We have been out of the house for three weeks, and the saying "there's no place like home" has new meaning. Hopefully, the contractor will get the last coat of sealer on the floors today, and we can move back in this weekend. When we do, it will seem like a new house with the refinished floors and new paint. Luckily, we are blessed to have great friends that have a basement apartment just two blocks away. Cory and John have been gracious and thoughtful hosts, and we are very appreciative. We have also enjoyed our neighbors and friends on Chamlee Lane and Woodland Road. The enclave is a little slice of heaven inside the city. If we had to be out of our home this long, we certainly did it in style and comfort.
With a small gesture of gratitude for our temporary accommodations, I decided to cook dinner for our upstairs proprietors. The basement apartment is equipped with a small kitchen, and cooking Sunday Supper on a Hotpoint stove was quite an adventure compared to my Viking range. It has been years since I cooked on electric burners, so I really had to pay attention and remember the heat does not dissipate at the flip of a knob. Earlier in the day, I attended the BBQ and Brews festival in Etowah Park and enjoyed some delicious pulled pork, so I wanted to cook something a little lighter. I love the tender and fresh produce that comes with the advent of Spring, and after assessing the kitchen scenario, I decided to prepare a simple pasta dish with seasonal vegetables for tonight's "Pop Up" Sunday Supper. At the market, I found some beautiful asparagus, fresh English peas and a Spring onion. These ingredients, plus a little added pancetta for flavor, inspired a pasta primavera dish that only utilized two pans. With a pseudo Italian theme in the works, I made a simple hummus for an appetizer white beans, lemon and garlic. I would typically cook the cannelloni beans from scratch, but given the circumstances, I went with the highest quality canned version I could find. When using canned beans in any recipe, just remember to rinse them well in cold water to remove the metallic taste. To accompany the fettuccine, I found a loaf of Italian garlic and rosemary bread at Publix, and I toasted it with more fresh-rubbed garlic, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and some grated parmesan reggiano.
Much to my surprise, the pasta primavera turned out great, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I avoided using any cream, so I added a touch of creme fraiche, parmesan and reserved pasta water at the end to give the fettuccine a slightly creamy texture. I sauteed the Spring vegetables in a little olive for just under five minutes before tossing them into the pasta to keep them crunchy and fresh. After a heaping serving of pasta, we walked outside to enjoy the cool breeze and Spring flowers. We were also treated to a wonderful conversation with Cory and John's neighbors, our friends Brenda and Joe Satterfield. I always enjoy spending time with this wonderful couple, and we share a lot of similar interests, especially when it comes to food. You can always count on a great story or two when talking to Joe Satterfield! His knowledge of Canton and its fascinating history and infamous characters never fail to entertain and inform.
After the delightful conversations, we moved inside for dessert. In addition to the Spring produce, I also found some gorgeous organic strawberries at the market. Not wanting to heat up the apartment by baking anything, I bought some small cake doughnuts to use instead of shortbread, and I split and toasted them with a little butter in my large iron skillet. Yes, I travel with my iron skillet! I macerated the strawberries and topped the toasted doughnuts with the berries and a buttermilk whipped cream. The dessert was delicious and left my upstairs landlords wanting more.
So this week's Sunday Supper, the Woodland Edition, was quite successful. It was very fulfilling to cook after three weeks of basement living, and it is always interesting to discover how resourceful you can be in the kitchen. We all take our modern day conveniences for granted, but nothing replaces a little ingenuity, good food, and enduring friendships. May you be equally blessed with a heaping helping of all three, and more.
- White Bean Hummus with Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary
- Fettuccine Primavera with Spring Vegetables
- Cake Doughnut Strawberry Shortcake
The Recipe – Fettuccine Primavera
(use any fresh Spring vegetables available)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup chopped pancetta (optional)
¼ pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
½ pound asparagus, trimmed
¾ cup fresh English peas
¼ cup thinly sliced spring onion, shallot or leaks
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt, more as needed
Fresh Ground Black pepper
1 lb fettuccine
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, at room temperature
½ cup crème fraîche, room temperature
Chopped parsley for garnish
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
While the water is heating, slice snap peas and asparagus into 1/4-inch-thick pieces; leaving asparagus tips whole.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook until slightly brown and fat has rendered. Add snap peas, asparagus, English peas and onion or leaks. Cook until vegetables are barely tender but still crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.
Add fettuccine to boiling water, and cook until al dente 7-8 minutes. Reserve 3/4 cup pasta water, as needed. Drain well, then add to skillet along with Parmigiano-Reggiano, crème fraîche and herbs. Toss all ingredients gently, until fully incorporated. Add a little reserved pasta water to thin consistency and meld ingredients. (If your skillet is too small, toss all ingredients in a separate large bowl.
Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with chopped parsley and more grated parmesan.