A Sarcastic Appetite


Pasta with Chicken, Cauliflower & Mustard Breadcrumbs
November 30, 2010, 11:41 pm
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Sfoglia has a little gem on its menu right now – well, actually, many gems, but tonight I will concern myself with just one: “mezze rigatoni, cauliflower, truffle, taleggio.” There’s something magical about such a stinky cheese; remember Missy Robbins’ taleggio-filled pasta with chanterelles at A Voce Columbus? If this doesn’t ring a bell, get thee to a cheese shop. Buy a wedge, slather it on some crackers, and you’ll understand. Just crack open a window while you’re at it, so your neighbors don’t think you’re growing a dirty sock farm.

Anyway, Sfoglia’s rendition, with rigatoni and cauliflower, was as stinky and delightful as it sounds. The breadcrumbs added a crunchy layer and the sauce was creamy and highly caloric – just what I needed the night after Thanksgiving! Oh, wait.

I thought about recreating it at home, but procuring truffles is not so high on my to-do list these days. Luckily, I needed to look no further than the November issue of Bon Appétit: an updated version with mustard and lemon in place of truffles, and a simpler sauce that wouldn’t stink up the place. Taleggio, I’ll miss you….but I’ll see you at my next cheese plate, so I’m not too worried about it.

This recipe is also incredibly simple, and wins serious brownie points for requiring the cooking of two separate things (pasta and cauliflower in this case) in one measly pot. The pasta gets drained (save a bit of water!) and then thrown back in the pot, where it’s tossed with some cream, lemon zest, plenty of salt and pepper, and some cheese. Add some chicken for protein, but feel free to omit it if you don’t have a crazed dietician living with you who demands a balanced meal without excessive lactose. Unfortunately that eliminates stinky sock farms.

Penne with Chicken, Cauliflower & Mustard Breadcrumbs

Adapted from this Bon Appétit recipe. Serves 4.

8 oz. penne (about 2 1/2 c.)

1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite-size florets

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. mustard

3/4 c. panko breadcrumbs

zest of 1 lemon

1 1/2 c. cooked chicken, cubed (about 1 1/2 breasts)

1/2 c. heavy cream

3/4 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

(1/2 c. pasta water)

lots of salt and pepper

In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the mustard, then add the breadcrumbs. Cook, tossing occasionally and stirring to remove clumps, about 10 minutes, until they’re crunchy and golden brown, then set aside. Boil some water in a big pot and cook the pasta until it’s about 5 minutes away from being ready to go. At the 5 minute mark, throw the cauliflower in there and cook about another 5 minutes, until it’s all fork-tender and the pasta is cooked. Reserve 1/2 c. of the water, then drain the pot. Toss the pasta and cauliflower back into the pot with the reserved water, cream, chicken, lemon zest, and cheese. Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Stir together until the sauce coats the pasta, then serve in shallow bowls with several tablespoons of breadcrumbs scattered across the top. 



Honey-Soy Glazed Salmon & Bok Choy
November 23, 2010, 8:32 am
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There are two things in the Sarcastic Appetite kitchen that had previously terrified me: broiling things, and fish. The former because it was almost always guaranteed that the smoke alarm would go off, and that always sends me into a frenzy, and the latter because, well, fish makes me nervous. Unless we’re jump searing tuna, which requires little in the way of thought or effort, fish requires a little bit of finesse. And I, as we all know, am prone to such things as dumping cakes into my lap, forgetting key ingredients, and botching otherwise completely unbotchable recipes.

Thus, the bar was set a bit high (I thought). Then again, this recipe features all of nine ingredients – two of which are salmon and rice – and when the other key ingredients are soy sauce and honey, you know it’s got to be pretty difficult to screw up. Let it marinate for the full 30 minutes if you can, and don’t be afraid of the broiler. Just open your window and take a few deep breaths. And truth be told, that’s what I’m doing from here on out, since this was incrediby easy, incredibly delicious, and nothing caught on fire. Plus, all those great omega-3s I just scarfed down give me license to get into the chocolate. And that, my friends, makes this a win-win.

Honey-Soy Glazed Salmon & Bok Choy

Adapted from this Serious Eats recipe. Serves 2.


1/2 c. soy sauce (or tamari)

2 tbsp. honey

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 inch chunk of fresh ginger, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 salmon fillets, about 1/2 lb. each

2 heads bok choy, root end trimmed and larger leaves halved

salt and freshly ground pepper

rice, for serving

In a large bowl, whisk the first six ingredients. Reserve a scant 1/4 c. of the marinade and set aside. Place the salmon fillets, skin side up, into the marinade. Let sit for at least 10 minutes, but preferably 30. Start the rice, if you’re having that, and wash the bok choy. Preheat the broiler on high, and place the rack as close to the heat source as possible. Put the fillets skin side down into a baking dish and broil, 8 to 10 minutes, until just cooked through. (Longer if your fillets are on the thick side, or they’re not so close to the heat, etc.) The soy mixture will make the salmon look burned and terrifying, but everything is fine. Stop freaking out.

In a large saute pan, heat about 1/4 c. of water. Add the bok choy and lashings of salt and pepper; cover and let steam for 3-4 minutes or so. Add the rest of the marinade and let it boil down for another 2-3 minutes. Serve the bok choy with the sal—I don’t actually need to write this out for you, do I?



Butternut Squash Soup
November 21, 2010, 10:20 pm
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As usual, I’m late to the party. November’s almost out the door and I only just managed to purchase my first butternut squash of the season today. It was lying forlornly among the acorn squash, a rather pitiful specimen that will nevertheless be put to a delicious end: soup.

