I saw a recipe in Mother Earth News Magazine the other day for No Knead bread and thought I'd give it a try since baking is my down-fall. That just means that I have to do more of it to figure it out. If a bread making course in Italy can't cure me though, I'm not sure I'm savable. The recipe started out by saying it would take 5 minutes to do this. I didn't believe it. Many, many hours later, I was rushing to get it done! I don't want to steal the recipe and post it here so feel free to go check it out for yourself on the Mother Earth News website - http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/Healthy-Bread-No-Knead-Bread-Recipes.aspx
I decided that since we'd be making some yummy home-made bread, what better to go with it than pasta! What kind of pasta though? I checked the fridge and saw some Parmigiano Reggiano which of course I'd have to use. Ah, that was it! I ran it by Chris - how about a seafood scampi? She curled her lip. OK, back to the fridge. There was some blue cheese in the drawer. Hmm, was there any steak? I opened the freezer and dug around. I came out with a single filet. Perfect. I knew she wouldn't turn her nose up to steak and pasta and I was right.
I got Chris going on the bread (see how I got out of that one) and I got to work on the dinner. If I timed it right, it'd all be done at the same time - a feat that I find hard to pull off but am getting better at. She pulled at the dough, shaped it into a loaf, patted on her new little bundle of joy and then pushed it into the oven. I dumped a container of light cream into a pot and put it on high. I got the pasta water salted and put it on high as well. I pulled out the new grill pan that I got for Christmas. I couldn't wait to try it out. I had taken the steak out when I found it earlier and let it thaw in the fridge and now it was sitting on the counter covered in salt and pepper to get the chill off. I diced the shallots and sliced the mushrooms to have them ready and got the cheeses out of the fridge. It took some time for the cream to start to reduce but once it got going, it wasn't too long of a wait. Between waiting for it to boil and the pasta water to boil, it was a lot of just standing and stirring so that the cream didn't turn into some weird state that sometimes happens when heating too fast. Once everything was getting bubbly, I turned it down and got the grill pan ready with some olive oil. It's so great to breath in the olive smell when the pan heats the oil. It's the timer that lets you know it's ready. I put the steak down and let it sizzle and smoke. I turned the fan on because it was going to get smokey. I love searing steaks. I can smell it in the house for like two days after and there's nothing better than cutting into a juicy, perfectly done steak, especially when you're the one that made it. The pasta water was rolling now so I took about half the package of Barilla pasta (I was trying the new Plus line that's a multigrain pasta) and stuck it in the pot. I worked the long sticks down into the water and gave it a stir. I then gave the steak a half turn so that there'd be nice grill marks on it. Time to get the cheese into the cream that was now reduced by about half. Once the cheeses were incorporated, I flipped the steak. Stir the sauce, stir the pasta. Check the bread. Almost done. Heat the plates. Turn the steak half way for the grill marks and poke it to see how far along it is. Couple more minutes. Stir the cream, check the pasta. I took the steak off and put it on my cutting board to rest. I put the diced shallots and mushrooms into the pan that the steak was in. I then poured in about a 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar. Splatter everywhere. Chris sighed and I laughed. I can't cook without making a mess. Stir the cream, move around the shallots and mushrooms while the balsamic reduced. I added a touch of sugar to it to sweeten it just a bit. It becomes sweet on its own but it was pretty cheap balsamic so it could only go but so far on its own. Oh, the pasta. I grabbed the colander and threw it in the sink. I've found that with the whole wheat or now the multi-grain pasta, that it's almost impossible to over cook it. It keeps a perfect al dente consistency and just seems to come out better than traditional pasta. That's all I've been buying and really like it. Chris grabbed the bread out of the oven while I dumped the pasta in the colander and grabbed a noodle to taste. A smidgeon over done but since I wasn't incorporating it into the sauce, it wouldn't continue to cook too much. Definitely doable. Like I said, it's hard to screw up that pasta. We had the bread coolling and I started cutting up the steak into bite sized pieces. I guess I didn't have to worry about the grill marks but they did come out nice. The steak was a little under-done. I like it more medium than rare for pasta. I set it back in the pan with the balsamic while we put the pasta in the bowls and topped it with the cream sauce. Just then I knocked the bowl off the counter that I had the extra cheeses in to top the dishes. Oh well. Chris cleaned that up and I put the steak bits on top of the sauce in the dishes. Chris held the pan while we drizzled on the now super thick balsamic, shallots and mushrooms. I cut the bread. It was really dense. I stuck two pieces on the sides of each bowl and we retreated from the kitchen to go sit and try it out.
It was really good. Really good. We were proud. Just enough sauce - not too much to drown it. The blue cheese turns so silky when it's melted in a sauce and then the salty bite of the Parmigiano Reggiano in the background really gave it a nice flavor. The balsamic reduction gave it a whole new level of depth. And the mushrooms with the pasta and steak made it not just another pasta dish.
The bread on the other hand was good but not what I expected. I was thinking something more airy and chewy rather than dense and crunchy. We both ate our two pieces so it couldn't have been all that bad. Just not what I expected.
I was pleased with the dish though and happy that we got the timing right. I asked Chris about half way through dinner if making the mess was worth it and she shook her head yes as she stuffed in a bite. I smiled and went for another bite myself. And cleaning up wasn't too bad after all.