Tag Archives: Pasta

Crying 101: Fried-Zucchini Spaghetti

A dear friend who is in quite a life transition recently confessed to me, “I’ve been crying a lot lately.”

When I didn’t respond (I was too busy thinking my own self-absorbed thoughts about my lack of crying and what that must mean about me as a person (more on that later)), she continued, “As in every day. But I think that must be good because it means I’m really feeling my feelings.”

As a general rule, I’m not a crier. Some women are delicate and endearing when they cry. I am not. Snot drips, eyes become bloodshot, and my chronic hiccup syndrome kicks in with full force. As such, I’ve employed a categorical strategy of not crying. Preferably ever. But when I got off the phone…driving home from the barn…I found myself thinking panicked thoughts: “What if I’m not really feeling my feelings! What if I just think I am! What if I’m so busy going this way, and coordinating that, strategizing this, and tasking that I’m missing something important or keeping important emotions at bay?!?”

So I did what any overbearing, type-A, hideous overachiever would do. I put on some sappy Pandora station, rolled down my windows, and waited for the tidal wave to come.

I got nothing. Maybe a little bubble or welling perhaps? But if I’m being honest….Nothing. Nada. Zip.

So I did the next best thing I could think of. I came home, hosed myself off (Matt has assured me that while I enjoy the smell of horses, and barn, and sweat, and manure, he does not), and got cooking. While I never got to the cathartic cry I was perhaps seeking, I did find myself taking the first deep breath of the day, and really being.

These pictures are garbage and don’t do this dish justice, but trust me…it is freaking DELICIOUS. And an excellent way to use up all that zucchini that all your friends keep trying to offload on you because their garden is going crazy.

This is undeniably a Food & Wine recipe, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Fried-Zucchini Spaghetti

Serves 4

1 pound small zucchini, very thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound spaghetti
1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 cup torn basil leaves
Freshly ground pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving
  1. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the flour and a pinch of salt. In a very large skillet, heat half of the oil until shimmering. Add half of the zucchini and fry over high heat, turning once or twice, until browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the zucchini to a paper towel–lined wire rack and season with salt. Repeat with the remaining oil and zucchini.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the pot and toss with the 1 cup of cheese, the basil and a generous pinch of pepper. Add the reserved pasta water a little at a time, tossing well to coat. Transfer the pasta to a bowl and top with the crispy zucchini. Serve right away with lemon wedges and additional cheese.


Filed under Cheap Eats, Pasta, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Carbonara Made with Farm Fresh Eggs, Topped with Pork Belly

Farm Fresh Eggs

Eggs Glorious Eggs

What is the opposite of a green thumb?

Whatever it is…I’ve got it.

A reluctant gardener at best I’ve been known to kill even the hardiest of plants. We’re talking mint…rosemary…bamboo.

That’s right. For the daughter of an award-winning landscape designer, I am a total failure in the garden.

Which is why when our friend and neighbor, Casey, told us about his new CSA, Hand Farmed Organics, I immediately panicked it would sell out (we are talking about neurotic, type-a me after all), signed up for a half-share, and started pestering him about when it would start-up.

Hand Farmed Organics

The View from the Farm

Potato Planting Party

Potato Planting Party

Well…were just weeks away now from weekly deliveries of broccoli, cauliflower, and beets fresh from the ground, but what he does already have is the world’s very best eggs.

If you buy eggs at a grocery store, stop immediately. Find a farm near you and get the real thing. There is simply no comparison.

Beautifully varied, speckled white and brown shells, these eggs (whose yolks incidentally are neon orange) are the most delicious, velvety treats you’ve had in a long time.


Hot Chick

Subsequently, I’ve been trying to think of recipes that include eggs. This carbonara topped with slow-roasted pork belly is definitely a decadent treat, but a perfect dinner for a cool spring night with friends and a good bottle of Pinot Grigio. Don’t let the Pork Belly intimidate you. Just think of it as Bacon’s wilder,  older brother.

