Carbonara

*Spoilers ahead for Netflix’s “Master of None” so if you’re not caught up on that show or haven’t watched it (in which case, what’s wrong with you?!), skip this post until you have*

At the end of Netflix’s “Master of None” Aziz Ansari’s character, Dev, makes fresh carbonara and this leads to the discovery that he’s really good at it so he moves to Italy to learn how to make pasta. Ever since I saw that episode, the show premiered in November of 2015, I’d been craving homemade carbonara. I’d never even eaten carbonara but Aziz/Dev made it look delicious so I was like “I gotta get on that!” When we decided to embark on this project, one of the things I was certain about was I was going to make carbonara during Italian week. I had originally hoped to make the pasta myself, just like Dev (!), but after the ramen disaster, I decided to buy my spaghetti pasta and then just focus on getting the best ingredients.

Carbonara is considered a peasant’s dish and due to that, it’s very simple. It consists of pasta, eggs, cheese, and bacon. That’s it. I guess some people add cream to it but from what I’ve read, that’s a big no-no. Also, some people add peas? Gross. Peas are delicious but I don’t think they would work with this dish unless you get fresh peas and who has fresh peas?! Anyway, I couldn’t get fresh eggs because our farmer’s market is only open on Saturdays and I planned on making this meal later in the week so the eggs would lose their freshness; same thing with the cheese. With all that, I made it my mission to get the best bacon possible! Most of the recipes I saw suggested using guanciale bacon and I was going to drive into central Austin and buy some but then I remembered my HEB sells pancetta, which is a decent alternative, and my HEB is only two miles away. Central Austin, with traffic, is a half hour away. I think you know where I ended up…Well I should have made the damn trek because my HEB didn’t have pancetta, for TWO DAYS IN A ROW. I was very frustrated but not so frustrated as to actually drive into town so I ended up buying regular bacon.

The biggest obstacle in making carbonara is making sure the eggs don’t scramble when you add the egg/cheese mixture to the pasta. The way to avoid this is to stir very quickly and add water when needed. I followed the recipe exactly and I did not end up with scrambled eggs. Look at that! I’m a mini-Dev!

It was so good, so, so good! It was saltier than I expected and even though I didn’t used to be a fan of salty food, that changed over the course of the year. Because of that, I loved this dish, salt and all! It wasn’t overpowering but just more than I expected. It was creamy and I loved the crunchiness of the bacon here and there. The girls gobbled it up but I knew they would because it was pasta. Those girls love their carbs!

Definitely check out Master of None and then celebrate your binge-watching by making this dish. It will make all that time sitting on the sofa worth it!

Recipe

Gado Gado

Last night was the start of Indonesian week for us. Irish, Jamaican, and American week had their fair share of fried foods so we wanted get some roughage in us and give our arteries a break from being clogged.

So I made fried tofu and potatoes. I mean, if you’re going to eat fried food, it should be fried tofu, right? That makes it a little better, doesn’t it? No, no it doesn’t. So it goes.

We originally wanted to do Balinese food but when searching for recipes, I kept encountering Indonesian food. This left me perplexed. Does Bali not have their own food? Why is their food classified under a neighboring country? Why can’t Bali be great????

Bali’s food is classified as Indonesian because Bali is a province of Indonesia. Yeah. We thought Bali was its own country…so not only am I learning about food, I’m also learning about geography. The lessons abound in this project! Just this morning I was telling the almost four year old that she should strive to learn something new everyday. We’re having issues with her wanting to read books at night because she’d much rather watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Friendship IS magic but so is reading! I tried to explain that by watching tv, her brain is turning to mush and reducing her ability to learn because she isn’t taking the time to observe or analyze things. She then said “Momma, the light is red.” I should really listen to myself sometimes. I’m going to take my own advice and make an earnest attempt to learn something new every day; yesterday was that Bali and Indonesia are NOT two different countries. I haven’t learned anything new today.

Moving on.

From my extensive research, a.k.a I read two articles, Gado Gado is one of the most popular meals in Indonesia. It’s a veggie salad, plain and simple, however, the peanut sauce is what makes it exceptional. Everything I read, all two articles, mentioned how the key to a great Gado Gado was the peanut sauce. I did everything the recipe said in making the sauce but mine came out a little chunky and I say this just based on the pics I saw online. I don’t think it made a huge difference, it just meant that the sauce didn’t spread as easily across the whole plate.

