Lately I feel like a hamster on a wheel, trying to keep abreast of Cook the Book Fridays bi-weekly recipe challenges. Sometimes I cook them on time. Sometimes I cook them late. More often than not, my blog posts have been monthly instead of recipe-by-recipe. Despite my best intentions, catchup has been the norm. It’s a new year, so I’m hoping that January represents more consistency on my part.
This week’s selection from Everyday Dorie is Pasta with Shrimp, Squash, Lemon and Lots of Herbs, or in my case, Pasta with Shrimp, Broccoli Rabe, Lemon and Lots of Herbs. This recipe has many components, but once your mise en place is set, the whole dish comes together quickly.
There are many steps, but they are all easy. First, you zest the lemons into the serving bowl. Then you juice the lemons. In an interesting twist, the spent halves are added to the pasta water to infuse further lemony flavor. While the pasta cooks, you sauté shrimp, then the vegetables. When the pasta is done, and drained, the shrimp and vegetables are tossed with the pasta along with butter, lemon juice, some reserved pasta water, and the tomatoes. Finally, the pasta is transferred to the serving bowl with the lemon zest and topped with fresh herbs and stirred together.
Dorie recommends using pasta that’s a similar size to the shrimp, so I chose mezze rigatoni. Howard has placed zucchini and summer squash on the “taboo” list at our house, plus they’re out of season, so I substituted broccoli rabe, which I cut into 2-inch lengths and blanched first. I also used a few tablespoons of diced sun-dried tomatoes instead of fresh ones. For herbs, Dorie’s recipe lists dill and chives. I already had a mixture of chopped dill, parsley and minced garlic to garnish a fish soup I made, so I used up the rest to top the pasta.
I was worried that the zest of three lemons would be too much. However, we enjoyed the brightness that all aspects of the lemon contributed. Its flavor wasn’t dampened in the leftovers either. I found the proportion of vegetables lacking, so if I make this again, I’ll double them. I will also increase the amount of sun-dried tomatoes I add.
This recipe offers a nice template for a lemony pasta that can evolve through the seasons by varying the vegetables. With a salad, it makes a perfect dinner.
I also made the Sweet and Smoky Roasted Carrots from last month’s schedule. I first made them for Thanksgiving 2018, right after Everyday Dorie was published. At the time, I felt ambivalent about them and particularly didn’t like the whole carrots because they took too long to cook through. I made a note to try cutting the carrots into 1-inch pieces, which is what I did this time around. While the carrots roasted in a more reasonable amount of time, I’m still ambivalent about them. With all the spices and flavorings, they should taste more interesting. Unfortunately, it falls flat on my taste buds. I won’t be making these carrots again. However, I still have some of the spice syrup left, so I’ll test that out on salad or in mayo and see if that works better for me.
If you’re up for trying either of these recipes, you can find the pasta on page 204 and the carrots on page 214 of Everyday Dorie. To see what the other cooks from Cook the Book Fridays thought of these, you can find links to their reviews here for the pasta and here for the carrots.
Happy New Year! Happy Cooking!
Argh! My blog is so neglected. It’s the time of year where I’m cooking all the time. I’ve even kept up with the Cook the Book Fridays assignments. Alas, I’ve become an expert procrastinator when it’s time to write a blog post. So, without further ado, here goes.
I was SO EXCITED to make Panisse Puffs. I can remember leafing through My Paris Kitchen when it first came out. That must have been around the time I made popovers for a rare participation in Tuesdays with Dorie because I had popovers on the brain. It’s this recipe that tempted me to buy My Paris Kitchen. Of course, I never made them. When this recipe was selected for the Cook the Book Friday schedule, I finally had the motivation I needed, no excuses allowed.
Again, I marveled at how simple popover batter is. A few staples whirred in the blender and it’s time to rock-and-roll. The pan preheats along with the oven, so the pan is buttered and then filled with batter when it’s blazing hot.
The puffs puffed. What they didn’t do is get all that brown. I’ll admit that the glass window in my oven is not very easy to see through. After 35 minutes, the puffs looked brown, but I think the baked-on splatters disguised the true color. They also were stubborn about coming out of the pan. I used a muffin tin because I don’t have a special popover pan, though I’m not sure it would have made a difference.
These looked much better in the pan. After prying them out, my puffs were rather disfigured and deflated, no longer “souffléed”. They tasted OK, but after years of anticipation, I was a little disappointed.
Soupe au Pistou
Typically, I don’t make hot soup in the summer. Gazpacho, sure, and the occasional “other” cold soup, but little compels me to heat up the kitchen with or hang around to watch a simmering pot of soup. For these reasons, I was ambivalent about making vegetable soup with pesto. Trying to stay on schedule with the Cook the Book Fridays gang, I forced myself to soak white beans overnight and move ahead.
As crazy as it seemed to me, this really is a summer vegetable soup. All the vegetables called for were part of my CSA share that week: carrots, zucchini, fresh sugar snap peas, and loads of basil. The beans simmered while I chopped everything else up. Vegetables were added in stages, depending on how long they needed to cook to tender.
While the vegetables cooked, I made pistou (nut-less pesto) in my mortar and pestle. I’d never done that before, always using the power of the food processor instead of my own muscle. The result was much rougher but pleasing when dolloped on top of the soup.
So, I was wrong to doubt the delight of a hot summer soup. This one was delicious. I’d even make it again with the vegetables of the week if the weather isn’t too hot outside.
Herbed Fresh Pasta
Another first. Those of you familiar with tales of my bottomless (Mary Poppins-like) basement won’t be surprised to know that there’s a pasta machine down there. I bought it decades ago at a now-defunct discount store for the bargain price of $15. I must have made pasta a few times back when I first bought the machine, but I don’t think it’s left the basement since we moved to this house almost 25 years ago. (Packrat? Are you accusing me of being a packrat?)
Pasta is not something I ever think to make myself. It seems intimidating, especially when making the dough by hand rather than in the food processor. I was home alone the night I made this, so I made a smaller batch. Always divide by the eggs, so I made 1/3 of the recipe. I used a variety of herbs from my garden and just followed the recipe.
No tools required! I used my fingers to incorporate the eggs into the flour. Once the eggs were absorbed, not all the flour was incorporated, so I kept sprinkling the dough with water until it all came together.
It rested for about an hour before rolling it into sheets and then cutting the sheets into strands.
I was surprised that the process was so easier than I expected. I don’t intend to wait another quarter century before the next time I attempt my own fresh pasta.
I made a mélange of pea tendrils, sugar snap peas, and shell peas to top the pasta for a seasonal spring meal (at least, seasonal in June, when I made this). Delicious!
You can find all the recipes in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. Panisse Puffs is on page 245, Soupe au Pistou on page 92, and Herbed Fresh Pasta on page 230. My friends at Cook the Book Fridays were more timely in their execution, but go back and check out their posts for Panisse Puffs, Soupe au Pistou, and Herbed Fresh Pasta.