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Friday, July 1, 2011

50 Women Game-Changers in Food - #4 Martha Stewart - Spaghetti 101



From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...When I first saw Gourmet's list of the most influential women in food, I was genuinely surprised to see that Martha Stewart ranked higher than some of the other women on the list. I thought about it for a while, and, once I put my personal prejudice aside, I had to conclude that the choice and positioning of her name was probably right on the mark. While she may not be a great cook or writer, and never sparked a movement within the culinary world, the communication empire she built redefined the role of middle-class homemakers and the importance of food and entertaining in their lives. Her definition of the good life included wonderful food served in beautiful surroundings by a creative hostess who knew how to cook and entertain in a gracious and elegant manner. She was able to sell that vision to middle-class America and her empire was born. She created menus and recipes and then sold the dishes and linens on which they could be served. She was a workhorse and a powerhouse who strove for excellence in everything she did and, in doing that, changed the standard by which American homemakers judged themselves.

Picking a recipe that represents the work of this singular woman was not an easy task. There are thousands of them and not all the recipes that bear her name are actually her creations. I wanted to feature one that she considered to be the best of its kind. About 10 years ago, Martha did a series of shows that she called Cooking 101. In these shows she developed a series of recipes that she used to teach basic cooking techniques or highlight favorite family foods. This recipe comes from that series of programs, and, at that time, it had the distinction of being her most popular recipe. If you try this you'll see why. It is very easy to make. The dish has a spare elegance and it really is outstanding when it's made with San Marzano tomatoes and imported pasta. The recipe serves three people, but it can easily be doubled and you can have it on the table in 30 minutes. This is peasant food at its best. Here's how its made.


Martha Stewart's Spaghetti 101...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Martha Stewart

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons + 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, drained
8 ounces thin, best-quality spaghetti
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, cut into 1/8-inch-thick pieces
1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh basil or parsley leaves, loosely packed and torn
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, optional

Directions:

1) In a tall stockpot, bring 3 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil.
2) Use a food mill or potato ricer to crush tomatoes. Reserve juice from breakdown of tomatoes.
3) Drop spaghetti into boiling water; stir. Cook until al dente, about 11 minutes, or according to package instructions.
4) Place a 12-inch saute pan over medium heat; add oil. Add garlic to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is lightly golden, about 30 seconds. Add red-pepper flakes and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until garlic is medium golden, about 1 minute.
5) Increase heat to high. Tilting pan at an angle, add tomatoes and their juices. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until tomatoes begin to thicken, 5 to 6 minutes.
6) Drain pasta in a colander, reserving 1 cup liquid in case sauce gets too dry. Add pasta to sauce in saute pan; cook until sauce begins to cling to pasta, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in basil; cook 30 seconds more. Divide among bowls, and sprinkle with cheese, if desired. Yield:2 to 4 servings.

Additional recipes and tributes to Martha Stewart can be found on these excellent blogs.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets

Everyone is welcome to participate. If you'd like to join us next Friday when we salute M.F.K. Fisher let me know via email.

63 comments :

From the Kitchen said...

I think that Martha is not the best in the kitchen but agree that her lifestyle presentation is great. When I started using her "Entertaining" cookbook, I found that I had to really read and think about the recipes before I tried executing them.

Best,
Bonnie

Ginny said...

Wow, her most popular recipe?? It does look really luscious. I thought my homemade chicken noodle soup was the perfect dinner tonight, but this picture proves me wrong!

SKIP TO MALOU said...

I totally agree with you and you articulated it explicitly. Martha is not just a name but a brand in itself, a lifestyle that a lot of women emulate and admire!
thanks for sharing!
malou

Jeannie said...

That does indeed looks like the best spaghetti I have seen with minimal ingredients:)

Chelsea said...

I've never heard of this Martha series. It sounds like a great basic pasta recipe!

tandysinclair.com said...

She is a good brand! Have a fantastic weekend Mary :)

Priya said...

Just drooling over that incredible and delcious spaghetti..

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

I have never heard of Martha Stewart, guess we never had her recipes in South Africa or France for that matter. Diane

Yasmin said...

This recipe looks delicious! I love noodles! I had dinner at a sushi train resuraunt last night and the noodles are really delicious in miso and fried chicken soup!

Cheers,
Yas
www.tickle-your-tastebuds.blogspot.com

Maris(In Good Taste) said...

