Bucatini All’Amatriciana

The fist time that I had this delicious pasta was many years ago at my Father’s house.  I immediately loved the flavors of the sauce-the pancetta, the onion, the tomatoes….it just goes together so well.

As it turns out he bought the cookbook which contains the recipe while on vacation in Italy.  Ironically, it’s an American book published in CA named Sunset Italian Cook Book. I ordered the book immediately from Amazon. I had to buy a used copy as it’s no longer in print. There are a TON of delicious recipes in it too.  If you ever come across a copy pick it up.  Seems like it was part of a series of cook books that they published in the late 70s, early 80s.

None of that matters though. What matters is the deliciousness and ease of making this dish. It’s one of our favorites. You could sub bacon for the pancetta but please don’t if you can possibly avoid it.  The pancetta gives a completely different flavor.


Bucatini All’Amatriciana


  • 1/4lb. sliced pancetta, cut into 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch squares
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried red chili flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 14.5oz can crushed or diced fire roasted tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Organic)
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine (I used a vernacchia)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2/3 lb bucatini


  1. In a large skillet over medium heat cook the pancetta, stirring frequently, until slightly crispy and brown. Remove it with a slotted spoon, allowing as much of the oil to drip back into and remain in the pan as possible.  When all of the pancetta has been removed measure the oil that remains in a measuring cup. You need 1/4 cup. If you have enough great, if not top it off with olive oil.
  2. Pour the oil back into the pan over medium heat and add the onion and chilis.  Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft. Add the garlic, tomatoes (and the juices), wine and parsley. Stir to combine and break up any large chunks of tomatoes.
  3. Adjust heat so that the sauce simmers gently, stirring occasionally, about 10-15 minutes until sauce has thickened a bit.
  4. While the sauce is cooking cook the bucatini in a large pot of gently salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta, saving 1/4 cup of the cooking water, and return it to the pot. Add the cooking water to the pasta and stir.
  5. Add the pancetta to the tomato mixture in the pan, stir to combine, and then add all of the sauce to the pasta.  Stir to distribute.
  6. Serve on a large platter or individually.

Adapted from Sunset Italian Cookbook.







Pumpkin-Shiitake Risotto with Pancetta and Pignoli Nuts

Recently I was looking around online for a recipe to use up some left over pumpkin puree and I found this. The name intrigued me. Pumpkin and Shiitake? Meh…I wasn’t sure about it.  But then as I read down the list of ingredients I knew that I had to make this and soon. And am I glad that I did! It was perfect. Crunchy pignoli nuts, creamy rice, hints of pancetta, onion and pumpkin and just a bit of tang from the mascarpone (which I doubled).  I had a double serving.

Many people think that risotto is difficult to make or easy to mess up. Lies. You can’t just let it sit on the stove but all that it takes really is attention and stirring. If you haven’t ever tried to make risotto at home I urge you to do so.  There’s almost no prep involved either-just chop up an onion and some mushrooms tops and that’ s about it. Easy peasy.

Risotto is like mashed potatoes. Some like it looser, some like it dryer. I prefer it looser and for to spread a bit when it’s spooned out. If you prefer it dryer continue to cook past when the liquid is absorbed. Be sure to not over cook it though-you do want it to be slightly toothy in the interior of the grain but creamy on the outside. Best to taste as you go.


Pumpkin-Shiitake Risotto with Pancetta and Pignoli Nuts


  • 3 cups no salt added chicken stock (I used the stock I made a few weeks ago)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4ozs pancetta, diced large
  • 2 cups shiitake mushroom caps, chopped
  • 1&1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed or put through a press
  • 1 cup Arborio rice, uncooked
  • 1 tsp fresh sage, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 4 tbsp mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tbsp pignoli nuts
  • 2 tbsp scallions, chipped small


  1. In a small sauce pan bring stock and water to a simmer. Keep it warm over low heat.
  2. Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook about 7 minutes or until crisp, stirring frequently. Add the mushrooms, onion, garlic and cook about 5-8 minutes or until tender. Add the rice and sage, cook, stirring for a minute. Add the wine, scrape and brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, and cook until liquid is absorbed.
  3. Add 1 cup warm stock and, stirring continuously, cook until it’s almost entirely absorbed. Repeat with all of the stock.  You can use extra water if needed. About 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat, add the pumpkin and mascarpone and stir to evenly distribute.  Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
  5. Spoon 1 cup risotto into 4 bowls (warm them so that the risotto doesn’t seize) and top with pignolis and chives.

