Big Fat Queer

October 2, 2011

I Satisfied a Craving

Last week I passed the sixth week after my weight loss surgery, and one of the things that was added to my approved foods list was pasta. Now, I’m supposed to focus on proteins and minimize carbs, but occasionally I can have some pasta. And now, with the smaller stomach, I can only eat a fraction of what I could before, so it isn’t much pasta at that.

A little over a year ago I saw Scott Conant, the celebrity chef at Scarpetta (among other restaurants), make his famous spaghetti with tomato sauce on the Food Network. I tried it and loved it. In fact I blogged about it.

Tonight I made it again, pictured above, and it satisfied a craving I have had for about a month. I froze enough sauce for two more servings, which I will not have anytime soon because if I eat too much of this I can undo all of my progress. Speaking of which, for those of you who have followed my YouTube postings, you know I have been at a plateau (not losing any weight) for three weeks. Well, over the last four days I lost five pounds, so the plateau seems to have ended. Oddly enough it ended when I increased my caloric intake, which apparently took my body out of starvation mode – or it was coincidence. Hard to know for sure.

The thing about this tomato sauce, is that once you try it you won’t be satisfied with any other tomato based pasta sauce. It is simple, but rich, creamy, unctuous and full of fresh flavor. If you want to make this sauce yourself, follow this link for details.

May 23, 2010

Spaghetti Tomato and Basil and 368

While the rest of the world watches the finale of Lost, I shall blog.

First off, I weighed in this morning at 368, so I have lost my five pound yo-yo and an additional five. Altogether I have lost upwards of 35 pounds since mid March (my scales only went to 400, so I don’t know how much over I was).

Not to bore you, but for breakfast I had a repeat of yesterday: scrambled eggs, pumpernickel bread with organic peanut butter. The only difference is today I didn’t have a banana. For dinner I cooked. I mean really cooked, not just heating stuff up.

Among foodies some recipes become legend, like Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon or Thomas Keller’s roast chicken (which I have made a few times – delicious!). Another rising star on the recipes-from-celebrity-chefs is Scott Conant’s Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil. Conant is a frequent judge on Chopped on the Food Network. He seems to be a bit of a jerk, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a good chef. In fact I think it is quite common 🙂

I made it tonight from fresh plum tomatoes, which I blanched, peeled and seeded and cooked down to a delicious sauce. I had Dreamfield’s spaghetti, which I have written about before. Only 5 grams of carbs per serving are absorbed, so it does not raise blood sugar. The recipe is labor intensive, but very simple. It was quite good, though if I had some really fresh local organic tomatoes available to me I am sure it would be better. I made a tomato water from the seeds and peels and cooked Brussels sprouts in that. I’m at about 2000 calories for the day. Above target, but not obscene. I did not walk today.

Spaghetti With Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil

Recipe from “New Italian Cooking,” courtesy of chef Scott Conant of Scarpetta

Total Prep: Roughly 40 minutes, 4 servings

This is a straightforward, traditional, fresh tomato sauce in which ripe tomatoes — and little else — get cooked quickly to retain their vibrant flavor. Why then is it such a hit? The key is in the finish. Here’s how I put the dish together at the restaurant: I take a single portion of pasta cooked just shy of al dente and add it to a sauté pan that holds a single portion of hot, bubbling tomato sauce. To toss the pasta and sauce together I use that pan-jerking method we chefs are so fond of. I do this to look cool. Just kidding. The real reason is that this technique not only coats the pasta evenly with the sauce, but it also introduces a little air into the process making the dish feel lighter and brighter. To accomplish this aeration with larger portions and without fancy wrist work, cook the sauce in a pan with a lot of surface area. When you add the pasta to the sauce, gently toss the pasta with a couple of wooden spoons (tongs can bruise and break the strands), lifting the pasta high above the bottom of the pot. Finish the dish with some butter, some cheese, and some basil.

Ingredients

About 20 ripe plum tomatoes

About 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to finish the dish

Pinch of crushed red pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbs. unsalted butter 1 oz. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about half a cup)

6 to 8 fresh basil leaves well washed and dried, stacked and rolled into a cylinder and cut thinly crosswise into a chiffonade

1 lb. spaghetti, either high-quality dry or homemade

To peel the tomatoes: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby. Cut a small X on the bottom of each tomato. Ease about 5 tomatoes in the pot and cook. Let boil for about 15 seconds and then promptly move them to the waiting ice water (do this with the remaining tomatoes). Pull off the skin with the tip of a paring knife. If the skin sticks, try a vegetable peeler using a gentle sawing motion. Cut the tomatoes in half and use your finger to flick out the seeds.

To cook the tomatoes: In a wide pan, heat the 1/3 cup of olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and season lightly with the salt and pepper (I always start with a light hand with the salt and pepper because as the tomatoes reduce, the salt will become concentrated).

Let the tomatoes cook for a few minutes to soften. Then, using a potato masher, chop the tomatoes finely. Cook the tomatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened. Refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze it for longer storage.

To serve: Bring a large pot of amply salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until just shy of al dente. Reserve a little of the pasta cooking water. Add the pasta to the sauce and cook over medium-high heat, gently tossing the pasta and the sauce together with a couple of wooden spoons and a lot of exaggerated movement (you can even shake the pan) until the pasta is just tender and the sauce, if any oil had separated from it, now looks cohesive (If the sauce seems too thick, add a little pasta liquid to adjust it). Take the pan off the heat and toss the butter, basil and cheese with the pasta in the same manner (the pasta should take on an orange hue) and serve immediately.

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