It’s a well-documented fact that I love cooking shows. I would like to say that I’m not a big tv watcher but in truth I am. I don’t watch a whole lot of sitcoms or dramas (though, there are some that I DVR) or even movies. I do watch a fair amount of reality tv in that if I’m home and the tv is on, it’s likely to be on Food Network or HGTV. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good room make-over.
I like to watch the cooking stuff, though, for two reasons. One, it reminds me of my grandmother. She faithfully watched cooking shows when Julia was really the only game in town. The Frugal Gourmet and Yen Can Cook followed soon after- ah the days of PBS- but Julia was always the favorite. Possibly because she was a friend (someday I’ll upload the really sweet letter she wrote to my grandmother when Grandma was diagnosed with Cancer), possibly because she’s really the best. Who knows? I just know that I spent many an afternoon on the sofa with my grandmother watching Julia cook. When I watch cooking shows now, I often wonder if she would have liked Food Network as much as I do- all those chefs and recipes in one place.
The other reason I like cooking shows is for the knowledge. The more you cook, the more you get a sense of what flavors pair nicely and what different techniques do. The more I watch, the more confident I am that I can make these things at home. The less I need actual recipes. And the more I can go out to eat, taste something and figure out how to replicate it at home. Cooking isn’t a mysterious art. It’s like anything else- the more you do it, the better you get at it. The more you know, the better you do. I was visiting with a friend recently and she said to me, “So, wow, you cook a lot!” My response? “Well, not a lot. Once a day. You know, dinner. Because otherwise we don’t eat.”
My grandmother, by my friend’s measure, cooked constantly. She made breakfast, lunch and dinner most days. Money wasn’t free-flowing when my mom was growing up so they didn’t eat out a whole lot. Plus, that wasn’t the culture back then- restaurants weren’t what they are today. They were for special occasions, not three or four nights a week. So my grandmother knew about flavors and techniques. She took a few cooking classes and she read cookbooks. I actually used to wonder how she could read a cookbook- isn’t it just a list of ingredients and directions?- but I get it now. If you cook enough, when you read a recipe you can sort of picture and imagine the process, how you might tweak it and how it might taste. It’s another thing I do that makes me feel connected to her. I read cookbooks (and blogs but Grandma didn’t have those. I think she would have loved them- all those recipes, right at your fingertips.).
But back to the cooking shows. Food TV has one show I like called “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” Basically, it’s all these celebrity chefs talking about the best things they’ve eaten at various restaurants. They’ll pick a subject- cake, breakfast, gooey treats- and the chefs will spend a few minutes singing the praises of this hamburger or that pastry and they’ll show the restaurant where it’s made. Sometimes they’ll show the chef making it. Always they show people eating it. I can’t help it- I love food porn.
My husband benefits from this love. He actually says he hates that particular show as he finds it pretentious. Of course, he’s never seen it but that’s his opinion. When I made the dish I’m going to tell you about, you can bet I cackled after he announced it was his new Favorite Thing- it’s from this show. Which I wasted no time in telling him. He has since modified his opinion on the show slightly. I think it’s now something like he finds the show pretentious but maybe it’s not all bad.
Anyway, this dish, Pasta Mama, was featured on the breakfast show, I think. I make it for dinner. You can find the actual recipe along with a video on how to cook it here. I’ll post the recipe as I do it below, with photos but it’s not my original recipe. I feel I need to make that clear, especially given the recent Cook Source Magazine debacle.
Pasta Mama (marginally adapted from the recipe by Hugo’s Restaurants)
1/2 box of angel hair or spaghetti, cooked according to package directions, reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid
3-4 eggs, beaten
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 -2 Tablespoon olive oil and/or butter (I use both)
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
2 teaspoons of seasonings (1/2 teaspoon of each: garlic powder, oregano, seasoning salt and onion powder)
Top with the parm (lots and lots!) just before serving.