Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Day

He's back!!! February showed up with the ol' 1-2 punch last week. I have to admit to throwing in the towel without putting up much of a fight. I tend to get a little dispirited in the teeth of winter anyway and I had what can only be described as the week from hell at my day job. Not that that should interest you, and besides, it's none of your business, so, one soldiers on.
It's a snow day here in NYC. The school is closed. I trudged through deep stuff to the office anyway to update web pages and set up some tournament brackets, then it was right back to the apartment for some bad TV and microwave popcorn. It was Ina who jarred me out of my funk. Guess what she made today? Chicken Bouillabaisse! I'm tellin' ya, it was fate. So now, I'm in the middle of braising some pork and I've dusted off this here bloggy posty stuff (thank you, Sarah Palin).
Out in Southampton, it was a weekend of extremes. Kitchen-wise, that is. Even though I was able to catch the express train out of Hunterspoint (NYC to SH in under two hours), Lally and Muffy still beat me to the house, setting off the security alarm and scaring them both out of their wits. By the time I arrived, they were like a couple of long-tailed cats in a room full of rocking chairs. I had to shake a cocktail and build a fire just to get them to calm down. And then Lally had to be fed!
Luckily, Mr. Oliver had just the remedy. This is a dish Jamie makes for his kids, but I didn't think we would be stooping too low in serving it up for my two favorite ladies. I know they weren't put off by it.
Mini Shell Pasta with Creamy Smoked Bacon & Peas Sauce - adapted from Jamie Oliver
  • ½ lb mini-shell pasta
  • 1 bullion cube, chicken or vegetable
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 oz pancetta
  • 8 oz frozen peas
  • 3 sprigs fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • ¼-cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Fresh chopped parsley for garnishing

Makes 4-6 servings.

To cook your pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the bullion cube. Stir to dissolve. Add the mini shells and cook until al dente, about 6 minutes.
To prepare your sauce:
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the butter and olive oil. Once butter has stopped sizzling, add the pancetta and render the fat, frying until well browned. Add the peas and give the pan a good shake. After a minute or so, stir the sour cream and chopped mint into the pan.
Drain the pasta in a colander over a large bowl, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the sauté pan and give a good shake to combine. Stir in the lemon juice. Once everything is heated through, remove from heat. The sauce should be creamy, but if it's too thick for you, add a splash of the reserved cooking liquid to thin it out a bit. Add the grated Parmesan and give the pan another good shake to mix it in.
Spoon pasta into a large serving bowl and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
There is a long-standing argument about which Hampton is the real Hampton. I can tell you most assuredly that Southampton is NOT the genuine article, and here's why. Jamie's recipe called for crème fraîche. I tore apart the local Waldbaum's looking for it. Finally, a shelf stocker informed me they hadn't carried it in years. Now you know why Ina lives in East Hampton! Alice Waters has an amazingly simple recipe for making your own crème fraîche, but one needs 24-hours and I had about 30 minutes, so I went with sour cream instead. Not really a problem, as we we were only heating it through. Sour cream, as opposed to crème fraîche, will separate when boiled.
You should have seen Muffy's incredulous look when she read mint as an ingredient, but I think it made the dish sing. The sauce was tangy, salty and rich. The pancetta shined through and the peas were lovely. There were no leftovers to store, I might add. It wasn't until we put our forks down and folded our napkins that I could actually begin to relax. It was gonna be a great weekend.
And it was.
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food

1 comment:

Wren said...
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