Butternut Squash Agnoletti with Curry Emulsion

_MG_5484I have a confession to make: I met Thomas Keller for a very brief moment a few months ago I was completely starstruck. He was, of course, just as charismatic as you might imagine (and taller than I had pictured), and of course, passionate about his cooking. I remember getting the French Laundry Cookbook from the library when I was in high school, poring over the pictures and marveling at the recipes. _MG_5476It was astonishing that anyone could take the time to make all of the separate components for just one dish at the French Laundry – but the part I loved the most was that Chef Keller didn't dumb anything down for the home cook, like many cookbooks do: if you wanted to make Oysters and Pearls like they have at the French Laundry, then damn it, you were going to have the same recipe the trained cooks have there. It might not look or taste exactly the same, but if Thomas Keller thinks you can do it, then I think that's a pretty good endorsement._MG_5488

Needless to say, I'm kind of obsessed with anything Keller-related and every single thing I have made from the Ad Hoc Cookbook has been delicious. So when I came across a recipe on Epicurious for Fava Bean Agnoletti with Curry Emulsion, I knew I had to try it out, particularly since I had been wanting to try my hand at a filled pasta for a while as well. I swapped the fava beans for a more winter-appropriate roasted butternut squash, and I have to say that this might be my favorite pasta sauce ever. Surprisingly simple, and yet with a  complexity that complements the creamy pasta perfectly. You could, of course, make the sauce to use with store-bought pasta, but if you have a couple of extra hours on a weekend I truly think it's worth the effort. And you don't want to let Thomas Keller down, do you?_MG_5663

 

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Butternut Squash Ravioli with Curry Emulsion (adapted from Epicurious)

Filling:

2 cups roasted butternut squash 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese Kosher salt and ground pepper, to taste 1/2 recipe Pasta Dough (I included the link as the instructions are very thorough)

Curry Emulsion

2 teaspoons curry powder 2 tablespoons chopped shallots 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable stock, chicken stock or water 1/4 cup heavy cream 1/4 cup crème fraîche 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 cup arugula

For filling:

Place the squash, cheese and olive oil in a food processor. Blend until smooth and season well with salt and pepper, then refrigerate the mixture until it is cool, or for up to 2 days.

Roll out the dough and fill the agnolotti according to the To Fill Agnolotti instructions. You should have approximately 48 agnolotti.

To complete: For the curry emulsion, toast the curry powder in a small saucepan over medium heat until it is fragrant. Stir in the shallots and heat for another minute. Add the 3/4 cup stock, the cream and crème fraîche, bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup. Swirl in the butter. When the butter is melted, transfer the sauce to a blender. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons stock and blend for 30 seconds to emulsify the mixture. Season with salt and pepper and strain into a wide pan.

Meanwhile, cook the agnolotti in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.

Drain the agnolotti, add the agnolotti and arugula to the curry emulsion, and toss over low heat to coat with sauce. Serve immediately.

Orecchiette with Brown Butter, Sausage and Kale

_MG_5640You know those restaurants where, no matter what mood you are in, it makes everything a little better? Where the food isn't too fancy, but delicious and comforting every time, and where you know you'll be treated well. For me, that restaurant is Frankie's 457 in Brooklyn. Of course, it helps that they have the loveliest garden in the five boroughs, with an outdoor bar and string lights (I'm always a sucker for string lights) that makes you feel like you have escaped the city to a magical place. Needless to say, it's one of my favorite restaurants and the one thing we order from there every single time is orecchiette with spicy sausage and broccoli rabe. _MG_5653It's always the perfect combination of greens, buttery pasta and spicy pork sausage – and last week, I realized it probably wouldn't be so difficult to make at home. (Spoiler: it's not – in fact, it might be mine and Ari's new favorite weeknight meal). I swapped the broccoli rabe for kale since that was all my grocery store had, and I think that it makes an excellent substitute – but you could just as easily stick with rabe, or try another hearty green like collards or Swiss chard._MG_5643

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Orecchiette with Brown Butter, Sausage and Kale (adapted from Mario Batali, serves 4-6)

1 lb orecchiette

4 tablespoons butter

1 lb hot Italian sausage, casings removed

1/2 bunch kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 cup grated Pecorino cheese, plus more for garnish

In a large pan, bring salted water to boil. Once boiling, cook pasta according to box instructions until al dente, then drain and reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Cook until it starts to brown and smells a little nutty, 5-7 minutes. Pour all but about 1 tablespoon into a small bowl. Return pan to heat, and add sausage. Cook until brown, breaking it up with a spoon as you go, about 8 minutes. Add kale and red pepper flakes to pan, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook until wilted, 5-7 minutes, covering if necessary.

