Last year was a hard year for many reasons. Particularly because of the vast number of musicians we lost. Among these, as you may know, was Leonard Cohen. I wish I could claim that I’ve known his music since I was a child or even at birth. His music has taken on so much meaning and depth for me that it feels like it. I didn’t actually hear his deep soulful voice until his album Popular Problems came out in 2014. But imagine what a discovery it was! After I listened to this album, there was 50 years of his work waiting for me. It was as if I had opened a time capsule hearing his musicality change, expand and swell. I loved hearing how his voice aged and his witticism sharpen. I was long anticipating pairing his albums with food and kept searching for the perfect pairing.
As soon as I heard You Want It Darker, almost immediately I had the image in my head that you see on this page. Dark almost monochromatic with a single bright yellow color. Dark with a small amount of light at the end of the tunnel. Food photography is often all about colors, complementary, vibrant and often, common. I knew that this recipe wouldn’t be even close to this and yet I didn’t want anything else paired with this album. When I heard of Leonard Cohen’s passing a few days later, somehow it felt even more fitting.
You Want It Darker was my favorite album of 2016. I love the depth of his voice, his content, his multitude of meanings woven in his words. I will miss Leonard Cohen like I miss dear friends. Listening to this album on vinyl while crafting this Sepia Cacio e Pepe pasta was almost devotional. Thank you Leonard, for your music, your voice, your time and leaving so much of you behind for us to remember you by.
Sepia Cacio e Pepe
- 7 ounces of Squid Ink pasta
- 2 tablespoons of butter, unsalted
- 1.5 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan
- 1/2 cup of grated Pecorino Romano
- 1 cured egg yolk*
- Bring a pot of water to boil. Do not salt the water! Once boiling, add the pasta.
- Prepare your strainer for the pasta and place a measuring cup either in the strainer or just underneath it. This will remind you to save some of the pasta water (I need this step, if you don’t, lucky you!). Two minutes before the pasta says it will be done, strain the pasta. Save around 3/4 cup of the pasta water.
- In the meantime, add the 2 tablespoons of butter to a heavy bottomed dutch oven and place over medium heat. Add the ground pepper and stir until fragrant, 60 second or less.
- Add 1/3 cup of the pasta water to the dutch oven and once the water is simmering, add the squid ink pasta. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the Parmesan. Stir continuously until the cheese is melted. If you need more water, add it in by the tablespoon. It will seem dry or won’t coat the pasta as well if you do. Remove the dutch oven from the heat and add the Pecorino. Continue to mix the cheese with the pasta, the water and cheese will form a sauce and start to coat the pasta. If the pot seems to have too much water, continue to mix, be persistent.
- Plate the pasta and using a microplane, shave the cured egg yolk on top of the pasta. Enjoy!
Cured egg yolk? Yea, I haven’t seen this in a store anywhere, you must make it. But it is phenomenal! It adds an incredible quality to any pasta and I’m sure would add this same depth to savory oatmeal, salads or soups. Heres how to make it:
- Separate an egg yolk from the white. You could use the egg white to make a cocktail.
- Fill a small tupperware halfway with kosher salt. Use your fingers to create a small well. Place the egg yolk in this well. Cover the egg yolk with additional kosher salt. Seal the tupperware and place in your fridge. Let it sit for one week.
- After one week, take the egg yolk out, lightly brush off additional salt and loosely wrap it in cheese cloth (or a paper towel). Suspend it around a skewer or chopstick and let this rest between two jars in the fridge for two weeks.
- Your egg yolk is now ready! Microplane it over everything.