Welcome to my kitchen

A while ago, I realized I was serious enough about bread baking to stop diddling around with the 3-packs of yeast from the grocery store, or even the small jars for a small fortune. So I pulled up my big girl pants, and ordered "A Pound Of Yeast". It's in my freezer, and I use it regularly, and I guess that makes me "A Baker". Even though I always said "I can't bake". So, join me on my journey, and let's see what that pound of yeast makes, and where we go next....

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Next Installment of The “Way Back Machine” Recipes

This one is so absurdly, ridiculously stupid simple, I feel almost guilty posting about it.  Almost.

About guilt…see, first of all, I try to make it a rule not to feel guilty too often.  It’s not good for the disposition, and it gives you heartburn (or worse).  I’m also pretty shameless….I admit to enjoying the occasional frozen pizza, fast food hamburger and Blue Box Mac & Cheese (with the squeezy cheeze goo though, not the orange powdery stuff).  And all of that is guilt-free (see first rule, immediately above).  And I'm not above the occasional meal of Spam (it's a taste memory what can I say), or hot dogs with canned chili (ditto....).  And I do likes me my share of quick-'n'-dirty (read EASY) one pot meals.

Like this one.

All of which, could, admittedly, be guilt-inducing, if I allowed myself to feel guilty about such non-monumental things.

But, finally, what saves this post from a one-way ticket to Guilt City is that the pasta tastes REALLY really good when it’s done.  The flavors mesh together in a delightful, tangy creamy sauce that is surprisingly hearty and spicy, but not so “blow your socks off” hot that kids wouldn’t love it. Add in the bonus that the dish comes together in about half an hour, and is also ridiculously, stupid cheap to make, and there’s not a shred of any kind of guilt that needs to come anywhere close to this recipe, or your dinner plate when you make it.  With some decent bread (I made my knock-off "*M* Grill" rosemary bread) and a nicely made green salad (with homemade dressing), it was a delightful, guest-worthy meal with very little fuss and muss.

This is another dish I used to make ALL THE TIME many moons ago, and then, for some reason, just stopped.  Dunno why, it just fell out of the rotation, I guess as I went off chasing the newest, bestest, latest, trendiest trend.  Or something.  It is, however, time to resurrect, “Roberta’s Pasta with 3Ps”.

Erm, the “Ps” would be “p”epperoni, “p”epperoncini and roasted “p”eppers.  Carry on, then.

Here’s the class photo, ready for their big moment in the sauté pan:

That’s obviously pasta (penne is the perfect choice for this, since the sauce is rather hearty and chunky), pepperoncini (pickled peppers, tangy and vinegary but not really hot), roasted red and yellow peppers, pepperoni, rosemary (fresh is best), heavy cream and grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (actually that’s a Grana Padano, which is a type of Parmesan).

Pour the pasta into a 10 or 12-inch skillet or sauté pan.  If you buy a stick of pepperoni, rather than the slices, slice it thinly.  Drain and coarsely chop the roasted peppers.  Pull the stems off of the pepperoncini, and chop them coarsely as well.  Don’t worry about taking out the seeds, they’ll add to the flavor.  You could leave them whole, but I think they're easier to eat if they're chopped up a bit.  Crumble or mince the rosemary.

Now….here’s where it gets tricky (NOT).

On top of the pasta, sprinkle the rosemary over.  Then layer on all the other goodies:

Look, you can see the rosemary down there amongst the penne.

That’s right, the pasta is uncooked.  Have faith, this will be fine, because now we’re going to pour on some boiling water that will mostly cover all the ingredients.

Stir around a bit, to make sure everything is evenly distributed, bring back to a full boil, and cover the pan.  Reduce the heat to medium/high and let cook at a really high simmer until the pasta is al dente (you know Al Dente, nice guy....arf, arf, arf...), which will take about 10 minutes.

Add in the cheese and cream (oh, drool)….

….and stir it around again to combine and make a nice, silky sauce.

Reheat gently and serve immediately.  And *that's* it !  Really.  You got dinner, babe.

And I guarantee, you will be a star, no, a SUPER star with your friends and family.  All that taste, with so little effort.  The perfect weeknight meal.

Here’s the proportions:

Roberta’s Pasta with 3Ps (hey, feel free to insert YOUR name in place of mine)
Serves 6

12 ounces penne
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled or 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
8 ounces thinly sliced pepperoni
1/2 cup small pepperoncini, about 17, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1, 7-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and coarsely chopped
3&1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Arrange pasta in single layer in 10 or 12-inch skillet or sauté pan.  Sprinkle with rosemary.  Layer on pepperoni, pepperoncini and roasted peppers.

Pour boiling water over all, and return to a full boil.  Cover, reduce heat to medium-high, and cook at a brisk simmer for about 10 minutes, or until pasta is al dente.

Stir in cream and cheese, reheat gently and stir to blend into creamy sauce.  Serve immediately.

Oh, but even with such a dead-bang simple recipe, of course there still had to be a moment of *drama*.  I couldn’t find the recipe.  As I said, I haven’t made the dish in several millennia, and so I looked in the actual recipe FILES (I do have some, yes, I have some recipes I’ve actually organized).  It, uhhhhh, wasn’t there.  I did vaguely remember pulling it out a while back, thinking I did want to make it again soon.  So I looked in the folder that I lovingly call my “Stuff I Want To Make Soon” folder.  No organization in there, just clippings, and printouts and snippets of paper.  No dice.  Not in the “Stuff I Want To Make Soon” folder.  By now, I’m starting to hyperventilate a bit…..so I moved onto the “Stuff I Want To Make Eventually” folders.  Yes, plural.  FolderS.  *Sigh*.  I’m hopeless….not in there, either.  Now my palms are sweating.  I can see, in my mind’s eye, exactly what the recipe looks like, the type of paper it’s on, the size of the clipping, all of that.  Back to the “Stuff I Want To Make Soon” folder, just in case I missed it.  Nope, nada, nuthin’, bupkis.  By now, it’s the day before I have friends coming over for whom I’ve promised this dish (one of their old favorites…..).  I’m thinking, I’m pretty sure I can remember how to do it (I mean, as you can see, it’s seriously not difficult), but I’d sure like the security blanket of that little slip of paper.   I finally look in the “Stuff I’ve Made Recently And Want To Make Again” folder.  (Hey, it’s a system, granted a pathetic little system, but a system nonetheless.  And it usually works…sort of.)   Of course, I am positive, absolutely POSITIVE, do you hear me, POS-IT-IVE, that it’s not going to be in the “Stuff I’ve Made Recently And Want To Make Again” folder, because, well, I haven’t made it recently, silly !  But, ummm, EUREKA !  *Phew*.  As my heart rate returned to normal, I did question not only my sanity, but my so-called organizational skills.  But now, see, I know, the next time I want to make Roberta’s Pasta with 3Ps, that it will, rightfully, be in the “Stuff I’ve Made Recently And Want To Make Again” folder.

Unless it’s not. In which case, I’ll look here !

Assuming I remember I blogged about it....

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