Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pasta From Betty's House To Ours

It was all about the pasta this weekend. By happy accident, we were able to enjoy two delicious and hearty pasta dishes this weekend: one at the beautiful home of Our Miss Betty and the other one at our own home. Carbilicious, baby....

The Divine Miss Betty welcomed us and the Nelsons to dinner in her lovingly appointed Victorian home. Betty had Keith hook up a printer for her so I took the opportunity to stroll through the multiple rooms and admire her astounding eye for detail. Every room has a warm and unique personality and every nook and cranny has something that catches the eye. The kitchen is Charm Central and it was made that much more warm by the delectable aromas that were wafting about. The standout feature of Betty's home for me is her obvious love of books as evidenced by her filled-to-capacity bookshelves; including her cookbook nook. There's something about those bookshelves, like the ones at my friend Jane's, that for me, whisper an aura of coziness.

Dinner was delicious from start to finish. We began with a light and flavorful salad of greens, blue cheese crumbles, blueberries, toasted pecans and a Dijon-based dressing. The main event was a hearty and filling four-cheese fettuccine bake accompanied by cheese and onion bread. Dessert was a decadent chocolate ganache torte. More than sated, we thanked Betty and headed home to beat the latest snowstorm.

The next day, we tackled two recipes to take on the Cookbook Challenge and these would be #19 and #20(for those of you paying attention, the challenge is to cook a recipe out of every cookbook we own, which number around 80. I'm at #20 with seven months left. Yikes.). The first was a Creole Chicken Spaghetti from the What Can I Bring? cookbook by Anne Byrn. We lightened it up a bit by substituting whole wheat spaghetti noodles for the real thing. The pasta dish was very good but I questioned the designation of Creole. The description actually said it was a mix of Creole, Southwest and Italian but it lacked a kick that I would associate with Creole cooking. I would probably add red pepper flakes to kick it up a notch the next time we make it. This made a huge batch and will serve as great work lunches for the week.

We also made Cheddar Scallion Rolls from the King Arthur Flour Whole Wheat Cookbook and they were amazing.....the aroma from the oven alone had me swooning. Miscommunication between K and I had us brushing them with butter before baking as opposed to after. That and the fact that I let myself get a little distracted and the outer crusts got a little too dark. They were not burnt though, and the taste was terrific. It was a bit labor-intensive and the waiting periods for letting the dough rise tested my patience but the end result was way worth it. We had such a difficult time finding a warm spot to properly let the dough rise that we finally positioned the pan of dough directly over the pellet stove in the basement. I have also determined that we when making King Arthur recipes, it is best to check out their website because they improve the recipes from the books slightly. Check them out at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/ I will definitely make these again.

The recipes follow:

Creole Chicken Spaghetti


1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups sliced onions (2 medium sized onions)
2 cups (8 ounces) sliced mushrooms
1 to 1 1/4 cups chopped green bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped celery
4 medium-sized cloves garlic, minced
1 jar (32 ounces) pasta sauce
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes with juices
2 tablespoons sugar, or more to taste
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. chili powder
2 teas. ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups shredded cooked chicken (about 1 lb; from 3 large chix breasts or 1 rotisserie chicken)
1 lb. spaghetti
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese


1. Place olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions, mushrooms, bell pepper, celery and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onions soften and the mushrooms begin to lose their liquid, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the pasta sauce and tomatoes with their juices and stir to combine. Add the sugar, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder and cumin. Taste for seasoning, adding more sugar as needed and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and let simmer until the sauce thickens slightly about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chicken. Cover and keep warm.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Break the spaghetti noodles in half. Stir in the spaghetti and 1 teaspoon of salt, reduce the heat to medium-high, and cook the spaghetti, uncovered, according to package directions until just done, 6 to 7 minutes.

3. Drain the spaghetti well in a colander, shaking it to remove the excess water, then return it to the pot. Pour the sauce on top of it and stir to combine well, the reheat gently over low heat. Transfer the sauced spaghetti to a serving platter, top it with the cheese and serve immediately.

Cheddar Scallion Rolls

2 cups (16 ounces) warm water
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup (6 ounces) honey
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup (2 ounces) Baker's Special dry milk or nonfat dry milk powder (optional)
1 tablespoon dried dill weed
4 cups (17 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 cups (8 ounces) King Arthur Premium Whole Wheat or 100% White Whole Wheat Flour
2 cups minced scallions
2 cups (8 ounces) grated reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Pour the water into a large bowl. Add the yeast and the honey and stir until dissolved. Add 1 cup of the all-purpose flour and stir until dissolved. Add 1 cup of the all-purpose flour and stir. Let this sit for 10 minutes, to give the yeast a chance to get going.

Mix the salt, milk powder, dill weed and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour. Add to the yeast mixture and stir well. Stir in the scallions and the cheddar cheese.

Add the rest of the flours, one cup at a time, stirring well after each addition, until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough has formed a smooth ball.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a draft-free place and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in bulk.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead briefly to expel any air bubbles. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each into a rope that is 24-inches long. Divide each snake into 24 one-inch pieces. Roll each piece into a round ball and place the rolls on greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheets. The rolls should be placed 2 inches apart.

Spray the rolls with water or cover with damp towels. Let rise for about 30 minutes, or until slightly swollen. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake the rolls for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned and baked through. Cool the rolls on racks. Yield 48 two-inch rolls

Cook's Notes: We did not have King Arthur brands so we used others.


Kristy said...

I started using whole wheat pasta. I like it.

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