My birthday was last week and we had an impromptu dinner party. It was quite the international affair with an Italian pasta dish made with Russian vodka paired with a delicious Spanish wine sangria.


In our house normal celebration procedure is the birthday person chooses the meal. But Sarah is, I'm learning, quite the adventurous cook and is willing to try any recipe that catches her eye so she asked if she could make my birthday dinner.  The pasta recipe came from her Audrey Hepburn cookbook and is really good. Really, really good.

What you'll need:
1 small onion, finely chopped
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
5 1/2 TBS unsalted butter
1 cup tomato puree
1/2 cup good quality Russian vodka
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
course sea salt
1 pound penne pasta, cooked al dente
1 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano*, grated

What you'll do:
Saute the onion and red pepper flakes in the butter over medium heat.
Add the tomato puree and reduce heat to low, cooking for a few minutes.
Stir in vodka.
Cook down for 15 minutes and pour in the cream.
Add in the pasta and turn the heat to high.
Pan fry for one minute, making sure to toss pasta so it is evenly covered by sauce.
Sprinkle with the parmigiano-reggiano and serve.

I had never heard of this type of parmesan and was a little concerned that it was some kind of specialty hard to find cheese. Turns out that it is normal parmesan cheese only better. Shaped like a stick of butter, it is a little pricey but so worth it...dry and very flavorful and nothing like the powdery stuff sold no where near the dairy aisle. I am learning that while one may need to be economical one must also occasionally splurge on the good stuff. And surely a birthday feast is just such an occasion!



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