There are certain sauces, certain taste and texture combinations that would just never occur to me, but which leap to the foreground for Darling Husband. In many ways, that's what makes our Chopped challenges so rewarding and fun. If we thought exactly the same, it wouldn't be very surprising or interesting.
I wish I could explain more of what I mean, but all I can really say is that these dishes just scream out Darling Husband's name. Tonight's fantastic pasta dish is an excellent example.
First he softened and sweated vidalia onion, to which he added microplaned garlic and tomato paste. For spice, he added salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Not long after, in went diced sundried tomatoes. Once all these items became toasty and had released their oils, he deglazed the pan with some chicken stock. It was bubbly and thick, but light colored and so very pretty.
When the penne he was boiling was perfectly toothsome, he threw raw baby spinach on top of his sauce and topped with the pasta. The heat wilted the spinach, but only just. All of this was tossed with the last of the shmear casse.
The result? Brilliant! Chewy, hearty penne hugged by a there-but-not-there sauce, dancing with the sweet onion, swirled with vivid green spinach leaves, punctuated by chewy nuggets of sundried tomato bursting with dark flavor. It was inexplicably creamy and utterly utterly, as the British would say at the dawning of King George V's reign. (That Queen Mary, what a doll. 1911, don't cha know. Record heat wave. Churchill making a name for himself already. Jam workers went on strike and everything. Railway workers, too. No, it's true. Read a book on it, I did. A whole book, just on the summer of 1911 in London, non-fiction. Read it twice, point of fact. Sounds esoteric, and it was, but bloody interesting...)
Sorry. I'm not entirely sure why I came over all British in the last paragraph. Perhaps it's my inner Anglophile struggling for release. Maybe it's all the British books I read or the cheeky British comedians I watch (Eddie Izzard and Russel Brand are my go-to good-mood people). Maybe it's the beginnings of a nervous breakdown. Who can tell? When Baby Girl is teething kind of crankily and getting over a cold, poor lamb, and my car breaks down and makes me want to kick it, and it's the end of a long week... I simply remember my favorite things...
Duck fat and basil and freshly cooked pasta,
Almonds and yogurt and sundried tomatoes,
Big pretty scallops all seared with a crust,
These are a few of my favorite things.
Mangoes and crackers and fresh avocado,
Pinot and vodka and nice dry hard cider,
Warm piece of baguette that's smeared with some brie,
These are a few of my favorite things!
When my car dies,
When my kid cries,
When I'm feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things
and then I don't feel so bad!