I had to blanch the vegetables and James was curious as to the purpose of doing it. I don’t have a lot of experience with blanching so I told him that I thought it was to cook the veggies and retain their natural, crisp texture. This wasn’t entirely accurate. According to el interwebs, blanching is used to preserve the nutrients and color in veggies before freezing them. It also helps when stir frying veggies. If you blanch denser veggies, like broccoli, you can then add them to the stir fry with less dense veggies and they will all cook at the same time. This is actually something I’ve encountered when stir frying carrots; I never know how to get them to cook evenly with the other vegetables.

There’s my lesson for the day!

The salad was delightful and I had multiple servings. James took leftovers for lunch and I think would be a great lunch to prepare ahead for the week. My shrimp chips burned a little so it changed the whole flavor of them. I wasn’t a fan of that. I’ll do better next time and there definitely will be a next time!

Recipe

Shakshuka and Jerusalem Bagels

Sorry for the Instagram picture repeat. I typically try to upload different pics to my IG account from the ones I use on the blog but I guess I forgot to take one for the blog. My bad. In my defense,we were trying to wrangle the girls for breakfast while also trying to not knock our food off our tv trays. Up until yesterday, we were eating in the living room off tv trays because we got rid of our old dining set and were waiting on the new set to be delivered. Adding to the frustration, I decided to pull out the Persian rug that James’ stepdad gave us a few years ago. He got it in Iran(q?) over twenty years ago and gave it to us a few years ago when he and James’ mom were moving from San Antonio to Austin. We pulled it up when we decided to potty train the oldest because I did not want to hear “it” if she accidentally peed on an authentic Persian rug.  We were without a table for ten days and let me tell you, with two kids who still manage to get food everywhere, it was not a fun ten days. Having to pull out their play table and our tv trays and then watching what they dropped on the rug, it was annoying.

I know, I know, I lead such a hard life.

Shakshuka and Jerusalem bagels.

A few different people recommended shakshuka to me when they learned about my little project. All I was told was that it involved eggs, tomatoes, and it was really yummy. Reading up on it, I learned that the dish actually didn’t originate in Israel but in Tunisia. However, with the influx of Tunisian Jews in the 1950s, it quickly became a very popular dish in Israel. The recipe I used was from Smitten Kitten. I probably could have used a more authentic Israeli site but the recipe followed all the others I read and I really like Smitten Kitten.

The preparation was really easy and fast. Aside from the feta cheese, I think most people have the ingredients for this meal in their fridge and pantry so you could probably whip this up tonight. And yes, even though it does have eggs in it, you don’t necessarily have to eat it for breakfast; apparently it’s also eaten for dinner in Israel. In flavor, it reminded me of Huevos Rancheros because it’s basically the same thing! Huevos Rancheros obviously doesn’t have feta and uses cilantro instead of parsley but other than that, everything is the same. It was delicious though, I even went back for seconds of just the sauce. The baby ate the eggs and the oldest licked it and asked for crackers. Ugh, that kid…

That kid, annoying as she can be, was pretty helpful when it came to making the bagels. I chose Jerusalem bagels because they are baked, not boiled. For some reason the idea of boiling bread intimidates me, probably because it involves a bit more attention than just chunking something in the oven. The recipe I used was about as straight forward as can be so it made the whole process a less daunting. It took about two hours total but a lot of that time involved the dough rising.

At first the baby was helping me roll out the dough but when the oldest saw she was having fun, the baby got kicked out of the kitchen. I didn’t really mind, she was trying to eat the raw dough and I was getting tired of pulling out wet, sticky dough out of her mouth. Although, when I was cutting the dough into six balls and saw she needed to be entertained, I gave her a bit of dough and showed her how to roll it in her palm. I had a flashback to “helping” my grandmother make tortillas and her giving me my own ball of dough tokeep me out of the way. Thank you for showing me the way, Grandma Lupe.

Anyway, these bagels are hayooge! I am not exaggerating when I say they are as big as my head. They’re also tricky. At first bite, they seem really light so you end up eating an entire bagel. Ten minutes later, your stomach feels like it’s expanded by a few inches and you have problems buttoning your pants. We had a birthday party later that day and even three hours AFTER eating the bagels, we were penguin walking down Rainey Street from being so bloated from the bagels. I actually gave the birthday girl a bagel because I figured it would be a great way to soak up booze after an afternoon of day drinking. Aside from the bagel bloat, they were good. They were sweeter than traditional bagels but, duh, they’re sprinkled with sugar so that was expected.

Out of the three meals we had for Israeli week, I think this was my favorite. Yeah, it was even better than the shawarma. It was kinda like a comfort food and I just loved the ease of the entire meal. I love easy.

Because, like I said earlier, my life is so, so hard.