Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tastes of My Childhood

I already mentioned that J and I spent 3 1/2 hours baking, cooking and cleaning up after our Sunday night dinner. What I didn't mention is how delicious the end result was, nor did I share with you the details of what exactly we were working on for that long!

First, I decided to use the KitchenAid Stand Mixer again and make some more fresh bread, this time classic white bread. It turned out even better than my French bread last week.

Next, we chopped and chopped vegetables for Paul Prudhomme's Pasta Primavera (something I've been wanting and missing) and a side salad of oil and vinegar slaw (something J had been craving all week).

My dad learned to cook (and boy can he cook!) with Chef Paul Prudhomme's cookbooks, especially Louisiana Kitchen and Fiery Foods That I Love. It began at a time where my parents had three children under five and little money for a babysitter. My parents would put us to bed, pour themselves a glass of wine and crack open the cookbook. This dish quickly became a family favorite, one that I requested for my birthday dinner year after year. It was also the meal I requested as my "last meal," made the night before I moved to Omaha for college.

Pasta Primavera, taken from Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen cookbook

For the Seasoning Mix:
2 1/2 teaspoons dried sweet basil leaves

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced carrots, cut on the diagonal

2 cups sliced zucchini

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced

1 cup asparagus tips or 3/4 cup snow peas--
I prefer asparagus but usually buy whatever looks more fresh in the store
1 cup chopped green onions
2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup prosciutto, cut into thin strips

2 cups cauliflower florets

1 pound of spaghetti

Kitchen Supplies:
Large skillet pan
Pasta pan

Combine the seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowl (Makes approximately 2 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoon). Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. When oil is very hot, add prosciutto, cauliflower, mushrooms, carrots and zucchini. Add the butter and as it melts, stir in the garlic and all of the seasoning mix. Next, stir in the asparagus tips or snow peas and green onions. Stir well and cook until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about four to five minutes. Stir in the cream and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce has a thickened a bit, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package. Drain and add hot pasta to the skillet. Toss well and serve with hot bread.

I've noticed that my recipe blog posts have been filled with lots of stories along with the usual recipes this week. To me, a recipe is just another keepsake, like scrapbooks or photo albums, that can take you back to a specific time and place or a feeling you had. The smells and tastes in familiar foods always trigger some sort of memory for me, some of which I've shared here! In fact, I think cooking (and eating) has quickly become my favorite way to reminisce.  I hope you try some of these recipes and make new food memories with your family! 

Happy cooking and happy memories everyone!

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