Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I've seen fire and I've seen rain

Well, I did make it to USG Saturday morning, but the rain and wind had already started - though they'd get worse - and the vendor turnout was understandably sparse. I bought some potatoes, onions, cheese, eggs, and milk, before heading to Whole Foods to pick up the rest of what I needed to cook for my old folks on Sunday.

And Sunday itself was almost laughably terrible, with the aggressive gloom continuing, the leak under my kitchen seak worsening, and my rushing to get everything done before I had to run to the office to bring merch for the Hauschka show at Le Poisson Rouge (which show was perhaps the only positive of the day). It was the kind of day where you find yourself making fennel and orange salad at 1 a.m. - we all have those, right?

Oh! And my camera's broken. I haven't even begun to figure out what to do about that.

On the positive side, I finally wrote down my permutations to this baked fettucine recipe I found on Epicurious. It's a great dish - one of my clients' favorites - and can easily be made ahead and popped into the oven when dinner guests arrive. While a bit heavy on the cheese, there are enough vegetables in the mix to make the whole thing seem, if not virtuous, then at least balanced.

Also on the bright side (literally, heyo!), it's sunny and in the 60s all week - further making me feel like not going to SXSW this year was the right decision.

Baked Fettuccine with Mascarpone and Vegetables

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 head broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
2 lbs. spinach leaves, washed well
3 medium leeks, halved and cut into 1/2" strips (about 4 cups)
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
zest of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup whole milk
8 oz. mascarpone (I've used fromage blanc for a lighter version also)
1 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano
3/4 lb. dry fettuccine (whole-wheat works great here)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Sauté spinach in batches in a small amount of olive oil, adding a pinch of salt per batch. Drain, chop, and set aside.

Blanch broccoli in boiling salted water just until crisp-tender; shock, drain, and set aside.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; add leeks and a pinch of salt, and cook until softened; do not brown. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice, zest, thyme, several pinches of salt, and several grinds of pepper. Set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed, medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and add flour. Cook one minute, whisking constantly.
Whisk in milk, turn up heat, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly; turn down heat and simmer (keep whisking!) until thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, about 3-4 minutes.

Remove from heat and whisk in cheeses until mostly smooth (mixture will be a bit grainy because of the Grana Padano). Stir in leek mixture and taste for seasoning.

Cook fettuccine to al dente in salted water. Toss pasta with vegetables in a large bowl; add cheese sauce and toss until thoroughly combined. Adjust seasoning as needed. Transfer pasta to a baking dish and bake in preheated 350˚ oven until top is bubbling and golden, 15-20 minutes.

If making ahead, store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator, and toss to redistribute sauce and vegetables before baking. Can be frozen at this point, tightly wrapped in aluminum foil; allow to thaw completely before baking.

photo from Flickr: Ervin Bartis' photostream

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