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Fettuccini al Gorgonzola

January 7, 2011

Fettuccini al Gorgonzola (Fettuccini with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce)
from Anthony del Plato in Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant

Beginnings. We’ve declared 2011 the year of Italian cooking, but where to begin? As a wise friend once said in an entirely different (and, I’ll admit, existentially angsty) context, “I’m not sure where we should go from here, but I guess we’ll have to start with where we are.” We’re not sure yet where exactly we’ll go from here, or which cookbook(s) will end up being our guide (I’ll let you know when the verdict is in), but for now we begin where we are, with what we have: in our humble apartment kitchen with the cookbooks already on our shelf. Specifically, we are starting with the Italy chapter in Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant by Anthony del Plato.

Anthony oriented us: “There is no such thing as Italian food to an Italian—but Tuscan, Ligurian, Campanian, and Lombardian cooking, for example, and to subdivide it further, Florentine, Genovese, Neapolitan, and Milanese.” We plan to print a provincial map of Italy and tack it up on the inside of one of our cupboards. Further, he taught us some of the lingo: antipasto (“before the meal”), primo piatto (first course—often pasta), secondo piatto (second course—meat, fish, eggs or hearty vegetable), contorno (“outline” or “contour”—vegetable or salad accompanying the second course), formaggio (blessed cheese!), dolce (dessert), espresso (coffee). And so we had planned, for this first meal, a two course affair: an antipasto of stuffed artichokes and a primo piatto of fettuccini al gorgonzola. But, yet again, let us begin with where we are. We recently moved house and we have a six-month old. Plus, I quickly realized that for all of my zeal for seasonal eating, I had no idea to which season artichokes belong. Clearly, as the produce markets attested, not winter. Spring perhaps? You can see how often I eat artichokes. Our two course meal quickly dwindled to a singular course.

But it was a beginning! And a tasty one at that. We are fortunate enough to live in what was, and to some extent remains, Vancouver’s Italian neighbourhood. I bought our dried fettucini (to be honest, I bought “fettuccelle”…and I’m yet to uncover the difference) and a wedge of parmigiano reggiano (a variety of Parmesan cheese) at Bosa Foods—a European foods importer—just up the hill from our apartment. I hope I come to be known as a regular there. I bought the gorgonzola from another favorite local market, Donald’s on Hastings.

Jacob surprised us with an early evening nap, so we got to cooking quickly, in hopes of an Italian meal for two. And, as Anthony promised, the sauce was ready in the time it took the pasta to cook (we obediently heeded his instructions to “take care” that our pasta was cooked al dente, which meant the pasta cooked in about six minutes once the water returned to a boil). All in all, it was probably a ten-minute meal. Not counting the two-minute rest Joshua took on the couch while waiting for the pasta water to boil. It had been a long day. And Jacob woke up just as we were dishing up. He has a nose for these moments. I can’t blame him…

So without further ado, the recipe, and our first meal in a year of Italian home-style cooking:

Fettuccini al Gorgonzola
(with thanks to Anthony del Plato of Moosewood for helping us begin well)

Serves 4 (or 2 if you eat like we do and it’s your only course)

*This is the recipe exactly as it reads in Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant*

1 pound fettuccini

2 TBL butter
½ cup cream or milk (we used “cereal cream” which has a 10% milk fat)
4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, cut into small pieces
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup fresh grated Parmesan to top

Optional: toasted walnuts to top. An excellent addition if you’re making this your main or only course.

Bring a large covered pot of water to boil. Add the fettuccini, stir, and cover the pot until the water returns to a boil.

In a saucepan large enough to hold the cooked pasta, melt the butter. Mix in the cream or milk and heat carefully, never allowing it to boil. Add the Gorgonzola and cream cheese, stirring frequently, until they are melted and the sauce if fairly smooth. Add freshly ground black pepper.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it and mix it into the sauce. Toss well to coat the pasta and serve immediately (Anthony says trot to the table—it should be eaten hot). Pass the grated Parmesan at the table.

First lessons learned in our year of Italian cooking:

1)Cooking instructions on pasta boxes are almost always too long. Anthony says subtract two minutes from whatever they say and taste the pasta for bite. And definitely spring for the Italian brand over the domestic brand. More on this in a future post.
2)A cream sauce with no flour or salt! My running assumption has been that the sauce needs to be thick. At least thick-ish. You know, substantial. But this sauce was rich enough while being light, and the pasta was still allowed to be itself. Hmm. Imagine that. And the cheeses provided just enough saltiness.

Here’s to beginning where you are with what you have!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Amanda permalink
    January 8, 2011 8:17 pm

    Dear, I want to follow your blog. The easy way. Where is your ‘follow this blog’ button?!

    • January 9, 2011 11:22 pm

      Hi Amanda!
      I’ve added the sign up in the left bar of the page–hope it works. I am fumbling my way through this!
      BTW, I made your marmalade a couple days ago–excited to pop the first jar in a couple weeks! Thanks for guiding me through the process…

  2. Carol in NY permalink
    January 15, 2011 3:24 am

    Sarah, This is so much fun to read. And you’ve included the recipes, which is great! You might become just as famous as the Julie/Julia Project blog, only much more classy! 🙂 Hi to Josh & Jacob!

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