Add pasta to sausage and greens, then add pasta water, reserved butter and Pecorino and toss to coat. Serve immediately with additional Pecorino and red pepper flakes.

Pan-Fried Chicken with Lemon-Artichoke Sauce

_MG_5051 _MG_5055I almost never order chicken at restaurants. Somehow, chicken has gotten the reputation for being "boring" and usually, I'm more interested in trying fish or some kind of meat. There is one chicken dish that I will always order, however – the chicken Milanese at I Nonni. I worked at I Nonni, a great Italian restaurant just outside of St. Paul, the summer after I graduated college and before I moved to New York. It was a great summer  – the last time (probably) that I would live at home with my parents, the last summer I could be "a kid". (You're still a kid at 22, right?) I worked two restaurant jobs pretty much every day for those three months to save up money so that I could move to NYC at the end of August, and the nights I toiled away at I Nonni, I would usually end up ordering the chicken for dinner. Something about the lemony-buttery-bitter artichoke combination appealed to me – and of course, the crispy chicken and peppery arugula didn't hurt either.

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_MG_5065Later that fall when I was feeling a little homesick, I attempted to create the chicken dish to  bring back  little bit of home into my apartment full of hand-me-down furniture and less-than-desirable neighbors. I've changed it a bit over the past few years, but every time I make this dish, it reminds me of home.

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Pan-Fried Chicken with Lemon-Aritchoke Sauce (serves 4-6)

6 chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness

1/2-1 cup flour

2 eggs

2 cups panko breadcrumbs

4-6 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 cups arugula

Parmiggiano Reggiano, for serving (optional)

Sauce:

6 tablespoons butter

2 large shallots, chopped

2 14-oz cans artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

3/4 cup white wine

1/2 cup half and half

1/2 cup chicken broth

Juice of 1 lemon

1 lemon, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons capers

Place the flour, eggs, and panko into three separate, shallow bowls. Season the flour, and whisk the eggs lightly with a fork. Coat one piece of chicken lightly with flour, then dip into eggs, then panko so that it is completely coated. Lay on a baking sheet or cutting board, and repeat with remaining pieces of chicken.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When shimmering, add 1-2 pieces of chicken (depending on the size of your pan) and fry until golden-brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Keep cooked chicken warm in oven, and repeat with remaining pieces.

Once chicken is fried, let pan cool slightly, then melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-low heat. When it has melted, add  shallots and cook until soft and slightly transparent, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium and add artichokes. Cook for 1 minute. Add wine, half and half and broth, and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in remaining butter and flour and cook until thickened slightly, 2-3 minutes. Add lemon juice, slices, and capers, and season with salt and pepper.

To serve: place a piece of chicken over a handful of arugula on each plate. Spoon sauce over and shave a few pieces of parmiggiano reggiano over the sauce. Serve immediately.

Summer Panzanella

_MG_4771In my old apartment, I had a basil plant on the kitchen window -- here in New York, we have to try pretty hard to bring the outdoors in, with few windows and outdoor space at a premium making it difficult. There wasn't a ton of sunlight, but somehow that plant survived the winter and when I brought it to my new apartment (which somehow gets even less light, being on the first floor), I was hopeful. Unfortunately, I don't seem to have inherited my parents' green thumbs and it lasted less than a month. Basil is one of my favorite herbs, a smell that means all sorts of wonderful things -- like Italy, and pesto, and summer. I'm very excited to see it back at the farmer's market, along with the season's first greenhouse tomatoes. This salad makes an excellent main course when you don't feel like doing too much cooking, or is a perfect accompaniment to roast chicken or rack of lamb (as we had it)._MG_4770 _MG_4766

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To make this salad even easier, you could skip roasting the red peppers and just chop them up raw, but I love the smoky layer of flavor they add.

