gotta get down on Friday

front seat, definitely

Instead of taking Rebecca Black’s advice and partyin’ partyin’ yeah fun fun fun fun, I decided to undo all my good work at hot yoga by creating a giant pasta dish on Friday night. I had a huge hunk of goats’ milk feta that needed to be eaten and some shrimp looking for a new home. A star was born.

It’s a chunky sauce, not a smooth one… you could substitute Italian sausage for shrimp, and/or also toss in some pitted kalamata olives if you want to go more Mediterranean-y (I do not think I will ever learn how to spell that word without a dictionary, by the way). The basic onion-garlic-tomato-seasoning-white wine foundation of this sauce is my go-to for pasta. So quick, so easy, so flexible.

Gettin’ down with Feta and Shrimp

In a large sauté pan, heat on medium-high:

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil (add more as needed)
  • 1 tbsp butter

Let your oils get all hot and bothered, then add:

  • one head garlic, diced (or just a few cloves if you’re planning on putting the moves on someone later)
  • one medium red onion, diced

Once the garlic and onion have softened and maybe even browned a tad, add:

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 c white wine
  • 2 tbsp italian seasonings
  • salt and pepper to your little heart’s content

Ok, so things are getting really sexy in there by now. (I almost just ate that mixture on its own and called it a night.) Once they’ve all paired off and exchanged numbers, add in:

  • 3 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tsp sugar

Reduce the heat to medium-low so it’s just simmering, covered. You can leave it at this stage for a while if you’re not in a rush to eat… it can only do good things for the marriage of flavours. (But if you’re starving like I was, plow ahead.) When you’re ready to chow down, boil a big pot of water, throw in craploads of salt and then add:

  • pasta for two. I like short-cut extruded or shapes for a chunky sauce like this, so: penne, fusilli, rotini, etc.

When the pasta is close to being done, add to your sauce:

  • as much spinach as you can hold in two hands, with the tough stems removed (I’m so precise. Basically it’s about half of one of those cello packs. You can’t really add too much or too little, unless you have no common sense.)

Once the spinach wilts, add:

  • 10-14 cooked, peeled, deveined shrimp (if you’re using uncooked shrimp you’ll need to add them a bit sooner so they cook through, maybe with the spinach).
  • about 1 cup goats’ milk feta, diced (or less, but I go big)

If you want firm chunks of feta, stir it up and serve immediately on top of your pasta. If you want gooey saucy melty feta heaven, then remove from heat and let sit, covered, for a few minutes. I did this by accident… but what a happy accident it was. Highly recommended.

Pour yourself a glass of that wine and enjoy… maybe with your gay best friend? Girl, do you?

Disappointing Gay Best Friend from mikalabierma on Vimeo.

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crimpin’ on Oscar night

I’m not going to give you any of my boring Oscars commentary, because frankly who cares? Except I will say that Frathaway didn’t bother me since I just gazed lustfully at James the whole time (when he wasn’t backstage hitting the bong). Could be worse ways to spend a Sunday night. Anyone else think James Franco and Joseph Gordon-Levitt could play brothers?

Yes? No?

Anyway, here is what I did think was truly smashing about the evening: dinner. We whipped up this little gem because it could go in the oven and therefore we wouldn’t spend the red carpet slaving over the stove.

Crimpin’ Mac-n-Cheese

The crab and shrimp in this recipe adds a certain je ne sais quoi. The flavouring isn’t strong enough to be overpowering but it lightens up the dish — it’s a little more delicate and a little less BAM-THIS-IS-JUST-CHEESE-AND-CARBS. (Although there is a time and place for everything.)

Preheat your oven to 375 and grease a casserole dish (13 x 9 pan works fine, or anything that holds about 2.5 L). Get your sea-meaties ready for easy addition at the end. Prepare and set aside:

  • one 4 or 6 oz can of salad crab meat (or more expensive crab if you swing that way), drained
  • about 14 medium-sized raw shrimpies (you can use previously frozen, no one’s judging), tails removed, deveined if necessary, and chopped up

Now grate your cheese, so you have something to snack on while you prep the rest. Grate (no pre-grated please, that’s just lazy and not-very-good-tasting) and set aside:

  • 2 c cheddar
  • 1 c mild emmenthal
  • plus however much extra you plan on eating over the next 10 minutes while you chop and stir

Ok, let’s make your topping. I am going to put this topping for every pasta casserole I ever make for the rest of my god-given days. Combine and set aside:

  • about 1 c panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp minced parsley (dry or fresh, whatever you’ve got)
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan (that powdery stuff works)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, more if you like this saltaaaay (I put almost a whole tsp)

Boil, until cooked on the outside but undercooked in the middle:

  • about 1/2 to 3/4 pound pasta (rotini, macaroni, conchiglie, rigatoni… whatever kicks your tires)

Drain your pasta and set it aside too. Now, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt:

  • 3 tbsp butter

Whisk in, until smooth:

  • 1/4 c flour

Then, whisk in:

  • 1 and 3/4 c milk
  • 1 c light cream

Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. What up, bechamel sauce! Way to go, you fancy cook. Now remove it from the heat and stir in:

  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Old Bay, if you have it. I didn’t so I just added pinches of all-spice, ginger, paprika, celery seed, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Now plop in your cheese and stir until melted. Oh goodness. Combine your pasta, sauce and sea meat in a big bowl and stir it all up, then taste it for saltiness — add more if necessary, undersalted mac-and-cheese is never pretty. Now, this is the important part: try not to sit down on the floor and eat the entire bowl with your hands. Instead, pour it all into your pan and then sprinkle your topping mixture evenly over the surface. Bake 20-30 min until golden on top, then let rest 5 min before serving. Let the angels sing.

I don’t have a picture because we ate it embarrassingly quickly.

For dessert we had crème brûlée. And then heart attacks.