As most of you know, I attended Eat Write Retreat this past weekend. I am (I think) one of the last attendees blogging about it–it amazes me how fast people got their review posts out. I needed time to sleep, to drive home, to sleep, to relax, to process the entire event, to sleep some more and hug my husband and girls.It didn’t help that the sinus infection from last week (which I suspect was actually strep throat because my husband tested positive 2 days later) caused me to postpone the post I had ready to go before the event except for a few last minute changes and hence it got published first post-conference, rather than a review. In a word, the conference was wonderful. I had tons of fun. I’ve heard the complaints about the bigger conferences and some of the clique-yness experienced at them. I can say I definitely did not feel that at this conference. The workshops were not all equally helpful, but they were all interesting. At no point did I feel like I was at a conference, dozing off while I was sposed to be taking notes (can you tell I have been to a few legal conferences back in my previous life?). Casey and Robyn, the ladies who created Eat Write Retreat as an interactive, more intimate East Coast event, were approachable, fabulous, responsive, everything you could hope for. Finances willing (ha!) I would take part in anything these 2 decided to do. The photography workshop had some great tips and Monica Bhide’s writing workshop was flat out phenomenal. Shauna of Gluten Free Girl and Joe Yonan of the Washington Post were 2 more great speakers, albeit panelists the following day. I got lots of great advice from Justin Schwartz, who works for a cookbook publisher, during my “Pitch to the Pros” session (no I did not pitch, I sought advice). I finally got to meet Amanda of MarocMama (my World Kitchen partner) as well as tons of other fellow bloggers. The food was outstanding, especially the tasting tour and the “Street Food” themed first dinner. One of the really fun and beneficial aspects to the conference was meeting representatives from various companies who want to work with food bloggers. They are just as enthused about food as we are, and it showed. I found olives I actually like (!! Lindsay Olives), an amazing lemon honey condiment (Honey Ridge Farms Lemon Honey Crème) and I have to include this last even though I did not meet a representative from them, Lifeway Frozen Kefir–that stuff is amazing. OXO was also a sponsor, and they filled my swag bag with some wonderful stuff (cutting board, measuring cup, peeler, etc), although the claim for the best swag of all went to Calphalon, who gave us a 12 inch Unison Griddle Pan.
Calphalon is also offering a first time ever site-wide sale to my readers (be sure to use my link, it will not work otherwise). The promotional code is C95926. Here is the fine print: *Clearance Items and Gift Certificates do not qualify. Excludes John Boos & Co. Cannot be combined with other special offers or applied to previous purchases. Terms subject to change. Offer valid through June 6th, 2011. I definitely suggest you check it out. (The promotion has ended.) Calphalon has excellent nonstick cookware, and they offer a lifetime warranty on most of it. I received the 10 inch omelet pan for my wedding and it has been a favorite ever since. One of the nicest things they did at Eat Write Retreat was the giveaways. I am sure I am not alone when I say that I hoped I would win something but was preparing myself not to. Especially because on the first night I won a hand-painted tile by Kudos Kitchen, which had been personalized to my blog (my tile is the sunflower one, see in link)! Anyway, at the main giveaway on the last night, they had something for every single person there! I won the second best thing I could have, a cookbook (because I am lusting after a mandolin and did not win the OXO one that was given away, but all of the other fancy appliances I did not need). Domenica Marchetti was one of the panelists and she had given away 5 copies of her latest book, The Glorious Pasta of Italy. Happily for me, I won it.
I should say, extra happily for me because this is a book I would have walked right by in the bookstore. Now don’t get me wrong, and I think Domenica knows where I am coming from because we’ve talked about it, but I am just not a fan of typical Italian American food. I find the alfredos bland and the marinaras give me heartburn, and it seems like everything must have one of those 2 sauces on it. Which drives me batty. And so I have a tendency to assume that most Italian cookbooks are not for me. I could not have been more wrong about this book. It is creative and authentic feeling in an Old World sense, not an Old World immigrated to New World sense, yet it also feels contemporary, as though Domenica shops at the same farmers’ market that I do. I instantly found several recipes to bookmark.
I stuck to the recipe for this first recipe with a few exceptions. I did not measure much and as a result I would lay money I used less cream and more cheese and onions than called for. And I added mushrooms and tiny amount of garlic. I did use homemade egg pasta for the dish as suggested–I used Domenica’s recipe and I’ll just let you buy the book for that recipe. But if you cannot make homemade, dried is fine.
- 4 T unsalted butter, divided
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
- ¼ cup finely shopped red onion
- 2 bunches asparagus (recipe called for white, I used white and green), the lower third peeled and then cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 scant cup heavy cream
- heaping half cup shredded asiago fresco cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lb dried fettucini or equivalent fresh
- ½ cup freshy grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
- 3 oz thinly sliced prosciutto ham (better if from Parma, but all I had was domestic), then sliced again into chiffonade
- 3 cups sliced mushrooms (I used crimini and button, if I had had access to more wild mushrooms I would have used them)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Set a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When it is melted, add the sliced mushrooms with a sprinkle of salt. Cook until all of the liquid has cooked out of the mushrooms and evaporated, about 10-15 minutes. Toss occasionally and add a little more salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.
- Heat the remaining oil and butter in the same skillet. When it is hot, add the red onion. Cook for 2 minutes, and then add the asparagus. Toss to coat with butter and oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes.
- Add the cream and asiago fresco cheese with the mushrooms and garlic. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and stir the cream and cheese in. Let it simmer for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain into a colander but be sure to reserve 1 cup of the cooking water.
- Transfer the cooked pasta back into the pot. Dump the sauce on top of the fettuccine and add the sauce on top of the pasta. Add the Parmigiano cheese and the Prosciutto ham. Toss. Add pasta cooking water as necessary to loosen the sauce up. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve, sprinkled with additional Parmigiano cheese.
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