Pasta Cooking Class Chattanooga State College

ravioli with sagerecipe guanciale-amatriciana fotopesto fotoAcorn Squash Ravioli  

For the Filling:

1 medium Acorn Squash or pumpkin (about 1 pound)

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano (plus more for serving) can use Pecorino Romano

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste – thyme leaves are also a nice touch

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut acorn squash in half, and scoop out seeds and puncture a few times. Place in a baking dish cut side down drizzled  with olive oil. Roast in oven until soft, about 40 minutes to an hour. Allow to cool slightly, then scoop into bowl.

Add the extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly to combine.

Your sauce options:

Pesto in the food processor

Basil – as big a bunch as will fit in your  food processor-  (leaves only, wiped clean with a damp paper towel)- I used 4 bags

4 cloves of garlic, peeled- peel them easily by banging your palm against the flat of a knife on the garlic clove-skin comes right off

½ cup parmigiano cheese-grated

½ cup pecorino romano cheese –grated ( you can use one cheese or a combination of cheeses- whatever you have at home or prefer.  Pecorino is the saltier one and parmigiano the pungent one

1/3  cup – EVOO – extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup pine nuts

salt and pepper

First blend garlic cloves in food processor, then basil, then cheeses. And pine nuts- save half to sprinkle on top whole

Add evoo until blended into a smooth paste.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  You may need to add more if it is too thick.  To store, put in a glass jar covered with a layer of evoo.  When you use  the saved pesto, discard the top oil and add fresh if needed.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

1 small onion chopped- if you like garlic throw in 4 cloves sliced

2 pounds ripe tomatoes or 1, 14 oz. can whole Italian plum tomatoes


salt and fresh ground black pepper

2T chopped fresh parsley or basil or whatever you like better!

Heat the oil and gently cook the onion until soft.  Add the tomatoes and cook quickly until most of the juice has evaporated.  Put through a food mill or use immersion blender.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with fresh herbs.

Gorgonzola Cream Sauce- great on squash ravioli, potato gnocchi  or as a dip

4 cups heavy cream- best if not ultra pasteurized
3 to 4 ounces crumbly Gorgonzola (not creamy or “dolce”)
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or basil or whatever you have!  Even great without herbs!

Bring the heavy cream to a full boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, then continue to boil rapidly for 45 to 50 minutes, until thickened like a white sauce, stirring occasionally.

Off the heat, add the Gorgonzola, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and parsley. Whisk rapidly until the cheeses melt and serve warm. If you must reheat, warm the sauce over low heat until melted, then whisk vigorously until the sauce comes together

 cream sauce



2 cups unbleached flour  and  3  large room temperature eggs, beaten- that’s it!

Pulse flour in bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade to evenly distribute. Add eggs; process until dough forms a rough ball, about 30 seconds. (If dough resembles small pebbles, add water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time; if dough sticks to side of a bowl, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and process until dough forms a rough ball.)

Turn dough ball and small bits out onto a dry work surface; knead until dough is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Cut about 1/3 of dough from ball and flatten into a disk; rewrap remaining dough . Run dough through widest setting of a manual pasta machine. Without folding, run pasta through widest setting about two more times, until dough is smooth. If at any point dough is sticky, lightly dust with flour. Continue to run dough through machine; narrow the setting each time, until you use last setting on machine, and outline of your hand is visible through dough sheet.  You can also roll out dough with rolling pin and cut it how you like.

Lay the long strip down- should be about 4 inches wide.  Place 1 tsp. of filling 1¼ apart along one side of pasta. Fold pasta over- sealing and pressing out the air. Cut ravioli apart and lay on floured baking sheet covered with damp towel.  Drop into gently boiling salted water and cook until floating



Limoncello in the making! Liquid Gold..A few things I learned about it…

20150508_075533  20150508_080822
The finished product- yum! At first there was too much sugar syrup to vodka lemon peel ratio. I knew as it froze in the freezer. I just added a cup of vodka to the whole batch and it solved the problem! It’s also not too sweet anymore- it’s just right

So you want to know about making Limoncello- this liquid gold?

This is what I did after listening to all the advice of my friends during the 14 years in Italy (including my Italian husband who has his own strong opinions and tends to like things on the sweet side) and reading everything there is to read online about making Limoncello.

I peeled the Meyer lemons and placed them in a glass vessel 3 weeks ago to macerate a good long time to achieve an exquisite taste.  i read in my research that for best results you want to let the lemon peels steep for about 5 weeks (or until the peel breaks like a potato chip) for maximum flavor. We will see . This is the first time I am making it. My friend Michelle called me excitedly to tell me she found Meyer lemons at Walmart of all places! She bought me some so I could use the rind and she the juice.  Do you know why the juice is so sweet in a Meyer? It’s because it’s a hybrid of a lemon and an orange!  We will see if the Limoncello turns out as good as the Bianchetti lemons that Capri Island of Italy produce…

So I peeled 8 lemons and threw the peels with no pith into a liter and half of vodka.These photos are after 3 weeks of steeping. Notice the orange gold color of the liquid? I’m sensing a really good product to come in about 2 more weeks when I strain the peels and add the sugar syrup.

