Wednesday 29 August 2007

Adventures in Cooking: The Great Caper Caper

In my ongoing quest to epitomize Suzy Homemaker, I have been reaching for my cookbooks more and more often. My brief exposure to the Food network on motel cable has taught me that good chefs taste their food as they cook (so THAT's how they "season to taste"!) and that, more importantly, there are more interesting meals out there than grilled chicken and steamed veggies (I know! I was shocked too!)

Sunday's trip to the grocery store yielded some new ingredients. Turkey scallopini (which I think is Italian for "thinly sliced" (hey, I'm right!)) was on sale, so I thought, why not? We hadn't had Italian dressing, the easiest basic marinade ever, in the house for over a year. Wee little asparagi were well-priced, too, so I picked some of those up, as well. I had capers in the fridge from a previous foray into gourmet cookery à la Donna Hay. (Great cookbook from Ryan and Nouha!)

Back at home, I dropped the scallopini into a glass dish and drizzled in a bit of Italian dressing, turned to coat, then put it in the fridge. I ran out to the store to get a can of crushed tomatoes (I knew I forgot something), and rolled up my sleeves.

I sautéed half an onion and this really neat one-clove garlic (Chantal sent some home with me from Kelowna - it's very, very garlicky!) in some olive oil. I then added the can of crushed tomatoes and a splash of Tina's homemade wine (heh). It boiled for about 15 minutes, then I added a bay leaf, some oregano, ground pepper and a tablespoon or so of capers, and reduced it to a simmer. It sputtered away messily, spitting tomato bits onto my stove, walls, and floor for the next 45 minutes.

I put the giant pasta pot on to boil. Once the linguini was in and bubbling, I was in Go Mode*.

I used a close approximation of Mario Batali's roasted asparagus recipe (clip off the ends, toss with olive oil and salt, then roast for 10 minutes in a 500-degree oven), but made a few changes to the sauce (no hardboiled egg to mix in with the red wine vineger, olive oil, capers and green onion) and to the oven temperature, as I wanted to cook my (now breaded in "homemade" bread crumbs (I forgot those, too) with oregano, pepper and parmesan) scallopini at the same time (Chris is funny about frying stuff, so I decided to try to keep everything as low fat as possible) - so 450 it was.

To drink, I took the rest of Tina's wine, and mixed up what I fondly refer to as "Hooters Sangria" - wine, OJ and fizz (in this case, diet 7Up), plus a splash of Grand Marnier to classy it up a bit, and some ice.

Everything was ready at the same time. The linguini was drained and plated, then doused in the tomato-caper sauce and sprinkled with a bit of parmesan. The golden brown scallopini rested just beside the vibrant red sauce, and the dark green of the asparagi was sprinkled with the sauce for added texture. The asparagus had nice crispy ends, the flavours blended well together, and Chris toasted me with his crystal glass full of sangria.

Go me, I thought.

* Go Mode: For those that have ever watched me cook, this is the exact time that you do NOT want to watch me cook. If there is any kind of time limit or coordination of items involved, the kitchen is the wrong place to be for you; the adjoining room is also too close, in fact, and any comments, suggestions or "tips" should be kept to yourself. Consider yourself warned.

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