Carbonara Made with Farm Fresh Eggs, Topped with Pork Belly
Adapted from two Food & Wine Recipes

Serves 8

Pork Belly

2 pounds boneless, skinless, meaty fresh pork belly, fat trimmed to 3/4 inch and scored
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
1 celery rib, chopped
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 325°. Heat a large, deep ovenproof skillet until hot. Add the pork, fatty side down, and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned on both sides, 8 minutes. Scatter the garlic, onion, celery and carrots on either side of the pork belly and cook until softened slightly, 5 minutes.

Belly Braising

Add the wine and boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Cover and braise in the oven for 2 hours, turning every thirty minutes, until the meat is very tender but not falling apart. Transfer the pork to a platter and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cut the meat into two-inch cubes and set aside.


12 ounces bucatini or angel hair
1 shallot, very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
4 large egg yolks, whipped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
Freshly ground pepper

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of the cooking water.

Meanwhile heat a large skillet until hot. Add the pork belly and cook over moderate heat until most of the fat has been rendered and each side boasts a nice crisp outside, 7 minutes. Remove from pan and set on paper towels to drain. Add the shallot and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened and beginning to brown, 3-4 minutes. Add the cream and simmer over moderate heat until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the hot pasta to the skillet and stir to coat, 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water, the 1/2 cup of grated cheese and then slowly add the egg yolks tossing constantly so they don’t cook onto the pasta. Season with salt. Divide the pasta into bowls, top with pork belly, and sprinkle with parsley and pepper. Serve, passing more cheese at the table.

Carbonara Topped With Pork Belly

Carbonara Topped with Pork Belly

**All photos compliments of Hand-Farmed Organics’ Kim Sklar**


Filed under Comfort Foods, Pasta, Uncategorized

Sesame Noodles with Tofu and Red Peppers

Sesame Noodles with Tofu and Red Peppers

Sesame Noodles with Tofu and Red Peppers

This past weekend we threw a little champagne BBQ Birthday Bash pour moi. It was a wonderful evening complete with:

  • LOTS of bubbly (thank you Esquin for your giant magnum bottles)
  • Blazing bonfire
  • Evaluation of what constitutes inappropriate violations of personal space (e.g. crotch flicking)
  • Delicious burgers
  • A healthy debate over the merit (or lack thereof) of Bob Dylan
  • A lemon cake provided by the impressive and talented Angela Clement
  • Sesame noodles with tofu and red peppers

The last dish is a family favorite that often comes out at Family Reunions on Elk Lake. For particularly fun presentation I recommend serving it in little Chinese take-out boxes with chop sticks. For you Seattle-ites you can get these quite inexpensively at Packaging Specialties.  This dish makes a lot (8-10), so is excellent for inexpensively feeding a crowd. Serve chilled with…champagne bien sur.

Sesame Noodles with Tofu and Red Peppers

1 lb Chinese wheat noodles, cooked (if you can’t find these, plain old spaghetti will work. Yaki Soba would also be good)

1/4 cup sesame seeds – toasted

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup pure sesame oil

1/3 cup soy sauce

2/3 cup green onions

1/3 cup rice vinegar

3 cups pan fried tofu (chicken is also delicious in this)

1 bag fresh chopped spinach

1 red pepper, thinly sliced

Mix all ingredients except the spinach together and refrigerate for one or more hours. Add spinach just before serving.


Filed under Cheap Eats, Entertaining, Pasta, Vegetarian

Screw patience: Roasted medley of spring vegetables served over angel hair pasta with chicken sausage, tossed with a cilantro pesto


Roasted spring vegetables

Roasted spring vegetables


I have spent my entire life wishing I was a more patient person. But try as I might, I am inherently impatient and intolerant of things that move slowly.

