Vegas Heat

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas...I was over the moon when Vegas.com approached me to prepare a recipe from a local hotel's restaurant. The ingenuity behind Vegas.com is their comprehensive tap on the pulse of the city. They promise "damn good answers" to all types of queries. Vegas.com should be your first resource when planning an adventure to Sin City. Many think of Las Vegas for its opulent hotels, Cirque du Soleil, Celine Dion, Mike Tyson, gambling and the film, The Hangover. Others of us know it as a gastronomy mecca. Once upon a time, I recall seeing a photograph of flying angels plucking wine bottles from a glass enclosed tower. I was mesmerized and convinced I had to go. My family ventured to Vegas for Spring Break once upon a time (yes, we Breyer's are something else) and travel logistics aside, the majority of due diligence focused on where to eat and what to order. My sister is there annually on business, so we had an insider's perspective. 

All aside, the recipe that follows hails from the uber stunning and equally intoxicating (I am a Food Network addict) Giada De Laurentiis. Matthew fancies her so the show is regularly on in our house. Go figure. A beautiful woman with linguistic skills who can cook! Giada has a restaurant at the Cromwell Las Vegas, a luxury boutique hotel and casino. Her recipe for bolognese steers from the norm in that she replaces beef with an assortment of mushrooms including porcini, shiitake and crimini, all of which pack substantiality. Once you steep dried porcini mushrooms in hot water, I am convinced you will never cook without them again. They add a depth and elegance unlike any other. I also adore the addition of marscapone, a delicately flavored triple cream Italian cheese made from fresh cream. You might know of this ingredient from Tiramisu and cannoli.  Often times, it is used in place of other ingredients in dishes like risotto. Extremely versatile, it can be used in both sweet as well as savory dishes and enhances the flavor of food versus overwhelming it.

In my own Vegas restaurant research, many recipes called for truffles, pork belly and other such goodies. I sought out to prepare something that can easily be created in kitchens everywhere. Giada's 'hearty yet healthy' Bolognese was a cinch to make. I plucked all the fresh herbs - thyme, oregano and my addition of basil - from our very own garden. I cannot impress enough the practicality of growing your own herbs. You only need a large pot, decent soil and herbs you find at your local shop. Regular water and weekly MiracleGrow yields serious returns. Your very own herbs will inspire recipes that you can churn out of your kitchen every day. You all know how much I love my sauces. We are always experimenting with noodles whether they be from zucchini, beans, rice or spaghetti squash. This sauce is gorgeous and positively charms with splendid flavor. Regardless of whichever noodle you choose, please be sure to secure the best of the best (if you are not making your own) and have plenty of cheese on hand for what I like to call the avalanche effect. It's a Sunday and diets cast aside, we had regular pasta made from eggs, flour and salt. I am not a gambler but I'll take the house on the success of this dish in your kitchen.

Mushroom Bolognese
Adapted from Giada


1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1.5 cups of boiling water
3 carrots 
1 onion
1 red bell pepper
3 garlic cloves
1 TBS fresh thyme - chopped
1 TBS fresh basil - chopped
1 TBS fresh oregano - chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 tsp salt
Fresh ground black pepper
10 oz mushrooms - shiitake and crimini 
2 TBS tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine - buy something you want to drink with dinner
1/2 cup marscapone cheese
Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
1 lb rigatoni pasta


1. In a bowl, cover dried porcini mushrooms with boiling water. Set aside and allow the mushrooms to mellow in the liquid. After due time (I allowed an hour) strain your mushrooms and reserve the liquid.

2. Add carrots, onion, bell pepper, garlic in a food processor and chop until chunky. Add olive oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Add your processed vegetables alongside the thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for approximately ten minutes.

3. Now throw in your porcini mushrooms, fresh mushrooms and tomato paste and cook accordingly for approximately five minutes. Add the porcini mushroom water liquid and your wine. Bring to a boil and quickly lower to simmer for around 15 minutes. Add your marscapone cheese and stir until the cheese is uniform with the sauce. Congrats, sauce is done Chef.

4. Prepare your pasta and once al dente, strain and reserve one cup of the liquid. Add the pasta to the sauce and if necessary, the reserved water. Mix and serve with an avalanche of Parmesan.

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