Drunken Pasta and Sexy Cupcakes
Fall is in the air and food is oven again. This past weekend I've tried Molly's marinated chevre, Chockylit's Late Summer cupcakes (at Garrett's recommendation) and a fellow GoLers Vodka Cream pasta recipe. Phew. Luckily, these have all been made to share. There's nothing better than trying out new recipes on unsuspecting...um...I mean others who may appreciate new flavors too. Share the love, right?
As the recipes for both the chevre and the cupcakescan be found on their respective website I won't copy them here. Just follow the above hot links to deliciousness. The chevre was pretty good, I tried the first variation with lemon peel, basil, thyme and marjoram. Maybe too spring-y for the chilly rainy weather we've been having here. I'd prefer something a bit more hearty and earthy. I might try the second variation next time...or manchego in garlic and olive oil with a big crusty rustic bread. Either way, you can't go wrong with cheese, and both of these are very simple and delicious appetizers for any get together.
The cupcakes? Wow. A myriad of flavors (roasted peaches, thyme, blueberries and topped off with a creamcheese frosting) that blend so very very well together. I've been checking out the backlog of intriguing cupcake recipes on Chockylit's site and I think I may very well be getting close to the realm of NotMartha's Cupcake Madness (but still nowhere close to being as good as being an IceCreamMonster I fear. Although the cupcake bombe might need to be tried at the next possible opportunity, the best of both worlds.) These cupcakes would make delightful gifts, pretty to look at, delicate and light, soooooo easy to eat. But the real question is...complex cupcake or sophisticated frosted muffin? Hmmmmm........
Sidenote- These market berries may have been the most expensive blueberries I've ever bought, but those little suckers were just brimming with flavor. So much better than the normal blandberries to be had at the supermarket.
Sidenote number 2- I substituted lemon juice for vanilla extract in the creamcheese frosting. I like the zip it gives it and helps to cut the sweetness. Maybe Swiss powdered sugar is excessively sweet....it's been semi-problematic in the past.
I wish I had counter space. Sigh.
Finally, the pasta. I was impressed and a bit skeptical at the same time. Skeptical because I was unsure if the can of tomatoes I bought was crushed or not, neither the French word on the can nor the word crushed in English appeared in my mini dictionary. Yarg. Also, I was unsure if the sauce would ever thicken up or remain soupy. But all of my worrying was for naught. Everything ended up peachy, much like the cupcakes. A fine dinner to be served up with a big salad and a checkered napkin tucked into your shirt. I made about a half recipe and had enough for two meals. Adjust to suit the amount of people you plan to serve.
Vodka Cream Pasta
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1 cup vodka
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)
- Coarse salt and pepper
- 16 ounces pasta, such as penne rigate
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn
Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic and shallots. Gently sautee shallots for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka to the pan (3 turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup). Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). While pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes.
Stir cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves.