A Sarcastic Appetite

Mushroom & Farro “Hash”
April 9, 2013, 8:55 pm
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Last night I made this chicken from Alexandra’s Kitchen; it’s one of my go-tos. But we devoured it before I thought to take a picture. This blogging thing….apparently it takes some getting used to. (For the record, I use only thighs and I bake them at 425 for about 45 minutes. If you’re curious.)

So tonight I vowed to remember the photographic evidence.

Dinner lately has been somewhat of a challenge, and not just because my dance card’s awfully full. The Nutritional Ninja has diagnosed himself with psoriasis, and as a result prescribed himself a no-nightshade diet, which means no potatoes, peppers, eggplant…or tomatoes. Oh, and don’t forget he’s “practically” gluten-free….which meant that suggesting this mushroom and farro “hash” for dinner tonight did NOT go over well. Never mind that farro is a good source of protein, fiber, B vitamins, and vitamin E, or that the recipe would actually help me use up the dry sherry I had lying around in the fridge.


I flew off the handle and made it anyway, forgetting the poached eggs because it’s filling enough on its own and I am spectacularly lazy. Roast some broccoli on the side if you want to up your veg intake. It’s delicious, and I suspect will be even better tomorrow.

Ripe’s Cremini Farro Hash with Poached Eggs 

Adapted from this Serious Eats recipe. Serves 2, with plenty leftover.

1 c. pearled farro, rinsed

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

8 oz. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced (I used shitake; they were delicious)

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

lots of salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 c. dry sherry

1/4 c. sour cream or greek yogurt

juice of half a lemon, plus more to taste

3 Tbsp. chives or finely chopped scallions to garnish

If you’re making the eggs:

1 tsp. white vinegar

2 large eggs

Cook the farro according to package directions. In a large saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion and mushrooms; season with salt and pepper and add the dried thyme. Stir frequently for about 10 minutes, until the mushrooms have released their juices and the onion is soft and translucent. Add the sherry; let it evaporate almost completely.

By this time the farro should be cooked; drain it and add to the onion and mushroom mixture. Add more salt and pepper; pull off the heat before stirring in the sour cream (or yogurt) and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning. Keep warm while you make the eggs.

If making the eggs, boil some water; add the vinegar and poach those suckers. Soft boiled eggs would also work well here, as would fried. All you want is the runny yolk. Garnish the whole thing with the chives (or scallions).

Indonesian Ginger Chicken
February 23, 2011, 7:59 am
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I think it was amidst the frenzy of the new year, that time when we all Vow to Make Resolutions We’ll Break Before February, that I decided I’d become a far more organized cook. No more dashing around after work each night, picking up one ingredient from this shop and three more from another store, only to head home and realize I’d forgotten the key ingredient. Harried shopping can equal harried cooking for me and I had had enough.

I vowed – no, Vowed – to start planning ahead to the point of choosing recipes that could marinate overnight. If I’m already in the kitchen cooking dinner, why surely it’s no problem for me to throw a few extra things together that can have a slumber party in the fridge. I love slumber parties!

So one night I made this chicken recipe, one my mother swears by because it’s so embarrassingly easy – both to do ahead and to make. The flavor really does seep into the chicken, even if you take the lazy man’s route and use boneless, skinless breasts. And we all know the honey-soy combination is magical, as I’ve already documented here.

…In the end, I’m embarrassed to admit this recipe was the only one I ever made ahead. I’d still consider that a success, but I’m too busy scrambling around trying to figure out what I’ll cook tonight, and could it involve two heads of 8-day-old broccoli? Want to come over? We’ll have our own slumber party!!!!


Indonesian Ginger Chicken

Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe. Serves 3.

Note: I halved this recipe, and used boneless skinless chicken breasts, because I am lazy and I always have that in the fridge. You could substitute bone-in breasts with skin, or boneless thighs, or legs – whatever suits your fancy. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly.


1/2 c. honey

1/3 c. soy sauce

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 c. minced gingerroot

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1 1/3 lbs. total


Heat the honey, soy sauce, garlic and ginger in a small sauce pan over low heat. Arrange the chicken in a suitably sized Pyrex; pour the sauce over, cover with foil, and marinate in the fridge overnight. The next day, preheat the oven to 350°. Bake for 30-33 minutes, until the breasts are cooked through.

