Always cook pasta until al dente, right? Wrong! Because most of us are probably committing more noodle no-nos than we realize, Chef James Briscione will show you how to cook perfect pasta every time in a new video, “You’re Doing it Wrong: Cooking Pasta” — watch now to learn why you should finish cooking pasta in the sauce, step away from the olive oil and, yes, you will need that very large pot to boil the water.

Stop doing it wrong. Start making really good pasta.

Want to learn to cook pasta and more like a chef? Click here for more information on ICE’s career training programs.

Ever wanted to make fresh ravioli at home, but too intimidated to try? In a new video from ICE and PEOPLE magazine, ICE Chef Robert Ramsey shows how easy it can be with one simple trick, and shares an addictively delicious homemade ravioli recipe that confirms the adage that less truly can be more.

This recipe melds simple, straightforward ingredients into a flavorful, decadent dish. With just five ingredients, Chef Robert’s brown butter sage sauce is the perfect companion for his pillowy homemade ricotta ravioli.

Before you get started on your fresh egg pasta dough, here are a few tips from Chef Robert for nailing your homemade ravioli every time — you’ll never look at the store-bought stuff the same again:

  1. Using a ravioli tray is incredibly efficient and makes picture-perfect ravioli — but separating them can be tricky. “Flash” freezing them for 10-20 minutes in your freezer will make this step a snap, literally — you will know the ravioli are set once you can snap them apart easily, like a chocolate bar.
  2. Don’t have a ravioli tray? Just make the ravioli the same way, laying out a sheet twice as long as you need, piping the filling equal distance apart, folding the second half of the dough over the first, and then cutting with a ravioli wheel or knife. (That said, a ravioli tray costs the same as a wheel, and it’s easier to use. You can find one here.)
  3. When cooking the ravioli, you can tell they’re ready when they puff up like a balloon — this means that the filling is hot enough to create steam.
  4. Remember to reserve some of the pasta water for your sauce. Because of the starch in the pasta water, adding a spoonful of the cooking water will make the sauce “creamy” without adding cream. But be careful not to add too much as the pasta water is already salty.
  5. If you’re looking for other sauces to substitute, try these combinations: tomato sauce, oregano and Parmesan; classic pesto with a sprinkle of pine nuts; or capers, olive oil, lemon zest and parsley.

Ricotta Ravioli With Brown Butter, Sage and Hazelnuts
Servings: makes about 4 servings

Ingredients:

For the pasta

1 recipe for Pasta All’Uovo recipe (below)

For the filling

Ingredients:

2 cups ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

For the sauce

4 ounces (1 stick) butter
1 bunch fresh sage, leaves picked
6 ounces hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

For the filling

  • Combine all ingredients in the work bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. With the whisk attachment or hand whisk, whip the mixture until completely smooth.
  • Transfer to a piping bag and reserve in the refrigerator until ready to fill pasta.

To assemble ravioli

  • Once your pasta sheets are rolled out (after the final step in the dough recipe below), you can begin assembling the raviolis. Place one pasta sheet onto a well-floured ravioli tray. (Don’t have a ravioli tray? See Chef Robert’s tip above.) Using your hands, gently press the dough into the divots in the tray. Pipe about two tablespoons of filling onto each sheet of dough. Next, brush a second sheet of dough with cold water and place the wet side down on top of the bottom ravioli sheet.
  • Use a rolling pin, roll over the raviolis back and forth to seal and crimp the raviolis. Flip the ravioli tray to unfold the finished pasta. Transfer to a floured sheet pan and place immediately in the freezer.

For the sauce

  • In a small pot over medium heat, melt the butter, swirling constantly. When it begins to bubble and sizzle, keep swirling and watch carefully for browning. As soon as the butter turns golden brown and smells nutty, carefully add the sage leaves and remove from heat. The sage will fry in the butter, making it crispy and aromatic. Finally, add the chopped hazelnuts and the salt. Reserve the sauce in a warm place until you’re ready to serve the pasta (do not refrigerate).

To assemble the dish

  • Bring a large pot of water to a full, rolling boil. Add about ¼ cup of salt per quart of water. (Adequately salted water should taste like seawater.)
  • Remove the ravioli from the freezer. Break the raviolis apart and carefully place them into the boiling water and cook 4-5 minutes, until tender but not mushy.
  • Remove and toss directly into the pot of butter sauce. Gently mix to coat, and then spoon into a large pasta bowl. Finish with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and an extra touch of chopped, fried sage, if desired. 

