Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My first encounter with "Irresistible Pasta Dishes"

The increasing number of food pictures accumulating in my virtual library is prohibitive to my posting capabilities, playing on my perfectionism (I can't post an entry that's not overwhelmingly descriptive! I can't post out of order, but I also can't skip any artfully constructed shots!) as a sort of writer's block. 
And so, I decided that the dinner I made tonight would bypass the line (as much as it pains me!) and kickstart my desire to post my food frolics frequently rather than letting my pictures age endlessly.
"Real" tomato sauce, made from scratch
I found myself browsing the shelves at Bibliohead Books in Hayes Valley last Friday evening, waiting for the unexpected downpour to subside. An approaching gift exchange prompted me to explore the Sale rack, yet I found a gift that was perfect for myself (isn't that how it always goes?). I flipped through Irresistible Pasta Dishes and was instantly sold--the $6 price tag didn't hurt either. 
A bedtime browse last night convinced me that I should attempt the "Classic Tomato Sauce" before creating the "Tomato Sauce with Bacon"--the latter calls for the former as its foundation. After dreaming about the dish all day, I rerouted my commute home and procured the necessary ingredients, a cheap bottle of red wine nestled in my backpack. 
As may recipes do, this one began with sauteing onions. The consequent addition of ground paprika and tomato paste created an aromatic atmosphere that greedily filled my nostrils as a proceeded to pour..and pour... the wine into our large measuring glass. I'd decided on doubling the recipe to ease the remainder of the work week, and this resize required two and a half cups of wine! It seemed a little extreme, but coupled with two cans of tomato sauce and some oregano I could tell that the ruby red liquid would contribute just the right amount of smoky richness. Thus concluded the "Classic Tomato Sauce"--I left the pot simmering aggressively, the liquid thickening and the flavors fusing. I chopped some remaining bacon and fried the pieces gingerly, adding a bit of chili powder as the coarse slices began to crisp. I added some kale to the "Classic" cauldron, and added some to the bacon pan (the thick, undulating surfaces ensure that no flavorful bacon oil will go to waste!) before adding the bacon mixture to the thick, bubbly tomato sauce. After further boiling, the fusilli was the final addition. Andrew and I ate this hearty and exuberantly flavorful dish topped with fresh ground pepper and parmesan, the Christmas lights shining on the tree and Frank Sinatra caroling in the background. Cozy indeed.