Monday, February 2, 2009


B was away again this weekend, of course with his cycling team. Which, as I've discussed before, always makes me a little bit sad and lonely. This time, I didn't even appreciate the chance to sleep diagonally because I didn't sleep well at all. I think I was nervous about coming back to inpatient medicine and being on call after a really lovely vacation in Costa Rica. Here's B's favorite orchid that we saw in the cloud forest at Monteverde:

The hot springs at Tabacon are pretty amazing too, though the top of the Arenal volcano was continually enshrouded with clouds while we were there. Imagine 102 degree water and warm mist and many other pools and rivers to explore nearby when you look at the picture below.

I don't have any fun pictures of Playa Ocotal on the Pacific coast, but that was great too. We went diving one day and saw eagle rays and baby sharks and sososo many pufferfish. We loved the flying devil rays we saw from the boat too!

This is really supposed to be a blog about cooking, so I guess I should mention the meal we ate approximately once a day: casado with batido. Casado, as you Spanish linguists may know, literally means "married," but in Costa Rica also refers to a typical plate of rice, beans, usually chicken, fried plantain or banana, and salad; a perfectly filling and well-rounded lunch! Batido is a thin milkshake made with fresh fruit, and particularly delicious when made with blackberry (mora). Sometime soon I'm planning a Latin-inspired feast, and fried plantains (patacones) will definitely be making an appearance.

Anyway, we got back from our trip and B went away for a few more days to ride his bike while I got to contemplate the end of vacation. Which left me the aforementioned slightly sad, lonely, and nervous. I was, however, excited about the chance to make spaghetti carbonara while mi casado was gone. B, after all, doesn't really like pork. Or, more accurately, doesn't like identifiable pork, which means he'll eat it when chopped up into little bits (imperial rolls) or when heavily sauced (pulled pork sandwiches), but doesn't like pork chops or Italian bacon or pork tenderloin. And he definitely wouldn't like the recent-craze-inspiring bacon explosion. But I count myself lucky, as the list of foods that B didn't like when we met has shrunk significantly. (Some of these deficiencies were easy to correct. I mean, who doesn't like avocados? He clearly hadn't really tried them.)

I wouldn't call myself a true pork afficionado. I don't scout out the best San Francisco salumi like our friend D, though I admit that I have sent bacon as a gift more than once. And I do really like the little crunchy bits of pancetta involved in spaghetti carbonara. I also like the brightness of the parsley and the richness of the egg yolk and the creaminess of the, well, cream. Not a dish for the kosher among us; JB points out that you can't really avoid the milk/meat mixing. However, this is a great weeknight dish and heats up well as leftovers. Serve with a quick salad of Mesclun greens with lemon-olive oil-thyme dressing and you're all set for dinner! Assuming, of course, that YOUR casado likes pork.

Spaghetti Carbonara
Adapted from Pasta Fresca

Serves: 2 with leftovers
Time: 20 min active, 30 min total

1/4 pound pancetta, thinly sliced; then diced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1 T. olive oil
2 egg yolks
3 T. cream
1 c. grated Parmesan (about 3 oz.)
1/4 c. Italian parsley, finely chopped
3/4 pound spaghetti, such as De Cecco

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until ripples form. Add the pancetta, garlic, and red pepper flakes and saute until pancetta is rendered and crispy, keeping in mind that the pancetta will continue to cook in the hot oil for a minute or two after the heat is turned off.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water until al dente. Mix together the yolks, cream, and 3/4 c. Parmesan in a small bowl. You can mix the pasta, the egg mixture, and the parsley with the pancetta in the large saucepan. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 c. Parmesan and serve with even more.

1 comment:

  1. I am with B when it comes to carbonara, both because it is non-vegetarian and would not fit on my diet :) But I must say that it looks delish and simple; my own B is thinking about making it for himself the next time I'm away!