This is for all my friends on the east coast. While I wish the Matthew you were expecting had washboard abs and a fondness for things being “all right” (all right, all right), I know the anxiety of wondering just how bad it’s going to be, or at the very least, how long before your wifi works again. Here’s wishing you all smooth sailing, dry feet, and firmly planted trees.
Hurricanes. If you live anywhere on the East Coast you know them. If you went purely by the news coverage leading up to one, you would have thought that a meteorological Armageddon was on its way. Yes, it’s a serious storm, and the media have an obligation to keep us informed so everyone is safe and prepared. But theme music and a logo for a weather event? Not that I begrudge reporters their opportunity to don mackintosh and wellies and stand in a place no sane person would during 70 mile an hour winds and lashing rain, but come on… Surely there is a better way to notify the masses without screaming into a microphone while standing in the approaching tidal surge. It doesn’t exactly inspire calm, you know? Plus, did anyone else notice the electric cord attached to the microphone floating in that ever-increasing puddle? Certainly all the mothers watching did (especially the cameraman’s and reporter’s.)
All the brouhaha aside, a hurricane is serious business and preparations must be made so that IF the worst happens you can ride it out with the least damage. Once you’ve done that, well, what’s the harm in making sure you have a little fun in the bunker too? That’s the way my family has always looked at major catastrophic events. Be prepared — for the danger, and the party. For example, on Tuesday my mom had a birthday. As we are all sitting around the table at her birthday luncheon, it felt like the room was swaying a bit. No one was sure if it should be mentioned, so it was chalked up to the lovely cosmopolitans we were all drinking. Until someone noticed the lamp over the table swaying…. Yup, earthquake! My mom now thinks this is the BEST birthday she’s had…EVER. On Saturday my uncle turned 70 and a big party was planned…during the hurricane. Did we cancel the party? HELL no… Why should he be gypped? Mom got an earthquake; he figured a hurricane does that one better! The party went on, with a few less guests, a little more food and wine for the rest of us, and a great story to tell next year. So you see, we do know how to take it all in stride. That doesn’t mean we ignored the major event barreling up the coast aimed straight at us. We prepared too. Batteries, candles, bathtub filled with water, camp stove at the ready (if I can’t make coffee it won’t be pretty), bottles of water in the garage, and all the things that could potentially achieve lift-off safely put away or tied down. We then moved onto the really important stuff: vodka, ice, olives, wine, chocolate, good bread, cheese, sausage, and maybe some peach cake… you know, just in case.
So, you have survived ‘the big one’ (well, this big one…). The power is off and the fridge is slowly but surely turning into a tropical zone. How are you going to feed all the family that picked you to stay with, plus the stray friends and neighbors who ‘dropped by’ to check in on you (and just happen to have brought a bottle of wine.) Well, before the stuff in the fridge goes green and fuzzy, make Hurricane Pasta! This was literally invented one day post storm (with the trees outside doing the hurricane hora as the last remnants of Irene left town.) I used what was at hand, and the ingredients are interchangeable so throw in whatever you like. Doesn’t even have to be a cloud in sight.
Serves 3 very hungry hurricane survivors or 4 average diners, and can easily be doubled or tripled for a crowd of basement bailers, fallen tree removers and helpful wine-bearing neighbors.
- 2 cups dry short cut pasta (whole wheat or regular penne, rigatoni, or whatever you have at hand)
- 2 tsps chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
- ½ large red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 Portobello cap, gills removed, sliced in half, and then thinly cross-wise (you can substitute whatever mushrooms you like best)
- 1 cup cooked bratwurst, Italian sweet sausage, or any mild sausage, sliced into ¼ inch coins
- 1 TBSP butter
- 1 TBSP garlic oil
- ½ cup white wine
- ½ cup cooked corn kernels
- ¼ cup blanched frozen peas
- 3 TBSP soft mild goat cheese
- 2 TBSP grated parmesan
- 1 TBSP chopped parsley
- ½ cup reserved pasta cooking water
Fill a large pot with water and set to boil for the pasta. When the water is boiling, throw in a handful of salt and stir until dissolved (the water should taste salty). Add pasta and cook according to directions on box or to just al dente.
While the water is heating, heat butter and oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the sliced onion and cook for 1 minute. Add in the mushroom, thyme, rosemary, a good pinch of salt and a small pinch pepper. Sauté until the mushroom exudes all it’s liquid and starts to brown, and the onion is soft and translucent (about 5 minutes).
Turn up the heat to high; add in the sausage and sauté for 1-2 minutes until the sausage is warmed through. Add ½ cup white wine, bring to boil and cook until the wine is reduced by 1/3rd, about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to low, add in corn and peas and heat until just warmed through. Turn off heat until pasta is almost done.
When you have about 2 minutes left on the pasta, turn the heat back on under the sauce to medium low, and add ½ cup of pasta water and 3 TBSP goat cheese. Stir until the cheese melts and it comes together as a sauce. Turn heat off, stir in Parmesan and parsley. Add drained pasta into saucepan and toss until it is well coated.
Taste to check seasoning. You probably won’t need to add any salt (the cheeses and sausage are salty enough) but you will likely need to add a little pepper.
Pour a glass of wine, serve up in bowls, and toast your success in riding out a nasty storm. Calories: You don’t need to worry about the calories tonight, do you? And anyway, you need your strength to clean up the mess tomorrow…