Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A movie recommendation and my current favorite thing to make for dinner.

Long time, no post! I'm going to try to get back in the blogging habit. Thanks to those who emailed and encouraged me to post again.


This summer a Cooking Club friend invited me to see the movie Chef. I went in not knowing much about the film but found it to be completely delightful: a feel-good, witty story featuring the music and food of Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans and Austin (warning: the movie will make you hungry).

Chef will be released on DVD (linked below left) on September 30th. The soundtrack (below right) is also great.

In one scene in the movie, Chef Carl, played by Jon Favreau who also wrote and directed the film, prepares a late-night dinner for Scarlett Johansson's character. I was so taken by the pasta he made that I found the recipe online: Pasta Aglio e Olio. I prepared the version from the movie once and then found Ina Garten's rendition of the same recipe and decided I prefer that one because it has less olive oil and parsley and more Parmesan. I just wish I could master the way Chef Carl twists the pasta so artfully into a bowl.

Pasta twist
(Source: Food and Wine)

I have made this Spaghetti Aglio e Olio many times this summer. It is an incredibly fast dinner to prepare and I usually have all of the ingredients, except perhaps fresh parsley, on hand. I'm amazed that a recipe with so few ingredients can be so delicious.

I hope you have a chance to enjoy the movie, the soundtrack, the pasta or all three.

The cast of ingredients

The ingredients after I've sliced, chopped, and grated everything. Notice a glass of wine has now joined me for this endeavor

The pasta and garlic sauce boil and simmer in separate pots

Just after stirring in the Parmesan and parsley

Yum yum yum

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

Serves 4.

2 tablespoons Kosher salt (for the pasta water)
1 pound dried spaghetti
⅓ cup good olive oil
10 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1½ cups reserved pasta water
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup minced fresh parsley
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook al dente according to the directions on the package. Set aside some of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a sauté pan large enough to hold the pasta. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it just begins to turn golden on the edges. Be careful not to overcook. Stir in the red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the reserved pasta cooking water and one teaspoon salt to the garlic and oil and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Sauce should be reduced by about one-third.

Add the drained pasta to the garlic sauce and toss. Allow the pasta to rest off the heat for 5 minutes so that the sauce can be absorbed. Stir in the parsley and Parmesan and toss well (if you add the parsley too soon or while the heat is still on, it will clump fiercely and refuse to separate - trust me on this one). Add salt to taste and grate some fresh Parmesan over each serving.