We often use the Internet as a vehicle for bitching and complaining, and I suppose that’s OK. But sometimes things go well, and we should talk about that too. With a hairdresser anecdote and pasta-sauce recipe.
It was an at-home Vancouver Saturday, our much-belated summer now fully in residence. On impulse I joined the afternoon pickup soccer game. At my age, an hour’s soccer with no pulls or sprains is a minor triumph, and chasing a bouncy sphere around a nice grass field on a sunny afternoon is really very refreshing.
Now a bit of back story; on Friday, I went for a haircut because after all I’m keynoting a conference in Mexico City on Tuesday. The lady who cuts my hair has a tiny comfy one-seat shop and serves only men. She has a TV to watch while she cuts, but if you’re there on a weekday you’re going to be watching women’s TV; on Friday it was some food channel with a handsome young Anglo-Italian doing pasta sauces. Never in a million years would I sit down and tune in such a channel, but I admit enjoying it, and it gave me ideas for dinner.
They were doing a Puttanesca recipe, but I loathe anchovies, so I made this variation:
Cover the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil. Heat it up gently.
Peel and cut up a bunch of shallots and a few cloves of garlic, and put them in the oil. Adjust the temperature so the oil’s not smoking but the veggies are sizzling softly. Let this go on for a while; it’ll take 20 minutes or more before the shallots and garlic are nicely golden-brown but not burned. This process smells really good.
Pit and cut up a bunch of olives.
Cut up a large chorizo sausage. I sliced it really fine for maximum flavor extraction, but I guess you could also go for larger chunks for sinking one’s teeth into.
When the shallot mix is ready, dump in the chorizo and olives and a can or two of chopped tomatoes, along with half of a small can of tomato paste.
You could add extra seasonings at this point, in particular some basil and a bit of something hot-&-spicy, but I didn’t.
Simmer till you can’t resist the smell any more, and you’ve cooked up some good pasta to put the sauce on.
This is quite a lot of chopping and peeling and so on. I put on Robert Silverman’s Final Sonatas Beethoven recording, but I’m sure that any of Jack White’s recent oeuvre would serve just as well.
I made more pasta and sauce than I thought I’d need, but then we picked up an extra 12-year-old and everyone had seconds, so there were no leftovers. If I were going to change one thing it’d be the choice of olives; I picked up dry seasoned Moroccans, along with an outstanding chorizo and some soft cheese for lunch, at our excellent local Benton Brothers. The Moroccans were overly salty and unsubtle; I think next time I’d stick with your basic Kalamatas, which also have the advantage that you can buy them pre-pitted in a supermarket; pitting olives is slow and irritating.
This, eaten on the back porch in the slanting sun with a decent 2008 Argentinian Malbec, left me really nothing at all to complain about.
How about you? Got a pleasant-afternoon story to share?