Orecchiette with Broccoli & Pancetta

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Here’s something for you to cook this weekend, something from the archives. It comes from The River Cafe Cookbook, a book I no longer own, but no matter. It’s an easy enough recipe, I have it memorized. So easy: I can squeeze it all into this paragraph. Boil a pot of water, add salt. In a large skillet, add cubed pancetta–about two big slices worth. Add a splash of olive oil, raise the heat and let the pancetta start to brown. When it’s getting closer to brown than not-brown, add broccoli florets–about two heads worth–to the salted water. Add 2 or 3 cloves of slivered garlic to the pancetta and some red pepper flakes. (Watch the garlic: don’t let it burn.) When the broccoli is just cooked, but still al dente (1 or 2 minutes) lift with a spider into the skillet with the pancetta and garlic. Now drop a 1 lb box of orecchiette into that same salted broccoli water; stir it all around so the pasta doesn’t stick to itself. Lower the heat on the broccoli and if the pan is too dry, add some pasta cooking water. Keep it on the lowest flame while the pasta cooks. When the pasta’s just al dente (9 minutes later) add with the spider to the skillet with the broccoli and pancetta (it’s ok if some pasta water gets in, it helps make the sauce). Toss all around until everything’s coated and the pasta’s totally cooked through and then, off the heat, add copious amounts of Parmesan cheese and one final drizzle of olive oil. Magnifico! There you have it: Orecchiette with Broccoli & Pancetta.

A Modest Proposal

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We approached The River Cafe with trepidation. “Shhhh,” I told Craig. “They could be outside.”

“They won’t hear us,” he said. “You’re being ridiculous.”

Was I? You see my parents arrived at The River Cafe at 8 pm with Michael, my brother, and his girlfriend Tali in the same car. The plan was that Michael would take Tali for a walk and Craig and I would arrive at 8:30 to find that either (a) my brother was engaged or (b) Tali ran away in tears and Michael had jumped into the river.

Or (c) it hadn’t happened yet. What if he was taking his time? And what if we were walking right into the most romantic moment of their lives?

“Just keep your voice down,” I said sternly. “We don’t want them to hear us.”

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