A Sarcastic Appetite

Lemon Artichoke Pasta with Chicken
August 17, 2010, 8:13 am
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There is a picky “particular” eater in Apartment 21B this week, and I needed to find something to cook that would appeal to him and to the Ninja. It’s no easy feat; one doesn’t like prosciutto or mustard, or onions or too many tomatoes; the other doesn’t like gluten products or excessive dairy, or radishes, or chickpeas. I spent an inordinate amount of time wondering what the hell I could cook….until I remembered how well this went over for all parties involved. Boom. Done.

It’s a bit of a compromise: it doesn’t have mustard, but it does have dairy; it’s not gluten-free pasta but there aren’t any tomatoes. Everyone was happy and I don’t even have any leftovers for lunch tomorrow. All things considered, I think I should become a diplomat.

It’s also straightforward and very easy: saute some artichoke hearts in butter and olive oil; add some garlic, lemon zest and juice. Add a little wine and cream, and toss with cooked pasta and lots of shredded Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with chopped parsley for a little color.

Now that all the dishes have been washed and the pans have been returned to their rightful places, it’s time to freak out about what to cook next time. Any ideas?

Lemon Artichoke Pasta with Chicken

Serves 4.

2 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 14 oz can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained

2 cloves garlic

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 lb. pasta of your choice (I used penne)

1/4 c. dry white wine

1/4 c. cream or half-and-half

2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cooked, and diced

about 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan, plus more for garnish

3 tbsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped

Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain and set aside. In a large saute pan, warm the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the drained artichoke hearts, a bit of salt and pepper, and heat through for several minutes. Add the garlic and lemon zest and juice, and saute for another two minutes, until everything is smelling delightful. Pull the pan slightly off the heat before adding the wine. Let it simmer and reduce down before whisking in the cream. Add in the chicken pieces, more salt and pepper (season to taste), and then the cooked pasta. Shred the cheese over top; toss to combine. Add the parsley and toss again before removing from heat. Serve with more grated cheese and freshly ground pepper on top.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of August 12
August 12, 2010, 7:44 am
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I canvass the food blogs so you don’t have to. A few highlights this week:

The Shake Shack on the Upper East Side is open for business….though it got a C on its first Health Department inspection.

The boys at Immaculate Infatuation weigh in on Torrisi Italian Specialties, which the Siftster had reviewed in June (and bestowed with 2 stars). Stang & Steinthal are equally enamored, except by the whole no-reservations-accepted-so-line-up-at-5:30-and-hope-for-the-best part.

Grub Street has word that LES fave Kampuchea is closing this Saturday, and owner Ratha Chuapoly will re-open it in the fall as something different, possibly more casual and possibly Asian-themed. Possibly.

Good news on the UWS: Café des Artistes will reopen in early 2011…under a different name; Gianfranco Sorrentino has secured a 15-year lease and the new name will “reflect the southern Italian focus.”

The Insatiable Critic and her posse make the trip out to Coney Island (uh, they drove) to channel some serious New York nostalgia.

Thinking of planning a picnic in the park but too lazy to, well, plan a picnic? Restaurant Girl rounds up a few places who will do the work for you.

Lastly, Blondie and Brownie look ahead to The Vendy Awards, a showdown on Governors Island on September 25. If you don’t want to shell out $85 to benefit the Street Vendor Project, just patronize your favorite street vendors. Don’t know of any? The Vendy nominees are a good a place as any to start.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites
August 4, 2010, 8:06 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I know you’re thinking you’ve seen these before, and you’re kind of right. Except these need all of five ingredients and don’t even require any baking. It’s almost disgusting. I don’t know how to put this delicately, so I’m just going to come out and say it: don’t make these if you’re not prepared to eat the contents of the entire pan. We can pretend I’m just exaggerating, but it won’t do you any favors when you find yourself in the same desperate plight, huddled in the kitchen after midnight, sawing off hunks of the stuff and wondering if you have enough sugar to make another batch?

If you are an Ohio State fan, you’ll recognize these as Buckeyes, though they’re in bar form. The peanut butter mixture is the closest I’ve come to the peanut butter inside a Reese’s peanut butter cup – frankly, a quest I didn’t even know I was on, but oh how overjoyed I am to have found the answer. And though the Ninja complained that he felt like his teeth were falling out thanks to all the sugar, he still wouldn’t let me give any away.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

Makes 16 bars…ish. Adapted from The Silver Palate.

1/3 c. packed brown sugar

2 c. confectioners’ sugar

1/2 stick butter

1 c. smooth peanut butter

8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

1 tbsp. butter

Get an 8″ x 8″ pan, or some variation thereof. Don’t grease it. In a large bowl, beat both sugars, the butter, and the peanut butter until the batter looks crumbly. At this point you can use your hands to mix it together – just make sure there aren’t any chunks of butter floating freely. Pat into the pan, evenly.

In a small saucepan, or over a double boiler, carefully melt the chocolate and butter. When it’s smooth, pour over the peanut butter mixture, and refrigerate to let it set up. It needs a solid hour, but benefits from an overnight stay. Cut into bars and devour. It’s best kept in the fridge.

Summer Salad
August 1, 2010, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

People seem to go bonkers this time every year over tomatoes and corn, with the kind of fanaticism normally seen in the pre-teen set when Miley Cyrus tickets go on sale. I didn’t really understand it, and let me tell you: I still don’t understand the bizarre names for corn and heirloom tomatoes. “Country Gentlemen,” “Silver Queen,” and “Triple Play” are all varities of the former, while “Aunt Ginny’s Purple,” “Berkeley Tie-Dye Pink,” and “Dinner Plate” are varieties of the latter. Huh.

I especially didn’t understand the two together…until I made this salad, that is. I’m not about to fall all over myself to buy 17 copies of Can’t Be Tamed (thanks, Wikipedia), but I will say that tomatoes, corn, and basil will be making more frequent appearances in my kitchen this month.

The corn gets cut from the cob and sauteed in some butter with the tomatoes and then the mozzarella, which lets it melt just slightly before being poured over some arugula. Throw the diced avocados on top and then pour an herby vinaigrette over the whole thing – and look, you have a pretty layered salad with very little effort! Which of course leaves more time to devote to learning all the words to “Party in the U.S.A”…or the Heirloom Tomato Seeds list. Whatever floats your boat.

Summer Salad

Adapted from Sara Foster’s Fresh Every Day. Serves 4ish.

2 ears of sweet corn, shucked and de-cobbed

2 tbsp. butter

1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

4 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced

6-8 basil leaves, julienned (cut into thin strips)

a couple handfuls of fresh baby arugula

1 avocado

lots of salt and pepper

Shuck the corn and cut off the corn from each cob. Saute the butter in a large pan, then add the corn and some salt and pepper. Heat for a few minutes, then add the tomato halves and the mozzarella. Remove from heat once the mozzarella starts to melt. Meanwhile, add the handfuls of arugula to a large salad bowl. Dice the avocado, and squeeze a little lemon juice over the cut pieces to prevent browning. Pour the corn and tomato mixture over the arugula, then top with the diced avocado. Pour the Herb Vinaigrette over everything (recipe below).

Herb Vinaigrette

1/3 c. red wine vinegar

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

5 fresh basil leaves, julienned

about 2/3 – 3/4 c. olive oil

lots of salt and pepper

Add everything but the olive oil to a measuring cup and whisk to combine. While whisking, stream the olive oil in. Taste and correct seasoning.