Saturday, May 9, 2009
This looks good, right? Well, as your mother probably told you, "looks aren't everything." I am really striking out with Better Homes and Gardens lately. First, with the Minestrone and Tuscan Polenta Bread and now this. Such a bummer, too. I had high hopes for this recipe. When I read it and drooled over the picture in the lastest edition of BHG magazine, I thought, "It's like Spaghetti alla Carbonara on steriods!" I like Spaghetti alla Carbonara, so why wouldn't I love this? Those hopes were dashed when I took the first bite. There was something wrong. It took a while to figure out the word to put with the taste, but I think we arrived at "bitter" to describe whatever was off about the flavor. The kids pushed this around on their plates and my husband tried to salvage his by slathering it in hot sauce. I'm usually annoyed by this hot sauce habit. I consider my cooking to be flavorful without the aid of such condiments. However, this time I couldn't blame him. Poor man was hungry and just trying to find a way to choke it down. I gave up after 4 bites and just ate the garlic bread. Why four bites? Why not just one or two? Because I was clinging to the hope that it would get better or maybe I thought I'd get used to that taste. I don't know. Above all, because I'd just spent an hour making dinner and I hate to waste both food AND my time. Whatever. It all went into the garbage. Can you tell I'm still steamed?
As I was cleaning up, my husband asked, "What's wrong?" Apparently disgust was all over my face as I scraped bacon and egg pasta into the trash. Then he smiled, "It's really bothering you isn't it? I could tell, your whole mood changed after that first bite." He was right. I just couldn't figure it out. I went back through each and every ingredient and tasted them individually. The parsley, spinach, red pepper, asiago, half and half. What the heck ruined my dinner!? Everything tasted fine. Then my husband asked, "Did you taste the wine?" Why no...I didn't. The recipe only called for 1/4 cup. It was a dry white that I purchased for $3.49 off the cheap wine display in the produce section at the grocery. I wasn't planning to drink it. I only needed a 1/4 of a cup. I figured that I'd save myself the cash and the trip back to the wine section and I grabbed the bottle and headed to the check out. I'm not about to leave a stone unturned in this little culinary mystery, so I poured myself a taste. Oh my. It was beyond bad. Now, I know what a dry wine tastes like. I'm partial to wine tending toward dry rather than sweet. This was not just dry. It was horribly bitter. Hands down the worst Chadonnay I have ever tasted. They should pay people $3.49 a bottle to take it off of their shelves. Based on this off-putting wine tasting, I deduced that it was the wine. What do you think? Could a mere 1/4 cup of bad wine ruin the whole thing? In case you'd like to make it yourself and prove that it was just the wine, here's how it all came together.
This dish, in it's finished form, is topped with hard boiled eggs. I started those first. You know how to hard boil eggs? If not, just place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan, cover with an inch or two of cold water. Bring the water to a good rolling boil and then remove the pan from the heat source. Let the eggs stand in the hot water for 15-17 minutes before rinsing with cold water.
Next, I fried up the bacon.
I removed the bacon to a paper towel to absorb the grease. Wait a minute! Don't go cleaning that pan just yet! Hold on to some of that fat in the pan. You want to save about a tablespoon of the bacon drippings...
because you'll saute your garlic and sweet red pepper in the drippings with wine and red pepper flakes. A word of warning: steer clear of Oak Creek Chardonnay if it is marketed in you area!
Add the wine, garlic and crushed red pepper to drippings in the skillet. Return to heat. Bring it to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and boil gently, uncovered, for 3 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Stir in red sweet pepper; cook and stir for an additional minute. Reduce the heat to low.
Combine the half and half with 4 lightly beaten eggs.
Add egg mixture to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until the egg mixture coats a metal spoon (160 degrees F). Don't scramble em'!
Oh. Hey, while all of that is going on, you should really cook your pasta. Use 12 oz. of linguine or spaghetti. Just cook according to package directions.
Then drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid. You'll use this cooking liquid when you throw it all together. It helps to keep the pasta creamy. Return the pasta to the pot and keep warm.
Add the egg mixture to pasta along with bacon, spinach, the 1/2 cup Asiago, and parsley.
Cook over medium heat for 1 more minute, just to heat through, tossing with tongs to combine. Add reserved pasta cooking liquid to pasta mixture as needed to make creamy.
Top with hard-cooked egg, additional Asiago, and black pepper.
Tomorrow night, we're making beef-on-a-stick. As for tonight, I hung my head in the shadow of last night's defeat and treated myself to an order of Pad Thai takeout. Honestly, I don't see how we could mess it up beef-on-a-stick. It comes straight from my favorite recipes notebook. It is SO good. As a matter of fact, as I sit here typing this, the sirloin is marinating away in the fridge soaking in the fabulous flavors of the Far East. So here's looking forward to tomorrow night's dinner! In the event that any of you want to try your hand at Bacon and Egg Pasta, here's the recipe from Better Homes and Gardens:
Bacon and Egg Pasta
Start to Finish: 35 min. (Pretty sure this took me much longer. Of course, there was an incident involving my toddler and a bottle of maple syrup shortly after I began preparing the meal.)
12 oz. dried linguine or thin spaghetti
5 pieces thick-sliced bacon, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 cup finely chopped red sweet pepper
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup half-and-half or light cream
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup Asiago cheese, shredded (2 oz.)
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or basil
1 hard-cooked egg, peeled and chopped
Shredded Asiago cheese (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Return pasta to pan; keep warm. Meanwhile, in large skillet, cook bacon until crisp; remove bacon with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Reserve 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet; discard remaining drippings. Add wine, garlic and crushed red pepper to drippings in skillet. Return to heat. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat; boil gently, uncovered, 3 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in red sweet pepper; cook and stir 1 minute. Reduce heat to low.
2. In medium bowl whisk together eggs and half-and-half. Add egg mixture to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until egg mixture coats a metal spoon (160 degrees F). Do not scramble.
3. Add egg mixture to pasta along with bacon, spinach, the 1/2 cup Asiago, and parsley. Cook over medium heat 1 minute just to heat through, tossing with tongs to combine. Add reserved pasta cooking liquid to pasta mixture as needed to make creamy. Top with hard-cooked egg, additional Asiago, and black pepper. Serve immediately. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Calories 564, Total Fat (g) 17, Saturated Fat (g) 8, Monounsaturated Fat (g) 5, Polyunsaturated Fat (g) 2, Cholesterol (mg) 92, Sodium (mg) 618, Carbohydrate (g) 71, Total Sugar (g) 5, Fiber (g) 4, Protein (g) 28, Vitamin C (DV%) 93, Calcium (DV%) 22, Iron (DV%) 26, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet