Monday, December 21, 2009

A Quick Pre-Finals Dinner

A night or two before my first final (Criminal Law), I had to make something super quick so I could immerse myself back in learning how messed up Illinois' laws are, and how awful our teacher was at conveying information to us.  I decided on pasta with garlic and oil.  I hadn't made it in a very long while, so it seemed like a good option.  I was not too terribly pleased with it, but I think with a few tweaks here and there, it could work out pretty nicely.

Here is the recipe, I'll mention what I would do next time to make it better after the recipe.

Pasta with Garlic and Oil (serves 4)
1 lb angel hair pasta
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced
1/2 cup chopped parsley, stems removed
kosher salt
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Put pasta in water and cook for 6-8 minutes.
2.  In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot.
3.  Add garlic and a pinch of salt to the oil.  Saute for about 3 minutes until garlic turns golden brown.
4.  Add 3/4 of the parsley leaves and stir until parsley wilts.
5.  Strain pasta in a colander, add pasta to the oil, and toss with a set of tongs to coat the pasta with the oil.
6.  After about 1 minute of tossing, remove from heat and stir in 3/4 of the cheese.
7.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the pasta and add remaining parsley on the top.  Serve.

The problem with this was the lack of any secondary flavors.  It was a bit oily, but that is to be expected in an oil sauce.  If I was cooking this again, I would add in about a tspn of white wine vinegar and a small amount of red pepper flakes when the garlic was browned.  I would also put in some toasted pine nuts for some textural contrast.  I might replace the parmesan cheese with some pecorino romano, but that would probably be less important than the other changes.

One thing that never disappoints is Michelle's Famous Garlic Bread.  It's as if the Lord of Garlic himself descends upon the bread and graces it with his garlicky goodness.  The exterior of the bread is crisp and full of flavor, and the inside is soft and chewy like baked bread should be.  I could rave about it all night.  After much pleading, I finally convinced her to let me put up the recipe.  It seems simple, but it requires some attention do detail to make sure the garlic is done correctly.  Don't be worried about the garlic pieces on the bread.  When garlic is roasted, it softens much of the spiciness and extreme flavor that raw garlic possesses.  I would highly recommend making extra because you will want to eat it for the whole night.  Like Lays potato chips, you can't eat just one.

Michelle's Famous Garlic Bread (serves 4)
1 large loaf of fresh baked french bread, cut lengthwise in half
1 stick of salted butter
10 cloves of garlic, smashed and finely diced
kosher salt
Powdered parmesan cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 350.
2.  Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until hot.
3.  Add garlic, a pinch of salt, and pepper to the butter and simmer until the garlic begins to brown (about 5 minutes).
4.  Remove garlic butter from heat and brush the bread with the the garlic butter making sure to evenly distribute the pieces of garlic over the bread.
5.  Lightly sprinkle the entire length of the bread with the parmesan cheese
6.  Put the bread on a baking sheet and put in oven for 15 minutes, until chesse begins to brown.
7.  Remove from oven and slice bread crosswise into 2 inch pieces.
8.  Be sure you get a piece because it will be gone before you know it.

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