From The Back Of My Pantry: Poker Widow Pasta

26 Jan

Editor’s Note: Finally! It’s Friday. Tomorrow we move the rest of the crap out of the old apartment, the new couch will (hopefully) arrive and then on Sunday, the grunt men come in to get the furniture out of Manhattan and moved to the borough of Kings. All of my kitchen stuff has been there since last weekend. We’ve been eating a lot of sandwiches this week.

Naturally all I can think about this week is cooking. And so, since there’s nothing really exciting to share except this wonderful recipe (one of my first!), I figured I’d share some of the recipes I’ve been hoarding in anticipation of a big, shiny new kitchen.

Chicken Bouillabaisse: Sher published this recipe right around the time my parents got back from Spain. My mom brought me back a tin of precious saffron and I immediately pinpointed this recipe as the proper way to use it. It’s at the top of my list for possible first weekend meals.

Celery Root Soup With Top Shelf Beet Relish: I had this way back in balmy November at the incredibly awesome Pickle Party and have been dreaming about making it ever since. The creamy comforting soup garnished with the puckeringly perfect garnish would make awesome leftovers for one of those nights where I won’t get home until 9pm because of my stupid job and my new commute.

Madame Hermé’s Spaetzle: I know there’s a lot of Pierre Hermé fans out there. I’ve never been to Paris and I’ve never tried his pastries, although I do think they’re beautiful and I would love to try them. But I don’t sit up dreaming about them. What do I dream about then? His mother’s spätzle. Though it doesn’t differ that much from my Aunt’s, the addition of semolina is truly intriguing. And there’s so many sausage-makers (sausagiers?) in the new ‘hood that would go so well with a steaming bowl of spätzle.

Savory Haddock Korma: I have no idea if this recipe from Ulla is traditionally Icelandic or traditionally Indian or simply traditionally New Yorkian, but it sounds delicious. I usually don’t go in for fish curries, but this one with its combination of creamy dairy, bright citrus and subtle, comforting cardamom sounds so pleasant.

Azerbaian Pilaf with Pomegranate Meatballs: Pomegranates will start disappearing from the groceries soon, and ever since a quick trip to Ikea last weekend, I’ve been craving meatballs. This recipe from Lindy would make a nice, homemade stand-in for their frozen (but delicious!) Swedish variety.

Green Olive Gnocchi With Green Olive Sauce: God I love making gnocchi, and boy do I love olives too, but I only make gnocchi when I’m in a big kitchen. The mess-factor is way too high for a wee bitty space. So I’m really looking forward to delving back into the world of fluffy pasta-dumplings as soon as possible and this is the one I want to try first!

Risotto Ai Pompelmo: Lydia always knocks my socks off with crazy creative recipes for the goodies in her pantry, and this one was a real shock; Grapefruit Risotto? Get out! So awesome! So perfect for all the gorgeous citrus hanging out at the corner bodega! What a way to bring some sunny summer sunshine into these grey winter days. Fab!

Flo Fab’s Wheat And Cornmeal Cheese Rolls: The only thing that could make these sound more appealing is if there was bacon in this recipe to boot. Let’s see; there’s melty cheese, sage and maple syrup, and since they’re made with whole wheat flour, that means they’re healthy too! And now that I’ve overcome my fear of kneading, I can make these. Yay! Thanks Luisa!

And finally, is it possible to write a recipe wish list without including something from the uber recipe blogger Elise? I think not.

Puréed Roasted Parsnips: We love parsnips. We love roasted vegetables. We love purées. And somehow, neither of us ever thought to roast and then purée. Bloody genius. Seriously, cannot wait to try this!

Of course, I also really want to make my mushroom pasta recipe again as well. It really is a winner. So, check out these recipes, let me know if you’ve tried any, and I’ll “see” you all after the weekend!

Poker Widow Pasta. Originally published February 25th, 2006.


Friday night when I found myself a poker widow I decided, rather than going out, I would stay in and make myself something decadent. I had been waiting all week to try some Porcini mushroom pasta I had found and taking inspiration from Mark Bittman’s foray into puttanesca I created this luscious, silky, tangy and downright sexy pasta dish.