Limoncello recipe:

  • 80 proof vodka – I used most of a 1.75 L bottle
  • the  peels of 8 lemons with as much of the white pith removed as possible
  • simple syrup – I ended up using 4 cups in total of syrup
  1. Use a vegetable peeler to peel thin strips of the rind away from the lemons. If there is any white pith left on the underside of the rind, scrape it away with a pairing knife. The pith will give the limoncello a bitter flavor.
  2. Place the  rinds in a large glass vessel.  Add vodka into jar, cover tightly with plastic wrap- I used press and Seal -and store in a cool, dark place.  Steep in the vodka for five weeks (much longer than most recipes called for). The longer they steep, the more intense the lemon flavor will be.  To test doneness of peels, bend one- if it breaks like a potato chip it’s ready!
  3. Strain the steeped vodka into a large pitcher. You may want to strain it a few times to make sure all the small bits of peel are removed.
  4. Start adding the simple syrup until the limoncello is to your desired sweetness. I added two full cups at first, and then I added a quarter cup at a time until it tasted right to me. I ended up using four cups (one quart) of simple syrup. I realized that I now had a ratio. 2 parts lemon steeped 80-proof vodka to 1 part simple syrup.
  5. Using a narrow-necked funnel, pour into clean bottles, cap tightly, and store in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks.  Keep a bottle in the freezer, and break it out when company comes over- or even when they don’t!! In Italy we always drank it after a long , slow meal as a digestive and as a treat at the end of a wonderful dinner.  It’s usually served in small shot glasses as its about 35-45 proof strong!

In Italy you can find cute little artisan pottery glasses specifically for limoncello!


Osso Bucco (Beef shank) with Wild Mushroom Saffron Risotto

20150319_184252 20150319_184312 20150320_15034520150319_162318

This is so easy and once you put on the fire you just let it do its thing for a couple of hours until the meat is falling off the bone. Next day you have a wonderful , flavor bursting broth to use to make more risotto!  Or pour it over polenta. Served with a crisp green salad it’s a perfect meal!

1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 dry bay leaf
2 whole cloves
Kitchen twine, for bouquet garni and tying the veal shanks
3 whole veal shanks (about 1 pound per shank), trimmed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All purpose flour, for dredging
1/2 cup olive oil
1 small onion, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 small carrot, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 stalk celery, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Place the rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and cloves into cheesecloth and secure with twine. This will be your bouquet garni.

For the veal shanks, pat dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Veal shanks will brown better when they are dry. Secure the meat to the bone with the kitchen twine. Season each shank with salt and freshly ground pepper. Dredge the shanks in flour, shaking off excess.

In a large Dutch oven pot, heat vegetable oil until smoking. Add tied veal shanks to the hot pan and brown all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove browned shanks and reserve.

In the same pot, add the onion, carrot and celery. Season with salt at this point to help draw out the moisture from the vegetables. Saute until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Return browned shanks to the pan and add the white wine and reduce liquid by half, about 5 minutes. Add the bouquet garni and 2 cups of the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone. Check every 15 minutes, turning shanks and adding more chicken stock as necessary. The level of cooking liquid should always be about 3/4 the way up the shank.

Carefully remove the cooked shanks from the pot and place in decorative serving platter. Cut off the kitchen twine and discard.

Remove and discard bouquet garni from the pot.

Pour all the juices and sauce from the pot over the shanks. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon zest.
Wild Mushroom Saffron Risotto:

1 -ounce dried mushrooms
1/2 pound fresh porcini or cremini mushrooms
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
3 tablespoons unsalted butter  and 3 tablespoons olive oil

2 ounces pancetta, diced

1/2 cup chopped shallots (3 shallots)
1 1/2 cups Vialone Nano or Canaroli rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour 2 cups boiling water over them. Set aside for 30 minutes. Scoop the morels from the water with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid. You should have 2 cups; if not, add water to make 2 cups. Drain the morels and rinse once more. If some of the mushrooms are large, cut into 2 or 3 pieces. Pour the mushroom liquid through a coffee filter or paper towel, discarding the gritty solids. Set the mushrooms and the liquid aside separately.

Meanwhile, remove and discard the stems of the porcini and rub any dirt off the caps with a damp paper towel. Dont rinse them! Slice thickly and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock with the 2 cups of reserved mushroom liquid and bring to a simmer.

In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and olive oil and saute the pancetta and shallots over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and porcini and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of the chicken stock mixture to the rice plus the saffron, salt, and pepper. Stir and simmer over low heat until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock mixture, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry before adding more of the stock mixture. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 25 to 30 minutes total. When done, the risotto should be thick and creamy and not at all dry. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan cheese. Serve hot in bowls with extra cheese.

Continue reading “Osso Bucco (Beef shank) with Wild Mushroom Saffron Risotto”