March 27, 2008
Dinner on the couch again?
I haven't updated you since Monday, I know. And it hasn't even been a particularly busy week so I have no excuse. Except to say that after last weekend's baking marathon, I guess I needed a little down time away from the kitchen. So, what have we been eating?
One night it was sandwiches on the couch. The night after Easter was a big green salad and nothing else, a day of cleansing after all that baked stuff. And, last night we went out. We went to a little neighborhood place called Eastland Cafe.
(http://www.eastlandcafe.com/ can someone tell me how to insert a link in the text here? thanks)
I love the atmosphere--and the location several blocks from home--but the food is not as good as I always hope it will be. I'm not in business of giving restaurant reviews (unless of course I am asked to) so suffice it to say, our dinner was average and it was just nice to get out and share some time away from our kitchen with Daniel.
And, there was this little pasta dish thrown together one night at the last minute with ingredients on hand and an excuse to use up the sample sausage I had been saving. I got this at work --one of the benefits of working in a restaurant. It was a handmade rope sausage, labled 'mild' from a company out of Chicago called Fontanini. (http://www.fontanini.com/)
If I could find it in the stores here I would buy it everytime I needed Italian sausage, which is pretty often, as it was the best Italian sausage I've had in Nashville. It was mild but also very flavorful and well spiced, and it gave an extra something to this Italian meat sauce--something new and different--that kicked it up several notches.
I started by browning the sausage, then took it out, added onions to the oil and browned them too, added some garlic, some tomato paste from a tube (the kind I used to get in Italy; this one probably came from W.F.) and seasoned it with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and a little oregano. Then I threw in some mushrooms I had lying around, put the meat back in, and I let that cook and develop some flavor for 2-4 minutes before adding a can of diced tomatoes.
I let that gently simmer while I cooked my pasta: little 'chiocciole', comma-shaped guys. Capisci? They were actually big, over-sized commas, perfect for holding the sauce in their caves, and are my new favorite pasta. They came from the W.F. megastore, the brand Bionaturae, an organic semolina pasta from Italy.
Fresh-grated parmigiano sprinkled on top and a few leaves of fresh basil and parsley for color finished the deal.
If you hadn't noticed, pasta is my go-to meal when I haven't gone to the store or given much thought to dinner. But this one was so meaty and spicy and wonderful, it deserved much better than a last-minute meal eaten in front of the tube. But sometimes those are the ones that satisfy most.
I'll be getting back to some 'serious' cooking next week. Maybe. Not making any promises. I'm not good at that. Spontanaeity is more my style these days...