Few weeks ago, H & I tried an Italian restaurant that’s constantly packed with people. I’m curious because their menu isn’t particularly interesting (inviting comfort food, probably.. but original? not really). However I like how deceptively inviting their deco is. Fresh herbs in pots as center pieces for every table, yellow warm lights, floor to ceiling windows on all sides perfect to sky-gazing or people-watching, low benches as well as high tables. So we gave it a shot.
Long story short: the food was decent but it’s unlikely that we’ll return. It’s not a place that one lingers (solo, probably.. but not for double dates and especially not with children). However, I did come home with a recipe of some sort of the pasta I had. This is it. My new found love. A really good change from the usual pasta dish: light yet bursting with flavors.
You can make your own lemon confit (or what I call cured lemon). Stuff the lemons with salt and keep away for weeks or months. But in any good supermarket in France, you can find it in the Middle Eastern/North African section (not as firm as the one I had in the said restaurant, so maybe gourmet supermarket would be better). The pâte can be found under Regional produce section.
Do you know that you can make a fresh pasta dough with KitchenAid in 5 mins flat? I kid you not. Flour, eggs and if needed, a little water (if dough is too dry) or more flour (too wet), that’s it. The machine does all the kneading. How come I only know about it, like, now??? I was so ready to get my hands dirty, but hey, had I known it’s this simple, I would have made one sooner! Btw, Jamie Oliver does one with food processor, you can watch it here.
Don’t worry about les grumeaux, i.e. the lumps, they will disappear as soon as you pass them through the pasta attachment. But it helps if you use the finer flour possible. I used Type 45, under MasterChef brand. Ha!
Voila. Boil them in a pot of hot water before using.
Have you ever made pasta with garlic breadcrumbs before? Or even Aglio Olio? If you have, then you’d understand how simple this dish is. There are times when I want full, robust flavors but there are times when I just want a simple dish, taking stock of yet another week rapidly coming to an end.
The weather is slowly staying on the 30s, heat wave is announced, rain come and go in a blink of an eye. The mosquitoes aren’t shy to visit either so we’ve been burning citronella on all corners of the apartment. I get woken up from time to time in the middle of the night just because it is so warm. I miss having air-con!
Finally we are settled, I feel settled. For the next 9 months or so. As part of integration process with la vie en France, I had to attend civic course, complete with national anthem, history lesson and learn my rights as a resident and a woman. I had to do a CV in french and attend a professional competence evaluation. Luckily, they left me alone when it comes to french language. And no, it’s not for citizenship. In total, I had 4 certifications that are extremely precious to renew my carte sejour next year.
This weekend would be the first that we don’t need to go out and hunt something for the apartment, which is a relief. And we’re going to celebrate our anniversary too.
Anyway, I’ll stop yabbing. Here’s the recipe.. (more…)
I can almost foresee my menu for the next 7 days, it will be pasta, pasta and pasta. It’s something quick and I can prepare in the morning to be reheated when H returns for lunch. Not to mention, I have few more packets to finish. Have I told you I “collect” pasta shapes?
Anyway, those who cook for me (my mom, my dad, my mother in law, my husband) know my predilection towards acidity. I am forever adding lemon and tabasco to a dish that tastes perfect to everyone but me. I’ve been told off by the Italians not once, not twice, but five times that I ruined their dishes (twice in Singapore at a separate restaurants, once in Sienna, once in Rome and once in Toulouse). I blame this on my grandma who raised my mom, then me, beside a big pot of Sayur Asem, an Indonesian tamarind-base (spicy) vegetable soup.
So for me, the hero of this dish is the lemon. Not from the lemon juice, but from sauteing the lemon zest together with garlic. I also like that the cream-broth mixture tones down the saltiness of the capers. H still picks out his capers, but when the dish is this delicious and simple, I don’t mind at all. Besides, my capers are going down, down and down.
Indeed, time that you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down on that grass, the world is too full to talk about.
Interestingly enough, despite my initial reservation to green olives, I made this twice this week.
Right before Meesh left, she invited me to raid her pantry. All of a sudden Jambalaya, Gumbo and Cajun are all within arm’s reach. I decided to christen it by making Cajun Chicken Pasta ala Pioneer Woman.
CAJUN CHICKEN FETTUCINI
(adapted from Pioneer Woman)
2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 tsp Cajun Spice Mix – more if needed!
Fettucini for 2 – I used whole wheat Fettucini
1 tbsp OO
1 tbsp butter
Half green bell pepper, seeded & sliced
Half red bell pepper, seeded & sliced
Half medium-sized onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 C (250ml) tomato sauce
1 C (250 ml) Chicken Broth
1/4 C (60 ml) White Wine
1/3 C (78 ml) Cream
Parsley, to garnish
- Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente.
- Sprinkle 1 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken pieces. Toss around to coat. Heat half tbsp oil and half tbsp butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add the chicken in a single layer and brown the chicken on all sides. Set aside.
- Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle with 1 tsp Cajun spice. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently.
- Add tomato and tomato sauce. Stir and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan and set aside.
- With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Add back the chicken and vegetables into pan, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot.
- Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine. Top with chopped fresh parsley and serve immediately.
My Cajun Chicken looked a lot more orangey than PW’s. I suppose using canned tomato sauce does that. But still, we absolutely loved it. Even H broadcasted to his colleagues that he’s now eating cajun dishes. My little (BIG) liar, I tempered the level of spiciness.
If only I can eat all these without putting on a single kg. That would be awesome, wouldn’t it? Heh!