Pasta & Co, Seattle
news from kurt

COOL WEATHER FAVORITES – FALL 2008

 

WHAT'S COOKING WITH KURT

 

Pull out the soup pot! Rev up the oven! Just as summer weather appeared to finally turn up, overcast skies are rolling in again because it's officially Fall. Our cool temperatures are teaming up with shorter days, giving soups, roasted vegetables and robust meats lots of appeal. We're craving full-flavored, hearty dishes as we put the boat away for the season, stash the baseballs and bats, and take out the football and our Seahawks jackets. It's a time to gather families and friends together, inviting them to share a tailgate picnic or Saturday night supper followed by a round of Scrabble or a trip to a you-pick apple orchard. Make the season easy and choose your menu at Pasta & Co. We've prepared terrific deli dishes bursting with pure flavor and comfort food goodness that are perfect when the weather starts to cool, enticing your autumn appetite and making a dinner meal easy as apple pie. Our pantry shelves are loaded with new items, too. Selected by our Culinary Council as "the best of the best," each showcases authentic flavors certain to inspire enjoyment and enhance the taste of everyday meals. Whether you're cooking for your family or friends-or both!-we're ready with great-tasting dishes to guarantee a delicious season.


Yours in good taste,

 

 

COOL WEATHER COOKING


It's been said that people in the Northwest never stop talking about food. Hard not to when we have so many terrific local ingredients to choose from!

 

In autumn, the conversation gets intense with discussions about the best dishes to warm body and soul. In this part of the world where night falls fast in October and rain can drizzle non-stop, food is a great distraction and a source of pleasure as well as nourishment. The return of soups, roasted vegetables, casseroles and hearty meat dishes signals harvest and homecoming time.

 

Many favorite fall dishes find their origins in immigrant cooking or were created by necessity a century ago when every meal was made from scratch. Soups originated this way. They were always made from what was on hand until the mid-twentieth century when Heinz, Lipton and Campbell's revolutionized the category with prepared, canned soups. However they're created, few things satisfy on a cold, gray day as much as a bowl of hot soup.

 

Ready-to-serve dishes or casseroles are another staple on fall menus. A cook's best game plan for busy weeknight dinners, casseroles have been served since the 1930s Depression era when using or reusing every scrap of food was essential. The casserole craze soared in the 1950s and 1960s, and even today, every home cook has one or two in his or her repertoire for a make-ahead meal.

 

Roasted, stuffed meats reappear on autumn tables, too. You can credit the surge of women's magazines published from 1910 through WWI for introducing meat recipes to American cooks. With their staffs of home economists and recipe development kitchens, for the first time, meat, fowl and fish dishes were actually featured in recipes in magazines and cookbooks.

 

When Julia Child began the French Chef television series in the 1960s, she introduced slow-cooked, roasted meats and vegetables, launching another cooking revolution. It's still going strong today.



NEW DELI DISHES FOR CHILLY AUTUMN NIGHTS


Bold, pure flavors, hearty ingredients, inspired seasonings and visual appeal. Pasta & Co's new fall deli dishes have it all! Whether you're entertaining a crowd or simply craving a hearty main or side dish to round out a weeknight meal, we've got delicious dishes conveniently ready to heat, serve and eat.

 

If comfort food comes in a bowl, we've got it. Our MUSHROOM BARLEY SOUP is totally vegetarian and combines diced mushrooms and carrots with chopped parsley to create an earthy, soul satisfying soup. Or fill your bowl with an inspired twist on a zesty favorite: WHITE CHICKEN CHILI. Made with white beans, shredded chicken, minced garlic, flavorful spices and three zesty chiles-jalapeño, Anaheim and poblano-it was the hit of the Culinary Council's tasting session.

 

We've got both meat lovers and vegetarians covered this season. Our BONELESS STUFFED PORK CHOPS are first brined, then split to hold a bread cube-apple stuffing seasoned with onions, celery and thyme, and roasted to tender perfection in a satisfying main dish. Everyone will love eating his or her vegetables when you serve our new FALL VEGETABLE POT PIE. A delicious medley of chunky parsnips, carrots, artichoke hearts, leeks and mushrooms baked under a tender pastry crust, it's a winner with vegetarians and carnivores alike.

 

From greens to beans, nobody does it better with side dishes than Pasta & Co. Serve FALL WILD RICE SALAD as either a main dish or alongside pork or poultry. Starring Northwestern ingredients, it combines nutty wild rice with chopped hazelnuts, dried cranberries, sliced fennel, apple chunks and green onions, all tossed with a light lemon-orange citrus vinaigrette. FALL BRAISED GREENS is way more than basic. This wholesome, healthful side dish includes onion, garlic, kale, Savoy cabbage and Brussels sprouts, with red pepper flakes for a lively accent. For BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND WHITE BEANS, we pan seared nutty Brussels sprout halves with garlic, then tossed them with white beans in a wholesome dish that's excellent topped at home with shredded Romano or Jack cheese and heated.

