Showing posts with label pasta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pasta. Show all posts

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Spaghetti alla Carbonara from our guest, Leslie Karst. #recipe #mystery #giveaway

It's our pleasure to welcome our friend, the dynamic Leslie Karst, as our special guest here today.

Leslie has a wonderful recipe for Spaghetti alla Carbonara which we can't wait to try and a fabulous giveaway.  Make sure you read to the end and leave a comment to get in on the giveaway action. 

Now here's Leslie on the background to this delicious dish.

One of my sleuth Sally Solari’s favorite dishes to whip up for company is spaghetti alla carbonara. Not only is it about as simple as it gets to make—thus allowing Sally the luxury of enjoying pre-dinner cocktails along with her guests—but the combination of bacon, olive oil, butter, cheese, and eggs makes this pasta sinfully rich and delicious.

The origin of this dish’s name is hotly disputed, but most folks agree that it likely has something to do with the Italian word carbone (charcoal). Some claim the dish was invented by coalminers; others argue it was originally cooked over a charcoal flame; and still others assert that the name derives from a kind of charcoal-cooked ham that was once used for the pasta.

Whatever its history, this rich, creamy dish from Rome makes for a delicious and quick-to-prepare meal. Serve it with a green salad or fagiolini al burro (baby green beans sautéed in butter), and a loaf of warm, crusty bread. (Don’t be alarmed by the use of raw egg; the hot pasta heats it enough to cook, and the result is a silky, custardy sauce.)

Here’s a sneak-preview of the recipe from my brand new Sally Solari mystery, A Measure of Murder:

Spaghetti alla Carbonara
(serves 4-6)


1 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ pound pancetta or bacon, cut crossways into ½” strips
4 eggs
½ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
1 tablespoon chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley [I used green onions for the meal photographed]
salt and freshly-ground black pepper


Bring a large (at least 4 quart) pot of water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and 1 tablespoon salt, and cook over high heat until al dente (still slightly firm in the center, 8-10 minutes), stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the butter and oil in a heavy skillet. Add the bacon and fry over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown. (This can be done in advance, but reheat before service if the oil and butter have hardened.)

In a serving bowl large enough to hold the pasta, beat the eggs with the grated cheese.

Drain the cooked pasta and immediately dump it—without rinsing—into the serving bowl. Toss until the pasta is coated with the egg and cheese mixture. (I used whole wheat spaghetti, hence the darker color.)

Add the pancetta or bacon (along with all the butter and oil), and toss again.

Serve garnished with the parsley and freshly ground pepper. (See the  photo at top of post.)

Now here's a bit about the very tasty Sally Solari culinary mysteries series:

A MEASURE OF MURDER, book two in the Sally Solari culinary mystery series, was just released on February 7, 2017 (Crooked Lane Books). It's still warm to the touch!

Sally Solari is busy juggling work at her family’s Italian restaurant, Solari’s, and helping plan the autumn menu for the restaurant she’s just inherited, Gauguin. Complicating this already hectic schedule, she joins her ex-boyfriend Eric’s chorus, which is performing a newly discovered version of her favorite composition: the Mozart Requiem. But then, at the first rehearsal, a tenor falls to his death on the church courtyard—and his soprano girlfriend is sure it wasn’t an accident.

Now Sally's back on another murder case mixed in with a dash of revenge, a pinch of peril, and a suspicious stack of sheet music. And while tensions in the chorus heat up, so does the kitchen at Gauguin, set aflame right as Sally starts getting too close to the truth. Can Sally catch the killer before she’s burnt to a crisp, or will the case grow as cold as yesterday’s leftovers?

“Engaging characters, terrific writing, and a savory blend of musical and culinary erudition...polymath Karst sauces her plot without masking its flavor. And she’s a dab hand with the red herrings.” Publishers Weekly starred review

We're intrigued!  Now just who is Leslie Karst? 

The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst learned early, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. She now writes the Sally Solari Mysteries (Dying for a Taste, A Measure of Murder), a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California. An ex-lawyer like her sleuth, Leslie also has degrees in English literature and the culinary arts. She and her wife and their Jack Russell mix split their time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawai‘i. Visit her online at and at

As well as a hardcover copy of A MEASURE FOR MURDER, Leslie is offering this great Sally Solari swag! 

Leave a comment and don't forget your email addy and you could be the lucky winner.  The winner will be announced on the sidebar later this week!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Two Cheese Roasted Vegetable Fusilli - #EasyWeeknightDinners #MeatlessMonday

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: There’s saucy pasta, and there’s pasta with stuff in it. This is the latter. We enjoyed it tremendously, and it’s easy for a weeknight—about five minutes to chop the vegetables and twenty minutes to roast them, while you’re preparing the other ingredients and opening a little white wine. Because we don’t need to take this healthy eating thing too far, do we?

Next time we make this, we’ll try mixing the two cheeses and a little reserved pasta water with the fusilli to create a chunky-but-saucier mix, then add the vegetables. I think we'll enjoy it just as much!

