Thursday, June 23, 2011

Spaghetti with anchovy carbonara with tomato and green bean salad

I've been craving pasta a lot lately. Therefore, I've been making pasta a lot lately. I refuse to demonize food groups - I firmly believe if you keep the portions reasonable and pair with vegetables, pasta can be part of a perfectly healthy meal. Just like gorgeous crusty fresh bread and lovely roasted potatoes. Life is just not worth living without carbohydrates, y'all. 

So! Anchovies. I'd only had the crappy little fillets from a can before, and frankly, wasn't much of a fan. But I noticed anchovies have been popping up everywhere lately, with all the good little foodies extolling their salty virtues like the Second Coming. And then I learned that all anchovies are not created equal; there are oil-packed and there are salt-packed, the salted ones being described as superior in every way. I had to get my hands on some. Unfortunately, my only option was to buy a gigantic can of them for the bargain price of $17.99 at Jimmy's, but when I cracked it open and saw there are about 60 of these suckers in there, hey that's under 30 cents a fish! Some people have investment portfolios, I have investment anchovies. Apparently they can be stored for quite a long time, so I'm not worried about using them all (eventually). I gently jammed the rest of mine in a pickling jar with a little extra kosher salt and stuck it in the fridge. So far, no fridge funk. Good.

Papa, Mama, babies.
Did I mention they were delicious? I swear, people - you will have absolutely no idea this contains anchovies. You'll just think, this tastes really good! Which isn't to say you won't taste them, because you certainly will - I just don't know how to describe the taste. It's umami: the taste of tastiness. There was no fishiness whatsoever after they were cooked, not even a hint, so don't be scared by the smell when you open the can. I admit, I was nervous. But they were great! Next time I shall be bolder and use more than just one little fish per serving.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fettucini with salmon, zucchini and dill

I cobbled together this pasta dish from several different recipes. I knew what I wanted, I just couldn't find it. After a little trial and error, this is what I was after. The comforting vibe of mac and cheese, but with a sophisticated grown-up twist.

Salmon and dill are BFFs. Likewise, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and cream are good buddies of dill from way back in the old neighborhood. Dill would totally ask salmon to be its maid of honor, but garlic, Parmesan, and cream would fill out the rest of the bridesmaids roster. Dill would secretly worry about how all the gals were going to get along, but sure enough, they all bond over cocktails and a mutual hatred of curly parsley. In other words, I know people clutch their pearls about seafood and cheese, but this just works.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Zuni Cafe roasted chicken and bread salad

This is, without a doubt, the best chicken I've ever had.

I try to avoid using superlatives like that (because I find it disingenuous when other people do), but this is something I just know. Kind of like how before I met my husband, I had always assumed that in the weeks approaching my theoretical wedding I would be a little nervous and unsure, even though I would love my beau completely. I imagined it would be the normal reaction to such a Big Decision, and I was ready for it. But those feelings didn't come; I was actually more confident and excited by the day to marry him. It was just right, and on every level of consciousness, I knew it. It was intuitive, primal. And it's the same rare sensation of certainty (certitude?) I feel when I say this is the best chicken I've ever had. You will want to marry this freakishly delicious chicken.

The Zuni Cafe in San Francisco is famous for this recipe. I can hardly wait to devour the rest of the cookbook. I expected to like it - with its reputation, I even expected to love it. But I honestly did not expect to be stunned by it. It will change everything you think you know about chicken. It's freaking good, people. We've been grocery store rotisserie chicken junkies in the past, because it's just so easy - grab a chicken, fluff some couscous, chop a head of romaine and you've got a healthy meal in five minutes. I would usually whip up a little mustardy French vinaigrette to moisten the chicken and use some Trinidadian pepper sauce to add flavor. As I sat down to eat this I grabbed the pepper sauce from the fridge as I usually do, and it wasn't until I was clearing the table that I realized it hadn't occurred to me whatsoever to use it. That speaks volumes.