Monday, December 29, 2008

bring your holiday cheer along with a pot of Puttanesca

Lately, I haven't been inspired to write. But I can assure you I have been cooking and eating. I couldn't imagine my world without food, especially homemade food. Actually, in private conversations with other bloggers it's apparent that I am here, behind the screen- reading wonderful posts about food and restaurant reviews, I am just not writing about my own. Partly because my body and mind are still on vacation or wishing it were. We went to visit my parents in New Jersey for Thanksgiving, then here

for a week and if that wasn't all 2 1/2 work days didn't do me any good. And although I sound like I am complaining- I am not- I am just trying my hardest to be a better blogger.

Thankfully a holiday dinner brought me back to my senses and the writing.

I tentatively planned few things for last weekend because I wanted some down time with the husband, the house and our pet fish, Fatty. And boy did we get some downtime.

The only concrete plan was to go to a friend's house for Italian themed dinner on December 25. She made Mushroom and Basil pesto for bruschetta, stuffed Pork tenderloin with Sundried Tomato pesto, cannelini beans-a recipe by Marcella Hazan, Prosciutto and green pea risotto and really good tiramisu too. Her parents brought mixed salad and roasted chicken. My contributions? Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratinate by Lidia, Pasta Puttanesca with homemade fettuccine, slow roasted Brussels sprouts and cranberry salsa with goat cheese for the bruscetta.

Everything tasted great. She agreed the pork was a little overdone, but that didn't matter because everyone was fixated on the risotto. The homemade pasta was a big hit as well. Mind you, she made the pasta dough before I arrived because she's a pro and a great friend. Speaking of homemade pasta, I've made it once before. Since I didn't and still don't have a pasta machine, manual or kitchen aid, I rolled out the dough for Tagliatelle on my counter. It was a process I don't like to talk about but will repeat if I am craving homemade pasta, or buy a pasta machine first.

There are lots and lots of recipes out there for puttanesca. And they all look good. I browsed many for direction and made my own version of the dish.

Pasta Puttanesca

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
4-6 anchovy fillets in olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 28oz can (whole) tomatoes, plus juices
1/4 cup capers
1/2 cup black olives, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Fettuccine, spaghetti or any long pasta is good for this recipe. (Homemade pasta is better however dried pasta works as well.)

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add salt to season and then stir in the dried pasta. Cook the pasta following the instructions on the box. For homemade, cook the pasta 5 minutes before the sauce is done. Drop fresh pasta into boiling, salted water and cook for 3-5 minutes.

Heat olive oil in medium-large pan on medium heat. Add garlic and anchovy fillets to the pan. Gently mash the fillets with the back of a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. After couple minutes the anchovies should have melted into the garlic-oil mixture. Stir in red pepper flakes and cook for 2 more minutes. Add tomatoes with juices. (some recipes call for adding capers and olives before the tomatoes- it doesn't matter.) Simmer the tomatoes until the sauce thickens, then stir in the capers and olives with some of their juices and dried oregano. Simmer on low for 10- 15 minutes. Stir in the cooked pasta and cook for 2- 5 more minutes or until the pasta is nicely coated with the sauce. Serve hot or warm.

For the holiday weekend, I tentatively planned to clean the house on Friday, shop on Saturday and study for an upcoming exam on Sunday. Two of three were accomplished, and that's good for me. Most of my house is clean. Saturday, we went to one of the busy malls that's further away and almost always like a zoo. Sadly, I came away with NOTHING. I was disappointed on every front, especially for a dutch oven. I bought one from a housewares stores only to read negative reviews of it online later that night. I returned it the next day. The husband, a deal finder, is keeping his eyes open for the one. At 4pm on Sunday, I started studying for that upcoming exam. As I was browsing through the course syllabus I noticed we don't have class this week; and there went the studying, out the window.

Hope you enjoyed your break. Any plans for NYE? We've got a couple- tentatively speaking. Around here tentative is the word of the month.


Le Flâneur Novice said...

Hello Liberal Foodie :)

Thank you so much for your sudden visit to my blog at the last night of this year :) (It's night for us here in Istanbul lol)

Eyes open or shut this view in the photo would be with me for months if I had been there, too lol

We sometimes all need something stronger to inspire us to write, and wow a great one you had :)

This is the first post I read, and commented. Gonna be here often...

Wishing you a happy new year.
Cheers from Istanbul!

liberal foodie said...

Thank you for visiting Bal. Have a great new year's eve.

Anonymous said...

Hope you had a great new years celebration! That recipe sounds great, I'd like to invite you to take some time to drop by at Foodista and share this delicious recipe with us. We have launched an online food and cooking encyclopedia ala wikipedia. Add a recipe and you can win a $100 gift card to Sur la table. Don't forget to register first so we know who to thank the recipe for. Thanks! Happy New Year!