Saturday, March 29, 2014

Zapped banana

I should probably tweet this rather than blog it, but here goes:

Take one banana and microwave for 30-45 seconds on high, depending on the power of the ovens. (Newer and larger ovens are more powerful, and use less time.)

Peel and eat.

The results are actually rather comforting.  Sort of like a warm banana pudding.  Perfect for a rainy day.



Pasta with preserved lemons, garlic and chili

This is not a healthy dish.  I never thought that the pasta would be a concern and the quantity of butter no big deal, but this is apparently where we stand in terms of today's health wisdom.  But it is real good.  So enjoy it from time to time.

The recipe is based on a combination mentioned by Mario Batali in an interview once, and I took it for a few test drives and came up with that lies beneath.  The quantities of salty ingredients are variable.  The larger quantity makes for a more hard-hitting, assertive dish.  It is considerably milder but still quite tasty.  Serve this with an acidic wine.  I think it is better with red, so my first choice would be a Pinot Noir or  an Austrian Blaufrankisch.  It would  also go well with an dry Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.  If the wine lacks acidity, it will come off as sweet, heavy and syrupy in combination with the preserved lemons, while the high acid wines are mellowed and compliment the dish perfectly.

This recipe serves four, and could easily be called Pasta with Forty Cloves of Garlic.  I find that it is easier to cook the garlic in a larger quanitity, but you can adjust the proportions for one or two servings.

Pasta with Preserved Lemons, Garlic and Chili


  • 1 pound tubular pasta such as penne
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 40 cloves of garlic, peeled (pre-peeled garlic is fine)
  • 2-4 large preserved lemons (preferably homemade, store-bought acceptable)
  • 2-4 anchovies 
  • 2-8 pickled chilis (these vary widely, I use Roland, which are about 2 inches long and  1/4 inch wide)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan or grana Padano


  1. Bring a large (4-6 quart) pot of water to boil  (This is the first thing you should do when you get home if you are even contemplating making past, not that people do this much anymore.)  Salt the water more lightly than you might for pasta ordinarily since it will be dressed with salty ingredients, about 2 tablespoons for this quantity of water.
  2. Put the garlic and seven tablespoons of butter in a small pot on medium heat.  When the butter melts, turn heat down to medium low and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.  You want the garlic to brown very lightly, but be careful that it does not burn.
  3. Pour the garlic  and butter through a coarse strainer into a medium skillet.  Transfer the garlic to a cutting board. It will crisp up a bit as it cools.  
  4. Remove the pulp from the preserved lemons, and sliver the peel.
  5. Put the pasta into the boiling water.  Depending on more variables than I can list here, it will probably take between 8 and 10 minutes.  
  6.  Put the slivered preserved lemon into the skillet with the butter and saute on medium heat until lightly brown.  Be careful that the butter, which will contain some brown residue, does not burn.
  7. Add the chopped chili to the pan and saute a minute.
  8. Add the anchovy filets and mash into a paste.
  9. Slice the garlic. and add to the pan with the other ingredients.  Add the parsley and cook for about 30 seconds.  You don't want to cook it but you don't want it to be quite raw either.
  10. Scoop out a coffee cup of pasta water and set aside. 
  11. Drain the pasta and put it into a warmed serving bowl.  Add the remaining  tablespoon of butter and half of the grated cheese.  Dump on the ingredients from the skillet and mix into the pasta.
  12. Serve quickly in warmed pasta bowls with the remaining grated cheese.