Mission Impawsible (A Paws & Claws Mystery) by [Davis, Krista]We don’t often use whole wheat pasta, but I always enjoy it when we do. I think a sturdy pasta like amaranth would also be muy tastee.

And yes, I know it's Tuesday, but we made this on a Monday, so it still counts as #MeatlessMonday, if that's a thing to you!

Congratulations to our Krista Davis, whose latest Paws and Claws Mystery, MISSION IMPAWSIBLE, comes out today! 

Two Cheese Roasted Vegetable Fusilli

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 medium or large zucchini, chopped
1 small or ½ large red onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces whole wheat fusilli
1/4 cup grated Pecorino or Romano
½ cup ricotta (we use part-skim)
additional kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
6-8 basil leaves, chiffonade (cut in ribbons)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Toss the tomatoes, squash, and onion with the olive oil and salt, and spread on a large pan. Roast 20 minutes, stirring once.

Cook the pasta and drain. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the vegetable and cheeses. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with basil. Serve.

Serves 4-6.

Bon appetit!

From the cover of KILLING THYME (October 2016, in paperback, e-book, and audio---large print coming soon!): 

At Seattle Spice in the Pike Place Market, owner Pepper Reece is savoring her business success, but soon finds her plans disrupted by a killer…

Pepper Reece’s to-do list is longer than the shopping list for a five-course dinner, as she conjures up spice blends bursting with seasonal flavor, soothes nervous brides fretting over the gift registry, and crosses her fingers for a rave review from a sharp-tongued food critic. Add to the mix a welcome visit from her mother, Lena, and she’s got the perfect recipe for a busy summer garnished with a dash of fun. 

While browsing in the artists’ stalls, Pepper and Lena drool over stunning pottery made by a Market newcomer. But when Lena recognizes the potter, Bonnie Clay, as an old friend who disappeared years ago, the afternoon turns sour. To Pepper’s surprise, Bonnie seems intimately connected to her family’s past. after Bonnie is murdered only days later, Pepper is determined to uncover the truth. 

But as Pepper roots out long-buried secrets, will she be digging her own grave?

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The 2015-16 president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website  and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebookwhere I often share news of new books and giveaways from my cozy writer friends.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Rigatoni al Forno #Recipe @PegCochran

This recipe comes from an OLD Craig Claiborne's New York Times Cookbook that I've  had for close to 40 years (it's dated 1979.)  The back cover has fallen off along with the spine and large chunks are loose.  But it still has some great, tasty and not terribly complicated recipes.  I changed virtually nothing in the recipe--it's perfect as it is.

This sauce would be excellent simply served over plain pasta as well.

I made this for Christmas Eve and I think it would be perfect for New Year's Eve or New Year's Day.


7 tablespoons butter (I used less)
2 cups chopped onion
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 pound ground pork or Italian sausage
1 tsp minced garlic
3/4 tsp fennel seeds
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp dried
3/4 tsp crushed sage
3/4 tsp crushed oregano
1 dried pepper, chopped (optional--I didn't use)
6 cups peeled Italian plum tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup water
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound rigatoni or ziti
1/2 lb mozzarella cheese cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups grated Parmesan

Heat 3 tablespoons butter and add onion.  Cook until wilted.  Add sliced mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms give up their liquid.

Continue to cook until liquid evaporates.

In a separate skillet cook pork or sausage meat (remove casing.) I used pork for a milder flavor.   Add meat to the mushrooms and stir.  Add garlic, fennel (if not using sausage), basil, sage, oregano and red pepper if using.  Cook about three minutes, stirring.

Add the tomatoes (I wasn't sure if the recipe meant fresh or canned but I used two 28-ounce cans including juice.)  Add salt, pepper, water, broth and simmer for one hour, stirring frequently.

Add parsley and simmer 15 minutes more.  Stir in olive oil and set aside.  (I did not add the olive oil feeling there was enough fat in the sauce already.  I was also afraid the sauce would be too thin so I added about half a can of tomato paste.  I had the pan on the barest simmer and forgot to turn the stove off so probably cooked it for two to three hours in the end.  It thickened up nicely and was perfect!)

Cook pasta for eight minutes (it needs to be al dente since it will cook more in the oven.) Drain and run cold water to stop the cooking.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spoon a thin layer of sauce into your casserole dish (13.5 x 8.75 is recommended--don't know what mine was.)

Add a single layer of pasta.  Scatter half the mozzarella over it.  Top with one tablespoon Parmesan. 

Continue making layers of sauce, pasta, mozzarella and Parmesan ending with sauce and Parmesan.  (Use about 1/2 cup Parmesan and save the rest for serving at the table.)

Dot with remaining butter (I omitted the extra butter because...well just because.)

Bake 30 minutes uncovered until hot and bubbling.  Makes 8 to 12 servings.  (We served six adults and one child with plenty of leftovers.)

Coming May 2017

 Coming July 2017

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Pasta with Mussels #Recipe @PegCochran

I'm sure there are some people who would consider craving mussels a bit strange!  And I wouldn't blame you.  But for some reason last Friday I decided that that was what I wanted for dinner!  Hubby doesn't care for mussels but he was away for the weekend so the timing was perfect.

