Angel’s Hair Pasta and A Brief Career

Many years ago before I bred the teenagers I had a job in the city working for a solicitor.  Being childless I had a lot more time to myself and I filled this by hosting dinner parties where I tried out all the recipes I had seen in the latest Vogue Entertaining magazine.

Every Monday I used to bore the poor solicitor senseless with a re-cap on my weekend that included how long it had taken me to clean and prepare the house, where I sourced the recipes, how I was able to track down that rare but very necessary and vital ingredient, the menu, who came for dinner, who ended up staying the night and then, the clean-up.

Angel’s Hair Pasta with Creamy Herb Sauce

Fortunately he was a very patient man who made the necessary utterances of, ‘Really?’ and ‘Wow’, and ‘Oh no’ and that was enough encouragement for me to keep going.  What I didn’t realise was that he was in fact, actually listening and he would go home and tell his wife all about my kitchen heroics that probably I had grossly exaggerated.

One day the phone rang and it was his wife.  She said, ‘Charlie, we are having a dinner party and as you know, I don’t cook.  I’ve heard all about your cooking skills so can I employ you to cater for us?’  And my mouth has always been in gear ahead of my thought processes so I said, ‘Yes of course, I would love to’.  And then I thought, ‘Why did I say that?  I have no business being in their kitchen.’  Then she wanted to tell me how many for coming for dinner.  I prayed, ‘Please say six, preferably four’.

She said, ‘Because we don’t entertain often, we’re having a few over so there will be 12 altogether.  Is that okay?’

‘Yes, that’s fine’, I said, but really I was cringing.  Twelve?  My dinner parties consisted of one or two couples.

So with no clue as to what I was doing, I had our foray into the catering business.  I do remember trying to be very professional and I offered ‘the client’ a piece of paper with ‘Menu Options’ written on it and she came back with her choices.  I don’t recall the recipes I cooked but I do remember there were scallops to start off with, an angel’s hair pasta for the entree, an eye fillet of beef for the main course, fresh mangoes with raspberry coulis for dessert and I think I made some chocolates to serve with coffee.

On the day that was the birth of my new career it was very hot and I slaved away in my tiny kitchen preparing everything for 12 people and spent anxious moments trying to work out how much of everything I needed for 12 people.  I had badgered Carl into coming with him and assured him he would make an excellent kitchen hand and waiter.

Choose your own herbs

We served the scallops without issue and then it was time for the angel’s hair pasta.  I reheated the cream and herb sauce and put a saucepan of water on to boil for the pasta.  I didn’t want to overcook the pasta because for best presentation it needed to twirl onto the plates.  Just as the pasta reached that critical moment where I had to strain it into the colander I picked up the saucepan and moved it to the sink only to find one of the guests standing right in front of it trying to decanter a very special and very expensive bottle of wine.  Well the cork was old and soft and he didn’t want to risk breaking it so he was taking his time.  And I was standing behind him with a very large pot of boiling pasta in my hands that combined with the heat was steaming my face nicely and I said, ‘Oh, excuse me’, and without looking around he said, ‘I won’t be long, this is very delicate, I’ve nearly got it.’  But he had no end of trouble with the cork and I couldn’t get to the sink and wicked thoughts entered my mind of straining it into the toilet but I resisted the urge and stood there thinking he would get that cork out any minute.

Finally the cork was out but he stood there for a moment longer admiring his work and then he did the decanting business, slowly, and so by the time I reached the sink the pasta was a bloated, gluggy and gluey mess.  I was shattered.  It couldn’t be separated let alone twirled.  The only good news was that I didn’t have to carry the plates out to the dining room – I made Carl do that.  Somehow they all ate it but they definitely wouldn’t have twirled it onto their forks.

If a business is built on referrals, well I didn’t get any that night.  In fact, I believe that’s the last paid catering job I’ve ever had.

Somewhere in my many moves I’ve lost the Vogue magazine that had the recipe for the angel’s hair pasta but here I’ve tried to recreate it.

Serve with a glass of red

Angel’s Hair Pasta with a Cream and Herb Sauce

Serves:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  Very inexpensive

  • 60gm butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 300ml pure cream
  • 1 cup finely chopped mixed herbs like parsley, basil, chives, thyme and marjoram
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 3 tbspns grated parmesan
  • 400g angel’s hair pasta

In a small saucepan gently melt butter.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add cream and heat until warmed through, being careful not to boil.  Add herbs and nutmeg and stir to combine.  Add parmesan and season to taste.

