I’m a thief…a no good rotten thief!!!
Now before you start looking at FBI posters for my picture, let me say what I’m guilty of. I steal from restaurants….kind of.
You are probably saying “Barb, you can’t “kind of” steal. You either do it or you don’t!” Let me tell you what I steal before you throw me in the slammer to go live a life of commissary treats and pruno. (If you are unaware of pruno. It is a hooch made from fermenting fruits and very popular in prison. I learned of it from countless hours of watching the TV show Lockup!)
It isn’t like I have a trunk full of cloth napkins, salt & peppershakers and soy sauce bottles. I never take soupspoons, cocktail forks or steak knives. And it is safe to say that I won’t fill my purse with creamers, raw sugar packets and crackers. (I did work at a restaurant once where someone stole the toilet paper!)
I steal “concepts” for recipes. I love to look at menus and then try to recreate the dish that is in front of me.
I have been known to beg a chef for a recipe and a good handful of them will share with me. And if they are kind enough to let me “borrow” their recipe, I won’t publish it as my own. (I may steal a recipe concept but I’m not that big of a creep to say it was my own!)
It doesn’t work all the time and so I have the challenge of trying to do it on my own…and it doesn’t always work. I can’t recreate the magic of Spanish dishes or Indian curries. Soups can be challenging since they don’t always list all the ingredients. And spice blends can be disputed on a well-seasoned piece of fish and steak.
But give me a pasta dish on a menu and odds are it will be on my table the next week! Like a cat burglar, I make notes on how the menu describes the dish. I may even take a picture of the menu or print it up off the Internet. It is kind of like recipe larceny.
I poke around the plate searching for the goods that are on the plate. Is that an onion or a shallot? Does that taste like veal or beef? Has the tomato been roasted or was it raw? I leave no fingerprints as I sneak an ingredient list into my memory.
My misconduct is minor and would probably allow me an early parole but there are times that I feel guilty. But then again I’m just rolling with the concept that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Right? (I’m sure all deviants justify their wrongdoings. Maybe I do need some metal bracelets!)
All this came into mind when my hubby brought home dinner the other night. It was a simple but amazingly tasty pasta dish from a local restaurant. I liked it so much; I made it later that week so I could eat it again.
I felt a little remorseful at first but after my belly was full, I felt this crime is worth my time….in the kitchen…not the slammer!
- 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 4 ounces of artichoke hearts, sliced up
- 1/2 pound of Italian sausage (your choice of mild or spicy)
- 4 ounces of sundried tomato pesto (this was a small jar)
- 8 ounces of penne
- Olive oil
- Fresh ground pepper
- Cook pasta per box instructions. Do not over cook because you will finish them in the pan so they will get a little more heat in the end. Reserve a cup of pasta water when you drain the pasta.
- While pasta is cooking, in a large nonstick skillet, brown Italian sausage in some olive oil over medium high heat.
- Remove from pan, sauté the shallots in the sausage drippings over medium. You don’t want to brown them you just want to soften them up.
- Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the artichoke hearts and tomatoes.
- Ding. Your pasta should be done. Add the drained pasta and sausage back to the pan. Add about 1/2 cup of the pasta water and stir it all up. If you want it a little saucier, add a little more water.
- Give it a sprinkle of parm and a good crack of pepper and serve.