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Monday, July 29, 2013

Spaghetti w/ Almonds in Cinnamon Honey Butter {cook the books: How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher}

Spaghetti w/ Almonds in Cinnamon Honey Butter {cook the books: How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher} |
"...since we must eat to live, we might as well do it with both grace and gusto."  ~MFK Fisher

Our latest Cook the Books selection, How To Cook A Wolf, was originally published in 1942, and concerned eating in a time of war and the food and money shortages that inevitably accompany it.  Author MFK Fisher (some say the first of the food writers) revisited and revised it in 1951, adding notes and additional recipes.

You can tell from chapter titles like "How to Be Cheerful Through Starving", "How to Be Content with a Vegetable Love", and "How Not to Be an Earthworm", that humor is as much a part of Fisher's writing, as is practical advice.   Both simple recipes and techniques for frugality run rampant through the pages, but nary a recipe for braised wolf or wolf's head stew, as the wolf is simply a metaphor for hunger.

When deciding what dish I wanted to make to represent this book, I flipped back through all of the recipes and marked a few.  Ones that had ingredients which I had readily available.  I thought it would defeat the purpose of cooking the wolf if I had to go out and spend money to make something.  I've made Fisher's Tomato Soup Cake several times, and (oddly enough) it is always a hit - plus I get to play "guess that secret ingredient".
Spaghetti w/ Almonds in Cinnamon Honey Butter {cook the books: How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher} |
But instead of using one of the recipes in the book, I decided to pull a passage that I'd made a note of from the chapter on "How to Distribute Your Virtue".  This chapter has to do with making things it by adding half the sugar as you normally would to the pot when making a jam, baking things in the oven for future meals at the same time that you're baking tonight's dinner (saves energy), or by cooking double the amount of rice, potatoes, or pasta that you normally would since you already have the water boiling.

So, when I made Spaghetti with Pesto the other night, I decided to use a larger pot and cook double the noodles.  I separated them after I drained them, and rinsed the "extra" in cold water so that they wouldn't stick together.  I then tucked them away for the following day.

In some of the [notes added in 1951], Fisher mentions the things that you can do with those extra starches that you've cooked and saved on heat consumption...

"Ah, rice pudding, rich with raisins!  Ah, spaghetti baked with honey and shaved almonds in a buttery dish!  Ah, potatoes any way at all but perhaps especially mixed with egg and cheese and fried!  Ah."
Spaghetti w/ Almonds in Cinnamon Honey Butter {cook the books: How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher} |
Hmmmm.  Spaghetti with honey and almonds and butter. YES!  I kept tossing that idea around in my head, and decided that I would not be satisfied until I tried it.  Now, I didn't skimp on the butter, so this dish seemed almost decadent.  Naughty, even.  But lawdy, was it a delightful little splurge!  But a splurge that I didn't have to hit up the market for, everything was either in my pantry, fridge, or freezer.

"I believe that one of the most dignified ways we are capable of, to assert and then reassert our dignity in the face of poverty and war's fears and pains, is to nourish ourselves with all the possible skill, delicacy, and ever-increasing enjoyment.  And with our gastronomical growth will come, inevitably, knowledge and perception of a hundred other things, but mainly of ourselves."   ~MFK Fisher

Spaghetti w/ Almonds in Cinnamon Honey Butter

by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 5 minutes (using pre-cooked sp
Cook Time: 8-12 minutes
Keywords: breakfast entree pasta almonds

Ingredients (serves 2-4)
    for the Cinnamon Honey Butter:
    • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon honey
    • ~1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    for the spaghetti:
    • 2-3 ounces Cinnamon Honey Butter
    • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
    • 12 ounces cooked spaghetti
    making the Cinnamon Honey Butter:
    Stir all of the ingredients together until well combined. Plop the butter mixture onto a sheet of parchment or wax paper and roll into a small log. Refrigerate until ready to use.

    making the Spaghetti:
    Preheat the oven to 350° F.

    Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add about 2 ounces of the cinnamon honey butter to the pan. As soon as the butter melts, add the almonds. Toss and stir until the almonds are coated in the butter, and they have started to turn golden, 2-3 minutes.

    Remove from heat and toss in the cooked spaghetti noodles.

    If you like, place another small pat of the cinnamon honey butter into the bottom of a baking dish (just large enough to hold the noodles). Dump the entire buttery noodle and almond mixture into the dish. Slide into preheated oven and bake for about 8 minutes, or until hot all the way through, with a few golden bits here and there.

    Enjoy warm!

    You will have extra Cinnamon Honey butter left over. Use it to spread on warm biscuits, or something along those lines.

    If you like, fish out a spoonful of the toasty almonds before tossing in the pasta. Reserve and sprinkle over the top before serving. This is purely for aesthetic purposes.

    I'm utterly enamored with and utterly confused by this dish all at the same time. When I read the line "Ah, spaghetti baked with honey and shaved almonds in a buttery dish!" in How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher, I knew that I'd never eaten sweet-ish pasta...and that I needed to remedy that immediately.

    The scent reminds me of those stands at the fair that sell warm, freshly sugared nuts in cones. I can't resist those, either. Therein lies the confusion. Spaghetti is dinner (or lunch). Sweets are dessert (or a snack). But I couldn't stop eating it. So, I don't know how to classify it, but I look forward to inviting the chaos into many more meals...
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    Spaghetti w/ Almonds in Cinnamon Honey Butter {cook the books: How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher} |
    cookthebooksOur selection for this round of Cook the Books, How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher, was chosen by Simona.  Submissions are due today for this round (due Monday, July 29th), so if you're can still get in on the fun!

    And if you want to join us, but haven't read the book or don't have time to post this time, we'd love to have join us in our next round, which I'll be hosting, with one of my favorite novels, The Baker's Daughter by the beautiful, kind, funny, amazing writer Sarah McCoy.  Seriously, I adore this woman as much as I adore the book!

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