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Also, my second post is up on Wine & Bowties! See my family's recipe for classic tomato-basil bruschetta here.

Summer Panzanella (adapted from Eat This Book)

1 baguette or loaf of French bread, torn into bite-size pieces

Olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons capers

2 red peppers, roasted over an open flame, then diced

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup basil leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss bread pieces with 1/4 cup olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Toast until bread is golden-brown, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk garlic, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and red wine vinegar in a large mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the rest of the ingredients, toss, and season as needed. Lastly, add toasted croutons and stir.  Serve immediately.

Braised Short Ribs and Polenta

_MG_4109I've been feeling in a bit of a food rut lately. Much as I love sesame noodles, Thai takeout, and Christmas cookies, I was getting kind of bored. Cooking has always been enjoyable for me, but recently I was feeling uninspired and sluggish, reluctant to post anything here because I didn't have anything good to post. Last weekend, however, I decided things needed to change. Freed from  the flurry of holiday parties and December business, January seemed like a good opportunity to start fresh and get back into cooking -- real cooking, not just throwing on some pasta when I get home from work like I'm tempted to do most nights. _MG_4084While it's still cold, I want to make more hearty soups, more winter salads, more creative and inexpensive meals. I want to make pickles and take more time to read and play games, and watch less TV (even though this is the supposed Golden Age of television -- and it's easy to believe with Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Mad Men -- I could go on). I want to enjoy my beautiful new-ish neighborhood more, and make the most of these winter daylight hours. _MG_4089Inadvertently, this has become a bit of a resolution post, and I was never a big one for resolutions. Any resolutions to exercise more or eat healthier usually don't seem to last very long, but these I think I can do. And so, I'll begin this year with a simple (but very impressive) recipe for the perfect winter comfort food: braised short ribs that melt in your mouth, and the creamiest polenta with just the right amount of salt. We enjoyed with a cabernet sauvignon, some candles, and a kale salad (have to try to be somewhat healthy at least), and A. told me it was his favorite one yet._MG_4100 _MG_4104

Braised Short Ribs (Adapted from the Bon Appétit Cookbook, serves 2-4)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground black pepper 2 to 3 pounds meaty short ribs 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped 1 medium carrot, peeled, chopped

6 oz button mushrooms, thinly sliced 3 large garlic cloves, minced 1 1/2 ounces prosciutto , finely chopped 1 cup dry red wine 2 cups chicken broth 1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon (1/4 stick) butter, room temperature 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs from crustless day-old French bread 1/8 cup (about) whole-grain Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix 1 teaspoon thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper in small bowl. Rub herb mixture all over short ribs. Heat oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add ribs to pot and cook until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer ribs to bowl.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, carrot, mushrooms,  garlic, and prosciutto to pot; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add wine and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Add broth, bay leaf, and remaining 1 teaspoon thyme to pot. Return ribs to pot, meat side down; bring to boil. Cover pot tightly; transfer to oven and bake until ribs are very tender, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Remove from oven. (Short ribs can be braised 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm slightly over medium heat before continuing.)

Preheat oven to 450°F. Transfer ribs to large roasting pan, bone side down. Remove 1/4 cup mushrooms from pot and finely chop. Place in medium bowl. Add butter and mix with fork to blend. Mix in breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Spread 1 teaspoon mustard over top of each rib. Spread breadcrumb mixture over top of each rib, pressing to adhere. Bake until topping is crisp and golden, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, spoon off any fat from top of sauce in pot and discard. Boil sauce until slightly thickened and reduced to generous 2 cups, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon polenta into bowls. Top with short ribs. Spoon sauce over and serve.

