For all who know me, you know I am married to a Bostonian (and those who don’t know, in the words of the Notorious B.I.G., now you know). For anyone reading this who doesn’t know what that entails, let me explain:
1) He is a sports guy through and through: If you cut him, he bleeds Red – Red Sox that is and he’s loved the Pats way before handsome Mr. Ugg himself (please don’t get him started on how underrated Drew Bledsoe is)
2) He drives like a maniac – yet anyone wanting to drive faster than him IS the maniac
3) Saint Patrick’s Day is his favorite holiday – AND he actually enjoys boiled dinner ::shiver::
4) Forget ever hearing the letter “r” ever again. Or at least where you have come to expect the 18th letter of the alphabet
So, if you ever doubt that I love my husband, you must remember this – I have completely let him alter the way my name has been spoken for the rest of my life. And to make matter’s worse (and yet, to explain the title of the blog) my maiden name was Baker. As in, Amber Baker. As in, I’d never hear my name spoken correctly as long as I lived with a man born and bred outside Boston Mass.
Don’t get me wrong, the man has tried. He even went so far as to practice saying my name before we were married (as only have of the attendees would even understand he was actually taking me for a wife and not some alcoholic beverage). Which was an incredibly sweet gesture and which is why I love that
misprounouncing man of mine!
I’m not sure if I could pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with him, I believe it was more a million tiny little moments of sweetness like I describe above that charmed me beyond belief. And although he has never told me the moment he fell in love with me, I have a feeling that when he found out that I could cook, it certainly helped him to see long term and full belly potential.
I don’t recall the first dish I ever prepared for him (man, I don’t remember much, do I?), but I do remember the first dish I made that stuck in his mind. We had been dating over six months and I had moved to my very own apartment (that is if you call 600 square feet an apartment) and was truly on my own for the first time. Matt would come visit me often, knowing that I had my own kitchen and a penchant for cooking. In the haze of new love, and really wanting to impress my Bostonian Beau, I researched a recipe that had rave reviews. Long before epicurious and food network, there was AllRecipes - a website with recipes added by everyday people and rated by everyday people. I found one he was sure to like – Camembert Chicken. It was elegant, yet down to earth; Camembert being french, was very fancy, but chicken was safe and familiar.
Turned out the recipe blew his socks off. 11 years later he still talks about this dish like it’s the only good dish I ever made him. I couldn’t even point out the recipe in a line-up, but apparently it made an impression on him. So much so, that when I ask him what his favorite recipes are, that dish always makes an appearance. I have a feeling he may be remembering with rose-colored glasses (in the same way you remember that favorite movie from your childhood, the kind that was full of awesome “special effects”, but in reality is a green screen hot mess), but none the less warmed at the sentiment of it.
After years of
pleading requesting this dish, I decided to surprise him with a new rendition. One that was inspired by the original title, but a dish that was much more sophisticated - fit for a Bostonian with a pallet that has been shaped over the decade with many fantastic in-home and restaurant experiences.
The consensus – Better than the original. Or at least the thought of the original. I promised not to wait another 11 years before making it again. I think he fell in love with me all over again. I hope when you make this recipe, you too will feel the love.
Paparadelle w. Creamy Camembert Champagne Sauce
Yields 2-3 Servings (easily doubled)
Adapted from my own head, but inspired by a Camembert Chicken Recipe somewhere on Allrecipes
Although a rich dish, this creamy pasta flirts with healthy. Mushrooms bring out the earthiness of the cheese, while the sweet red peppers and champagne cut into the overall richness.
8 ounces Paparadelle Noodles
10 ounces Mushrooms, Sliced -(I used TJ’s pre-sliced baby bellas, easy peasy!)
1 medium Bell Pepper – Any Color, But Red Is Nice, sliced pretty thin (if you’re too scared to do it with a knife, use a mandolin)
4 ounces Camembert Cheese, substitute any other double or triple cream cheese
4 ounces Cream Cheese, Room Temp
⅓- ½ cup Champagne , Sparkling Wine is Fine
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme, stripped from the woody sprigs
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1. Get a large stockpot filled with cold water and put over medium high heat. Better it waiting for you to add the pasta than the other way around.
2. Get a second saucepan or large deep saute pan, whatever you have on hand and turn the heat to med-high.
3. Spray pan with a little cooking spray (you can add a dab of butter or some olive oil if you like, as well)
4. Put mushrooms in pan and try to arrange in a single layer as best as possible – this helps to get them nice and brown instead of rubbery and grey. Resist the urge to salt them and just let them sit there for about 5 minutes…don’t touch!
5. After you have paced around the kitchen, dying to stir the mushrooms before you’re supposed to, go ahead and stir. Let them sit again undisturbed for, yes, another 5 minutes. (Hey if you don’t have time, which is usually the case for me, just saute them up until they have given up their juices. They won’t be toasty golden brown, but they’ll be covered in delicious champagne cream sauce, so really it’s still a win-win)
6. Once your mushrooms have become browned like a Brazilian princess in Rio, go ahead and add the sliced red peppers. And some salt and pepper, you crazy salt fiend. Saute until the peppers have softened in consistency, but don’t cook them to mush, please.
7. Now that you are happy with how your veggies look and smell, add a generous splash of the champagne (off the flame, pretty please…unless you are into pyrotechnics) and use your spoon/spatula/stirring implement to scrape up any browned bits that have accumulated on the pan. Let most of the moisture evaporate/become absorbed by the veggies.
8. This would be a good time to add the pasta to your already boiling (and SALTED) water…now aren’t you glad you listened to me?? Turn the heat down on the champagne soaked veggies (slightly jealous, I wish to be soaked in champagne) to medium low and add the camembert, cream cheese and thyme. Stir until the cheeses melt and coat the veggies.
9. This is when you add the remaining champagne, and depending on your desired creaminess factor you can add anywhere from ¼ cup additional to ⅓ cup, it’s really up to you. Stir well and add champagne until you are happy with the consistency of the sauce. Taste and adjust seasons to you liking.
10. Cook the pasta until al-dente (read the box, mine said 10-12 minutes and took 11) and drain. Immediately add to the beautiful sauce you have stirred lovingly. Toss with whatever implement you like until the sauce coats all the pasta.
11. Dump it on a plate, and if you’re feeling really fancy, garnish with a sprig of thyme….just to give them a hint of what’s in store.