Tuesday, February 2, 2016

winter white dinner

It's still winter here, all white inside and out...a perfect time to 
look at the winter white dinner menu from Life/Style and make a few favorite recipes.

Simple wood platters, off-white pasta bowls, relaxed linen napkins
The best olive oil possible and freshest garlic really make the 
difference in this simple dish of toasted bread crumb pasta

My friend Marité Acosta, a chef and food stylist, makes these parmesan black pepper shortbreads  for hors d’oeuvres at her house, and they’ve now become sought after at my parties, too.

Serves 4 to 6 
1 pound dry spaghetti
2 cups breadcrumbs (or panko)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 to 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
Grated Parmesan  

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and add the pasta. Cook until al dente according to package instructions. When straining, save and set aside about 2 cups of the cooking liquid.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Using your fingers, mix in the olive oil to evenly coat the crumbs. Toast in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until golden brown. Remove to the bowl to cool.
3. In the same pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and stir in the garlic, cooking until softened and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add the warm pasta to the pan along with about ½ cup of the reserved pasta water and toss well with the garlic and oil until most of the water is absorbed, adding more if needed for moisture.
4. Sprinkle half of the breadcrumbs over the pasta and a pinch of red pepper flakes and toss to combine.
5. To serve: In a large bowl, add the pasta and generously top with the remaining bread crumbs, lemon zest, and grated Parmesan to taste. Drizzle olive oil over the top and serve.

Yields about 30 shortbreads
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup Parmesan, coarsely grated
1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 teaspoons lemon zest, finely grated

Preheat oven to 325°F and line two 14 by 16-inch baking sheets with parchment paper.

1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer on medium-high until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the Parmesan, thyme, lemon zest, and black pepper and continue mixing until incorporated. Add the flour to the mixture and beat until just combined.
2. Form into heaping teaspoon- or tablespoon-sized balls and chill on baking sheet in refrigerator for about one hour until firm. When ready to bake, space the shortbreads about one inch apart on the backing sheets and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until just golden brown on the bottoms. They should remain pale in color on top.
3. Move to a cooling rack until cooled and serve.

photographs by marili forastieri

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