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Thomas The Accidental Gourmet

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spinach Fettucini with Artichoke Sauce

One of my favorite things is spinach artichoke dip.

But you can't just sit down and eat a bowl of it.

At least you shouldn't.

More than once a year.

Maybe twice.

The problem is that you really can't make just a bowl full, so it only gets made on special occasions.  And then there's always other people around, eating my dip. Errr.. the dip.

Anyhoo, I think I may have found a solution.

At least when I've got folks over for dinner. Thanks to a little urging from little sister, that's what happened Sunday night.

Spinach Fettucini with Artichoke Sauce

What You Need


215 grams (or so) of semolina flour
1/4 lb. fresh spinach
2 eggs


1 can artichoke hearts (not marinated)
4 oz neufchatel cream cheese
2 oz. fresh mozarella (the stuff in water, if you can find it)
1/2 cup skim milk
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1 large white onion (chopped)
1/2 tsp cayenne
salt to taste

What To Do With It


Destem, then boil (or steam) the spinach.  Set it aside in a strainer and let it drain.

Sautee the onions and garlic over medium-low heat.  When they're done, add the rest of the ingredients, but only a pinch of salt, along with about 1 cup water. Keep it on the same heat and stir occasionally. You're going to reduce this until it's thick and creamy.


Drain your spinach fully by squeezing it. Mince it 10 ways from Sunday (pretty much turn it into a paste). This is not as hard as it sounds. It takes about 1 minute.

Get about 200 grams of flour.  Either put in in a large bowl, or on a workspace.  Make a little well and crack the eggs in.  Mix with a fork until it starts clumping.

Now show that pasta who's boss for the next 5 mintues or so. Knead it. Pound it. Fold it. Repeat.

Add the spinach and do it again.  You'll note that it's sticking to your hands.

Add some flour.



(The amount of water your spinach retains will dictate how much flour you have to add.)

Keep going until you just pass the point where the pasta sticks to nothing, but is still soft.  (Add the flour slowly!)

Once your dough reaches that point, and is well-mixed, split the dough in two batches.  Run each batch through your pasta machine until the penultimate setting. Mine is an Atlas, and I run it through until it gets to setting 5. Cut your dough in half, run it through again on the next setting, then cut your fettucini.  Lay it out to dry. If you don't have pasta rack, a pastry cloth works nicely.

Put a pot of water on to boil. Check your sauce. If it hasn't reduced enough, turn up the heat a bit. Add a bit of salt and taste it .

After your pasta gets dry enough that it doesn't want to stick to itself (about 10-15 minutes), it's ready to cook.  3 1/2 minutes will do it. Maybe four, but no more.

Dish up your pasta, ladle out some sauce and buon appetito!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Claude's Chicken Nachos

A few years ago, we had some dear friends that lived across the street from us.  We had the kind of friendship where we didn't wait for an invitation.  On any given night, one or the other of us would see if someone were home across the street, grab a bottle of wine (or three), and march on over (and stumble back a few hours later).

Then they moved and ripped our hearts out.

But I've gotten over that.


Another good thing about Claude and Aurora was that they could cook, and liked to eat good food.  On one of our impromptu soirees, Claude disappeared into the kitchen and reappeared with fabulous chicken nachos.  Problem was, he couldn't recall the next day how he had made them. He made a couple half-hearted attempts at replicating them, but never achieved the level of greatness (although, I must note, he never again tried to replicate them three bottles of wine into the evening).

After a few failed attempts myself, I think that I may have come pretty close to replicating the original.  In homage to our friends, I present you

Claude's Chicken Nachos

What You Need

12-16 oz chicken, ground (use a food processor)
2 serranos (finely chopped, not deseeded)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1/3 cup sour cream (I used light sour cream)
1-2 oz yellow cheese, shredded
8-10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/8 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
Black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
2 limes
Tortilla chips

What To Do With It

Preheat an over to 400.

Sautee the onions in 1/2 tbsp olive oil.

Put the rest of the oil in the same pan, and brown the chicken along with the serranos, garlic, salt, some pepper, and juice of 1 1/2 limes.

Place your chips on a baking sheet, then add your sour cream, chicken, salsa, tomatoes and onions.   Bake for 10 minutes.  When you take them out, sprinkle on the cilantro and the juice of the other half lime.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chilean Sea Bass with Tomato-Basil Sauce

 My wife is spoiled.

This revelation dawned on me the other morning.  As usual, I was up quite some time before she.  At about 7:00, the phone rang.  "Who could be calling so early?" I asked.

Then my phone announced, "Call from: Thomas Morris." 

Yep.  Jenn was calling from the bed to dial in an order for coffee.

Our house is less than 1500 square feet, and one level.

It's my own fault, I suppose. No one to blame but myself.  The problem is that my revelation came far too late in our marriage to do me any good. 

Worse still, she's decided that this dialing in orders is kind of fun, and can be applied to many different situations.  So now I'm not so much in charge of dinner as I am in charge of making what she would like for dinner.  Last night, she wanted sea bass.

Chilean Sea Bass with Tomato-Basil Sauce

This is a lightly-seasoned dish that lets the flavor of the fish come through.  Whatever you do, don't use a heavy hand with the salt and pepper.

What You Need

1 lb Chilean sea bass
2 medium tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and diced
2-3 basil leaves, chiffonaded
1 shallot, chopped (about 1/8 cup)
2 tbsp olive oil (I prefer the flavor of Italian to Spanish)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp lemon juice
black pepper

What To Do With It

Preheat an oven to 400.  If you've got the time, put your tomatoes, 1 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice, a HEALTHY pinch of salt, basil and shallot in the pan and bake for 30 minutes.  If not, combine all that with a little water in a sauce pan and cook it down until the tomatoes have almost disintegrated (you don't want much liquid left at all).

Cut your fish into two fillets and remove the skin.  After rinsing the fish, pat it dry, lightly salt and pepper one side, and dab it on a plate with flour on it (both sides). You're really just dusting the fish.

Get a pan hot over medium high heat.  Once it's good and hot, add the rest of the olive oil and cook your fish for 3 minutes a side. 

Spoon your tomato sauce over the bottom of an over-proof pan, put your fish on top, and bake for 10 minutes.

We served this with some "baby" squash that we had mixed with thyme, salt, shallots and olive oil, and a Del Dotto Chardonnay.