Note: do not use pumpkin pie filling.

Adapted from Cooking Light, December 2012

Serves 4 (or 2 of me 🙂 as a main dish or more as a side dish.


Quiche Lorraine

I’ve always loved quiche. My Mom makes a delicious spinach quiche and that’s what got me to love them when I was little.  I haven’t made a quiche in a while but over this past weekend I made this Quiche Lorraine. I used Cooks Illustrated’s recipe and adjusted it a bit.

Give yourself time to make the crust.  A homemade crust makes all the difference in quiche and, while the instructions are long for the crust, it’s really really easy-just time it out right. I rolled it between the 2 sheets of plastic wrap and it saved me from making a huge mess with flouring the board etc.. I used 2 sheets of plastic for the top and 2 for the bottom and overlapped them to allow for the correct size of the crust.  The dough can be made up to 2 days in advance.


Quiche Lorraine


For the Dough  

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for rolling out the dough
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 4 – 5 tablespoons ice water

For the Filling  

  • 8 ounces pancetta (cut to thickness of regular bacon) cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 7 ounces Gruyère cheese grated 


Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in food processor workbowl fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat with flour. Cut butter into flour with five 1-second pulses. Add shortening and continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about four more 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl. Note: you can cube the butter ahead of time and then put it back in the fridge to get cool again.

Sprinkle 4 tablespoons ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, using folding motion to mix. Press down on mixture with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more ice water if it will not come together. Shape dough into ball, squeezing two or three times with hands until cohesive, then flatten into 4-inch-wide disk. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days, before rolling.

 Remove dough from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature to soften slightly, about 10 minutes if dough has chilled for 30 minutes or 20 minutes if it has chilled overnight. (The dough should be pliable. Use your hands to squeeze the dough; if you can squeeze it without applying too much pressure, it is ready to roll.) Roll dough on lightly floured work surface or between two sheets plastic wrap to a 12-inch disk about 1/8-inch thick. Fold dough in quarters, then place dough point in center of pie pan. Unfold dough. Alternatively, roll dough in 2-gallon zipper-lock bag to a 12-inch disk about 1/8-inch thick. Cut away top of bag. Grasping bottom, flip dough into pie pan and peel off bag bottom.

 Working around circumference of pan, press dough carefully into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand . Trim edge to 1/2-inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is about 1/4-inch beyond pan lip; flute dough in your own fashion. For quiche or tart pans, lift the edge of the dough, allowing the extra dough to flop over the sides. Then run the rolling pin over the top of the pan to remove excess dough. Next use your forefinger and thumb, press the dough evenly up the sides from the bottom to increase the height of the rim. Refrigerate pie shell for 40 minutes and then freeze for 20 minutes.

 Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Press doubled 12-inch square of aluminum foil inside dough shell; evenly distribute 1 cup or 12 ounces ceramic or metal pie weights over foil. Bake, leaving foil and weights in place, until dough dries out, about 17 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights by gathering sides of foil and pulling up and out. For partially baked crust, continue baking until lightly golden brown, about 9 minutes more; for fully baked crust, continue baking until deep golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Fry bacon in skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate. Meanwhile, whisk all remaining ingredients except cheese in medium bowl.

Spread cheese and bacon evenly over bottom of warm pie shell and set shell on oven rack. Pour in custard mixture to 1/2-inch below crust rim. Bake until lightly golden brown and a knife blade inserted about one inch from the edge comes out clean, and center feels set but soft like gelatin, 32 to 35 minutes. Transfer quiche to rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Helpful notes from Cooks Illustrated:

Published September 1, 1997. 