This delicate soup comes courtesy of Michael Psilakis, he of various Greek restaurants in New York and now Miami, from How to Roast a Lamb. The recipe is classic and simple: the aforementioned squash, an onion, some thyme, heavy cream, and a bit of white wine come together in what Psilakis describes as a “juicy” soup. He’s right. While it won’t steal the show – I think the John Dory and Crab-Yogurt-Orzo salad it’s paired with would take care of that – it is a light and lovely soup.

The reason I love this particular recipe? It doesn’t require peeling the squash (annoying) or cubing it (tedious). Roast the halved squash with some thyme and then scoop the flesh out and let it do its thing in the soup pot. Use this as your blank slate and add headier spices and flavors if you want. (I just added more nutmeg and some ginger.) Or leave it be, and just top with some chopped chives and a hefty dollop of crème fraiche, which will add a nice creaminess. Then again, what isn’t improved by crème fraiche?

Butternut Squash Soup

Adapted from How to Roast a Lamb by Michael Psilakis. Serves 4.

1 small butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded, but unpeeled

about 3 tbsp. nice olive oil

8 sprigs thyme

lots of salt and pepper

1/2 an onion, chopped

1 c. dry white wine

2 1/2 c. chicken stock

1 c. heavy cream

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

a pinch of ground cloves

1 tbsp. honey

crème fraiche and chives, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 375º. Brush olive oil onto the cut sides of the squash. Season with lots of salt and pepper, then stuff the cavities with the thyme. Wrap in aluminum foil and roast for about an hour, until very tender. Discard the thyme, then scoop the flesh out and set aside.

In a stockpot, heat the remaining olive oil. Add the onion and saute until tender and wilted, about ten minutes. Deglaze with the wine and allow it to evaporate completely – about 15-20 minutes or so. Stir in the pulp, the chicken stock, cream, spices, and honey. Bring it to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, then use an immersion blender to purée until smooth. Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche and chopped chives.



Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of November 18
November 18, 2010, 9:26 am
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You’ve probably forgotten the drill due to my long absence, so here goes. I canvass the food blogs, so you don’t have to. Some highlights this week:

 

Shifty Sifty gives a one-spot to the raucous Hurricane Club, an over-the-top homage to Trader Vic’s that’s nevertheless enjoyable for its “faux Polynesian” menu. Order the Samoan deviled eggs and the Peking duck tea sandwiches…and bring earplugs.

Nick Solares of A Hamburger Today calls Burger & Barrel one of his “Top 5” in New York, which means it just catapaulted to the top of my own to-do list. That, and their fried chicken, are making my mouth water. Not that it takes much anyway….

The boys of Immaculate Infatuation are hot-to-trot over Michael White’s newest downtown venture. Osteria Morini gets an 8.4 and a lot of love – provided you go easy on the meat and focus on the pasta.

Fork in the Road calls out the Top 10 Bakery Desserts in town, which means I just got one more reason to head to Brooklyn: I want that Grasshopper Bar, and I want it now.

Midtown Lunch says it best about Serious Eat’s recent post on where to eat lunch around Rockefeller Center.

Danny at Food in Mouth has good words for the Stracciatella pizza at Motorino’s EV outpost, while Robyn of The Girl Who Ate Everything gets carnivorous at DBGB….in a good way, of course.

Lastly, Blondie & Brownie have a very important PSA: Shopsin’s Sunday Brunch…is BACK. I want to go to there.

 



Lamb Chops with Tomatoes & Feta
November 15, 2010, 10:08 pm
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Over the weekend, the Ninja pointed to the stove and said, “Do you know what this is? This is called an oven. It’s used to cook dinner.”

(The Ninja also demanded that he would now like to be known on the blog as “The Smartest and Greatest Person Who Has Ever Lived, Also Known As Baby Bird In Certain Circles,” so take that with a grain of salt.)

He’s right, though, it’s been quiet around here for a few reasons, and one of those reasons is the obvious: I haven’t been cooking much. I’ve been sort of bored with everything – the same boneless, skinless chicken breasts done the same five ways. It got old fast. So these last few days, I’ve made an effort to look for new recipes with new ingredients, and tonight we hit the jackpot.

I’ve never made lamb chops before, and now I’m sort of wondering why. They cook quickly, and my initial fear that it would be a lot of work for only a little meat was unfounded. It’s plenty. The recipe calls for blade chops, but use loin chops if you can – they’re a nicer cut of meat and more flavorful. And serve with rice or orzo.

The Ninja claims this is one of the best things I’ve ever made. It looks like I finally remembered how to use that stove….

Lamb Chops with Tomatoes & Feta

Adapted from this Bon Appetit recipe. Serves 2.

1/2 c. + 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/4 c. red wine vinegar

juice of 1 lemon

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

4 lamb loin chops

1 10 oz. container of grape tomatoes

6 thin slices red onion

2 handfuls baby spinach

2ish oz. nice feta cheese, or about 1/4 c.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the olive oil and red wine vinegar together with the lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and ground cumin. Add salt and pepper; taste, and correct seasoning as necessary. Pour half the dressing into a shallow baking dish, and add the chops. Let sit for 30 minutes to an hour, covered, and flip once or twice. (Refrigerate if you’re planning to marinate for more than 30 minutes.)

Halve the grape tomatoes and add to the remaining dressing in the bowl; add the red onion slices, separating them into rings as you go. Toss and let sit. (Start the rice, and let that get going before you cook the chops, which only take about 10 minutes.)

Heat the last 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a large skillet – let it get nice and hot. Sear the chops, and cook, about 5 minutes per side for medium rare. Let them rest momentarily.

Plate the lamb chops: A handful of spinach, followed by two chops, followed by the tomato onion salad. Drizzle some of the dressing over everything, then top with crumbled feta cheese.