Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pasta with bacon and eggs (plus bacon and eggs)

Something's going to kill you eventually: I could probably eat pasta every day of the week. I know there are people out there who can resist the siren song of the noodle but I am not one of them. To be honest, I don't even try. I'd rather swim a few extra laps and enjoy a good bowl of pasta when the whim strikes me, which is often and irresistible.

I frequently fall back on old favorite recipes but recently I made this luxurious pasta carbonara, another hit from Firehouse Food.

I'll be the first to admit, carbonara is not healthy, unless you have an alternative doctor that has told you to get fatter, increase your cholesterol, and up your sodium intake. This is certainly not something I would eat too often. But you may as well make the most of your indulgences. Life is short, after all.

I've tried a lot of carbonara recipes in my day, some with as many as six eggs, some without cream, some with garlic. This one has three eggs, cream, mushrooms, and a whopping half-pound of bacon. They're not kidding around, and neither am I: this is good.

Rigatoni alla carbonara
From Firehouse Food

8 oz thick-cut pancetta or bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/4" strips (I used bacon)
1 T. olive oil
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced (I used crimini)
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 c. whipping cream
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 c. grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, plus extra for serving
1 lb rigatoni (I used penne)
2 T. chopped Italian parsley
1 t. freshly ground black pepper

Cook the bacon in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat until it is browned (but not crispy), about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon, using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels and set aside.

Discard all but 1 T. of the rendered fat in the skillet. Add the oil and heat the skillet briefly over medium heat; add the mushrooms and red pepper flakes and saute until the mushrooms are golden, about 4-5 minutes. Add the cream and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook until the cream has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes. Keep warm.

In a bowl large enough to hold the pasta, beat the eggs and yolk with the cheese. Cook the penne in boiling salted water. Reserve 1/2 c. of the pasta water and drain the pasta in a colander.

Immediately add the hot pasta to the bowl with the egg mixture, tossing to combine. Stir in the warm mushroom mixture, bacon, parsley, and pepper. If the pasta seems dry or the sauce too thick, add a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water. Serve immediately with additional grated cheese at the table.


Speaking of eggs: I now like them.  I'm not sure what happened, but I now eat eggs in all different forms: poached, hard-boiled, baked on pizzas, and even fried on a sandwich. I order them in restaurants! I make them at home!

I've always eaten them sporadically when scrambled and that remains the way I am best at preparing them. I think I make good scrambled eggs. For one thing, they are never dry. My clever trick for this is "not overcooking them." Also, cooking them over low heat seems to result in creamier eggs that don't get watery. And adding a dash of milk, just a tablespoon or two, to the beaten eggs keeps them fluffy. An old friend told me that once and I remembered it. She ended up being a professional cook, so I guess she knew what she was talking about.

Here are some pretty eggs I made a few weeks ago, served with buttery toast and thick bacon. Not too shabby for a former egg-a-phobe.


Happy birthday to me: Today, my friends, I turn one year older. Wiser? Dubious. Happier? Yes!

While I don't love getting older, I have never been one to dwell on it. I have a lot of friends who, in their late thirties or early forties, talk about how old they are. I think this is ridiculous, and frankly, doing that actually makes you seem kind of old. Sure, you're aging. And, you don't get the past back, so hopefully you did some good stuff with those years. But getting older means you have had more experiences--hopefully, most of them good. And at its most basic level, it means you're still around, and that's kind of the point, right?

The way I see it is this: whatever age you are turning, it is the youngest you will be for the rest of your life. Say you are turning 50 and feeling a little blue about it. Well, when you are turning 60 or 70, you will probably find yourself longing for the days when you were a 50-year-old spring chicken. You'd better enjoy yourself now!

We celebrated my birthday this past Saturday exactly as I wanted. It was a beautiful sunny day and we kicked around the Mission for a bit, supporting Small Business Saturday by hitting some of our favorite stores (the huz wrote about our escapades here), then grabbing a cozy lunch at The Monks Kettle. Home for a little nap and Sophie time, plus a long walk to the top of Buena Vista Park. Then dinner at Cotogna (fresh papparadelle with braised oxtail, anyone?) I couldn't ask for anything more.

I also want to give a shout-out to my niece, Emily, with whom I share my birthday. She is turning 11 today, which is infinitely more exciting than turning 38. Happy birthday, little E! I love you!


  1. Happy Birthday!
    I love pasta carbonara, but I have to admit I have never made quite such a decadent version. I'd definitely swim laps for this!