I’m impatient with people who are slow walkers. I loath slow talkers. I despise inefficiency and elevator doors that take seconds to close feel like eons to me. Despite constant admonitions from family, friends, bosses, and co-workers to just “slow down, Erina” it’s something I really struggle with.

So, it will come as no surprise that when it seems time for Winter to be over and Spring to arrive I am as impatient as ever. I long for the days of short skirts, endless nights, swimming in the Lake after work, and reading in the back yard while soaking up the sun and drinking a gin and tonic.

Sadly, as it is March in Seattle, we are not there yet.

When my impatience for the season changing reaches its height I often find myself cooking foods that represent the season ahead.

This pasta dish was inspired by a refrigerator full of vegetables from Spud and no plan for what I was going to do with them. It’s not the quickest recipe (ironic, I know), but it’s very yummy, very healthy, totally affordable and shouts ‘Spring is here’ better than I ever could.

Roasted medley of spring vegetables served over angel hair pasta with chicken sausage, tossed with a cilantro pesto

A very hearty, pretty dinner, good for a crowd. If you prefer a vegetarian option just skip the chicken sausage. Serve with a dry Riesling.


Roasted medley of spring vegetables served over angel hair pasta with chicken sausage, tossed with a cilantro pesto

Roasted medley of spring vegetables served over angel hair pasta with chicken sausage, tossed with a cilantro pesto


1. Vegetables: Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl (which you can later use for serving) toss a medley of spring vegetables that suit your fancy. They should be bite-size, but still substantial. If you are doing a mix of vegetables that will vary in how long they take to get tender, vary your size a bit so everything is done at the same time. For this recipe I did butternut squash (cut into small cubes), carrots, mushrooms, onions, and asparagus. Toss with just enough olive oil until glistening. Season with coarsely ground salt and pepper.  Transfer to a 9×12 glass baking dish. Pop in the oven and cook for about 1 hour (flipping each 20 minutes) until vegetables are firm-tender. If you feel like the vegetables are drying out you can add a bit of water to the bottom of the baking dish about half way through the roasting.

2. Cilantro Pesto: In a food processor or blender (you know which one I used…), blend until smooth 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 cup firmly packed cilantro, 2 TB lime juice, and 2 cloves garlic. Set aside.

3. Pasta: Cook angel hair according to recipe. Before you drain reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

4. Chicken sausage: In a large skillet head 2 TB olive oil until glistening. Add chicken sausage that has been cut into 1″ pieces and cook until slightly carmelized and browning. Set aside pan, reserving the oil and fat generated from cooking the sausage.

5. Assembly: In the large bowl you used to toss the vegetables originally return the now cooked vegetables. While still hot from the oven toss with half the pesto to thoroughly coat the vegetables. Add the pasta and reserved cooking liquid, remaining pesto, sausage, and reserved oil and toss until well coated. Serve with generous portions of coarsely grated Parmesan.

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Filed under Pasta, Seasonal Cooking, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Bistro or BBQ? What kind of chef are you?

As one gets older we must decide what kind of person we will be and how we will let ourselves be defined. Will we be known for being funny, good in a crisis, thoughtful to a fault, relentless in our pursuits? Certainly to some degree we have control over how this definition comes to fruition, but there are some elements of nature that are undeniable.

One’s self in the kitchen is often a good metaphor for life. Are you the kind of chef who whips up whatever is in the fridge, a veritable MacGyver of cuisine? Or are you someone who dutifully plans each meal, follows each recipe to a T, and never allows yourself the freedom or permission to branch out.

At a unique cross roads in my work right now, I will be leaving a place and people that I love and going onto what I truly believe is the right decision for my career but which holds daunting challenges and unknown territory.

As per usual, when life gets messy I clean my kitchen (which is usually already very neat), pop open a bottle of wine, crank up the stereo, and start cooking. Feeling that in some sense I will be stepping into a role that requires more control and restraint than I’m currently used to I allowed myself a night of total fun and indulgence in the kitchen.

