Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer Girl's night

The menu:

Zucchini strand spaghetti (adapted from Deb, the wonderful blogger and mom behind Smitten Kitchen)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound whole-wheat dried spaghetti
1 1/2 pounds zucchini  (two rather large 12-14 inch zucchini)
1/4 cup olive oil  (I used hot pepper oil from the expensive but lovely O and Co on Newbury Street)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to a boil in the largest stockpot you have and add salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.  While the water comes to a boil and the pasta cooks, cut the zucchini with the fine French-fry cutter on a mandoline. If you do not have one, cut by hand into the longest, finest julienne you can manage. Season with salt and pepper. If your zucchini is very finely cut, it does not need to be cooked. Otherwise, place in a metal colander, suspend over the pasta pot, cover the pot, and steam the zucchini until still slightly crunchy, about 2 minutes.  Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic and saute briefly until light brown. Turn on the exhaust fan and add the red pepper flakes. Quickly mix in the basil and remove from the heat. When the pasta is al dente, drain through a colander, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Pour the pasta into a warm serving bowl; add the zucchini, oil, the garlic mixture, and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Toss well, adding cooking water as needed to make a smooth sauce. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, as needed. Grate about 2 tablespoons Parmesan over the top and serve at once. 

Farmer's market plums and blueberries

Blue Fin Viognier ($3.99 at Trader Joe's, good with the spicy pasta)

Maple spice ice cream --turned root beer float!  (adapted from The New York Times)

1/2 cup maple syrup
2 cups heavy cream
6 cardamom pods
2 whole cloves
1 4-inch cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk

In a small saucepan over medium heat, reduce maple syrup by half, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan over medium-low heat, simmer one cup cream with cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon and salt, stirring occasionally until cream begins to simmer, about 5 minutes. Allow to stand, off heat, for 20 minutes. Strain into a bowl, discarding spices. Stir in reduced maple syrup, remaining cup cream and the milk. Transfer bowl to refrigerator or set into an ice bath to chill. When cold, pour into bowl of an ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to a container and freeze until solid, at least 2 hours. Let sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before serving, or in refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes. Spoon into a glass, and top off with good root beer (Virgil's, A and W).

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