Creamiest Polenta (Adapted from Tyler's Ultimate)

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature

Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring milk and chicken stock to simmer over medium heat in a saucepan. Add polenta and slowly whisk in. Reduce heat to low, and continue to cook until fully absorbed, 15-20 minutes, whisking often to prevent lumps. Remove pan from heat and stir in butter, cheese, and salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown-Butter Balsamic Sauce

I'm going to guess that most of you have your Thanksgiving meals all planned out by now. Turkey is defrosting, breadcrumbs are drying for stuffing, and pies are made. (I'm not cooking, so actually none of the above is true for me). If, however, you do not -- or you would like an excellent vegetarian entrée for your Thanksgiving (or other fall) meal, I would highly recommend these gnocchi. I actually found this recipe on Pinterest, which usually I shy away from (I've seen far too many of those "Pinterest Fail" pictures, which while hilarious, are usually not what I look for in a recipe), but when I saw that this recipe was from the amazing Aida Mollenkamp, I knew it would be good. And it doesn't fail to disappoint. I obviously love gnocchi in all forms, and you pretty much only have to mention the words "brown butter" to guarantee that I will want to try it.

On another note, happy Thanksgiving to you all! I hope you all have plans to eat and hang out with family and friends and eat your weight in turkey and mashed potatoes on this most wonderful of holidays. Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown-Butter Balsamic Sauce (adapted from aidamollenkamp.com)

For the gnocchi:

3  sweet potatoes (yams), halved lengthwise 1 Russet potato, halved lengthwise 1 tablespoon olive oil Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 1 egg, lightly beaten 2tablespoons honey 2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 1/2 to 2 cups all purpose or white whole wheat flour

For the sauce:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter 12 to 15 fresh sage leaves 2 shallots, quartered and thinly sliced 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cups arugula, spinach, or chard Freshly shaved parmesan, for garnish Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish

Instructions

For the gnocchi:

(Gnocchi can be made through this step up to 1 month ahead. To store, place on a flat surface and freeze until frozen through. Transfer to an airtight container and keep frozen up to 1 month before using.)

Heat an oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil, season with a few good pinches of salt and a few cranks of pepper, place on a rimmed baking sheet, cut-side down, and roast until fork tender, about 30 minutes.

Set aside until cool enough to handle. Scoop flesh out of skins then pass flesh through a potato ricer (or mash with back of a fork) and stir in egg and honey. Mix in salt and flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms. Taste and add additional salt, as needed. You’ve added flour when you touch the back of the dough and it is damp but not sticking to your hand.

Turn dough out onto floured surface and shape into a square. Divide into 16 equal pieces. Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into a rope (about 1/2 inch in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky. However, don’t add too much additional flour as too much will make for heavy gnocchi. Cut each rope into 1/2 -inch pieces.

Bring large pot of heavily salted water to a slow boil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, simmer gnocchi until tender and they begin to rise to the surface, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer gnocchi to clean rimmed baking sheet. Reserve 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water and drain the rest.

For the sauce:

This is enough sauce for half of the gnocchi. If you want to cook off all the gnocchi, go ahead and double the recipe. Just a note that I’d recommend you make this sauce through twice as doing twice this amount in one pan would be unwieldy.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once it foams, add sage and cook until crisp and fragrant.  Add shallot and, watching it carefully and stirring often,  allow the milk solids begin to brown and the butter becomes fragrant and nutty. Scrape along the bottom to prevent the solids from sticking and burning.

When the butter is brown, immediately remove from heat, and carefully stir in the vinegar (it may sting your eyes). Stir in gnocchi and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water, return to heat, and boil until sauce is thickened, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the arugula, spinach, or chard until greens are wilted. Add a lot of freshly ground black pepper, taste for seasoning and finish with additional pasta water, salt, black pepper, and freshly shaved parmesan.

