Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pasta al Forno, Ragu Sauce, Bechamel Sauce, Creme Brulee', Four Cheese Pasta, and Spaghetti Carbonara

Another weekend at home with lots of time to play in the kitchen... what more can a man wish for? Because of work and school, weekends dedicated to "wholesome cooking mental therapy" are not taken for granted around here. Here is what I came up with in the past couple of days:

1. Pasta al forno (baked pasta);
2. Creme brulee';
3. Four cheese pasta;
4. Spaghetti Carbonara;
5. European style hot chocolate;
6. Oreo's gelato.


It seems that I have been making a lot of this lately. It is a complete meal and it can be stored in the fridge or freezer for that one last minute meal during the week when there is no time to make dinner. I try to make it a little different each time as to keep my hungry crowd interested. By the way, in case I did not mentioned that before, Costco has the absolute best Italian pasta ever. The brand is Garofalo and it is imported from Naples, where they have been making it since 1789 using the old fashion brass equipment to shape and cut the noodles. Believe it or not, the price is better than what you would pay for it in Italy and it is very hard to find it in Italian grocery stores... So you can imagine my surprise when I learned about it and found right here in Utah! :

- Penne pasta;
- Ragu' sauce (meat sauce);
- Bechamel sauce (white sauce);
- Shredded mozzarella cheese;
- Shredded Parmesan cheese;
- Dry basil.

For the Ragu' sauce:
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil;
- 1 carrot finely chopped;
- 1/4 onion finely chopped;
- 1 bouillon cube;
- 1lb lean ground beef;
- 2 cans of tomato sauce (15oz. each);
- salt and pepper to taste;
- 1 pinch of sugar.

Saute the carrot and onion in the oil in a medium size sauce pan. Add the bouillon cube and ground beef. Stir well until beef is brown. Add tomato sauce and 1/2 can of water (about 1 cup). Add salt, pepper and sugar. Continue to cook on low heat for at least one hour, stirring occasionally.

For the bechamel sauce:
- 1/2 cup of butter;
- 1 tsp of nutmeg;
- 1 pinch of black pepper;
- 1/2 cup of white flour;
- 1 qt. milk.

Place butter, nutmeg and black pepper in a sauce pan and melt on low heat. Mix half of the milk with the flour in a blender and add it to the butter together with the rest of the milk. Stir continually on low-medium heat until sauce thickens.

Putting it all together:

Cook and drain pasta. Mix with Ragu' sauce and place in a pyrex pan (13x9). Pour the bechamel on the past with the help of a large spoon. Generously sprinkle the cheeses and add a touch of dry basil for color and taste. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the fridge or freezer until ready to eat it. At that time, bake it for 1 hour at 350F, remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes, or until cheese has melted.


This is one of our family favorites!! We are probably going to eat it for family night on Monday.

- 3 cups whipping cream (you can use half and half if you want to cut down on the amount of calories and fat...);
- 6 egg yolks;
- 1 cup sugar;
- Pinch of salt;
- 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla.

Cook cream in a saucepan until hot, without boiling. Mix eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt in a mixer at high speed. Slowly stir in the hot cream. Strain the mix through a tea colander and fill 8 ramekins. Fill to about 1/2 the height 2 medium or 1 large pyrex pan(s) with water and place ramekin with cream for a hot water bath. Place pyrex pan(s) on medium rack in the pre-heated over (300F) for ~60 minutes. Remove pan(s) and let sit until water cools down. Remove ramekins from water bath and cover each one with surround wrap. Place in the fridge until ready to eat (they can stay in the fridge as long as 2-3 days). When ready to serve, remove plastic wrap and sprinkle the top with 1 Tbsp of sugar. You can caramelize the sugar with the classic torch (I got mine as a Christmas present a couple of years ago and I love it!) or by placing the ramekins back in the oven and broil the sugar for a couple of minutes, keeping the oven open and making sure you don't over cook it.


- 1lb Rotini pasta (fusilli);
- 1 Tbsp butter;
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg;
- 1/2 bouillon cube;
- pinch of black pepper;
- 1/2 cup of whipping cream;
- 2 oz of cream cheese;
- 2/3 cup of shreeded mozzarella cheese;
- 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese;

- 4-8 oz of your favorite cheese (in the past I have used Swiss, or Brie, or Gorgonzola cheese). Since I was making this for my children, I used Cheedar cheese.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the numeg, pepper and cube. Add the cream and the cheeses. Stir continually over low heat until all cheeses melt and the sauce is rich and thick. Cook pasta and drain. Mix cheese sauce in and enjoy immediately.


We made this as a side dish for some friends on Sunday evening.

- 1 package of spaghetti (1lb);
- 4 egg yolks;

- 4oz of Pancetta (Italian cured bacon). You can use regular bacon if you like, but it won't be the same. Sorry. I buy my Pancetta at the deli counter at Harmons. They carry the Boar Head brand, which is really good. Have it cut paper thin.
- 1 cup whipping cream;
- 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese;
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- Black pepper and salt to taste;
- 2 Tbps of extra virgin olive oil.

Mix egg yolks, cream, 1 tbsp olive oil, cheese, salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside. Cut pancetta in small pieces and place it in a fry pan on low-medium heat with oil and garlic. Cook pasta and drain. Mix in the cream sauce and pancetta and serve immediately.

I will talk about the Oreo's gelato and the hot chocolate tomorrow as it is getting kind of late and I am tired (and full). Buonanotte.


  1. Wow! I think I just found the biggest jackpot of all time! Access to Ugo's recipes!!!!!!!!! I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I am to learn from the master Italian chef! And what is even better? Reading about your cute family! We also have a blog we'd love to invite you to; Oh I guess I should tell you I found your blog on facebook, so you know I haven't been stalking you!

  2. Hi it's me again! I made the pasta al forno last night for the Elders and it was soooo good! thanks for sharing! do you mind if I put a link to your blog on mine?

  3. Shauna...of course you may link to us... I already did to yours!! :) Ciao.