This meal built around
- truffled reggiano cheese
So you’ll want a very good cheese shop. You can substitute (or magnify the effect) by using black truffle oil when you “dress” the cooked pasta.
In a market you trust, buy:
- fresh pasta (gnocchi, tortellini or other “small bits” shape works best)
- sweet italian sausage
- red peppers – sound, ripe
- asparagus – look for finer, slender stalks and good green color
- mushrooms – look for clean, tender ones. almost any variety is ok
Rinse the red peppers and asparagus, but NOT the mushrooms. Set the asparagus aside to drain and pat the red peppers dry.
Prepare the Asparagus. Hold your hands as if to play the piano and take each end of a spear of asparagus lightly between thumb and fingertips. Hold the whitish end near the base and the budding end 2/3 of the way along. Gently flex the stalk while rolling your right thumb up the back of your finger, twisting slightly. Allow the stalk to snap where it wants to. Don’t be anxious about how much “good” asparagus is wasted. It’s NOT that good. And, you can use it in stock or compost it.
Prepare the Mushrooms. With a very clean dishtowel, lightly whisk off any flecks of dirt. Do not wash. Slice. Sautee in a small amount of olive oil or butter, almost as if you were toasting them lightly. Cover and allow to weep. You can add minced shallots or a very small amount of finely chopped onions to the oil before the mushrooms, if desired. Fleck with black pepper. Set aside.
Boil Water. Fresh pasta won’t need to cook long, but have the water ready.
Light the Grill. Fire roast the red peppers until they’re charred on all sides. Remove from the grill, cool slightly, and place into a paper bag. Grill the sausages. Tag someone who’s drinking a beer and shooting pool to be your grill buddy and keep an eye on them for you. After the grill is off, set your crusty bread, wrapped in foil, on or near it to warm lightly.
Finish the Red Peppers. Once cool enough to handle, rub the charred skin off the red peppers. Work under cool running water, and peel/rinse away the stem and seeds also. Tear the peppers into slabs and slice the slabs into neat strips. Serve them cool or rewarm them in the steam or hot water from the pasta, later. Dust with mixed spices and good balsamic.
Now you’re cooking. Set the asparagus tips into a colander or steamer insert and steam them over the boiling water. Boil the pasta lightly, drain and toss with just enough oil or butter to coat (butter, good olive oil, truffle oil, etc.). While the pasta is still very hot, shave plenty of the truffled regiano over all the pasta, tossing gently to mix well.
You can add finely minced ribbons of fresh, young basil or mention the phrase “freshly ground black pepper” while standing near the serving dish. Then again, you can use velveeta. Truffles are subtle. If you tamper, you could miss the point entirely. If you need more flavor, the answer is more truffled regiano, not more stuff.
When the asparagus is done, transfer it immediately to the serving dish. Arrange mushrooms, pasta, asparagus, red peppers and sausages on a large platter. Serve with warmed crusty bread, more regiano and a grater, plenty of red wine and laughter. Linger long at the table — you all have tales to tell.
Filed under: recipes
Hmm, tall mug of hot, frothy milk, healthy shots of vodka and kahlua. Sit back and enjoy.
If you’re too lazy to click through to her brillarious post, Cliff’s notes follow:
Have the engineer swing the barbeque davit outboard, hang the grill from it, and start a big bed of coals going with that nifty charcoal chimney. Oh right, nevermind, just use your little cast iron stovetop grill.
Peel the shrimp and set them in a small bowl, just larger than the number of shrimp. Hey cool, it’s shrimp for one, not for 40!
Mash or mince to a pulp about a clove of garlic for every 7-12 shrimp. Or so. Really, it’s on you how much you like garlic you like, and how much of the heat you want to come from garlic. Rub the garlic into the shrimp so they are well coated and let sit.
Look for these in your spice cabinet:
- chili powder
- hot pepper flakes (or cayenne powder, just something for heat)
- peppermill (black pepper)
Thyme’s really important. Since you don’t have it this one time, pinch hit with basil & oregano and regret that — WAIT — there’s a pot of it growing out back!
- pick lots of the tiny little thyme leaves as many as you have the patience to
Spread the shrimp out in the bowl to something like a single layer. Sprinkle with chili powder until all are coated. Add the thyme, maybe 1/4-1/2 as much thyme as you just used chili powder. Be lavish with the black pepper. Now add heat (pepperflakes or cayenne powder) judiciously. You have to learn your limits here. Start with maybe a pinch and work up into it.
Add the tiniest bit of olive oil and stir well to make the spices a paste. Shrimp should be pretty well coated but not totally encrusted with spice. Add more thyme & chili powder to increase coverage if needed.
Grill on a wicked hot grill until shrimp are opaque & curled tight. Flip. Ok to blacken a little. If you’re going all-out, make some extra marinade that is runnier and hasn’t been in contact with the shrimp. Brush this over them while grilling.
Serve with rice, tropical fruit, Red Stripe, corona, rum punch, a margarita… Whatever it takes to bring on the memories!
Filed under: undershare
Yeah. I took August off. Summer at the beach and all that.
You have no idea.
So, um, sorry.
