Twerkin’ It with the Bears and Birds in the San Bernardino Mountains

Last week, I left LA behind for a quiet week of work and wellness. I found myself in Crestline, CA, a little mountain town barely on the map. Crestline doesn’t boast much, but it does offer its 10 thousand residents the opportunity to practice yoga and maintain their pedicures — in essence, all I need.

If focus eludes you, try bunking down in a cabin in the woods. The crisp mountain air and cozy soliditude were just what I needed to get my online cooking courses to the next level (stay tuned! Lots of goodness coming your way soon). While hanging in the trees, I created a few new recipes which you’ll get to experience very soon.

The recipe below and the "Serving it Up with Style" alternatives are just a little taste of what you can expect with our online courses.

Enjoy and happy cooking!


Author |Thomas McNaughton

Credit Information | Reprinted with permission from Flour + Water Pasta, by Thomas McNaughton, copyright 2014, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography copyright 2014 by Eric Wolfinger.

Tomato Farfalle with Chicken Polpettine, Roasted Peppers and Basil

A Recipe Story

Everyone who loves to cook has a cooking origin story. Like most foodies, mine started as a child cooking with my family. I come from a long line of exceptional cooks. My mother, father, grandparents, aunts and cousins are all stellar in the kitchen. And each one brought something different to the table. My father’s specialty is carbs — among other things. You better hope you’re not gluten-free if this man’s making a meal. Pancakes, crepes, bread and pasta, he makes them with style and ease. Weekends and rainy days were all about homemade pasta. Making pasta is a a great way to zen out — it’s seriously meditative: roll, cut, roll, cut — or to bond with young children in the kitchen. I started making pasta when I was about 3.

Meatballs are another great hands-on recipe for kids. Anything that involves pouring, scooping, or rolling is ideal for kids.

Whether you go the calming, meditative route and quietly roll out the pasta alone in your kitchen or turn on some tunes and get the kids involved in fun, rowdy meal-making — I wish you happy cooking and happy eating.

Getting It On

I love whipping up simple meals with delicious homemade ingredients. With the right prep you’ll have this dish ready in no time at all.

Polpetini are super tasty. I recommend doubling the batch and keeping extras in your freezer for a quick, yummy weeknight meal. (Quick tip: for easy portioning, use an ice cream scoop to form the perfect meatball).

And in my kitchen roasted peppers are a pantry staple. When making this dish, roast at least 8 peppers, pack them in oil and keep them at the ready in the fridge.

Fresh pasta is a bit of a project, but once you have the process down, you can have fresh noodles whenever you crave them. I always make a triple or double batch then dry the leftovers so they’re ready for another day.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as well as the other goodies from Flour+Water=Pasta.


Tomato Farfalle with Chicken Polpettine, Roasted Peppers, and Basil

(Serves 4)

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Equipment


Pasta machine + Rolling pin + Straight wheel cutter (optional)+ Fluted wheel cutter + Baking sheets + Spray bottle
Store-bought option: Dried Farfalle or any short pasta

Ingredients


Farfalle

1 recipe Standard Egg Dough

1.5 ounces tomato powder *available mail order or at specialty grocery stores (optional)

Chicken Polpettine

2 slices sourdough bread, crusts removed (75 grams)

1 cup whole milk (237 milliliters)

8 ounces minced or ground chicken, preferably dark meat

1/3 cup chopped prosciutto (50 grams)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh savory

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 large egg

⅓ cup grated pecorino cheese

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil (140 grams)

1 cup diced yellow onion (136 grams)

½ cup diced carrots (68 grams)

½ cup white wine (118 milliliters)a

Sachet:
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves,
1 bay leaf, wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with kitchen string

3 cups chicken stock (710 milliliters)

Roasted Peppers
3 to 5 summer peppers (such as Jimmy Nardellos; 145 grams)

1½ tablespoons pure olive oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt


To Finish

Kosher salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (57 grams)

¼ teaspoon sherry vinegar

1 cup loosely packed whole fresh basil leaves

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for finishing

Directions


To Make The Pasta

Follow the instructions for the Egg Dough, incorporating the tomato powder with the dry ingredients.

Dust 2 baking sheets with semolina flour and set aside.

Using a pasta machine, roll out the dough as instructed until the sheet is just translucent. p>

Using a straight wheel cutter or a knife and a ruler, cut the pasta into 1½-inch-wide strips. With a fluted cutter, cut across the strips every 2 inches, creating rectangles.

To Make The Polpettine

Put the bread in a small mixing bowl, cover with the milk, and leave to soak for 30 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken, prosciutto, parsley, thyme, savory, and 1 teaspoon of the garlic. Squeeze the milk out of the bread and add the bread to the meat mixture. Stir the egg into the mixture to bind it. Add the grated pecorino. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Polpettine can be made 3 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

To shape the polpettine by hand, gently form a heaping tablespoon or so of the meat mixture into a small ball. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Once the polpettine are rolled and ready, heat the oil on high heat in a 4-quart pot or Dutch oven. In two batches (unless you can fit them all in the pan at once without touching each other), sear the polpettine for about 5 minutes, or until well browned, occasionally turning to allow for even coloring. With a slotted spoon, remove the polpettine to a plate and set aside. Repeat with the second batch.

When all of the polpettine are browned and out of the pot, add the onions and carrots and sauté, still on high heat, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, being careful not to burn it. Quickly add the white wine and herb sachet. Cook the wine down until it’s almost evaporated.

