I woke up this morning to this:
knew it was coming. Boston declared a snow emergency last night, the bakery were I work was closed ahead of time (hence my sleeping until 11:30!), schools are closed. Snow days are the best. I haven't had snow like this in my life for years. I spent my junior and senior years of college in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where it certainly snows, but not like this. And in both the winter prior to and following my time in Santa Fe, I was living on two different Kibbutzim in the Arava Desert of Israel. No snow. So now, after four consecutive winters in the desert, I am returning to my roots. The American northeast. Brrr.
I hate winter, but I love snow like this. It's beautiful and special.
On a blizzardy day, it seems there is nothing to do but cook. Even my sister, who lived on her own for 3 months without a cutting board, made delicious cookies during the last nor'easter that hit Massachusetts.
Here is what I made for lunch today:
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
This dish is great for a cold wintery day. It's rich, filling, warming, fast, and it is very likely that you have all the ingredients on hand, which is important when you can't get out of your driveway!
This is a recipe I have made countless times, especially when traveling. This past June, I spent a month in Italy with my friend Anna. We did a work/housing exchange at a farmhouse bed and breakfast in Umbria and collected fresh eggs every morning. What a fabulous difference the farm-fresh eggs made in a dish like carbonara! The eggs really are the star of the dish, so make sure they are fresh. They needn't be from this morning, but I wouldn't make carbonara with eggs that are about to expire.
After my month in Italy, I returned to Montpellier to spend a month living with my friend Lisa. I took a long overnight bus back to France with an enormous wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano in my purse, per her request. We made spaghetti alla carbonara and ate it out of the bowl as we caught up on what we'd each done over the last month. In France, we used lardon, which were conveniently cut up into little cubes for us.
I am going to give the measurements for the carbonara I made today, which made an enormous bowl enough for two people to share.
Half a pound of spaghetti
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more to finish
Half cup diced pancetta or bacon
Boil water for the pasta.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a smallish pan. You don't need a lot of oil, since the pancetta will render plenty of fat. Add the garlic, onions and pancetta and let cook, stirring occasionally.
When the pasta comes to a boil, add a hearty amount of salt, and then the spaghetti. Tend to the bacon and onion mixture. Don't be afraid to stir the pasta using the same spoon you're using for your bacon.
Break open the egg, pop into a small bowl, and add a good glug of milk (or cream if you're feeling particularly decadent). Whisk in the cheese and beat it all until smooth.
By now, the bacon and onions will be ready. If the pasta isn't cooked yet, keep the bacon covered and warm.
Now comes the part that requires speed and concentration. When the pasta is ready, drain it, reserving a some cooking water in an extra cup in case you need to loosen the sauce. Immediately return the spaghetti to the pot it was cooked in, and add the bacon mixture, including all the fat it rendered. Toss with the pasta so it's well coated with the fat, and then quickly add the egg mixture. Stir it into the pasta and watch as it transforms into a silky, creamy, delicate sauce before your own eyes. The hot pasta is cooking the egg!
(If it seems dry and sticky, add some of the pasta water. If it seems runny and uncooked, you can verrrrrryyy carefully heat it for a hot second- but be careful or you'll end up with...eggs. I would suggest even holding the pot a few inches above the flame of your stove, tossing a few times, and then removing it.)
Transfer to bowls and add salt, more parmesan, and a good amount of black pepper.
Enjoy the food and if you're getting snow today, enjoy that as well!