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Comfort food and books for comfort

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Christina Stock Photo The secret of Italian cuisine is its simplicity. Most recipes have only few ingredients, however, these are of the highest quality.

Spaghetti with tomatoes, prosciutto and burrata

and author Catalina Claussen’s new book, ‘Being Home: A Southwestern Almanac’

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

Pasta dishes in Italy are most of the time served in small portions as an appetizer before the main dish. This is why most pasta dishes served in Italy are vegetarian. I have added to this spaghetti recipe prosciutto ham, simply because I had some left over, and I liked it so much, it became a staple. It is so easy and fast to make. The key to make this simple recipe a hit at any dinner, is to use very ripe tomatoes, preferably cherry tomatoes or juicy beefsteak tomatoes. If your tomatoes are not ripe enough, put them together in a paper bag and leave them at room temperature for a day or two.

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You see that one of the ingredients I listed below is burrata. I accidentally bought this mozzarella dish, thinking it was regular mozzarella. That happens when you are hurrying through the shopping aisles because you have an evening photo shoot.

Burrata is made out of fresh mozzarella cheese that was formed in a pouch, and before closing, filled with stringy curds and cream. Unfortunately, normal citizens in Roswell can’t get their hands on my favorite mozzarella, which is made out of water buffalo milk and actually really flavorful. The benefit of non-flavor regular mozzarella or burrata is that it mellows out any dish you put it in. A great trick, in case you were too generous with chile or salt is to add the cheese into the sauce.

It is fun to experiment with additional ingredients that you may have purchased accidentally or if you want to try something new.

Here is my invention, though I bet some savvy cook has done it before me.

Spaghetti with tomatoes, prosciutto and burrata

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lb. very ripe cherry or beefsteak tomatoes, chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

salt and fresh pepper

12 oz. spaghetti

2 slices per dish prosciutto

12 oz. burrata cheese, at room temperature

Preparations

In a large pot, add water and generously add salt until it tastes like the ocean. Bring it to a boil and add the spaghetti, cook al dente, or until they are done, but still have a “bite” to them, about 10-15 minutes. Keep 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain the rest and return the pasta into the pot, set aside and keep warm.

In a large nonstick pan, add the olive oil, onion and garlic and on medium heat, cook until the onion gets translucent. Add the tomatoes, vinegar and cook until the tomatoes are soft and release their moisture. Add some of the pasta water and add the sauce to the warm spaghetti. Shred with two forks the burrata cheese with its liquid center and stir. Divide the pasta among the plates and top with prosciutto, additional burrata, mozzarella or parmesan cheese. Decorate with fresh basil or scallions.

Serve right away.

Books for comfort

‘Being Home: A Southwestern Almanac’ by Catalina Claussen

Submitted Photo
The newest book by award-winning author Catalina Claussen, “Being Home: A Southwestern Almanac,” is now available as ebook or in print.

Award-winning New Mexico author co-op member, Catalina Claussen was born in Edmonton, Canada, and lives today with her daughter and three dogs on a ranch in New Mexico’s Grant County, near Mimbres. She is a graduate of Reed College, Prescott College and Western New Mexico University.

An English teacher, Claussen specializes in writing for young adults (YA), as well as poetry.

Claussen YA novels “Diamonds at Dusk” (2016) and “Diamonds at Dawn” (2018) have been recognized by the Arizona/New Mexico Book Awards, The Wishing Shelf Book Awards in the United Kingdom and the New Apple Book Awards for Excellence in Independent Publishing.

Her newest book, “Being Home: A Southwestern Almanac,” is a laugh-out-loud collection of anecdotes that was first aired as humorous short stories at the local radio station in Silver City, KURU 89.1 FM. The stories feature quirky characters that have been shaped by the New Mexico desert landscape; the wild weather and living in a small community. Featured are mystifying encounters with coyotes, a drive to school and other whimsical stories that may only happen in enchanting rural New Mexico.

Claussen’s writing style is full of images and metaphors, leaning toward a romanticized beauty that contrasts with the character’s behaviors and encounters.

The author says that all stories, including characters, businesses, places and incidents featured are completely made up or used in a fictitious way. “Being Home: A Southwestern Almanac” was published this year by Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, LLC. Claussen’s daughter, Ajalaa Claussen, added to the book her photographs, spanning the last eight years, to illuminate the stories Catalina Claussen wrote.

Claussen will soon have an empty nest because her daughter was accepted at the University of Southern California to study political science and media studies.

Claussen’s books are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble as an e-book or in print.

For more information, visit catalinaclaussenbooks.wordpress.com or progressiverisingphoenix.com.