Maybe it’s the cold weather, but I can’t stop making pasta for dinner.
On Friday, I made a version of orecchiette con cima di rapa, which is a specialty of Italy’s Puglia region (the heel of the boot) and requires only a few ingredients.
I’ve tried making it a few times but haven’t had much success, even though my friend Gio insists that, “it’s so simple to make.” But my latest attempt was a huge success.
And then on Sunday, a got caught in a wave of domesticity that found me cooking and baking the afternoon away.
First, I invented a lasagna based on the theme, “green things.”
Along with the leeks, zucchini, spinach and basil, I also included ground beef and a can of plum tomatoes in my sauce. While I had that on the go, I started prepping for the pasta that I planned on serving that night, penne with sausage and red peppers topped with fresh ricotta and basil. It’s one of the Beast’s favourite dishes (which came courtesy of our pal Paula who found it on Epicurious.com.) Because there are always left-overs with this recipe, it’d be perfect for dinner because the Beast had invited his folks over.
I didn’t know if I should cook the lasagna and then just re-heat it later in the week, or if I should freeze it, uncooked. I cooked it in the end and it smelled so good that I desperately wanted to eat a piece. (Gio, I know this isn’t a lasagna that a real eye-talian would make, and I hope we can still be friends.)
Thank goodness my baking projects distracted me from my hunger: first I made some little lemon cupcakes. I substituted in Meyer lemons on my own accord and I’m so happy I did. They impart a sweeter, more floral note than usual lemons. And because you can only get them for a short time every year I use them as often as I can while they’re around.
And then I had banana bread to make. I added chocolate chips, coconut and walnuts.
Before I knew it, it was 7:30pm and the Beast and his parents were in the kitchen. As usual, Marg, mother to the Beast, came bearing gifts (and as usual, they were all from Home Sense.)
Marg: These stickie notes were on sale at Home Sense–aren’t they just perfect for you?
Foodie: Oh are they! They’re just adorable!
Marg: And I thought these bowls were just so “you”! Do you like them? I got the white ones with the blue stripes ages ago–only seven dollars!–but I kept forgetting to give them to you. And these ones–just look at the colours!–won’t they be perfect for summertime entertaining on your deck?
Foodie: Will they EVER! Thanks so much! Let me just put these with the OTHER BOWLS YOU’VE GIVEN ME OVER THE YEARS.
Along with the pasta, I’d made a simple green salad with thinly sliced radish (my new favourite thing) and had some lovely crusty baguette to mop up anything left on our plates.
On Tuesday night we heated up the non eye-talian lasagna and watched the Stanley Kubrick film, Barry Lyndon. (It’s a movie that the Beast has been trying to get me to watch for years.)
Beast: Wow! This is really good! This is great!
Foodie: It is pretty good! I think this recipe is a keeper in fact.
Beast: After dinner I have to tell you something. I’m afraid though.
Foodie: What is it?
Beast: I’ll tell you after dinner.
Foodie (pausing the movie): Tell me now. What did you do?
Beast: Oh I can’t tell you! You’re going to be so mad!
Foodie: What did you buy?
Foodie: Are you having an affair with a woman who’s even older than I am?
Foodie: Just tell me already!
Beast: (Long, serious pause.) About two weeks ago, I was trying to find a spot for my new socks in my drawers but they were all full so I was going to put them in your drawer and that’s when I found the flute that you bought me for my birthday and I’ve played everyday whenever I can when you’re not home and I’m sorry and I love it.
Foodie: I can’t believe you. I just can’t believe you.
Beast: Are you angry?
Foodie: This relationship is too absurd for me to be angry. Snooping for birthday presents?!?!
Beast: I was putting away my clothes!
Foodie: The flute was hidden underneath stuff! You would have had to dig to find it!
Beast: I don’t think you hid it very well.
Foodie: I DIDN’T THINK I WAS DATING A TWELVE-YEAR-OLD WHO’D GO THROUGH MY SHIT LOOKING FOR BIRTHDAY FLUTES.
Beast: I love it. It’s the best birthday present ever! Do you want me to go get it and play it for you?
Foodie: No thanks. You know this is really just sad news for you because you’re not going to have any presents to open up on your birthday tomorrow.
Beast: Oh you can just look at my wish list on Amazon and get gifts rushed delivered if you like.
Foodie: Let’s finish dinner.
We did, and I even rewarded the Beast’s poor behavior with dessert. I was inspired by a friend who’d posted photos on Facebook of a dessert he’d concocted. I couldn’t get the images out of my head, and I’d been dreaming up my own version for weeks: So, using store-bought puff pastry, homemade rhubarb jam and freshly whipped cream, I created a fucking giant homemade Flakey.
Dreams really do come true, and they came true again the morning when we ate the rest of the Flakey for breakfast.
Orecchiette: Foodie *** Beast ***
Penne: Foodie ***1/2 Beast ****
Lasagna: Foodie **1/2 Beast ***
The Fucking Flakey: Foodie **** Beast ***