Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Pasta con Cacio e Pepe
I was thrilled to recently win a giveaway from one of my favorite blogging buddies, Karen, of Eat Drink Wash Up. Not only is she a fabulous cook with a very sharp wit who tells great stories while sharing recipes; she also knows my beloved Roxy Music and shares my adoration of their greatest album, Avalon!
And so what, pray tell, did I win from my friend???
A trip to any food aficionada's paradise: a $50 gift certificate to Williams-Sonoma!
Now, of course, we all know that I don't make decisions well, especially when faced with so much bounty and so many new toys. So I brought Jeremy along with me, because he is a consummate shopper - he can enthusiastically spend money, his own or someone else's, with great skill and joy!
So, off we went on our excursion, in search of goodies. We walked in and immediately meandered over to the sale table, 'cause that's the kinda girl I am. Beautiful little yellow dessert plates with a honeycomb theme seemed like a lovely addition to my "photo op" dishes; but we kept looking, not wanting to leap upon the first option.
Delicate glassware, one set bearing French captions and another with Latin ... a pink spatula that had "Princess" stamped upon it ... jarred sauces and a caramel ice cream topping ... oh, so many things were calling to me!
But then Jeremy found two perfect items, the first of which was a Bunbury Boards cutting board from Ireland, sporting a code number to trace its history from tree to kitchen equipment. Here is my board's life story:
The species of tree is: Beech.
The location of the tree is recorded as: The Farmyard Kilruddery, Kilruddery Estate, Co Wicklow
Reason Down: This tree was windblown, it fell across the lane way into the Kilruddery Farmyard and knocked part of a wall during the winter of 2007.
Replacement Notes: This beech tree was a self seeded tree, growing in a hedge line where new saplings are now growing.
And the second fabulous item was an assortment of mixed peppercorns, since I'd run out and needed a new infusion to keep my pepper mill (a consolation prize in a Newman's Own contest, which the company had very thoughtfully personalized by etching my name into it) fed.
It took a few days for me to be able to bear the notion of using the cutting board, beautiful and unique as it is; but I decided that it was more noble to give it a purpose in life, rather than merely having it gather dust while looking pretty.
And then, the ideal way to put the new peppercorns to use was in an Italian dish that is named for them: Pasta con Cacio e Pepe, otherwise known as "Pasta with Cheese and Pepper". (By the way, like with every other dish in the history of the universe, it sounds infinitely better in Italian: [PAHS-tuh cohn CAH-chyo eh PEH-peh].)
Since I'd also recently received a new infusion of the lovely Flip Flop wines that I've so enjoyed cooking with (and drinking!), I thought I'd veer from the traditional dish just a tad by adding some Chardonnay to the butter/oil mix that coats the pasta along with the freshly grated pepper and cheese.
And so, here you have it: a dish that is luscious and flavorful, and yet simple and traditional. The quality of the ingredients is absolutely crucial here, since there is nothing to mask inferior ones; be sure to invest in the best that you can afford, so that the flavors shine through.
Pasta con Cacio e Pepe
12 ounces spaghetti
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup white wine
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/2 teaspoons freshly grated peppercorns
shredded parmesan cheese
Prepare spaghetti according to package directions. Drain, then return to the pot.
Meanwhile, melt butter and oil together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add wine, then bring to a boil for 2 minutes to reduce the mixture just a bit. Add salt and pepper, then pour over prepared spaghetti and toss to coat. Place onto a serving platter and top with cheese to taste.
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