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Friday, August 19, 2011

Pasta With Spinach and Prosciutto.......and Erin's Latest Baking Pics!

I can't believe summer is almost over.  Caitie leaves in five (5) days. *Sigh.*

What am I going to do next year, when Sean will be leaving as well? 

Will my undivided attention drive Erin crazy?

I'm going to stop dwelling, and focus on now.

These are the brownies that Erin made last week for her picnic with Abby.  Brownies and frosting from scratch.  Topped with lots of M&M's!

They tasted just as good as they look, or better.  She made them the night before her picnic, and Mr. Terrific was a bit distraught that she wouldn't let him cut into them that night.  She made him wait until after her picnic.

There were plenty to go around.

They had been meticulously planning this picnic for quite some time.  The only help Erin would allow me to give her was to find a blanket and a picnic basket to put her goodies (brownies, sandwiches and juice boxes) into.  Abby supplied the chips and watermelon, and they spent the better part of two hours eating and talking, and talking and eating.

This is what summer is for.

And this week, her creativity in the kitchen continued.

How cute are these cupcakes?

By the time she was through, we had quite the cupcake-flower garden.

(To make flower cupcakes:  after you frost your cupcakes, simply snip some marshmallows into "petals" and sprinkle with colored sugar.  The marshmallows will stick to the frosting and the sugar will stick to the sticky marshmallows.  Place an M&M into the center of the petals.) 

Okay, okay, back to our regularly-scheduled blog.

The recipe I'm about to give you is a wonderful melange of pasta, prosciutto, mushrooms and spinach with just a hint of gorgonzola cheese in the creamy spinach/wine sauce.  Sound good?

  • "Unforgettable"......Nat King Cole
  • "If I Knew You Were Coming I'd've Baked A Cake (Italian Style)........Lou Monte
  • "Mambo Italiano".......Dean Martin
  • "Wonderful World"......Sam Cooke
  • "Fly Me To The Moon".......Frank Sinatra
  • "Mala Femmina".......Jerry Vale
  • "L-O-V-E".......Nat King Cole
  • "Lazy Mary".......Lou Monte
  • "I Only Have Eyes For You"....Rosemary Clooney

Pasta With Spinach and Prosciutto
  • 1 pound of your favorite pasta
  • 6 oz (about 4 cups) of baby spinach
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Gather your ingredients.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Crush the garlic into the oil and saute for about 30 seconds, to soften the garlic.

Add the mushrooms.

Saute the mushrooms until they are a golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Remove the mushrooms to a small plate.

Add about half of the spinach to the pan and saute for a minute.

As soon as the spinach is wilted, add the wine.  It will quickly reduce.  Once it has reduced by about half (one to two minutes)........
.....add the chicken broth and cream.  Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, and the sauce should thicken slightly.  After the sauce has thickened, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.

Bring a large (6 to 8 quart) pot of salted water to a boil (for the pasta).

While you are waiting for the sauce to cool and the water to boil, slice your prosciutto.

Stack the prosciutto, roll it cigar-like, and then slice through it horizontally to make ribbons of prosciutto.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan, and saute the prosciutto in the oil.

When the prosciutto is crispy and starting to brown, remove it from the pan and place it on a paper towel to drain.

Add your pasta to the now-boiling water.

Pour the spinach/cream into a blender and process until it's smooth and creamy.  Be sure the spinach/cream has cooled enough before you place it in the blender.  If it is still steamy, and you try to process it, it will explode out of your blender.  I speak from experience. 
Pour the spinach sauce back into the same pan you just used to saute your prosciutto.  With the heat on low/medium, stir in the Gorgonzola.  Gorgonzola is perfect for this sauce.  It has a very strong taste, so you only need a little bit to give a lot of flavor.  And since you only use a little bit, the sauce does not get all gloppy-gooey-cheesy.

Add the mushrooms back into the sauce, and stir.

When your pasta has cooked to al dente, drain it and return it to the cooking pot.  I always save a ladleful of the pasta water before draining, just in case the sauce needs to be thinned.

Add the remaining spinach to the drained pasta in the pot.  Stir it around, and the heat from the pasta will perfectly wilt your spinach.

Pour the spinach/mushroom sauce over the pasta, and stirring constantly, simmer over low heat until the pasta is well-coated with the sauce (about 1 minute).

Remove from the heat and add the crisped prosciutto. Stir the prosciutto into the pasta and serve immediately.

 Sprinkle with the shredded Parmigiano Reggiano.

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