Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

pasta with chicken liver and balsamic glaze: couric karma

Four uncertain eyes gazed at me inquisitively, trying desperately to find a comfortable balance between trust and that gnawing guttural reaction begging disbelief.
“Don’t do it,” a voice pleaded in my two children’s tiny yet potently precise psyches.
“Her smile is not quite right and the rapid eye blinking screams deception.”
Although only 9 and 6 years old, these kids are well-versed in the art of body language. Casting aside requests to watch popular children shows, they demand a daily fix of the CBS Evening News.
Every night, at 6:30 sharp, they greedily absorb the nightly offerings of their favored news anchor, Katie Couric, who appears to be their vehicle for, not only current events but also the nuances of communication.
“See how she had to ask him that question twice, mom?” my oldest, and very insightful child asks while watching Katie Couric in an interview.
“That means the person is hiding something”, she concurs proudly (and, as fate would have it, correctly).
My first-grader picks up additional details of interest: “Katie changed her hairstyle, mom. She looked better before.” I let it slide (and Katie would too) as those who know Jonathan, know he hates for anything to change, especially hair.
Instead, I focus on the fact that he continues being an avid listener; sprawled on the floor playing with his Bakugan toys, he never misses a newsworthy beat.
I never imagined Katie Couric would play such a prominent role in my family life.
Given the slew of anti-Katie blogs, it is obvious she is not as loved by others.
But in this household she is revered and I have come to look forward to watching her, not so much for her news coverage, but for the questions and discussions that arise among my children as a result.
Katie has easily been incorporated into my family curriculum, molding herself as an empowering female role model for both my children, no matter what the critics or the ratings say.
It leads me all back to the eyes staring at me cautiously.
They scrutinize my body language for clues just like they do while watching Katie interview someone on the evening news. “Is mom being genuine or does she have a secret agenda”, they think to themselves as I offer up pasta for dinner with a ‘special tomato sauce.’
“What happened to our old sauce?” my mini-reporter questions, screening me for the slightest jerk in my response.
“Yes, where is the tomaaaaato sauce?’ Don’t-Change-It demands.
I knew I needed to turn the tables around from interviewee to interviewer in order to stand a chance with these two, so I hoped for some Couric karma to come my way. I remain calm, even under the line of fire (for that is what Katie would do). I smile (she always does), carefully divide my gaze between Camera 1 and Camera 2, and say in my most cheerful tone (there’s no way I can ever be as perky as Katie, but by golly I try):
“This IS tomato sauce!
Just a new tomato sauce!
Try it.
You’ll really loooove it!”
I attempt to make unwavering eye contact in the hopes of not revealing the secret ingredient, which is chicken liver.
As adventurous and open-minded eaters as these two are, I have a hunch the idea of chicken liver would be a hard sell.
They both paused and looked at each other for an unspoken huddle.
With a quick nod it was over and they agreed to try the sauce. As they dug into the spaghetti there was complete silence followed by ecstatic oohs and ahhs.

“Mom, this is soooo good”, one finally managed to squeak after half the bowl was empty. “What’s your secret ingredient?”
My forced smiled had now softened with the verdict of the meal, but my Katie Couric poise remained as I reminded them of a crucial lesson in reporting:”Sorry guys, but I can never reveal my sources.”They both appeared slightly fazed by this response, and yet it’s journalistic integrity seemed to speak to them nevertheless.
That, or the aroma of the meal distracted them.
Either way, they quickly resumed to their slurping success as my karmic cameras faded to black.

fake-baked ziti: confessions of a carb criminal

Sometimes the weekend rolls around and I want to break all dietary rules. I know, I know, I am adult, female, American and it is practically illegal to eat carbohydrates, sugar, salt, and most definitely fresh, whole milk mozzarella cheese. But Saturday and Sunday are my days off from the gym regimen, and so, the gut craves a break too. Thankfully, I am the parent of young, thin, energy-crazed children and I can conveniently hide behind the maternal guise of feeding them and indulge in deliciously goopy pasta dishes. Luckily, no kid will turn down mountains of melted cheese plus mine are well trained to know they get chocolate at the end of their meal if they eat, no questions asked. Either way, I get carte blanche to indulge in my carb cravings without getting lynched.For these quick “kid” moments, I turn to Rachael Ray. I know Rachael has gotten her share of mixed reviews, and, perhaps I too was guilty of some unresolved issues regarding her extreme perkiness (I’ll blame that boundless energy on her not having kids). Still, I met Rachael several times during my brief writing stint on her magazine, and I can thankfully report to all you skeptics out there that she is a genuinely nice, cheerful person (without the need of caffeine). She certainly gets things done, and can whip up a fast and tasty meal, even if (and especially because) she does it in a non-conventional way. Her dishes aren’t complicated nor pretend to be. They are just easy and they work. And that is part of her perky charm. Baked Ziti is just the ticket to carb comfort. It has several steps to it, but they are all manageable and worth the gooey outcome. When you are done, simply draw the curtains so the carb police doesn’t see. If you have a couple of kids, add them to the formula to make the whole process more believable. Then, sit down with a nice class of red wine and a crisp green salad (for guilt’s sake) and enjoy! You’ll jog it off later.

sicilian pantry pasta: when your pantry saves the day

Day was slow. Rainy. Glum. Humidity promising right around the climate corner. I shouldn’t complain, I know. Flights are being cancelled left and right up north because of freezing cold weather and I get feisty when there is a trace of mugginessBut I can’t help myself. It is March and I’ve carelessly grown used to the two months when South Florida has pleasant weather: a short two months where you can actually roll down a car window, possibly walk somewhere without shvitzing. Who am I kidding. Who the hell walks in South Florida? But you get the gist. It’s the one time of the year my bra isn’t sticky, and that in itself is worth celebrating.So the crimp in the weather has put me in a bit of a fowl mood. It’s easy for me to lose perspective, I know. We have no food and I don’t feel like getting any. I just don’t feel like going out. So I open the pantry and peer. Hell, I have got a lot of stuff in there I never give the time of day. I open the fridge to find a few wilted items. Like watching a sorry Wimbeldon culinary match, my head moves left (to panty) and right (to fridge). Left. Right. Left. Right. Before I know it, I’ve got myself a matchpoint. And it only took 15 minutes.