Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dinner From Nothing: Our favorite Game

I am finally home. Back in my own kitchen.
The cup board is pretty bare but by the time we were about an hour away from the house stopping -- even for a few minutes at the grocery store was totally out of the question -- besides . . . where is the food adventure in that?
Cheese is pretty much a staple in our house and long storing Parmesan is generally on hand. I'm not sure there has ever been time we didn't have at least one package of pasta (we could be welcomed as Italian citizens by quantity of pasta consumed alone) so I started to plan my "just walked in the door" version of cacio e pepe, the Roman "cucina povera" classic. Generally made with spaghetti or tonnarelli, for this quick favorite black pepper is quickly sautéed in olive oil, pasta cooking water in added along with the drained noodles and a hefty quantity of finely grated pecorino Romano and parmesan cheese. Everything is stirred vigorously until the cheese and the liquid form the creamy sauce. Classic Roman cuisine in an instant.
I made a few changes. I started with some hot oil, oregano, cracked black pepper, chile peppers, and sliced garlic in a frying pan while I cooked the pasta. Instead of the usual spaghetti I offered up creste di gallo (rooster's comb) as a little celebration of being home with the "girls" again. I tossed the pasta, the warm oil with the spices, about a cup of pasta cooking water, and nearly 1 1/2 cups of shredded (that's what we had) parmesan cheese together in the warm pot from cooking the pasta and threw in some fresh mozzarella I found in the fridge (cut into cubes) and stirred and tossed and stirred and tossed until the cheese and the starchy warm water came together into a creamy, cheesy, stretchy sauce without breaking the pasta ridges. Creste di Gallo Cacio (cheese) e Pepe (pepper) al Telefono (telephone in Italian but used to mean dishes that form strings of melted mozzarella) -- a mouthful -- and a delicious one at that.

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