Rather than take you through each item, step-by-step, let me rather share with you what’s currently on my culinary wish list. Items that help explain the chef (read: person), I wish I might someday be*:

*Disclaimer: Haven’t yet tried these recipes….if you do, comment back and let us all know how they are!

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Filed under Kitchen Trials and Tribulations, Uncategorized

Healthy and satisfying, who knew? : Shrimp, Asparagus Fettuccine with Pesto

Shrimp, Asparagus fettucine with Pesto

We are thick (no pun intended) in the middle of the time of year that can easily do a number on our waistlines and check books. With endless holiday parties to attend, too many glasses of wine, lack of time to exercise, and the constant pressure of consumerism that our society seems to thrive on, it’s easy to feel like being healthy is simply the thing that’s going to have to go by the wayside. At least until January 1 when we berate ourselves with New Years resolutions and a vow to do better in 2010.

If you’re a regular reader of Shut Up and Cook you’ve probably realized that I’m not the kind of girl who orders the garden salad for dinner with the dressing on the side please. Admittedly blessed with a reasonable metabolism and fortunately a 5’10” frame to fill, I am never one to trade flavor for deprivation. That said, even the best of us sometime need to trim down, tone up, and be a little kinder to our bodies.

Serves 6.

A lovely simple, mid-week dinner.

Shrimp, Asparagus Fettucine with Pesto


8 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups)

1/2 cup sliced jarred roasted red peppers

1/4 cup prepared pesto

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound raw shrimp, (21-25 per pound), peeled and deveined

1 cup dry white wine

Freshly ground pepper, to taste


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add fettuccine and cook for 3 minutes less than the package directions specify. Add asparagus and continue cooking until the pasta and asparagus are just tender, about 3 minutes more. Reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water, drain the fettuccine and asparagus and return to the pot. Stir in peppers and pesto. Cover to keep warm.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until pink, about 3 minutes. Add wine, increase heat to high and continue cooking until the shrimp are curled and the wine is reduced, about 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and the reserved cooking water to the pasta; toss to coat. Season with pepper and serve immediately.

Compliments of EatingWell. A fantastic source for yummy and healthy meals.

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Filed under Health Conscious, Pasta, Uncategorized

Not your Grandmother’s Beef Stroganoff

There are those dishes that we associate with our youth. Things that our parents served that we perhaps clamored for, maybe grumbled about, or just tolerated. Beef Stroganoff was something my mother used to make, although I don’t recall particularly caring for it. The other night as I was flipping through The Bon Appetit Cookbook I found a recipe that looked just right. Upon careful inspection I realized that stroganoff is little more than beef, mushrooms, cream, and pasta. All things I adore. And so, I set out to make the ultimate Beef Stroganoff.

This recipe puts my mama’s to shame I’m afraid to say. The Beef Tenderloin Tail is a perfect way to get an indulgent cut of meat at a fraction of the cost. I used Cremini mushrooms but you could certainly make the dish fancier by making it with assorted wild mushrooms.

The end result was tender, medium-rare meat, simmered in a mushroom, cream sauce with a hint of sherry. The flavors were perfect together and it found just the right balance of being rich, without being heavy.

Serves 4-6
Present on top of wide egg noodles that have been tossed with butter.
Pair with a rich, bold red wine such as a California Cabernet.

Beef Stroganoff

2 1/2 lb well-trimmed beef tail tenderloin roast, cut into 2 x 1 x 1/2 inch strips (you may have to specially  ask your butcher for this, but it is delicious and about half the cost of straight tenderloin)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

1 lb mushrooms, thickly sliced

1 cup beef broth

2 TB Sherry or Cognac

1 cup creme fraiche or whipping cream

1/2 TB Dijon mustard

1 TB chopped fresh dill

Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat until very hot. Working in two batches, add meat in single layer and cook just until brown, about 1 minute per side. Using tongs transfer to a plate and reserve juices. Drain any additional oil from pan and wipe out pan with paper towel.