The sauce will still be thin, so if you want to thicken it up a bit you can pour it into a small saucepan and make a cornstarch slurry. Heat the sauce, whisk in the slurry, and let it thicken. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

Indian-Spiced Shrimp
February 20, 2011, 1:27 pm
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Cold? Check. Cranky? Check. Hungry? Check. Need a dinner that requires little in the way of time or forethought? Check.

This “Indian-Spiced Shrimp” takes all of about 20 minutes. It’s warming without being overly spicy, and since it lacks two of my favorite ingredients (butter and wine), I think it pretty much qualifies as Diet Dinner #42.

The original recipe calls for fresh tomatoes, but canned whole tomatoes are much juicier, and the sauce benefits from that. The “fresh” ginger I purchased at Gristede’s was actually “grossly moldy,” so I used dried, and no one was the wiser. Add more jalapeños if you want the extra heat, and if you’re feeling inspired and have the time, you could roast some cauliflower, too.

Indian Spices Shrimp

Adapted from this Gourmet recipe. Serves 4.

1 medium onion, diced

3 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 tbsp. minced fresh jalapeno, including seeds

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. minced fresh ginger, or 1/2 tsp. dried

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

3/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. turmeric

1 can of whole peeled tomatoes, diced; reserve the juice

1 lb. cleaned shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 c. cilantro leaves, chopped

Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat; add the onions and saute until they start to color, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño and saute until fragrant, about one minute; then add the rest of the spices and stir for about another minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir; if the mixture seems too dry, add a splash of the reserved juice. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes break down a bit. Add the shrimp and stir until cooked through, about another 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro to garnish and serve with warmed (store-bought) naan.

Homemade Oreos
February 15, 2011, 10:12 pm
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Homemade Oreos? Come on. Dough that needs to be chilled for 2 hours, and re-rolled every 15 minutes to make sure it doesn’t sink? Who has the kind of time for that?? Oh, wait. This kid.

I had seen homemade oreos elsewhere in the blogosphere, but had always held off making them for fear they were too much of a production to be worth it. Now I need to hold off making them again, because they are really freaking good. All I needed were a few hours of quality HGTV to while away the hours. (It was incredible.)

Ok, ok, so it’s true: they need a lot of love. And Valentine’s Day has come and gone, so I’m assuming you’re all out of said love and back to your usual snarky self.  That’s fine, since these cookies come together very easily and don’t require a hand-mixer. I love that. Melt some butter, melt some chocolate, throw the dry ingredients into a bowl, and in just a few minutes the dough comes together. Chang notes it gets to a point where it’s easier to work with your hands, but I never found that; it came together with a wooden spoon without a problem. Just wait for an afternoon when you can lounge around watching House Hunters marathons while the dough chills. Oh – does that only apply to me? Fine, I’ll make a batch for you.

Side note: I doubled the amount of filling required, because in my world, it’s Double Stuf or bust. I frosted some of these with varying shades of pink in honor of the, ahem, “holiday,” so omit as your cold heart desires.

Homemade Oreos

Adapted from Flour by Joanne Chang. Makes 16 to 18 sandwich cookies.

For the cookies:

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

3/4 c. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 heaping c. semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled

1 egg

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 c. Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I could only find a blend of regular and Dutch-process and it was fine)

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

For the cream filling:

2 sticks salted butter, softened

3 1/3 c. confectioners’ sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tbsp. heavy cream

pinch of salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar until well combined. Whisk in the vanilla and chocolate; add the egg and whisk until combined. In a small bowl, whisk the flour together with the cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture, using a wooden spoon to combine. If you need to use your hands, go for it. Let the dough rest at room temperature for an hour.

Transfer the dough to a large square of wax paper. Roll it into a log about 2 inches across, and 10-12 inches long. Roll the wax paper around the log, then chill in the fridge for 2 hours, rolling every 15 minutes or so to maintain its shape.

Preheat the oven to 325º. Line two baking sheets with wax paper. Slice the dough log into 1/4″ slices, and place on the cookie sheet about one inch apart. Bake until just firm to the touch, about 16-18 minutes. Let cool on the sheet.

For the filling, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the vanilla and milk and beat again until smooth. Spread a few tablespoons of filling onto a cookie, and sandwich with another one.

Coriander Chicken Tacos with Spicy Refried Beans
January 25, 2011, 9:07 am
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Oh. Are you one of those people who doesn’t like refried beans? Then I’m afraid you’re going to miss out on something pretty delicious. Even Ninja described this dinner as “the bomb.” I don’t know why he’s decided to relive 1997, but that’s a topic for another day.

