Spaghetti Carbonara For Beginners

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I frequently have to remind myself that there was a time when any exotic-sounding, technique-heavy recipe would fill me with terror. Cook the pasta until al dente? How will I know when it’s al dente? Toast the garlic until golden brown? What’s golden brown? How’s that different from brown brown?

And by facing my fears head on, tackling recipe after recipe, the fear is gone and now I love to cook. But I remind myself of my old fears because I imagine there are many among you who experience similar fears: “Me? Make spaghetti carbonara? Oh no, I couldn’t. Me? Little old me?”

But spaghetti carbonara is a good recipe for beginners because the payoff is huge and the techniques required are basic and quickly learnable. Here, let me prove it.

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Egg Salad Soliloquy

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I, Egg Salad, am superior to your egg salad. Why you ask? For starters, my eggs are always perfectly cooked. They start in cold water and then the heat is raised until it’s boiling, then it’s taken off the heat, a lid is placed and they sit like that for 15 minutes. I bet your eggs have green rings around them; not mine! Again, I’m superior.

Once cooked like that, my eggs are submerged in ice water and then peeled under a running faucet to make it easier for the egg to separate from the shell. Once peeled, my eggs are NOT smashed in a bowl with a fork like your grandmother used to do. No, no, no. My eggs are placed on a cutting board and cut into dainty little cubes. Precious? Perhaps; but darling no doubt!

Diced, the eggs dive into a bowl and are adorned with a loving dollop of mayo: not too much or we’ll lose our eggy essence. For a kick, some mustard; kosher salt, pepper and here’s the real kicker: capers. And celery. And paprika and just a dash of cayenne pepper.

Those are my secrets, you unworthy secret hearer. I am Egg Salad, and I am superior to you and all that you represent. I am served on toasted whole wheat bread with salt and vinegar potato chips. I am wonderful, you know it. Kiss my feet.

Sincerely,

Egg Salad

A Killer Breakfast

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There is no greater triumph for a home cook than to make something spectacular out of food you already have on hand. Case in point: the dish you see above, Chorizo scrambled eggs and fried fingerling potatoes–assembled, with no premeditation, in a matter of minutes.

How did I do it? Easy. I took Chorizo that I had leftover from the Arroz Con Pollo I cooked last week and, after peeling off the skin, cut it into cubes. I heated some olive oil, added the cubes, fried them up a bit–poured off some excess fat–and then added 3 eggs slightly beaten. I immediately lowered the heat to barely a whisper of a flame and stirred around until the eggs were hardly cooked. Salt, pepper, all done!

As for the potatoes, I took the fingerlings and cut them vertically. Then I coated a skillet with olive oil, turned on high heat, waited a few minutes and carefully placed the poatoes in face down. I left them like that for a long while–10 minutes–and after lifting one to make sure it was a dark beautiful brown, I started tossing them all around and continuing to cook until a knife went through easily. At that point I added lots of salt and pepper and tilted on to a plate.

Not the healthiest breakfast in the world, but one that’ll put a big smile on your face. And if you’re smiling at breakfast, imagine what you’ll be doing at dinner. No wonder it’s the most important meal of the day.