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One-a-day Great Superbowl Recipes (Day 1)

28 Jan
Photo by Hans Gissinger

Photo by Hans Gissinger

Three-Cheese Pimiento Mac with Parmesan Crumbs

I created this recipe for Bon Appétit magazine and it became the cover photo. It’s a comforting, American-styled baked pasta loosely based on a southern favorite – pimiento cheese – whose red bell pepper-cheddar-y taste profile is totally satisfying. The secret ingredient is sweet-and-spicy peppadew peppers. The components can be prepped ahead of time, assembled, and baked 20 minutes before serving. The recipe is easily doubled or tripled for a crowd and perfect for a Superbowl gathering.

1 large red bell pepper, 7 ounces
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
12 peppadew peppers, drained
1 tablespoon peppadew brine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¼ teaspoon ancho chile powder
5 ounces extra-sharp yellow cheddar, in small pieces
1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
4 ounces shredded whole-milk mozzarella
8 ounces gemelli or medium shells
½ cup panko
3 tablespoons slivered fresh basil

Cut the pepper in half and remove seeds. Cut pepper into 1 inch pieces and put in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water and 1-1/2 cloves garlic. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and cover. Cook 15 minutes until peppers are very soft. Transfer contents (with water) to a food processor. Add the peppadews, brine, 2 tablespoons butter, chile powder and remaining ½ garlic clove. Process until smooth. Add cheddar and ¼ cup parmesan and process until very smooth.

Boil the pasta in salted water until tender, about 11 minutes. Drain under cold water and pat very dry. Toss pasta with the red pepper sauce. Stir in the mozzarella. Add salt to taste. Pack into a large soufflé dish.

Stir together the remaining ¼ cup parmesan and panko. Add the remaining tablespoon butter and, with your fingers, thoroughly moisten the crumbs. Add salt to taste. Sprinkle on pasta and bake 20 minutes until golden. Scatter basil on top. Serves 4

Summer Pasta with Smoked Salmon & Sweet Corn

19 Aug

Having a spontaneous dinner party this weekend? Here’s another 10-minute pasta you can make using super-sweet corn from the farmer’s market.  Made with fresh fettuccine that cooks up in minutes, this elegant, hassle-free dish might be just the thing to serve as your first course.  Follow with a side of bluefish resting upon a bed of thinly sliced tomatoes, onions and purple sage.  Just drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and blast it in a very hot oven for 15 minutes.  For dessert? Uber-ripe peaches from the farmer’s market bathing in red wine.  And some cookies, of course.

Fettuccine with Smoked Salmon, Creme Fraiche & Sweet Corn
If you like, you may also add some snippets of fresh basil or cilantro. A must:  Creme fraiche.

8 ounces fresh fettuccine
1 cup sweet yellow corn, freshly cut from the cob
4 ounces best-quality smoked salmon, thinly sliced
8 ounces creme fraiche
6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup finely minced fresh chives
1 large lemon

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and corn and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until tender.  Meanwhile, cut the salmon into 1/2-wide strips.  Drain the pasta well; shake dry. Immediately return the pasta to the warm pot.  Add the smoked salmon, creme fraiche, cheese, salt and pepper to taste.  Warm gently for 1 minute over low heat, but do
not cook.  Stir in chives.  Transfer pasta to bowls.  Using a microplane, grate lemon zest on top and serve immediately.  Add snippets of basil or cilantro, if desired.  Serves 4

Linguine with Zucchini

17 Aug

Not only is this pasta dish fun to say, but it is delicious and wickedly simple to make. The rest of its title includes the summer words, “lemon zest & basil.” Since it is made with fresh pasta (the kind you can buy), it can be made in 10 minutes, as I promised yesterday.  It is a favorite go-to summer supper for us at home — often preceded by a Salad Caprese (but one where I swap watermelon for the tomatoes, goat cheese for the mozzarella, and cilantro for the basil!). The combination of flavors is divine, and the zucchini gets lightly floured and cooked until golden brown in olive oil. It would be very interesting to end this summer meal with another promised idea from our trip to Italy — chocolate eggplant!  But I’m looking for my photos and trying to find a good recipe to share. Stay tuned.

Linguine with Zucchini, Lemon Zest & Basil  (adapted from Radically Simple)
When thin slices of lightly floured zucchini are fried then tossed with bits of crispy basil and showered with fragrant lemon zest (oh, how I long for the lemons of Capri!), you gets lots of complexity for something quite simple.

