaves. Next, peel away the outer layers that encircle the heart with a pairing knife, similar to peeling an apple. Scrape out the fuzzy choke and immature leaves using a spoon, then trim the top of the choke, rubbing it with the remaining half lemon frequently to prevent it from oxidizing and turning brown. When finished place the artichoke into the lemon water and repeat the process with the other two artichokes. Cut the yellow onion in half lengthwise, then slice thinly. Repeat the process for the leek.

2. Braise the artichokes. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a high sided pot over medium heat until the pot begins to smoke. Add the onions, leek, carrots and celery (i.e. mirepoix) to the pot to sweat, reducing the heat to medium low, seasoning with kosher salt and stirring occasionally, approximately 20 minutes.

Remove the artichokes from the lemon water and add to the pot. Drizzle the chokes with approximately 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and lemon thyme sprigs. Add the wine to the pot and enough water to cover the artichokes. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat, partially cover the pot and let them simmer until the chokes can easily be pierced with a knife, approximately 30 minutes.

Once finished remove from the heat and allow the artichokes to cool in the braising fluid. Purée the artichokes with the mirepoix adding just enough braising fluid so the mixture has the consistency similar to toothpaste. Cover and set aside until the pasta dough has been prepared.

3. Prepare the spinach. Coarsely chop the spinach, then rinse it under cold water. Place the wet spinach leaves in a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat and add a pinch of kosher salt until the spinach wilts, approximately 5 minutes. Remove the spinach from the pan and let it cool. Once the spinach has cooled enough to handle, place them in a double layer of paper towels and squeeze out as much water from them as possible. Purée the spinach in the blender.

4. Make and roll the pasta dough. Make two mounds of flour, each using 3 cups. Dig a hole in each mound to form a well big enough to hold the eggs, then add a pinch of salt to each mound. Whisk 4 eggs together, then pour them into one well. Whisk the remaining 4 eggs together with the puréed spinach and pour it into the second well. Make, knead and roll each dough separately by following the instructions of Steps 4 and 5 in this prior agnolotti dish, however stop rolling the dough one setting thicker than desired. (For example, my Atlas machine has 6 settings but wanted my pasta as thin as setting 5 so I stopped rolling the dough at setting 4.) Many pasta dough recipes direct the cook to use a clean flat surface but I recommend using a sheet pan because the sides will contain the eggs in the event that the well should break. Dust both sides of each pasta dough with flour and then roll each dough up as if you were rolling a cigarette, then cut it lengthwise in half similar to this picture, cutting along the blue rubber band. Unroll each half and wet the edge of the cut side of each green pasta sheet with water, then lay a yellow pasta sheet next to the green so the yellow sheet overlaps the green sheet by a 1/4-inch. Repeat the process with the remaining sheets. Pass the combined dough through the pasta roller at the final setting.

5. Form the tortellini. Using a ring mold, cut circles in the pasta sheets in a manner that half of the circle is green and the other half is yellow. Using the reserved artichoke filling and the pasta cirecles, fold the tortellini in the manner demonstrated in this YouTube video, ensuring that each tortellino is folded in a manner so the half circle has a different color on each side. If you're not preparing the dish immediately, place each tortellino on a sheet pan dusted with flour and place in the freezer.

6. Prepare the sauce and finish the dish. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the tortellini to the pot and boil until they float to the top, approximately 2 minutes. Remove the tortellini from the pot and set aside to reserve. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the pancetta to render the fat, approximately 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pancetta to sweat and reduce, stirring occasionally. Add the peas to the skillet and cook until heated through.

Remove the pancetta, mushrooms and peas from the pan and reserve. If the pan is dry, add the remaining tablespoon to the skillet, then the shallot to sweat for approximately 3 minutes. Deglaze the pan with wine and scrape the bottom to release any fond and reduce by half. Add the chicken stock and continue to simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain out any solids in the sauce and return it to the skillet over low heat and add the butter, stirring until it melts. Adjust the seasoning of the sauce with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. To plate, spoon some of the reduction into a bowl, top the reduction with the mushrooms, pancetta and peas, then place tortellini onto the vegetables. Garnish with lemon thyme sprigs.

Final Thoughts

I was discussing this dish with my friend, Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic and Kiss My Smoke before I published it today. I explained that this dish is as far as I can escalate the complexity of fresh pasta. As I stated above, I intended this dish to be an example of food that could be served at a modern Italian fine dining establishment. Overall, I was pleased with the taste of the dish, as it was well balanced with strong flavors, however I was not happy with it's presentation. If you perform a google image search for tortellini fine dining, you'll get a general idea of what I had in mind. I think the issue is the size of the pasta circles I cut. I used a 3-inch ring cutter so when I went to wrap them around my finger, I found that they didn't reach all the way around. so I ended up folding both corners over to seal with water. When I make tortellini again, I'd use my 5-inch ring mold. I hoped to document the process of forming the tortellini in a little more detail with pictures, however I so focused with making the tortellini I forgot about my camera.