Add the chicken stock and bring it to a simmer. Add the polpettine. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer the polpettine for roughly 25 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the polpettine cool in their braising liquid. Remove the sachet. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

To Prepare The Peppers

Toss the peppers with the olive oil and kosher salt. Arrange the peppers evenly spaced on a baking sheet and roast until the skins are completely wrinkled and the peppers are charred, about 20 to 25 minutes. When done, put them in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let them steam for another 20 to 30 minutes to loosen the skins. When fully cool, peel off the skin, remove the seeds, and julienne the flesh.

To Finish

Bring a large pot of seasoned water to a boil. In a 12-inch sauté pan, bring the polpettine and braising liquid back up to a simmer over medium heat. Add the julienned peppers. Season to taste with salt.

Drop the farfalle in the boiling seasoned water. At the same time, add the butter and the sherry vinegar to the sauté pan, stirring to create an emulsion.

Once the pasta is cooked 80 percent through, until almost al dente, 2 to 3 minutes, add it to the sauté pan and increase the heat to high. Reserve the pasta water. Stir constantly, incorporating the pasta in the sauce. Continue to cook until the sauce coats the back of a spoon and the pasta is tender, about 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and fold in the basil.

To Serve

To serve,divide the pasta, polpettine, and sauce between four plates. Finish with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.




Serving It Up With Style

This farfalle and polpetini dish is quite rustic. It’s simple and delish, but not at all fancy. All the ingredients are charmingly rough around the edges — loose and a bit messy.

Nobody likes a limp noodle. Cook your noodles to perfection. Mush won’t cut it. They need to be firm to the bite — al dente is the way to go. The pasta should hold its bow tie shape.

Keep it in the familia. If you’re cheating this recipe with dried pasta (totally, acceptable, by the way) look for Italian brands. De Cecco is my favorite and you can find it in most grocery stores.

Always saucy. The ratio of sauce to noodles matters. The folds of the pasta are designed to hold sauce. And there should also be a little sauce at the bottom of the bowl to soak up with buttered bread. But be careful not to over sauce your noodles. This isn’t soup!

The right cut. A dish’s delight begins before the fork even touches the lips. Ingredients with a balance of texture and color make the eyes and mouth happy.

Carrots and Onion: This recipe calls for carrots and onions in a fine dice (kitchen translation: small and symmetrical). Save the ends and uneven bits for soup stock and just use the perfect dice in the dish. It may seem like work, but this is a great opportunity to work on your knife skills! While dicing you have two size options:

1) Small dice (Macédoine) – measures ¼ inch (6mm) x 14 inch

2) Even smaller dice (Brunoise) – sides measuring approximately 1/8 inch (3mm).

Roasted Peppers: The recipe calls for julienning the roasted peppers (kitchen translation: a long, rectangular cut that can be thick or thin). Julienning is lovely, but for a more rustic interpretation, tear the peppers with your hand. Simply follow the grain from stem to butt for a variety of rustic shapes and sizes that add to the rugged style of the dish.

Break the circle. Meatballs are the best, but to make them even better break them up into large, roughly broken nuggets. Everyone will get a piece of meat with each bite of pasta.

Tear it up. There’s a time and place for basil chiffonade and it’s not with this recipe. Roughly tear the basil before mixing — or even drop the leaves in whole.

Say cheese. Instead of fine grating the parmesan, shave it for a rustic style and bold taste.

Srgt. Pepper. Finish the dish with some coarsely ground black pepper and place of little dish of red chilli flakes on the table for those who like spice.

Serve it up quickly. With the ingredients at the ready in your freezer or fridge you’ll be able to dazzle your guests with a homemade, hearty dish in less than 30 minutes

Make a big batch of Polpetini. Use a small ice cream scoop for the prefect sizing. Store them frozen uncooked, but pre rolled in a ziplock bag or freezer container in your freezer. You’ll want to form your balls on a baking sheet and freeze them on the sheet. Once frozen, you can transfer to another container or ziplock bag.

Roast a big batch of peppers (12-20 at a time) and pack them in oil. Keep in your fridge for a quick pop of colour and flavor.

Make a large batch of pasta and store in your pantry so you always have fresh noodles at the ready. Make sure you dry the noodles completely in the open air for up to 2 days on a rack before storing in a cool, dark and dry airtight container. You can keep dry pasta for up to 6 months.


Recipe Variations

Serve ’em up for tapas. The Polpettine and sauce make a fabulous tapas dish that’s a savory addition to pre-dinner nibbles

Submarine style. The Polpettine and sauce also make the perfect meatball sub. Want to win your man’s heart? Meatballs and sauce on crusty Italian bread are sure to make him happy. Take it one step further and turn on the game while you eat. Instant putty!


San Bernadino Mountain Faves

Nightlife | Tudor House:  Live music and gangster vibes

Wellness | Refresh Yoga:  Namaste!

Eats | Lou Eddie's Pizza:  Meat lovers, I highly suggest the ‘Lou Eddies Special’. I love the mix of pizza sauce and pesto with mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms and caramelized onion. Yum! If you can’t enjoy pizza in Italy, then the California woods are the next best place!

Eats & Drinks | Cedar Glen Malt Shop:  Nostalgic interior, must stop for an afternoon treat: Peanut Butter Milkshake all the way!

Eats | Rosa Maria's:  Total hidden gem with the best burritos! Chicken, Rice and Cheese is off the charts

Adventure | Enjoy the Mountain  ATV Fun and outdoor adventure

Eats | Stone Creek Bistro  Fine food in the forest


So much fun working with 72 and Sunny and team for the Coor's Memorial Day Project - Lets do it again soon!


NICOLE KRUZICK

Food Stylist