Updated: Feb 13, 2021
I had the awesome opportunity to speak with an amazing woman who knows the in’s and out’s of how a recipe goes from the test kitchen to the books that line our shelves. My good friend Kelly, works for America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) on the book team and was kind enough to drop some knowledge while heating up the kitchen by roasting vegetables for our noodle dishes.
What is America’s Test Kitchen you may ask? It is conglomerate of newsletters, magazines, podcasts, and shows all dedicated to food! Their page is a treasure trove of equipment reviews, taste tests, and recipes. Seriously, check it out. You could get lost in HERE.
On to the Pod!
In Part One Kelly describes how America Test Kitchen runs and the extreme lengths they went through to continue to create during the quarantine. Once Kelly tore through her kitchen to find a blender we were able to finally virtually cheers with our cocktail of the evening, a Blackberry-Sage Martini.
Part 1 Listen HERE
In part two we are diving into pasta dishes so bring on the carbs. I sent Kelly Eggplant, Garlic, and Herb Pasta, a recipe from Better Home and Garden that my Mom-mom sent me in the mail. And I tackle Roasted Cauliflower and Brown Butter Noodle Bowl, straight from an ATK cookbook that Kelly worked on. Why is one pasta and one a noodle bowl you may ask? Listen to Part 2 to find out!
Part 2 Listen HERE
Dropping a New Recipe on your A**!
Blackberry-Sage Simple Syrup (makes enough for 2 cocktails)
10-15 Sage Leaves, depending on size
Combine all ingredients into a small saucepan and simmer until sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Allow sage leaves to steep for about 3 minutes. Pour all contents into a blender and blend until smooth. Pass the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve to separate seeds and any fibers from the leaves. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.
.75oz Blackberry Simple Syrup
Squeeze of Lemon
First, place martini glass in the freezer. One lesson on martinis is you want it to be ice cold and to help with that is to begin with a cold glass.
An extra tip: if you do not always keep glasses in the freezer, fill a glass with ice and water before putting in the freezer. This will chill the glass in a matter of minutes.
During our episode, Kelly kept mentioning how she felt silly putting her vodka in the freezer, making a reference to our college days. I call BS! You put that vodka in the freezer! As I said, martinis are meant to be cold and you don’t want to water them down. One way to help with that is to chill your vodka beforehand. Cold liquor + Ice = less water…..right?
So now that everything is cold, add your ingredients to your shaker with some ice. Shake it up a few times and pour it into your ice-cold glass.
Enjoy! Just don’t spill this royal purple cocktail on your white shirt.
Kelly's Attempt at Eggplant, Garlic, and Herb Pasta
I have many recipes in my box. Most of them I have no idea how they came to be there, they were collected by my mom and that is where they live. This specific recipe, however, was a sweet gift from my Mom-Mom (my mom’s mom).
My mom-mom and I have a spectacular relationship, I probably speak with her the most, and as you can imagine she understands (and shares) my love for food. It warms my heart that when she looks through magazines she rips out the ones she thinks I would enjoy and physically mails them to me. I love real mail!
This is one of those recipes that I found folded and stashed in a pink envelope, most likely adorned with a few stickers, waiting in my mailbox.
Kelly’s Cooking Tips
Kelly substituted whole wheat pasta for rice pasta, which I have never encountered and it blew my mind and will be looking for at the grocery store!
Know your oven! Be sure to watch your eggplant and don’t be afraid to let it roast a little longer to get that perfect browning.
Out of the two cheese options, Kelly picked Feta. Always pick Feta!
Play around with the herbs! Use what you tend to have on hand and it will still be yummy.
Lean on the side of adding more oil in substitution for water. Not as healthy, but oh so good.
My Attempt at Roasted Cauliflower and Brown Butter Noodle Bowl
How often can you say you got to make something from the cookbook your friend helped create? What a treat!
Beyond the fact that Kelly was able to easily answer why it was a Noodle Bowl and not just noodles, she also let us in on some wonderful moments of how this recipe (and the recipes in this particular book) are structured. If you haven’t yet, give the episode a listen, it is a real hoot.
And honestly, she had me at browned butter.
Kate’s Cooking Notes
As Kelly mentioned, the first round of roasting is to get the Cauliflower soft, once your wedges come out of the foil it is all about the browning!
I followed the suggestion to substitute Parsley for Sage, it provided a more floral flavor that really paired well with our drink.
I cut the cauliflower and noodle portions in half but kept the full amount of brown butter. And I had no regrets. All the butter was mine!
I love capers and would add a little more the second time, or simply not rinse them to keep the brine.
I always say yes to a little spice and added 1Tbsp of jalapeño to my butter while it was browning.
When cooking spaghetti try using a large sauté pan that is big enough to lay the noodles down in. This lets you avoid that large stockpot that takes forever to boil.
It takes a lot for me not to add cheese to pasta, so of course, I topped my bowl with some freshly grated parmesan.