Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pappardelle with Mushroom Ragu sauce / Assignment #1

This is a recipe from Alice Waters' cookbook The Art of Simple food. I really admire what Ms. Waters has done to revolutionize the way Americans think about food, however, I would not recommend this cookbook to others. I don't like the format she uses to write her recipes and find that some of the recipes I've made from the book are bland and uninspired. You definitely have to know your way around the kitchen to "doctor" some of them up. Having said that I made this meal because it is homework for my cooking class, the Seasonal Table at COS with Debb Campbell.

I made this for our vegetarian Wednesday feast with the usual suspects and asked that they give their honest feedback on the dinner. I served the pappardelle with a homemade European peasant loaf, a simple green salad, some of Ethan's amazing homemade beer, and some cab sav. For dessert I made a pear sherbert. I did my best to not modify the recipes but when I did I make note. Please read the comments to see what everyone thought.

Fresh Pasta page 89

2 C flour (I assumed all purpose since she didn't specify)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks

In a bowl add the measured flour. Make a well and pour in the eggs. Mix with a fork, as though scrambling eggs, incorporating the flour bit by bit. When the flour becomes too stiff to mix with fork, finish the mixing by hand. Knead lightly on a floured surface. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Let rest at least an hour before serving.
* I kneaded the dough about 10 min even though she did not mention this. I've played buffet before, sort of speak, and KNOW that pasta has to be kneaded a while to make it pliable enough to pass through the pasta machine.*

Roll out by hand our by using a machine. Go to pappardelle section for further instructions.
*I actually just put the noodles into my dehydrator at 150 degrees for about 3 hours. I like a pasta with some bite and not so gummy.*

Mushroom Ragu sauce page 228

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced fine
1 large carrot, peeled and diced fine
2 celery stalks, diced fine
6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked from the stems
6 parsley sprigs, leaves only, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 c diced tomatoes
2 Lbs mushrooms ( choose a mixture of 2 or 3 types such as chantrelles, black trumpets, hedgehogs, brown or white button)
Olive oil and a little butter
1/2 c cream or creme fraiche
1 c water or chicken broth

In a large, heavy skillet heat the 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add onion, carrot, celery, and salt. Cook over medium heat, until very tender. When cooked through, with no crunch but with little or no browning add the thyme, pasley, and bay leaf. Cook for 1 min. Add tomatoes and cook for 5 min. Set aside.

Carefully clean and slice the mushrooms. If the mushrooms are very dirty, it may be necessary to wash them. Prepare a skillet and cook each mushroom type of mushroom individually. As they cook, the mushrooms will give off liquid; let the juices boil away or tip of the juices and set them aside. Cook mushrooms until they are lightly browned. Turn the mushrooms over onto a cutting board and chop to the size of the cooked veges.

Combine the vege mix and mushrooms in a skillet and add the cream and broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 min. Taste for salt and add as needed. Moisten with more liquid if too thick.

*I used dried mushrooms that I ordered through Oregon mushrooms. http://oregonmushrooms.rtrk.com/?scid=406053&kw=3733917
I reconstituted the chantrelle, black trumpet, and hedgehog mushrooms by adding 1 c of boiling water to 1 oz of dried mushrooms. I weighed the mushrooms to be sure everything was accurate. I kept them separate and put each in the fridge overnight. I saved the soaking liquid and substituted the broth with it, which gave the sauce a really intense mushroom flavor. I also added fresh criminis to make the 2 lbs. I chopped the mushrooms fine before I cooked them, so that saved me a step.*

Pappardelle with Bolognese Sauce pages 266-267

1 recipe Fresh Pasta
2 to 3 oz Parmesan grated (about 1/2 c)
2 c Bolognese Sauce (sub was Mushroom Ragu as recommended in book)
2 to 3 Tbsp butter ( I used unsalted)
1 Tbsp chopped parsley

Cut pasta into 3/4" wide noodles. Toss the noodles with extra flour and lay them out on plate or baking sheet, cover them with a towel, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a small saucepan warm the Mushroom Ragu sauce.

Cook the noodles in the boiling water for 3 or 4 min, until al dente. While the noodles are cooking, melt the butter in a large saute pan. Turn off the heat. Drain the noodles, reserving a small amount of the hot pasta water. Put the noodles into the warm pan with the butter and toss with two thirds of the parmesan and some salt.

Moisten with a bit of pasta water if needed. Divide the noodles among 4 pasta bowls or place on a warm platter. Spoon the sauce over the noodles. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and the parsley. Serve immediately.

