Monday, January 31, 2011

Toasted pasta

Browsing through the cookbook section at Powell's, I flipped through a British cookbook compilation (maybe the Guardian's?). It was a quick browse, but I did glance a recipe entry from Ferran Adria: Toasted Spaghetti with Clams. It was one of the smallest entries in the book. Not only did his name catch my eye, but also the recipe title. Toasted = good. Spaghetti = good. Clams = good.
I didn't have clams. But I had olive oil, spaghetti noodles, parsley, and garlic. And I had a tin of sardines. Basically, the recipe calls for toasting the spaghetti noodles in a pan with olive oil. Break the noodles in half or thirds. Place in a heated pan with olive oil coating the bottom. Turn noodles with tongs while cooking. When lightly golden, add chopped parsley and garlic, maybe some chili flakes, and water/broth. Cook until pasta is al dente, adding water as needed. Then add clams - or in my case, sardines.

I have tried this three times. I have liked it each time. Once I only used dried herbs and it was lovely. Each time, I have had some overly toasted noodles. But I often had burnt toast as a kid, so it doesn't bother me much. The noodles have a toasted taste, as well as a toasty texture. Enjoy a twist on an old standby.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I've been remiss

'Tis the season for forgetting everything but sweets and twinkling lights. I have been cooking very little the last few months. I've baked even less. But with the holidays in full swing, I consumed more than my fair share.

My friend Drew was recently in Paris. When he asked what I wanted from France, I said mustard and chocolate. And I happened to mention that if I was ever in Paris, I would want to visit Denise Acabo's chocolate shop, A l'Etoile d'Or. Drew brought me a wonderful, truly amazing dark and milk chocolate layered Jour et nuit Bernachon bar - only available at their shop in Lyon or from A l'Etoile d'Or in Paris. Exclusive. I have been savoring it, but definitely don't want it to go bad. My apartment is usually only 60°F, so it will last a while longer... My other early Christmas present was a lovely pot of dijon mustard. And I have put it to use. Mostly with carrots. I have sautéed carrots and added dijon - three times in the past few weeks. A little bit of lemon would be nice at the end. Maybe on the fourth time around.

I will share some holiday food photos, including my first attempt at making my aunt's almond roca recipe. The recipe was written on an old piece of paper, fading and spotted with oil, missing a few words here and there. Even without a candy thermometer, it worked out fine. Chopping the almonds was the hardest part. Sweets and twinkling lights. I find myself wishing I could have them all year long. But I do remember how silly Christmas lights look in August. And peppermint bark would seem out of place. But right now they are just right.