Friday, January 20, 2017

How I Cook

I like to think that I'm less of a cook and more of a jazz performer. Cause I like to riff off of what others have already done. Also, I'm pathologically incapable of following a recipe. I mean, I have a weird variety of pantry items (e.g. pork fois gras)and a limited amount of time. Seriously, who has 2 teaspoons of Grains of Paradise in their larder? (Looking at you, Alton Brown).

Let's dissect an evening's meal decisions; they must be homemade, reasonably healthy and daughter-approved, but without relying on cheese or potatoes, which are the mainstays of her diet. Dinnertime approaches and I have a hankering for eggs. Daughter will eggs, I think, scrambled. Husband will eat eggs. I look in the fridge and discover I am the proud owner of a dozen and a half eggs. So far, so good. I google "egg recipes for dinner" and discover that Buzzfeed has 25 Delicious Ways to Eat Eggs for Dinner.  I love Buzzfeed, so that's what I click. They have many and sundry dinner-egg recipes-Croque Madame Casserole, Baked Eggs in Avocados...but I settle on this: Pappardelle with Chanterelles in a Light Cream Sauce. Doesn't that sound lovely? I am as likely to find pappardelle in the local Stop & Shop as I am of finding Adele roaming the aisles, but I am not deterred. Off to the store I go.

First, I go to Pino's, the local liquor store/drinking establishment/hipster hub. The recipe calls for Chardonnay and by God, Chardonnay we will have. I find a nice Mendocino Chardonnay for $12.99. It says Mendocino right on the label and it has a flower. I'm sold. Then I head to S&S. There is, of course, no pappardelle. Because, outside of Brooklyn, the only pappardelle to be had is made by Ligurian grannies. Or is that Tagliatelle? I ponder the immensity of Italian pasta choices and settle on Barilla's cansarecce, made by Sicilian grandmas. Or something. Seems homey and meant to be eaten al dente, so I buy it. Stop & Shop is also lacking in chanterelle mushrooms, so I  buy ready-sliced baby bellas. And Italian parsley and frozen organic peas. Because baby bella mushrooms NEED peas. They go together like, I don't know, peas and carrots. I do NOT buy parmesan, which will haunt me in the end, but never mind, I'm committed.

Back home, hubby has put water on to boil. I crack open said Chardonnay because I'm not the only one who can drink and cook. I see that there are uncooked brussel sprouts in the fridge. I put the oven on to roast because no matter what else happens, my daughter is sure to eat brussel sprouts. And then she has a vegetable and I'm a good mom. And I have bacon. Brussel sprouts and bacon-that's love, right there. So I figure I'll cut up the bacon real small, cook it and put some in the sprouts and some in the pasta, as if it's pancetta. Genius. The recipe doesn't call for pancetta. Whatever. Pork is always welcome in an Italian meal. The bacon is frying, the oven is heating and the water is boiling. Va bene.

I realize that daughter probably won't eat cansarecce, cuz it's foreign. So I cook the pasta and when it's done, I'll use the water to cook tortellini for her. I pour myself a glass of Chardonnay. I cut brussel sprouts and onions and garlic. Once the bacon is done, I put sprouts in the pan, season with salt and pepper and put in a 425 degree oven. When I'm satisfied that the pasta is "to the tooth", I fish it out of the water, put it in a bowl and cover, and start cooking tortellini. By now I have another pan with olive oil heating and put in the cut up garlic, onion and then mushrooms. And thyme. I despaired of finding it, but I did still have some in the fridge. And everyone knows thyme and mushrooms and peas are so yummy together.

I'm worried the sprouts won't be done in time. I didn't cut them in half like I usually do, for science, but now I'm worried the bacon will burn before they're cooked. I had meant to save some of the bacon for the pasta but then said fuck it and now all the bacon AND sprouts are baking happily together. mushrooms, onions and garlic and making a lovely smell in the kitchen. I have more wine. Wine is not really for thirst, right? Cause I'm thirsty, too, but surely the Romans drank wine for thirst. Thus assured, I add wine and broth to the mushroom mix. And let it simmer. I take a spoonful of liquid from the pan and put it in a jam jar with some corn starch. I wanted to use flour, but Gary had cooking class this week and the flour is in the trunk of the car. I stir it together. When the pan looks all "simmery" I add the corn starch liquid back in and let it simmer some more. Meanwhile, the tortellini are done. I add more olive oil and salt and call daughter to come get. I let her know that brussel sprouts are still cooking. I portion out the cansarecce into 2 bowls and add the mushroom mix over the top. I have washed and rough chopped parsley, which goes on top. Gar comes up, goes to pour himself a glass of wine and says, "where'd the wine go?" "In the recipe," I say. And my belly. Anyhoo, He takes the brussel sprouts out of the oven because by this point I'm on my third glass of wine and clearly too drunk to take things out of the oven. Gar takes bowl and wine glass and heads downstairs. I take my bowl of pasta, mushrooms, onions and peas, and brussel sprouts and bacon and head toward my favorite chair. People seem to be eating and the animals are up in my grill trying to see what I'm eating. No sounds at all from any level of the house as people chow down. My brussels and pasta combine together in such a glorious way that I wish I would have eliminated the middle man and just put the sprouts and bacon straight into the pasta. Then I take a taste and realize that Brussel sprouts taste like cannabis smells. I text this valuable insight to Gar, downstairs. He yells up,"I know, right?" And a happy dinner is had by all.


Heat oven to 425
Put pot of water with T of Salt on to boil
Heat frying pan with 2 T of good olive oil

Boil ~300g canserecce pasta in the salt water
Fry up chopped up bacon-4 or 5 slices
clean and cut Brussel sprouts

when bacon is almost done, add sprouts and salt and pepper to pan, put in oven. Stir every 5 minutes or so.

When pasta is done, put in plates, cover to keep warm
Get a frying pan, heat olive oil and "bless" the oil with garlic.
Sautee onions and mushrooms. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add mix to pasta when ready.

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