Mack's Corner

This Week

Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes - Living Well - Mediterranean Diet:

I got asked to do a pasta recipe Sunday. Does Pasta fit the Mediterranean Diet? Sure it does. Most pasta around the world is eaten like Rice is in Asia. The meal is all about the pasta, not the sauce. As in Asia, it's all about the rice. Everything else is flavoring. It would be like us in Memphis saying how good the brown sugar was in the BBQ sauce and not paying much attention to the meat. Great pasta needs no sauce, just a little good olive oil and salt and pepper. Consider making your own pasta, it's really easy. Here's a fresh pasta recipe and 2 more to use it.


Pasta Recipe:

Fresh Pappardelle (((Pappardelle is 3/4 inch flat pasta - This recipe >works for any pasta, you'll just cut it smaller/larger)))

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large egg yolks

2 large eggs

flour, for dusting (Semolina flour if you have it. Regular flour works fine)

1. Sift the flour and salt together on to a large flat surface (kitchen table/counter, or a large cutting board..etc) to create a mound  of flour. This will sift the flour to remove any clumps and blend the flour and salt together. Don't leave out the salt or your pasta  will have no flavor.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the whole eggs and 2 tablespoons of water.

3. With your fingers make a crater at the top of the mound of flour to hold the eggs (((It should look like a volcano))).

4. Add the eggs to the crater in the flour and with your fingers begin to swirl the edges of the crater into the eggs. Keep swirling  until all of the flour is incorporated in to the eggs and the dough comes together.

5. Lightly flour your work surface and knead the dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. (((To knead: when you knead dough you  are stretching it. This makes the proteins in the flour expand and form strands of gluten. Kneading warms and stretches these  gluten strands, eventually creating a springy and elastic dough. TO KNEAD the dough, push it out flat with the heal of your hand  as if you were trying to smear it on to the work surface. Then fold it over, turn it a 1/4 turn and go again. There is no "right" way to  do this. I usually push it out, then pick it up in the middle creating a fold, flop it over, turn it 1/4 turn, sprinkle it with flour, then go  again. Push, fold, turn, sprinkle, push, fold, turn, sprinkle..etc until it's nice and smooth and feels silky and dry on the outside.)))

6. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes(((or in the fridge for several hours or  as long as overnight. I usually make the dough in the morning and put it in the fridge till I get ready to finish it.)).

7. To Finish: Divide the dough into 3 pieces and work with 1 piece at a time, keeping the rest covered. Lightly flour your work  surface and press one of the pieces down to flatten it as much as you can with your hands. Then using a rolling pin roll the pasta  out so that it is as thin as possible with even thickness. Continue to lightly flour your work surface and the pasta on top. (((If you find that when you roll it out that it is bigger than your work surface, just cut the dough in smaller pieces before you start rolling)))

8. When your dough is rolled out flat, lightly flour the top and roll it up like you would roll up a map or a scroll. Continue to lightly  flour the dough as you roll it up.

9. Now with the dough rolled up, using a knife (or if kids are doing this use a dough scraper or a metal spatula) cut the dough  ACROSS (((like you were making tiny cinnamon rolls))) in 3/4 inch cuts all the way across the roll for pappardelle or 1/4 inch for  tagliatelle or smaller/larger. This is all free form cut it any size you want.

10. Unroll the pasta in to strands and lay them on a lightly floured work surface and generously dust with flour (((or semolina if  you have it))). Repeat with the remaining dough.

11. Transfer the unrolled pasta to a large baking sheet and dust with more semolina. Let the pasta stand at room temperature for  30 minutes.

12. Don't start this until you are ready to serve it. This happens fast and you want to eat it as soon as it's ready. (Be sure you  water is boiling and salter before you add the pasta.) Cook in salted boiling water until al dente, 30 seconds to 2 minutes. PAY  ATTENTION!!!! TASTE IT OFTEN!! IT COOKS QUICK!!.. This is not like cooking dry pasta. It gets done right NOW! DO NOT  LEAVE IT or you'll have a bunch of mush.

