Thursday, September 21, 2006

Start of a Long Weekend

Thank Goodness It's Thursday! TGIT

And not just any Thursday, this is the Thursday before a long weekend. Oh joy and bliss, three whole days stretch ahead of me with only 2 things planned. The possibilities are endless.

My last chore of the day at work was to change the water and feed the goldfish my boss got as a New Year's present. I haven't given the happy couple names yet, I am afraid to commit - the last time I had fish one of them committed suicide, one of them died of heat prostration (I don't leave the airconditioning on in summer so I get home to a 40C house) and the last one died of a broken heart at being left all alone.

As I left the office I couldn't help but notice the sky glowing with the first real sunset of fall. In summer there are hardly ever any clouds to make the sunsets dramatic, and in winter I leave too late to see the sun.

I dodged traffic and arrived at Cactus Flower's apartment where I was scheduled to teach her how to make a basic cream sauce for pasta.

Ok, basic but with stuff added...

First things first of course, so glasses went into hands and we watched the last of the sun seep away down the sky into the sea as we lowered the level of our glasses. Once we were on the way to recovering from our day we proceeded to prep dinner. I got to hand off the onerous job of peeling garlic while I chopped and diced.

The idea was to give her a basis for building with, so for about 300 gr of spagetti we used:

  • 4 big cloves of garlic crushed into a paste
  • 1 large tomato (supermarket, not green market or organic which would be preferrable) diced small
  • some green onions for garnish sliced into small rings
  • a few rosemary leaves chopped (or crumbled if using dry)
  • some oregano (this is a very subjective herb, so to taste - I used about 4 small leaves)
  • a bit of sweet paprika for the colour
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • a generous cup of white wine (I forgot to look but it tasted like a Reisling)
  • 150 - 200 ml cream, and
  • 300 gr shrimps, shelled and deveined, split down the middle but with the tails left on

Into a big warmed pan put about 50g butter and 2 tbsp xvolive oil. once the butter is melted but not bubbling, add the garlic and sweat it slowly until it is translucent and the bite has mellowed. Add the tomatoes and turn up the heat to medium. The tomatoes should almost melt and if you swirl around the pan they become almost creamy and emulsified. Add the rosemary, oregano and paprika and a grinding of pepper.

Throw in the wine and turn up the heat to high. Reduce this down by 1/2 to 2/3's.

At this point you can throw the pasta into the well salted, boiling water. Spagetti (no.5) will take about 9-11 mintes to cook (depends on the brand). The way I test pasta for doneness is to take out a piece and pinch it in half after about 7 minutes of cooking. For spagetti it is like looking at the rings of a tree). You will see a white dot right in the middle. The bigger the white dot, the longer it still has to cook. When only a tiny pin point is left you still have about 1 more minute of cooking time.

When you have about 3 minutes of cooking time left throw in the cream and bring it up to the boil, then reduce the heat to low. When the pasta is 1 minute away from being ready, throw in the shrimps, turn the heat to medium, swirl well, and cover the pan. When you are ready to drain the spagetti, give the sauce a stir, taste for salt and add some if you think it needs it, then turn off the heat. Before draining the pasta take out a cup of water and save it in case you need to thing the sauce (which I usually have to do). Drain the pasta, throw it back in the pot with a small knob of butter and a splash of oil and toss it around a bit before pouring the shrimp sauce on top. Mix well and add some (or all or none) of the reserved pasta water as needed, put into bowls, top with the green onions and a good grinding of pepper and serve with a green salad.

It takes as long to do this (including making a salad) as to bring the water to a boil and cook the pasta.

You can use anything you want to the "rose" sauce - chicken, crab, smoked goose or duck, smoked salmon, fresh salmon, tuna. Whatever strikes your fancy. The basic sauce can also be spiced up with curry or garam masala, tricked out with veggies, used as a pedestal to hold a piece of grilled something, or served as a side to plain roast chicken, or you can skip the pasta and use rice instead.

As they say here "Chik Chak" and "Kali Kaloot"
quick and easy - and tasty too.


Paz said...

Mmm... Mmmm... Mmmm... That looks sooo good!


aja said...

Hey Paz,
It was - and unfortunately, my hips don't lie