Wednesday, November 16, 2011

#LetsLunch November: Food for seduction

This month my LetsLunch group decided to choose sexy or seductive foods in honor of our friend Rashda's book debut, The Djinn's Dilemma. I'm a bit late to the party, as I've been sick, but here's my post.

Others in our group picked smoky soups, stews, donuts and jellies. Food for love, food for romance, all to fit the theme of Rashda's new romance novel!

Me? I went back to the place where I first learned how to cook. I started cooking in college and when I started, I began with a lot of Rachael Ray dishes.

I remember reading a quote she had in Good Housekeeping:
""I knew my boyfriend was the man to marry when I asked him what he would like for his birthday dinner," Rachael Ray writes in her cookbook Cooking 'Round the Clock. "I offered up lobster, steak, fine foods of all nationalities, to which he replied: 'Can I just have some of your carbonara?' Whoa! I was right about him.... 

I had never heard of carbonara, but I knew I wanted to try it. Now I'm a newly-wed myself, and my husband absolutely loves when I make this dish. It's one of our favorites!

So, for November's LetsLunch, raise a glass to our dear friend Rashda for her book release, and dig in to some lovely, creamy carbonara.

Carbonara starts with bacon or pancetta. I only had turkey bacon in the house, so use a little extra olive oil when cooking. Once the bacon is cooked through, add 3 cloves minced garlic and lower the heat. Then add one small palmful of red chile flakes and 1/3 cup white wine (only use something you would actually drink! And if you're cooking for seduction, you ought to have an open bottle of wine on hand). While this is all going on, cook 3/4 a pound of pasta to al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water.

In a separate bowl, beat 2 egg yolks and 1 egg. While whisking continuously, slowly drizzle in about 1/2 cup of the pasta water to temper the eggs. Add salt and pepper and a big handful of shredded cheese. If you're using fresh herbs (parsley, basil, etc) chop and mix into the egg. If you want a creamier carbonara, add about 1/3 to 1/2 cup half and half or milk here. This will give the pasta a shiny, glossier finish and add a little decadence (as if pasta with bacon and tons of cheese isn't decadent enough).

Toss the pasta with the bacon mixture and mix well to coat, then pour the egg mixture over. Remove from heat and stir to combine. Let stand for 5-8 minutes and allow sauce to thicken. Serve with more cheese and freshly cracked pepper.

LetsLunch is a monthly meeting of food bloggers from around the globe. Send us a note on the hashtag #Letslunch if you'd like to join us! I'm @emmacarew

See what others have posted this month:

Rashda's Spicy Seafood Soup

Linda's West African Groundnut Stew

Joe's Overnight-Marinated Swordfish Stew

Grace's Pasta Puttanesca

Cathy's Roasted Pepper Jelly

Leigh's Apple Cider Donuts

Steff's Flirty Italian Snack

See you next month for festive sides!