For someone who actually likes to cook, living with a professional cook can be frustrating at times. Sure I really appreciate the fact that when The Husband says he's got dinner/breakfast/midnight snack taken care of I know it's going to be damn good. But once in a while I gotta flex my chops in the kitchen. Because while I don't have many, I worked hard for the kitchen skills I do posses. And I can fucking cook, thank you very much.
So last week I made a dinner party. I needed an excuse to have people over to the new place. And, collectively, we needed an event to bring us all together and tip back a few cocktails before the Size 8 show. I decided to challenge myself culinarily (i maybe just made that word up) and promised everyone a homemade Italian feast. I planned on making a sauce with homemade meatballs, and The Husband and I spent a day making Italian sausages to thrown in. And because when I say I'm going to do something I have, on occasion, gone a bit overboard, I busted out the Play-Doh play station looking pasta attachment that came with our KitchenAid to make my own spaghetti.
Way back when I was what we would now classify as a "tween" I stumbled on the pasta press my mom had hidden in a closet full of other stuff that all, in turns, fascinated me. But when I found that I made pasta my project of the moment. It probably didn't last longer than a weekend because it was not easy work but I am at least familiar with the process. I made the dough a few days ahead of time to test the machine and froze it for the time being. On Saturday I gave it a little extra love and started throwing small balls of dough into the machine. Once it got going it was fun singing along to Magnetic Fields songs and rolling out linguine dough.
I made the meatballs from an old, family recipe. Rolling them out and smacking them into shape to the tunes on Pavement's Slanted and Enchanted. I have to say they turned out really well.
I threw the sausages we made previously into a pot to brown.
When they were uniformly crisp and beautiful I traded them out for the meatballs and turned those until they were patched with crunchy spots of crust. After both the meats had been cooked there was all sorts of delicious debris at the bottom of the pot. I threw the herbs in on top of all that to toast and then The Husband advised deglazing the pot with red wine. So I threw a good cup of an open bottle in there and scrapped up all the lovely bits and stirred it all up.
A word about the herbs. For a week The Husband and I had been debating the merits of my planned sauce. A friend of ours who does not eat peppers or onions was joining us and I was, therefore, planning a sauce without onions. To The Husband this idea was sacrilege. How was a sauce a sauce of any merit without onions in it? And what did I mean there weren't any onions in the meatball recipe? I was determined to prove him wrong. This could be good, hell it could be delicious, without any onions. And hell no there aren't any onions in my family meatballs!
The flavor base for the sauce would come from a whole head of roasted garlic and as much basil as our floundering little plant would yield, which turned out to be quite a bit. I harvested some leaves from the oregano plant and threw put that in with a bay leaf. That was pretty much it. It was a smokey sauce with just enough sweet to temper the crushed red pepper in the sausages.
I didn't take any pictures of the pasta because by that time I had an audience of dinner guests and it was cooking faster than I could get it all in the pot. It turned out to be a pretty skimpy batch. For the first time in my life I underestimated how much of something I would need to feed people! But the noodles themselves were light and fluffy. They were without much of a texture, acting more as a blank template for the sauce than as a substantial part of the meal.
In hindsight, and as mentioned by a few of the guests, it was probably not the best idea to fill everyone with pasta no matter how light it was and then troop us all off to catch a bus and see a show. But there was coffee and dessert (monkey bread is from the devil) and more coffee. When we arrived at the theater there was a bar in the lobby so we had another drink. We were in fine spirits when we sat down to watch the show. In such fine spirits, in fact, that after the show we all decided to go out and get another drink at a familiar bar in our new neighborhood. After the first beer the day's work in the kitchen started catching up with me but I hung in for another round before we left the party peoples and made our way back to the house.
I have to say I am so excited about how that all went: the new place, the back porch, the food the company, that I'm going to have to do it again soon. Or, um, as soon as I can. Which might not be until November now that I've seen what October is going to look like but eventually at some point I'll be busting out the pasta maker again and reinterpreting the meaning of integrity with some sort of tasty, delicious sauce. Maybe next time I'll do it without the garlic.
Ha. Not likely.