Pasta all’ Uovo (Fresh Egg Pasta)
Servings: makes about 4 servings

Ingredients:

11 ounces of all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt

Preparation:

  1. Place the flour on your work surface and make a well in the center.
  2. Break the eggs into the well and add the salt. With a fork, begin to gently beat the eggs in a circular motion, incorporating approximately ½ of the flour.
  3. Using a bench scraper, bring the entire mixture together.
  4. Knead the dough with your hands for 3 to 4 minutes. At this stage, the dough should be soft and pliable. If bits of dried dough form (which is normal) don’t incorporate them into the dough — brush them off of your work surface.
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  6. Cut the dough into four pieces and recover with the plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.
  7. Remove one piece of the dough at a time from the plastic wrap and knead through the rollers of a pasta machine set at the widest setting. Fold the dough like a business letter to form three layers, pressing out all of the air. Turn the open end of the dough to the right (like a book) and repeat the rolling process. Continue the folding and rolling process five times on this setting.
  8. Repeat the folding and rolling process for the three remaining pieces of dough.
  9. Roll a piece of the previously kneaded dough through the pasta machine, reducing the setting with each roll until reaching the fifth-narrowest setting. Do not fold the dough between each setting.
  10. Once the sheets of pasta have been rolled out, use immediately, keeping the remaining sheets covered with a kitchen towel until ready to use.

By Chef Ted Siegel, ICE Culinary Arts Instructor

In 2005 the New York Times published an article by Frank Bruni (then restaurant critic and editor of the “Dining In/Dining Out” section) about Roman cuisine. The article’s overall message was: “nothing new is going on in Roman cuisine!”.  After a recent trip to Rome my wife, Cheryl, I am happy to report that this is still true.

This might be a slight overgeneralization; there are a handful of Roman restaurants doing “modernist cuisine-molecular gastronomic” spins on traditional Roman cooking. However, most Romans find the modernist trend oxymoronic, referring to this type of cooking as “all smoke and no roast!”.

Fortunately, Roman cooking and the culinary traditions of Lazio (best described as a rustic and pastoral cuisine based on meat and vegetables) has not changed too much since Etruscan sheep herders occupied the banks and mud flats of the Tiber river, as far back as 800-750 B.C. Hallelujah for that!

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Seafood risotto

During our trip to Rome, Cheryl and I thoroughly immersed ourselves in its cuisine, enjoying the glories of traditional “cucina alla Romana. Below is an recount of some of our more noteworthy meals, as well as a list of restaurants that one should not miss if traveling to the “Eternal City”:

HOSTERIA da FORTUNATO (12 Via Pellegrino): A very tiny neighborhood trattoria serving traditional Roman home cooking that is popular with locals. If you go, you will likely see a group of women sitting at a corner table hand-rolling, cutting and shaping all the sublime house made pastas.

Their iconic Roman fritti misti of vegetables and meatballs in a delicate batter is a must-have dish. As for the pasta, try any number of the variations of strangolapreti (“priest stranglers”), a very traditional hand rolled pasta dumpling that is particular to the central Italian regions of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. The story of how this pasta got its name goes back to the middle ages. Roman catholic prelates would gorge themselves on this simple pasta made water and durham flour until they choked, hence the name.

The variations on strangolapreti that we found deeply satisfying were caccio e peppe, carciofi e gunaciale (artichokes and  smoked pork cheeks- both basic staples of the Roman kitchen) and alla carbonnara. The house-made sheep’s milk ricotta ravioli in a luscious butter and sage sauce (“burro e salvia”) is also a must-try.

HOSTARIA COSTANZA (63 Piazza del Paradiso): This beautiful restaurant is actually built into the cellar of an ancient Roman amphitheater that dates back to the height of the “glory days” of the Roman Empire. The walls of the restaurant are still the original brick work from this archeological masterpiece.

Our dinner began with a perfectly-executed classic: carciofi alla Romana (large globe artichokes simmered in a broth of white wine, olive oil and herbs). The pastas were also fabulous. Worth a return visit were the tonnarelle con bottarga e seppie (square-cut spaghetti made on-premises served in a sauce of baby calamari indigenous to the Mediterranean and bottarga, which is the salt-cured roe of grey mullet); a simple grilled branzino (Mediterranean sea bass); and finally, trippa alla Romana (tripe braised in tomatoes and mint with pecorino alla Romana, a dish that pays homage to the marcelleria – the butchers of the Roman slaughterhouses whose cuisine has dominated the Roman culinary landscape since ancient times. They cooked with a strong emphasis on offal, because that was all they could afford).