2 medium zucchini, trimmed
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup Wondra flour
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
12 ounces fresh linguine
1 large lemon
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Slice the zucchini into thin rounds. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a very large skillet. Add the garlic and discard the garlic when browned. Dust the zucchini with the flour. Add to the skillet and cook over high heat until dark golden and soft, about 6 minutes. Add the basil and cook 1 minute. Cook the pasta in the boiling water 3 minutes, or until tender.  Drain the pasta well and toss with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Spoon the zucchini and pan juices over the pasta.  Grate the zest of the lemon on top and squeeze a little juice over all.  Sprinkle with the cheese. Serves 4

10-Minute Summer Pastas

16 Aug

There is no better time of the year to take full advantage of nature’s bounty and…good fresh pasta. There are several available on the market today.  However, I do long for Henry Lambert’s ground-breaking concept — launched in New York decades ago — called “Pasta & Cheese.” It was sensational to be able to go to a store featuring taleggio and gorgonzola (both rarities then) and revolutionary to encounter sheets of freshly made pasta that would be cut in front of you to your desired specs — fettuccine, pappardelle, etc. I believe the first store was on the upper east side and opened right after I learned to make my own pasta in Italy — the summer of 1978 — when I began drying my own freshly-made pasta on broomstick handles perched atop two chairs in the kitchen of Gracie Mansion! Life was nothing short of discovery back then. It was a time of innocence, gleaming new pasta machines in home kitchens, and pesto madness.

It was the delicious homemade Sicilian pesto that I had the other day at Arthur Schwartz’s home, that made me remember my own version of  “pesto rosso” from Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease. This pesto is unusual in that it is made with almonds and has fresh tomato in it. It hails from Trapani in Sicily and is known as pesto Trapanese. I hadn’t made it in awhile and ran home to do so!  The secret, according to Arthur, was to use really good garlic. And I agree that it made all the difference in the world. He buys his at the Grand Army Plaza farmer’s market on Saturday mornings. The Linguine with Pesto Rosso, below, is my take on this famous dish, here made with ingredients gathered from the four corners of my refrigerator. It would be lovely to serve with my salad of Shaved Fennel with Parmigiano & Hot Pepper — to which I sometimes add tiny segments of fresh oranges.  It will put some sunshine into this gray summer day.

This week I will be offering more 10-ten pasta dishes, perfect for summer entertaining so, stay tuned.

Linguine with Pesto Rosso

1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 pint ripe grape tomatoes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup whole almonds (with skins)
1 medium garlic clove
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
12 ounces fresh linguine

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Combine the parsley, basil, tomatoes, oil, almonds, garlic and Parmesan in a food processor.  Add 1/3 cup of the pecorino and process until very smooth.  Add salt and pepper.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Cook the pasta in the boiling water for 3 minutes, or until tender.  Drain well and shake dry. Add the pasta to the pesto and toss thoroughly.  Sprinkle with the remaining pecorino.  Serves 4

Shaved Fennel with Parmigiano & Hot Pepper
This is an unusual starter to a hefty meal or a nice side salad for a summer pasta dinner.  The little nubbins of cheese are unexpected.  Add fresh orange segments if you wish.

1 large fennel bulb, about 1-1/2 pounds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
large pinch red pepper flakes
4-ounce piece Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 big handfuls baby arugula

Trim the feathery fronds from the fennel bulb; chop to get 1/4 cup and set aside.  Cut the fennel in half lengthwise and cut crosswise as thinly as possible.  Place in a bowl.  Add the oil, vinegar, pepper flakes, and salt.  Break the cheese into very small pieces; add to the salad and toss.  Stir in the arugula.  Scatter chopped fronds on top.  Serves 4

What to Buy at the Farmer’s Market

17 Jun

Photo Credit: Quentin Bacon

One of life’s greatest pleasures, anywhere in the world, is to go to a local farmer’s market. My life straddles two of them — the bustling Union Square market on Wednesday morning and the slightly more intimate market at Grand Army Plaza in Park Slope, Brooklyn on Saturday. At this time of the year, it is as though someone flipped the switch as the smells, energy and variety of nature’s bounty deepens and expands. The color of “fresh” seems to pulsate and I tenderly look for what was not there the week before.  The semaphores of the season alert me as to what to cook for dinner. I like the idea of being a seasonalist — and fondly remember the excitement generated around the idea of cuisine du marché (cooking from the market) first popularized by Paul Bocuse in 1976 with his book “La Cuisine du Marché. But several years earlier, the American cooking teacher Perla Meyers, wrote a book we all loved (even before most of us had farmer’s markets in our own zip codes!) called “The Seasonal Kitchen” in 1973!

So… this coming week, consider fleshy purple scallions (a wonderful garnish or lovely to sauté with peas), fresh peas!, petit ripe strawberries (small compared to what you get in the supermarket), fresh chamomile! (I infuse it in vodka), nasturtium flowers and leaves (superb in any salad), six different colors of slender carrots, crisp asparagus, and from Windfall Farms (my favorite place), flowering pea shoots (with a tiny purple flower) that I chop up and throw in consommé (Chinese style) or lightly sauté with garlic as a bed for roasted halibut. There are radishes for spreading with sweet butter and roasting and serving with one of the local nutty, sharp cheeses or creamier goat cheeses. I slipped the peas from several pounds of fresh peas today. It was quite meditative. I thought about the lecture I went to several weeks ago at the World Science Festival in New York about the “brain and the articulate hand.” This is what I thought about, pod by pod.

