Sugarbird's Sweet Nothings

I am passionate about food. And cooking. And baking. And running. Come and find a new recipe, a funny story, some strong opinions and whatever else I feel like throwing in the mix today.
Published on March 20th, 2011
by Clarabella

Vodka Cream Pasta and Botched Biscotti

So the other night, after a hectic day, I wanted pasta. Pasta is the food I turn to when I want flavour, and comfort and ease. And I was in the mood for all three. But I wanted something a little different. Something with a twist. And thats when I remembered Vodka Cream Pasta that I had made once before. I found it on Smitten Kitchen and, like everything else on that gorgeous blog, it is sublime. And I have a big bottle of Smirnoff that is just the thing. Now I know some people may say that using fancy Smirnoff in cooking may be some kind of crime, but I think of it like wine. If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it.

I also had a need to bake something, and seeing that I’ve been browsing a lot of biscotti recipes lately, I thought that they would be just the thing. Not complicated and easy to fit in with the pasta I was making, in great girl-multi-tasking style. I did however make it a little harder for myself in that I wanted to make a new flavour. Gingerbread white chocolate biscotti. Now I managed to find a recipe for something like this but it had butter in it. And I firmly believe that real biscotti do not have butter in them. So I had to hybrid-ise my recipe. Take a non-butter recipe and gingerbread and white chocolate it up. Not hard, but while making pasta as well – maybe a little challenging.

The pasta went beautifully. As usual I made loads, but I am generally grateful for the leftovers on a home alone night when I don’t cook. Like last night. A long, busy day. A tired, aching body. And no strength to even lift a spatula. Leftover vodka cream pasta = perfect solution. Pair it with a smooth glass of chilean cabernet and thats the start of a (well earned!) relaxing hour or two on the sofa. I could do with some leftover pasta tonight. Ran a half marathon route today and my feet are protesting loudly whenever I ask them to take me anywhere. Hence I am sat down writing this and wondering what I can have for dinner. There’s still some fresh pesto in the fridge, hmmmmm.

Anyway, I digress. Sorry. Pasta turned out lovely. Its basically idiot proof. But the Biscotti experiment, not so much.  So the dough came together just fine. I balanced out what I put in with taking some out, so I thought that the chemistry of the whole baking process would still work, but something didn’t. Work that is.

I think I am going to blame my oven. Not my lack of full attention. Yeah, that sounds good. Honestly, I do blame my oven. As I am sure I have said before, its a fan oven and has the tendency to be over-zealous. Sometimes I can correctly counter the blowing heat but I think this time I didn’t work so well. The outer crust of the dough was very hard and crispy. Fine. But the inside was still raw and just didn’t hold together when I started cutting the loaf into individual biscotti.

So the biscotti, although they tasted amazing, were far from pretty. They were crumbly. There was not even one perfect one for me to photograph. Not one. But, as my tastebuds are blind they did not mind 🙂 I will be re-attempting those biscotti again. Some time when I can give them the attention that they deserve, and make sure that the firey oven beast is tamed. So watch this space for the recipe. It will come when  get it right.


Vodka Cream Pasta
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Coarse salt and pepper
400g pasta, such as penne or tagliatelle
1/2 cup double cream
2 large handfuls fresh basil, shredded or torn

Heat a large frying pan over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently saute shallots for 3 to 5 minutes. Add vodka to the pan. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, dried basil and oregano, chilli flakes and nutmeg. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until saucy and thick in consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente.

Stir cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves. Serve and enjoy!