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Illegitimi Non Carborundum

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Cacio e Pepe

Posted by Tom on Mar-17-2018


Cacio e Pepe


  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
  • 1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino

Recipe Preparation:

  1. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.
  3. Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.) Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve.

Basic Flaky Pie Crust

Posted by Tom on Dec-26-2014

pie crust






Basic Flaky Pie Crust

This pie crust is light, flaky, tender and very crisp.


  • 8 Tbs – Unsalted butter, cold (4 oz)
  • 1 1/3 Cups + 4 tsp – pastry flour or all purpose flour (6.5 oz)
  • 1/4 tsp – salt
  • 1/8 tsp – baking powder
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 Tbs – ice water
  • 1 1/2 tsp – cider vinegar


  1. Divide the butter into two parts, about two thirds to one third (5 Tbs and 3 Tbs)
  2. Cut the butter into 3/4 inch cubes. Wrap each portion of butter with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the larger amount and freeze the smaller for at least 30 minutes. Place the flour, salt, and baking powder in a reclosable gallon-size freezer bag and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Place the flour mixture in a food processor with the metal blade and process for a few seconds to combine. Set the bag aside.
  4. Add the larger amount of butter cubes to the flour and process for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the remaining frozen butter cubes and pulse until all of the frozen butter is the size of peas. (Toss with a fork to see it better.)
  5. Add the lowest amount of the ice water and the vinegar and pulse 6 times. Pinch a small amount of the mixture together between your fingers. If it does not hold together, add half the remaining water and pulse 3 times. Try pinching the mixture again. If necessary, add the remaining water, pulsing 3 times to incorporate it. The mixture will be in articles and will not hold together without bing pinched.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the plastic bag.
  7. Holding both ends of the bag opening with your fingers, knead the mixture by alternately pressing it. From the outside of the bag, with the knuckles and heals of your hands until the mixture holds together in one piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled.
  8. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, flatten it into a disc and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, preferably overnight.

Store: Refrigerated, up to 2 days; frozen up to 3 months



I like adding a base to the pie crust if not pre-baking it

  • 4 (2-inch) Gingersnaps
  • 1/4 cup – Pecan halves

Process the gingersnaps and pecans until finely ground. Sprinkle them over the bottom of the pie crust and, using your fingers and the back of a spoon, press them into the dough to coat the entire bottom, going about 1/2 inch up the sides.

Felicity’s perfect risotto recipe

Posted by Tom on Mar-23-2014


Here is my favorite risotto recipe.

Serves two.

Felicity’s perfect risotto recipe

    • Half an onion, finely chopped
    • 25g butter or 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • 1.25l good stock, chicken or vegetable
    • 200g arborio, carnaroli, or vialone nano rice
    • 50g unsalted butter, diced
    • 50g Parmesan or Grana Padano (for a vegetarian option) cheese, grated


  1. Bring the stock to the boil (cubes will often be too salty, so taste and water it down if necessary).
  2. Melt the 25g of butter (or use the vegetable oil) and soften the onion in a heavy-bottomed, straight-sided pan, then add the carnaroli rice. Turn up the heat, and stir to coat the grains with butter.
  3. When they are hot, add a small glass of white wine, and keep stirring until this has evaporated. Then you’re ready to start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time. Stir until it has nearly all been absorbed – the rice should always be sloppy, rather than dry – and then add another, and so on.
  4. Add any extra ingredients at some point during this time, depending on how robust they are – usually about 10 minutes in.
  5. When the rice begins to soften (after about 13 minutes, but the only way to know is to keep checking), add the stock in smaller amounts, and test it regularly, until it is cooked to your liking. Then add 50g of diced butter, and 50g of grated cheese, and beat in with gusto, until the risotto is rich and creamy. Check the seasoning, then serve immediately.



Picture Gallery

Posted by Tom on Sep-16-2013

Hi everyone,
Just wanted to give everyone a link to where I am uploading pictures to now… http://trd54.smugmug.com/. I move over to smugmug because of the unlimited storage capability.If you would like to upload pictures of your own get in touch with me and I can give you a link to upload to.

If you are looking for somewhere to keep your own photos I recommend: SmugMug


Spinach Lasagna

Posted by Tom on Jul-18-2009

Serves 6 to 8.   Published March 1, 2004, Cooks Illustrated.

Be sure to use Italian fontina rather than bland and rubbery Danish or American fontina. If it is not available, substitute whole milk mozzarella. To make the cheese easier to shred, freeze it for 30 minutes to firm it up. If fresh nutmeg is unavailable, use only 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Because the lasagna is broiled at the end of cooking to brown the surface, make sure to use a baking dish that is broilersafe.


  • Spinach
  • 1 tablespoon table salt
  • 20 ounces curly spinach (2 bags), stemmed and rinsed
  • Bechamel
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter for baking dish
  • 5 large shallots , minced (about 1 cup)
  • 4 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (generous 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • Cheeses and Pasta
  • 8 ounces whole milk cottage cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 12 no-boil lasagna noodles from 1 box
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 8 ounces Italian fontina cheese , shredded (about 2 cups)



  1.  For the spinach: Fill large bowl with ice water. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven or stockpot over high heat; add salt and spinach, stirring until spinach is just wilted, about 5 seconds. Using skimmer or fine-mesh strainer, transfer spinach to ice water and let stand until completely cool, about 1 minute, then drain spinach and transfer to clean kitchen towel. Wrap towel tightly around spinach to form ball and wring until dry. Chop spinach medium and set aside.

  2.  For the bechamel:  Melt 5 tablespoons butter until foaming in medium saucepan over medium heat; add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 1/2 minutes. Do not brown. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat, whisk in bay leaves, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Whisk in Parmesan and discard bay leaves. Transfer sauce to bowl, press plastic wrap directly against surface, and set aside.

  3.  For the cheeses, pasta, and assembly: Blend cottage cheese, egg, and salt in food processor or blender until very smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl and set aside. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Place noodles in 13- by 9-inch broilersafe baking dish and cover with hot tap water; let soak 5 minutes, agitating noodles occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on kitchen towel. Wipe baking dish dry and coat with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Use rubber spatula to distribute 1/2 cup bechamel in bottom of baking dish; position 3 noodles on top of sauce. Stir spinach into remaining bechamel in bowl, mixing well to break up clumps of spinach (you should have about 4 cups spinach/bechamel mixture). Spread 1 cup spinach mixture evenly over noodles, sprinkle evenly with Parmesan, and top with 3 more noodles. Spread 1 cup spinach mixture evenly over noodles, sprinkle evenly with 1 cup fontina, and top with 3 more noodles. Spread 1 cup spinach mixture evenly over noodles, followed by cottage cheese mixture. Finish with 3 noodles, remaining cup spinach mixture, and remaining cup fontina. Lightly spray large sheet foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover lasagna. Bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes, then remove foil. Remove lasagna and adjust oven rack to uppermost position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Broil lasagna until cheese is spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, then cut into pieces and serve.