Pancetta Wrapped Pork and Braised Escarole with Cannellini Beans


  • 1 2/3 cups Italian “00” flour (or half Italian “00” flour and half Farina di Semola)
  • 2 medium or large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • A pinch of sea salt


  • Make the basic pasta dough
  • 1. Sift the flour onto a clean work surface and make a well in the center with your fist.
  • 2. Break the eggs into the well and add the oil and a pinch of salt to the well.
  • 3. Gradually mix the egg mixture into the flour using the fingers of one hand, bringing the ingredients together into a firm dough. If the dough feels too dry, add a few drops of water; if it’s too wet, add a little more flour. (You will soon grow accustomed to how the dough should feel after you’ve made it a few times.)
  • 4. Knead the pasta until smooth, 2 to 5 minutes. Lightly massage it with a hint of olive oil, pop the dough into a plastic food bag, and allow it to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. The pasta will be much more elastic after resting.

  • Pass the dough through the pasta machine
  • 5. Start to feed the blob of pasta dough through the widest setting of a pasta machine. As the sheet of dough comes out of the machine, fold it into thirds and then feed it through the rollers again, still on the widest setting. Pass the dough through this setting a total of 4 or 5 times. This effectively kneads the dough, ensuring the resulting pasta is silky smooth.
  • 6. Pass the pasta through the machine again, starting at the widest setting and gradually reducing the settings, one pass at a time, until the pasta achieves the required thickness. The pasta sheet will become very long—if you are having trouble keeping the dough from folding onto itself or are making ravioli, cut the sheet of dough in half and feed each half through separately. Generally the second-from-last setting is best for tagliatelle and the last setting is best for ravioli and any other shapes that are to be filled.
  • 7. After the pasta has reached the requisite thickness, hang it over a broom handle or the back of a chair to dry a little—this will make cutting it easier in humid weather, as it will not be so sticky. Or, if you’re in a hurry, you can dust the pasta with a little flour and place it on clean kitchen towels and let it rest for just a short spell.
  • 8. Shape the pasta by hand (see instructions below) or pass the pasta through the chosen cutters (tagliolini, tagliatelle, etc.) and then drape the cut pasta over the broom handle or chair back again to dry just a little, until ready to cook. You can, of course, again toss the cut pasta lightly in flour (preferably semolina flour) and lay out in loose bundles on a tray lined with a clean kitchen towel. Use as soon as possible before it sticks together.
  • Cook the pasta
  • 9. Throw the pasta into a large saucepan of boiling, salted water. You will need about 4 quarts water and 3 tablespoons of salt for every 13 to 18 ounces of fresh or dried pasta. It is the large volume of water that will prevent the pasta from sticking together.Note: Cooking times for fresh and dried pasta vary according to the size and quality of the pasta. The only way to check is to taste it. However, the basic method of cooking remains the same.
  • 10. Stir the pasta only once or twice—if you have enough water in the pan and you stir the pasta as it goes in, it shouldn’t stick.
  • 11. DO NOT COVER the pot or the water will boil over. Quickly bring the pasta back to a rolling boil, stir, and boil until al dente, or firm to the bite, about 2 minutes. The pasta should not have a hard center or be soggy and floppy. If following a specified cooking time, calculate it from the moment the pasta starts to boil again and have a colander ready for draining.
  • 12. Drain the pasta, holding back 2 to 3 tablespoons of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pan (the dissolved starch in the water helps the sauce cling to the pasta). Dress the pasta straight away with the sauce directly in the pan. (The Italian way is ALWAYS to toss the cooked, hot pasta with the sauce before serving.) Serve the hot pasta immediately with your favorite sauce. Even a copious drizzle of olive oil or melted butter—cooked just to the point of taking on a slightly nutty, toasty brown tinge—and a smattering of fresh herbs constitutes a sauce when the pasta is as tender and tasty as this.
  • Shape the pasta dough by hand
  • 13. Tagliatelle On a lightly floured surface, roll or fold one side of the sheet of dough loosely towards the center of the sheet, then repeat with the other side so that they almost meet in the middle. Gently fold one side on top of the other, but do not press down on the fold.
  • 14. Cut the dough into thin slices with a sharp knife, slicing through the folded dough quickly and deftly in a single motion.
  • 15. Immediately unravel the slices to reveal the pasta ribbons. You can do this by inserting the dull side of a large knife into each slice and gently shaking it loose. (If you wait, they will stick together. Trust us.) Hang the pasta to dry a little before cooking or dust it well with semolina flour and arrange in loose nests on a tray lined with a clean kitchen towel.
  • 16. Pappardelle On a lightly floured surface, cut the dough into wide ribbons using a fluted pastry cutter. Hang up to dry slightly before cooking.
  • 17. Tortellini On a lightly floured surface, stamp out rounds of pasta using a round cookie cutter. Pipe or spoon your favorite filling into the middle of each round. Brush the edges with beaten egg and carefully fold the round into a crescent shape, pressing the dough around the filling to expel any air.
  • 18. Bend the two corners of the crescent around to meet each other in the center and press well to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough. Let dry on a floured kitchen towel for about 30 minutes before cooking.
  • 19. Ravioli If your dough is still in a single sheet, cut it into two equal portions. Cover one portion with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap while you work with the rest of the dough. Spoon small mounds (1 teaspoon approximately) of filling on the dough in even rows, spacing them at 1 1/2-inch intervals. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the spaces of dough between the mounds with beaten egg. Using a rolling pin, carefully drape the reserved sheet of dough on top of the mounds, pressing down firmly between the pockets of filling to push out any trapped air. Use a serrated ravioli or pastry cutter or a sharp knife to cut the ravioli into squares. Transfer to a floured kitchen towel to rest for 1 hour before cooking.
  • Color the pasta
  • 20. Spinach Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Sift the flour onto a clean work surface. Next, puree 3/4 cup frozen cooked leaf spinach (squeezed to remove as much moisture as possible) in a food processor. Add it to the well in the flour. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough method.
  • 21. Tomato Add 2 tablespoons tomato paste or sun-dried tomato paste to the well in the flour. Use 1 large egg instead of 2 medium ones. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough recipe.
  • 22. Beet Roast 1 red beet until softened, about 45 minutes. Let cool. Peel and grate or puree in a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons grated cooked beet to the well in the flour. Use 1 large egg instead of 2 medium ones. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough recipe.
  • 23. Saffron Soak 1 sachet of powdered saffron in 2 tablespoons hot water for 15 minutes. Strain the water, discarding the solids. Use 1 large egg instead of 2 medium ones and whisk with the vibrant saffron water before adding to the well in the flour. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough recipe.
  • 24. Herb Add at least 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh green herbs to the well in the flour.
  • 25. Black squid ink pasta Add 1 sachet squid ink to the eggs and whisk to combine before adding to the flour. A little extra flour may be needed.


Mr. Bean on Marriage:  Friend: How many women do you believe must a man marry?  

Mr. Bean: 16
Friend: Why?
Mr. Bean: Because the priest says 4 richer, 4 poorer, 4 better and 4 worse

Herb Butter and Pancetta Pork Tenderloin I

Italian Sunday Dinner

Sometimes the dreary, cloudy weather just screams comfort food Sunday dinner so I pulled out all of the ingredients for herb butter slathered and pancetta covered pork tenderloin and braised escarole with cannellini beans, both easy enough to prepare ahead and finish cooking just before serving. The tenderloin takes about 35 minutes to roast and if you have soaked your cannellini beans the braise is about a one and half hours of prep and cooking time.

Herb Butter Pancetta Pork Tenderloin

For the tenderloin blend together 4 ounces butter, 1 small head of roasted garlic cloves, a tablespoon of herb or plain EVOO, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves, and freshly ground pepper. Smash and thoroughly blend with a fork. Trim the fat from one pork tenderloin, season with salt and pepper and slather butter blend all over, place in to oiled small baking pan and cover with pancetta slices and top with a bit more pepper, brush with EVOO. Roast for 30-35 minutes in a 375° oven, bacon should be crispy…allow to rest several minutes before slicing.

One tenderloin is enough for 4 or in my case plenty left for a fried rice dinner and ramen lunch.

Serve with braised escarole and cannellini beans and crusty bread.  Note that escarole shrivels up a lot so I used two heads

For some reason I chose to try make pizza muffins for Michael and they actually came out pretty good, great dunked into pizza sauce. Cute and quick also, great for little or your big pizza loving kid.  Many recipes for the pizza muffins on the internet and you can use store-bought pizza dough and a good use for that awful turkey pepperoni that I accidentally picked up…

Pizza Muffins

The Beans  Adapted from Molly Stevens All About Braising

Braised Escarole and Cannellini Beans - Copy

1 cup (8 oz) dried cannellini beans, picked over and rinsed
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock, homemade or store-bought
Water as needed
1 small onion peeled and quartered
1 small carrot peeled and quartered
2 garlic cloves, peeled and bruised
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt to taste
1 medium head escarole (about 1 pound)
¼ cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Coarsely ground black pepper ½ lemon

1. Soak beans: 8-10 hours in advance or use quick soak method according to the package.
2. Cooking beans: place soaked beans in a medium heavy-based sauce pan 2 ½ -3qt). Add stock and enough water to cover by 1 ½ inches. Then add onion, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, and olive oil. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender (about 1 ½ hours). Add extra broth or water if liquid drops below level of the beans. When beans are tender they should have absorbed enough of the cooking liquid so that the pot is moist with not too much liquid unless you want soup. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.

3. Escarole: Tear leaves from head and soak in a cold water bath (10-15 min). Rinse and drain. Slice into 1 ½ inch wide strips and drain in colander.

***My head of escarole had a band around it and it helped to keep it together for slicing. I trimmed the heart end, removed ugly pieces and sliced the entire head into strips and placed in salad spinner. Rinsed and drained several times and then spun to almost completely dry before adding to hot pan.

4. Combine oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large lidded skillet. Do not brown garlic, just soften.

5. Add escarole a handful at a time. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Pull onion, garlic, carrot, and bay leaf from beans.

7. Spoon beans and liquid into escarole, put on low simmer and braise until greens are tender and liquid has thickened, about 20 minutes.

8. Season with lemon and olive oil; serve.