Anytime I make tacos I am reminded of Taco Night when we were little – my mother would set out bowls of salsa, sour cream, scallions, and shredded cheese and we would all go to town. Or, um, I would go to town, and heap inappropriate amounts of condiments all over everything. It was great. Taco Night has apparently stuck with my gringo self, since it was all I could do not to set out a bowl of salsa. These don’t need any of that, I assure you.

As usual I’ve changed the recipe around a bit – it calls for bashing coriander seeds and pressing them into flattened chicken breasts. I just rubbed ground coriander into each breast, though you could also use chicken cutlets if you wanted. I love the refried beans, and not just because you simply chuck a bunch of stuff into a food processor and then heat the results with some chicken broth. It’s very good and very flavorful; you can just taste the oregano under everything before the heat from the chipotles in adobo hits you.

Serve these with sliced radishes, diced avocado, and plenty of freshly squeezed lime juice. I kind of wish I could take a Hot Tub Time Machine back to my 8-year-old self on Taco Night; I have a feeling she’d probably think these were the bomb, too.

Coriander Chicken Tacos with Spicy Refried Beans

Serves 4. Adapted from this Bon Appétit recipe.

2 15 oz. cans pinto beans

about 1/2 of a good-sized onion, roughly chopped

2 tsp. dried oregano

2 garlic cloves, peeled but whole

1 tbsp. minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo – including sauce, though add more to taste

1 tsp. ground cumin

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 c. chicken broth

3 tbsp. canola oil

plenty of salt and pepper

2 chicken breast halves

about 3 tbsp. ground coriander

6-inch soft corn tortillas

3 radishes, sliced thinly

1 avocado, diced

2 limes

a handful of cilantro, chopped

In a food processor, blend the beans, onion, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper, and cumin. Pulse, then add the olive oil. Taste and season as necessary. In a large saute pan, heat the beans with 1/2 c. chicken broth. Let that go while you do the chicken, but taste occasionally – you might want to add more chipotle in adobo sauce

On a small plate, add the 3 tbsp. of coriander and some more salt and pepper. Heat the canola oil in another large skillet. Press each side of each breast into the plate of coriander, then cook the breasts over medium-high heat, about 5-6 minutes per side. Set aside, let cool, and then dice. Heat as many corn tortillas as you want, one by one, in the skillet you used to cook the chicken (no need for oil or anything). Just give it a minute or two on each side.

Plate the tacos with refried beans, some diced chicken, sliced radishes, avocado, and cilantro. Finish with plenty of squeezed lime.

Scallops with Cauliflower, Dried Cherries & Capers
January 16, 2011, 11:52 pm
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Sounds weird, right? It’s one of those magical dishes where the sum of its [very disparate] parts equals something really delicious. I made this awhile ago, when the threat of that diet loomed, and I was trying to figure out what we could eat without killing each other. Of course, if he were really following it now, I am pretty sure a fair number of these ingredients would be verboten anyway. Thankfully, he just seems to be doing some kind of abbreviated version, cutting out most junk but without getting too anal about it. Yet.

And though I had been eyeing this number as a possible new “diet dinner” in the new year, I’m really just fooling myself; the only sauce here is butter. (Don’t get me wrong – it’s amazing.)

It’s from Michael Psilakis’ excellent How to Roast a Lamb, and he tells you everything you need to know in the recipe’s headnote; it’s almost a kind of stir-fry, so have everything all set before you get started. It comes together fairly quickly, though it does require several pans.

The end result, though, is delicious; all the veggies trick you into thinking you’re eating something healthy, but the outrageous sauce and the sweet-salty combination of cherries and capers remind you that no, in fact, you’re not. Which of course counts as success in my book.

Scallops with Cauliflower, Dried Cherries & Capers

Barely adapted from How to Roast a Lamb. Serves 2 as an entree.

1 small cauliflower head, chopped into bite-size florets
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 big handfuls of fresh spinach leaves
1 large shallot, finely chopped, divided
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
8 large sea scallops, side muscle removed
1 stick butter, divided
6 large sage leaves, sliced thinly
3 tbsp. dried tart cherries
2 tbsp. drained capers

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the cauliflower until tender, about 6-7 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Add half the minced shallot and saute for a few minutes; add the cauliflower, cinnamon, salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Cook for about 4 minutes, until the cauliflower caramelizes slightly.  Add the rest of the olive oil, then add the spinach leaves and toss until wilted, about another 3. Divide among 2 plates. Heat 2 tbsp. of the butter in a large pan, then cook the scallops on medium-high heat, seasoned with salt and pepper, for about 2 minutes per side; don’t crowd them or they’ll steam. Pile 4 scallops on top of the cauliflower mixture on each plate.

