Tuesday, May 1, 2012

TIO Tuesday - Basic Alfredo Sauce

I have been reading a book that is completely changing my perspective on cooking, and in turn what I eat. I just happened to check it out from the library and I'm so glad I did. It reads like a memoir of sorts but it's also a how-to type cookbook. It's kind of hard to explain, but trust me, it's different from any other book I've read.
The author, Kathleen Flinn, is a food writer and graduate from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. A quick, basic description of the book: Her experience using nine volunteers and teaching them how to cook. Their ages and backgrounds are all different, but they range from mid-twenties to forties. All of them have different reasons for not cooking, mostly being afraid of the kitchen or simply not knowing how to cook. Naturally, the book jacket does a better job of enticing readers, but even if that's what I had read, I would have been interested.
In the whole scheme of things, I consider myself to be an okay home cook. I can follow a recipe, but rarely do I try my own thing. My palate is woefully inadequate and, I believe, prevents me from being a better cook. Her book is giving me the confidence to get back to basics and really evaluate how I can be a better cook, a better provider for my family. From one of the first chapters on knife skills, to her pasta and sauces, I have learned something new. That brings me to today's TIO - Basic Alfredo Sauce.
I typically don't make Alfredo at home, from a box, jar or otherwise. I don't know how to and the thought of screwing it up and having to start over is rather daunting. Ordering an Alfredo at a restaurant is hit or miss. Sometimes, I like it and sometimes, it's awful. It just seems to be difficult? After talking with a few friends, I found that consensus to be true for them as well.
So, last night, I told the girls I would make them pasta for dinner. We were having chili and the kids don't like it, so I made this for them. Normally, I don't make two different dinners, but I really, really wanted chili! I digress...
A quick note: After a little recipe research on the Internet, the basic skills to make a homemade Alfredo have not escaped everyone. There are thousands of recipes and cooks out there that sound like they make a pretty good one. For me though, this worked and I would be thrilled if you tried it out yourself and let me know what you think.
Recipe from the book, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School
All the necessary ingredients, minus the pasta water
Looking for the bubbles! Be patient, they will come
Finished product with mini-penne pasta.
Looks like I lost a little guy under the pan?
This sauce was so creamy and delicious, my family raved about it. Brad said it was far better than the frozen Alfredo he used to buy and the kids said it was better than anything that comes in a box. I can't wait to make this again using fettuccine and chicken. You will probably see more recipes inspired by this book. Let me know what you think!

Adapted from book, page 142

8 oz. cooked pasta
2 cups heavy cream (2 tbsp. reserved)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Carefully reserve one cup of the pasta water to use in the sauce. Over medium high heat, add all but 2 tbsp of the cream to a saute pan or skillet. When it bubbles, add the salt. Small bubbles will erupt into larger bubbles. Stir. When the sauce thickens enough to cover the back of a spoon or leaves a clean line in the bottom of the pan when you pull a spatula across it, add the pasta water. Cook over medium high heat for about 3 minutes, until it bubbles again and the sauce thickens. Add the reserved 2 tbsps. of cream, heat through and then add the cheese, garlic and a few cranks of pepper. Taste, and add more salt if needed. Add the cooked pasta and any additional ingredients and stir well to coat.

~ Misty


saharjt said...

Read the same book, isn't it awesome? Now I was going nuts because I have placed it in a bag somewhere and can't find it, so thank you for posting the recipe!! I've cooked it 3-4 times now and my hubby and son (only 3) love it!

Heather said...

I am reading this book now and love it. We made the alfredo last night and everyone loved it. Made it with chicken and spinach. Was so leftovers!