Free Range Nurse

Cooking therapy from a former travel nurse

Lasagna, layer by layer March 9, 2010

Filed under: beef,dinner,pasta — freerangenurse @ 12:32 pm

Got a minute?  You won’t have time to make this dish.  Got five hours?  Okay, now we’re talking.  You may be asking yourself why anyone would want to spend five hours in the kitchen.  The answer is because I enjoy the process (and the results).  If I have the time, I love making recipes the old fashioned way – sauces from scratch, slowly simmered, fresh ingredients.  I want my food to taste homemade, it doesn’t have to look perfect, but I do want it to reflect the care and time I took to prepare it.  Do I have time to do this every day?  To quote Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles, “No way, Jose!” (more…)


Rao’s Meatballs January 6, 2010

Filed under: beef,dinner,pasta — freerangenurse @ 6:09 pm

This is the recipe that started me cooking again.  Seriously the best, most tender, flavorful meatballs I’ve ever had.  Sure you’ll need to buy every animal on the ranch to go in them, but it is well worth it!  The marinara recipe is also from Rao’s cookbook and tastes like sunshine, light and fresh.  I think a red wine sauce would also be fabulous, but I like the savory meatballs paired with a light sauce.

First up, your ingredients list:



Fettuccine Alfredo with Lobster December 3, 2009

Filed under: dinner,pasta,seafood — freerangenurse @ 10:15 am

If I were featured in an episode of MTV Cribs, and you were to take a peek into my refrigerator, you wouldn’t see bottles of Cristal or perfectly arranged cans of Monster energy drink, you would find cartons of cream and butter.  Pounds and pounds of butter.  It seems I am going through 3-5 pounds of butter per month!  It reminds me a little of the movie, Julie and Julia.  One of the best uses of cream and butter, in my opinion is alfredo sauce.

If you’re going to clog your arteries, you might as well enjoy the experience, right?

Today’s recipe is from the Rao’s Recipes From the Neighborhood cookbook.  There’s that name again!  Rao’s.  I guess it’s time I finally tell you the story, right?

I was first introduced to Rao’s while watching Martha Stewart.  Not the current incarnation of her show, but the old one taped without a studio audience.  She took a field trip to the kitchen of Rao’s restaurant in East Harlem, NYC to learn how to make one of their signature dishes.  While cooking, she and Frank Pellegrino (the owner) were discussing the history of the restaurant and its exclusivity.  This, apparently, is not a restaurant  mere mortals can get into, no matter how far in advance you try to book.  All the reservations are already owned.  Yes, owned.  The restaurant only has 10 tables and only has one seating per night.  The regulars have standing reservations, for example one person may have every Monday night, another might have every other Tuesday.  They will have this reservation until they don’t want it anymore (never happens).  They can bring whatever guests they like, or even loan the reservation out, but unless you know someone who has a reservation, you aren’t gonna get in. Dick Schaap, who writes the forward to Rao’s cookbook mentions the few exceptions to the rules.  You can get in if you are the pope, or higher, if you happen to turn up on a night in which the regular table holder doesn’t show (this has only happened twice in the 40 years Dick has had his table), or if you are in Las Vegas and head over to their second location at Caesar’s Palace.

There are two rooms with 10 tables, but those can be difficult to get or you can sit in the outer dining area and enjoy some of the best meatballs on the planet!  Meatballs so good, my friend and I pushed our dinner plates out of the way to feast on our side dish of meatballs (which we only ordered because the waitperson told us we should).  Don’t get me wrong, the dinners we ordered were fabulous, but the meatballs!  Wow!

When I got home, I looked up the recipe online and discovered that Rao’s has its own cookbook and they actually share their delicious recipes for some of their best dishes.  I am slowly working through it and its sister cookbook, Recipes From the Neighborhood.

This recipe is not a Rao’s menu item, but is delicious anyway.  If you are not adding seafood to it, add a little salt to the sauce.

Fettuccine Alfredo

Adapted from Rao’s Recipes From the Neighborhood

  • 3 – 6oz lobster tails, steamed, shelled and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 pound dried (or fresh) fettuccine
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish (I have also used Pecorino Romano with good results)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • (pinch of salt, if not using shellfish)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente, about 10-12 minutes for dried fettuccine.  Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add 2/3 cup of cream and the grated cheese and bring to a simmer.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining 1/3 cup of cream and set aside.  When the pasta is cooked, drain and place on a heated serving platter.  Pour the cream sauce over it, and toss.  Add the egg yolk mixture and toss again.  Add lobster and garnish with freshly grated cheese and pepper.  Serve immediately.

Sadly, alfredo sauce does not hold up well for leftovers.  The sauce separates and forms butter oil and curds.  If you are making this for 2-3 people, make a half recipe (what I did for the pictures above).  You’ll have to approximate a half egg yolk by breaking it and discarding half.  To test the doneness of the noodles, I usually take one out and cut it in half, if there is still a dry looking core (see picture), it isn’t finished cooking.  I prefer my noodles cooked a little past al dente, so just keep testing until the “bite” of the pasta feels right to you.