Spaghetti & Meatballs

It would seem that fall has officially arrived. I am always reluctant to let go of summer, but something about the crisp air brings on wishes for apple cider doughnuts (of which I had some last weekend), warm soup, and sitting by a fire. Lately, I have had a particular craving for classic spaghetti and meatballs. Of course, growing up in my family, the classic meatballs were Swedish, not Italian (but just as delicious). However, having studied abroad in Italy, I came to love Italian food and culture -- and in fact, one of my uncles is convinced we are part Italian, so you never know. In any case, these meatballs make an excellent and hearty dinner, and even better leftovers for lunch the next day. I modified the recipe to make it slightly healthier by using mostly ground turkey instead of pork, but you could also use pork only. I also love how the ricotta makes the meatballs surprisingly light. Spaghetti and Meatballs (adapted from Food & Wine, serves 6-8)

1/2 pound sliced white bread, crusts removed and bread cut into 1/2-inch dice (4 cups) 1 pound lean ground turkey
1/2 pound lean ground pork 3 ounces thickly sliced pancetta or bacon, minced 3 large eggs, lightly beaten 2/3 cup ricotta cheese (5 ounces) 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper Kosher salt Two 28-ounce cans peeled Italian tomatoes, crushed Freshly ground pepper 2 tablespoons shredded basil 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
16 oz spaghetti or fettuccine (I used whole-wheat)
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a food processor, pulse the bread to coarse crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a large bowl and add the turkey, pork, pancetta, eggs, ricotta, parsley, thyme, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Mix well. Shape into 20 meatballs, using about 3-4 rounded tablespoons of the mixture for each. Transfer the meatballs to a medium roasting pan.
Roast the meatballs in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until firm and just beginning to brown. Meanwhile, puree the canned tomatoes in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Using a spatula, loosen the meatballs from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato sauce to the pan and season well with salt and pepper. Lower the oven temperature to 325° and cook uncovered for about 2 hours, or until the sauce is very thick and the meatballs are very tender; turn the meatballs once or twice during cooking.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add spaghetti or fettuccine and boil until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil so the noodles don't stick.
To serve, place 3-4 oz. pasta in a bowl. Spoon sauce and 2 or 3 meatballs over pasta. Garnish with basil and Parmigiano Reggiano and serve hot.

Ricotta and Roasted Cherry Tomato Crostini

You know, I was finally ready to accept the fact that summer was over. Ready to embrace apples, crisp fall nights, colored leaves. And then of course, New York goes and throws a slew of 80 degree days at us, and I'm back to wearing shorts and eating the last of the summer tomatoes before months of squash and root vegetables. Not that I don't love squash -- I'm just not quite ready to let go just yet. I made these crostini a few days ago as a quick lunch, and I love how the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes is balanced by just a dash of fleur de sel and the creamy ricotta. In fact, the cherry tomatoes I got from the farmer's market were so sweet, I could have omitted the salt and drizzled a little bit of honey over them for another take on this easy appetizer. Ricotta and Roasted Cherry Tomato Crostini

1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half if large

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 baguette, thinly sliced

6 oz ricotta cheese, preferably homemade or good-quality

1/4 cup fresh basil or oregano, julinenned

Fleur de sel

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, toss tomatoes with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and roast until skins begin to blister, about 12-15 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, toast baguette slices in oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Spread 2-3 tablespoons ricotta on each piece of bread, then add 2-3 tomatoes, a few pieces of basil, and sprinkle fleur de sel over. Serve immediately.

Tomato-Basil Bruschetta

I think that this dish, to me, means that summer is really and truly here (as if I couldn't tell by the waves of 95 degree days). Since there are only five ingredients, be sure to use the best tomatoes you can find (or grow). My parents make this pretty much every weekend during the summer -- but since I couldn't be at home sitting on the porch, I made it for myself as a quick lunch last weekend. The recipe can be amended depending on how many people you are feeding, and also makes an excellent appetizer for an easy dinner al fresco. Just serve with a chilled rosé and imagine you are sitting on a terrace somewhere in Italy.

Tomato-Basil Bruschetta

2 lbs (about 4-5 large) tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup basil leaves, julienned

Salt and pepper

1 baguette, thinly sliced

1/4 cup olive oil

5-6 cloves of garlic, minced

Mix tomatoes and basil in a medium bowl. Season well with salt and pepper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk olive oil and garlic together in a small bowl. Lay baguette slices on a baking sheet, and with a pastry brush, brush each slice with garlic & olive oil mixture. Roast until golden brown, about 8 minutes (watch closely as they burn easily). Let cool slightly, then top each piece with a spoonful of tomato mixture. Serve immediately.