Perfect Dinner Party and Perfect Pasta

August 19 – August 25, 2019 

 Chicken salad

Monday:   Chicken Salad 

Pasta Mushroom

Tuesday:             Creamy Pasta with Crispy Mushrooms 

Wednesday:       Leftovers 

Bacon, Spinahc Frittata

Mushroom, Spinach, Feta Frittata – Sunday Breakfast with Hilly and Dick

Thursday:            I forget 

Riverhounds v Loudon United, Highmark Stadium

Pittsburgh Riverhounds v Loudon United at Highmark Stadium

Friday:                 Beer at the Riverhounds Game with Billy and Emily 

Saturday:            Dinner at Katie and Dave’s 


Sunday:               Creamy Pasta with Crispy Mushrooms  

More notable than my lapse of memory last week (well, strictly speaking, sometime between last week and this – don’t ask me when) was the lovely* dinner party at Katie and Dave’s on Saturday night – a perfect dinner in a perfect setting on one of the perfect days of 2019.    

*I can hear the questions – where do you, an Iron City – guzzling, ‘Stillers’ fan come off using the adjective “lovely”?  Well, I tried socko, rockin’, radical and far out, but none of them seemed to fit.  

Katie and Dave have the perfect home for a summer dinner party – with a vibe somewhere between Eastern chic and Malibu laid-back, and a garden, patios and a pool that will take you far beyond Pittsburgh if you need, as so many of us do, from time to time, to go there.   

Perfect Setting

Perfect Setting for a Dinner Party at Katie and Dave’s


The food was terrific, the company dazzling (if we say so ourselves) – a special night: 


Dazzling Guests

Dazzling Crowd:  Moi, Dave and Tim standing, Annie, Dennis, Hilda, Julie, Beez

We can’t match Katie’s salads or Dave’s grilling, but here’s an entry for when the rains come or it gets colder – a perfectly light but delicious pasta that, with or without a salad, will satisfy without burdening or staining the napkins or your shirt with red sauce.  The key to this dish is to cook the mushrooms well and finish cooking the pasta with the cream and pasta water, so that it gets creamy and chewable – a perfect complement to the seared mushrooms.  A nice glass of red or white and you can imagine yourself at your favorite neighborhood Italian place.  

We cooked this dish twice this week – improving it (a little more salt, better finish on the pasta) the second time.  

The blog is going out early this week because we are on our way to the shore and will leave our computers and responsibilities (and dog) behind.   

Plate of pasta

Creamy Pasta with Crispy Mushrooms

(adapted from bon appetit, September, 2019)

Timing:               55 minutes if you cook the mushrooms and pasta separately

Ingredients:             If you’ve got apps and a salad, this will feed at least 6

1 lb. mixed mushrooms – we used maybe 1 1/4 lbs. (Oyster, Shiitake, Baby Bella)
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
1 lb. spaghetti or bucatini – we used and recommend bucatini
1/2 cup heavy cream
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons of butter, cut into pieces
1/2 oz. Parmigiano, finely grated, plus more for serving
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Ground Black Pepper


Clean and chop the mushrooms.  Chop the shallots and parsley.  Grate the parmigiano.  Zest and juice the 1/2 lemon.  Measure out the other ingredients.  Put a large pot of water on and bring to a boil.

Cook the mushrooms:

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large pot over medium-high (you may have to modulate the heat, you want very browned, but not carbonized, mushrooms).  When hot add half of the mushrooms in a single layer and cook, undisturbed for 3 minutes.  Toss and continue cooking, tossing occasionally, until browned and crisp on all sides – another 5-6 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove mushrooms to a plate.  Using remaining 2 tablespoons of oil cook the remaining mushrooms in the same fashion and remove to the plate.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and return the mushrooms to the pot.  Add the shallots and cook, stirring often, until shallots are softened – 2 minutes or so.  Set aside.

Cook the pasta:

Heavily salt a large pot of boiling water and add the pasta, stirring, occasionally.  Cook for 2 minutes less than package instructions (you’ll finish this in the pot with the mushroom mixture).  Just before the pasta is finished, turn the heat under the mushroom mixture to medium.

Finish the dish:

Using tongs, transfer pasta to the pot with the mushrooms.  Add the cream and 1 cup or so (you may need more) of pasta water and cook for about 3 minutes, tossing constantly, until the sauce is creamy.

Off the heat, add the lemon juice and zest, the parsley, the butter and the 1/2 oz. of parmigiano.  Toss and mix well.  Taste and add more salt as needed.

Serve with extra parmigiano.

Cook the Mushrooms: