I know things have been kind of quiet around here. Sorry ’bout that! Springside is currently eating my life, as my buffer is a miniscule two weeks’ worth of comics. I ran up to the wire getting the script written and haven’t really recovered from it yet.

I spent another day volunteering at Olivewood Gardens last week, which was great fun. I was on the kitchen side of things this time, and we taught the kids to make pumpkin lasagna. It’s always great when they ask for seconds and thirds! (:

Now … I should confess that although I’m short on comics (well, short for *me* — I like to have at least a month’s worth of buffer if not more), I’m actually on vacation this week. Well, staycation. Uncle Pasto took the week off and we’re doing stuff around the house, doing stuff around San Diego, and generally having a good time just being together and doing things.

Part of vacation today was lunch at C-Level. OMG. Crispy fried artichokes. He had the lobster-fontina-BLT with a sherry lobster bisque on the side. I had the cornmeal-crusted-catfish sandwich with lettuce, tomato, bacon, and garlic aioli. They gave me homemade chips on the side. All I can say is “wow”. And “urp”. Ate too much, but it was so worth it.

After lunch, we wandered around Little Italy because we were there, and we’re not there all that often. And by wander, I mean we went to Assenti’s, Mona Lisa, and Café Zucchero — for freshly made lemon-basil pasta, prosciutto hock, and sfogliatelle, respectively.

About prosciutto hock: if you live near an Italian deli, ask and see if they sell the narrow end of the prosciutto. It’s usually too difficult to slice for sandwiches, because of where the bone was, but it’s great for other uses. I usually buy one, chop it up into three or four thick slices, and freeze what I’m not going to use right away. It’s great for adding flavor to sauces and soups (and carbonara!), and of course you can use it anywhere you might use a small amount of bacon. It tends to be saltier than regular prosciutto, so if you find it too salty for your needs, you can soak it in water or milk for a little while to reduce the saltiness.

As a side note, I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that I don’t live near Little Italy. I would love to be able to wander down to Assenti’s once or twice a week! But on the other hand, I fear that I’d seriously overindulge in fabulous Italian salumi and pastries along with my pasta. ^_^;

Of course, one has to properly honor the fabulous ingredients. Pre-hockey dinner was this:

Fresh Lemon-Basil Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes, Prosciutto, and Goat Cheese

Serves 2

  • 1/4 lb. fresh lemon-basil pasta
  • olive oil
  • 2″x 1.5″x 1″ piece prosciutto hock, trimmed of rind and cut into fine dice
  • 2 small cipollini onions, finely diced
  • 4 medium-small tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • black pepper
  • goat cheese
  • parsley, minced

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta while you make the sauce. Warm a little bit of olive oil in a medium-sized skillet.

Add the prosciutto to the skillet and cook it gently, rendering the fat out slowly. When it starts to brown a little, add the onions and saute until golden and translucent. Add the garlic, and as soon as it becomes fragrant, add the tomatoes. Add pepper to taste. You probably won’t need salt because the prosciutto hock tends to be saltier than regular prosciutto. Turn the heat to low.

Add the pasta to the boiling water. It will cook fast because it’s fresh — anticipate no more than 2-4 minutes, tops, and more like 1-2 minutes. Pull out a piece to taste-test — if it’s al dente, drain the pasta immediately and toss it into the skillet with the sauce. Mix well, plate it up on two plates, and top with crumbled goat cheese and parsley. Serve immediately.

We served this with mashed pumpkin (roasted pumpkin, butter, milk, cinnamon, salt, and pepper), and had sfogliatelle for dessert. Yum. (: