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Velvet Corn Raviolis with Rock Shrimp Broth

I know what you’re starting to think about me. Go on and say it. I dare you. I’m a one-trick pony. All I write about is pasta, pasta and more pasta, because that’s all I ever make, right?

First of all, if all anyone ever made was pasta, this world would be a much happier place, no? Think about it. Who says no to a bowl of piping hot, eggy noodles with an al dente bite, especially if they are prepared in one of the more simple ways, like cacio e pepe? I know who – nobody! It’s delicious and you should be eating it every day.

Second of all, your claim may have some truth to it. Most of the writing I do here comes from a Friday evening dinner, when I’ve got more time to enjoy the cooking process and can make something a bit more elaborate than a run-of-the-mill weeknight meal like homemade tomato soup and cheesy bites, or fried fish tacos with cabbage slaw. As much as we enjoy weeknight meals, and I do cook just about every night, Fridays are the special evenings. The busy week is out, the busy weekend has yet to begin, and Frank and I have happily gotten to the point in our lives where we can head home on the subway Friday night and say, see you, Manhattan, we’re outta here. We're ready for a break over in NYC's best* borough.

So about this past Friday. We had just spent a relatively unexpected week in Greece, getting back home on Wednesday. Um, have you been? Because it was borderline ridiculous. Paris, you and I will always have that seductive connection. I'll continue to see you every few years, I promise. South Jersey beaches, you know what’s up. Thirty-three summers now you’ve been prepping me for skin cancer. And deserts out West? Well, I just can't quit you. But for now, Greece is on my mind!

My cutie and I were invited to a very, very elegant wedding in Athens. Believe me when I say that you will never experience something like this in your lifetime. You won't. I won't ever again. Absolutely stunning. However, being the dorky tourists that we like to be, we did more than just fly across the pond for a hot minute. We saw the Acropolis, we hung out at local tavernas, we made a pit stop in mindblowing Santorini, and we ate, ate and ate all of the amazingly fresh food. The fish, the olive oil, the bread, we sampled it all and even the local wine was surprisingly good. So, my advice is to go at your soonest convenience. Stop reading this and check airfare for Greece. Go. Now. And if you don't have a dog, get at least one of those too, because the only thing that will make you smile on the ten hour flight home is thinking of a gosh-darn furry face waiting for you. (They're just so much more excited to see you than a teenage child, right?)

If anyone is still reading this and remotely interested in my now boring life of making raviolis, I'll tell you the rest of the story. After smuggling olive oil and honey through JFK on Wednesday we were greeted by our two happy nuggets, Peanut and Archie. We unpacked, ordered takeout, then somehow made it to Friday.

Seeing that I was in no condition to replicate any of the ouzo-soaked lobster, octopus carpaccio, tzatziki ladled pita or oregano-scented eggplant salad, it was time to get back to basics. I don't know how this idea tunneled its way into my mind, but a corn ravioli was suddenly something I needed to create. Was it the memory of the hot Aegean sun burning over the Calderas telling me that no, summer isn't over yet, so grasp onto the last of the seasonal produce? Who knows. But that's what the situation was going to be on Powers Street.

Barely able to squeeze back into jeans and at the ready, I pulled my goods from the fridge and dug in. I sautéed a small shallot in butter, seasoned, and then added sun gold tomatoes, which scented the house as I crushed the little gems into the pan. A little bit of chicken stock, then about one tablespoon of extra thick tomato paste. That slowly came together while I cut one ear of kernels straight from the cob. I used my trusty hand blender to puree the raw kernels with salt and pepper, a few tablespoons of crème fraîche and the tiniest pinch of red pepper flakes. I had wanted to use mascarpone to bind, but it wasn't available at the grocery store nor Campbell's that day, so I supplemented with the French version**. No big deal. After a once over with the blender I let the mixture strain any excess liquid through a sieve.

I pulled together the pasta dough and carefully stamped out the raviolis. I should have added something else to the filling, like a pinch of flour or cornstarch, because it was a bit on the thin side but I could still seal them up.

Meanwhile, I finished off the sauce, if that’s what we’re going to call it. I added about another half cup of stock, and then thinly sliced matsutake mushrooms and a few English peas. I had never heard of this particular mushroom so I figured it wise to grab them at the market. The peas were barely hanging onto summer, but they would give a tender crunch and color to the dish. Lastly, I turned the flame down and scooted in the rock shrimp. I really like using rock shrimp in meals like this because aside from the gorgeous ruby color, they’re sweeter than larger guys and practically melt once they’re cooked through.

While the raviolis went into boiling water, I finished up a salad of radicchio and quince, dressed simply with olive oil and white wine vinegar. The bitter, spicy radicchio would be a great antagonist to the mildness of the main course and adding in the autumn fruit was a slight wink to admitting that yes, summer is pretty much over.

First I plated the shrimp mixture into bowls and then crowned it with raviolis. Finishing with olive oil, lemon and a showering of parsley, this kooky dinner was ready.

Let me say this – the raviolis were perfection! Velvety smooth, rich from the crème and light as could be. The sauce was much more of a broth and it worked extraordinarily well. The salad could have used more love but it was just fine and paired well against the pasta.

Frank and I were happy to be home and back to our routine. As much as we enjoyed envying our prior week and speaking incessantly of the sea views and incredible food, you can only keep us Italians away from a cheese board and filled pockets of pasta for so long!

*Scientifically proven, somewhere.

**Mascarpone is an Italian-style cream cheese, much softer than the kind we all know and love on a bagel. Crème fraîche is actually a mild version of sour cream, so these two aren’t exactly alike, but can fill in for one another if need be.

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