pasta, noodles and dumplings

Make Macaroni Pie Your Own


Every Caribbean mommy has a macaroni pie recipe.  It's made as many different ways as there are women to reinvent this recipe and make it their own.

The barebones version, the kind you can find in every New York roti shop, is a little more than a baked macaroni and cheese casserole, but when a Caribbean mommy starts burning, which here means cooking up some homestyle comfort food, stand back and take notes.

I got a Barbados version by way of St. Vincent from my wonderful friend, Andrea Jacobs, and made it my own.  Many if not most recipes call for egg, but I happened to be out of eggs when I made mine recently and discovered they were not necessarily an essential ingredient - good news to those with egg allergies.

If you're pressed for time, you can use packaged grated cheese with good results.

This is a great side dish for cookouts, potlucks and family gatherings.  I like to divide the dish into smaller foil containers so we can have one for now and another for later.  The  Macaroni Pie freezes well and can go straight from the freezer to the oven for reheating.


Southern-style Macaroni Pie

16 ounces short pasta (I prefer penne, but many like elbow or other shapes)

1 tablespoon chicken bouillon (Vegeta or Mrs. Dash works too)

8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (about 2cups) 

8 ounces mozzarella, grated (about 2 cups)

8 oz ricotta cheese

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

4 oz butter (one stick)

salt and pepper to taste

Grease a 2 quart baking dish. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Reserve one half cup of the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses to top the Macaroni pie.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add a pinch of salt to the water and pour in the pasta. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until al dente. The pasta should not be soft, but be a little firm to bite.

Drain pasta well in a colander, and then pour it back into the cooking pot. Add the bouillon, cheeses, half the stick of butter and half of the bread crumbs to the pasta.  

Salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine all of the ingredients well.

Pour the pasta mixture into the greased baking dish, top with remaining cheeses and bread crumbs. Bake in a preheated oven for about an hour, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow the pie to rest for 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

Note: If the top begins to brown too quickly, add a piece of foil over the top of the baking dish.


Celebrating the Chinese New Year

Easy Asian Noodles The Year of the Tiger is not for the timid.  Characterized by bold and sweeping change, the year's namesake is graceful, powerful and impulsive. It would seem logical to celebrate with verve this charming and ebullient big cat.

Festivities to ring in the Lunar New Year tend to be bold and dramatic, conveying the importance of new beginnings. Beginning February 14 and lasting 15 days, the celebration is food focused, with many of the foods served symbolic of prosperity, good health and long life.

Even if you're unsure of a food's symbolism, you can certainly appreciate its grace and flavor.  Over at my friend Kian's site, Red Cook, he shares a recipe for Braised Abalaone, which is simply gorgeous.

Most of us don't have the time, or perhaps the culinary skills, to create banquet food. For us, there are noodles. 

And while noodles, symbolizing longevity in Chinese culture, may take a backseat to banquet food, they are the great Asian comfort food, served daily in homes for fast and nutritious meals.

There is familiarity as well as tradition steeped in the various noodle dishes prepared by the home cook, whether they are warm and nurturing soups, hearty and healthy vegetable-filled stir frys or light and delicate cold noodle salads. 

Chef-author Helen Chen delights us with her second book in of a two-part series, Easy Asian Noodles Helen Chen with a wok from her cookware line (128pp, Wiley, $17.95), a kitchen-sized workhorse of a cookbook devoted to noodle dishes from Chinese, Japanese and Thai cultures.

Small enough to stuff into your bag for quick reference at the market, yet sleekly elegant with beautifully styled photography by Jason Wyche, the guide to all things noodle is made accessible even to home cooks who can barely boil water.

"We're all either working, raising a family or caring for elderly parents. We just don't have the time," said Chen. "I really try to write these recipes the way I cook."

A master of the Asian kitchen in her own right and daughter of Joyce Chen, who pioneered Chinese cuisine in Cambridge, MA, during the 50s, Helen Chen carries on the tradition of accessible authenticity in her recipes and with her cookware, Helen's Asian Kitchen.

