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Cooking with Myra: The Trip to New York - Part Two

June 14, 2011 at 1:14 a.m.

Spaghetti With Quick Garlic-Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti With Quick Garlic-Tomato Sauce

1 tsp. coarse sea salt or kosher salt, plus 1 Tbsp. for the pasta pot

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup sliced garlic

4 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes

1 pound spaghetti

1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves (10 large leaves)

Heat at least 6 quarts of water and 1 Tbsp. salt, to a boil in a large pot. This will be used for cooking the spaghetti.

Pour 1/3 cup of the olive oil into a large skillet and place over medium-high heat. Drop in sliced garlic and cook 2 minutes, until lightly colored. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, rinse tomato containers with water and pour in. Sprinkle in remaining salt, stir well and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, maintaining a steady boil.

Drop the spaghetti into the pot of boiling water. Cook until al dente*, lift the pasta from the pot, drain briefly and place into skillet of simmering sauce. Toss the spaghetti and sauce well.

Turn off heat, scatter the basil over the pasta and drizzle on the remaining olive oil. Toss well and serve immediately.

*Al dente - In cooking, the Italian expression al dente describes pasta that has been cooked so as to be firm, but not hard. The term "al dente" comes from Italy and means "to the tooth" or "to the bite" referring to the need to chew because of firmness.

By Myra Starkey

This is Part II of a two-part series on Myra's trip to New York.

I am still recovering from my rece nt trip to New York. The calorie intake per day exceeded what I normally eat. Clearly I failed to walk enough because when I arrived at home, I had gained three pounds. This may not be significant, but considering my trip was from a Thursday to a Monday morning, one can imagine what I consumed.

I was intrigued with the concept of the Chelsea Market. Someone with great vision purchased an old warehouse, which used to be a slaughterhouse and renovated the space into shops. There is a wonderful baker there, and so we ventured out one morning for breakfast. Sarabeth Levine is known for her delicious preserves and pastries. I ordered French toast stuffed with bananas and smothered in syrup and then thought I should probably add something from the pastry section, so I also ordered a Pains De Matin, which is made from croissant dough and looks like an overgrown muffin dusted with powdered sugar. I shared a lot of this with the others, since they ordered healthier things like eggs, omelets and oatmeal muffins. I assumed they were watching their weight. I bought her cookbook online when I arrived home and the photos are beautiful.

On Saturday, we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit. I must confess that prior to this show, I had not even heard about this designer, and if I had, it did not have an impact on me enough to remember his name, but in the fashion world of design and runways he was the creme de la creme. He designed for Givenchy and was famous for his runway themes, which were meant to evoke emotion. His clothing is not something you could wear, but it was amazing to see. There were feathered frocs made from pheasant and black birds and dresses with epaulets made from baby alligator heads. That seemed like a perfect outfit for a Louisiana girl. My favorite in the collection was an off-the-shoulder gown made of flowers.

After our jaunt through the museum to see the South American Andes weavings and African carvings, we bolted for the shopping district in SOHO once again. Just as you should never go to the grocery store hungry, you should never shop after seeing a designer exhibit at the MET. Hannah and I perused several shoe stores and finally found the perfect pair of red suede pumps for her. Sarah joined us and selected a purple pair for herself. I loved seeing Hannah try on big girl shoes because although she is married, I still think of her as a little girl.

Never one to go a day without a cupcake, I spotted a store called "Crumbs," and we each purchased a cupcake topped with, as you might guess, crumbs. Hannah and I shared a double chocolate, peanut butter-filled cupcake with dark chocolate icing. For me, New York is about the food.

Later that evening, we had dinner at Tribeca Grill, and I ordered the seared tuna appetizer. The tuna was rolled in pepper and seared slightly, then sliced paper thin and placed on a bed of rice noodles. Hannah ordered the wild striped sea bass served with artichokes and asparagus, which she maintains was her best entree the entire trip.

I am still humming some of the songs from Cole Porter's play "Anything Goes." I think this play was Mary Ann's favorite. At the end, the cast wanted to salute the servicemen who were in the audience, so they selected a guy from the audience, and he walked up on stage. The cast thanked him for serving our country, and then the Marine took the microphone. All of us thought he was going to say thanks, but instead he called his girlfriend up on stage and got on his knees to propose to her.Wow! The audience clapped, and I tried to figure out how he could have masterminded a proposal on a Broadway stage. I have so many wonderful memories of my trip to New York with Hannah, Mary Ann and her three girls, but perhaps the most fun was for me to see all the daughters grown up laughing together and enjoying each other, especially as we gathered around a table eating great food.

I wanted to share a recipe from "Lidia's Italy" by Lidia Bastianich. This is a simple tomato sauce recipe, Spaghetti with Quick Garlic-Tomato Sauce. Since we are at the height of the tomato season, this is a great recipe to serve for supper.

You might also try out Sarabeth Levine's, "Sarabeth's Bakery." The cookbook has beautiful photos, and her text is easy to read and follow.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email myra@vicad.com.

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