Carbonara For One: More Than a Recipe

carbonara
Why Carbonara?

Carbonara is my love language. It is not only my favorite food, but also my preferred way to offer care and comfort to myself and my loved ones. I prepare carbonara at least once per week, sometimes more if I am feeling particularly tender, hungry, or cozy. I often make single servings for myself after long days, or even for a late breakfast, and I have continued to hone my process over several years. At this point it feels more like a dance than a recipe, requiring fluidity, attention, and flexibility.

It goes without saying that I did not create any part of this dish, and that I’m sure there are many Italians that could cook circles around me. What I bring to this recipe is a pure reverence and devotion to the dish, and an utter delight each time I make it. If you take anything from this post, I hope it is not a perfect bowl of pasta, but a desire to find your own sacred foods and cultivate a deep appreciation for the ritual of making them.

Bon Appetit!

Ingredients:
  • 3 eggs, separated (fresh, free range ideally – the quality of the eggs really matter in this recipe, low quality yields flavorless pasta)
  • 3-4 oz. of guanciale/uncured bacon/pancetta
  • Generous handful of spaghetti or bucatini
  • Hunk of good Parmesan (you can use Pecorino Romano if you like, not pre-shredded)
  • Heaps of freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Optional: scallions/chives/parsley for garnish
Method:
  1. Chop or cut pork into small bits.
  2. Sauté pork in a non-stick pan over low-medium heat.
  3. Start to boil pasta water in a separate saucepan.
  4. When pork is starting to crisp, about 5 minutes into cooking, reduce heat to low and allow it to fully cook over low heat in the rendered fat.
  5. Once water boils generously salt pasta water and add pasta, cooking 2 minutes short of al dente
  6. While the pork and pasta are cooking you will prepare the sauce. In a bowl (I use the bowl I am going to eat out of) separate three eggs. You do not need egg whites for this recipe, but I will add a teaspoon of the whites to the yolks to give the sauce a little more fluidity. Mix egg yolks until very well blended.
  7. Grate parmesan into the egg mixture. I use at least ½ cup, it should form a texture like a paste. Add pinch of salt and generous amount of cracked pepper to the egg and cheese mixture.
  8. When pasta is close to al dente scoop a splash of pasta water into the egg mixture. This tempers the eggs and begins to melt the shredded cheese. The texture should thin a bit, but not be watery. Be careful not to overdo it!
  9. Increase heat on pork to med-high to bring the pan temperature back up.
  10. Using tongs transfer pasta directly from the pasta water to the pan with the pork with ¼ cup of pasta water, moving quickly. DO NOT DRAIN OR RINSE YOUR PASTA. Reserve the rest of the pasta water.
  11. Continually stir the pasta and pork as the liquid cooks off and pasta water reduces some. The pasta should be lubricated, not dry, with the fat and pasta water beginning to stick to the pasta. Add more pasta water if you need to during this step as it cooks off.
  12. Pull off heat and allow pasta to cool slightly.
  13. Slowly start to pour egg and cheese mixture into the pan with the pasta, stirring continually as you pour. If the sauce seems too thick after adding the egg mixture you can add more pasta water, one tablespoon at a time. The sauce should be glossy and cling to the noodles, not goopy or thin.
  14. Finish in the bowl with fresh Parmesan, more cracked black pepper, and garnish if you choose to.
  15. Eat immediately! Carbonara is best served hot and eaten quickly after.

Notes:

This recipe requires you to multitask. Time is of the essence when you make carbonara! It is crucial that you do not overcook the pasta, and it all comes together quite quickly. It helps to prep your mise en place before you begin and have everything close to the stove where you are cooking for easy access.

Tongs are a huge help with this recipe. You can use them to cook the pork and the pasta, and they make it easy to transfer the pasta without draining.

If you’re not a pork eater, you can substitute mushrooms or another hearty vegetable in place of the meat. Add a tiny bit of soy sauce or another umami flavor to the vegetables for the salty, meaty flavor you would be skipping.

Salt at each stage. You need to add it to the pasta water and a pinch to the egg mixture or the dish will lack complex flavor, but it is easy to over salt so be mindful of that!