I've reviewed the process of making fresh pasta several times in the past and I've hoped to dedicate a post focused solely on this one aspect, however my hands get rather messy with flour and eggs when I knead the dough so it's difficult to take pictures. Probably the best demonstration I've found is this one by Chef Tomm Johnson I found on YouTube. He initially combines the wet and dry ingredients in a mixing bowl instead of using the well method I describe above, however.

Be sure to check out the other great Italian dishes before you go!

And Artichoke Torta plus More Recipes for Italian Fest from Sunday Supper Movement

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement

Friday, January 30, 2015

Presenting: Warm Spinach Salad with Cannellini Beans and Shrimp

Warm Spinach Salad with Cannellini Beans and Shrimp

Like millions of us in the United States, Mrs. Stuntman has wanted to start 2015 eating healthier so I thought I'd use it as an opportunity to practice my photography skills. This dish can be found on appeared in the results of my winter salads google search. It appeals to me because the preparation was more involved than simply tossing some raw vegetables together with a vinaigrette, but I was hoping the pink color in the shrimp would have been brighter to contrast the cannellini beans.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pan-Seared Scallops with Tomao Salsa, Spinach and Mushrooms

Pan-Seared Scallops with Tomao Salsa, Spinach and Mushrooms

One of the issues I had on a prior visit to the Irvington Farmer's Market was that I went not really thinking of what dish could I prepare with (insert produce)? so I went with a different approach this time and brought my copy of The Flavor Bible. As I looked through the offerings, I noticed these cherry tomatoes, and along with some basil I purchased from a different vendor, noticed a flavor affinity of tomato, basil, scallops, and pasta.

Well, things did not go as planned because the basil was used in the chicken salad but I found this dish to use the tomatoes I purchased. One other item I used from the farmer's market was oyster mushrooms in this dish.

The Challenge

Attempt something different. I don't prepare many appetizers here and thought I could use some variety.

The Source

I adapted this dish from Martha Stewart's website. I have issues with it's preparation, however. First, I'd never put the scallop in butter. I use high heat and butter would burn while I waited for the pan to get to the proper temperature. Secondly, cooking a scallop for 3 to 4 minutes per side will result in an overcooked scallop. Third, I advise wilting spinach by just putting the rinsed leaves into a skillet similar to the method demonstrated in my spinach pasta dish because the oil will splatter once wet spinach leaves hit the pan, creating a dangerous situation.


20 grape tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup oyster mushrooms, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
3 cups packed spinach leaves, washed thoroughly
4 large sea scallops


1. Prepare the salsa. Cut each tomato quarter in half, then place in a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the red wine vinegar, season with salt and pepper, then toss to combine and set aside.

2. Prepare the mushrooms. Heat butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the mushrooms and season with salt, pepper and sugar. Cook until softened, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the thyme and rosemary. Set aside and keep warm.

3. Prepare the spinach. Put the wet spinach leaves in a large skillet over medium heat and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring until wilted, approximately 5 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

4. Prepare the scallops and finish the dish. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels, then season both sides with salt and pepper. Place the remaining tablespoon olive oil a medium skillet over high heat. Once the oil smokes, sear the scallops in the pan on one side only, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and rest to allow for carryover cooking. To plate, spoon some spinach in the center of the plate, then top the spinach with one scallop, seared side up. Surround the scallop by garnishing the dish with the mushrooms and tomatoes.


While I was pleased with the flavors of this dish, I believe the photo above could have been better. I'm still learning and took this picture outside about 1pm on a sunny July day. It's difficult to distinguish the edge of the plate from the pink tablecloth I used due to the glare. Live and learn.

In other news, I haven't addressed one of my favorite TV shows that currently airs in a while, Next Food Network Star. I choose my favorite by answering the question who's cooking show would I watch? and for me, the answer is still Loreal so I'm finding it frustrating that the selection committee seems to be favoring Lenny. To me, it appears the Network has over compensated Paula Deen's absence with Ree, Trisha, and Damaris. What are your thoughts on the matter? Leave a comment below.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Orzo Risotto with Spinach Mushrooms and Bacon

Orzo Risotto with Spinach, Mushrooms and Bacon

In a weak moment recently, I vaguely remember handing over my name and address to bon appétit magazine with the promise of free issues and the first two arrived recently. In their April 2014 issue, one of their featured articles is entitled Cook Like A Pro: Ten techniques for adding restaurant-worthy flavor to any meal. The sixth technique claims that "The Best Risottos Aren't Made with Rice" which goes on to suggest to substitute grains (i.e. barley, farro, wheat berries, etc.) for rice because they release enough starch to give the dish it's signature creaminess.

