Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Pasta Primavera (Page 211)

  • Date: Saturday, January 26, 2008 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Chuck, Lynn, Matty, Cornelia, Paul K, Beth, and Lauren K
  • Recipe Rating: A

This recipe was on the list generated by the random number generator, and I was saving it for an occasion when I had some vegetarians over for dinner! I have never in the past been too wowed by pasta primavera, but this recipe was excellent. Spaghettini is tossed with a variety of vegetables (green beans, asparagus, peas, mushrooms...), a slightly creamy, cheesy, mushroom-scented sauce, and some fresh herbs. The whole thing is topped with cooked tomatoes. Yum! This dish was simple in concept, but the recipe was just perfect in its execution. The vegetables were perfectly cooked, the creamy sauce on the pasta was rich with flavor, but not overly heavy, and the tomatoes were lovely -- flavorful on their own, with just a hint of balsamic vinegar. Based on my prior experience with pasta primavera (and the picture of this dish on the epicurious website) the intention of the recipe was for the tomatoes to be much less cooked than mine were. That said, I followed the directions exactly. Further, I vastly preferred them the way they came out to the way they usually are in pasta primavera. However, serving it this way, as if the tomatoes are a second sauce for the pasta, the ratio of tomatoes to the rest of the dish isn't quite right. To make every serving look as deliciously drenched with tomato sauce as my picture above, you would need to double the tomatoes called for in the recipe. In summary, this recipe was delicious. Not everyone seemed quite as taken with it as Matty and I were, and we had a big container of leftovers. I thought it would last for days and days, but it was gone within 24 hours. It was just so good!

Here is the recipe.

There was a request for the recipe for the chocolate peanut butter cake I made this weekend, so here it is (along with a picture of what it will look like when you're done). The recipe for the cake layers is a blend of some of my favorite recipes I have come across in cookbooks, and the frosting is based on a frosting my mom used to make when we were little.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Celebration Cake

For Cake Layers:

1 1/3 cups boiling water
1 1/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 large eggs

For Frosting:

1.5 cups creamy peanut butter
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
5 1/3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 - 1 cup milk

For Garnish:

Chocolate rolled wafer cookies


For the cake layers:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 2 9-inch cakes pans and line the bottoms with parchment. Butter parchment and flour pans. Set aside. Mix boiling water and cocoa, whisking until smooth. Add chopped chocolate, stir until smooth and let cool. Meanwhile, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt into another bowl. Once chocolate mixture has cooled, whisk sour cream and vanilla into it.

On high speed, beat together butter and both types of sugar for 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the chocolate mixture and flour mixture alternately in several additions, beating on low speed until just combined after each addition. Divide batter between pans. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 35 – 45 minutes, or just until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs on it. Invert layers onto racks and cool completely before frosting.

For frosting:

With an electric mixer, cream together peanut butter and cocoa on medium speed until well combined. Beat in powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, and enough milk to reach desired consistency.

For assembly:

Carefully cut each layer horizontally in half to form a total of four layers. Put one layer on cake circle or serving plate and top with chocolate peanut butter frosting. Put a second layer on top of the first, and repeat, layering cake and frosting until all layers are assembled. Cover entire cake with chocolate peanut butter frosting. Place rolled wafer cookies vertically around the perimeter of the cake. Once all wafer cookies are in place, wrap a wide ribbon around the cookies. Tie tightly and then form a bow. If desired, cover the top of the cake with frosting rosettes, using a pastry bag and a star tip.


Magdalen said...

You're a star, Teena -- and thanks! I'll make it as the birthday cake when my cousins (and fellow bloggers) come to visit. (It's a joint birthday, as I nearly share a birthday with my 81-year-old aunt, a civil rights attorney.) I'll post a photo on *my* blog, so you can see how I did!

Teena said...

No problem -- I hope you like it!