Friday, July 2, 2010

Week 5 and A Day with My Girls

By my girls, I mean Dina and Nomi. If we were talking 'my girls,' as in the ladies I gab with, our soundtrack would be Aretha or Ani, and we'd call it a day. However, it was a day with Nomi and Dina, as Dave was working an 11 hr shift. Therefore, the soundtrack was this, Jay Leno annoying pomposity and all.

Our first week of fruit share arrived in all of its glory. It was several pounds of deep red cherries. They are wonderful, and have that indescribable taste of cherries that have not traveled across the country to arrive at our table. Nomi demanded strawberries and refused the lovingly cooked omelet her mother provided, made with directions from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

She's on a Wallace and Grommit kick and wanted "Crunching Toast." Luckily for me, crunching/crackling toast is toasted Freihoffer's Whole Wheat bread served in a peanut butter sandwich. I excel at making peanut butter sandwiches. I am also getting pretty decent at these omelets, if I do say so myself, and the child should try them, already! 

Dina ate it. At this point, Dina will eat blocks, crayons, grass and anything else she can get her hands on, so I really shouldn't take it as a complement. Dave, when not working 11 hr shifts will also eat them. That I will take as a complement, though the man refuses to enjoy swiss chard, so who knows? He is intrigued by the Swiss Chard Strawberry cobbler, however.

(Dave working so much this week is also why I've been MIA. Apologies.)

Lunch was Wendy's. Sue me. Nomi refused the chicken nuggets (smart child) and ate all of her mandarin oranges (orange food coloring and HFC are two of the major food groups).

Dinner was made amid Nomi's screams of, "I don't WANT that!!!" and "Let me HELP!!!!" and a Dina attempting to pull up on my legs while howling. I had put her down to pull pasta from boiling water, horrendous mother that I am.

I adapted a Pasta Carbonara recipe from Jamie Oliver aka The One Time Naked Chef. I watch his old shows, and I can't believe I bought into the concept as a young fan that there was a fellow driving around London on his moped, dancing around his flat, floppy hair and all. Ce la vie - his recipes are still good and easy to riff off of. He's got a good take on flavors and what will work with what. He starts with three or four strong tastes, then twists them into something that is always surprising and fun to eat.

The best advice he gave on this last recipe was to scoop out the innards of the zucchini. It took away all of the texture issues I have with zucchini, and left crunchy gorgeousness. His recommendation to cut the zucchini to the size of the pasta was phenomenal as well. The more I pay attention to texture in my cooking, the better my basic dishes get.

His recipe also used flowering thyme. I'd always heard to NOT use flowering herbs, and was bummed while in my garden just that morning by the prospect of my thyme already being past its usage point. The Naked Chef inspired addition of the flowering thyme from my garden gave a fabulous peppery flavor to the dish as a whole.

By the time dinner was on the table, Nomi was in full blown tantrum. Dina was very happily eating/demanding her pureed version of our meal, and I was taking bites of mine while Nomi was not eating/demanding that she be allowed to watch a movie, or drink juice, or go see Daddy, or eat crunching toast or do ANYTHING but eat two bites of the dinner in front of her ("Just two, Nome, and then you can have crunching toast"). Needless to say, there was no time to snap a good picture, so this will have to do for the time being. You'll have to take my word for it that this meal was crunchy creamy goodness. Dina can back me up. 

My toddler/preschooler/demon, however, missed out. I'm never sure which one she is these days, but if anyone has any suggestions on getting the child to eat, I'm all ears. Dave got home at 8, while I was putting Dina to bed, and gave Nomi the crunching toast when requested. Le sigh.

In the meanwhile, here's zucchini. Share and enjoy.

Zucchini Non-Carbonara
Adapted from Jamie Oliver Cooks at Home

6 zucchini
1 lbs pasta (I used barilla elbows, because that's what I had. Whatever you use, cut the zucchini to a similar size and shape)
1 bunch thyme, flowering if you can
1 large clove garlic, chopped
4-6 T olive oil
sea salt
2 cups Parmesan, plus to taste
1/2 cup cream
4 egg yolks (Hooray for egg share :)
Nutritional yeast

1. Set your water boiling. In a LARGE bowl, blend together 4 egg yolks, cream and half of the Parmesan. 

2. Slice the zucchini lengthwise, and then again for the larger ones. Scoop out the fluff/sponge in the middle and discard. Chop the zucchini into pieces roughly the same size and shape as your pasta. 

3. When the water is boiling, add your pasta and set the timer. Yes, I know you know when your pasta is done, but what if your 3 year old and 8 month old simultaneously decide to have temper tantrums? Set your timer! Then, start a large skillet over high heat. Add olive oil and garlic and allow to heat with the pan. When garlic begins to sizzle, add the zucchini to the pan, along with a good tablespoon of sea salt, the thyme and a couple of good grinds of pepper. Stir and Sauté. 

4. When pasta is done, add it directly to the zucchini (which should still be a bit crunchy), along with 1 ladle of the pasta cooking water. Stir to combine. Add it to the large bowl with the egg mixture, and work quickly to stir to combine. Add the remainder of Parmesan and salt/pepper to taste. Serve immediately, sprinkling nutritional yeast over the top of each portion.

p.s. Next time out, I shall add toasted walnuts.

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