The idea is hardly original. In fact, I substituted potatoes for rice in a risotto about a year ago and I stirred orzo into braising fluid this past autumn. I wanted to focus on that the dish I made last fall because it really wasn't a risotto.

The Challenge

Apply the risotto method to orzo pasta.

The Source

I adapted elements of another risotto I published last summer, with one from Food & Wine magazine's website and a second one from SAVEUR magazine's website.


1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
5 cups chicken stock
6 ounces bacon, cut into batons
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium-sized shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups orzo
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces spinach, washed with the stems removed
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
Juice from 1/2 lemon


1. Prepare the mushrooms. Combine the boiling water and the dried mushrooms in a small bowl. Allow the mushrooms to steep in the water until they are rehydrated, approximately 15 minutes. Strain the mushrooms through a paper towel-lined sieve (to catch any grit) into a medium saucepan. Add the chicken stock to the mushroom fluid and set aside. Chop the mushrooms and set aside separately.

2. Prepare the bacon. Bring the chicken stock mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low to keep warm. Meanwhile, render the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until it's just shy of being crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Reserve at least 1 tablespoon bacon fat and set aside separately.

3. Execute the risotto method. To the same skillet the bacon was cooked, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, sweat the shallots, approximately 3 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir until fragrant, approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Stir in the orzo and thyme and toast for approximately 2 minutes, ensuring each grain of orzo is coated in oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the stock, 1 ladle at a time, stirring the orzo continuously until the fluid is adsorbed. Continue adding stock until the orzo is al dente, approximately 20 minutes.

Add the spinach, reserved bacon and mushrooms and stir until the spinach wilts, approximately 1 minute. Stir in the reserved bacon fat, cream, parmesan and lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Served in warmed bowls.


Both Mrs. Stuntman and I enjoyed this dish and she requested I serve it again. Interestingly, it was reminiscent of Rice-A-Roni due to the flavors of bacon and mushrooms.

One thing I haven't addressed yet is the new season of Next Food Network Star. Have you watched it? My early favorite to win is Loreal. She's got the most unique point of view I've seen in years and she seems to be able to handle herself in front of the camera well. Right behind her I'd put Lenny. He also seems to be well qualified but I'm not sure if I'd watch his show. I predict Aryen will be one of the next ones to be eliminated because, according to the judges her food has been bland. What are your thoughts?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Light Stunt: Chicken Stir Fry with Spinach and Peanuts

Chicken Stir Fry with Spinach and Peanuts

Call this my first cookbook review.

A while back a college friend had given Mrs. Stuntman and I a copy of Fifty Shades of Chicken by FL Fowler. As you can imagine, I was a little skeptical. The book does contain fifty chicken preparations divided into three sections: the first using whole bird, the second using chicken parts and the third more complicated dishes. Preceding each recipe is some really corny dialog about how a chicken feels about being prepared. I'd rate it a PG-13.

So the other night, I was thumbing through the book looking for last minute dinner ideas and found this dish that looked appealing.

The Challenge

Determine whether this book is more style than substance.

The Source

Adapted from page 88


1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 bunch scallions, chopped fine (separate whites from greens)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
Cooked white rice, for serving


1. Finish the mise en place: Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Whisk together the chicken stock, soy sauce, corn starch and honey, then set aside.

2. Sear the chicken: Put the peanut oil and sesame oil in a large non-stick skillet and place over medium-high heat. Once the oil starts to smoke, add the chicken and fry, stirring frequently until almost cooked through, approximately five to seven minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside once the chicken has browned.

3. Flavor the stir fry: Once the chicken has been removed, add the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and scallion whites. Stir until fragrant which should take a minute or two. Add the spinach and stir until wilted, an additional minute. Deglaze the skillet with the chicken stock mixture and bring to a rapid simmer, scraping up any fond from the bottom of the skillet. Once the fluids thicken, add the chicken, peanuts and scallion greens and cook until the chicken is cooked through, approximately one to two minutes. Toss to combine then serve over rice.


If you can look past the cheesy elements of this book, it's a good book for beginning cooks. Mrs. Stuntman also enjoyed the dish which came together rather quickly; perfect for a weeknight meal.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Presenting: Asian Chicken and Cabbage Salad

Asian Chicken and Cabbage Salad

This post was fairly spontaneous. The weather this week has been very warm where I live. The predicted high temperature in San Francisco the day I typed this was 94 which is highly unusual. To give you an idea, a thirty minute drive east during the hottest days of July when it can often reach over 100, it's common for San Francisco not to break 80. This past Monday, after listening to the weather forecast I made a list to purchase ingredients for warm weather dishes such as ceviche and gazpacho. I also looked at salads and found one on Bon Appétit magazine's website that sounded refreshing.