This recipe is from Jamie Oliver although tweaked a bit to accommodate what I had to work with and how I wanted to cook this.  He is a big proponent of doing four things at once (while the water boils, chop the garlic...) while I like to have my ingredients ready beforehand or I feel like I'm one of those entertainers trying to keep a dozen plates spinning at once.  I cut the recipe in half but I will give you the ingredients for making this for two as in the original recipe  It still made quite a lot.  (And yes, I ate it all--I didn't think it would keep all that well for lunch the next day.)


extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 onion, chopped (I added this from another recipe)
1 kg washed and debearded mussels (this is about two pounds)
1 - 2 pinches red chili flakes
1 anchovy fillet or a squeeze of anchovy paste
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
splash of white wine (added from another recipe)
250 g linguine (I made 4 ounces for myself so make this 8 ounces)
parsley, chopped
salt & pepper to taste

Start the water boiling for your pasta.  When it boils, add pasta and cook until al dente.  I would cook the pasta when the sauce was almost done because "the sauce waits for the pasta, the pasta never waits for the sauce."

Heat the oil in a skillet and add the garlic and onion.  (I had minced jarred garlic so that is what I used.)   Ideally don't let the garlic brown.  Add the chili flakes (I added them to the finished dish) and the anchovy.  (I didn't have anchovies and didn't want to buy a whole can for one fillet so I used a squeeze of anchovy paste.)  Squeeze the cherry tomatoes over the pan and toss them in.  (I forgot to cut them in half.)  Add the splash of white wine if using.

Add the washed and debearded mussels to the skillet.  Cover and cook until the mussels are open.  Discard any mussels that don't open.

Drain your cooked linguine (cooked al dente) reserving a bit of pasta water in case you need it (I didn't.)  Return pasta to pan and add the mussels and sauce.  Give it a good stir.  Put over a low burner and cook for a minute or two.  (Although I don't see why you couldn't add the pasta to the skillet you cooked the mussels in instead of dirtying up the pasta pan which just takes a swish of hot water and soap to clean.)

Sprinkle with chopped parsley, add salt and pepper to taste and serve!

On her blog, The Farmer’s Daughter, Shelby McDonald is growing her audience as she posts recipes, gardening tips, and her experiences raising two kids and running Love Blossom Farm in the small western Michigan town of Lovett.

Working the farm is demanding but peaceful—until that peace is shattered when the minister’s wife is murdered on Shelby’s property during a fund-raiser for a local church. But the manure really hits the fan when Shelby’s good friend veterinarian Kelly Thacker emerges as the prime suspect. Shelby decides to dig in and find the murderer by herself. As more suspects crop up, she’ll have to move fast—before someone else buys the farm. . . .


Barnes & Noble 

Coming Soon!  Available for Pre-Order Now!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Weekday Bolognese Sauce #Recipe @PegCochran

This recipe comes from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything FAST.  It's a great cookbook with recipes that are fast but not boring and are still full of real ingredients. Many of the recipes are variations on a theme--you start with a base recipe and alter it this way or that way to produce different dishes.

While this bolognese did not have the incredible depth of Marcella Hazan's recipe which cooks for hours, it did have fantastic flavor and it's great to know you can pull it together on a weeknight!


2 TBL olive oil
1 lb. ground beef, pork or veal or a combination of all 3 (I used beef)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red or white wine
1/4 cup cream
1 lb. spaghetti or pasta of your choice
Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat 2 TBL oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add the meat, chopped onion, celery, carrot and onion. 

Brown meat

Add veggies to browning meat

When the meat is browned add 1/4 cup tomato paste and cook, stirring, about a minute.  Add wine and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.   Add diced tomatoes and let simmer until wine reduces by half.  Stir in cream and turn the heat as low as possible.

Add tomato paste, wine and cream

Boil pasta and drain, saving some of the pasta water.

Add some of the pasta water to the sauce if you want it saucier.  Pour over spaghetti, add grated Paremesan and enjoy!

As a variation, add 1 pound finely chopped mushrooms, or use half the meat and twice the amount of veggies, or omit the can of diced tomatoes.

These instructions are not exactly as Bittman wrote them--he gives a step-by-step timeline of what to do when.  I prefer having my chopping all done before I start, but that's up to you.


The entire town of Cranberry Cove is popping with excitement. Monica Albertson is baking cranberry goodies by the dozen and shopkeepers are decking out their storefronts for the first annual Winter Walk—an event dreamed up by the mayor to bring visitors to the town during a normally dead time of year.

But it’s the mayor who turns up dead during the grand opening ceremony, his lifeless body making its entrance in a horse-drawn sleigh. Monica’s mother and stepmother quickly become the prime suspects when it’s discovered that the mayor was dating both of them, and to make things worse, her half brother Jeff uncovers a clue buried near one of the bogs on Sassamanash Farm. Now it’s up to Monica to find out who really put the mayor on ice.