Fortunately for us, we arrived in Rome just as puntarelle – a variety of wild dandelion greens – started appearing in the Roman vegetable markets (puntarelle has a very short season from late winter to early spring). Puntarelle is traditionally served with a dressing of red onions, anchovies, lemon and olive oil. Needless to say, we enjoyed the version we had at Costanza.

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RISTORANTE La SCALA (58-61 Piazza della ‘Scala): Ristorante la Scala is located in Trastavere, a very quiet, residential neighborhood southeast of Vatican city. We stumbled into La Scala serendipitously after a day of touring the Vatican. We were so fond of this local restaurant that we dined there twice. Weather permitting, sitting outside in the outdoor dining area affords one an authentic experience with a view of the beautiful church of Santa Maria della ‘Scala.

Being in Rome at the height of truffle season gave us an opportunity to indulge in the truffle menu of La Scala: burrata di bufala with black truffles and rughetta (wild arugula); light as air potato gnocchi with scarmorza (smoked mozzarella) and black truffles; fried artichokes with black truffles, fonduta and guanciale; and finally, sheep’s milk ricotta ravioli in an unctuous butter sauce showered with truffles.

Other dishes worth not missing are the tonnarelle pasta with zucchini flowers and cherry tomatoes, as well as the carciofi alla guidea (artichokes simmered and fried in olive oil), one of the truly great dishes born out of Rome’s Jewish “ghetto”, dating back 2500 years. For dessert, try the crema di zabaglione con fragola (sabayon cream with wild strawberries).

HOSTERIA GRAPPOLO d’ORO (80-84 Piazza Cancelleria): This is another favorite where we had two wonderful meals. This restaurant has a clientele of largely local regulars and would fit right in in a New York City neighborhood. While the décor is modern, the cooking is in keeping with traditional Roman gastronomy.

The delicious house antipasti tasting plate features a modern take on a molded panzanella salad, mille-foglia con burrata e alici (a very light pastry layered with buffalo milk burrata and marinaded white anchovies), pan fried oxtail meatballs with salsa verde, a croquette of baccala and potatoes and an eggplant-ricotta polpette.

The orechiette pasta with broccoli and potatoes was not the usual mess of broccoli flowers and potatoes swimming in olive oil. The vegetables had been cooked down to form an incredibly light, yet slightly coarse puree, bound by a light broth emulsified with a little olive oil. The execution of this dish showed the true skill of the kitchen. Further, d’Oro’s rigatoni all’ amatriciana with a copious garnish of crisp guanciale was one of the better versions of this classic Roman pasta preparation we had during our trip (pasta all’ amatriciana, carbonara and caccio e pepe make up the “holy trinity” of Roman pasta preparations).

For the second course, we sampled stinco di maiale (pork shank braised with chestnuts and beer), guancia di bue brasato (beef cheeks braised in red wine and carrots) and abacchio scottadito alla griglia (the Roman classic of grilled baby lamb marinated with herbs, garlic and olive oil—whose title implies that when you pick up the grilled cuts of lamb, you burn your fingers while eating them!).

CENTRALISSMO “WINE BAR” (15-17 Via Santa Maria in Via): This wine bar and restaurant near the Pantheon gets mixed reviews. However, we had an excellent platter of fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella, as well as a memorable plate of fried olives. For the primi we enjoyed a very creditable spaghetti caccio e pepe and bucatini all ‘amatriciana. Given the fact that Centralismo is a wine bar, we drank one of the more unusual wines on our trip: Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine from the Emilia Romagna region.

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Potato gnocchi with scamorza (smoked mozzarella) and black truffles

 PIAZZA CAMPO di FIORE

I would be remiss not to mention the Piazza Campo di Fiore, which is one of the truly great food markets in Europe with a wonderful salumeria. Worth visiting is Antica Norcineria Viola. If you are passionate about Italian salume – such as cured hams, salami and anything else that pays homage to pigs – this establishment is a must visit. If you find yourself fortunate enough to wander in there, try the testa, which has a beautifully silky and refined texture.

WINE

The wines we drank were too numerous to mention, but a few were truly memorable:

  • Barolo chinato: A late harvest Barolo made from the Nebbiolo grape in the region of Piedmonte.
  • Merlino: A wine from Trentino-Alto Adige which is produced from the Lagrein grape variety that is grown in the region’s Vigneti delle Dolomiti wine district and is classified as a fortified wine
  • Viscola Querciantica: A wine from the Marchese region in Southern Italy that is pressed from the juice of sour cherries.

GENERAL TIPS

As far as Roman hospitality, we found the service in all the restaurants mentioned above to be warm and welcoming. Most of the Italians we met spoke English as a second language (some more fluent than others) or at least made an attempt to communicate in English.