It's subjective, but I'm also slowly coming to the realization that I take my best pictures outdoors. The picture of the gazpacho I referred to above wasn't taken by me, but my strawberry dessert I published last September and the Moscato themed dessert from a couple of weeks ago were, so I thought I could use the practice.

You might also contrast this salad to the salad I published for the Five Ingredients or Less #SundaySupper event because there are more than five ingredients in the dressing. I didn't adapt the recipe, so you can get it here.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spinach Fettuccine with Bacon Alfredo for an Eat Your Greens #SundaySupper

Spinach Fettuccine with Bacon Alfredo

My birthday falls around Thanksgiving each year so on Black Friday, instead of fighting crowds at the local shopping mall, I went to visit my parents to celebrate and brought my pasta roller with me. It had been a while since my folks ate pasta from scratch so I thought they'd appreciate the novelty of it. I note the event here because it was the first time I'd used the cutter attachment that came with the roller to make fettuccine. I had been advised against using it because it often does not cut all the way through the sheets however I was feeding four adults plus five hungry teenagers that evening and didn't want to cut it by hand. To my surprise, it worked better than I expected.

I hadn't touched my pasta roller since then and I was itching to make some lately. My #WeekdaySupper dish a couple of weeks ago provided the inspiration. In it, I used store-bought spinach fettuccine to save time but when I looked at the ingredients, spinach wasn't listed. I knew I could do better and seized the opportunity when I saw this week's #SundaySupper Movement theme of Eat Your Greens. This also allowed me to revisit my source for flavored pastas. Long time readers might remember I had trouble with it in the past. More on that later.

The Challenge

A balanced dish in flavor and texture. I got some assistance from The Flavor Bible which notes that bacon, cream, garlic and cheese are some of the foods that complement spinach well.

The Source

I took the pasta recipe from pages 102 to 104 of Cook Like A Rock Star by Anne Burrell with Suzanne Lenzer, but adapted it with the addition of spinach using the technique as described in this page. I also substituted some of the ingredients in this alfredo sauce from


For the pasta dough:
8 ounces spinach
2 pinches kosher salt, divided
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water

For the alfredo:
4 ounces (1 slice=1 ounce) bacon, cut into batons
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup grated parmesan
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper.


1. Make the pasta dough: Coarsely chop the spinach, then wash it thoroughly. Heat the spinach in a pan over medium heat with just the water stuck to the leaves from being washed with 1 pinch kosher salt to wilt, approximately 5 minutes.

Remove it from the heat and let it cool. Once the spinach is cool enough to handle, wrap the spinach in several layers of paper towels and squeeze out the excess water. Blend the spinach, then add it to the egg, egg yolk, olive oil and water and combine. Make the pasta dough, as described in step 1 from this previous ravioli dish.

2. Roll the pasta dough as described in step 2 of the ravioli dish above, then cut the pasta sheets into fettuccine. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil over high heat and drop the fettuccine into the water. Once it floats to the top, it's done, remove and set aside while you prepare the sauce, about a minute or two. Reserve at least 1 cup of the pasta water.

3. Prepare the alfredo and finish the dish: In a large skillet, render the bacon fat over medium heat until the bacon is crisp, approximately 4 minutes. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, then add garlic and flour to the bacon fat, stirring continually for about a minute. Do not allow the flour to brown. Stir in the cream gradually until the mixture thickens slightly, approximately 2 minutes. Slowly add the cheese until melted, then season with salt and pepper if needed. Add the reserved fettuccine and toss to combine. Serve in warmed bowls and garnish with the bacon.


As I'm gaining more experience with pasta dough, I'm finding that they are like humans because each one is unique and this one definitely fit this generalization. A reader pointed out after I had described my problems with the herbed pasta that it was too dry which is why I like Chef Burrell's ratios of liquid to flour. In this particular instance, it was almost too wet because I had to additional flour in amounts that are greater than previous experiences as I was rolling the dough and I had difficulty separating the strands of fettuccine once passed through the cutter. From a flavor standpoint, the spinach flavor was much stronger than the store bought version and the bacon provided a nice contrast of texture to the dish.

On a side note, I'm a little confused as to what constitutes an alfredo sauce. I've been told that if you go to Italy, it's just scalded cream, but I found many versions online that used a béchamel as a base, such as this one. I also profiled an alfredo last year that relied upon cheese instead of a roux to thicken the sauce, so I must leave by asking, what's authentic?

Other Sunday Supper Participants

Before I go, please visit the other participating bloggers in this week's #SundaySupper event:

Green Light Appetizers and Sides
Getting Greens Through Salads
Entreés That Will Leave You Green With Envy
Desserts and Beverages That Will Make Others Turn Green

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET.  Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

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