Sunday, September 10, 2006

Cooking pasta from scratch

As regular readers will know, I serve cook and host dinners for AU students on alternative Sunday nights throughout the year. Like living in a dorm itself, some might view this as a burden, but I feel differently. Gourmet cooking is elemental and tactile, in contrast to the world of abstractions in which most academics function, most of the time.

This year, I am experimenting with doing more advance preparation in the country, where I spend my weekends. Perhaps this is a first step towards a post university career as a caterer, for small elegant dinners. Last evening I was alone – my wife was at one of her frequent weekend competitions – so I could give cooking my full attention. Great cooking utensils are an important part of this. I cook in enameled Le Creuset cast iron pots, from France. My collection of knives and cleavers are razor sharp. The only problem, cooking in two venues, is that just the right utensel, or the right spice can often be where I am not. But I will evolve a solution in due course.

A complex dish and surprisingly, a made from scratch pasta sauce is complex, must be done in stages. I have learned that it is best to prepare in advance, with virtually unlimited numbers of mixing containers at the ready – for fenelgreek, garlic, virgin olive oil, turkey hot sausage (no pork at my meals), mushrooms, beef chunks onions and diced tomatoes. Occasionally, as a time saver, I will also cheat and use a bit of prepared sauce.

By 9:30 all of this was bubbling cheerfully on the stove, where it would simmer to nearly midnight and then sit overnight. This morning I decanted it into my ‘catering’ containers for the trip back to Washington and this evening’s event.

These must sound like pretty mundane concerns on the eve of five-year “nine-eleven” commemorations. But perhaps if those of us living in Washington did more cooking and less politicking and talking, the human race would be better for it.


Post a Comment

<< Home