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Archive for June 12, 2010

RECIPE: Penne Alla Vodka—With Tomato Vodka!

Three Olives Tomato Vodka: Not just for
Bloody Marys!

Penne alla vodka is a very popular dish. Who can resist that creamy tomato sauce with a touch of vodka?

Three Olives Vodka makes it even better with its Tomato Vodka. Serve shots of vodka along with the pasta—and of course, in a Bloody Mary before dinner!


• 1 pound penne (we prefer penne rigate [PEN-nay rih-GAH-tay], the ridged variety, since sauce clings better to ridged pasta)
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 chopped tomato
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• 1/4 to 1 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper, depending on your heat preference
• 1/2 cup Three Olives Tomato Vodka
• 1/4 cup canned tomato purée (look for San Marzano—the best canned tomatoes!)
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley (flat leaf)
• 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
• Salt to taste

1. In an 8-quart pot, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil over high heat. Prepare penne according to package directions.

2. Simmer olive oil in a large skillet over moderately low heat. Add tomato, onion and crushed pepper and simmer for about 3 minutes. Stir in vodka and bring to a lively simmer for about 5 minutes.

3. Add tomato purée and heavy cream and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.

4. Stir in cheese until melted. Add parsley, salt and pepper. Cover and keep sauce warm over very low heat until pasta is ready.

Find more pasta recipes in our Gourmet Pasta Section.


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FATHER’S DAY: Special Chocolates For Dad

Men don’t tend to swoon over boxes of pretty artisan chocolates. They’re more likely to dig into a chocolate bar.

But how about a chocolate cigar?

Woodhouse Chocolate (a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week) fills milk chocolate cigars with chocolate ganache—flavored with single malt Scotch! And yes, you can “smoke” it along with a glass of Scotch.

Find more of our Father’s Day chocolate gifts, including real chocolate sprinkles (jimmies) made by one of the world’s greatest chocolate producers, Guittard.

Chocolate cigars filled with Scotch-infused
ganache. Photo courtesy Woodhouse Chocolate.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Use A Bigger Bowl

We use these melamine mixing bowls in THE
NIBBLE’s test kitchen.

Here’s a tip from The Competent Cook (reviewed below):

When it comes to selecting a mixing bowl, bigger is better.

Even if you’re just whisking five tablespoons of vinaigrette, a larger bowl provides a greater range of motion. This means better emulsion and less potential mess.

Don’t pay strict attention to the recipe (“using a small bowl,” “place ingredients in a medium bowl,” etc.).

Consider both the volume of the ingredients and the actions needed to transform them!

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BOOK: The Competent Cook

The Competent Cook: Essential Tools, Techniques, and Recipes for the Modern At-Home Cook by culinary instructor Lauren Braun Costello, is a delight.

Even experienced home cooks are not necessarily well-trained cooks. Many people have been doing it “the hard way” since they first picked up the wrong knife—and held it incorrectly.

Are you an experienced cook? Can you articulate the difference between baked chicken and roast chicken? Do you know why you should trade in that American-style rolling pin (with handles) for a French style (no handles)?

There are many “ahas” that will enlighten those who enjoy cooking. It’s easy to end up with better knife skills after reading the book.

Are you a fledgling cook? This book is as good as taking cooking classes—and better than some of the classes we’ve taken, because there’s more detail.

We are now an even more competent cook!
Photo courtesy

We only wish that the 250-page book contained more instruction from Ms. Braun Costello and fewer recipes: The “teaching” ends on page 95. While we understand the desire to provide the basic recipes (from Caesar salad to apple pie) that enable one to practice the techniques, there are more than enough recipe books on the shelf and fewer books about technique. The recipe section could have been improved with mini-course prefaces; for example, how to work with pastry dough (without proper instruction, most people overwork it, toughening the dough).

Some recipes do contain valuable tips. For example: When making a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato, insert the tomato slice between two cheese slices. This both helps to keep the bread from taking in moisture from the tomato, and helps the cheese melt more evenly since the slices are closer to the heat source.

We never thought of that! But now, thanks to Ms. Braun Costello, we’ll be making a better grilled cheese sandwich.

Buy a copy for your favorite graduate or anyone would enjoy learning some new tricks.


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