I recently purchased The Silver Spoon: Pasta, which is a ginormous pasta cookbook I’ve been itching to use. Tonight I tackled a recipe from the “long pasta” chapter: Vermicelli Pasticcio. The grocery store seemed to be experiencing a vermicelli shortage, so I grabbed a package of thin spaghetti and thought, They aren’t that different, are they?
The dish is basically a big pile of pasta, mozzarella, and prosciutto topped with a Parmesan-egg mixture and baked. Exciting fact: this was my first time using prosciutto. It took me 20 minutes to find it at the grocery store and my jaw dropped when I saw how expensive it is, but damn it, I wanted to try it! The dish, before baked, looked like deliciousness in the making:
And it would have been delicious, except that after 20 minutes of baking, the cheese glued the pasta together and it was nearly impossible to eat. So now I scratch my head wondering, if it would have been vermicelli–REAL vermicelli–would it have turned out differently? Thinking I know how to substitute food is another issue I need to work on. (This recipe calls for cilantro, but I only have basil. What the hell, they look the same–let’s try it!) Is it possible that my substitution of spaghetti for vermicelli made a difference in how edible the dish was? The whole thought gives me a headache. There are so many types of pasta that are so similar in size and shape: vermicelli and spaghetti, penne and ziti, gnocchi and cavatelli. What’s the purpose of having so many freaking shapes of pasta? AAAAAAA!
Anyway. This afternoon I finally bought salt and pepper shakers.
Until today I’d been using the salt and pepper that come together in a cheap little package. You know, the ones with these tops:
I shall now share with you a tale of a stupidly ironic moment. I was making a batch of North Woods Bean Soup that called for 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. I had not yet transferred my pepper into my new shakers–had I done so, the next thing that happened would have been entirely prevented. I feel pretty confident in visually measuring a half teaspoon of pepper, so I flipped open the lid of my cheapo bottle and turned it upside down over my pot of soup. I thought I’d flipped open the “shaker” lid, but instead I’d opened the other half of the top (the one with the big hole for pouring large amounts of pepper). To my horror, I realized too late and in the blink of an eye, I had about a tablespoon of pepper in my soup. I frantically grabbed a nearby spoon and tried to bail out the pepper. In my mind, I’d imagined the pepper as being clumped together in a mass, but as soon as the spoon touched the floating glob of pepper, it all dispersed in the broth like a dandelion being blown into the wind. I wanted to cry. I ended up sacrificing some of the broth in order to get as much of the pepper out as I could. Just my effing luck.
I did taste a spoonful of soup and the pepper content seemed okay–but I guess the truth will come out tomorrow when I have a whole bowlful. Heavens to murgatroyd…