In a small saucepan, heat the rest of the butter (6 tbsp.) over low heat. Add the rest of the shallots; once the foam subsides, add the sage leaves, cherries, and capers. Heat through – don’t let the butter burn – before spooning over the finished plates.

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Spinach, Goat Cheese & Chicken
January 3, 2011, 10:19 pm
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There are rumblings afoot in Apartment 21B: rumblings of a new diet in the near future. One is supposed to eliminate sugar, dairy, meat, grains and who knows what else in order to remove the yeast from one’s system, yeast which we all have and is apparently responsible for every single ailment you have ever suffered in your life – and probably global warming, too.

Oh. Did you think I was going on this diet? No, no, no! I’m doing no such thing. The Ninja is! Or claims he is, anyway, and I’m terrified for the repercussions. We all know I get cranky when I don’t eat – but it’s genetic! He’s going to turn into some kind of Locally Sourced, Greenmarket Mr. Hyde for the next four weeks (four weeks!) and it’s not going to be pretty. It’s unclear to me what one can actually eat on this diet, but according to the Ninja I am a lowly, unimaginative peon who doesn’t deserve to know what happens on The Diet since I am uninterested in Eliminating Yeast and Solving the World’s Problems.

I guess I’m selling myself a bit short here. To be honest, I am interested in the idea of a cleanse – as long as it makes room for pinot grigio. If you have any suggestions, please pass them along. In the meantime, I’ll make more stuff like this quinoa salad, which is healthier than, say, my Roast Chicken, but sports enough olive oil and goat cheese so I don’t feel like I’m, ahem, denying myself anything.

Quinoa has many fans these days, and I can see why: Wikipedia tells me it contains amino acids, phosphorous, fiber, magnesium, iron – and is gluten free for those of us who care. Just remember to soak your quinoa for fifteen minutes in water to remove any trace of bitterness. (Most quinoa sold in stores has its bitter, waxy outer coating removed, but there are still traces of bitterness that remain, so soak it to be sure.) The rest of this is pretty straightforward: some roasted asparagus, toasted sliced almonds, a handful or two of spinach, diced chicken and a fair amount of goat cheese get dressed with a classic vinaigrette. And there’s plenty for lunch tomorrow – for those of us who will not be participating in The Diet, of course.

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Spinach, Goat Cheese, & Chicken

Adapted from The Kitchen Sink Recipes. Serves 4ish.

1 c. quinoa

Water for soaking, plus 2 c. for cooking

1/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste

lots of freshly ground black pepper

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed

3 tbsp. + 1/4 c. olive oil

3 tbsp. grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1 whole peeled garlic clove

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 c. sliced almonds, toasted

1/4 c. goat cheese

1 6 oz. chicken breast, diced

2 handfuls of spinach

Preheat the oven to 350.° Soak the quinoa in a bowl of water for 15 minutes. (If you don’t have time for this, just pour hot water over it.) Drain, then add to a medium pot with the 2 c. water and 1/4 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the water has evaporated. Set it aside, still covered.

Spread the asparagus in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the 3 tbsp. olive oil; season with salt and pepper, then add the 3 tbsp. Parmigiano Reggiano. Throw the garlic clove on top and roast for about 10 minutes, until just fork tender. Set aside. Pull the garlic off and mince it.

In a large salad bowl, combine the minced garlic, Dijon, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and whisk until combined. Keep whisking as you drizzle in the 1/4 c. of olive oil; taste, and correct seasoning. Add the cooked quinoa, asparagus, toasted almonds, spinach and chicken; toss well. Add the goat cheese and toss again; the heat from the quinoa and the asparagus should wilt the spinach slightly and melt the cheese.

Raspberry Streusel Bars
December 14, 2010, 10:06 pm
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I spent Sunday morning flipping through cookbooks again, hellbent on finding a recipe for which I already had everything I needed. I wanted something mildly breakfast-y – or at least something I could vaguely justify eating all day long. This is really none of those things; I had to run out to get the butter, sugar, and the jam – and because it contains so much butter, sugar, and jam. (Not that it has stopped me from stealing bites every chance I get.) It reminds me of those Pepperidge Farm cookies – remember those? The sandwich cookies with jam in the middle and powdered sugar on top?  They were always far too dry and crunchy for my liking, not that it ever stopped me from downing 4 at a time. These are softer and slightly chewier. I am a fan.

