Thursday, April 15, 2004

Let me just start out by saying that it was supposed to be something simple and nutritious.

Stresch went back to work after a harrowing trip to the mall, and I was responsible for dinner. I figured that my old standby of diced tomatoes (canned or frozen), pesto, and pasta would be adequate, and we had some extra cheese to put on top anyway. I plunked some frozen roasted tomatoes from the garden into a saucepot, turned on the flame as low as it could go, and left the room. I went about my business, checking on them occasionally until they were sitting in half an inch of water. I uncovered them and turned up the heat just a smidge.

Emilin’s “I Don’t Want to Cook” Pasta
(Serves two as a one course meal.)

1 15oz can plain, plain, plain tomatoes (I prefer Eden), diced
7-10 frozen roasted paste tomato halves

a few chunks of frozen pesto
half a box of linguine
cheese as desired

Start the water for the pasta. Dump the tomatoes, ideally in their diced state, into a heavy saucepot. Chip some lumps of pesto out of its container, and stir them into the tomatoes. The point of the pesto is require that your sauce have only two ingredients, so use it to taste. Keep it on medium-low heat to reduce the sauce, stirring occasionally. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. If you use a deep stockpot, the sauce will be ready when the pasta is done.

It was also Garbage Eve, so the cat boxes and trash cans had to be changed. I wanted to wear a particular shirt today, and thus did two loads of laundry, having gotten carried away. Remembering that some certain undergarments needed handwashing, I soaked some brassieres in the delicates detergent from the co-op. It wasn’t until I was heaving the cat litter up the basement stairs that I remembered about the tomatoes. The water had surely boiled off, and the kitchen had a sweet smell that told me the burning of tomatoes was nigh.

Well, crap. This wasn’t a part of my plan.

They were still soft, but they completely disintegrated when I stirred them. Nothing smelled or tasted burnt, so I decided to turn it into some kind of modified béchamel sauce. We had leftover cream (score!), some butter, milk, and flour, so I dumped and stirred and continued with my chores. It was beginning to round on the time Stresch was expected home, and I had completely forgotten to boil the water for the pasta. Something, maybe the leftover cartons from Easter, told me that poached eggs would go really well with that sauce.

Actually, that’s not true. The fond memory of poached eggs with a similar sauce at The Bongo Room in Wicker Park told me that.

So I added some leftover shredded parmesan cheese to the sauce and started up the skillet for the eggs. This was my very first experience with poached eggs. Mark Bittman and I evidently have differing opinions on what it means for a skillet of water to “barely bubble,” and I blame him at least in part. The first egg, being sacrificed first to the pan, then to the paper towel on which it was drained, then to the floor upon which its tender yolk landed with a half-splat/half-squirt, didn’t go so well. I turned up the heat a little and tried another one which ended up ugly but cooked just right for Stresch’s tastes. Ditto the third. For the last two, I decided to try covering them after putting them into the pan. They were slightly less grotesque and adequately cooked even though the skillet boiled over partway through cooking, putting out the flame, and I had to scramble to get the back burner going so they’d continue cooking.

With the skillet lid over the eggs to keep them warm, I moved on to setting up the plates. One slice each of sesame semolina, a thick puff of parmigiano-reggiano right off the microplane zester, and a little garnish of parsley. Except that maybe it wasn’t parsley. It looked far more like cilantro. I tasted it, and even though it tasted like parsley, I wasn’t convinced. It still looked like cilantro. I referenced Chez Panisse Vegetables: no help at all. I referenced Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and bless Ms. Madison’s soul, I discovered that parsley’s leaves have short stems that break off the main stem opposite one another and cilantro’s leaves bunch together right next to the stem. I definitely had parsley.

After squatting on the floor with parsley clutched in my hands, it was stuck to me, and I barely had time to get it back in the bag, in the refrigerator, and my hands rinsed before Stresch walked in the door. (Being pasted with wet herbs isn’t my idea of aloof or sexy, and it doesn’t inspire others’ confidence in my cooking skills.)

We sat down with our eggs, bread, cheese, and sauce, and we sipped orange juice from wine glasses. It was quite tasty, if I do say so myself, and we even have leftover sauce.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?