In a large saucepan bring water to boil.  Add 1 tspn of salt.  Add pasta and cook according to directions on packet.  Strain and return to saucepan.  Pour in creamy herb sauce and mix to combine.

Serve on heated plates, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and enjoy with crusty bread, a crisp green salad and a glass of red wine.

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Comments

  1. Ergh! Surely you should have had right of way as the kitchen was your domain for the evening! I always manage to have such a ‘disaster’ just as I’m getting a bit too proud of my own kitchen heroics.

  2. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    You were very brave to cater for twelve. What pressure you must have felt! I can’t imagine. Working in someone else’s kitchen is always a challenge for me, and that’s with absolutely nothing on the line.

  3. foodrehab says:

    That was very courageous of you! I love how you dived right in there and took it all on and yes, it may not have worked out to your liking but hey, talk about the adrenalin and experience. Fantastic story

  4. Minnesota Prairie Roots says:

    Pasta is always tricky to cook. I served some the other night that definitely could not be twirled and no one was standing by my sink uncorking a bottle of expensive wine. Thanks for the recipe. I think I could manage this one.

  5. Cecilia Mary says:

    OH NO!!! Horrible man, he could have done that Somewhere ELSE! And worse you can;t say to the ‘client’ It would have been twirlable except some (insert applicable word) was In the WAY! .. c

  6. Amy @ Elephant Eats says:

    Haha, omg…i could see that happening to me. How awesome that you had that experience though, even if it only solidified your decision to never cater for someone else again ;) I don’t usually like creamy sauces, but this one looks really light and delicious! I was looking for something to make tomorrow to go along with some fish and i think I found it!

  7. Initiation by fire, isn’t that what they call it? It’s too bad that guest had ruined your pasta, I might have been temped to be a bit more forceful, but then again, at that age, perhaps not.
    Your pasta today looks and sounds incredible. I don’t eat pasta all that often (I have enough vices as is) but if I did, I would choose a dish that was simple and allowed the ingredients to speak for themselves, such as your pasta dish.
    How nice that your boss actually listened to you. My first real job was an assistant (I believe they called it secretary in those days) to a V.P. of Imports of a very large chain hardware and car repair store in Canada. I had an adjoining offce and he would often yell at the top of his lungs, “Hey EEEva (he never pronounced my name correctly), how do you spell XXXX” He was the dumbest oaf I had ever met (at that point).
    Eva https://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com

  8. This simple (seemingly) pasta dish is just stunning. I am definitely going to try this Charlie! And the bowl it’s in is simply gorgeous! Is it part of a set or a lone piece? I admire your willingness to attempt serving 12, much less as a caterer…brave woman! Saw Archie perform in the video on FB. What a talented and cute young man you “bred” there! :)

  9. Victoria at Flavors of the Sun says:

    The timing of pasta cooking is surprisingly unforgiving, I always find. And, poor you, as this was important to you, just remember we’ve all over-cooked pasta at one point. The recipe looks lovely though. I always enjoy Vogue Entertaining when I can snag a copy of it.

  10. The Squishy Monster says:

    cost: very inexpensive…I dig it! I love that you included nutmeg, some people forget…it’s a superstar ingredient! =D

  11. A_Boleyn says:

    Sounds like a real trial by fire with the wine worker. I wouldn’t have the temperament to cook professionally even if I wasn’t a disaster under pressure. Keep the knifes and hot surfaces away from me when I’m stressed. :) This looks like a lovely dish.

    http://a-boleyn.livejournal.com/

  12. Ugh that crazy guest! Didn’t he know that nothing, not even a cork, gets in the way of good food! Sheesh.
    Joanne @ eats well with others

  13. I was frustrated for you. Move over buster!
    The pasta looks heavenly. Red wine, yes.
    LL

  14. Oh, the frustration! And you probably didn’t even get a sip of that wine. You pasta in the pictures does look lovely, and we get to enjoy the story of that experience. Thank you! (Did you ever find Archie?)

  15. I got stressed if I had more than 4 guests…can’t cook under stress.
    The angels hair looks delicious with a simple creamy sauce.

  16. Jed Gray (sportsglutton) says:

    Having worked with caterers during wine events that I put on both sides learned that each should stay out of each others ways and areas of business. So the shame is on the wine guy, not you.

  17. Oh darling, I was cringing from the third paragraph. Nevermind, Carl is very handsome, and I’m sure none of the solicitors’ wives noticed the food! :)

  18. KerfuffleHogback says:
  19. KerfuffleHogback says:

    Serve on heated plates, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and enjoy with crusty bread, a crisp green salad and a glass of red wine
    http://goo.gl/mvgi9

  20. Jeno@ Weeknite Meals says:

    Oh Charlie, I felt so badly and anxious while reading the paragraph about over boiled pasta, You are a brave soul to take on that catering job, and although you are hard on yourself, I am sure it tasted good anyway!

