Thursday, July 17, 2014

Carbonara in a New Kitchen

We just wrote the last check for our kitchen renovation today. Today it's done. Frankly, we've been functioning in the space for a few weeks now, but today feels momentous. It's been quite the roller coaster ride to renovate a kitchen while continuing to live in the same house. Don't get me wrong, I am so grateful we have the opportunity to renovate the space. But I'm also happy to move onto the next phase. Here is a quick tour before things get too messy to snap photos.

We chose a galley layout, which in the end is one of the most efficient kitchen systems. There's no triangle that crosses the room; instead, everything flows along the line from refrigerator to sink to stove to dining room. It's been working great, and it's wide enough to accommodate more than one cook on each side. Along that line, we have a ridiculously powerful six burner stovetop. Which we will use a lot. I've already discovered it's so powerful some of my skillets can't handle the heat.

Off in a corner between the kitchen and living room we created a new desk area, with room for my embarrassing collection of cookbooks. This not only gives me a workspace close to the kitchen action, but it frees up our existing desk space for the ever increasing computer needs of my children. They get the desktop in the living room (with the screen facing me, thank you very much), and we put a new laptop in the kitchen desk area.

But beyond function, we had fun picking out some visual bling. We chose a gray glass subway tile for the backsplash. So inexpensive and so stunning. The woven pendants over the island are recycled telephone wires. Isn't that cool? And finally, a red barn door. Who cares if it's functional or not, it's just awesome.

Since we settled in a few weeks ago, we've been deciding where to put what and cooking as much as we can. We've baked pies, cooked zucchini fritters, and made popovers. All things we missed in our living room kitchen. But one simple pleasure that has come back to us is pasta. Pasta was surprisingly hard to pull off in the living room. For several weeks we did our dishes in the basement, and it just didn't seem worth the effort to go down a flight of stairs to drain the pasta water. So the other night we made carbonara, a delightful yet easy dish. Sometimes it's the simple things that are missed most of all.

Pasta Carbonara

1 lb pasta
4-6 pieces of bacon
1/2 small onion, diced small
1 c. peas (thawed if frozen)
3 eggs
3/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated
1/2-1 c. pasta water
kosher salt and pepper to taste
Flat leaf parsley, chopped
More grated parmesan for topping at the table

In a skillet, cook bacon until crispy. Remove and drain on a paper towel. When cool, crumble bacon into small pieces. Cook onion in the bacon fat on medium heat until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Remove onions with a slotted spoon and set aside with the bacon.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, well-salted water. While the pasta is cooking, in a large serving bowl, mix together the eggs and parmesan with a whisk until blended. Just before draining the pasta, scoop out 1 cup of pasta water and set aside.

Drain the pasta, and while it's still hot, add to the serving dish. Working quickly with tongs, mix pasta  and 1/2 cup of the pasta water thoroughly with the egg mixture (this allows the egg mixture to cook and evenly coat the pasta). Add bacon, onion, and peas and mix well. Add a bit more pasta water if it seems that the pasta is sticky.

Place pasta in a bowl, top with parsley, and eat immediately.