Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Quest for noodles

I went out today in the snow and accumulating slush on a mission - to find no boil lasagna noodles for the manicotti I'm making for dinner tonight. I went to five different markets and none of them had them. One of them didn't even have lasagna noodles. I'm disappointed, and I know Steve will be too since he requested the manicotti, but we'll have to make do with baked ziti instead. Sigh.

The no boil lasagna noodles are really a great secret to making easy, minimal mess, no ruined manicotti tubes manicotti. You don't have to boil the noodles, but they do need softened up a little bit. Then you take your filling and spread a little on the noodle, roll it up and put it in your prepped baking dish seam side down. It is so easy. Your fingers still get a little cheesy, but it eliminates most of the mess. I learned this little trick in CI.

My trek took me by A Cook's Companion, a kitchen supply store on Atlantic Avenue. (I couldn't find a website for the store.) Steve gave me a gift certificate to CC for Christmas, as well as Silpat. But the Silpat doesn't fit my baking sheets, so I need to exchange it. I took my GC and Silpat with me and wouldn't you know, Tuesday is the only day that CC is closed. Bummer.

Instead, I wandered into Book Court to see what was new there. Lovely bookshop with a resident, literary cat, Francis. He's a handsome and friendly tabby. After an hour of browsing children's, graphic novels, Brooklyn section, new fiction, and cooking, I walked out with two totally unnecessary cookbooks - Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food and Mario Batali's Molto Italiano. I also took a few photos of other books I'd like to get eventually, including a $50 cookbook/homage to Chanterelle. I ate at Chanterelle once. Donna took me there for my birthday. It was one of the most divine dining experiences I've ever had, and consequently, one of the most memorable birthday presents I've ever received. I can't wait for my second visit. I digress. I picked these two because they looked thorough, varied, and contained recipes for dishes that I would like to eat. The recipes are also seemingly straightforward and the ingredients don't look too out of this world to find. Plus, the Alice Waters book was a store bestseller so it was 20% off. The Mario book wasn't labeled as on sale, but rang up about 10% off. I'll take the savings!

Mario's book has three different methods for making gnocci. I love gnocci. The recipe I use now is a very simple and potato based. I've tried one ricotta gnocci recipe that I didn't like. But Mario has another one that I am eager to try. Like souffle, gnocci is a dish I want to perfect.

Now I'm home, drying off, and thinking about heating up some of the left over soup for lunch.

UPDATE 2/10/09: Yesterday, I had a leisurely stroll through Trader Joe's, and what did my wondering eyes behold? Why no-boil lasagna noodles, of course! As many of you know, I have a photographic memory for all products offered by Trader Joe's and there is no way I missed these noodles. I swear they weren't there last week when I was looking for them, which is entirely possible since TJ's is constantly changing their product line. But now I'm glad I know where to get them for only $2.69 a box.


  1. Manicotti:

    I made this once and it was really really good. The only changes (and I think a few people on that site recommended these) are to use a mixture of ground beef and (hot) Italian sausage, and to use WAY less bouillon.

  2. Somebody who works at Trader Joe's probably reads your blog and is messing with you.