When I am in balance mood, you’d better not come anywhere near. I am always unsatisfied and destructive, even when things are not that bad, when I think about it. I guess it happens when you have too high expectations.
I normally make balances at my birthday, which is why it is always a very bad day for me. This year I could not walk and a balance would have been too much strain for me and for my family. One of the sides of my personality I am grateful for, is that I manage to set aside very negative moods, almost automatically, until I can face them. My automatic switch turned on and decided to cancel my yearly balance at my birthday, but has decided to switch off again now, and I fell into balance mode. Veeery bad.
As usual when I am in such a mood, food is the immediate comfort, though I know it just does not work. If I happen to make any mistake I am overly frustrated: I swore several times that I am not going to make any more food ever again. I just love dramatic statements when I am in this mood.
This time I tried making these muffins, but adapted to a cake because I could not find any muffin pans. It spent two hours in the oven and turned out very moist. Almost stodgy, to be fair. But the flavor was interesting, very interesting, which made the experience even more frustrating. I hate it when baked goods do not live up to expectations and don’t develop their potential.
Anyway. I turned to pasta for 100% safe comfort. I bought some hand-made maccheroni, made with durum wheat. They are good and chewy, and traditionally served with a sauce whose ingredients are tomatoes, a goat and two days of boiling. Possibly some pork added in for extra fat.
I decided to go for something just as comforting, but a tad quicker: an artichoke cream. Ready in half an hour if using a pressure cooker, you can easily substitute maccheroni with other fresh pasta, if you can find it (trofie or orecchiette would be good), or use a short dry one like penne. Have a look here for how to clean artichokes if you are not familiar with it. It is so worth it. If you usually just use the artichoke flower for other recipes, this sauce is a great way to use the handles.
And by the way, I wish your balances are positive, and if they are not, I advise you’ll reconsider after cooking some pasta. It helps to change your perspective, sometimes.
Maccheroni with artichoke cream
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 garlic clove
small bunch of parsley
grated old pecorino, about 60 gr (use parmesan as a substitute)
500 gr maccheroni (use 400 gr if cooking dried pasta)
salt, white pepper
Clean the artichokes. Keep the handles, peel them and cut them in four. Drop them in a bowl full of water and half a lemon, squeezed. Clean the outer leaves, cut the tips, cut the artichoke in two and remove the fur. Cut in two again so that you have quarters.
Warm a tablespoon of good olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan (I used my pressure cooker). Add a peeled clove of garlic and the artichokes. Allow them to warm without browning, then add the bunch of parsley (no need to chop) and about half a glass of water. Cover tightly and cook over very low flame until the artichokes are tender. This will take about 20 minutes with a normal pot, or 5 with a pressure cooker.
Meanwhile, heat a large pan of salted water.
When the artichokes are soft, add a ladleful of hot water, blend them using a hand blender and add the cheese. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Start cooking the pasta. Maccheroni or other fresh pasta can take about 5 minutes to cook, sometimes even less. Follow the packet instructions. Thin the artichoke cream so that it is slightly runny. Drain the pasta, toss it with the sauce and serve with more grated cheese, to taste.