“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pass Da Pasta

Whenever I use a store-bought pasta sauce, no matter what kind it is, I have to doctor it up. I just can't leave it as is. It's got to have a home-made feel to it, and try as they might, no-one has yet come up with a sauce that tastes like you just cooked it yourself. I'm not knocking store-bought sauces, and I'm certainly not suggesting that no-one buy them. They have their place and I naturally understand that sometimes people do not have the time and sometimes the skill in the kitchen required to make a decent sauce. Whap that jar of Ragu in the pan and heat, by all means. But it is fun to mess with them and add your own tweaks.

I remember back in the day when DiGiorno first came out with the little tubs of sauces in the US supermarkets. They were handy little stopgaps and a cut above the jarred ones. Then Buitoni got in on the act, and pretty soon the world and his uncle were making their own, small batch handmade ye olde marinaras and alfredos.

DiGiorno had one a few years back that was a garlic & olive oil sauce. I made some vegetarian calzones one time which were filled with that sauce, a few mushrooms and some mozzarella. Good eatin'.

Then there was the Alfredo, which was rich and creamy and just as perfect an Alfredo as you were ever likely to eat for the price. I used to go to a Lake Stevens eating establishment in Washington State that went by the name of Ixtapa. Yes, you guessed it, it was a Mexican joint, and not only that, it was the best Mexican joint for miles. Their Camarones A La Diabla were phenomenal. But I used to order the Veggie Fajitas which was a veritable mountain of food, and I would usually end up taking half of it home in a to-go box. The following night, I would crack open a tub of DiGiorno Alfredo sauce, put some pasta on the go and mix in the fajita veggies with the sauce over a low heat. Top the pasta with the sauce and BOOM! Out go the lights, baby!

Tonight was no different from those old days. I purchased a family pack of Cheese and Smoked Ham Cappelletti recently which was only £2.99 and was a whopping amount of pasta. Mum had bought a tub of Tesco's Tomato and Mascarpone Sauce to use, and tonight while she was out solving the world's problems (or Tenterden's, at least) I cooked up a pasta feast for Christopher and myself. I took some EVOO and drizzled it in a pan, and over a medium heat, added some chopped red onion and two chopped cloves of garlic. Then I sliced up half a red bell pepper and about 6 or 7 mushrooms and tossed them in too. When the onion started to get translucent I added in the tub of sauce and a splash of water, and a liberal splosh of that old favourite, Worcestershire Sauce. I let that lot simmer, covered, about 15 minutes while I got the pasta water going . When the pasta was cooked (I only needed about two-thirds of the pack, and Chris and I were stuffed full) I ladled the sauce on top and that was it.


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