Pistachio-Almond Brittle... appetizer? Dessert?
Pappardelle with Wild Mushrooms
It's earthy, it's comforting and it's light. Just what the proverbial doc ordered in the days leading up to Christmas. Especially here as we start Christmas Eve with a traditional Midwestern menu (and the Feast of the Seven Cheeses - what can I say - the Midwesterners don't do a lot of fish) for 40 people (lots of food and 4 generations under my roof - does it get any better?). Christmas Day continues to be an all Italian affair with as much food as the night before but for only 6 people.
It's a simple dish to enjoy between the two holidays, elegant for company and a balm for two grad students who just finished their finals. I found this in my mother's recipe file. Not sure where it is from but I love going through her files and picturing her talking to herself as she eyes the ingredients.
Recipe says this serve 8. Only as a first serving. I used more pasta and it served 5.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup diced shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
12 ounces mixed mushrooms
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt - divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper - divided
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups 1% milk
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1-1/2 cups shredded fontina cheese
12 ounces pappardelle (wide ribbon pasta) - I used 16 ounces
Chopped fresh parsley
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, shallots and garlic to pan and saute about 3 minutes (till tender - I add the garlic the last minute). Add mushrooms, saute 5 minutes until mushrooms soften. Add white wine, Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 2 minutes until liquid evaporates. (I lowered the temp a bit.) Set aside.
2. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add milk and broth, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until it thickens - whisking. Remove from heat. Add cheese, remaining salt and pepper; stir until smooth. Stir into mushroom mixture; keep warm.
3. Place 1 cup of pasta in shallow bowl and top with mushroom mixture. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve. Savor.
I don't have a huge sweet tooth (what I love about Italian cookies - is that they are not terribly cloying). But I saw this pistachio-almond candy in a long-ago Tastes of Italia and couldn't get it out of my head. I think when you see this - you won't be able to get it out of your head. And it's easy!
Almond Pistachio Candy
1 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup shelled unsalted pistachios, chopped
Spray a baking sheet and set aside.
In a medium sauce pan combine sugar, orange juice, honey and almond extract. Cook over low heat until sugar dissolves. Add nuts and cook for 8-10 minutes. You want a lovely golden color.
Poor mixture onto prepared baking sheet and smooth with a spatula until 1/4 inch thick. Chill. When completely cooled, break into pieces. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 2 cups of brittle.
We can't keep Luce out of the tree. He was born in the woods and was happy to see the woods brought indoors. He makes it to the top, sleeps in it and wreaks havoc making merry. We anticipate an ornament-less tree come Christmas. And we smile. I wish you lots of smiles, the merriest Christmas, sparkle in the dark days and a New Year brimming with new possibilities, joys and love. I am grateful to be part of this extraordinary food blogging community and thank you for your support in 2012.
Peace, comfort and joy,