Asian Potsticker Dough (for Jiaozi & Gyoza Dumplings)

Chinese Bamboo Steamer Filled with Potstickers

This silky, beautifully chewy potsticker dough is a mainstay in Asian kitchens where it is used to make Chinese Jiaozi and Japanese Gyoza. After you master this easy dough, you’ll find dozens of fillings to keep your dumplings interesting all year.

Ricotta Cavatelli with Toasted Walnuts & Baby Greens

Ricotta Cavatelli with Toasted Walnuts & Bitter Greens

This is a delicious pairing of chewy, pillowy ricotta cavatelli; earthy, almost sweet walnuts; toasted garlic; slightly bitter greens; and crisp pancetta; punctuated with a creamy, tangy goat cheese.

Homemade Ricotta Cavatelli Pasta

Hand Shaped Ricotta Cavatelli Pasta

Everything you need to know to make fabulous homemade ricotta cavatelli pasta–with or without a cavatelli pasta machine. Includes extensive tips for using the CucinaPro 530 Cavatelli Maker.

Strozzapreti Pasta with Fava Bean Greens Pesto, Spicy Italian Sausage & Toasted Walnuts

Strozzapreti Pasta with Fava B

Strozzapreti (stroh-tzuh-PRAY-tee) is one of my all-time favorite pastas. Its 1-inch length and rolled S-shape captures and holds the sauce, while its chewy texture adds character and interest to any pasta dish. It’s always in my pantry.

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Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi with Garlic Sage Butter

Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi with Garlic Sage Brown Butter

Can you say NYOK-ee? Luckily, gnocchi are more difficult to pronounce than to actually make. And unlike the pronunciation, you have lots of latitude on how to make, shape, and sauce these delectable little dumplings. Beyond the standard ingredients of ricotta, eggs, flour, and cheese, you can go wild with additional flavors. It’s almost Halloween, so of course I added pumpkin to my time-tested gnocchi recipe. And I’m glad I did. These may be my favorite gnocchi of all time.

Strozzapreti Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage, Broccolini & Garlic Crema

Strozzapreti with Spicy Italian Sausage, Broccolini & Garlic Crema

I know the first day of spring is just around the corner and Daylight Saving Time launches in the Pacific Northwest next week, but it’s still hanging in the low 40’s most days, so until the sun actually returns, creamy, rich pasta dishes are still keeping me warm.

And for whatever reason, I have a mad crush on strozzapreti (stroh-tzuh-PRAY-tee) lately, and it’s getting star billing in the OtherWorldly Kitchen. I even found this cool post at Y Len Ate that shows one way to shape fresh strozzapreti (twisted). And then another cool post at Eat with a Spoon that shows a very different shaping method (wrapped over a skewer). Both look wonderful.

Pasta Carbonara Perfecta Mundo

Pasta Carbonara with Strozzapreti Pasta

I can still remember my first dreamy mouthful of Spaghetti Carbonara. It was later in life, because my family knew jack squat about pasta. Meat sauce (made with the help of a seasoning packet) heaped over spaghetti was the only pasta dish I ever ate as a kid, and it was a very occasional treat. And later, when I began to cook professionally, I gravitated toward the French country classics. It took me a while to make my way to Cucina Italia.

Spaetzle, Wild Mushrooms & Broccoli Rabb with Thai Yellow Curry Sauce

Spaetzel, Wild Mushrooms & Broccoli Raab with Thai Yellow Curry Sauce

I’m intrigued and inspired by the creative ways in which Pacific Rim and Northwest chefs are incorporating spaetzle into their dishes these days. This Old World noodle-dumpling is suddenly being elevated to lofty heights, for the following compelling reasons:

• It’s much easier to make spaetzle than fresh pasta, and yet they have similar characteristics.
• Spaetzle lends itself to partnership with a wide range of companion flavors–from subtle to bold.
• When made with care, spaetzle is soul satisfying.
• Spaetzle has a wonderful chewiness.
• Spaetzle has an endearing homey quality. It’s the ultimate comfort food.

Old World Spaetzle: The New Pasta?

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I grew up eating spaetzle. But I thought it was pasta. To be even more specific, I though it was NOODLES. It took a curious turn of events to clear this confusion in my mind.

Grandma Mary loaded her Divine Chicken Noodle Soup with these super chewy, squiggly noodles she pushed through a large holed, wire mesh device. They were completely addictive, and I loved them beyond measure. She later gave me the device, but because I had never actually seen her make these noodles (they were always in the soup when I arrived), I tried for years to push regular pasta dough through the mesh, cursing the whole while. It was nigh impossible. And the noodles made in this way were tougher than I remembered hers to be.

Mostaccioli with Sweet Rainbow Peppers

Mostaccioli with Sweet Rainbow Peppers

Every Saturday morning, from April through December, whether in Seattle or Portland, I head to one of the many world-class Northwest farmers markets. You might think I would become jaded after awhile, but it hasn’t happened.

Every week, I’m blown away by the gorgeous, tantalizing offerings, and every week I buy way more than I can cook over the weekend. I do this even though there is this strange man following me around, intermittently interjecting, “Enough already! You can’t cook all that.” I pretend to have no idea who he is, but of course it’s none other than MauiJim.

Linguine with Balsamic Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes

Linguine with Balsamic Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes

As often happens in the OtherWorldly Kitchen, I see a picture of an interesting dish in a culinary magazine and then can’t locate it when I actually want to try the dish. I can’t bear to discard a great magazine, so there are stacks everywhere. That’s how this quick and easy midweek supper dish came to be: a vague memory of a picture in a magazine, several heirloom tomatoes on the counter begging to be used, and raging hunger.

As often happens in the OtherWorldly Kitchen, I see a picture of an interesting dish in a culinary magazine and then can’t locate it when I actually want to try the dish. I can’t bear to discard a great magazine, so there are stacks everywhere. That’s how this quick and easy midweek supper dish came to be: a vague memory of a picture in a magazine, several heirloom tomatoes on the counter begging to be used, and raging hunger.

I was intrigued by the idea of intensifying the flavor of the tomatoes by roasting them with herbs and aromatics and then simply laying them on top of cooked pasta. I confess that I did not expect the resulting dish to taste this divine. I merely wanted to throw together a quick meal after a demanding day at work. Isn’t it great when results EXCEED expectations?

LunaCafe OtherWorldly Mac & Cheese

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Macaroni and Cheese is one of the easiest dishes in the world to prepare and surely one of the most wonderful, which probably accounts for the million-and-one versions that hurried, hungry folks have come up with over the years. (If you read to the end of this post, you will get to my most fabulous rendition, which I promised you a few weeks ago in Quintessential Mac & Cheese, Part 1, which reviews the best of all the Mac & Cheese I ate last year in Seattle, Portland, and Boston restaurants, complete with photos.)