spicy calabrian cauliflower carbonara

A while back (a long, long while…) I was paying a visit to California wine country.  I was exploring the town of Yountville one afternoon, and wandered into a NapaStyle store. Right there in the middle of the place was Michael Chiarello himself, working the room like the smooth guy he is. He was wearing an immaculate lavender-colored oxford shirt, slim Italian-tailored trousers and his megawatt Food Network smile.

Feeling a tiny bit starstruck, I went over to say hello. I don’t remember what we chatted about, but I do remember him handing me a jar of hot chili pepper sauce, telling me it was from his family’s hometown in Calabria and that I couldn’t leave the store without it. Okay! He didn’t have to work that sales angle too hard.  [Read more…]

Pasta Carbonara


What kind of family-style food chronicle would this be if I didn’t tell you all about our relationship with Pasta Carbonara, our favorite family supper? Carbonara, as we affectionately refer to it, is probably the one and only meal I prepare that provokes J to shout for joy, that is, other than bacon. But Carbonara has lots of bacon in it, along with eggs and cheese, so there you go.

Every night, as the sun makes its swift departure behind the neighbor’s roof, J drops his light saber and comes nosing around me as I get pans moving around in the kitchen.

“What’s for dinner?”

If, as happens 6 out of every 7 days, I answer (in my best Mrs. Cleaver voice): “Why, all your favorites, dear; chicken nuggets, scrambled eggs with pickles on top, and a great big pile of French fries”.

“Oh, boy, Mom, thanks!” (gives me a big bear hug, and skips off to wash his hands).

HA! No, sillies, that’s not what happens.

Basically if the menu consists of anything other than Carbonara, he falls on the floor in a raging, apoplectic fit. Kind of like Jake La Motta during the steak scene in Raging Bull, except he doesn’t throw any food at my head (that would merit a time-out, for sure).

I have to admit, that Carbonara is also one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. My husband holds the title of Official Maker of the Carbonara, but lately, I’ve tinkered with the tried-and-true recipe (because that’s what I do), and now have made it even more comfortable and delicious.