Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rachael Ray's You-Won't-Be-Single-for-Long Vodka Sauce and tips from the Cooking Class!

This post is long overdue! In January, Matt and I went to a cooking class at the Viking School. It was the first time I had ever taken a cooking class, and I loved every minute of it! We learned three main "tricks" from the class that I promised to share with you guys.

Trick #1: How to chop an onion
Let me first say that I feel like this works better with jumbo onions, but I'll still share what they showed us. . .

Chop the onion in half like I did in this picture.

Cut off the shorter end.

Lift out the middle part.

Hold the remaining end (this is where I think it makes more sense with jumbo onions for a better grip).

Cut into to the end, but not all the way.

Then cut off the other end. (If you want diced onions, continue holding the end and slice 3-4 times perpendicular to the other cuts before cutting off the edge.)

I'll be  honest and say I'm a creature of habit with chopping onions and feel like my way is still a bit quicker than this. BUT, these next two tricks, I'm using all the time!

Trick #2: How to mince garlic w/o a garlic mincer
Our lead chef told us that garlic mincers absorb much of the flavor of fresh garlic. So she showed us this trick for mincing it without a garlic press:

These are two cloves from an ear of garlic.

With the handle of the knife hanging off of the counter and the blade flat, smash down on the garlic with your hand.

Peel off the outer shell.

Repeat the smashing step from above.

Keeping the point of the knife in the same spot, bring the rest of the knife down quickly over the garlic to mince it.

Voila! Minced garlic in the same amount of time as using a press!

Trick #3: Always save the ends of cheese blocks and use them in homemade sauces
If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, it's no secret that I LOVE locatelli parmesan. It's a pecorino romano that's made in Italy, and it is SOOO good! You can buy it at Costco- worth every penny! . . .So, in the past, I've alway thrown away the ends when they get to hard to grade and lose their good flavor. But not anymore! We learned that you can put the ends in sauces as they simmer. You can see this below in the Vodka Sauce recipe.

And now for the recipe: Rachael Ray's You-Won't-Be-Single-for-Long Vodka Sauce

INGREDIENTS: (This recipe serves 4... I typically double it and freeze the leftovers)
1T butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
Coarse salt and pepper
1 pound pasta, such as penne rigate or rigatoni
1/2 cup heavy cream
20 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade
I also added the end piece of a block of Locatelli parmesan while the sauce simmered, as well as a dash or two of sugar to taste.

*When doubling this recipe, I do not double the butter, EVOO, or basil leaves.

Sauté onions in garlic, butter, and EVOO. Add vodka (all of the alcohol with will cooked out- this is a family-friendly meal!) and end of the parmesan block. Reduce by half. Add tomatoes and stock. Bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for 3-5 minutes so that it reduces slightly. Add heavy cream. Season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

Make sure you use good tomatoes and chicken stock

I bought peeled whole tomatoes because I like the San Marzanos, so I blended them before adding to the pan. However, if you simmer for a few hours before serving, the tomatoes will burst so there's no need to blend.


  1. This looks delicious. The tips are great too. I knew the garlic one, but not the onion. I'll have to give it a try. I'd love it if you would share this at Whimsy Wednesday at

  2. thanks for the inspiration...I'm making it right now! I'll let you know how it turns out!

  3. This is a recipe I've been really wanting to try to make myself but I never anticipated it would be so easy to do. Guess what's for dinner tomorrow? Haha.

  4. Thanks for sharing all the cooking tips!! That looks so yummy. I wonder if it would still be delish without the vodka (you know how sometimes that could be the main ingredient that 'makes' the recipe).

  5. Thanks for the tips! This looks delicious!

  6. you are so sweet to share the tips you learned!! the vodka sauce looks amazing, and even though i had a big pasta's making me hungry!!

    hope you're having a great start to the week.
    sending love
    *and hoping you get that camera!!! :)

    maria <3

  7. Love the tips! I've always done my garlic like that if I don't feel like grabbing my mincer lol. My onion I do similar but not holding the stem? And omg, that recipe looks so delicious! Something my family would love for sure :)

  8. I'm so glad you shared this at Whimsy Wednesdays. I can't wait to see what you share this week!

  9. Heather, you saucy thing! Vodka indeed. Cheers

  10. Add fresh shrimp at the's wonderful