Tuesday, November 16, 2010

October Book Club

October was my month to host book club. The books on my list were "Great American Classics" and included "The Catcher in the Rye", "A Farewell to Arms", "Grapes of Wrath", and "To Kill a Mockingbird". As you may have noticed from my Fall into Reading list, "A Farwell to Arms" was the chosen book.

One of my favorite things about book club is that we eat. And, the host tries to make something that relates to the book in some way. In "FTA" there were actually quite a few references to food. Since they were in Italy, I knew some kind of pasta was in order. At one point, they had pasta but no red sauce, so I opted for Spaghetti Carbonara (recipe below). We also enjoyed a variety of cheeses. It was my first time to put together a cheese tray - Drunken Goat, Brie, Sartori (a combination of Parmesan and Cheddar), Emmentaler, and Red Leicester Cheese. We had apple slices, bread and salted almonds. The grand finale was a pumpkin bread pudding. I'll post that recipe soon over at What's Cooking. I don't want to leave out that Anne brought the most delicious chocolate cupcakes for my birthday.

Let's just say that the food went over better than the book did. But, some of us can now say we've read Ernest Heminway. I really doubt another one of his books ever makes it on a list.

Now for the recipe. The ingredients are fairly simple, but my method is a little more involved. The night of book club, this actually turned out drier than it had in the past. I changed my method. Here I will post what I did on previous attempts:

Spaghetti Carbonara
adapted from Gimme Some Oven
1 lb spaghetti
1/2 lb bacon, diced
1/2 lg. onion, diced
5 eggs
1/4 c. milk (I did about 1/2 milk, 1/2 cream)
1/4 c. - 3/4 c. grated fresh Parmesan
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Boil water for the pasta. Salt it liberally (1-2 TB).

While the water is coming to a boil, cook bacon in large skillet. When the bacon is nearly crispy, add the onion. (I discovered once that if I added the onion too soon, the bacon wouldn't get crispy and then the onion would burn...not good). So, you want the bacon almost as cooked as you want it. Once you add the onion, cook until translucent.

In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, Parmesan and pepper.

Cook pasta 9-11 minutes or until al dente.

When the pasta is ready (here's where my method may sound a little strange but it works), remove it from the pasta water with tongs or a pasta spoon and put it in the bowl with the egg mixture. When you're doing this, you'll likely get a little pasta water with it. That's okay. Once you get that all added, stir, stir, stir. (Actually I stir after each addition) It should thicken a little. Next, I dump the pasta water out of the pot, and put the mixture into the hot pot. Stir, stir, stir again. (The goal is to keep the eggs from scrambling but heating them up gradually.) Then, I usually put the pot on a burner over low heat and stir, stir, stir. It's easy for the eggs to end up cooking on the bottom of the pan. It's not the end of the world. Just don't scoop that part out. It still tastes delicious. Just warm it up until the sauce thickens and clings to the spaghetti. I promise it's not as complicated as it may sound. And it's so very worth it.

Sorry it took me a month to post this. Enjoy!

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