Do not put cream or milk in this dish. Pasta water works magic here, it’s just not necessary, and it will result in a pasta that is too rich and heavy. Or peas, because frozen peas do not add anything to the flavor or texture of this dish.

The Ideal Autumn Meal: Tamales With a Side of Grey Goo

Ah, it’s that time of the year. The leaves are turning red, the air is starting to cool, the sun is starting to set earlier. Autumn fast approaches, and with it, season specific food. Thats right, it’s tamale time!

Now, if your’e anything like me, then you love tamales. And who doesn’t love a variety of meats and spices wrapped in maze, covered in a corn husk and steamed to perfection? I know a lot about tamales, how to eat them, how to serve them, how to enjoy them, but not how to make them. Fortunately, I’m on the internet.

-10 hours later-

Alright, now I know more about tamales then I’ll ever need to know, and now I am going to make that YOUR problem. Earlier I said “if your’e anything like me, then you love tamales”, but don’t fool yourself. You are nothing like me. For you see, I really love tamales.

Between my tamale obsession and my laziness, I simply can’t make enough tamales by hand to keep me satisfied. So I think it’s time I get a helping hand. Or a lot of helping hands. Like, hundreds of tiny helping hands. And before you ask, I’m not talking about using child labor in a sweatshop next to my storage unit, I’m talking about nanobots! The sweatshop is unrelated, just forget I brought it up.

If you clicked on this thinking it would be a tutorial on how to make tamales, but after seeing that last paragraph are starting to second guess yourself, don’t worry, this is a tamale tutorial. But not your run of the mill tamale tutorial, no, I’m going to teach you how to make tamales like the Demiurge you were always meant to be.

Step 1: making the nanobots

Making nanobots is one of those fun activities you do in an afternoon, ideally with your father or son, depending on what roll you are. Go into the garage and pull out your Kirkland Signature matter fabricator. Program it to make a robot that will make a smaller robot that will make a smaller robot and have this continue until a small robot, approximately the size of a needle, produces a nanobot half the size of a blood cell. Now that that is done, we have just completed the toughest step.

Step 2: from 1 to 2 to goo!

Program that nanobot with 3 instructions. 1, make 4 copies of yourself using any non-tamale matter. 2, download the 3 preprogrammed instructions into the newly fabricated nanobots. 3, convert all non-nanobot matter into tamales. Now you just sit back, relax, and wait as those piles of corn and meat and whatever else magically assembles into tamales before your eyes.

Step 3: realize you made a mistake.

So… we forgot to program the nanobots not to turn ourselves into tamales. And I guess that ought to extend to our friends and family too. But not the neighbor’s dog. By this point, poor snuffles has already had his matter converted into tamale ingredients. Assuming that the nanobots are still on the tamales, lets just avoid eating that batch for now. Besides, we have more important things to do…

Step 4: get out of town!

Because you were so eager to consume delicious tamales, you set the duplication to 4, so we have very little time left. At this point, just go to NASA or SpaceX and steal yourself a rocket. That’s right, we’re leaving Earth. Assuming the nanobots won’t be able to leave Earth on their own, and we know we didn’t program them to be aware enough to realize the entire universe is made out of matter, we should be able to safely establish the first Mars tamale colony! You did follow the instructions, right?

Step 5: take one last look.

Step 6: enough looking, get on the rocket!

Step 7: lift off

By this point, you should be asking yourself, was it worth it? The answer is, yes. Of course it was worth it. But this is also your fault and you should be ashamed. I mean, look at what you did! This, this is Earth right now! This is all your fault. What were you thinking? What, that you would just look up an article online about making tamales, following along without first reading through the entire article? THERE WEREN’T EVEN INGREDIENTS LISTED!

Step 8: remorse

You forgot to grab cattle. Meat doesn’t grow in the ground, corn does. This is your fault, not mine. And you didn’t grab corn seeds. No, Mars dirt can’t be used to make tamales. You don’t even have water to steam your non-tamale dirt tamales. This is why we can’t have nice things, because of people like you.

