In a few weeks I will be celebrating my 30th birthday. For a lot of people (especially females) turning 30 is a sad, almost irritating, passage in life. They count their regrets and suffer in stoic silence. I'm happy to say that I am not one of these people. I know that on May 5th I will not feel any different then I did on May 4th. My hair is not going to go from brown to grey overnight. And I'm not going to suddenly wake up with age spots and wrinkles. I'm going to be the same Tacha I was the night before. Except for one small thing...I'm going to try and keep things simple.
Remember when we were kids? Life was simple. It was easy. And it was fun. Then we grew up. Now we have jobs and responsibilities - we get caught up in the daily grind and worry about things that do not matter. We let little things annoy us, and let our frustration build until we're Bill Foster just trying to get home to our little girls birthday party....
I digress. I think there should be a balance. So I'm going to try and strike that balance. And I think the key is keeping it simple. Not everything in life has to be overdone, filled with complicated steps, layers and processes. Complicated does not always equal excellence.
Some of my favourite recipes are quite easy to throw together. They do not utilize expensive kitchen gadgets, difficult/precise techniques, or exotic spices, and hard to find ingredients. They're made with ingredients that compliment each other. So when you taste it, you taste each ingredient alone and collectively. They're just simple. Here is an example of what I'm talking about...
Propper Blokes' Sausage Fusilli
Adapted from Cook with Jamie
2 heaping tsps fennel seeds
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb 6 oz quality sausage
1 tblsp dried oregano
4 oz white wine
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 lb 2 oz fusilli or penne pasta
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tbsp butter
4 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese + extra for serving
small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Smash the fennel seeds and red pepper flakes with a pestle and mortar (or bash it between some plastic wrap with rolling pin) until coarsely crushed. Put this aside.
Heat a splash of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Squeeze the meat out of the skins and into the pan, breaking it up with the back of a spoon. Fry the sausagemeat for a few minutes until it starts to brown and the fat has rendered slightly, then crush it once more so it looks like coarse mince.
Add the fennel seed and red pepper mixture, turn heat down to medium, and cook for about 10 minutes until the meat is crisp, and golden brown and slightly caramelized.
Stir in the oregano. Add the white wine and scrape up all the tasty bits. Allow the wine to reduce by half. Add the lemon zest and juice. Turn the heat down to low while you cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
When the pasta has cooked to al dente, drain and reserve some of the pasta water. Toss the pasta into the skillet with the sausagemeat. Give it a quick stir, then add the butter, Parmesan cheese, parsley and a few spoonfuls of the reserve pasta water. Taste and check for seasoning. Serve immediately with extra grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.