Be aware that unlike in other places, restaurants in Rome will charge extra for bread, which is automatically brought to the table and is generally of poor quality. (You will not be asked if you want it or not, so don’t be surprised by the surcharge when you get the bill. If you decide not to have bread, inform the wait staff when they bring it to the table.)

Thinking of traveling to Italy? Consider a hands-on cooking experience in the picturesque heart of Umbria, led by ICE Chef-Instructor Gerri Sarnataro. Click here to learn more. 

 

 

 

By Danamarie McKiernan

 

Throughout my time at ICE, I knew there would be “ah ha” moments when I learned something new about food. But I didn’t expect that the first time this happened, it would come in the form of a tomato.

Photo Credit: Joe Schlabotnik

Photo Credit: Joe Schlabotnik

On “Tomato Day”, we started off with dozens of fruits. Chef Chris explained how they do not need to be perfect tomatoes, bruised tomatoes are beautiful too. We chopped away all morning, without knowing what we were going to make. The tomatoes were then dropped into a VitaMix—one of Chef Chris’ favorite tools—and blended into a silky tomato puree.

 

I was then sent to the stove, where I was instructed to patiently bring the puree to a boil in a 4 quart pot. Chef Chris then showed us how to completely strain the puree using a chinoise with a linen towel as a lining. Tomato water was the end product. Tomato water! Amazing! It was completely delicious and the aroma filling the room reminded me of summertime in August when my family and I jar our own tomato sauce.

photo[7]

Tomato water

The tomato water was clear with a hint of red. Alone, it tasted like light tomato broth, which I would have loved to pour in a tea cup and sip all day. But in cooking, there are endless possibilities for tomato water: from tomato vinaigrette to sauces and dressings—my personal favorite is to boil pasta in diluted tomato water to add extra flavor. You can also add other ingredients to adjust the spice or seasoning of tomato water. For example, Chef Chris explained how he enjoys adding jalapeños to the tomatoes prior to straining, to create a spicier broth.

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Leftover tomato puree, to be dried out for tomato powder.

Once I calmed from my excitement over tomato water, we moved onto the next phase of tomato day: tomato powder! I wasn’t sure how this could be made or used, but I was immediately intrigued. Making use of the leftover strained puree, we spread it on a half sheet pan. The pan was then put into the oven at 150 degrees overnight (12 hours).

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Tomato powder

In the morning, we found dried tomato crackers. Again, we blended these in the Vitamix, producing a potent, brick red powder—and again, I was amazed at the possibilities. Tomato powder is essentially just another spice to add to your pantry. One of my favorite uses thus far is to sprinkle it over fish or steak; I love the tang it leaves on my palate.

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Homemade farfalle with tomato powder dough

That day, I left school with so many ideas. My first was to make pasta dough with the tomato powder, substituting it for a half cup of flour. Studded with specks of colorful flavor, I rolled out this dough to make farfalle. When cooked, it made for a tangy, slightly salty and balanced little bows, with a texture that held on to my mushroom-thyme butter sauce perfectly. The first, but certainly not the last, of many tomato recipes to come.

There once was a time when bacon meant breakfast, but these days, both chefs and eaters can’t get enough of this porky indulgence. As with all ingredients, Chef Virginia Monaco knows that quality matters, so she opts for these alternatives to basic, pre-cut bacon.

Baby Kale Carbonara
(Serves 6)

Ingredients
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 6 ounces diced guanciale
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 ounces grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb washed baby kale
  • salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook spaghetti in salted water until al dente. Drain, and put to the side. Reserve some pasta water for your sauce.
  2. Warm olive oil in a skillet and add diced guanciale.
  3. Cook guanciale until crisp and fat has rendered out.
  4. Mix together eggs, cheese, cream, salt and lots of pepper in a bowl.
  5. Add warm pasta to the skillet.  Off the heat, pour in egg and cheese mixture, stirring constantly until thickened and creamy. Adjust with pasta water if too thick.
  6. Add kale and toss to wilt slightly.
  7. To plate, top with some extra cheese and pepper and enjoy!

To learn more about bacon’s many culinary uses, check out our recreational cooking class: “Beaucoup Bacon“.

By Carly DeFilippo

Jonathan Waxman, chef and owner of New York City’s Barbuto, has garnered many superlatives during his culinary career: “One of the country’s greatest chefs“, king of roast chicken and even “the Obi-Wan Kenobi of Top Chef Masters“. Monday night, Waxman shared one of his many talents – and favorite aspects of cooking – with ICE recreational students: butchery.

