In the apex of farmer’s market season here in the Midwest, my kitchen creativity and technique has hit a slump. It seems most of the meals I’ve been preparing have been off–the flavors not right, or not cooked properly. I have undercooked fish several times in the past three weeks, and overcooked beef–WTF? On top of my mistakes, I have not had a lot of menu creativity lately.
Anyway, that is my excuse for not posting the past few weeks. I considered posting some of my average meals, but I’m not sure anyone wants to read about that. If you do, let me know, and perhaps I will share some of my recent failures….
The Lovely is out of town for a few days this week, which leaves just me and the dog to feed. When The Lovely is out of town, I go into what we call ‘bachelor mode’ in the kitchen and cook ‘Man Food’. This involves mostly steaks, burgers, frozen pizzas, and sausages.
I did make a pretty great tortellini with vodka cream sauce last night using stuff from the fridge last night
Not from Scratch Tortellini with Vodka Cream Sauce
Serves one hungry person, two normal people.
1/2 jar of pasta sauce. I pick the jarred sauces that are very basic (no mushrooms, meat–ugh, cream, vegetables, etc). I also look at the label very closely for two things: Sodium content–less sodium always is better (I can always add salt myself) and the ingredient list to verify there are not too many weird things included that I would never put into a sauce I would make from scratch. Making your own pasta sauce, by the way, takes 10 minutes more than using the jarred stuff. I just wanted to use up what was in my fridge.
1-2 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled. I just happened to have a pound of bacon from the excellent Mint Creek Farm in my freezer from a previous trip to the Farmers Market earmarked for BLTs. I cooked one piece (which is pretty big) pancetta, crumbled italian sausage, ham, or hot dogs are all perfectly fine substitutes.
3 ounces Vodka. I didn’t measure, and I am certain I used closer to 4 ounces. I think that made it better.
1/4 to 1/2 cup cream. I used up the carton of half and half that was in our fridge that was probably around 1/3 cup. Ideally, I would use cream, because the half and half could potentially break when adding it to all of the acid (tomatoes) and booze in the sauce. Mine did not.
pinch of red pepper flakes
handful of fresh basil leaves, julienned. It is too late this year, (up North, that is) but there is no excuse for not growing your own basil. It is easy, cost effective, and much better then the junk you buy in plastic at the grocery.
9 ounces fresh or frozen cheese tortellini. The fresh pasta section is a weird little place in the supermarket. It seems the different manufacturers all want to ‘out gourmet’ themselves with their product. I do not want tri color pasta, or ravioli or tortellini with mushrooms or chicken or herbs or spinach or whatever. I settled on the Butoni brand that touted it’s tortellini as ‘4 cheese’ One cheese would be fine with me. Check the frozen section for pasta, as well. I think the quality is the same and it takes all of 4 minutes longer to cook then the fresh–it is cheaper, too.
freshly grated parmesan cheese. Do yourself a favor and throw out that green can of salt masquerading as parmesan cheese in your fridge and buy the real deal and grate it when you need it. It is not 1985 anymore.
Put a pot of salted water on high to boil
Dump pasta sauce, bacon and chili flakes into a sauté pan on med high and simmer. When simmering, remove from the burner and add the vodka (be careful when cooking with booze–it can turn quickly into an impressive display of fire). Return the pan to a simmer and let cook for a few minutes, add the cream and let simmer on low. In the meantime cook the tortellini according to package directions. The fresh variety barely needs a few minutes to cook. Drain, and add to the sauce with half of the basil, and stir to coat.