Do consider making my Seared Scallops on Sweet Pea Puree this weekend — and make it with fresh peas. It comes from Radically Simple and it is. Or try my Campanelle with Caramelized Onions, Peas & Mint. There’s lots of mint at the market, too! End with a basket full of berries topped with sweetened crème fraiche and snippets of lemon verbena.

Campanelle with Caramelized Onions, Peas & Mint

This is an exuberant way to dress up any short pasta.  Thai fish sauce adds a does of umami…and intrigue.  Use fresh peas!

4 large yellow onions, about 1-1/2 pounds
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces uncooked campanelle or penne rigati
1 cup shelled fresh peas
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus a 2-ounce piece

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cut the onions in half through the roots.  Place cut side down on a board. Thinly slice lengthwise (not into half-circles.) Heat the oil in a very large skillet.  Add the onions and cook over high heat, stirring, until dark brown, about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling water for 5 minutes.  Add the peas and cook 7 minutes longer.  Drain well, saving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.  Add the vinegar and fish sauce to the onions and cook 2 minutes.  Add the drained pasta and peas, reserved cooking water, mint and grated cheese.  Cook 2 minutes until hot.  Add salt and pepper.  Serve in warm bowl, use a vegetable peeler to shave shards of cheese on top.  Serves 4 to 6

Tortellini Gratinati with Parsnip “Bechamel”

16 Mar

I’ve invented a lot of recipes in my day.  Thousands.  A portion of those were for restaurant consulting projects around the world — including hotels and supermarket chains.  The others were for the hundreds of articles and twelve books that I’ve published since 1993.   I was the first to create olive oil ice cream, pesto-pistachio salmon, had the first watermelon-feta salad published in the New York Times, became famous for cooking short ribs in a concoction of prune juice and teriyaki sauce, and for frying capers in olive oil to pour over roasted asparagus.  There are too, too many to mention here:  Some have become signatures and others have been hijacked.  No matter.  But this month’s article  published in Bon Appetit –that featured my five baked pastas — has received more attention than most.  Permission was just given to publish the story in an upcoming issue of South Africa’s House & Garden, and I was just asked to be on Martha Stewart’s radio show to talk about baked pastas using seasonal ingredients.

Several  blog readers have also made requests:  one in particular was keen to try my Tortellini Gratinati with Gorgonzola, Rosemary & Parsnip Bechamel.  For some reason, the title was changed in the magazine to Tortellini Gratinati with Mushrooms and Parsnip “Bechamel. ” For me, some of the romance and appeal of the dish had to do with the flavor profile of the gorgonzola and rosemary.  No matter.  The most exciting component of the dish is my parsnip “bechamel.”  I was thrilled that this nascent idea came to life and was so delicious.  This original spin, based on the classic French bechamel sauce, is as creamy and rich as the authentic recipe (ever more so!) but is fashioned from boiled parsnips which give a luxurious mouthfeel, a bit of sweetness, and lots of good nutrition.  The parsnip puree takes the place of the traditional butter and flour used in making bechamel.   It has already become a “new favorite” in my repertoire.  This “bechamel” can be used as a warm cushion for roast chicken, poured over roasted eggplant and mushrooms for a great vegetarian main course, or used as a filling for a big baked potato strewn with bits of crispy bacon.  Loosened up with a bit more milk or chicken stock, it becomes a wondrous soup.

Tortellini Gratinati with Gorgonzola, Rosemary & Parsnip “Bechamel”

The recipe can be made in quick stages then put together right before baking.  I use a combination of large and small cheese-filled fresh tortellini from the supermarket.  Small ravioli or fresh cavatelli may be substituted.

2 large parsnips, about 12 ounces
2 cups milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup freshly-grated parmigiano reggiano
3-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, in small pieces
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
12 ounces baby portabellos, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary
1-1/2 pounds fresh cheese-filled tortellini or tortelloni, or a mixture
6 ounces imported gorgonzola dolce, in small pieces

Peel parsnips.  Cut into 1 inch pieces.  Place in small saucepan with salted water to cover by several inches.   Bring to a boil and boil 20 to 25 minutes until very soft.  Drain well.  Put in food processor with 1 cup milk and heavy cream and process until smooth.  With motor running, slowly add remaining milk.  Add ¾ cup parmesan, ½ to 1 teaspoon salt (depending on cheese) and pepper. Process until very smooth.  Return to saucepan.  Cook 5 minutes over low heat or until reduced to 3 cups.