Wow, so, from Divorce to Reconnecting your family, we gots all kinds of family (dys)function goin on here at LGYL. (There something you’re not mentioning? Like that you just fell off the friggin face of the earth & then returned w/out a word? -Ed.) [Um, yeah, that blog pause? You have NO idea. -Lmns]
But back to this post. We’re pausing… (again, dammit? -Ed.) [No, I mean shifting gears from obnoxious to eloquent. Will you just shaddap Ed? -Lmns] …for an uncharacteristically sentimental moment to ponder some of the wonderful, beautiful things about family, and ways of reconnecting. Now that I’ve totally ruined the mood, take a deep breath, smile, and consider these ways of connecting with those you love most:
Reconnecting with your family: a How-to
Presence. Quiet. Conversation. Shared experience. Touch. Collaboration. Play.
Preparing + sharing a good meal.
Love as a verb more than a noun.
Stepping away from the web, the gadgets and the external world. (Tho its sometimes possible to reestablish civil terms via email when something goes off the rails.)
Shared effort/work/accomplishment: Chores, yardwork, raking leaves, chopping wood, shoveling snow, accomplishing together. Shared exhaustion and satisfaction in a job well done.
And when we got home, well we just started chopping wood
Because you never know how next year will be
And we’ll gather all our arms can carry — Dar Williams
Retreat/vacation: Even just goofy daytrips. Especially goofy daytrips. I friggin love goofy daytrips.
Also incredibly important — self care and self-love. Nothing above will work without it. This used to be my biggest problem. The more solid you can be loving you, the more you can give to others. The oxygen on the airplane? Put your own mask on first.
I do love you, very much. It’s hard telling you this, though I know you don’t even realize how hard I tried to avoid it. I just can’t wait for you anymore. I gave you 8 years. I hoped you’d grow, mature, and eventually come around. I believed you could learn to listen. But now I just need to get on with my life.
I always swore I’d never start something new until the old was over and resolved, but I’m afraid there’s someone else. Turned my head in PA last month. Love at first sight. At least, enough to help me get over you. You deserve to know that yesterday he agreed to be mine. Soon.
Don’t think I forget the good times. Finding out about you was magic — in a magazine on a plane. I knew right away. You were the only one I could possibly want. You weren’t even available, but I fell hard.
A few months later my beloved Zeegey truck started to gasp for his last breaths. He kicked out on the road by my house, and I knew it was time. I pretended to look around at the other cars, compared stats, prices, features. But don’t you get it? I never test drove anything else.
I never even test drove you.
I didn’t have to. I searched everywhere for you, my yellow Nissan XTerra, and then I waited until you were mine. Call me a prude, I just knew.
We’ve been through a lot. You proudly wore your LEMONS license plate. In that small town you always ratted me out if I slept somewhere other than home. There was no pretending. But I always laughed.
We’d get cheery waves from other yellow X’s. Flashing headlights, shared chuckles. I searched the Internet (in vain) for a Yellow XTerra club. (You could’ve met my needs just by doing that.)
That scare in 2002 was bad though. You stranded me. At a gas station in Ohio. The garage thought you needed a whole new fuel pump until they found the failed wiring harness days later. You were still so new, I couldn’t help but wonder. So I went online again. And yes, I wasn’t the only one. A lot of XTerras were dying like that.
It wasn’t me, it was you.
I stood up for myself. I told you about the others online who’d had the same problem. I insisted you get treatment. You had stranded me hundreds of miles from home in February, so I insisted they return you to me. As soon as I checked the web I knew there would be a recall. You tried to ignore me. (Did you even try searching the web to see if I was right? Think how much sooner you could have known!)
If only you were willing to listen to those who know and love you. You could even reach out and ask others how they’re feeling about you, and what they’re experiencing. The web offers you so many ways to do this. But, no.
But the reason for our divorce is that you just couldn’t face the reality of my needs. Gas is expensive. I want a hybrid. In fact, I want no car more in the world than a yellow XTerra hybrid. I mean, the other guys like you went hybrid years ago. But you see, I don’t love them. I love you. So I waited and waited. I even emailed about it and got boilerplate kissoffs.
It was so obvious. How could the car that was made for funky outdoorsy enthusiasts not come out in a hybrid? I mean c’mon, the Ford Escape? Have you seen what a bad kockoff of you that thing is? He frigging stole your exact yellow paint color. I always hated him for that.
It’s true I don’t haul sheep, grain and hay regularly anymore. Gas is expensive. I live near a city now. But if you’d only listened, I would have stayed with the new, hybrid you.
If you have to know, it’s the Honda Fit that caught my eye, as the roomiest & safest of the fuel efficient little cars. Its no hybrid but it gets twice your fuel economy while still managing carseats, hockey bags and gigantic hairy dogs. It breaks my heart I can’t get it in yellow, but I’ll learn to love it. I’ll learn to love orange. And no, I haven’t taken a test drive with him either. I’m at least that loyal.
But I’m not leaving you because of the Fit, I’m leaving you because of you. It’ll be hard to move on. I wish you’d learned to listen. I also (god, I’m pathetic) want you to know there’s help for you. It’s called social media and conversations with your customers. Please try it. I’d come back in a heartbeat, I really would.
The world needs a hybrid XTerra. And I need you.