We were supposed to have friends over for a BBQ today but, alas, the weather turned sour so we had to cancel. Instead I'm going to make some Pasta e Fagioli from the wonderful cookbook my friend Jersey bought me, At Home with Magnolia, Classic American Recipes from the Owner of Magnolia Bakery. If you haven't visited the Magnolia Bakery, please do yourself a favor and run there the next time you're in NYC! I say run because this way you can work off the calories in advance of your cupcake consumption! *groan* (yeah, that's me eating my own Magnolia cupcake in my hotel room last August. I carried that cupcake box all over the city, protecting it with my life, lol!)
From: At Home with Magnolia, by Allysa Torey
Pasta e Fagioli soup has always been one of my favorite comfort foods. I have worked long and hard on a recipe worthy of my childhood memories, and here it is. (This is a great way to use up the small amounts of pasta you might have lying around in your cupboard—whatever kinds you use, it's important to use a variety of shapes and sizes.)
* 1 pound dried great northern beans
* ½ cup olive oil
* 3 cups chopped yellow onion
* ¼ cup minced garlic
* 8 to 10 cups chicken stock
* Three 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, with juice
* ¼ pound spaghetti or linguini, cooked al dente and cut into 1-inch pieces
* ¼ pound penne or ziti rigate, cooked al dente and cut in half
* ¼ pound fusilli or rotelle, cooked al dente and cut in half
* 1½ teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
* 1½ teaspoons salt
* ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* Freshly grated Locatelli Romano cheese, for serving
1. Place the beans in a heavy large pot with enough cold water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Soak overnight for a minimum of 14 hours.
2. Drain the beans. Heat the oil in the heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 8 cups of the chicken stock, the tomatoes, and beans and raise the heat to high. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are very tender, about 2½ hours. Working in batches (about 1 cup at a time), purée 6 cups of the soup in the blender until smooth. Mix the purée back into the soup in the pot. Stir in the cooked pasta, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes more, uncovered, over medium-low heat, adding more chicken stock if necessary (but keep in mind that this is supposed to be a very thick soup).
3. Serve with a generous amount of Romano cheese. (When reheating this soup, add about ¼ cup chicken stock for each serving, because the pasta soaks up a lot of liquid.)
For dessert, I'm making cupcakes but instead of Magnolia's recipe I'm trying one from my latest cookbook addition, Cappucchino Chip Cupcakes with Mocha Buttercream Frosting from the Cake Mix Doctor. They smell heavenly, will definitely be difficult to resist!
Cappuccino Chip Cupcakes
24 paper lines for cupcake pans (2 1/2-inch size)
1/3 cup water
4 teaspoons instant coffee granules
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips,
Mocha Buttercream Frosting
1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips or cracked roasted cocoa beans for garnish
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.
Place the water and instant coffee in a small glass liquid measuring cup and microwave on high power for 40 seconds. Remove and stir until the coffee is dissolved. Set it aside to cool for 5 minutes.
Place the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, eggs, and coffee in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Fold in 1 cup of the chocolate chips. Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. Place the pans in the oven.
Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger. 18 to 20 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottom of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wine rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.
Meanwhile, prepare the Mocha Buttercream Frosting (see below).
Place a heaping tablespoon of frosting on each cupcake and swirl to spread it out with a short metal spatula or the back of the spoon, taking care to cover the tops completely. Garnish with the remaining 1/3 cup chocolate chips or roasted cracked cocoa beans. The cupcakes are ready to serve.
Mocha Buttercream Frosting
1/4 cup milk
1 heaping teaspoon instant coffee granules
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 ounces (1/2 bar) German's sweet chocolate, grated
3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 Tablespoon water, if needed
Place the milk and instant coffee in a small glass liquid measuring cup. Plan in the microwave oven on high power until the milk is hot enough to dissolve the instant coffee, 30 to 40 seconds. Remove and stir until the coffee is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Place the butter in the large mixing bowl and add the coffee and grated chocolate. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until the mixture has softened, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the confectioners' sugar. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more. Blend in up to 1 tablespoon water if the frosting seems too stiff.
Use to frost the cupcakes of your choice.