When it's done, get it out quick and serve immediately. 


Spaghetti with Strawberry-Tomato Sauce

Considering that tomato is a fruit, the addition of strawberries isn’t that strange in this sauce from Rose's Luxury in Wasgington D.C (Food & Wine best new Restaurant 2014). The sauce should be quite spicy, which tempers the berries’ sweetness.


¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

1 pound fresh (or frozen, thawed) strawberries, hulled, quartered

2 teaspoons sugar

12 oz. spaghetti

¼ small red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup fresh ricotta

Freshly ground black pepper


Heat ¼ cup oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and red pepper flakes, season with salt, and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until tomato juices have reduced slightly, about 3 minutes. Add strawberries and sugar and cook, stirring often, until strawberries are soft and sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes; let cool slightly, then pulse in a food processor to a coarse purée.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Add pasta to tomato sauce along with ½ cup pasta cooking liquid and cook, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat, drizzle with more oil, and toss to combine. 

Serve pasta topped with onion, ricotta, and black pepper.


Bucatini all'Amatriciana from Mario Batali. His restaurant is Babbo in New York City.

Bucatini is a thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole running through the center. The name comes from Italian: buco, meaning "hole", while bucato means "pierced". Bucatini is common throughout Lazio, particularly Rome.

all'Amatriciana means it's going have onion, bacon, red pepper and tomato

1/2 pound thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped (or bacon)

1 red onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

12 ounces prepared tomato sauce

Kosher salt

1 pound bucatini (or your fresh pasta)

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves(optional)

Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving

1. In a large, deep skillet, cook the pancetta over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the skillet. Add the onion, garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Return the pancetta to the skillet. Add the tomato sauce, season with salt and simmer until very thick, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

3. Add the pasta to the sauce along with the parsley and the reserved cooking water and stir over moderately high heat until the pasta is evenly coated, 2 minutes. Serve the pasta in bowls, passing the cheese at the table.


Ya, but I just drove faster.

I was driving home from church one Sunday and there was girl, about 18, on Germantown road stopped in the turn lane, facing me, with smoke pouring out of the back of her car. She had gotten out and was on her cell phone. I drove up to the next driveway, turned around and went back. When I pulled up behind her another girl in a Jeep had pulled up beside her too. Most of the smoke was gone, but something was still burning. She had opened her trunk and pulled out her suitcase, I guess she had stuff in it that she didn't want burned up. She called her father and he called the fire dept. We started sniffing around trying to see what was on fire. Not the engine, nothing underneath the front of the car (I didn't want to pop the hood for fear that the only thing keeping the car from burning was a lack of oxygen under the hood). The trunk smelled funny like an electrical burn, but no heat. Then I put my hand near the rear wheel to look under the trunk…. Yikes was that hot!! I was surprised the back tire wasn't glowing or melted. I knew what it was. I opened the driver's side door and looked in to see the parking brake pulled up as tight as it would go. I looked at her.. "You know your parking brake is on?" .. "What parking brake?" .. "See this thing in the middle behind the gear shift? That's a parking brake. You can't drive with that on." .. "Why not? I just drove all the way over here from the airport!" .. "Did you notice that your car seemed a little sluggish?" .. "Ya, but I just drove faster." .. About that time the fire truck and her father showed up. Her Father said "Why didn't you release the parking brake?" .. She said "Because I never put it on." .. He said "I put it on!" .. She said "Oh!"

God's like that: He's always watching out for us even if we're not. He wants you to be free to do anything you want, but he also wants to warn you if you're about to screw up.  If you look back and notice that everything is burning and there's smoke everywhere, maybe it's time to stop and at least figure out the problem. Call somebody, change course, let something go..     

I wonder if they make smoke alarms for parking brakes? 


Posted by Mack Oates at 12:00 AM