Poker Widow Pasta

Poker Widow Pasta

prep: 15 minutes ~ cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Porcini Mushroom Pasta
  • Olive Oil
  • 6 cloves Garlic, sliced (but not too thin)
  • 1 package Crimini Mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tbsp Capers
  • 2/3 cup Dry Vermouth
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Chile Flakes to taste
  • 10 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Very good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Hard Cheese (of your choosing)

N.B. ~ The timing on this meal is wholly dependent on how long your pasta needs to cook. The pasta I used only needed 4 minutes, but if yours needs longer, please start it earlier on in the sauce prep than noted here.

Place a large pot with salted water (for your pasta) over a flame and bring to a boil.

Place a small, heavy bottomed dutch oven over a very low flame. Add enough Olive Oil to coat the bottom about 1/4 inch. When the oil is a little warm, add the garlic and cook slowly, about 5 minutes, to infuse the oil with its flavor and aroma.

Add the mushrooms and mix to coat well with the garlic oil mixture. Turn the heat up a little, to about medium, really cook the mushrooms down. When they have reduced in size, taken on a little color and released their liquid, add capers. Turn the heat up again to about medium-high.

Add the Vermouth and the lemon juice and allow to reduce by about half. Season with salt, pepper and chile flakes to taste. Add the tomatoes and stir.

Poker Widow Pasta

When the tomatoes start liquefying into the sauce, add your pasta to the water. Remember to keep stirring the sauce to keep it from burning and sticking to the bottom of your pan. When the pasta is done, turn off the flame under the sauce, it will most likely keep bubbling away for a few minutes.

Drain your pasta. Portion into bowls. Top with a nice glug of your very best extra virgin olive oil and your grated hard cheese of choice. Mix it all together and dig in! This is a truly delicious, earthy, sexy meal!



10 Responses to “From The Back Of My Pantry: Poker Widow Pasta”

  1. s'kat January 26, 2007 at 10:02 am #

    Gimmie a hunk o’ toasted bread, and I’d be in pure hog heaven there! Oh, and I’m glad the end is in sight!

  2. Julie January 26, 2007 at 11:24 am #

    Lots of great choices there. I can only imagine how much you’re looking forward to being through with the move and settling into your new kitchen.

  3. sher January 26, 2007 at 11:31 am #

    Great to see those photos!! And I’m quite excited for you. Really. I’ve thought of you moving several times in the last few days, wondering how it’s going. I’m looking forward to you making all of those dishes, including mine! Thanks for choosing one of mine–and the shout-out!

  4. Lisa (Homesick Texan) January 26, 2007 at 1:16 pm #

    Great round-up of recipes! Good luck with the move and happy cooking in a your new kitchen!

  5. Lydia January 26, 2007 at 11:58 pm #

    Sorry I’m just catching up with this post — thanks so much for the shout-out. There’s always something cooking in The Perfect Pantry; grapefruit risotto was such a fabulous surprise! I hope you get to try it.

  6. Ulla January 28, 2007 at 2:16 pm #

    Congrats on the move! I am Icelandic originally being born there grew up in the Hudson valley, but I have been going through a total Indian kick lately. :)
    Haddock is the most common fish in Iceland, they eat it 4 times a week:)
    I was thinking of doing a behind the apron blog for my first blogiversary on the 4th of February!

  7. Ulla January 28, 2007 at 2:25 pm #

    hehe, I just noticed that you were talking about the recipe, not me!
    It is an Indian recipe, but I took out the sweet so it is not authentic.:)

  8. ann January 29, 2007 at 3:13 pm #

    s’kat — Yum, that does sound good!

    Julie — you hit the nail on the head… we’re still waist deep in boxes, but the end is in sight!

    Sher — it’s over! woowoo! I’ll be posting pictures, hopefully wednesday after the internet people come to hook us up.

    Lisa — Thanks!!

    Lydia — I might have to wait for an evening when the boy is away. He’s skeptical of the combination

    Ulla — I’m happy to know all that about you, and the dish too! I guess the combo makes it truly New Yorkian then ;-)

    New post on Wednesday, I promise (if all goes well, that is).

  9. Shira January 31, 2007 at 1:33 pm #

    The chicken sounds just like what I’ve been trying to improvise for some months now. I never would have thought of the aioli, but now I’m eager to try it. Thanks!

  10. MeltingWok February 8, 2007 at 7:28 pm #

    poker and pasta, how about that ? :) Looks simple and delicious, will have to try this sorta noodles besides my regular rice and wheat noodles, thanks for sharing, cheers ! :)

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