  21. niasunset says:

    The photographs are so beautiful, so artistic… Thanks dear Charlie, love, nia

  22. Claire @ Claire K Creations says:

    I love how simple this is but it sounds delicious.

    What a nuisance that man was. I hope the wine was good! I think you should have given him a polite nudge.. hot water coming through!

  23. ChgoJohn says:

    I do give you credit, Charlie, for catering a dinner party. For me, it is one thing to prepare dinner for friends. It is something totally different to serve to strangers — an experience I’ll gladly do without. This pasta is perfect and one I would surely enjoy — again, and again, and again.

  24. Oh Charlie, what a story! I was cringing along with you, and what a shame you couldn’t publicly announce that it wasn’t your fault at all but rather the very rude guest. At least you avoided having to do it again, which I suppose is one thing!

  25. Nic@diningwithastud says:

    Oh nooooo :( You have recreated well though

  26. Marina@Picnic at Marina says:

    Everything happens for a reason, or not… You did a great job to cater for someone, that what’s count. I applaud you for that! :)
    http://www.picnicatmarina.com

  27. HAHAHA That’s such a cute and funny story Charlie :) I guess you were just a little young and inexperienced back then but now you’re a much better cook and I’m sure you’d be able to easy manage 12 or even 24 adults at a dinner party hehe ~

  28. Vicki Bensinger says:

    Oh I can relate. I teach culinary classes for a non-profit organization and last year they asked if I would cater a charity event for 500 people. Just appetizers they said with some desserts. I told them I’d never done anything like that before let alone for 500. They insisted, so I did. I started cooking 5 days ahead to insure everything was done on time. Everything turned out great but it was a huge challenge. It took days for me to recover.

    This recipe for pasta sounds delicious and I’m sure even though you think it was overdone and mushy, I bet it was still very tasty.

    http://www.In-HomeCulinaryClasses.blogspot.com

  29. Suzanne Perazzini says:

    What a lovely story. I think the toilet would have been a good option. While I was studying at university, I worked part time for caterers and they promoted me from kitchen hand to cook very quickly. It was hot, steamy work and I really wanted to be a kitchen hand again but they wouldn’t let me off the hook. I am no longer interested in large quantities of food in any form.

  30. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes says:

    This looks absolutely Delicious with a capital “D”! I’m glad you commented on my page so that I was able to find yours :) Love your blog

  31. Tina @ bitemeshowme says:

    Kudos to you for even hosting a dinner party to feed that many mouths. It’s good that you’ve bounced back and re-attempted what scared you at the time. x

  32. Oh Charlie so funny this story…and now you sure recreated very well…like the sound and the look of this pasta…perfect!
    Thanks for the recipe and hope you are enjoying your week :)

  33. tania@mykitchenstories.com.au says:

    This really frustrated me, you poor thing . I felt the tension. This is why I let people know that their kitchen is temporarily MINE and they need to steer clear. Kitchen Nazi …me!

  34. H’i Charlie. Thanks for visiting my blog and it’s a pleasure to discover yours.. That’s a very funny story. My first experience of entertaining was cooking for about 50 people (without being paid) but I did have a couple of people helping me out. the preparations started from the previous day and I was cooking all day long. The pasta dish looks delicious.

  35. Juliet Batten says:

    What a story! You have certainly had some adventures.

  36. Oh no! How awful for you. I don’t think I would have been that patient with the person opening the wine. This pasta looks perfect though.

  37. Choc Chip Uru says:

    Haha thank you for sharing your story my friend :D
    It was just as fantastic to read about your life’s exploits as it was to view your pasta – continuosly stare more like it ;)

    Cheers
    CCU
    http://gobakeyourself.wordpress.com/

  38. Your stories always make me laugh! you have such a way with words! this angel hair pasta looks delicious

  39. Oh wow! What a story!

    On the pasta – It sure looks delicious and would make for the perfect midweek meal.

  40. Ouch … angel hair is so delicate, thus to be ruined by a person dealing with a cork. … and I wonder what he said to the others.

  41. Oh I felt a pang in my heart for you. It must have felt like eternity to get your turn at the sink. The pasta looks incredible!