  2. Oh, what to say? Such a rich, lovely post.
    I'll say H A P P Y. B I R T H D A Y.

  3. HAPPY BIRTHDAYY!!!! No matter how old or young you are, birthdays need cake and some candles! Hope you got to make some good wishes.

  4. Happy Belated Birthday to toy & your niece! Yeah!!

    What great is that you feast this with this tasty pasta carbonara!
    Life is just too short! Yummie too! :)

  5. Sue: It IS rather decadent...won't be making it again for awhile as I am still swimming laps for it.

    cookie: Thanks, my friend!

    Jessica: I had delicious Sprinkles cupcakes!

    sophie: Thank you!

  6. Happy belated birthday wishes to you! I share a November birthday too.

    You cannot go wrong with pasta, bacon and cream. If we are going to experience a something that just screams comfort and rolls around in your mouth like salty silk...This is it!!!


    P.S. Glad you discovered eggs again. An awesome basic food.

  7. any post centering around eggs and bacon is a marvelous post indeed. happy birthday to you, again and again!

  8. Velva: Thank you! And a happy belated birthday! PS I love the phrase "salty silk"!

    grace: Thank you!

  9. I go weak at the knees for carbonara, if its on a menu, I have to order it. yours looks so good!

    And Happy Birthday (or belated)!!! I totally agree with you about not stressing out about getting older, its pointless. I actually like being older (for now, haha) and having more experience. It makes life a little less complicated.

  10. Happy Belated Birthday. I love your attitude toward aging - and you are exactly right. Enjoy it all now and don't look back. Everyone is a better person now than they were 10 or 20 years ago.

  11. Connie: Agreed!

    Zoomie: Yes, we all improve with age :)

  12. Happy belated birthday! I saw the photo of the girl and thought that was you when you were younger! It could be you, huh? I'm jealous you got to go to Cotogna. I still have to try there. And I agree, carbonara is decadently luxurious, but definitely not healthy. Maybe just once a year for birthdays! :)

  13. That pasta carbonara looks delicious and sounds even better.

    A favorite (and simple) sans-cream version in our house is Ruth Reichl's Spaghetti Carbonara recipe. I heard her talk about this on the radio a few years ago and had to track it down and now it's a regular quick dinner, I must admit.

    Happy pasta! Happy birthday!

  14. Ben: Thank you so much! I HIGHLY recommend you try Cotogna, it is my new favorite place and definitely worth a visit/review for your blog.

    Rebby: Hi! Thanks for this link, I will check it out. Hope you, Brett, Maggie & the girls are doing well. xoxo

  15. Belated Happy Birthday! I just had one a couple days ago. I try to ignore them now. :)
    I wish I had seen this dish....would have made it for myself to celebrate!

  16. Barbara: Thank you--and happy birthday to YOU as well!

  17. Happy, happy belated birthday dear! I recently turned 38 too :) You know what's funny? I'm kind of looking forward to turning 40. A lot of my friends have got there and I feel almost left behind. Is that strange or what?

    And your scrambled eggs look fantastic. As does the carbonara. I can eat pasta any day (or night) of the week too.

  18. Thanks, shaz, and a very happy birthday to you too!! I wouldn't say I'm looking forward to turning 40 but I'm not too stressed about it either.

  19. Happy Birthday! Ok, there is not much meat that I would eat any longer but your pasta dish might be up there. And I know the man-boys in my house would adore it. Love eggs - all kinds and love the line "the siren song of the noodle".

  20. Agrigirl: Thanks! I have heard many vegetarians say the meat they miss most/at all is bacon. Must be something about that smokey flavor...

  21. I love looking at my current age as the youngest I'll be from now on, as opposed to the oldest I've ever been. Thanks for the reversal of perspective!

    Also, I am all for softly scrambled eggs over low heat. They really are vastly superior to quick-scrambled eggs. Definitely worth the time.

  22. camille: for some reason the low heat really makes a difference. I'm sure there's good scientific reason for it but I have no idea what it is.

  23. Wow was I slow at blog reading after Thanksgiving. Just seeing this now and loving the picture of Emily on the Princeton tiger :) Looking forward to seeing you, the huz and Sophie in the new year. Hugs and Merry Christmas wishes!

  24. Ash: I love that your recognized the Princeton tiger!

  25. Hey Sam,it's me again. Just wanted to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

  26. Thank you, shaz! The same to you! xoxo

  27. happy belated! and happy 2012!