Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Haunted Past

Halloween - Late 1960's - I'm the Witch

I grew up in a small town in the 1960's in a Wonder Years type of house, right next door to a funeral home on a tree-lined street full of old, two-story homes that were great for trick-or-treating.
Fred Krueger ran the local newspaper. Really. I am not kidding, his name was Fred Krueger. And every day I walked home from school, wading through ditches of fallen leaves, happy to find my mother ironing and watching Dark Shadows on TV. After school, I watched The Adams Family and The Munsters. And in the evenings we watched the Twilight Zone and Bewitched. And on Saturday nights, a special show that played old scary movies called Dimension 16 came on TV. We even had a place called the spooklight that more than once frightened the witts out of me.
So now you can understand my love of all things autumn and Halloween.   
I loved it so much, I even gave birth to the sweetest baby girl ever on Halloween.

So it's rather ironic that the sweetest baby girl ever has such a haunted past.

When my daughter was in grade school, a scary thing happened. The doctor who had been on call the night she was born and had delivered her -- was accused of murder. A very violent murder. He is in prison now. And my daughter, the sweetest angel in the world, gets a perverse thrill out of telling her friends how she was delivered on Halloween by a murderer.
True story.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Quick Autumn Supper

Isn't autumn the most glorious time of year?

The weather has been cool, the leaves are beginning to turn, and I have about a million recipes on standby, just waiting for the perfect autumn day.

I found some nice mushrooms at the farmers market and decided to make Giada's Rigatoni with Creamy Mushroom Sauce. And it was so easy. Just the type of meal I was craving on a cool early autumn evening.

You can use pretty much any mushrooms you like - cremini, shitake, and button - or pasta for that matter - I didn't have rigatoni on hand, so I substituted small penne.

A glass of wine, a quick green salad, some crusty bread, and you're in business.

Rigatoni with Creamy Mushroom Sauce
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis, 2008

1 pound rigatoni pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound assorted mushrooms, (such as cremini, shiitake and button), cleaned and sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.

While the pasta is cooking:
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn the heat to high. Add the wine and cook for 3 minutes until all the liquid evaporates. Add the stock and simmer until liquid is slightly reduced. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the mascarpone cheese. Stir until creamy. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water, and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the mushroom mixture and the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss well to coat pasta, adding the reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Garnish with the chopped chives. Serve immediately.

Note: The recipe originally called for vegetable stock, which I was out of, so substituted chicken stock instead. You could use a little more leftover cooking water from the pasta and this would work just fine.