Back Burner Cooking

So this is the first time I would call my roommate situation a success. We’re pretty much all on the same page; looking to do well in school, aiming to keep our place clean, cooking fanatics, etc. Our schedules keep us super busy though, so we hang out almost exclusively when we walk to our downtown campus in the morning. This is why Thursdays have turned into our roommie dinner night.

Tonight was dedicated to homemade pasta, and we christened my new pasta machine! Funny story is, our pasta did not come out quite right, and I will put my hands up in the air here ’cause I was not in control of that task. I would like to refer you to Michael Ruhlman for a pasta dough recipe. I did however sauté some onions, carrots, and red pepper (in that consecutive order) to enhance the Trader Joe’s vodka sauce I had in the fridge (favorite store bought sauce of all time).

Essential pointers for sautéing?

  • Get the pan/fat sizzling hot before you add your food product, feel free to test it out by dropping a piece in there to test it out.
  • Add product in order of cook-time. It’s pretty much a standard to start with onions, but then add your more dense veggies first and move on to lighter veggies next. (In this instance I started with some diced onions and sautéed until they turned translucent, added the carrots and left them covered until they started to soften, then added the peppers and cooked covered until I was satisfied with their texture. Taste as you go my friends!)
  • Season each layer to develop flavor. This depends on your salt tolerance/preference, but give each addition of product a little sprinkle of salt and pepper to enhance the unique flavors as the whole dish develops.

The dynamic of three trained cooks in a kitchen is, uh, interesting, and we have now coined the phrase “back burner cooking”, exactly like “backseat driving”. Regardless of the tension we might create in certain instances though, like one of us believing we know the better way to cook pasta, we’re too goofy to let our egos get in the way. The running jokes of the evening included our pasta dough, a bit too tough, the pasta machine, which did not effectively stabilize on the counter, and Christine’s carrots, which she insisted on using but we felt were unnecessary.

Overall, it turned out great. Because when I feel nothing but stress throughout the week, it is awesome to have a night where I can relax while eating, laugh until my side splits, and watch a movie without the fear that I am wasting precious homework time (it was Good Will Hunting, in case you were interested).

p.s. Ever heard of caramelization? Let me introduce you to Maillard Browning


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