Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Culinary Copy Cat

Remember the term 'copy cat'? I don't know about you, but I definitely remember accusing other children of being copy cats when I was in grade school. I can still see myself in the fourth grade, hands cupped around my paper, shooting the kid next to me angry looks. He always thought he could sneak a peak at my paper during a test- but I never let him
Now, the tables have turned and I'm the one who's a copy cat. Somewhat anyway. I'll tell you why...
For me, eating out is not only fun, but it's also a great source of inspiration. If you happened to catch my interview in the autumn edition of En Route (still on the newsstands here in the Netherlands), you might have read that I often try my hand at making dishes I enjoy at restaurants. My 'copy cat' efforts are especially successful when it comes to cakes and pastries. I either have sugar and butter in my blood or I was a baker in my past life, because it's usually the desserts that come out the closest to what I remember. Like the cannelĂ©s I made after I visited a pâtisserie in Bordeaux a few years ago. I swore mine came out pretty darn close! Or the prune and Armagnac cake that I made almost immediately after I ate it at one of my favorite restaurants in Duras.
Sometimes I'm quite lucky with savory dishes. They end up coming out even better than what I remember! Like this super easy pasta dish I recently tried to re-create after an evening out. With this one, it's all about the smooth, velvety sauce and the thick ribbons of pappardelle that soak it right up. The crowning glory comes in the form of these gorgeous, spicy little pomodori al forno piccanti. They jazz up the dish like a red pair of heels would jazz up an already perfect outfit! We'll be eating this again tonight. How can we not?
And in my defense, I'm not really a 'copy cat' am I? I'm just out for a little inspiration. Which is more than I can say about that kid who sat next to me in the fourth grade!

Here's the recipe:
Pappardelle with Tomato-Mascarpone Sauce
Serves 3-4
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
knob of butter
1 tbsp mild olive oil
500 ml passata
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
freshly-ground pepper
1 tsp sugar
3 tbsps mascarpone
a good handful of freshly grated parmesan
a small bunch of basil, leaves torn and a few saved for garnish
pappardelle, plus a tiny cup of its cooking water
a jar of pomodori al forno piccanti, halved

Soften the shallots and garlic in the butter and oil. Add the passata, oregano, salt, pepper and sugar. Simmer gently in a covered pan for 20 minutes. Cook your pasta al dente saving a tiny cup of the cooking water. Add the mascarpone and Parmesan to the sauce. Stir in the cooked pasta and the cooking water. Add the basil and stir through a final time. Serve pasta in warmed bowls with the pomodori and an extra sprinkling of cheese.

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