Joyce Chen coined the name Peking Ravioli for potstickers, a name still synonymous on the East Coast with the plump filling dumplings. She introduced the American palate to Chinese food that wasn't bathed in cloying sweet sauces or some typical dish like Eggs Foo Yung or Chop Suey.

A restaurateur, a cookbook author, and TV show host, Joyce Chen developed her own specialty foods and cookware line. Needless to say, she was a fantastic cook.

Her daughter became a baker first to distinguish herself from her famous mother. She had bread rising to bake while we chatted.  "No one wanted to eat my stir frys," she said, then laughed. "My mom's cooking was so utterly fabulous."

Why noodles, why now

The last two decades have seen a resurgence and appreciation for comfort food from cuisines around the world.  Chen said the timing was right.

"Noodles, in particular, are very popular," she said.  "Not only are Westerners interested in noodles, but for Asians, noodles are comfort food."

In Asian culture, noodles serve many purposes - breakfast, lunch, dinner or quick snack - because they are easy to prepare and a flavorful mouthful of different tastes and textures.  "With vegetables, they're a really healthy meal... Everything is in that  one bowl," said Chen.

Noodles are filling and satisfying without being greasy or heavy. For many Asians, noodles evoke wonderful memories of childhood. Chen remembered being served homemade longevity noodles on her Chinese birthday (according to the Lunar Calendar).Her mother used to tease that she'd made them so long that Chen would need a step ladder to eat them.

But you don't need to make homemade noodles to enjoy these recipes. Most markets have good quality fresh and dried noodles - wheat, bean and rice - available.  In a pinch, one can use spaghetti for some recipes calling for wheat noodles. Chen also uses prepared chicken stock in her recipes and admits to buying it by the case.

Favorite noodle dish

Choosing a favorite meal is like choosing a favorite child. Each one has different qualities to love. For Chen, she chooses noodle recipes according to what she craves and what she feels like cooking.

"I usually start with, what do I feel like cooking," she said. "I find it easier to think of what form of noodle I want to prepare."  Her cookbook is organized according to preparation - stir-fried, pan-fried, and sauced - so that you can decide how you want to cook, then what you want to cook. 

One of her many favorites is a dish her mother often prepared, Peking Meat-sauced Noodles.  This dish is famous in Beijing, where her mother grew up.

Garnished with fresh bean sprouts and shredded radishes and thinly sliced cucumbers, it is crisp-soft delicious and Chen's comfort food of choice. The dish may be made with ground turkey, although traditionally it is made with pork, and packaged vernicelli or spaghetti may substitute for Chinese wheat or egg noodles.

Peking Meat-sauced Noodles

serves 6 to 8


1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 pound ground pork (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup bean paste, preferably Japanese red miso

2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 medium onion, minced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions

1 pound Chinese wheat or egg noodles or thin or regular spaghetti

10  radishes, shredded for garnish

1 medium cucumber, partially peeled (leaving a few long strips of peel on the sides) seeded and shredded for garnish

2 cups bean sprouts, par boiled for 15 to 20 seconds, rinsed in cold water and drained well, for garnish

10 ounces fresh spinach, washed, par boiled for 15 to 20 seconds,rinsed in cold water, squeezed dry and minced for garnish

5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced, for garnish (optional, see Note)

Note: Northern Chinese have a propensity toward garlic - cooked or raw - and lots of it! The caveat to adding raw garlic garnish to these noodles is: if you're going out on a date or social occasion, leave them out.


1. In a small bowl, mix the wine and cornstarch together. Add the pork and mix well. In a separate small bowl, stir the bean paste, hoisin sauc, soy sauce and sugar together.

2. In a wok or stir fry pan, heat the oil over high heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the pork mixture and cook, stirring constantly.until the meat changes color and breaks up, about 2 minutes. Add the scallions and cook, stirring constantly, until the scallions are soft but not browned, another minute.

3. Stir in the bean paste mixture and 1 cup water and mix thoroughly. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. You will have a thin sauce.

4. Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 5 quarts of water to a boil. Stir in the spaghetti and boil until a little more tender than al dente. Drain and rinse in hot water; immediately divide the noodles among 6 or 8 individual noodle bowls. Place the meat sauce in a serving bowl on the table. Set the vegetable garnishes out in individual bowls and let people sauce and garnish their own noodles.

Time for a new Thanksgiving tradition with Pasta Sfoglia recipe

Ron- and Colleen share an appetite for good fresh food

Turkey too hum-drum?  It's time to start a new tradition with a sensational holiday recipe from Sfogila chef restaurateur Ron Suhanosky.

Nonna's Holiday Crab and Lobster Sauce Spaghetti is a childhood favorite of the New York chef and co-owner with wife, Colleen, of two acclaimed Italian bistros - one in NYC, the other in Nantucket. We're sure it will become a much anticipated favorite in your family as well.

Suhanosky idled many a childhood afternoon in the kitchen with his grandmother and great-grandmother, watching and learning and inhaling the happiness their cooking brought to the family.

"I always saw her in the kitchen. I could see how happy she was and I wanted to be that happy," he says. "Food was the element for bringing people together."

The Suhanoskys, whose Italian heritage is central to their appetite for slow food prepared from whole, fresh and local ingredients, both grew up in families where lavish family meals were customary on holidays.  

Suhanosky's background is Polish, Hungarian and Italian while his wife's is Sicilian and French.

He dreams of pasta, mixing textures and flavors - both sweet and savory - in the manner of skilled chefs of the Italian Renaissance.  His province in the kitchen is all things savory while hers is all things deliciously, decadently sweet.

"I started experimenting with old traditions, dried fruits, savory with sweet," Suhanosky says. "I'm usually hungry when I start working on a menu."

Pasta is the quintessential italian comfort food. It melds cultural tradition and simple ingredients to produce memorable moments at the table. Suhanosky's nonna's classic seafood sauce is a holiday tradition that can be yours for the making.

adapted from the Suhanosky's recently published cookbook PASTA sfoglia from Wiley

Nonna's Holiday Crab and Lobster Sauce

serves 8


2 tablespoons grape seed oil

3 cloves garlic, smashed

6 live blue Maryland crabs, cleaned (see Note)

Two 1-pound 12-ounce cans peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes, passed through a food mill

8 cups water

3 lobster tails

1/4 cup finely chopped preserved lemons (Pasta sfoglia provides a recipe, but you may purchase these ready made)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound good quality spaghetti

Optional garnish: 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, basil or dill

1. Add the grape seed oil, garlic and crabs to a large sauce pan or stock pot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until the crabs turn red, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for three more minutes.  Add the pureed tomatoes and 4 cups of the water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until reduced by half, about two hours. Add the lobster tails and 2 cups of the water and cook for 30 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate overnight.

2. Turn on the heat under the sauce to medium-high. Add the remaining two cups of water and stir to combine.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

3. Remove the crab and lobster to a serving platter. Stir the lemons, salt and pepper into the sauce.

4. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Two minutes before the pasta cooking time is complete, use a wire mesh skimmer or tongs to remove the spaghetti from the pot and place them directly into the sauce.  Stir to combine.

5. Serve immediately with the platter of crabs and lobster tails on the side. Sprinkle finely chopped herbs of your choice over everything, if desired.

NOTE: Crabs are bottom feeders so they need to be thoroughly cleaned before they're cooked. Soak them in generously salted water for 24 hours. When you remove them from the water, they are no longer alive. Use a stiff brush to clean between and under the legs.

Pasta Sfoglia: a pasta primer from acclaimed Nantucket & NYC restaurants

224 pages of tender and tasty pasta PASTA sfoglia

Ron Suhanosky, Colleen Marnell-Suhanosky

with Susan Simon

Wiley, Hardcover

224 pages

September 2009


Sfoglia, Italian for an uncut sheet of pasta, is an apt name for the Nantucket and New York City restaurants of chefs Ron and Collen Suhanosky.