 

I hope you found this tamale tutorial useful! Next week, throwing your cat in a nuclear reactor. Federal authorities call it a serious offense and a radiological hazard, but you kids will absolutely love having a glow-in-the-dark kitty cat!

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat

Caroline Armstrong

I became a vegetarian almost 7 years ago after an unfortunate night involving too much red meat. After the worst stomach ache I have ever had, I vowed that I was going to stop eating meat all together. And that’s exactly what I did. It has been a struggle to find meals that still resemble the taste of meat. Here are some of my favorite recipes that even my meat eating friends love.

1. Cauliflower Buffalo Wings

https://www.hotforfoodblog.com/recipes/2014/02/11/cauliflower-buffalo-wings/

These buffalo wings made from battered cauliflower are the #1 requested meal from my friends. They are great for parties or barbecues and have an added bonus of being super easy to make! The recipe also includes a vegan ranch sauce for dipping.

2. Chick’n Noodle Soup

Vegetable Chik'n Noodle Soup
https://www.morningstarfarms.com/recipes/vegetable-chik-n-noodle-soup-recipe.html

There are definitely some “fake meat” products I would advise you to avoid, but luckily the chick’n from Morning Star Farms are not one of them. It is currently 4 degrees Fahrenheit where I live and sometimes I just crave a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup. These chick’n strips are a great addition to soups and salads.

3. Spaghetti Squash

Learn how to make Roasted Spagehtti Squash the easy way! This method works PERFECTLY every-single-time.
https://bakerbynature.com/roast-spaghetti-squash/

Spaghetti Squash is a great alternative for pasta and they are super cheap. Add your favorite sauce or some olive oil, salt, and pepper and enjoy!

4. Loaded Nachos

Loaded Nachos
https://www.morningstarfarms.com/recipes/loaded-nachos-recipe.html

Nachos are a quick and easy snack, and these ground beef crumbles from Morning Star Farms are a great addition. My boyfriend didn’t even realize they weren’t real beef at first!

5. Sesame Cauliflower

Sweet, sticky, addictive sesame cauliflower, a healthy & delicious meatless recipe
https://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2017/01/09/sticky-sesame-cauliflower/

This sesame cauliflower looks like it could be sesame chicken when you first see it. Add some rice and vegetables on the side for a delicious meal.

Five Amazing Fish Taco Recipes

Living in Missoula MT, it’s hard to find quality fish tacos. So much so that I’ve taken it upon myself to make them at home. After sifting through dozens of recipes, I give you five amazing fish taco recipes you must try next time you have taco Tuesday. I promise you wont be disappointed.

Fish Tacos with Strawberry Mango Salsa

IF

Ingredients

  • 1 lb firm tilapia, cut into 1-inch-thick fillets
  • 1 lime, juice of
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
  • Strawberry Mango Salsa
  • Corn or whole wheat tortillas, small
  • Lime, cilantro, Tabasco sauce for garnish, optional

Directions

  1. In a flat rimmed baking dish, whisk together lime juice, cumin, chili powder, salt and black pepper. Turn fish on both sides in marinate until evenly coated. Let fish marinade in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
  2. In the meanwhile, prepare Strawberry Mango Salsa.
  3. Preheat an indoor/outdoor grill or large non-stick skillet on medium high heat and spray with cooking spray. Place fish on the grill/skillet and cook untouched until white and opaque on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Carefully flip on the other side and cook another 4 minutes. If using an indoor grill, you won’t have to flip the fish and cook for 4 minutes total. Transfer to a platter and using the fork break into large flakes. Warm up tortillas on the grill or microwave.
  4. To assemble a taco, place desired amount of fish in a warm tortilla, and top it with Strawberry Mango Salsa and any optional garnishes.