When we arrived at class, Waxman announced that we would be preparing proteins ranging from lamb to pheasant – but first, we went back to basics. “Jacques Pepin says the most important thing to learn is how to cook an omelet. I say it’s how to cut an onion”. Waxman explained that knives are shaped like a boat, which means we should chop using a gentle rocking motion. Our non-chopping hand should be shaped “like a crab”, walking delicately backwards as the knife approaches.

After reviewing the essential slippery onion, Waxman taught us how to debone striped bass (the bones in the fins are poisonous), a leg of lamb (cut away from the body), pheasant (avoid piercing the “oyster”) and that all-time classic, the chicken. Regardless of the protein, Chef Waxman insisted that it’s important to use your cutting hand to feel for the bones and joints (closing your eyes may help) before diving in with a knife. He also assured us, again and again, “these are unnatural movements”, and that even he has to remind himself to practice proper knife technique.

Yet one of the most memorable skills shared by Waxman didn’t even require a knife. He charged us with the task of sautéing pasta, a Ligurian technique that browns pasta before adding liquid, adding extra crunch and flavor to this essential Italian foodstuff.

Sauteed pasta with endives and jalapenos.

 

Ever wonder what’s cooking at ICE? Five-Course Friday gives you a snapshot of what we are whipping up weekly. Whether you pop in to a recreational class, catch a professional demo or watch the transformation from student to chef, there is something scrumptious happening daily. This week’s photos are from a lesson on southern Italy along with a treat from our Pastry and Baking classes.


Antipasti: Mozzarella in Carrozza


Primi: Macceroni con Salsa di Pomodorini


Primi: Pasta con Cavolfiore


Pesce: Pesce all’ACqua Pazza

Results from everyone’s favorite class at ICE: Cookie day!

Have a delicious weekend!

Ever wonder what’s cooking at ICE? Five Course Friday gives you a snapshot of what we are whipping up weekly. Whether you pop in to a recreational class, catch a professional demo or watch the transformation from student to chef, there is something scrumptious happening daily. This week it is all about clams and a sweet dessert from a special guest that visited ICE this week.


Italian Baked Pasta with Clams in Parchment Packages


Portuguese Cockles in Green Sauce


Soft-shell Clam Rolls with Homemade Tartar Sauce


Clam and Corn Fritters


Mindy Segal’s hot chocolate and a delicious s’more from her visit to ICE

Have a delicious weekend!

Clam Photos taken by Mark A. Bauman

Hot off her feature in The New York Times, Chef Vicki Caparulo, taught a refreshing summer class last week called Light, Quick and Easy Summer Pastas. She highlighted recipes that you can serve hot or cold and often make ahead of time, which is a perfect time saving option if you are looking for a quick dinner or good picnic options.

Chef Vicki noted that offering pasta as a primi appetizer can often take the pressure off a dinner party host since one pound can serve 16 people. Follow it with grilled fish and a salad and you’ve got an easy, no-stress summer menu!

Below is a recipe from her class that was a crowd favorite.

Penne with Arugula and Prosciutto
Yields: serves 4

1 pound penne rigate (ridged)
¼ pound thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
1 pound baby arugula
2/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
¾ teaspoon lemon zest
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Bring a large post of cold water to a boil for pasta.

When the water comes to a boil, add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. When the water returns to a boil, cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta.

Return the pasta to the pot, add the prosciutto, arugula, cheese, zest, and salt and pepper to taste and toss. Drizzle the oil over the pasta and toss again, adding some of reserved cooking water if pasta seems dry.

Serve immediately.

Making Pasta

ICE offers an incomparable variety of classes in cuisines from around the world, but we also provide the opportunity to be totally immersed in the techniques, ingredients and culture of other countries through culinary programs abroad. ICE Chef Instructor Gerri Sarnataro recently returned from an incredible European adventure and trip to Italy with ICE instructors, students, alumni and guests.

For nine days, Chef Gerri hosted the travelers at Cucina Della Terra, the cooking school she owns in the beautiful Umbrian countryside. The trip was a truly authentic cooking experience that blended cuisine and culture. During their time there, the group journeyed throughout the region to learn authentic Italian cooking techniques. Meandering through picturesque towns such as Montefalco, Bevagna, Perugia, Castiglione del Lago and Orvieto, they had the opportunity to sample many of the fresh local ingredients. Beyond sampling, the group met with vintners, butchers, shopkeepers, and more, exposing them to the region’s culture and how locals source their ingredients, and prepare traditional dishes. More…