Saturday, April 13, 2013

What's For Dinner?

I've been knitting up a storm. Just over 400 yards fingering weight (that's pretty small for non-knitting readers) yarn in one week. I'd been tossing around a new design idea incorporating the Estonian Star Stitch I was swatching a couple weeks ago and decided I'd work it into a pattern and submit it to a yarn company to see if they'd like it for one of their yarns. The deadline for submission is coming up pretty quickly (Monday!) and after that, we'll see what happens. It's the first time I'm submitting to a professional. It's exciting and goes back to my ideas that I should fail more often to become a better designer.

Last weekend, some friends dropped by and I made a quick pasta sauce and we watched the latest Doctor Who and Orphan Black. (DW - always good, love the new companion, haven't we seen the little-girl-in-peril already? OB - fascinating story line, quick writing, ready for more.)

Penne alla Vodka
in my kitchen
I love to cook (hate the clean up) and love to cook for other people. For me, not so much; I'd rather just eat cereal. Is there really anything more perfect that Cheerios? Plain Cheerios, no added sugar, 1% milk: all day, every day. Never get tired of it.

But for other people, I do like to cook and show off a little. There is one go-to meal that is almost always the first thing I'll make for anyone, mainly because it's dead simple and, if I may say so, delicious. And frankly, who doesn't like pasta sauce? It's a vodka sauce over penne. And it was even better since my guests brought homemade tiramisu - one of my favorite desserts, followed closely by either peanut butter pie or key lime pie. (I guess that means I like creamy pie-like desserts. Who would have guessed?)

I don't know the measurements for the vodka sauce since I've been making it for so long. And it's cooking so the measurements are as necessary. Adjust everything to your own taste.

This sauce is finished in exactly as long as it takes to cook the pasta.

Penne alla Vodka a la Rodeo Knits

  • A large can of tomato sauce (and a small can if you think that's not enough)
  • Minced garlic (I cheat and buy it in a jar)
  • Diced prosciutto (I cheat and but it in the deli section already diced)
  • Basil (I cheat and use dried)
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Vodka (Whatever you have)
  • Heavy cream
  • A box of penne (that's the pasta that's shaped like small tubes and cut on an angle)
  • Wine (but that's for dinner and important with pasta)

Make It

In a large pot, start the water to boil for the pasta.
In a large pan - I don't know the real words for things, big circular pan with straight sides - add a pat of butter and a glug of olive oil (not too much of either) and let warm over medium high heat. Add garlic and let soften for about 30 seconds, then add a heaping tablespoon (or more) of basil and toss in the prosciutto. Stir it up and let prosciutto crisp a little. Then add about a cup of vodka. It'll make big puffs of steam and, if you stick your nose in the steam, will make you choke a little as the alcohol evaporates quickly but it also smells good. (I'm not an alcoholic.) Let the vodka reduce to just a little at the bottom of the pan. Add in the large can of tomato sauce and stir. Turn the heat to low.

When the water in the large pot boils, add salt and then pasta, just like the box directions say. Cook for as long as the box says. At the same time...

Remove sauce from the heat and add a couple glugs of heavy cream to the pasta sauce, maybe a quarter cup to start. Put sauce back on the heat and stir. It turns a lighter red or salmon color. You can add more cream to make it the color and consistency you like - more cream will make a thicker sauce, especially as it cools.
Keep the sauce on very low heat to keep warm while pasta finishes. Drain pasta and... well, if you don't know how to put pasta and sauce together, there's a problem.

I don't usually finish with cheese on top but if I do, I always go for pecorino romano. And the kind that I have to grate myself - in a wedge. It's slightly pepper-y and tastes so good with the sweet sauce.
Definitely serve with bread or else you'll find yourself licking the plate because the sauce is so good.


Let me know if you make this sauce.