Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Playing with Pasta

Pasta night is when I really get to experiment. I'm not pushing the boundaries or anything, but it's fun to start with no preconceived notions and let the pantry be the guide.

It's almost like Iron Chef, except:

A. I don't really know the secret ingredient until it's time to start cooking. Don't tell me those chefs have no idea what they'll be working with before the battle, because I'll never believe it.

B. Alton Brown isn't running around in my kitchen and illuminating my creative process. I think I would like that part, but I'm not sure I'd give him much to talk about.

C. There is no panel of pompous/ignorant/ditzy/blowhard (take your pick) judges to make me squirm as they criticize my food and I console myself by thinking, Does that nitpicky restaurant publicist really know anything anyway? I just have Margy, who is a great audience and who knows how to deliver constructive criticism -- though I certainly wouldn't mind hosting some of the judges from the original Japanese version of the show. I like those smiling foie-gras-eating actresses.

So I guess it's really not like Iron Chef at all, except it's fun. Tonight I looked around and found some capicola in the fridge and cannellini in the cabinet, and I was off to the races. I cooked the capicola in a bit of olive oil for a few minutes, then removed it and added garlic, a chili, and some parsley from the garden, plus the cannellini. I put the capicola back at the end, swirled in some pasta cooking water, turned off the heat, and stirred in lots of Parmesan and black pepper.

My theme for the secret ingredient was "Oh, man -- I'd better hurry up and get dinner on the table," and Chairwoman Margy declared me the winner.


Caryn said...

Just tell me you didn't break out the ice cream machine!

the cook said...

Dammit -- gabagool ice cream would have really wowed those judges.