miércoles, 31 de octubre de 2007

Let's do the numbers

Last night the stars aligned and the music of the spheres played just for me. Sort of. It went a little something like this. I came home from a lovely and unexpected walk along the river (who knew Madrid had a river?) made some glorious cheesey pasta and then decided to listen to a little NPR streaming live. Low and behold, my good friend Kai Ryssdal was just about to do the numbers. I am still pissed about the Euro/Dollar situation (down to $1.44 to the Euro, just so you know) and it seems like the country's financial woes are just gaining momentum. The slowing housing market aside, I got to hear Mr. Ryssdal say "let's do the numbers." I love that. It is a perfect expression. Like "library stacks" "fiscal nightmare" and "rapier-like wit" they are words that come together to evoke more than the sum of their parts. Kind of like pasta, broccoli, cheese and butter, each ingredient is pretty nice on its own, but together they are simply divine!!

Cheese-y Broccoli-y Pasta

1/2 lb pasta
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup milk
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 medium head broccoli cut in small florets
splash of white wine (optional)
salt and pepper

extra cheese for serving (optional, but barely)

Boil pasta in a large pot of boiling water. As the great Mark Bittman tells us, unless you have direct doctor's orders to limit your sodium intake, salt the crap out of the water. Go crazy, more than you think is necessary. This will make it great! When pasta is done, drain it and toss it with a little olive oil.

In a medium skillet heat a little olive oil and saute garlic until nice and fragrant. Add broccoli, a splash of white wine or water and a little salt. Cook until crisp tender and brilliant, Irish countryside in spring green. Put broccoli on a plate and tell it to "sit tight" for a few minutes (I strongly recommend talking to your food, seriously).

In the same skillet (you don't even have to clean it, just make sure it is empty,) heat butter until it bubbles. Sprinkle in flour and mix it up with a wooden spoon or whisk until lumps disappear. Start adding milk while stirring and then let the gooey, bubbly deliciousness do its thing on low heat for about 5 minutes, giving it pretty constant stirs. If the sauce is too thick, add a little milk, or better yet, few splashes of the pasta cooking water. As any Italian grandmother will tell you, the pasta water can do wonders for a sauce.

Just before serving, add cheese and broccoli to sauce and taste for salt. You will probably need a pinch or two. Toss sauce with pasta and a little extra cheese. Try not to eat so much you have to unbutton your pants...

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