Monday, March 7, 2011

Taking liberties with Gwyneth: a happy accident.

Keen to indulge TLOML's love of clams, and because I have a girl crush on Gwynnie (Gwyn haters, you're just jealous), I decided to try her spaghetti alla vongole recipe from Epicurious. So far, so standard Tuesday night in Malibu.

Then bad things started to happen.
First, Ralph's was out of clams. No clams in stock = unhappy TLOML. Resourceful  as ever I bought squid and scallops instead and decided to call it spaghetti alla squid and scallops.
Back at the ranch, at the first step of the recipe, instead of adding a pinch of red chilli flakes, I rained a shower of red chilli flakes over the pan for many long seconds, till I noticed I had the jar open on 'spoon' not 'sprinkle'.
One side is for sprinkling lightly, the other is for dolloping huge spoonfuls out of.
Angsted by this I stirred some past-its-best yoghurt in, to calm it down.
Rather too late, I realised we only had enough spaghetti to feed a small child. TLOML is not a small child. And neither am I. Put us together and you need enough spaghetti to feed 2 big greedy gutses (plural of 'greedy guts', anyone?).

So far, so Bridget Jones-esque cooking disaster. But wait... my tale is not yet fully told... We were hungry, so we dug in regardless. Oh yeah baby! It was the best, hot, spicy, salty, sexy squid and scallop pasta EVER - and without too much pasta so we could have second and third helpings without feeling greedy.

I think this is what's known as a happy accident.

In case you're interested, here's the recipe.

1) Put your pasta on, with a bit of olive oil in the pan to stop it sticking. The sauce will take about 15-20 mins.
2) Sweat 2 cloves of garlic, a shallot and a handful of fennel, all thinly sliced, in a dollop of olive oil. And more than you'd think of those good red chilli flakes - about a tablespoon I think.
3) Mush in about half a tin of anchovies, till they break up and make a sort of paste
4) Add 8-10 cherry tomatoes, squished with your hand so they are a bit 'open'. Simmer away till they are breaking down.
5) Add 1-1.5 cups of white wine (I poured my glass in while cooking, as I didn't like it, so it's hard to be precise). Simmer to reduce for about 5 mins.
6) Panic that you've made it too spicy, and stir a dollop of yoghurt in.
7) Throw in whatever random seafood your local supermarket provided. Baby squid and scallop were wicked, I bet prawns would work out pretty well too. Cook till it's, well, cooked.
8) Then add your pasta and stir it through.
9) Eat and smile.

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