You know you are dear friends with someone when you can sit at her home for hours letting your lipstick fade and tendrils of your hair cascade down out of their cute pins and onto the nape of your neck. You sit and talk so long your clothes get wrinkled and the muscles in your legs get tight and creaky. You can drink wine and nibble on stinky cheeses for hours or even just sit across from each other flipping through cookbooks and magazine and reminiscing about old times. You might bring up the time you each told your parents you were staying at the other’s house because you thought it would be cool and fun to be out all night. Instead, you ended up at a depressing all-night restaurant with flourescent lighting, which wasn’t the least bit cool or fun. Or, what about the time you got stuck in a blizzard on the way to Lake Tahoe and wound up staying with a kind soul who picked you up in a beat up pick-up truck as you traveled through the snow in your cute Esprit sandals? You marvel you are still alive and hope with every last fiber of your being your own daughter will be far wiser and less adventurous.
Nevertheless, it is fun to sit and talk about those times and new things as well. This was how our weekend in San Francisco went. It was lovely and relaxing and the sun shone the entire time. The sparkly pavement of the Mission District and sea air captivated me in a way I haven’t experienced in a great many years. I felt, surprisingly, home again. It’s so strange to feel that way after so many years away from there. However, one must give in to the seduction and daydream about the possibilities of big life changes from time to time. Life is too short, right?
While most of our time away was spent in the throes of a family wedding, we managed to have one of those fabulous marathon meals on Sunday evening. It was the kind of meal that takes hours to prepare. It was the kind of meal you never forget. It was good company and boisterous discussion. And, in another lifetime before my wee one existed, it would have stirred some vague aspirations of fancier meals around here.
However, whatever fleeting thoughts I may have had of recreating the evening and the lucious food, reality is a completely different affair. We are home now to our lives with Maeve and, while we want to continue to eat well and engage in lively talks, we can only do so much. So, with limited gas in my tank, I took inspriration to make something new and hearty. I took inspiration to make a meal that didn’t require a great deal of effort, but I suspected the payoff would be great.
I was right. For once, I was correct that I didn’t need to slave all afternoon. For once, I read the recipe correctly on the first go and my sleep deprivation didn’t accidentally cause me to gloss over the line about roasting or soaking an ingredient for 24 hours in advance of cooking.
This mushroom and paprika pasta is a noteworthy addition to our regular rotation of meals around here. It’s easy. It’s delicious and it’s wintery in the best possible way. A rich bowl of pasta loaded with a deep earthy and creamy sauce can delight you after a cold day of skiing or long day of battling the utter dampness of deep winter. The paprika adds a tangy kick. The egg noodles are the perfect thing to soak up the creamy sauce on your fork. The mushrooms are so tender, but crisp enough to make you completely forget about meat. Even Maeve loved her helping of this dish.
It’s true we were spoiled while we were away, but we can spoil ourselves here as well. That might be a good resolution, I think.
Mushroom Pasta with Paprika and Sour Cream
1 and 1/2 tblsp. each salted butter and olive oil
1 bunch scallions, including some green parts, finely chopped
1 lb. white mushrooms, quartered
Salt and freshly milled pepper
1 teaspoon flour
1 tblsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 cup mushroom stock/ broth
1/2 cup sour cream
1 lb. egg noodles
Heat the butter and oil in a wide skillet over hight heat. Add the scallions and mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms begin to color, about 6 minutes. Lower the heat and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the flour and paprika over the mushrooms, add the stock, and simmer, covered, for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the sour cream and gently heat through.
Add the pasta to a pot of salted bowling water. Cook until al dente. Drain. Pour sauce over top and serve in individual bowls.
Adapted from: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone