Friday, July 16, 2010

Daring Cooks?: Creamy Mushroom Sauce and Homemade Pasta

I wrote "Daring Cooks" with a question mark in the title because I didn't really follow the instructions in this challenge (and I'm two days late!), but I was inspired by one of the dishes we were requested to make with one of the nut butters.

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

One of the dishes suggested was Chicken with Pecan Cream and Mushrooms from Cooking Light. Well, most of you know that I don't like any type of nut, so I decided to make a chicken and mushroom dish with homemade pasta to make this dish a bit more fussy so that it could still be sort of a challenge even though I've made pasta before. So, I'm aware that this dish doesn't count as a Daring Cooks' Challenge; however, I tried to make it work for what I like. Do I get half of a point for doing that? :D
 I highly suggest clicking on this photo or opening it on another tab and doing a close-up of the cooked, fresh pasta. It is almost translucent and looks so different from the store-bought, dried pasta. I cooked this pasta for 3 minutes and regretted it because it wasn't al dente, but it was still fantastic. Cook fresh spaghetti for 2 minutes.

Anyway, I took some chicken out of the freezer to defrost for the next day and forgot to put it in this dish! I didn't realize I had forgotten to include the chicken until my mom and I had sat down to eat! After taking one bite of this dish, though, I forgot all about that missing ingredient. This sauce was AMAZING and so flavorful. I made adjustments to the recipe based on the highest rated comment on and based on what I had in my kitchen and will never turn back. This sauce was so quick to make that I could eat it at least once a week every week for the rest of my life. I loved the addition of sage and the meatiness of the mushrooms. For any lovers of meat, this dish would be perfect as a Meatless Monday meal or any type of meal; you really won't miss the chicken. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make this sauce. This sauce is so good and quick to make. I will be making this again very soon.

As far as the pasta is concerned, it came out perfectly. I usually make fettuccine with my pasta cutter, but my mom wanted spaghetti, so I made that. I don't know if my mom had fresh pasta in Italy, but she claimed that this time was her first known experience eating it fresh. While my mom and I were happily eating this pasta dish, we got into an interesting discussion about the role of homemade pasta versus store-bought pasta (and sandwich bread) when mixed with a good sauce or other ingredients.

HOMEMADE PASTA VS. DRIED, STORE-BOUGHT PASTA: We both agreed that many, not all, store-bought pasta and sandwich bread act more like mere vehicles for sauces, meats, and other ingredients. In other words, some store-bought items serve as a means to a end, i.e., transporting the the savory sauces, and what have you, into your mouth.  Homemade pasta and bread, however, play a larger role in dishes and at times become the star in a dish even if the other ingredients are quite flavorful. In other words, the homemade pasta and bread themselves become refreshing and delectable edible "plates".

Now, the fresh pasta and this creamy mushroom sauce that my mom and I enjoyed were great complements to each other. Both the pasta and the sauce stood out so beautifully that I don't know if I could ever eat this sauce with the store-bought kind.  Okay. . . okay. . .I'm sure that on my lazier days, I will try it out and will just think back to how amazing this dish tasted with the fresh pasta. 

All of these spaghetti came from only half of the ball of dough you will see below.

Pasta Dough
For the pasta dough, I've learned that true Italian pasta dough does not call for any water at all despite the other recipes I've seen online. As I always do when I want an authentic, Italian meal, I turned to ItalianFood.Net for a recipe for my pasta dough. This is now my go-to recipe for pasta dough.

From ItalianFood.Net (click here for the video)
Reduced for 4 people; the source recipe would be more for 6, not 4, people.

100 grams 00 flour (You could sub AP flour. I bought my 00 flour from a local Italian market)
100 grams semolina/durum wheat flour (I used this flour and bought it from Central Market)
Pinch of salt (I used kosher)
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp - 1 Tbsp olive oil (you may need to add more oil if your ball of dough is dry like mine)

Mix the two flours and salt in a bowl and form a hole or well in the middle. Place the eggs and olive oil in the middle. Mix the mixture with a fork well. Form a ball in the bowl, and transfer the ball to a flat surface. Add flour if the ball of dough is too wet, and add more oil if it is too dry.
That little ball of dough is enough for 4 people's worth of pasta. That little cut piece on the bottom left created those two lonnnng layers of pasta in the lower right photo.

Knead the dough until the ball of dough becomes smooth and homogeneous. Cover the ball of dough completely, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes so that the gluten can relax. Work with 1/4th of the dough at a time to form the pasta. If you have a pasta roller/cutter, follow the instructions for your machine. If you do not have a pasta roller, roll out the pieces of dough as thin as you can with a rolling pin as instructed on the video on

Creamy Mushroom Pasta
adapted from allrecipes

8 oz of fresh or store-bought fettuccine (I used spaghetti)
1 1/2 Tbsps olive oil, separated (1/2 Tbsp for pasta water and 1 Tbsp for sauce)
1 shallot or small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 oz of fresh mushrooms, chopped
1/2 Tbsp of unsalted butter
1 Tbsp of AP flour
1/4 - 1/2 of a chicken or vegetable bouillon cube or 1/4th cup of chicken/vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp sage (trust me!)
salt and pepper to taste (don't use too much salt b/c the bouillon is salty. I didn't need any at all.)

Prepare pasta water and pasta:
Bring a large pot of lightly-salted and oiled water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 minutes (2-3 minutes for homemade pasta!), or until al dente. Reserve some of the pasta water to thin out the mushroom sauce later.

While waiting for the pasta water to boil, make the sauce: 
Heat olive oil in a medium skillet or saucepan over medium heat, and cook shallots and garlic until transparent. Stir in mushrooms, and cook until tender. Add the butter, and add the flour after the butter melts to form a roux to thicken the sauce. Stir the roux with the sautéed vegetables for 2-3 minutes to cook out the flour taste. (Don't forget about the boiling water for the pasta! It should be boiling by now!)