With their Renaissance-inspired menus featuring sweet and savory flavored sauces enrobing egg-rich pastas, the acclaimed restaurants have earned their place in the hearts and stomachs of their clientele.

Even former NY Times food critic, Frank Bruni, whose reviews were renowned for their pungency, was mellowed by a meal at Sfoglia NYC. 

Bruni wrote:

A dish of pasta this fantastic, its sauce of cream and vin santo applied with restraint and leavened cunningly by shredded carrot, convinces a person that whatever path led him to it should be embraced more often. In this case the impulse to enjoy an unhurried midday meal had taken me there. That, and the very lucky decision to enjoy that meal at Sfoglia.

Now after a decade and more of mastering their craft, the Suhanoskys have developed a cookbook. With 111 recipes - including the Fusilli, Guanciale, Carrots, Vin Santo and Cream that Bruni admired in his 2007 review - PASTA sfoglia gives guidance to the home cook.  

Master recipes for fresh egg pasta, gnocchi, crespelle (thin Italian crepes), and brodo (a hybrid cross between stock and broth) are the foundation of this beautifully staged cookbook. Included also are recipes for ingredients Sfoglia pasta dishes rely upon: Limoncello, a lemon infused liqueur made in nearly every seaside Italy village, preserved lemons, and goat's milk cheese.

The two-page section detailing how to roll and cut pasta for various shapes is as precise as can be, but suffers from a lack of illustration.  I would have liked to see the process through the lens of food photographer Ben Fink, whose gorgeously styled photographs tell the unwritten story throughout this cookbook.

A shared passion for the Italian cooking of their youths is evident in PASTA sfoglia.  One of the sublime pleasures of this cookbook is reading the personal notes, the intimate experiences, of the couple's food journey.  The reader gets a glimpse of big family dinners and working stages in Italian kitchens as well as insights about a centuries old cuisine and way of eating that is as much an art as it is a lifestyle. 

Each recipe is prefaced by a short passage, which is one part inspiration and technique, one part memoir, that provides readers with the hidden nature of how the recipe evolved.  In the recipe, Ricotta, Prunes, Walnuts, Fazzoletti, and Valpolicella Sauce, the couple tells us the filling for these plump fazzoletti - literally handkerchiefs - were the Valpolicella wine-soaked prunes dipped in chocolate they ate while traveling in Verona.

Organized in six sections - master recipes, fresh pasta, dry pasta, filled pasta, gnocchi and grains, which the Suhanoskys consider as "cousins of the more traditional pastas" - the cookbook builds on the basics. Ron Suhanosky, who says he dreams about pasta, simplifies the process of making fresh pasta by using a food processor to blend the dough and an electric pasta maker to roll out the sheets of dough.  "Fresh pasta is something special, but something not just for special occasions'," he writes in urging home cooks Niente paura or Have no fear.

The authors provide an extensive and detailed list of resources for necessary specialty products as well.

What makes this cookbook indispensable is its wide range of pastas and sauces as well as its insider tips for creating memorable meals. The book takes the terror out of making fresh pasta and details inventive ways of using ingredients in sauces, which for the time-pressed may be combined with either store-bought fresh or dry pastas.

Condensed from PASTA sfoglia

Serves 4 – 6


My original idea was to make a carrot salad with guanciale. Then I thought about pasta – just because pasta is always the first thing I want to eat. This recipe is kind of a spin off of carbonara because of the crispy guanciale and creamy sauce.

1 tablespoon grape seed oil
1/2 pound diced guanciale (see resources)
3 medium-large carrots, peeled and finely shredded, yield approximately 2 cups
1/2 cup vin santo or Malvasia
1 pound good quality fusilli
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the grape seed oil and guanciale to a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the guanciale has rendered it fat,is deep gold and crispy, 6 – 8 minutes. Remove from the heat. Pour off all but 1/4 cup of the fat.

Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the carrots and cook until they have wilted, 2 – 3 minutes. Add the vin santo and reduce to 1/4 cup.

Add the fusilli to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions.

Add the heavy cream to the skillet and reduce by half, about 10-12 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup pasta water to the sauce. Use a wire mesh skimmer to remove the pasta 2 minutes before cooking is complete and place it directly into the skillet. Toss to thoroughly coat the pasta and cook for the remaining 2 minutes.

Serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese.

Angel hair pasta with shrimp and capers


I adore quick and easy meals.

Pasta is my go-to ingredient when I want something tasty and fast for dinner. I love pasta so much I think I must be an honorary Italian!

Angel hair pasta with shrimp and capers is a favorite in our house. It's delicious, nutritious and made in minutes.

The following recipe is so simple and so good.


1/2 of a box uncooked angel hair pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons capers, drained

4 cloves garlic, chopped

d 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 can (28 ounces) Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and return to pan. 

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp; cook 3 to 5 minutes, until cooked through - a translucent pink. Remove shrimp from skillet to avoid overcooking and set aside.

Add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes; cook until garlic is tender, about 1 minute, stirring constantly. (Do not let garlic burn.)

Stir tomatoes, wine, capers and basil into skillet. Continue cooking until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add shrimp and sauce to pasta and toss to coat well. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese or Grana Padano and additional chopped basil, if desired.

Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

How to prepare fresh pasta dough & a traditional dish

Even if you don't have an old gray-haired Nonna to teach you her secrets, you can learn to make your own homemade pasta. Chef Matteo Carboni of Academia Barilla steps in to show you how. 

Here Chef Carboni demonstrates traditional pasta tools. You can use that pasta machine that's been gathering dust on the shelf since you got it last Christmas or you can buy a pasta machinel here. You can find an authentic pasta ghitarra at Creative Cooks.


Finally, we have a traditional pasta with Fava or broad bean sauce using tomato, rosemary and garlic. Simple and delicious.

Saturday Night Eat-In: Wild Mahogany Clams with Linguine

These tender and meaty clams taste great and are beautiful plated

Recently I found myself in Chinatown - early - going for accupuncture and massage treatments.  I love this time of day, when the streets are clean and uncrowded and the fishmongers are putting out the day's catch.  It all looks good and smells good and inspires me to cook.

I spied a heavenly bag of wild mahogany clams next to the heaps of bags of brilliantly black mussels-alive-alive-oh.  They glistened like wet tiger's eye.  And into my shopping bag they went, to be transported back to Brooklyn for a garlicky feast.

Wild mahoghany clams or golden neck are similar in flavor to Quahogs, but more robust and a little saltier.  They are fantastic in pasta dishes and hold up well in dishes with strong, complex flavor structures.  

I bought a bottle of Shiao Xing wine, which tastes a bit like sherry, but drier, to add to my impromptu feast.

Wild Mahogany Clams with Fresh Herbs & Linguine

8 ounces linguine

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small tomato, diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 sprig thyme
1 cup clam juice or chicken stock
1/4 cup Shiao Xing wine
2 pounds (20-24) Wild Mahogany clams, scrubbed and cleaned of grit


Place clams in a cold salter water bath with a 1/4 cup of corn meal for about a half hour, rinsing periodically as clams disgorge grit. Discard any clams with bnroken shells or those which are open and do not close when handled. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta and cook until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta. 

Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add tomatoes, herbs, wine and stock. Finally, add clams and cover, reducing heat to medium. 

Cook until clams open, about - 6 minutes. With tongs, transfer fresh clams to plate, throwing out any unopened clams. Add cooked pasta to sauce in skillet, tossing to coat the pasta, about a minute. 

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide pasta between bowls. Top with fresh clams and serve. 

Wine pairing: Henry LaGarde Reserve 2008, Mendoza, Rose "Well-defined salmon color, clear and bright, with outstanding cherry flavors. This blend of Malbec and Pinot Noir is fresh and complex in the mouth." (Beacon Wines)

Saturday night eat-in: Pasta con pollo e spinaci


This week's menu for the Saturday night eat-in is another great pasta dish.  

