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DR.com Pasta Making Party


porcupine
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My kitchen is big enough to have a dozen people baking cakes together. :lol: And I will make a big party of it if people want to take lessons from mdt... :unsure:
A HUGE thank you to Porcupine and Mr. Porcupine for hosting so many of us in their home this weekend to learn about (or more about) making pasta dough. And Porcupine, in spite of sticking with the "fit for summer" program, nevertheless contributed pasta making ingredients and equipment and some wonderful olives, panna cotta, and a delicious cake that (alas) was not touched by the time I had to leave. Mdt proved, once again, to be a wonderful and very patient teacher for those of us needing remedial lessons.

We ended up making a big batch of fresh fettucini and split it into two batches: one with Anna Blume's delicious ragu, and one with Porcupine's equally delicious marinara sauce. (I want both recipes ladies!) We also sampled fresh ravioli stuffed with her sweet potato filling, and her dainty little stuffed cappelletti saved for us from the holidays, and ManekiNeko's home-baked breads. It was a raw, cold January day, but inside we were all warm and fuzzy.

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I just want to second Crackers' comments. Mr. and Ms. P. were incredibly gracious hosts, supplying a large kitchen, flour, eggs, delicious food (olives, panna cotta, mmmmm), guests brought LOADS of good food, advice and opinions were freely shared. I had a lovely time and my only regret was that I wasn't able to stay long enough to help clean up--I fear for Grendel's pancreas.

Thank you!

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And thanks to everyone for their wonderful contributions! Homemade breads, spreads, great veg trays, cheeses, meats, bottles of wine, unusual beers... It was a great collaborative effort. (Smokey, diet or no I couldn't resist a taste of your babka - it was wonderful!)

PS - Mr P ran four the dishwasher four times today, and still had to hand wash some items. And he chased flour over most of the downstairs via vacuum. :lol: I love my husband, and I love this telecommuting setup!

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Crackers, here's the recipe I followed fairly closely: ragu alla contadina.

It's not attributed, as it should be, to Lynne Rossetto Kasper. The only thing I'd change, really, is a longer simmer at the end, one I aided by adding a bit of the tomato puree from my can of plum tomatoes. It's even better the next day, and excuse me, but despite having that same characteristic sweetness you'll find in Marcella Hazan's beloved ragu Bolognese, LRK's version is ironically more sophisticated. The variety of meats, especially the three forms of pig, lend depth as does the red vs. white wine.

The day was a real treat since I got to meet more of the people behind the avatars, taste a really nice wine Lydia brough, and try out a few new culinary toys in a lovely, spacious kitchen. It is so nice to get away from the city in a beautifully sited, peaceful part of Maryland. I doff my hat to Mr. & Mrs. P, though you'll have to forgive me for keeping my scarf, mittens and heavy sweater on in light of the draft.

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It's not attributed, as it should be, to Lynne Rossetto Kasper. The only thing I'd change, really, is a longer simmer at the end, one I aided by adding a bit of the tomato puree from my can of plum tomatoes. It's even better the next day, and excuse me, but despite having that same characteristic sweetness you'll find in Marcella Hazan's beloved ragu Bolognese, LRK's version is ironically more sophisticated. The variety of meats, especially the three forms of pig, lend depth as does the red vs. white wine.
So the attribution to "Luca Roncadi" is spurious? Odd. Anyway, is Marcella's white wine the more traditional ingredient? Or is "ragù alla contadina" a different but still traditional dish that uses red wine? I've always sort of wondered why white and not red wine in Marcella's recipe. Red seems more, well, obvious (to me), although I hasten to add that I've made Marcella's ragù more or less as written and it's wonderful.
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Remember, H, I am one of Marcella's Vestal Virgins. Sort of. At any rate, I've been making Hazan's ragu for two decades with great pleasure. This recipe from The Splendid Table is new to me and I am a convert. I am sure there are a gazillion versions of what Bologna calls ragu and for what Naples would call salsa Bolognese since it's not a REAL ragu (cf. thread on ragu in Italian forum on eGullet). So who's to say what's right?

I've made a completely different ragu from the same book with prosciutto, chicken thigh meat, giblets, heavy cream, pork sausage, etc. and while sort of okay on pasta, breath-takingly spectacular in a lasagna whose layers of egg pasta are built with strips of more prosciutto, bechamel and cheese. Be still, my diet. :lol:

In Naples, red wine seems to be traditional and the point is that it is all about the meat, served as a main course (secondo) after the ragu is prepared. In Emilia-Romagna, the point is to make a meaty sauce for pasta, destined exclusively for the pasta, or primo. I don't know if I've read enough culinary history to comment upon what was made in Bologna prior to the introduction and wide acceptance of the tomato in Italy. I am pretty sure there are extant, early recipes for Neopolitan ragu without tomato. However, you'll need to focus on the grouchy, arrogant posts of Pizza Napolitana in the eG thread on ragu for further details. (However arrogant PN might be, he's much more informed than I am, though on matters pertainly to Naples, not Bologna.)

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Porcupine's equally delicious marinara sauce. (I want both recipes ladies!)

But I cannot take credit for it. It's Tomato Sauce I from Marcella Hazan's The Classic Italian Cookbook, ever so slightly modified. In short: Cook 1/3 cup each finely chopped onion, carrot, and celery in 1/2 cup olive oil until soft; add one 28-oz can ground tomatoes, a pinch of sugar and salt to taste. Cook about 40 minutes. I like to put it through a food mill (using the large-hole disk) to get a smoother texture and get rid of some of the hard stem end that always end up in cans of tomato.

I tend to make trip or quadruple batches and freeze it - it keeps well for about two months.

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P: Would you be willing to share your recipe for the sweet potato stuffing you made? I remember it was eggless and contained grated Parm, but I'd appreciate knowing more since it was absolutely delicious.

I should add that we never got around to cooking all the stuffed pastas, but X (I know his real name, but not sure what his DR name is) made two beet fillings. One with grated golden beets and ricotta was beautiful; towards the end of the evening we took pinches of mdt (right?)'s fabulous duck confit and incorporated both in tortellini.

I'd also like to add that I had never seen anyone shape garganelli* as dcdave and his wife did. (*Scalene triangles curled into tight spirals, dried before cooking.) They were beautiful and perfect with the tomato sauces.

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P: Would you be willing to share your recipe for the sweet potato stuffing you made? I remember it was eggless and contained grated Parm, but I'd appreciate knowing more since it was absolutely delicious.

What is this word "recipe"..? Actually, I kinda winged it. I baked one largish sweet potato until very tender, let it cool, peeled it, and mashed it up with salt, pepper, a few dashes nutmeg, a good bit of grated Parmesan, and some melted brown butter. That's it.

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