Tag Archives: pasta

Foodie Friday – We Have a Fabulous Guest Blogger!

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Kitchen To Nirvana – website here, Twitter here (please follow her!) is my BFF, godmother to Ava, wonderful friend since the early 90’s when we both worked in D.C. at the still wonderful Hay-Adams Hotel (site of many a wedding still, with its newly renovated rooftop space – check it out!)

Tabatha used to run wild with me, eating steaks and slurping up pasta, but then turned her life into a quest for health.  I picked up some of it – and I do cook vegetarian dishes a few times a week, continue my yoga and juice, thanks to her.  When we’re together, I eat and cook vegan – and it’s delish.  I draw the line at my shoe collection.  Once a former shopaholic, Tabatha can now be found stylishly rocking her Birks.  I just can’t get there yet.

She’s a yogi, mom to delicious Gabrielito (I’ll post pics), wife to the fabulous John, dog mom to Russ (so sweet) and all-around fabulous girl who lives in a flawless loft in Boston, her adopted town – she’s Peruvian-born and a D.C. girl all the way.  Did I mention she’s an art consultant who has a masters from Harvard?

Tabatha in my kitchen, teaching me her foodini skillz.

In the first of many guest bloggers in the series, I’d like to present to you, Tabatha’s first post here at F4 on fantastic vegan cooking.  Make this dish tonight.  From Tabatha:

Rice Penne With “Cream Sauce” and Squash

Before I became gluten and dairy-free, I would gobble up semolina pasta with cream sauces to the point that I would want to bathe in it because it was all so good.  Those days came to and end but I don’t miss them anyway since now I still get my fix of pasta and cream sauce but without the gluten and without the dairy.  And it tastes just as good if not better.  I would say that this dish fakes it with lots of taste and style!  To fake it well, I found this great nut cream made with almonds and cashews that you can buy at your local natural food store or you can order online.  The cream is called Mimic Cream and I use the plain, unsweetened version for this.  There are different Mimic Creams so buy the one that says you can use it for most recipes that call for cream. If you cannot find it, you can use a vegan creamer that is unsweetened and coconut oil to thicken.  Basically, substitute olive oil in this recipe for refined coconut oil.  The taste with the coconut oil will be richer but still no bad cholesterol.  This particular recipe calls for baked squash and caramelized onions and it makes the dish on the sweeter side but the dry white wine brings the taste to the point of just right.  Think winter comfort pasta with no guilt.

Rice Penne with Cream Sauce and Squash. Credit: Tabatha Flores

8 ounces of brown rice penne pasta (I like the brand Jovial but any will do)

2 cups of cooked, medium diced squash

5 garlic gloves finely chopped

1 large sweet onion thinly sliced

4 tablespoons of dry white wine

2 cups of “cream”

1/4 cup of chopped walnuts for garnish

2 teaspoons of dried oregano for garnish

4 tablespoons of olive oil and the bottle on hand for extra drizzling

Salt and pepper to taste

In a 4- to 6- quart stockpot over high heat, combine water with 1 tablespoon of salt.  Bring water to a boil, add the penne and cook to al dente and according to directions. Do not overcook rice pasta, as it will fall apart more easily than semolina pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, place 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a 1- to 2- quart saucepan, add onions and cook over medium heat until onions are caramelized.  They should be brownish in color and taste mildly sweet when they are done. Turn heat to low.

With your cooking utensil push onions to the side of the pan, place remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the empty side and add the garlic.  Stir garlic quickly so that it softens, allowing for the flavor to come out without burning it.  The reason for adding the garlic last is that garlic is very sensitive to heat and will burn easily.  Therefore, once the onions are cooked you can focus on the garlic just long enough to get the benefits of the taste.  Stir garlic in the small area for about 2 minutes and then mix in with the caramelized onions.  Add wine, turn heat to medium and let mixture simmer for a few seconds and then reduce heat to low again.  Let it cook for 5 minutes to give wine a chance to evaporate. Add cream, let it simmer and immediately begin to whisk gently, off and on, for another ten minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Turn off heat.

When pasta is ready, drain and rinse in cold water. Drain thoroughly. Return pasta to the pot, stir in the cream sauce and then gently fold in squash. Serve immediately with drizzled olive oil on top.  Garnish each plate with chopped walnuts and oregano.  Serves 2-3 as a main meal or 4 as a side dish.  Enjoy and Namaste!

Me, trying my hand at T's rice cappellini, tomatoes, basil & vegan "ricotta".

Recipe of the Week: (Last Chance) Summer Garden Pasta

Nom Nom Nom

Yes, we know it’s Wedding Wednesday and there’s a fantastic (and long) post about 2011/2012 wedding trends, along with reviews of the 4 Weddings mentioned previously, via Team Dolce, coming your way!  But in the meantime, we hope you had a terrific summer!  I just got back from 5 weeks in East Hampton, where I shed some old habits, picked up some wonderful new workout secrets and beauty weapons and, of course, party ideas.  Here is a recipe for any stressed out reader, bride to be, or person looking to use the best of the last of the bumper crop of fabulous tomatoes!

