Friday's have been pasta night lately here at La Cucina Castano. Of course, if it were up to me, every night would be pasta night! But Friday night's are all about cocktails and pasta. Not a better way to end a stressful week as far as I'm concerned.
A few of the regular crew - Kathi & Michael, Mick & Troy - were over for some food, drink and hockey - Rangers lost to the Pens in a shootout :-( . Being a Friday and having to work all day there was not a lot of time for preparation. The idea was to keep it simple. So, after a quick stop at Wegman's on the way home for some olives (Wegman's has the best olive bar) and fresh bread (tuscan garlic loaf, still warm out of the oven - perfect timing!) it was time get home before anyone arrived to mix a cocktail and start the water boiling.
For some reason I wanted to do a cajun inspired sauce. Not sure what brought that inspiration on but I just rolled with it. Due to time constraints it needed to be quick and simple. Mission accomplished. I started with olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper, like I do with just about any sauce I make. Once the garlic was simmering nicely I added tomatoes (peeled, canned), some clam juice, chopped green onion and andouille sausage (cut into slices). I didn't have a cajun spice mix readily available (forgot I had used it all up last time I was on a cajun bent) so I added garlic powder, cumin and chili powder. Also some worcestershire sauce. Normally this type of sauce I would let simmer for quite a while but as the guests were arriving soon I cranked up the heat to get the sauce to a boil. I needed the wonderful flavor of the andouille sausage to infuse the sauce and fairly quickly. As the sauce was reducing too much - great for intensifying flavors but not so great when you have a lot of pasta to coat - I added more liquid in the form of clam stock. I was originally planning on adding some file powder at the end as a thickening agent but I had cooked two pounds of pasta and had just enough sauce to coat the pasta so I passed on that idea. For the pasta I used fettucine (Lidia's, a very good, not too expensive brand). Once the pasta was cooked it was quickly removed from the water into the sauce and raw shrimp was added. The shrimp then cooked as it was stirred into hot pasta and sauce. Everyone seemed to love it.
Since I was cooking a cajun inspired sauce I decided cajun martinis were in order. Pepper vodka, vermouth and some of the juice from a bottle of Trappey's peppers. Tasty and spicy, just the right amount of kick.
Tasty cocktails and cooking for my friends. What a great way to kick off the weekend. Hope your Friday was as good as mine.