Salmon Tacos with Thai Curry Sauce

Salmon-Tacos-with-Thai-Curry-Sauce

Ingredients 

  • Salmon fillet
  • Small Flour Tortillas, one per taco

For the curry:

  • 1 can Coconut Milk
  • 2 Tbls. Panang or Red Curry Paste
  • 1 Tbls. palm sugar*
  • 1 Tbls. fish sauce

For the slaw:

  • 1½ C. shredded green cabbage
  • 1½ C. shredded red cabbage
  • 1 sliced green onion
  • ¼ C. chopped mint
  • ¼ C. chopped basil
  • ¼ C. chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced, zested
  • 1 Tbls. fish sauce
  • 2 tsp. palm sugar*
  • ⅛ tsp. red chili paste (you could use red pepper flakes)

Directions

  1. Prepare curry: Combine coconut milk, curry paste, palm sugar and fish sauce in saucepan. Stir well and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, to reduce sauce and thicken a bit. Set aside.
  2. Prepare slaw: add shredded cabbage, green onion and chopped herbs in bowl. Combine lime juice, zest, fish sauce, palm sugar and red chili paste and drizzle over cabbage. Toss well and set aside.
  3. Grill or bake salmon. Heat tortilla, add salmon (break into a few pieces to fit in tortilla), some slaw and drizzle curry sauce on top.
  4. *Substitute white or brown sugar for palm sugar if necessary. And taste for correct sweetness. Need a little more salt, add more fish sauce, need a little more heat, add a bit more curry or red chili pepper.

Blackened Mahi Mahi Tacos with Chipotle Mayo 

Mahi-Mahi-Tacos-with-a-Chipotle-Mayo-8

 

Ingredients 

For Chipotle Mayo:

  • 1 whole chipotle pepper* (in adobo sauce)
  • ½ cup light mayo
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the Blackening Seasoning:

  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper

For the Tacos:

  • 15 oz. mahi-mahi, skin removed
  • 6 small flour tortillas
  • ⅓ cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup cabbage, shredded
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tbsp cilantro (or flat leaf parsley), chopped

Directions 

  1. First, prepare the chipotle mayo. Add the mayo, chipotle pepper, and lime juice to a blender and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then refrigerate until ready for use.
  2. Mix the paprika, dried Italian seasoning, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cut the filet of mahi-mahi in half lengthwise. Then, cut into large equal-sized pieces. Sprinkle the mahi-mahi with the blackening seasoning and set aside.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray and add the seasoned mahi-mahi pieces. Cook the pieces until each side has browned and the fish is flaky, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Heat the tortillas in a skillet over medium-high heat, about 30 seconds per side. Alternatively, heat the tortillas in a microwave under a damp paper towel in 30 second increments.
  6. Assemble the tortillas by laying a few pieces of the mahi-mahi down the center of each tortilla, then top it with ⅙th of the shredded cheese, cabbage, tomatoes, and cilantro. Drizzle with chipotle mayo and serve immediately.

Blackened Tilapia Baja Tacos

4e4281c0a1d2df62d4c3b1ff30cd33c7

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup thinly sliced white onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1/2 ripe peeled avocado, thinly sliced
  • 4 lime wedges

Directions 

  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. Combine jalapeño sauce and onion in a small bowl.
  2. Combine paprika and next 6 ingredients (through ground red pepper); sprinkle evenly over fish. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.
  3. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Divide fish, onion mixture, and avocado evenly among tortillas. Serve with lime wedges.

Sautéed Tilapia Tacos with Grilled Peppers & Onions

1108p84-sauteed-tilapia-tacos-x

Ingredients

  • 2 (1/2-inch-thick) slices white onion
  • 1 (8-ounce) package mini sweet bell peppers
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 (5-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
  • 8 lime wedges (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat grill to high heat.
  2. Arrange onion slices and bell peppers on a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill onions for 12 minutes, turning after 6 minutes. Grill bell peppers 12 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove onions and bell peppers from grill, and let stand for 5 minutes. Slice onion rings in half. Thinly slice bell peppers; discard stems and seeds. Combine onion, bell peppers, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Sprinkle fish evenly with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 3/8 teaspoon black pepper. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fish to pan, and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.
  4. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Divide fish, onion mixture, and jalapeño slices evenly among tortillas. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Please leave a comment and let me know which recipes you tried, and how you liked it!

Written by Rachael Fuson

University of Montana