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
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
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.