Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Quest for Puttanesca

Sometimes I have the most wonderful thing to eat and it gets stuck on my brain because, for one reason or another, I can't just go back and have more so I try to replicate it at home.  Cases in point: Ginger Chews, Lemon Coolers.  This time it is puttanesca sauce, a spicy tomato sauce characterized by kalamata olives, capers, and anchovies.  We picked it as part of the spread for our wedding reception* and I just had it again in San Francisco and was left thinking, "Where have you been all my life?" 

*Our caterer did pack a "to go" box for us to enjoy after the wedding, but we were staying at a place out in the country with no refrigerator, microwave, or utensils.  So we floated the bags of food in the hot tub and ate with our fingers, and the food wasn't that memorable but I do remember seeing capers in the drain when all was said and done.  That's still what I think about when I see capers.

I love olives & capers, I have learned to make red sauce, I have seen people cook with anchovies on TV, I have subsequently purchased them in two forms (jarred fillets & paste**, both still fully intact in the pantry), but I never had the guts took the opportunity to eat anchovies until Friday.  And then on Sunday night's episode of Ultimate Recipe Showdown the woman who ended up winning (for her other dish, an andouille/crawfish pizza - yum) was penalized for leaving the anchovies out of her puttanesca sauce.  I honestly could probably take or leave the anchovy part of the puttanesca as long as there are olives, but since I have 'em I figured I'd try this puttanesca recipe with anchovies** at home.  I didn't have tomato paste, couldn't bring myself to use half a cup of olive oil, did not sieve the (canned organic San Marzano) tomatoes, forgot to add the red pepper flakes (it happens when my background music is the wailing coming from the high chair), and served it over chicken instead of penne, but it still came out pretty good.  Maybe I should revisit this when tomato season is in full swing and I have all the ingredients.

**I remember helping a friend of my friend Becky clean out her fridge before a move, and the friend was shocked that neither one of us kept anchovy paste on hand because she used it "all the time."  And Becky and I looked at each other and cracked up because we hadn't the slightest idea what to do with it.  Now I know one use, and I'm also going to keep a tube of tomato paste on hand.  Feel free to comment with more because once I open it I have to use it within four years.

When I tried to sit down and eat my home-cooked dinner and Olivia was wailing in her high chair two feet away after wearing finishing her dinner, I put her in a safe zone with a dropper of the grape deliciousness known as infant Advil. Within an hour she was her normal, happy self.  Temp is 99 something, yesterday was 96 something and her hands were cold, usually her temp is 98 something.  Hmm...  I'm still thinking it's molars coming in.

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