All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013
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I have had a rough week. Had to go to one of the most dreaded places on Earth. Worse the the gynecologist. Worse than the incredibly awful, boob-squishing mammographer’s office. Almost as bad as the dentist’s office. I had to go here:
Time to renew my driver’s license. Despite being freshly showered & having an appointment, the staff here treated me with suspicion & hostility & looked at me like I had a load in my pants. They spat questions at me & demanded I stand squarely behind this counter or that, cover this eye or that while reading this string of letters or that. It was like a fucking field sobriety test and every answer or action on my part seemed to beg imprisonment or the opening of some trap door through which I could be permanently disappeared. I am not sure why the people at the DMV are such douche bags but I am sure that they are. More mysterious to me is how they actually PULL OFF being so intimidating. They have no Goddamn power. They are not cops. Why did I panic with every irritated question they asked & quiver under the scrutiny of their surly focus? It’s ridiculous. Anyway – I had to run nearly their full gauntlet: the eye exam, the written test & get a new photo. I managed to avoid the cavity search but I have no idea how.
From there, I had to go to that other glorious bastion of government animosity – the post office – where, again, I was treated like an illegal trying to hustle female minors over a border for enslavement in the sex trade. All I wanted to do was mail a package to Canada with a tracking number & insurance. It took FOUR different clerks & thirty minutes before they stopped shoving my package back at me, telling my request was impossible & screaming, “NEXT in line!” over my shoulder.
You cannot track international packages. (You can)
You cannot insure documents. (You can if they are negatives.)
You cannot insure international packages. (You can.)
You cannot use a Priority envelope. (You can.)
You have the wrong customs form. (I didn’t)
Speak to that manager out there on the floor. (Who stared back at me blankly and gave me a different form.)
This form is the wrong one. (It was – but the manager had just given it to me.)
Stand aside & fill this one out. NEXT person in line please!
Meanwhile, the 32 minutes I had on my meter outside ticked away as the meter maid sat in her car ten feet away. Parked in the red.
There was more – but you get the picture. In the end – they did everything I asked but it was like some Kafka-esque nightmare of willfully ignorant bureaucracy & I was seconds from screaming, “No wonder people want to kill you fucktards!” But, I didn’t. I just wanted to mail a fucking valuable item to Canada. Is that the most exotic request the Wilcox post office (the largest one in Hollywood) had ever encountered?
Anyway – with that task completed & seriously disgruntled, I headed home & tried to think of something to cook that could be made without having to venture forth and deal with anyone else in the disservice industry. I decided to make this dish & as I went to remove my first effort at baked tortilla strips (which I baked to blackness) – I burned my arm.
I have a much grosser image of this sizable burn but this is a food porn blog & I don’t want to put anyone off their dinner.
Ok – despite the unfortunate burn – this is a really easy dish to put together. You can use any basic pasta sauce – with or without cream. I used a little 6 oz container of my homemade vodka sauce that I had in my freezer – so this is a recipe to feed two. You could use a homemade or jarred vodka sauce or other pink sauce or even a marinara. I used 4 chipotle peppers in adobo -and found that to be a tad ambitious on the spice side. I think, in the future, I’ll cut that in half with a quantity of sauce as small as I worked with last night. I added peas because I had them & they looked pretty. I added the tortilla strips for the Hell of it. Either of these two ingredients could easily be omitted with no great loss to the overall impact of the flavor of this dish. Really – all this is is a sauce with some chopped chipotle pepper in it. You can’t mess that up. And it is really delicious!
Spicy Chipotle Cream Pasta with English Peas & Tortilla Strips
1/2 lb dry pasta
6 oz vodka sauce (or other pasta sauce)
2 chipotle peppers in adobo – chopped finely
1 tomato – diced
Parsley or cilantro – chopped for garnish
2 corn tortillas (optional)
1 cup peas (optional)
Pico de gallo – as garnish (optional)
Heat the oven to 400.
Slice the tortillas into 1/4 inch strips. Spray with cooking oil & bake for 5 minutes or so – until crispy. Remove from heat & set aside.
I used fresh peas so I wrapped them in a wet paper towel & zapped them in the microwave for a minute. This isn’t necessary with frozen or canned peas.
Warm your sauce, add the chipotle & peas, stir & heat it all through.
Cook the pasta as per box instructions.
Drain. Toss with sauce. Top with tortilla strips, diced tomato & cilantro or parsley.