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.

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.

Arugula Salad with Maple-Balsamic Figs

Someday, I'm going to have an orchard. Having grown up in Minnesota, where there are only apples, and now living in New York, where there is clearly not enough space on my fire escape even for tomato plants, my dream of an orchard will still be just that: a dream. But someday, I'll have avocados, lemons, peaches, and especially figs. Figs are only available for a couple of short months at the end of summer here, which means that I buy them whenever I can find some. I stumbled upon these beauties at the fruit stand outside my office, and immediately brought them home to figure out what to do with them. Of course, I love figs with just a bit of honey and Greek yogurt for breakfast, but this salad has definitely become one of my favorite summer meals. And on top of that, it's impressive enough to serve at a dinner party.

Arugula Salad with Maple-Balsamic Figs (serves 2-3 as a main course, 4-5 as a first course)

1/2 + 1 tablespoons butter

1 lb figs, cut into quarters

2 tablespoons maple syrup

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup white wine

2 large shallots, thinly sliced

1/4 cup good quality olive oil

8 oz arugula

2 oz blue or Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

3 oz walnuts, toasted

Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add figs, and cook one minute. Turn heat to medium-high, and add maple syrup, vinegar, and wine and cook until liquid begins to boil and figs are beginning to wilt, 2-3 minutes. Season with black pepper. Drain figs, reserving liquid in a small bowl. Set figs aside. Return liquid to pan and boil over high heat, until it is reduced by about half. Remove from heat, and let cool.

Meanwhile, melt remaining tablespoon of butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add shallots, and cook until caramelized and golden, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Whisk balsamic-maple syrup mixture with olive oil in a small glass or measuring cup. Season with salt and pepper. Place some arugula on a plate, top with walnuts, shallots, and blue cheese. Spoon figs over, then lightly drizzle with vinaigrette (you may have extra). Serve immediately.

Arugula Salad with a Fried Egg

At some point, these 98 degree days have to end. Of course, I will be missing them in winter, but for the moment I am running out of sundresses to wear. Dinner has become whatever I can throw together in a few minutes, preferably with little to no cooking time. This salad comes together quickly, and can easily become a main course with the addition of sliced ham, avocado, and a fried egg -- which makes everything better, clearly. I love the contrast of the crisp, peppery arugula with creamy avocado and the tart vinaigrette. You can also poach the eggs for a slightly healthier version of this salad. Arugula Salad with a Fried Egg

6 oz arugula

2 ears corn

2 oz prosciutto or Ibérico ham, thinly sliced (optional)

1 avocado, diced

Handful walnuts, lightly toasted

2 shallots, diced

1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Pinch sugar

2 tablespoons good quality olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 eggs

1 tablespoon butter

 

On a grill, roast corn until kernels turn bright yellow and are slightly charred, about 7 minutes per side. Alternatively, roast corn in oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Let cool then cut off kernels with a serrated knife into a large bowl, then season with salt and pepper. Add arugula, toasted walnuts, avocado, and ham and mix well. In a small glass or jar, whisk shallots, mustard, vinegar, and sugar until blended. Slowly add olive oil in a steady stream while whisking, and mix until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, then add to salad and toss well.

Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Crack egg directly into pan and season with salt and pepper (one at a time is easiest). Cook until white is about half-way set, approximately 1 minute. Flip egg over with a spatula and cook until white is set but yolk is still runny, about 30 second (longer if you like your eggs cooked more). Repeat with remaining egg. Add salad to two bowls, then top each with an egg.