The center of the quiche will be surprisingly soft when it comes out of the oven, but the filling will continue to set (and sink somewhat) as it cools. If the pie shell has been previously baked and cooled, place it in the preheating oven for about five minutes to warm it, taking care that it does not burn. Because ingredients in the variations that follow are bulkier, the amount of custard mixture has been reduced to prevent overflowing the crust.


Puff Pastry Bites with Asiago, Parmesan, Shallots, Scallions and Pancetta

So a while ago Cooking Light Magazine had a section about appetizers using puff pastry sheets and they were great!! They have onion, potato, bell pepper etc…but I wanted something original and different this time. I came up with this basically by putting many of my favorite flavors onto a bite of puff pastry. The tangy, nutty cheeses, the carmelized shallots and scallions and the crispy pancetta create many flavor and texture levels. I brought these to my Mom’s Labor Day party and they were great!!

Puff Pastry Bites with Asiago, Parmesan, Shallots, Scallions and Pancetta


  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1/3 lb pancetta, cut the short way across into 1/3 inch strips
  • 2 shallots, sliced thin
  • 2 scallions, white and bright green parts only, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan (do not use pre-shredded)
  • 1/2 cup finely grated asiago
  • flour for dusting


  1. Preheat oven to 400. Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. On a large board dusted with flour roll out puff pastry sheet to a square. Cut across the sheet 5 times from top to bottom and then 5 times from right to left to make 25 small squares. Place squares on the cookie sheet and put in the fridge while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. In a large skillet cook the pancetta over medium heat until crispy. Reduce heat to low-med and remove the pancetta with a spider to keep the fat in the pan (or a slotted spoon but keep as much fat in the pan as possible) and set aside on paper towels. Add the shallot, garlic and scallion to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until carmelized. Set aside. Add the 2 cheeses to a plate and mix to combine.
  3. Remove cookie sheet from fridge and prick each square with a fork so that the pastry doesn’t puff too much in the oven.  Cook in the oven for 10 minutes (the pastry should not be completely cooked at this point). On each square spred a small amount of the cheese mix, top with a bit of the scallion/shallot mix and then top with a bit of pancetta. There should be an even amount of all on each square.
  4. Return the squares to the oven and bake for another 5-7 minutes or until corners of pastry are golden.
  5. Remove and serve warm or at room temp.

Sparksfromthekitchen.com original.

Pancetta, Leek and Zucchini Fritatta

Is there really anything better than crispy pancetta? In my opinion-no.

This fritatta is delicious!!! I love the taste of the leeks, the crispy texture of the pancetta and the chunks of zucchini.

Make it!! Now!!

Pancetta, Leek and Zucchini Fritatta


  • 8 very fresh large eggs
  • 1/3lb pancetta, thinly sliced and then cut into small strips
  • 4 leeks, white and pale green parts only
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • A few fresh basil leaves


  1. Preheat the broiler or the oven to 400f.
  2. In a bowl lightly beat the eggs until blended and season with pepper.
  3. Cut the leeks into rings crosswise, put them in a colander and rinse-separating rings-to remove any soil. They’re really dirty little buggers-clean them well. Drain well and pat dry.
  4. In a large frying pan over medium heat cook the pancetta to desired crispyness then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
  5. Add the olive oil and butter to the pancetta fat in the pan. Add the leeks and sautee until soft then add the zucchini and sautee until lightly golden. Add basil leaves when the zucchini is almost done
  6. Pour the eggs over the top and reduce the heat to low.
  7. Sprinkle the pancetta evenly over the top.
  8. Cook, occasionally running a spatula around the outside to keep it from sticking, until the sides and bottom are set but the center is still loose.
  9. Place pan under the broiler and cook until the top is firm and golden-about 5 minutes.

This can be served warm or cold. Depending on how large you slice it and which size pan you use you will have 4-8 servings. For me though-this made only 2 servigs as I was a pig and ate half.