Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Inspiration at Hutch

When I woke up this morning, I was sure I wanted these cottage cheese walnut burgers that I sometimes make, but half way through my lunch shift at Hondos I changed my mind... and then I had no idea. I thought of pot stickers and stir fry. Salmon roasted with a honey mustard herb sauce, black bean soup... none of it was what I really wanted.

Hutch is this continuing side work at Hondos. We take the silverware and glassware from dish, and we polish it all and put it up on the hutch so it's ready for the tables. It gives you a lot of time to think since it's so monotonous. While polishing possibly my 100th glass of the day I realized I needed to make a decision because I would have to stop at Whole Foods on my way home for any ingredients I may not have on hand.

I worked on a party with Alberto today. He's the head waiter at an amazing Italian restaurant in town called La Grotta, but he puts in a few shifts at Hondos each week. Great guy. Scott and I ate at La Grotta on Saturday night and I think I can safely say it was one of the best meals I've ever had. Incredible. As we polished and polished, I asked Alberto what I should make for dinner because I really wasn't happy with anything coming into my mind on my own. He started rattling off a few of his favorite pasta dishes- one with zucchini and cauliflower that has his children begging for more and also a seafood pasta made at La Grotta. It has mussels, clams, shrimp, scallops with a spicy tomato sauce... now my wheels were turning. I had shrimp in the freezer. He mentioned shrimp scampi and everything came into focus. This was what I wanted.

The good part was that I only needed a can of tomatoes and some basil, everything else I had. This is always a good thing. $5 and I'd have everything I needed. Well, $7 since Whole Foods had a sample of their St. Germaine baguettes available and I had to have one... insane chewy perfection... I knew it would sop up the buttery tomato sauce I planned to make and be even better.

I started with the tomato sauce. I chopped a small onion and let it sweat out in a good bit of extra virgin olive oil with a few whole garlic cloves I gave a bit of a smash. I added a can of San Marzano whole tomatoes and let it cook down a little before using my wooden spoon to chop them into bite size pieces. I added some fresh basil and that was that...I let it do it's thing. Scott was already commenting on how good everything smelled. Onions, garlic, and tomatoes... it really is so simple.

In another pan, I put a tablespoon or so of EVOO (man I hate using Racheal Ray's term, but it does make things much easier) and a few pats of butter along with 3 minced garlic cloves and a generous amount of Penzey's Very Hot Crushed Red Pepper Flakes. I added a few tablespoons of capers and the shrimp... shrimp take like a minute to cook and their juices added to the fat to make an excellent sauce. I didn't have any white wine, so I added a glug of white wine vinegar instead.

When the pasta was al dente- I used thin whole wheat spaghetti- I saved a little of the pasta water and added it to the tomato sauce which got a bit thicker than I wanted while everything else was cooking.

On the plate, a mound of pasta which I tossed with a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce. I split the buttery caper and garlic shrimp between the two plates and topped them with a little more basil. Yum. It was really good. I will so be making this again. Scott will get the leftovers tomorrow- there was no way I could eat everything I put on my plate- my eyes are always bigger... But, that's a good thing... I work doubles the next two days and won't get to cook for him, so it makes me happy when I know the fridge is stocked with goodies.

I served a small salad on the side, a big chunk of the baguette, and a small glass of red wine.

Who knows what conversation and quiet contemplation will bring me over the next two days as stand at hutch and polish endless glasses... hopefully something as satisfying as dinner tonight.


  1. Fantastic! It looks SO yummy!!! I will be adding this to the recipe book.

  2. That is my kind of dish--love it. You turned me on to capers, you know.

  3. Capers really are amazing little things...

  4. What do you generally use to dress your salad?

  5. I love using capers and a little of their juice along with some good olive oil... or the same w/ black or kalamata olives or even just fresh lemon juice. And lots of ground pepper.
    Sometimes I make a quick vinaigrette with just half whatever vinegar I'm in the mood for and olive oil and a bit of dijon or Duke's if I'm feeling particularly sassy. :)

  6. mmmm...Duke's, haven't had that in AGES!

  7. Duke's is delicious.

    I watched a little Rachel Ray yesterday, and as much as I want to dislike her, I cannot, even with her sammies and her evoo.

    We have a Rachel Ray saucepan here, too, but don't tell anyone about it.

  8. Ha Jamey! I know, I can't dislike her either, but I do dislike some of the phrases she overuses on each and every episode. I won't tell anyone you have a Rachael Ray saucepan if you don't tell them I subscribe to her magazine and also own a garbage bowl. Deal?