Actually, the Ninja and I are both avid fans, as evidenced by the photo above. I have only myself to blame for the bizarre swath of sugary destruction I cut out of the pan. (The middle is always the best part!)

If I made these again, I’d slather even more raspberry jam on top – and I went overboard as it was. I’d also swap out the sugar in the streusel topping for brown sugar, since brown sugar makes everything better.

Raspberry Streusel Bars

From Joy of Cooking. Makes 20 bars…so they say.

For the shortbread:

2 c. all purpose flour

1/4 c. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pieces

3 tbsp. milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375º and butter a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Pulse the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix the milk and vanilla in a small dish and add to the flour mixture, bit by bit, until the dough starts to hold together. Press the dough into the baking pan, evenly. Bake about 12 minutes, until just firm in the center. Put on a cooling rack but leave the oven on.

For the topping:

1 1/2 c. seedless raspberry jam

1 3/4 c. flour

2/3 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats

1 large egg

2 tbsp. milk

Once you take the shortbread out of the oven, slather the jam over the still-hot crust. Meanwhile, pulse the flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter in a food processor until it’s blended. Turn out into a small bowl and add the oats. Mix the milk and egg together and beat lightly. Add that to the flour mixture and blend until the streusel is moistened and forms small crumbs. Scatter these crumbs across the raspberry jam, spreading evenly. Bake another 25ish minutes, until the raspberry jam is bubbling and the streusel is lightly browned. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup
December 12, 2010, 9:58 pm
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I haven’t written much about the Ninja here beyond his occasional dinner requests or snarky comments, and I’m not sure why – maybe out of some perverse desire to respect his privacy?

Well, that’s all over. From here on out, I’ll be sharing some of his other predilections, which lately have been downright bizarre.

For example, the other night I came home to find the apartment smelling like a pothead’s dirty laundry. Horrified, I threw open the windows and lit every scented candle I own. It only barely masked the smell….of sage leaves, which the Ninja had apparently been burning in an effort to “ward off bad spirits.” This is, of course, in addition to his weekly crude oil scalp treatments, which make the apartment smell like a gas station and are supposed to ward off baldness. In six months. Possibly.

Am I an unknowing extra in a dodgy remake of The Craft? Or is the Ninja merely acting out the prequel to that one Seinfeld episode when George gets a toupee? Maybe it’s some cruel combination of the two: a terrifying possibility.

He claims he’s just healthier than I am. I claim he’s just nuts. Either way, the battle lines have been drawn. He burns the sage leaves early enough in the day and I pretend not to notice when I get home, and I vacate the apartment on Tuesday nights to avoid any scent of Eau de Fuselage. I also throw away things he would otherwise recycle and buy non-organic food just often enough to annoy him. It’s an arrangement that I think really works, until I get thrown a curve ball: Crude Oil night has suddenly, inexplicably, unfairly, rudely been moved to Sunday nights. Now what?

I figured I had only one option: to cook a bunch of fragrant, aromatic stuff and hope for the best. This chicken and coconut soup fits the bill, and it’s very easy to put together. I probably should have let it simmer all evening to provide a coconut-y buffer to what’s about to happen around here – but then again, we’ve got to eat. This time next week, maybe I’ll make a ragù…or better yet, some kind of delicious bean soup. (The Ninja hates beans.) It’ll be perfect!

Thai Chicken & Coconut Soup

Adapted from Joy of Cooking. Serves 4.

3 c. chicken stock

2 2/3 c. coconut milk (about 1 1/2 14 oz. cans)

3 Jalapeño peppers or 2 Thai peppers, mostly seeded and sliced thinly (or completely seeded if you don’t want it spicy)

3 tbsp. fish sauce

3 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tbsp. minced ginger

1 tbsp. minced lemongrass

2 tsp. curry powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced

juice of 1/2 a lime

chopped cilantro for garnish


Bring the chicken stock and coconut milk to a boil in a big pot. Reduce the heat; add the Jalapeños, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, curry powder, lemongrass, and salt. Simmer for about 10 minutes; taste and correct seasoning as needed. Add the sliced chicken and the lime juice and simmer for an additional 5 or so minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Serve over rice and throw some chopped cilantro on there….or not, if you’re like I am and forgot about it. Again.

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.