Cooking for two

Another year has begun.

The last time I wrote about New Year’s resolutions was in March 2016. I didn’t get to do much writing after that — not on this site, anyway — because a few days after that post, I met the man I ended up marrying last summer.

If we were in our twenties, you’d say we had a whirlwind courtship: we met in March, he proposed in August of that same year, and we married exactly a year later. But we are in our forties, and from day one, nothing about our relationship has felt whirlwind-like at all. It was, and still is, more like the sweet relief of coming home to where you know you’ve always belonged.

Still, we’ve had a busy couple of years. But now, it’s winter, and we are finally together, snug under the same roof, and the start of this new year and of this new life seems as good a time as any to try and make a fresh new start online, as well.

And what better place to start than in the place where I began blogging years ago, i.e. at the dinner table?

I’m reading Cooking for Mr. Latte by Amanda Hesser, the woman behind one of my go-to websites for recipes, Food52. One book reviewer calls it a Chick Lit Foodie book, which it is. Others call out the author for being pretentious and snobby at times, with which I have to agree. Nonetheless, my mouth still waters over her culinary prose, and the book is already bristling with sticky tabs marking the recipes I want to try. In fact I’ve already tried one, and made it again for dinner the very next night, and this is the recipe I’m sharing today. It’s fast and easy, delicious and comforting, the very thing you want to be cooking and eating on a cold snowy night after a hard day’s work.

Quick and Easy Cacio e Pepe

You will need:

Table salt
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 pound linguini fini
2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon very coarse, freshly ground black pepper

What to do:

1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, mix both cheeses together in a small bowl. When the water boils, add the pasta and cook it until almost, but not quite, done. Linguini fini takes just a few minutes, so stay near the stove and test the pasta by fishing out a piece and biting down. When there is just the merest hint of hardness in the centre, scoop out about 1/2 cup of cooking water and set it aside.

3. Drain the pasta in a colander and dump it back on the pot. Drop in the butter, oil and 1/2 tablespoon pepper and stir with tongs or a large fork, lifting and folding the pasta together. Add about 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the pot and place it over medium-high heat. Cook for a minute, stirring to emulsify the sauce. Test a noodle to see if it’s done. It should now be perfectly al dente. Remove from the heat and sprinkle half the cheese over the pasta. Blend once more, then serve with the rest of the cheese and pepper.

Makes a hearty main meal for two, or a side for four.


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