I sit here, on the leather sofa in my bedroom that my parents bought for me for a birthday years ago. Next to me lies Cookie, one Tom and Ya's Yorkshire Terriers that has come to spend the last few weeks of summer with us. He is shaking, still not quite used to our country way of life that deeply contrasts from his city life in the Big Apple. And it makes me wonder how I've made the change so smoothly… less than a few weeks ago I was packing up the remainder of my big city life, with such urgency, yet already with a deep and premature nostalgia.
I keep reminding myself that humans are much stronger than we believe we are; and we are also creatures of habit. I've happily sunken back into a slower way of life, taking leisurely walks after dinner as the beautiful sun goes down and floods the sky with a million colors. I've devoured various Ruth Reichl books and am still thirsty for more- the library here is spectacular.
Best of all, I've gotten back into the kitchen, a lot of the time cooking nightly meals alongside my dad, the "sous chef" of our family. I've grown patient waiting for my kitchenware to be delivered from Costa Rica, all 100 kilograms of it. But I guess what's surprised me most is that this change feels natural. I never thought that Costa Rica (and to a lesser degree, Guatemala), and my 4 years and 7 months in these two countries, could feel so distant. It's like they turned into a far off dream, compressing themselves into just a story, no longer years.
Here, the kitchen helps me cope by becoming my happy place once again. Tonight I made a roasted red pepper sauce to accompany delicious balls of puffy gnocchi, only to realize that I had forgotten to buy the pasta. So I happily subbed in some spinach and cheese ravioli I was saving for another dish. Choose either pasta- they will both be fine players here- the real star is the sauce.
Ravioli with creamy red pepper sauce
Yields 3-4 servings
1 TBSP olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 roasted red bell peppers, directions follow
¼ cup- ½ cup heavy cream, or to taste
Generous salt and pepper, to taste
1 (20 oz) package spinach and cheese ravioli, cooked according to package instructions
In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil and then add the chopped onion. Sauté a few minutes, until translucent and a bit soft. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds, being careful not to let them burn. Add the onion-garlic mixture, along with the whole roasted red peppers to the blender. Purée until smooth, then add the heavy cream and generous amounts of salt and pepper to taste. If you like, you can heat the sauce back up over medium-low heat.
Put the hot cooked ravioli in a serving bowl and cover with the sauce; toss gently to mix. Serve hot. Easy peasy!
To roast the red peppers, preheat the oven to 375F with the rack in the middle of the oven. Line a half sheet or other large baking sheet/ dish with aluminum foil. Place the peppers on the foil with some space between them. Bake in hot oven for 1 hour, rotating the peppers every 20 minutes,s carefully using tongs to flip them over to sides that have not cooked. After baking, let cool for 10-20 minutes. Remove skins using fingers (they come off easily), as well as the seeds. Use only the roasted flesh.