  42. Reem | Simply Reem says:

    Once again what a wonderful read!
    This pasta looks delicious, I feel making a perfect angel hair pasta is a true test of cooking pasta perfectly… Little extra cooking and it can become a mess…
    This really looks wonderfully done…

  43. I’d have shoved that cork where the sun don’t shine, and then you didn’t even get to taste that wine!

  44. Norma Chang says:

    I just had to laugh when I read the sentence “And my mouth has always been in gear ahead of my thought processes”. I did that in my younger days and am still doing that in my mature days.
    Love you pasta, simple and delicious and inexpensive.

  45. Love this story…what a shame about the pasta! The one you have recreated here looks delicious :)

  46. Hi! Thanks for visiting my blog;-) I enjoyed your story, sounds like a small kitchen, nothing more frustrating that having someone come between me and my sink in the kitchen;-) This is one of my favorite pasta dishes-love all the herbs in a creamy sauce, yum!

  47. It’s ok. When I was in college, I had all our friends over sophomore year to cook dinner– fried chicken and mac and cheese. Not only did I nearly burn down the apt, but I burnt the chicken and it was raw inside–which Ben announced to everyone, btw.

  48. Growing up I only liked butter and parmesan on my pasta, I hated marinara sauce. Sooooo, this recipe pretty much has my ears perked up, and my tummy growling:-) I love your addition of the nutmeg, that would be really delicious:-) Hugs, Terra

  49. This looks really delicious and I love that I can use some fresh herbs from my garden to prepare it! :)

  50. Glad to see I am not the only ones with teeanges issues

  51. Charlie, I have just nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger
    Award on my blog because Hotly Spiced is one of my favourites. If you wish to
    pick up the award, please come visit my blog.

  52. Melanie Young says:

    I would’ve resigned rather than having to cater a dinner party for my boss!

  53. Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake says:

    I would have just pushed him aside or tipped it into the laundry sink/toilet for sure! With that said, cooking by yourself for 12 people is such hard work so you’ve done very well already. :)

  54. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    Oh you were brave taking on a dinner for twelve! I don’t think I could do it at all-good for you! :D

  55. yummychunklet says:

    I’m making scallops tonight for dinner for me and my boyfriend. I may have to make this tasty looking angel hair pasta dish as well!

  56. Glamorous Glutton says:

    That was really brave, how disappointing, the glugg wasn’t your fault but not easy to explain. The angel hair pasta looks lovely, really fresh. GG

  57. Oh no, I can picture it now! It’s amazing the number of young people today who think they can’t even cook pasta because they think that stick it into cold water and bringing it to the boil is sufficient.

  58. Malou Perez-Nievera says:

    oh charlie, i’m sorry that happened. I wouldn’t know what to do myself. I had a small catering business before in the Philippines and had a lot of stresses caused by it… ugghhh and not to mention that i had an army of helpers there but that didn’t help. I was always so stressed out every event… Phew.
    oh well they say that there are reasons why things happen and maybe we didn’t turn out to be catering moguls but we are fab moms now!
    xo,
    Malou

  59. Wow – 12 for your first ever outside job! My limit is 10 & that’s for tolerant friends, not perfect strangers. And I think I would have kicked that decanting man.

  60. This made me laugh as it would be the type of thing I would still totally be stewing about years later. I need a good scallop recipe – do you have one? pretty please? I bought some scallops today and I have no idea how to cook them. lol xx

  61. Barb Bamber says:

    I have been experimenting with Gluten-free and will be trying this recipe out:) It looks heavenly and creamy! I’m sorry, but could the pretentious one not have stepped aside for what would have been seconds?? xx Smidge

  62. I definitely could live on pasta dishes alone–I think I really mean that! This looks so good…and you have me thinking. I believe my pasta tastes good, but I haven’t seriously considered how it comes onto the plate and whether or not it twirls! Oh you have me thinking about that now…I’m going to make this for dinner tomorrow! :-) Funny story about letting your mouth say yes before your brain screams, NO! I am guilty of that several times a week!

  63. Oh my, I can only imagine how frustrating that moment would have been! Your Vogue parties sound like such fun, though. This pasta dish looks so decadent and delicious.

  64. kitchenriffs says:

    What an awful moment. Let’s hope the wine was corked – would have served him right. But the dish is such a nice one. I’ve made it before but it’s been ages – time to again, don’t you think?

  65. Cucina49 says:

    I have had similar incidents with pasta…including one just last Thursday when I was trying to make dinner for my visiting parents. It just goes from al dente to disastrous in no time flat. Years on, though, it makes for a great story!

  66. Looks like the pasta came out great, this time … I just love your food stories :-)

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