Mix in heavy cream and sage. Cook and stir until thickened. If too thick, use some pasta water (i.e., the leftover water from the cooked pasta) to thin out the sauce a bit. You can either toss the sauce with cooked pasta, and season with salt and pepper to serve, or add salt (I didn't add any salt) and pepper in the sauce, and serve it atop the pasta.


  1. Wow thank you for the informative posting about home made pasta yes I did open a new tab and look at the pasta strings they are gorgeous. I have been doing a noddle making class at the moment so this posting was perfect timing for me.

    I agree this your comments about fresh and store brought pasta.

  2. Your pasta looks amazing! I may have to get myself one of those pasta maker things soon.

    I laughed when i read you totally forgot the chicken! That's awesome. I would love this dish but The Hubble hates mushrooms. :-( I love fresh sage too. Best flavor ever!

  3. The pasta looks perfect and the creamy mushroom sauce looks divine.

  4. Looks wonderful! And I loved reading a post where YOU loved what you made. At first, knowing the daring kitchen made nut butter I thought this wasn't going to be a happy one. LOL

    I can't wait to try this. We love, love mushrooms and I really like sage. You didn't say but use dried and not fresh?

    Also, keep nudging me along to make my own pasta. :)

  5. kudos for making fresh pasta in your own kitchen. Sauce sounds delicious and creamy.

  6. Your pasta looks perfect! And I am crazy about this mushroom sauce...what a great dish:)

  7. You get a whole full point from me, daring cook or not! I clicked on the photo and was blown away. That sauce is on my to-make list! Thank you for the recommendation. It's a beautiful pasta dish!

  8. Hi Memoria

    I finally got a chance to stop and comment about your homemade pasta and creamy mushroom sauce. You are my witness that I was totally surprised by the awesome flavor of the combination of sage, mushroom, garlic and onion in a spaghetti sauce. I am used to having a red sauce on my spaghetti (years of conditioning, I guess) so experiencing the sauce you made was pure awesomeness. I was also blown away by the freshness and authenticity of your homemade pasta. I love the way your pasta maker works, but believe me, you did all of the hard work of making that dough--amazing! Best pasta dinner ever!

  9. Mushrooms are one of my husband's favorite things, so I think I'll have to make this for him.

  10. Que buena receta, se ve sabrosa y fácil. Saludos

  11. Ive never even tried homemade pasta before...not that I'm aware of at least. It sure looks good and so do your pics!

  12. Que rica receta me encantó asi como también tu blog, te invito a que visites el mio si tienes tiempo.
    Un saludo cordial

  13. memoria..*high five for the 'late club' members LOL I love that you made a lovely mushroom sauce in lieu of having to use the nuts. I don't see why this shouldn't count as a DB post, as some people are allergic to nuts, or like you, just don't care for them in dishes. Perfect homemade pasta (saw the translucency) and gorgeous photos!

  14. I applaud those who make their own pasta. Your dish looks beautiful and delicious. I'll keep this recipe in mind the next time I want to prepare a meatless meal. :)

  15. I totally agree with you about the fresh pasta/bread thing. I don't make fresh pasta often (don't have a pasta maker) but I make bread every week. To me, it is completely different than store bought bread. The flavors and textures are so different. Your pasta looks absolutely AMAZING. I looked at the close-ups of the pasta, and you are right. It looks delicious and so fresh.

  16. Ummm it looks absolutely delicious! I made quite similar thing but my mushroom sauce has asparagus. But your pasta looks so much better!
    Thanks for sharing,

  17. Looks like you've mastered your light the WB in these is good. Loved your interview. So interesting your thoughts about names.

  18. "At least once a week every week for the rest of my life" is very high praise. I don't love mushrooms, but I'll have to give this recipe a try. Su pasta fresca se ve fabulosa.

  19. I'm not sure which is more enticing;-- the gorgeous homemade pasta or that drool-worthy mushroom sauce;-- but either way, this looks so good!

  20. your homemade pasta looks incredible! and your mushroom sauce must have been delicious! thanks for sharing your recipe, I really need to learn to make pasta!

  21. That mushroom sauce looks so good to me. I just bought mushrooms so I have everything to make this. woo hoo!

  22. Your homemade pasta looks perfect. And the sauce makes my mouth water. I just looked at the photo again and that pasta is amazing!

  23. Pretty interesting recipe. Love the homemade pasta information too. Thanks.

  24. Luv this recipe! Working Girl (Ellen) tried a similar one with cream cheese added in for the ill-fated Philly contest... But the pasta info is the best! Even Mario Batali uses water! Thanx - you always add value!

  25. Memoria,I have made fresh pasta only once but I do love the taste and texture. You've just reminded me that my pasta maker is stashed away somewhere in my closet! Love that mushroom sauce! Will have to try it out soon!

  26. Hi, hope it's OK to contact you here. We would love to include your blog on our giveaway search engine: Giveaway Scout ( Have a look and if interested, use our online form to add your blog ( ). thanks, Josh

  27. All I can do is whisper - perfection!

    That is an exquisite bowl of pasta and bravo on your outstanding homemade pasta!

  28. You can't beat homemade pasta and bread, we make our own most of the time and if we don't have time to make it we only buy fresh pasta and bread from a baker not a supermarket. I have a quick gnocchi recipe coming up soon on my blog!

  29. I really want to learn to make homemade pasta, but that had to wait because I found you while googling "mushroom sauce spaghetti." This is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for, and it turned out perfectly. Amazing. I will make this when I have mushroom-friendly guests (I serve meals to a lot of children and even a few picky-eater adults).

    Next on my list: tackling the pasta....

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