Quick and easy, pasta carbonara.

It's summer, the days are hot and oftentimes the nights are too. Beautiful sunsets and plenty of time in the water, giggling children and panting puppies. So much fun to fit into the day that come dinner time... there are nights when I want nothing more than to have something simple and easy to throw together, prepped and on the table in 20 minutes or so.

I have a few recipes in my repertoire that fit that bill but the one I find I turn to the most also feels very indulgent and rich for the very little time I have to put into it. My husband and toddler gobble it up and each time I make it I get the flavor balance just a little more perfect. Sometimes cooking garlic gets a little tricky, especially if I have to run after my little guy in the middle of it.

What is this dish you ask, well its pasta carbonara and you'd be surprised just how easy it is to make and just how many of the ingredients you probably readily have on hand.

Pasta Carbonara
1 lb gluten free pasta (I've used almost every variety; spiral, rigatoni, spaghetti, fettuccine... and I like them all with this recipe)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb pancetta or bacon, chopped
1 pinch red pepper flakes
3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare pasta as directed on package, you'll want it al dente. (You will need a ladle full or two of the pasta water so do not drain it all off right away).

In a large skillet, medium heat. Add your olive oil and pancetta or bacon and brown, then add garlic and cook until soft and aromatic, now add the pepper flakes and cook for about two minutes. Now add your wine and let it do its magic, get all that yummy stuff off the bottom of your pan.

Beat the egg yolks and a couple of ladle fulls of the pasta water to it, mixing it together, this will temper the eggs and keep them from scrambling when added to the pan.

Drain pasta and add it directly to the skillet with your pancetta/bacon mixture, pour your egg yolks over the pasta and toss rapidly to coat without cooking the egg. Remove everything from the pan and add most of the cheese, black pepper to taste and a tiny bit of salt. Continue mixing the pasta until the cheese is melted and sauce thickens. Top with the rest of the cheese and garnish with fresh parsley if you like. You're ready to serve.

Gluten Free Everyday Cookbook Review, revisted.

Last year around this time I did my first gluten free cookbook review, it was on Robert M. Landolphi's Gluten Free Everyday Cookbook which I was very excited to receive a copy of. The two recipes I made the last time around were savory, and very good. I used the flaky buttermilk biscuit and hearty new england clam chowder recipes as the basis for my post and I can honestly say I enjoyed them both very much. You can read it here Living Without Wheat: Gluten Free Everyday Cookbook Review.

I thought I would go back to this cookbook and try some of the recipes on the sweeter side. Once in a while I just need to "bake" something sweet and tasty, while I'm much more fond of cooking, which is more feel and less accuracy I still need to measure and weigh occasionally. There were two recipes which struck my fancy as I perused the pages of Gluten Free Everyday this time around.

The first was the Blueberry Coffee Cake. I'm a sucker for anything with a streusel topping, especially if I have the excuse to eat it for breakfast. I'll have to say that this recipe called for quite the blend of flours, luckily I have an extensive collection in my gluten free pantry so didn't have to run out for anything, I had it all on hand. Very quick and easy to throw the batter and topping together. The hardest part was waiting the 50 to 55 minutes for it to come out of the oven.

Blueberry Coffee Cake - pg 114.

It was a beautiful sight and made the house smell lovely, my three year old even ran into the kitchen to see the yummies as I set the pan on the counter. I had plenty to share as this recipe fills a 9x13 pan, and so I had my husband give a bit to his gluten free friend. All raves from him as well. The cake was light and had a great mouth feel, not too chewy, not grainy at all. In fact, to tell the truth while I usually slather butter on my coffee cake when I eat it, I ate this one without any. It didn't need it hot or cold, it was a great tasting coffee cake. This is going in my box.

The second treat I decided to make was the carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. This was one of my favorite desserts in my pre-gluten free life. I ate it often and had a recipe that I just loved. I haven't tried to convert it yet, you see I'm not a baker and finding the right mix of flours just isn't up my alley. I try to leave that to those of you who excel in that area. So I saw this recipe and was very hopeful.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting - pg. 116

Sadly, I'm a little dissapointed. Not completely surprised though, you see the majority of the flour base is rice, I've noticed as most of you have I'm sure that rice flour is a bit grainy in texture and can make a recipe a little... dry. Which is exactly what happened here. The flavor profile overall is pretty good, although I think a bit of pineapple would have made it better, especially in this particular recipe. While I'm very excited that my son who won't eat a carrot to save his life actually loved it and asked for more, I think the only portion of this recipe I would make again is the frosting which was actually a good rendition.

All in all, I like this cookbook. I don't think its stellar but its also not a bad thing to have on the shelf. I have most the ingredients (base gluten free flours and such) in my pantry already and the recipes are generally quick and pretty easy to prepare making it a go to. Its an easy to handle book at 184 pages, packed with recipes and information so you really can't go wrong. Whether you're looking for a gift for a newly diagnosed friend or something handy for yourself this is a pretty good addition to mix.