Thursday, January 7, 2016

Winding Down, Packing Up, Sailing Out - Perline Pasta with a Dry Sauce

Last day of the cruise and the sun finally deigns to show its face. We're docked in Freeport, so a good percentage of the passengers have disembarked, leaving plenty of room to move about.  Food lines are very light, and tables on the pool deck are pretty much available. This is the sort of day we enjoy best on our cruises; too bad this one didn't show up until the end. What with the December cruise on the Sensation handing us the same crappy weather - and I blame El Niño, not Carnival - speaking for myself, I'm a bit cruised out. With tax season starting the minute we return home, I wouldn't be expecting any more cruising anyway until the end of April, but this year I am gladly waiting until the end of May when we will be sailing to Alaska with my cousins Cary and Maura. Cross-one-off-the-bucket-list.

This morning - well truthfully, I missed the morning. Missed breakfast and was on my way to missing lunch when Rob gently woke me up. So having pulled myself together, sort of, we headed to the pool deck and for the first time tried the burritos at the Blue Iguana Cantina.

Muy sabrosos (very tasty), especially the shrimp. Since I got to choose the fillings, there was no cold shredded lettuce or cold tomatoes or why-are-you-putting-filler-in-my-burrito? rice.

Chocolate cheesecake from the Chocolate Extravaganza (I skipped the chocolate fountain), hot black coffee, and for a few minutes anyway, all is well with the world. Life goes better with chocolate.

I've been catching up with the news - the Los Angeles prosecutor will not be filing criminal charges against Bill Cosby as the Statute of Limitations has run; a new drug is being developed to treat fibromyalgia chronic pain; the Bucs fired head coach Lovie Smith over the phone; nobody won the Powerball lottery yesterday, and the winning amount is now up to $700 million dollars; the stock market is down another 400 points and China's economy is tanking; North Korea is doing a happy dance over their not-really-hydrogen bomb testing; and the fashion industry appears to be bringing back modesty. I haven't even gotten to political news. The one I want to talk about is the article about modesty (seriously? Yes.) but that's going to take a while as I am going to try to avoid insulting and/or upsetting a whole bunch of people, and that takes thought and thought takes time. Maybe tomorrow.

So today is officially the best day of the cruise. We got to do what we like best which is to sit out and enjoy the good weather and the slow pace, to read or knit, and of course, to eat.  Since we are in Freeport, I also was able to get some really fine shots of working ships. Those 14 years in marine insurance, you know.

Let me leave you with a recipe and a bunch of photos, but first, a short list of suggestions for Carnival:

Hi Carnival, I'm one of your biggest fans, a platinum member who has been cruising almost exclusively on your ships since 2001.  As you might have realized, I'm a lot older than when I first started cruising, and my onboard needs have changed a bit. So could you look into making these additions to your cruise packages? Thanks!

1. I have to spend more time in the cabin that I used to due to health reasons.  I know I'm not the only one. Could you please add some more channels to your TV schedule? Definitely Food Network and FOX News, but Cooking Channel, FOX Sports (Florida), and BBC America would also be utterly terrific.

2. Please add a low-calorie soft drink to your iced tea/lemonade dispensers. I recommend Crystal Light.

3. Offer craft classes for adults, like knitting.  Maybe a fiber themed cruise? I know other cruise lines have done so successfully.

4. Same with cooking classes. And please change the menu for the cooking demonstration in Fahrenheit 555, and the Chef's Table menu. You do realize you have a huge number of repeat cruisers, and we really don't want to have to move over to Norwegian or Royal Caribbean to get a little variety.

5. Your crew continues to be wonderful. Extra props to cruise director Jaime Dee and Constantine, the maitre d' in the Sunset Dining Room. He's the best since Joseph, the self-proclaimed "super-charged maitre d'" from the Carnival Ecstasy. 

Here's the recipe (mine, not Carnival's):

Perline Pasta with a Dry Sauce

This is what happens when I go browsing in Trader Joe's.

The perline pasta has to be the best "filled" or "stuffed" pasta I've ever had. Each little purse has plenty of filling and you can really taste all of the flavors. Instead of a red sauce, or an Alfredo-type sauce, or even plain butter, I decided to do a "dry" sauce.  Cabbage-y vegetables make awesome dry sauces, like in Hungarian kraut sveckle, and there I was in Trader Joe's staring at a nifty cruciferous combo, and the light went on over my head, and I didn't even mind too much that they were out of cookie butter.

Like the kraut sveckle, this dish is all about combining cooked noodles with sautéed cabbage. So I cooked the perline pasta according to package directions, and then I cooked the cruciferous vegetable mix in a couple of tablespoons of butter, with some garlic-infused olive oil added. Medium to medium-low heat is enough for this. I also sliced up a lot of garlic - about 4 rather large cloves - and added them to the pan, with kosher salt, ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes.

When the green stuff was sufficiently tender and sweet from caramelization, I added the cooked, drained perline pasta to the pan and stirred them together over low heat. But ha! I snuck those green vegetables into my family's diet, and they ate them and they liked them.  Seriously good eats.

And now the Really Big Finish:

The photo just reminded me that I also grated a bunch of Romano cheese over the finished dish. And more black pepper, I am wild about black pepper.

Also wild about sea-going container vessels and the tug boats who love them.

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