Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo on white plate, black background, off center overhead view

A Perfect Dinner for Two — or for Entertaining Special Friends

Fettuccine Alfredo appears frequently on Italian restaurant menus, particularly those that concentrate on northern Italian food.  The really pricey places might shave fresh white truffles over the pasta, sending an already sumptuous dish into the stratosphere.

Restaurants with a high “snoot” factor used to prepare it tableside.  That’s rarely seen these days — maybe because it’s a bit over the top.  But it’s also authentic.  Alfredo di Lelio, the inventor of the dish and proprietor of the Roman restaurant now called Alfredo alla Scrofa, used to do the same. 

His eatery was a hit with tourists during the Jazz Age.  Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks reportedly visited Alfredo’s restaurant in 1927 and took a liking to his signature dish.  According to Wikipedia, they presented di Lelio with “a golden fork and spoon”— which he then began using to serve his fettucine.

Despite its aura of elegance and luxury, Fettuccine Alfredo is actually a simple and quick recipe.  Once you have your pasta-cooking water at a boil, you can prepare and be eating this dish in under 5 minutes.

And you don’t need a gold fork and spoon.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Homemade Pasta and Noodles

homemade noodles, black background

Machines Make Homemade Pasta Easier

Homemade pasta and noodles are incredibly tasty — and relatively easy to make if you use a food processor and a pasta machine. 

Some will argue that mixing the dough and rolling it out by hand produces a more toothsome result.  And they may be right.  But unless you’re ready to make a batch of pasta every day for weeks on end to acquire the skill and muscle memory you need for this exercise, well, using machines in your kitchen is the way to go.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chili Basics

chili in white ramekin, overhead shot, black background

How To Make the Chili We All Know & Love

The nights are turning cooler, and we’re beginning to hanker after heartier food.  Few dishes are heartier — or deliver a bigger flavor punch — than homemade chili.  And if you haven’t already begun thinking about making a batch, maybe you should.

Although Texas chili (which contains meat, chiles, and little else) is perhaps the most iconic version of the dish in the United States, it’s not the chili that most of us crave.  For the majority of us, chili means ground beef, tomato, onion, and beans.  (Beans are heresy in Texas chili.)  Spice levels can vary from mild to incendiary, though most of us prefer a moderate level of heat.

Chili is an easy dish to make.  Learn the basics of this recipe, and you can make any chili — even that no-bean Texas stuff.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

White Bean and Tuna Salad

Serve this Fast and Easy Italian Classic as a Main Dish or a Side

We have some warm days ahead of us before autumn rolls in, so we’re still in the mood for lighter fare.  Nothing tastes better — or is quicker to prepare — than a refreshing bean salad.

Pairing white (cannellini) beans with tuna is a classic of Italian home cooking.  In the United States, the closest corollary would probably be tuna salad made with mayonnaise.

White bean and tuna salad makes a pleasing main course when you want something light for dinner or lunch.  It also works as a hefty side dish. 

Best of all, it requires only pantry staples.  In fact, you probably have the ingredients on hand already.  So you could make it — and be eating it — in under ten minutes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pegu Club Cocktail

Pegu Club Cocktail with Lime Garnish

A Smooth-Tasting Drink from Exotic Rangoon

Back in the days when the sun never set on the British Empire, its soldiers and civil servants could face any crisis with equanimity as long as they had a gentlemen’s club to retreat to at day’s end — and something to drink therein. That “something” usually contained gin.

In Rangoon, Burma — today known as Yangon, Myanmar, but once a tough corner of the Empire — the  Pegu Club Cocktail was the house drink of The Pegu Club, a meeting place for British military officers and civilian administrators (visitors welcome). The club got its name from the Pegu (Bago) river, which flows through the city.

This is the perfect drink for late summer/early autumn. We’ve still got our share of hot days ahead of us, so something citrusy-cool appeals. But Labor Day has come and gone, and we know the chill temperatures will soon start to descend. We’ll want a beverage that stiffens our spines against cold weather ahead.

The Pegu Club delivers. It’s a drink with authority, but its hint-of-grapefruit tang is mighty soothing.

And you won’t have to go to Rangoon to sample it.