It’s hot in New York City.

When it gets this hot, people generally walk around the city in their flip-flops and summer dresses with their heads drooped back in anger and frustration. The streets are humid, the trains are steamy and even the bars and restaurants are capable of breaking you into a quick sweat. Nobody is ready for the heat quite yet, so many businesses are still unveiling their AC units, some only to discover that they don’t work after being hidden by snow and cold over the entirety of the winter.

Last night, we spent some time at a new bar in Williamsburg- an area of Brooklyn that we rarely visit due to its inconvenient location by public transit. We felt it might be worth the trek, since we knew the owner and a friend was tending bar that night. The Counting Room was one of the businesses experiencing a pretty rad issue with their AC unit, but the atmosphere, drinks and company made the evening great fun.

I dragged a friend along for the evening and we got to talking about the art of friendship among woman. This is a tricky subject and recently seems more so since losing my father. The truth of the matter is that nobody really knows what to do or say when something like this goes down in life, but walking away from a friend is never the answer (most people are saying “duh,” I know, but the truth is that most people would rather not deal with having to relate to tragedy. It’s just too real.) Anyways, my point of writing this (I swear there is one) is that on a random Friday night, in some random bar, my friend and I had a beautiful conversation about what it truly means to be a friend. Women can be difficult. We have high expectations and want people to know what we need without saying it out loud. The truth of the matter is that even our fellow ladies need a bit of an open window to know what the hell we need. It felt good to vent and share with her over chilled wine and assorted cheese plates.

Reality only rained down on our evening for a short period of time, but it made me grateful for the people in my life who know me well enough to ask questions, offer solutions and simply be there for me. One of the ways I show my gratitude and love for the people in my life is by cooking for them- something that has been missing since Dad died.

I’m taking baby steps towards the dinner party by experimenting with a few interesting recipes on my husband, my most favorite taste-tester out there. I was excited to share this dish with him, because it used and abused his amazing herb garden and called for an entire stick of butter (oh, hell yes.) This pasta splurge was bursting with flavor and felt like the perfect entrée to start summer off right.

Pappardelle with Spiced Butter

adapted from 101 Cookbooks

4-5 saffron threads
Pinch of salt
1 stick butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 medium shallots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Black pepper
1/2 pound pappardelle egg pasta (fresh or dried)
1/2 pound asparagus, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
Splash of cream
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped
1-2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint
1-2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley

Bring a large pot of water to boil. In the meantime, use a mortar and pestle to crush the saffron and salt into a fine powder. Set aside.

To make the spiced butter: Place the butter and olive oil in a frying pan and cook the shallots for about 10 minutes, or until they soften and the butter browns. Stir in all the spices, the salt, and a bit of freshly ground black pepper, remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Salt the water generously and cook the pasta per the package instructions. About a minute before the pasta is done cooking, add the asparagus. Drain and return the pasta and asparagus to the pot. Stir in the saffron salt. Pour about half of the spiced butter over the pasta, add a small splash of cream, and toss/mix well.  Add enough of the spiced butter mixture to complete coat the pasta- taste to see whether you need more or less. (There will be leftover butter mixture that you can save to use on another pasta dish or as a nice dip for bread.) Sprinkle with pine nuts and herbs and serve.

Serves 4

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