I’m sure I’ve related before how I was a cruel mum who made her perfect, wee loin fruits cook a meal each week from the age of eight on. Luckily, by that age the sprogs already knew all about the food groups and balanced meals because my hard line on “THIS IS THE GROSSEST THING EVER! HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME EAT THIS?!?! I’M CALLING GRANDMA!!!” was “fine, you don’t have to eat all of that, but you have to try at least two bites and, if you still don’t like it, then you may prepare your own meal of <insert whatever was on-hand and easy for a three year old to put together without assistance here – typically veg sticks with peanut butter and toasts or crackers and cheese or cereal>, but I am sitting down to enjoy my delicious meal and not leaving this table to help you.”
This resulted either in them making their own, new meal or giving in and eating what was in front of them because they couldn’t be arsed to make their own, new meal, which was great for getting through that picky-about-everything-and-nothing-because-it’s-all-about-exerting-will-and-making-stupid-adults-bend-to-it-anyway phase that usually starts around the age of three, but it didn’t do much to teach them all that is involved in putting good food into bellies every single day.
I don’t recall what my rationale was at the time for choosing eight as the age to do this, and it probably had a lot more to do having it ras-le-bol jusqu’à là with ungrateful attitudes toward food (honestly, my little dudes were precocious and fiendish eaters and so not that bad, but as a single mum doing all the work, any attitude gets old pretty quickly) than anything to do with altruistic and well-thought-out parenting practices, but it resulted in some gems and sprogs who can cook, so there we go.
For one such meal, it was just Phoenix and myself, which opened our options up considerably because there were oodles of things Aurynn wouldn’t eat and Phoenix was determined to exploit that to the fullest:
“It should have shrimp…and stinky cheese…and be spicy…and have…WINE!”
As the sprogs were always raving about my really good gravy, I decided to teach them just a little while before the evening in question that my secret to really good gravy was a sploosh of good, punchy red wine at the end.
Aurynn took great exception to this, “but you can’t put wine in our gravy! We’re minors! Wine is disgusting and you’re poisoning us with alcohol! NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!”
She may have called grandma to tell on me.
Phoenix, on the other hand, fully embraced the novelty of there being an adult beverage in his food and I’m not sure that that novelty has every worn off.
His vision for his dish further crystalized when he remembered “you know, that creamy pasta stuff you make (he meant alfredo)? But spicy? Can we make it spicy? Like a curry?”
And a star was born.
There is so much to love about this dish, I could go on forever, but I’ll stick to how it ticks the four foodie eff boxes:
- Fresh: I’m in mainland Ontario, so yeah, we’re probably using frozen shrimp and dried pasta, but we don’t have to and the rest is all fresh ingredients.
- Fancy: There is a lot of complex flavour in this dish for something with just a few, fairly simple ingredients and presents so prettily. I have never hesitated to pull this out for a dinner party or to woo a lover.
- Frugal: It looks and tastes like a $30/serving dish, but this recipe makes six servings for under $30 total.
- Fast: It all comes together in about half an hour.
And it was developed by my then 9/10 year old son.
What you need:
- 600 grams of fettuccine
- 1/4 cup of butter
- 8 cloves of garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup of Madras paste
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 1/2 cup of dry, white wine (I use my beloved retsina)
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 3 red peppers, thinly sliced
- 1 lb raw shrimp, thawed (if necessary) and peeled
- 1/4 cup of pecorino, Parmesan or Romano, finely grated
- 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
What you do:
- Get salted, cold water into a large pot and onto the cooker for boiling your pasta.
- Melt the butter in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium-low heat.
- Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and allow it to cook for a good 5 minutes until it just begins to brown.
- While the garlic is browning, heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat, then add the onions.
- Don’t forget to put your pasta in to boil.
- Once the garlic is just starting to brown, stir the madras paste into the garlic/butter mixture and let cook another 5 minutes.
- Once the onions are translucent, add the peppers and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.
- Add the cream and wine to the madras/garlic/butter pan.
- Add the shrimp to the onions and peppers pan and stir fry until the shrimps are cooked through and opaque.
- By this time, your pasta is likely al dente. so drain it and toss it with a little of the creamy madras sauce in a large bowl until well-coated. This will prevent it from sticking.
- On each plate, place a mound of pasta, ,then a little of the veg and shrimp mixture, then some sauce. Top it all with a sprinkling of the stinky cheese and some cilantro.
Silly aside: I thought I would be very clever and serve this dish to Phoenix and his lady friend for our first shared meal. I thought I had all of the bases covered after having asked said lady friend if she like seafood and curry, yet I knew as I was cooking, there was going to be something wrong and it wasn’t just my own insecurities about cooking for someone for the first time. It was noodles! The lady does not like noodles! I get it. I feel the same way about Brussels sprouts. NBD. I put on a small pot of rice (after verifying that rice was an acceptable substitute) and we had a lovely dinner all the same.