Hallelujah, it's finally cold in Los Angeles! About time, too. I've been dying to wear some of my fall wardrobe and have seriously loved wearing sweater and jackets and boots the past few days!
Another thing I'm enjoying? Cooking some nice comforting meals. There really isn't anything like standing over a simmering pot making something warm and tasty when it's cold outside!
Are you guys familiar with Smitten Kitchen? It's a famous cooking blog written by Deb Perelman, who is a supremely talented home cook based out of Los Angeles. She posts ridiculously delicious recipes all the time, and whenever I find one that I just can't stop drooling over, I go ahead and try to make it.
Case in point - last week, it was chilly out, and I knew I wanted to make something cozy and comforting and carb-y. Deb's Penne Ala Vodka (actually based on a Rachael Ray recipe) sounded mightyyyyy fine - so I decided to do it!
First step - I gathered my ingredients together. Now, from the start I knew I had to make a couple edits to her recipe, because I didn't have everything she used, and I really didn't want to change out of pajamas and leave the house to go to the market. I've listed my changes to her recipe below in red:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced - I used four cloves! I think the garlickier, the better :)
2 shallots, minced - I used one white onion instead of shallots
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces) - I used two cans of whole peeled tomatoes instead.
Coarse salt and pepper
16 ounces pasta, such as penne rigate
1/2 cup heavy cream
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn - I didn't have basil - I used a dried herb blend instead
Please visit the recipe for full instructions, but here are some fun pictures of the cooking process!
Heating up the olive oil and butter:
Sauteeing the onions and garlic:
Adding vodka, tomatoes, chicken stock, and herbs:
Time for a splash of cream!
Letting the vodka cream sauce simmer before a final salt & pepper seasoning:
And voila! I served the final product over penne along with some grilled chicken sausage and onions. Let me tell you, I had one happy boyfriend!
A couple things - as you can see, mine was obviously chunkier than it should have been, due to my using whole tomatoes instead of crushed tomatoes. Next time, I'll definitely use the crushed tomatoes, but if you want to use whole ones like I did, I'd suggest pureeing them with a hand/immersion blender. I also don't think the sauce needed as much chicken broth - mine had a ton of liquid. Next time I'll use half a cup of broth or none at all. Finally, I didn't mind the onion in place of the shallots, and the extra garlic was fantastic, I'd recommend an extra clove or two in yours if you make it!
Have you ever made pasta sauce from scratch before? I can't wait to do it again soon!