Things haven’t been too crazy here the last month at La Cucina Castano. Well, things have been crazy, just not in the eating and drinking way. Hockey, hockey, hockey (the coolest game on earth) was keeping us busy and didn’t allow us a lot of time for indulging in food and drink with friends here at la cucina. However, I did have time for a small birthday dinner with some friends. Nothing too fancy and of course I did the cooking (wouldn’t have it any other way!).
The menu was beef and pasta. Beef mainly for everyone else, pasta mainly for me, not that everyone else doesn’t love it too, at least it seems that way when I cook it.
The meat portion of the meal was a whole beef tenderloin. I was a little worried, to be honest. Here’s the thing - I am totally not a carnivore. If you told me I could never eat steak again for the rest of my life I wouldn’t be all that upset. I’m all about seafood and pasta. However, whenever I cooked steak, be it NY strips, filet mignon, flat iron, you name it, I could pretty much nail it. On the grill, in the oven, whatever. No special tricks or methods. Just instinct I guess. And then we moved here and redesigned the kitchen from scratch and got a nice new grill for the deck and I couldn’t seem to cook a steak right to save my life. It’s like I lost my touch. I certainly didn’t want to screw up a prime cut of beef like tenderloin, especially for guests. Fortunately it came out great. Just some seasoning, seared the outside in a pan with olive oil then finished in the oven. I did use a meat thermometer, which I never do, which probably helped. Often it’s best to just keep it simple, which is easy t do when the ingredients are top quality.
I kept the pasta simple too. Just some olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, a little butter and fresh basil. Oh, and some shrimp (of course). I cooked it using a method where you finish the pasta in the pan you are using to cook your sauce. You don’t cook the pasta all the way in the water, you let it finish cooking in the sauce you are making. The sauce is very simple and uses some of the water you cooked your pasta in. Simple and delicious. Of course use good pasta as this type of sauce really let’s it shine. As I’ve stated before I’m not really that good at giving recipes since I tend to wing it most of the time in the kitchen but this article gives a good idea of what I’m talking about - http://www.esquire.com/blogs/food-for-men/perfect-pasta-bowl-0313
Of course martini’s for chef and some good dry wine to wash it all down. Good crusty bread, don’t forget that. All in all a great way to spend a birthday, cooking for friends. I wouldn’t have it any other way.