Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lily: Cooking -- My Alternate Therapy [Recipes for Fresh, Healthy Pasta & The Best Salad Dressing of Your Life]

Soundtrack to post: Try by P!nk on Grooveshark

A good friend of mine keeps not-so-subtly suggesting  I see a therapist.  While I’m not discounting the role of a professional in navigating major transitions such as divorce or moving 1,000 miles for a new job…one can’t go to counseling daily, right?  For me, other outlets include music and cooking. 

Sidebar: if you haven’t checked it out already, pick up P!nk’s new CD “The Truth About Love” (OF COURSE by that I mean buy it on iTunes…geesh, showing my age, huh?).  Okay yes, I may have been accused of having an addiction to her music, but this CD really has some great lyrics, for almost any mood.  Don’t believe me?  Let me demonstrate. 

Upbeat party music? Check. Try -Slut Like You- which opens with “I’m not a slut, I just love love!” (followed by an amazing cackle).  Or some of you may appreciate –Walk of Shame- “I’m wearing last night’s dress but I look like a hot-ass mess; although my hair looks good cuz I haven’t slept yet… last night’s bubble gum, no more bubble, no more yum…make the elevator come a little faster, I’m pushing all the buttons but nothing’s happening… please God don’t let anybody see me…I promise no more walks of shame…”  

Feeling more somber?  Not a problem. -The Great Escape- “You’re never gonna catch me checking out of this place…the passion and pain are gonna keep us alive someday.” Or: -Just Give Me a Reason- “Just give me a reason, just a little bit’s enough.  We’re not broken, just bent, and we can learn to love again.”

Pissy?  Of course, this is P!nk, after all.  I recommend -The Truth About Love- “The truth about love is it comes and goes…the truth about love is it’s all a lie…it can turn you into a son of a bitch.” Feeling ambiguous?  Fast forward to -True Love- “At the same time I want to hug you, I want to wrap my hands around your neck…but I hate you, I really hate you, so much I think it must be true love.”

Looking for some inspiration?  She’s really got it all.  Look no further than –Try- “Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame.  Where there’s a flame, someone’s bound to get burned.  But just because it burns, doesn’t mean you’re gonna die.  Gotta get up and try, try try.”   And some final words of wisdom, from -Timebomb- “It’s only love, give it away.  You’ll probably get it back again.  I wish we all could lighten up; it’s only love, not a timebomb.” 

And besides the sweet lyrics, she looks punk-rock h-o-t-t hott on the cover!

Okay, okay, back to the food.  Yes, I do LOVE to eat.  So it works out well that I’ve come to love cooking.  I’m not just yet having the dinner parties I used to, in this new city and all…but that doesn’t stop me from practicing.  Last night I made a particularly tasty (and easy, folks!) pasta dish with a smattering of random veggies I needed to use up.  Try it yourself, and let me know what you think!

4-5T olive oil
½ box Penne pasta
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 large shallot, sliced
2-3T white cooking wine
2 cobs of corn
2 large vine ripened tomatoes
8oz crimini mushrooms
sea salt
fresh ground black peppercorns
red pepper flakes
½ cup grated mozzarella or fontina cheese
½ cup full fat ricotta cheese

First, start boiling the pasta water.  Be sure to generously salt the water, as this adds flavor to the pasta itself, which is especially important for simple sauces. 
Slice the shallots and garlic, then prepare the veggies:  cut the corn off the cob (uncooked), chop the tomatoes into large chunks, and quarter the mushrooms. 

Please note from the above picture that Step Number Zero should always be “marinate the chef.”  I can’t take credit for this, a friend introduced me to the concept…but it’s a rule I strongly encourage!  For this meal, I prefer a medium-bodied chardonnay, such as Bogle or Kendall Jackson. 

Saute the garlic and shallots in the olive oil for approximately 3-4 minutes, then reduce with the wine.  Simmer for 1-2 minutes, and add the corn.  Season to taste with fresh ground black pepper, sea salt, and red pepper flakes (be generous with the red pepper if you can stand the heat!).  Saute over medium heat for approximately five minutes, or until corn is browning and still crisp to the bite, and all fluid has evaporated

Add the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the tomatoes and re-season. 

Meanwhile, cook the penne until al dente.  This is so important!  Don’t overcook it!  Strain the pasta, then add the grated cheese with a touch of olive oil and mix well.  Add the sauce, and spoon the ricotta on top. Also good with fresh herbs, if you have any around – try oregano or thyme.  So so so tasty!

The best part is that it’s really yummy cold the next day, too….if you just can’t wait to rewarm it ;)

If you’re looking for a quick salad to throw together, mix some different greens (think romaine, frisee, butter lettuce, endives), and whip together this easy dressing:

3T white wine vinegar
2T water
1T Dijon mustard
¼c minced shallots
½t salt
¼t black pepper
6T olive oil

This makes enough to store for the next day, too.  Just make sure you only toss the greens you’re going to eat in that sitting, so you can have non-soggy leftovers

I’m interested in your experience with the recipes, so please let me know!  It’s very simple for the beginner, but lends itself well to multiple variations for the experienced chef, as well.  Bon app├ętit!

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