Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sunday night at Jami and Dorsey's

Dorsey prepared Penne Alla Vodka, served with a romaine lettuce salad and Italian Country bread on Sunday.

Yummmmy! It's a recipe worth repeating for company. Dorsey thinks it could have used more salt and pepper, plus more sauce. I, on the other hand, thought the amount of sauce was perfect. Not too soupy, nor too thick. Dorsey says creamier would have been better; in other words, process the tomatoes longer.

Dorsey has a theory about our taste styles: If he can taste the Hot Spicy, then it's probably too hot for me.

So true. He tasted it. I thought it was hot. My mouth is still on fire. Nothing that a little rum can't fix, though. (Being married to Dorsey has radically changed how I approach food ... that's all I'm saying.) The recipe calls for crushed hot red pepper without giving an amount. Dorsey used about a teaspoon, but you can adjust depending on your tastes.

Try it! We think you might like it!
I drizzled some chocolate and topped it with
peanut butter and chocolate chips.

For dessert, we had Black-Bottom Peanut Butter Mousse Pie. This is a really good dessert. It's not too rich nor too heavy, although Dorsey said that the peanut butter flavor wasn't as intense as he would have liked it to be. The texture is reallly nice. The soft mousse is balanced by the firmer chocolate layer and graham-cracker crust beneath. The chocolate and peanut-butter chips on top, plus the chocolate drizzle, provide bursts of flavor to what is a surprisingly mild dessert.

Unfortunately, we didn't have a glass pie plate, so he made it in a spring-form pan, and the graham cracker crust didn't come up the sides of the pan as the recipe called for, but that didn't detract from the taste at all.

It's an easy dessert to make, and it presents well.

Black-Bottom Peanut Butter Mousse Pie (epicurious.com)

yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings
active time: 35 minutes
total time: 2 hours
For a pretty presentation, drizzle with melted chocolate and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 7 whole graham crackers, coarsely broken
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 1/3 cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (about 8 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 3/4 cups chilled whipping cream, divided
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 6 ounces (1 cup) peanut butter chips
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned style or freshly ground)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish with nonstick spray. Blend graham crackers, melted butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar in processor until moist clumps form. Press crumb mixture over bottom and up sides of prepared pie dish. Bake crust until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine chocolate chips, 2/3 cup cream, corn syrup, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium heat until chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Whisk until melted and smooth. Spread chocolate mixture over bottom of crust. Freeze 10 minutes.
Microwave peanut butter chips and 3/4 cup cream in large microwave-safe bowl on medium heat at 15-second intervals just until chips soften, stirring often. Whisk in peanut butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cool to barely lukewarm. Beat remaining 1 cup cream and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until very thick but not yet holding peaks; fold into peanut butter mixture in 3 additions. Spoon mousse over chocolate layer. Chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

What we thought:

Main Course: Penne alla Vodka (epicurious.com)

yield: Makes 6 servings

  • Salt
  • One 35-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano) with their liquid
  • 1 pound penne
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Crushed hot red pepper
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil for finishing the sauce, if you like
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for passing if you like

Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat.
Pour the tomatoes and their liquid into the work bowl of a food processor. Using quick on/off pulses, process the tomatoes just until they are finely chopped. (Longer processing will aerate the tomatoes, turning them pink.)

Stir the penne into the boiling water. Bring the water back to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until done, 8 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Whack the garlic cloves with the side of a knife and add them to the hot oil. Cook, shaking the skillet, until the garlic is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Lower the work bowl with the tomatoes close to the skillet and carefully — they will splatter — slide the tomatoes into the pan. Bring to a boil, season lightly with salt and generously with crushed red pepper, and boil 2 minutes. Pour in the vodka, lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer, and simmer until the pasta is ready.

Just before the pasta is done, fish the garlic cloves out of the sauce and pour in the cream. Add the 2 tablespoons butter or oil, if using, and swirl the skillet to incorporate into the sauce. If the skillet is large enough to accommodate the sauce and pasta, fish the pasta out of the boiling water with a large wire skimmer and drop it directly into the sauce in the skillet. If not, drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and pour in the sauce. Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, stirring to coat the pasta with sauce. Check the seasoning, adding salt and red pepper if necessary. Sprinkle the parsley over the pasta and boil until the sauce is reduced enough to cling to the pasta.

Remove the pot from the heat, sprinkle 3/4 cup of the cheese over the pasta, and toss to mix. Serve immediately, passing additional cheese if you like.

Served with Organic Italian Country Bread and a Romaine salad with Blue Cheese dressing.

1 comment:

  1. Looks great! I'll have to try it out myself some evening. We eat a lot of vodka -- err, I mean pasta -- at our house. ;-)


We want to hear from you!