Pasta Time: Seconda Parte
By: Alex Weiss, CFP®
Earlier this year, I wrote about wanting to tap into my Italian heritage a little bit more by learning to cook a few traditional pasta dishes. I am happy to report some great progress has been made already, and the results have far exceeded my expectations. For Valentine’s Day, my wife purchased us an online cooking class for one of my favorite Italian meals, gnocchi. This wonderful dish was paired with a tomato basil sauce that was absolutely to die for.
This online class was hosted by the well-known Boston chef, Karen Akunowicz. She is the chef and visionary behind Fox & the Knife in Boston and has appeared on the TV show, Top Chef. She was a very natural and engaging teacher in front of the camera.
I took away many new pointers from the class and I wanted to highlight a few. One main theme holds true and was emphasized in the lesson: it’s all in the details. The
sauce base was high quality, whole peel San Marzano tomatoes, not just any regular crushed canned tomato. Add some toasted garlic, kosher salt, pepper, olive oil, plus some time, love and a good stir– wow. We then finished it off with some butter, red pepper flakes and basil, which added the warmth and depth needed to turn this sauce into something special.
Another highlight was: no matter how well you prepare, things do not always turn out the way you want. In this case the shopping list provided to us was slightly off. We were told to gather 2 potatoes, but they meant to write 2 pounds of potatoes. Oops! Ever the professional, Chef Karen adapted on the spot and everything still turned out great. I just need some practice on rolling the gnocchi over my fork, which is a very important step because that ridged texture helps the sauce cling to each pasta bite (I need a good pasta-to-sauce ratio to make the perfect bite).
Final highlight: you don’t know what you don’t know. While Karen was showing us how to cook, she also shared with us how cooking at home is much different than in a commercial kitchen. The ingredients they get can be different, the commercial stoves are more powerful, and even pots and pans can be different. When she does any at home cooking classes, she makes sure to go to the local grocery store to get exactly what you and I would have in order to modify a recipe accordingly.
After my first pasta article a reader sent me a note about the CNN show, Stanley Tucci; Searching for Italy. I haven’t had a chance to watch this yet, but the reviews are great if you like travel and food.
Not sure what is next on the pasta forecast, but Ravioli could be in my future.
Until next time…