Mary, you can even make a plate of spaghetti look so amazing! Have a happy and safe 4th!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Ah, Martha - she always inspires such debate! I will say that my most dependable recipes have come from Martha, and I think the creation of the "Everyday Food" approach is inspired. Thanks for your insightful words.

At Anna's kitchen table said...

I'm really enjoying reading your thoughts on these great women!

StephenC said...

As with everything Martha this is a little fussy. "Tilt the pan"? I have to ask again that you consider a different font. I do struggle some to read the tilted text.

Martha said...

She has been a big influence on women -- probably more so than anyone else -- and I must admit the recipe looks good!

Clint said...

You wanna talk game changers? My wife was a game changer for me for lots of reasons---but her cooking is, simply, the best. Woman can cook anything and do it better than anyone.

Martha schmartha. Ha. :)

yummychunklet said...

I will admit that Martha did an excellent job capitalizing on the "complete" image of entertaining. Because honestly, after the food, you want every other part of the meal to be on the same level. Great post! And, I love using San Marzano tomatoes as well.

Jenn said...

I think we might feel the same about Martha, but you are right, you can't deny the influences she has had over the years. And, for a little while at least, I used to like watching her Cooking 101 shows :)
The spaghetti looks gorgeous!!

bellini said...

A good choice from sensible Martha. The list is about Game Changers and she has created a vast empire with her team of experts. Everyone knows her name that's for sure

Emily Malloy said...

I agree with you COMPLETELY.

I do love this spaghetti recipe, though!

Parsley Sage said...

As a reporter, I have to admit I know more about her non-food activities than her actual business in the kitchen. However, this looks spectacular and if she's got your endorsement for a solid number 4 then I totally trust your judgement :)

April said...

This looks like a great bowl of spaghetti! I have a love/hate relationship with her, you described her perfectly!

Jeanette said...

I love how simple this recipe is - Martha always puts such an emphasis on presentation, and yours looks fantastic.

Susan Lindquist said...

Classic dish ... these are the types of dishes Martha Stewart puts her mark on ... was it her idea to use San Marzano tomatoes? She does have her favorites when it comes to certain ingredients ... that's why I ask. And like Oprah, when she mentions something, the demand for that 'particular' skyrockets. That's what branding will do for you and Martha has certainly figured that out!

Ruth said...

Being from the UK< I'm probably not as familiar with Martha Stewart as you are - in fact it was via cooking and crafting blogs that I first heard of her. Thanks for this post - you always have something interesting to say!

girlichef said...

What a fantastic choice of recipe, Mary. And I agree with your thoughts on Martha :)

Susan........ said...

I agree with you totally. I find myself watching Martha's show now, and actually appreciating the details she is so famous for, when 15 years ago I would scoff at most of them. Who had the time?? I love that this list opens lively debates with my friends and colleagues and how much I appreciate being introduced to many of these women, once again. I am so enjoying this series of weekly posts with your fellow bloggers.

Sinful Sundays said...

Yea, Martha was a genius at branding herself and at running a great empire that she built--we've gotta give her props for that.

I like this spaghetti recipe, it looks so simple but is probably so flavorful!

Peggy said...

This spaghetti sounds really good! Martha Stewart may not be the best cook, but you're right - she established a connection with the average homemaker that has her a deserved spot on this list =)

Rita said...

Great cghoice of recipe and I agree about San Marzano tomatoes; they do make a big difference.
Rita

Cooking Creation said...

I was surprised to see her name so high on the list, too. The spaghetti looks fabulous!

meeshiesmom said...

Thank you Mary and thank you Martha!
Karen

Kath said...

I would never have thought of using my potato ricer to crush tomatoes! What a great idea! The spaghetti looks great.

lostpastremembered said...

I can see why... she did change the way women felt about food and style.... sort of upped the anti without talking down to people. She made a lot of good quick food and get us away from additives... and everything always looked so good!

We Are Not Martha said...

I would definitely put Martha Stewart on that list :) I'm obsessed with her detail and presentation and think she's just amazing. This dish looks great!

Sues

Taryn (Have Kitchen, Will Feed) said...

Spaghetti 101 works - my mother cooked spaghetti every week when I was a child. Thanks for the excellent recipe!

kitty said...

I'll have to try this recipe. Sometimes the simplest ones, are the best!!! Your pictures, Mary, make anything look wonderful.

Valérie said...

I too wouldn't have put Martha Stewart so high on the list, but your explanation does make sense. After all, she changed the way homemaking is considered. And I admit, I have her cookie book (which is a good reference, even though some of the recipes don't seem to work), and her sewing book (which I appreciate more, because I am a novice at sewing, so I find the book very useful). I think she's a good "gateway" into many aspects of homemaking.