Pear Sherbert page 375

6 to 8 ripe pears (about 3 lbs)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp sugar
1/3 c sugar
1 egg white

Place the lemon juice and 1 Tbsp of sugar in a bowl. Working with one pear at a time peel, quarter and core the pear; place into bowl and toss with lemon and sugar mixture. Repeat with remaining pears.

Add the remaining sugar and egg white to the pears. Puree the mixture in a food processor or blender until smooth. Taste and correct the seasoning with lemon juice or sugar. You should be able to taste both sweet and tart. Freeze right away in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.
* I did not add the 1/3 c sugar because one of my guests is sensitive to sugar. Instead I added 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar to egg white to help stabilize it. I blended these two together first before adding the pears, and then I proceeded with the recipe.*

Assignment #1 done. :)


  1. After making this dinner, I have to say it was good; not mind blowing but good. What really made the night was the company and the homemade beer which was stellar. The sauce would make a good soup, so I may remake it as such.

  2. As a mushroom lover, I was overjoyed by this dish. It wasn't just the mushrooms though (by the way, what kind of mushrooms were they? If I had to venture a guess, I'd say it was a medley of tasty wild forest mushrooms), it was Katia's love of the kitchen and making a divine meal for her peeps to eat. She was hesitant in serving the dish because she feared it was reminiscent of a "boring" cream of mushroom soup. Why, I wondered. Mushroom soup, to me, can be one of the top 5 delectable eats on the planet (full disclosure: I absolutely adore mushrooms and my mouth is generally denied of their satisfaction), so her ragout's redolent reminder of such a soup (not Campbells) was reason for props not pouting. And to the palate, it was totally divine. The sauce was earthy and silky and the mushroom "meat" was perfectly present in its weighty texture. I couldn't help myself from piling on more mushroom ragout atop the scrumptious homemade papparadelle (which would have been divine with or without such a tasty topping). Both the beer and wine were excellent accoutrements to the meal. As was the company. Obviously! Thank you!

  3. I thought it was amazing!!
    the salad & sherbert was so good.
    the salad was really good with the feta.the pear sherbert was so light,it just melted in your mouth...AMAZING!
    it was a awesome dinner!

  4. Full Disclosure: I actually don't like mushrooms. It's one of my childhood picky food eater holdovers. I try time and time again, assuming I should have grown out of it by now, but in the end the earthy/woodsy charcteristics for which mushrooms are prized are just not my thing.

    That said, bad meals don't come out of Katia's kitchen, and this was actually no exception. Although I went a tad light on the mushroom ragu for reasons previously stated, the pasta dish as a whole was delicous, filling, and a perfect way to start the fall season. The pasta was done just right - the perfect toothsomeness (yes, I know, it's the best word ever) and paired well with the lovely salad and vinegraitte.

    As a sucker for homemade bread, the peasant loaf did not disappoint. Cap the night off with a sherbet of the most amazing texture and what more could one ask for.

    Thanks for the lovely meal!

  5. From: Sarah
    Well, I wasn't present for the dinner, but I did have the meal later that evening. The dish was good, but the mushroom ragu wasn't my favorite. The homemade pasta was great; Katia never disappoints in that area (neither does she disappoint in any other homemade creation!)I like mushrooms (neither do I love 'em, like Niki, nor do I "hate" 'em, like Ethan). To balance, however, the overwhelming mushroom flavor of the dish, I would have enjoyed perhaps some garlic or onion and/or tomato (I know, traditional pasta pairings, but if it ain't broke...Or I'm sure there could be found some other creative addition.) I enjoyed the diced veggies (carrots, etc.) but find just as much enjoyment in "chunks" of vegetables. Too much dicing, dicing, dicing...tastes the same as larger chunks but way more work...not time effective in my book...I agree with Katia that this would make an excellent base for a mushroom soup (again, with larger chunks of veggies). The peasant bread was excellent. Overall, very good meal (excellent, but again, the mushroom ragu could have been improved upon, in my book, but clearly not in Alice Waters'!). Thank you, Katia (and to Deb for the yummy recipe/book selections), for your hard work and for letting me partake in the tasting group. I always enjoy your experiments and always have a ready pallate for them! I'm looking forward to trying this one again but this time with your creative additions/alterations. Sarah

  6. I have to modify my intial impression of this book, because other recipes have changed my intial impression of the book. I can admit when I am wrong.