Even if I think every season is pasta season, this menu really sings Spring and cherry blossoms with its baby spinach and fresh strawberries and light, tart goat cheese.

On your next Saturday night eat-in, instead of ordering take-out or doing a heat-and-eat, why not pull together this quick pasta dish? 

You'll have more time to enjoy your family (boyfriend, girlfriend, guests) and you'll have a fantastic meal. I decided to do dessert and salad in one dish - Strawberries with Goat Cheese in a Dijon Balsamic-Honey Vinaigrette.

Add a crusty, delicious country French baguette and a sbottle of subtle Sancerre or a semi-dry Reisling and you're set

Pasta con pollo e spinaci
serves 4


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 tablespoons sherry or mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
1/2 red pepper, seeded & sliced thinly
2 cups baby spinach, washed & spun dry
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 oz slivered parmigiano reggiano

4 cups prepared pasta shells, al dente

In a deep sided sautee pan, heat olive oil to medium.  Add garlic and chicken, sauteeing until golden.  Add wine, red pepper and spinach, continuing to sautee until vegetables are just wilted but still brightly colored.  Add butter and cream, salt an pepper to taste.  Serve over pasta, garnishing with parmigiano reggianno curls.

Saturday Night Eat-in: Pasta con Mollica


Around our house the running joke for leftover or bare-pantry meals is that it's International Night because you never know what in the world you'll find on your plate.

This week's Saturday Night Eat-In honors the bare pantry with Pasta con Mollica or Pasta with Bread Crumbs. This is Tuscan peasant food which is so simply divine you don't realize you are eating frugally. Serve with spinach stuffed mushroom caps and baby carrots with peas.

Since I am typically a hoarder and keep staples on hand, I always have a box of pasta in the house.  I never knew a carbohydrate I didn't love either, so there is always bread.  Cheese is my best-est friend. 

Voila!  The centerpiece of my meal is all right here.

Next, I dig out the baby carrots my son refused to eat in his school lunch, plus the emergency frozen petits pois - love how elegant French makes garden variety peas.

Lastly, I grab some portobello mushrooms, originally destined for a homemade pizza, and a bag of spinach.  

It's International Night!

Spinach & Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 mushroom caps, cleaned & trimmed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 cups fresh spinach
1 & 1/2 oz goat cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmigiano reggiano
salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil to medium heat, then sautee the mushrooms caps until just tender. In the last five minutes, add the balsamic vinegar.  Remove the mushrooms from the pan and place on a baking sheet.  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit (180 degrees Celsius).

Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to skillet and heat to medium before adding spinach.  Stir until wilted. Then add to food processor, along with goat cheese and pulse to just smooth.  Spoon spinach-cheese mixture into mushroom caps & top with grated parmigiano.

Place in the oven until grated cheese is melted.  Cut into quarters for serving.

Pasta con Mollica

1 lb mostaccicoli or other short pasta
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1/4 day-old baguette, cubed & toasted
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

Bring water for pasta to a boil in a large pot, adding the pasta to cook for about 8-9 minutes or until just tender.  

In a small sauce pan,  heat olive oil and garlic, adding the Italian herbs (I bought mine in Rome's Campo dei Fiori, but they are readily available in grocers or substitute herbs of Provence).

Drain the pasta, then add the olive oil, garlic and herbs, and the toasted bread crumbs, mixing well.
Place a generous serving of pasta in the center of a plate, then place vegetables and mushroom quarters on either side.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with Bio-Weingut H.U.M. Hofer Grüner Veltliner Trocken 2008. $12.99 for 1L. 

"Bottled in a full one liter bottle with a beer bottle style crown cap, (this Gruner) is a refreshingly versatile, food friendly un-oaked white that packs a mouthful of flavor in every sip. The flavors are reminiscent of citrus, minerals, and the tell-tale white pepper that Grüner is known for. Bone dry with plenty of cleansing acidity on the finish, it's a worthy companion to Southeast Asian and Pacific Rim cuisine, as well as with vegetable dishes, fish and white meat." (67 Wine)