Pegasuslegend said...

You just cant go wrong with this dish I just love fresh tomatoes and not using canned. I am not a Martha fan...by any means.. I sometimes wonder if she can indeed really cook or someone does this all for her... lol

Joanne said...

I think part of Martha's allure wasn't that she was the best trained but that she showed women that they could cook even without the training. Spaghetti is definitely a basic that no one should be without. This looks delicious!

Y said...

I only know her because she was in a jail. She's not considered a great chef in Greece where I come from!

A Year on the Grill said...

Great choice and I am really looking forward to following this series you and the rest are doing

Dave

Sanjeeta kk said...

Lovely thought about Martha from yet another beautiful lady! Love you.

Food Glorious Food! said...

Agreed Martha is not the best in the kitchen but she did managed to convey the positive messages across. Like this simple yet lovely recipe..

Angie's Recipes said...

The spaghetti looks really tempting with just a few of ingredients.

Chiara said...

Congratulation Mary ! A perfect italian dish ! have a good day....

Inside a British Mum's Kitchen said...

Martha's great in many ways - but I never really think of a cosy kitchen when I think of her! This recipe however, is just about perfect!
Mary

ButterYum said...

You speak as if she were deceased.I agree, not the most talented cook or writer, but she certainly has elevated the art of homemaking. And she certainly knows how to market her brand.

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

We have to give her her due. Her name is snyonymous with creating a stylish home environment and entertaining with panache. I do have one of her cookbooks... but, seldom use it. This recipe sounds worth giving a whirl. Thank you, Mary. Blessings ~ tanna

Julie said...

This really does sound delicious!

Connie Arnold said...

She definitely has had a big influence. That spaghetti looks great! Thanks for sharing.

Gloria said...

look absolutely nice and delicious Mary! gloria

Katie said...

This blogging challenge is so neat! I love the idea of baking recipes from all the influential women in cooking history. I can't wait to follow along and see what else you make!

tasteofbeirut said...

I admire Martha Stewart for her personality and business skills. She has proven that women can succeed on a large scale and will go down in history as one of the great pioneer business leaders in the Western world. All of that, not in steel or oil, but using the concept of the perfect homemaker! Now that is pure genius!

GLENDA CHILDERS said...

Your thoughts on Martha are interesting. And the recipe looks fantastic.

Happy July 4th weekend, Mary.

Fondly,
Glenda

Magic of Spice said...

I have to say I am right there with you from the surprise of where she ranked to later understanding why. She has certainly built an empire around home goods and cooking.
Excellent choice here with this dish...shows the epitome of why she made the list.
Great post :)

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Despite the scandal that still haunts her, you are so right. I'm a big fan of many of her cookbooks. Currently, her new Pies & Tarts book is one of my very favorites. Everyday Food is a great show, and magazine, that shows the average cook how to make simple, real and delicious food. I'm a huge fan of her recipes.

Red Nomad OZ said...

Martha Stewart kind of passed me by - especially downunder here in OZ where we tend to make fun of people who enjoy a high level of populist success!

But this recipe looks like a winner!!

And if you have a moment to spare, there's a treat for you in my 2nd July blogpost. Emjoy!!

Karen Harris said...

Martha liked one of my recipes a few years ago to have me on her show, so she's alright by me. This pasta does look wonderful. Sometimes nothing beats a big bowl of spaghetti.

lena said...

martha stewart is quite popular here and she was here in malaysia for a visit i think sometime last year but i have not tried nay of her recipes yet.

Miranda said...

Great write up on Martha. I think she is a complete personality and has to be given credit for such. Some recipes are hit and miss, but I still check marthastewart.com when I need something quick and easy.

That Girl said...

I feel like I would have been as surprised as you were at the order of the list.

spidercamp said...

I don't understand the deal with the reserved tomato juice... is it added back in later at some point, or thrown out? There's a mention of adding liquid to the pasta, but that looks like it means the water it boiled in. Help?

Mary said...

Spidercamp, The juice that forms as a result of crushing the tomatoes should be added to the skillet at the same time as the tomatoes. Using the water in which pasta cooks to help moisten pasta that may be too dry is a classic Italian technique. The water picks up flavor when the noodles are boiled in. If I need to use it, I add it a tablespoon at a time until the pasta has a consistency that I like. Have a great evening. Blessings...Mary

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