Friday, December 21, 2012

Pappardelle with Wild Mushrooms and Nutty Candy

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

Toast almonds in a large, dry skillet until just starting to brown. Remove and cool.

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,


Ciao Chow Linda said...

I am longing for a bowl of that pasta and yearning for some of that pistachio almond candy, but what has really captured my heart is Luce. That picture is just so precious. How lucky is he to have found your family?

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Papparadelle with wild mushroom sauce is one of my favorite combinations! I had such an amazing dish of the same on a trip in Florence, Italy, that I went back to the same restaurant the next day and ordered it again!

Yoir pistacchio/almond candy also looks delightful!

Luce is the perfect Christmas ornament -- he is so cute!

Merry Christmas/Buon Natale to you and your family, Claudia!

Balvinder said...

I saw your last post in email after a long time but it got deleted when sometimes you apply bulk action and then I forgot about it. Anyways,welcome again to the blogging world. I am saying yes to a bowl of pasta pistachio almond candy. There is something so comforting about mushrooms and that earthy balance they can add to a meal. Looks tasty!
Warmest Christmas wishes to you and your family and above all to the lovely kitten. We should never forget our pets.

Amy said...

That candy sounds amazing Claudia...what a heavenly combination with the salty pistachios and sweet almonds! Love the touch of Honey too! Merry Christmas to you :)!

Kitchen Riffs said...

I love the idea of the Feast of the Seven Cheeses!! Very creative. And I do know what you mean about Midwesterners and fish. Love the Pappardelle and Mushrooms. I sometimes serve a similar dish, although I don't use fontina - I should try it that way, it sounds delish. And the Almond Pistachio Candy looks terrific. Wonderful picture of Luce! We've never had a cat that would climb the tree, but they always show a great fascination with it. We always hang ornaments that can't break on the lower branches - they're sure to get batted off!

Beth said...

Hoping that Christmas brings you the joy of a loving family, and the comfort of wonderful memories. All the best to you at Christmas, Claudia.
Love, Beth

Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris said...

The best for you in 2013....with many days of mushroom papardelle...!

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Aw, Luce is adorable!!! Love that photo. And both your pasta and candy are picture perfect...together they make a yummy meal! Merry Christmas, Claudia! xo

chow and chatter said...

lovely dish and the cookies look so good, your cat is cat is adorable :_)

Merry Christmas

hugs Rebecca

FOODESSA said...

I find myself torn between picking between a pasta dish and nut brittle...two overly appreciated treats for me. Today, I'll snatch your brittle...mostly because, I haven't treated myself to this delicacy in quite a while ;o)

Claudia, I'm thrilled you have a cuty like Luce to enrich your life...and yes, watch the Christmas decorations...lots of surprises to be had with kitties ;o)

All the very best going forward into the New year and of course...Buon Natale!

Ciao for now,

Reeni said...

The candy does have an intriguing quality - love how easy it is! It sounds like Luce is having a ton of fun with your tree! He has a devilish look to him. Wishing you a Merry Christmas! xoxo

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Count me in on anything with mushrooms. And pistachios for that matter. Luce is adorable in your tree. Our two Siamese cats opened all of our Christmas packages one year when we were at work. The looks on their faces when we got home were priceless. Cats!

Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and the happiest of new years Claudia.

Mary Bergfeld said...

You've succeeded in making me hungry. I hope you're satisfied :-). I also hope you have a wonderful holiday. Hugs and Christmas blessings...Mary

Lori Lynn said...

Pappardelle smothered in mushrooms could not look more delicious!
Wishing you a dazzling Christmas and a wonderful 2013 Claudia! Thank you for your friendship in 2012.
Luce is such a cutie!

Gloria Baker said...

love this Claudis look delicious!
merry christmss!

Joanne said...

What a hearty delicious meal! It's definitely perfect for the season.

Gina said...

I'm thinking the brittle could go either way, at least in my book. Sounds like you had a house full, that is always a good thing to me. But I have to admit, I'm so glad to be able to curl up on the couch for a few and take a breather. So glad you made your mom's recipe, it's a great way to keep her close to your heart. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Angie's Recipes said...

I desperately need a bowl of noodles! It looks homey and delicious!
Sweet Luce ... still hiding under the tree? ;-)

Anonymous said...

The Feast of the Seven Cheeses… I love it!

Pappardelle may be my very favorite pasta of all time. Don't ask me why, but it may have something to do with the fact that they're wide but still twirlable on your fork? Anyway, I can't think of any nice way to enjoy them than with a beautiful wild mushroom sauce.

Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

The Feast of the Seven Cheeses… I love it!

Pappardelle may be my very favorite pasta of all time. Don't ask me why, but it may have something to do with the fact that they're wide but still twirlable on your fork? Anyway, I can't think of any nice way to enjoy them than with a beautiful wild mushroom sauce.

Happy Holidays!

Cucina49 said...

As fabulous as the pasta looks (and it does), I can't take my eyes off of Luce! Wishing you a fabulous Midwestern holiday.

Velva said...

Not sure which one I am eyeing more the pistachio candy or the pasta dis. think they are equally delicious.

We spend Christmas with my in-laws, a huge Italian American Family. Christmas is awesome and the food too.

Happy New Year!


Magic of Spice said...

I love pappardelle and just did a pasta dish with it for Christmas eve...your looks amazing! And the candy would be a perfect treat afterwards :)
Hope you had a great holiday...Happy New Year!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

It sounds like your Christmas celebrations were wonderful. Wishing you all the best for the New Year.

Whats Cookin Italian Style Cuisine said...

Stopping by to say Have a Happy Healthy and Safe New Year CLaudia glad to have another stellar year visiting your blog.. enjoyed it immensely!

Kathy said...

Claudia, That Pappardelle with Wild Mushrooms looks like a perfect dish!
How nice to get 40 family members together for Christmas eve! A tribute to your mother!
Your nutty crunch looks incredibly delicious!!

OysterCulture said...

What yummy combinations of food, as soon as I get over my holiday food coma, I am so making this.