 

We also brought back some favorites from past seasons to round out our fall deli selection. For a hearty main dish just right on cold nights, try LAMB STEW WITH HERBS de PROVENCE. It combines herb-crusted, boneless leg of lamb chunks seasoned with garlic, onion and paprika, then simmered with carrots in a rich, tomato-based, herb accented sauce.

 

Vegetable lovers will cheer at the return of several popular dishes. OVEN-ROASTED VEGETABLES is a versatile side dish you can pair with beef, poultry or pork mains. Cubed butternut squash, onions, celery root and red peppers are lightly coated with herbs and olive oil, and then roasted until the edges caramelize. ROASTED YELLOW PEPPER COUSCOUS also returns as a side dish. Our version features fregola, the Italian semolina pasta formed in cylinders, that we toast, cook in chicken stock and then toss with puréed roasted yellow peppers and Beecher's Flagship cheese. Or try BLACK-EYED PEAS WITH MUSTARD GREENS, a hearty combination cooked and mixed with a zesty tarragon mustard vinaigrette. You'll also enjoy "everyone's favorite" SPINACH GRATIN, a creamy casserole of spinach stirred into a rich, creamy-smooth béchamel sauce.



THE ART OF EATING LOCALLY


We're all aware of the benefits of eating locally-for the good of our bodies, the health of the earth and our communities-and along comes a cookbook brimming with recipes to further inspire us. Written by Portland writer, Ivy Manning, The Farm to Table Cookbook: The Art of Eating Locally includes recipes from several notable Northwest chefs and restaurants, and is organized by season so you know exactly what dish is best when. Fresh produce is the starting point for many recipes, so hustle off to your neighborhood farmers' market, selecting a recipe based on what you bring home. From soups to salads, main course meals and desserts, we predict you'll reach for this colorful, hardcover cookbook in every season.



FALL PANTRY FAVORITES


Our seasonal pantry picks will add sweet sensations and salty inspiration to all your cooking and sweet cravings. On the salty side, we're stocking VIGNALTA SALE ALLE ERBE, an amazing Italian salt flavored with Mediterranean herbs. A pinch transforms simple dishes, such as scrambled eggs, into the sublime. For sweets, try FROG HOLLOW ORGANIC CHERRY CONSERVES, made from whole, pitted cherries with a hint of tartness to balance the sweet. It's the perfect complement to savory meats, or-need we say-spooned over vanilla ice cream. On a similar note of indulgence, ROSEBUD FARMS SAGE JELLY will transport toast or crumpets, not to mention pork, duck or sausage. Made in small batches on a farm in North Yorkshire, this jelly blends apples, lemon juice and sugar with minced fresh sage leaves. Beginning the day with DORSET CEREAL, a superior muesli combining soft, dried berries and cherries with crispy oats and flakes, ensures a very fine day. And when a craving for something sweet hits, nibble a bit of BURNT SUGAR CRUMBLY FUDGE, CHOCOCLATE HONEYCOMB or COCONUT ICE.

 

For housewares, we located excellent, take-anywhere CERAMIC BAKING DISHES, all by Saparna. Part of the collection is a wide, amber-colored ceramic EMBOSSED PEAR BOWL with a pouring spout to serve as a serving dish or mixing bowl. To honor Washington State's apple growers, our ivory ceramic APPLE SERVING PLATE is embellished with red apples and includes a companion knife, making it perfect for serving cheeses.



HOORAY FOR ROOT VEGETABLES!


Is it a yam or a sweet potato? These large, edible roots are everywhere in autumn, and both look similar. However, different plants produce each tuber. True yams contain more sugar but are not widely marketed in the U.S., being more common in their native Latin America. Garnet yams, actually a deep orange sweet potato variety, are widely available all fall and into winter. This recipe, adapted from The Farm to Table Cookbook: The Art of Eating Locally, enhances the sweet potatoes with a topping of good, Northwest hazelnut butter.

 

(Serves 4 to 6)

 

  • 3 pounds Garnet, Jewel, Beauregard, or other moist, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3-inch-long wedges
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup toasted hazelnuts (see note)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 2 green onions, chopped

 

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

 

Place the potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir until evenly coated. Roast the potatoes for 40 minutes or until they are tender and can be pierced with a fork.

 

While the potatoes are roasting, place the hazelnuts, butter and remaining oil in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, scrapping down the sides.

 

Transfer the cooked potatoes to a serving bowl and toss with the green onions and half of the hazelnut butter. Cover and refrigerate the remaining hazelnut butter.

 

Note: If you cannot find toasted hazelnuts at your local grocery, buy raw hazelnuts and toast them at home. To toast the hazelnuts, place them in a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven until the nuts are lightly browned and the skins crack. Let them cool completely and then rub small handfuls of nuts together in your hands to remove the papery skins.


Copyright 2008 Pasta & Co

 

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Pasta & Co is part of the Sugar Mountain family of businesses;
sibling company to Beecher's Handmade Cheese,
Bennett’s Pure Food Bistro, Maximus / Minimus,
and Northwest Earth & Ocean.