I hosted a small dinner party in the garden for some good friends and it was terrific.  The menu:  grilled marinated flank steak, chopped salad (mine has hearts of palm, Sagaponack corn and goat cheese in it), bruschetta with pesto and grana padano, grilled asparagus with truffle oil, fresh blueberry cobbler with vanilla bean ice cream and bottles and bottles of local rose wine from Wolffer Estates, served bone-chillingly cold.  The real star of the show was the pasta course (well, not “course” – everything is served family style from large white Vietri platters).  I swear it took about 10 minutes to make.  You can make the “sauce” ahead of time and let it marinate or just throw it all together!

Summer Garden Pasta (use spaghetti, thin spaghetti or angel hair)…Serves 4

1 lb. favorite dry pasta (see above).  DeCecco is best.

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 cups grape or pear tomatoes, halved (I like the heirloom kind in different colors).  If you cannot find grape or pear tomatoes, regular ones or Romas are fine – just roughly chop into chunks.

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp. good balsamic vinegar

8-12 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into a dice for tender chunks (or use the bocconcini)

2 handfuls fresh basil, rolled and sliced into ribbons (or torn roughly for a more rustic look).  Save some whole leaves to garnish the platter

1/2 cup Pecorino Romano (grated).  You can also use Parmesan, if you prefer it.

Kosher or sea salt

Fresh cracked pepper

*look at the end of the recipe for fun add-ons to suit your mood.

– Prepare pasta according to package directions in heavily salted water.  Towards the end of its readiness, reserve about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid – just skim it off the top with a measuring cup or ladle.  It helps thin out the sauce and keep the pasta strands from sticking.  It also imparts a nice sheen to the dish.

– Combine all ingredients except the Pecorino Romano in a large glass bowl.  Toss gently, fold over, and revel in its gorgeousness!  You can also let this sit for about 30 minutes to an hour for more depth of flavor and THEN cook your pasta.

– Drain the pasta and put it back in the (still) hot pot

– add the uncooked sauce and toss with tongs gently

– add the additional cooking liquid and keep tossing

– sprinkle the Pecorino and toss through

– pour onto a platter and garnish with whole basil leaves

*If it floats your boat, throw in 1 tsp red chile flakes for some heat, or 2 teaspoons capers, maybe pine nuts, some arugula, a drizzle of truffle oil, some anchovies, a swirl of fresh ricotta or even some panko bread crumbs for crunch.  Mangia down, twirl, enjoy, feel accomplished.

To wear:  a caftan in Ikat print, gold gladiator sandals or bare feet, beachy waved hair, minimal makeup.

To flower:  bunches of the last hydrangeas (don’t invite Madonna!  ha!)

To ear candy:  Adele (natch!), Harry Connick, Jr., Cake, Kings of Leon, Frank Sinatra, Snow Patrol, Red Hot Chili Peppers.

We’re back! Food Friday – Jessica Seinfeld’s Pasta with Clams!

We’ve been on the road a bit, but stay tuned for our revamped website, our much more regular blog, better Tweeting and fresh ideas.  Being crazy busy event planners and especially, wedding planners means that clients come first! Liz’s “other” job as author has taken over her life for a bit, along with 2 young children and a new home.  Phew!

That said, we stumbled upon Jessica Seinfeld‘s lovely, clean website and blog, Do It Delicious,  and rather than just reiterate our pasta with clams recipe, we realized hers was EXACTLY the same as ours, with one exception:  we add the juice of two lemons into the clam pot.  It’s like she’s been watching us in our kitchen.

It’s a healthy, hearty and wonderful dish for the family.  We just thought her video (click here to watch the recipe), with the gorgeous Ali Wentworth, her friend, was more fun than us starting a YouTube channel.  Hey wait….there’s a thought!  Hey intern!  Get out the Flip!!!  And be sure to get Jessica’s new book of the same name, Do It Delicious!  Tell us how your pasta came out in the comments section!

OH MY GOODNESS.  It’s actually Thirsty Thursday!  You’ll get a scrumptious cocktail tomorrow, along with our annual “How to Hire the Right Wedding Planner Guide”.  Be sure to visit tomorrow for this awesome, fun, practical and very informative post.  You can sip your cocktail while you read it!

Photo Credit: Deceptively Delicious/Double Delicious

Light Sunday Supper!

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It’s still hot in the Northeast, the South – many places and I have a quick go-to recipe to hang onto those summer flavors.  I call it Liz’s Lemon Spaghettini (not to be confused with “Liz Lemon” Spaghettini – although I’m sure the “30 Rock” goddess could make it.  Just reach into the pantry and 12 minutes later, voila!  I use spaghettini, the thinner spaghetti, but use whatever you can.  Serves 4.  Or, 8 as a side dish!

Liz’s Lemon Spaghettini (adapted from a recipe by Giada deLaurentiis)

1 package dried spaghettini (I use Barilla)

1/4 cup good olive oil

2 large fresh lemons

1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese – I use a microplane grater

1 large clove garlic, finely minced

Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

handful of flat-leaf Italian parsley, for garnish

Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the spaghettini according to package directions.  In the meantime, mix in a medium bowl the juice of the 2 lemons, the cheese, the olive oil and the garlic.

Drain the pasta, reserving one ladle of the starchy pasta water.  Put the pasta back in the pot and add the lemon mixture and the reserved water.  Using tongs, serve in pasta bowls and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with a little extra grated cheese and chopped parsley.  *if you dare, add a pinch or two red pepper flakes for extra heat.

I like to serve some simple grilled or roasted asparagus as a side dish.  You can also try some broccoli rabe.  YUM!

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