Mushrooms and Shallots

Melt butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Adding shallots and saute until tender, scraping up any browned bits, about 2 minutes. Add mushroom and saute until mushrooms brown and juices evaporate. About 10 minutes. Be sure to keep stirring the mushrooms so they don’t brown too much. Add broth, then Sherry. Simmer until sauce thickens and just coats mushrooms, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in creme fraiche and mustard. Add meat and any accumulated juices from plate. Simmer over medium-low heat until meat is heated through but still medium rare, about 2 minutes. Stir in chopped dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Top egg noodles with beef and sauce…ENJOY!


Filed under Comfort Foods, Uncategorized

Simply Delicious

There are nights when I want nothing more than to pad around my kitchen, sipping a glass of red wine, listening to Patty Griffin, and cooking delicious, decadent, and utterly indulgent foods for hours.

Tonight was not one of those nights (well, except for the red wine part).

Home from the barn having had a good ride, but also feeling a bit geriatric and sore from my session with the trainer at the gym earlier in the week (what on earth was I thinking) I kept standing in front of the refrigerator hoping that something magical and totally appealing would appear.

It did not.

And so, once my pity party had passed, I got to work on pulling together something that would  be quick, relatively healthy, hearty, and require minimal clean-up.

Gemelli Pasta tossed with olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, and Gruyère cheese

Serves 1.

Measure out 2/3 of a cup dry gemelli pasta. This will look like a sad, pitiful amount when dry, but once cooked it mysteriously becomes enough.

Bring small pot of water to a boil, toss in gemelli and cook about 7-9 minutes until done.

Meanwhile, chop up sun-dried tomatoes. I prefer the kind that are packed in oil and so tossed a bit of the oil from the tomatoes into the bottom of my bowl.

Once gemelli is done, drain, and pour into the bowl waiting with the tomatoes and oil. Generously grate Gruyère cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy.


Filed under Pasta, Uncategorized

Good, cheap, and fast

We live in one of those “transitional neighborhoods”. Somehow, when other people talk about their experiences in similar cities, they make it sound exciting, adventurous, chic even. However, the reality is that living in a tremendously diverse neighborhood that struggles with poverty, drug use, gang activity, and the tensions of different socioeconomic groups living next door to each other can be a struggle.

The benefits are of course the wonders of walking around and hearing five different languages being spoken; of not looking like everybody else; of not feeling like you’re living some homogenized plastic life; and of course, there is the food. All sorts of different cuisines and traditions, melding together, to create the ultimate proverbial smorgasbord.

One favorite spot in the ‘hood is our local Italian hole in the wall, Vinces. Complete with fake brick paneling, individually wrapped bread sticks, and a hostess who seems to have been there since they opened in 1957 it is the perfect spot to disappear to for an oversized and underpriced plate of pasta.

My favorite, is by far, the Carbonara. Pasta, cream, egg, cheese, pancetta. What’s not to love?

Determined one night to make my own, I found just the recipe. Good, cheap, and fast it is the perfect weeknight dish when you’re feeling like something delicious yet not overly complicated.

Bucatini Carbonara

6 ounces bucatini or perciatelli (I can never find this, so just use angel hair which is great).

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 ounces pancetta, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 shallot, very finely chopped

1 garlic clove, very finely chopped

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

4 large egg yolks


2 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley

Freshly ground pepper

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat until most of the fat has been rendered, 7 minutes. Add the shallot and garlic and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Add the cream and simmer over moderate heat until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the hot pasta to the skillet and stir to coat, 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water, the 2 tablespoons of grated cheese and the egg yolks. Season with salt. Divide the pasta into bowls and sprinkle with parsley and pepper. Serve, passing more cheese at the table.

Serve with your favorite Montepulciano for the perfect pairing.

Compliments of Food and Wine

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Filed under Cheap Eats, Pasta, Uncategorized