My last post was about my "experiment" in making bigne or cream puffs which turned out ok in taste, but rather disappointing in terms of execution. Since I went to the trouble of making the dough and taking the pictures, I published the post with a lot of questions on what I may have done wrong. I was very happily surprised by the comments I received from readers giving me good advice and encouraging me to try again. This time, I used the same recipe but went through the process armed with much more confidence. The results are pictured above. To the left is my first attempt which resulted in a flat, somewhat overcooked bigne that was difficult to cut and looked like a cream sandwich after being filled. The bigne pictured on the right is my second attempt. This time, I handled the dough much more confidently with a particular outcome in mind. I also let the dough rest longer than the directions in the recipe which made it less runny. Then, I cooked them till they looked done. They were much easier to slice into, and after I piped in the filling set up beautifully. So thank you , thank you, thank you for the great advice and encouragement.
Primavera means spring in Italian. Inspired by the warm weather we were teased with in New York, I decided to make Pasta Primavera using asparagus and peas as my "spring vegetables", mushrooms which were left overs from something else I made and light cream.The pasta was a spinach and chive linguine I found in Trader Joe's. The process is the same as many other pasta dishes I've done cooking the sauce or "condimento" as the Italians call it simultaneously with the pasta and timing the dish so that the sauce finishes either at the same time or before the pasta (never AFTER THE PASTA as you see on too many cooking shows).
Here are my ingredients which I have prepped prior to starting to cook. A small shallot diced, asparagus with the woody bottoms discarded sliced, frozen peas (better with fresh), sliced mushrooms, chopped parsley, light cream and butter. I have also grated about 1/4 cup of parmigiana reggiano Notice, I am not trying to overwhelm the dish with too many ingredients. Balance.
The mushrooms get cooked first in a little olive oil and butter.After they start to release their liquid, add the shallots and cook them till they are translucent. Meanwhile, bring the pasta water to the boil.
The pasta and asparagus both needed about 8 minutes, so I started them together. (Actually, the pasta needs 9 minutes to be perfect, but it will cook the final minute in the pan). The object is to have the greens and pasta finish at the same time. You learn these things by practice. In the picture I have just dumped them in the water which hasn't come back up to the boil yet. As soon as it does, start your timer.
In the picture at left, I have added the peas to the mushrooms and shallots along with enough of the boiling pasta water to steam the peas.
A minute or so later, I have added about 4 ounces of the light cream to the skillet. It is beginning to boil and thicken. My pasta and asparagus are almost done. The Magic Moment is approaching.
The pasta and asparagus have been drained and quickly added to the sauce. Now is the time when the sauce, vegetables and pasta cease to exist separately, but become one due to the alchemy of cooking! Have a pat of butter and the grated cheese ready.
The sauce has thickened. The pasta has absorbed some of the liquid and is now perfectly andante. Off the heat, stir in half the grated cheese and the butter. Then plate the pasta and sprinkle it with the remaining cheese.