Melt 2-1/2 tablespoons butter in large skillet.  Add garlic, mushrooms and rosemary.  Cook 6 to 7  minutes, stirring, over medium-high heat until soft.  Add salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add tortellini and cook until just tender, about 9 minutes.  Drain well and toss with remaining tablespoon  butter.  place in a 10-cup overproof soufflé dish or casserole.  Scatter mushrooms over pasta.  Pour béchamel over pasta to cover completely.  Dot with gorgonzola and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup parmesan.  Bake 18 minutes until bubbly, then broil 2 minutes until golden brown.  Serves 6

Merci, Bon Appétit

24 Feb

This month’s Bon Appétit magazine, March 2011, has a cover story with lots of appeal.  On the upper left are big letters that spell out everyone’s favorite comfort dish:  MAC & CHEESE.  “Hands down the tastiest version we’ve ever made” — the editors agreed to comment on the cover.  “And other remarkably sumptuous baked pastas,” it goes on to say.  Those are great headlines, I have to admit, especially because that story is mine!  More than five months ago I was asked to write an article featuring baked pasta recipes.  I struggled with it more than most and even complained to my best friend, pasta-maven Arthur Schwartz, that it was difficult to put a new spin on not one, but five such recipes.

The reasons were plentiful: pasta continues to absorb liquid and tends to “grow” in the dish; there can be a “sameness” about the flavors of most baked pastas, and there are far fewer recipes for baked pastas in the Italian repertoire than you would imagine except for lasagna, baked ziti and cannelloni (when was the last time you saw that on a menu?).   It occurred to me that macaroni and cheese might fit the bill, and so I “amp-ed” up the classic by tossing pasta with my version of pimiento cheese!, then stirred three cheeses into its coral creaminess, and added a flourish of parmesan crumbs on top.  Simply baked until the topping gets crisp and the sauce is bubbling, this slyly named Pimiento Mac & Cheese is rather good.  Are you perchance thinking of making it tonight?  (Recipe below).  The four other featured recipes are Moroccan-Spiced Pastitsio with Lamb & Feta — perfumed with ras el hanout and dried mint; Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch; a lusty Lasagna with Turkey Sausage Bolognese, flavored with fennel seed, white wine and basil; and Tortellini Gratinati with Mushrooms & Parsnip “Bechamel.” That one may, in fact, be my favorite — flavored with fresh rosemary and grated nutmeg, I’m rather certain no one has ever made a parsnip bechamel before.  The root vegetable, cooked and pureed, takes the place of the butter and flour in the classic sauce, and adds a sweet earthiness of its own.  Hey, maybe the March 2011 issue should be named Buon Appetito!  Enjoy!

Rozanne Gold’s Pimiento Mac & Cheese
The mix of Parmesan, cheddar, bell pepper and sweet-tangy Peppadew peppers coats the pasta perfectly — and the panko topping adds great texture.

1 large red bell pepper, 7 to 8 ounces, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3/4 cup drained Peppadew peppers in brine, 1 tablespoon brine reserved
1/4 teaspoon ground ancho chiles
1-1/4 cups packed shredded extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheese
1 packed cup shredded whole-milk mozzarella
8 ounces medium shell pasta or gemelli

Bring 1/2 cup water, bell pepper, and 1-1/2 garlic cloves to a boil in a small saucepan.  Cover; reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer until pepper is soft, about 15 minutes. Toast panko in a skillet over medium-high heat until golden, stirring often, 5 minutes.  Transfer to bowl; cool to lukewarm.  Rub 1 tablespoon butter into crumbs to coat.  Mix in 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.  Transfer bell pepper mixture to processor.  Add Peppadews and 1 tablespoon brine, 2 tablespoons butter, ground chiles, and 1/2 garlic clove.  Then add cheddar and 1/4 cup parmesan.  Process until sauce is smooth; season with salt and pepper.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter an 8-cup baking dish,  Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite.  Drain; return to pot.  Stir sauce and mozzarella into pasta.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spoon pasta into dish.  Sprinkle with crumb topping.  Bake until topping is crispy and sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes.  Let rest 10 minutes and serve.  Serves 6

A Valentine Supper: Pasta with Truffle Butter

13 Feb

Few dishes evoke luxury so easily.  There are truffle butters on the market that you can purchase but the easiest way to prepare this dish is to simply stir a bit of white truffle oil into softened unsalted butter.  It keeps beautifully in the fridge.  You may use fresh or dried pasta, filled or plain.  Delicate half-moons of cheese-filled fresh agnolotti would be divine, as would a dried pasta, such as cappellini, also known as angel hair. If you don’t want to wait until Valentine’s Day to eat this, simply have it tonight for a pre-Valentine supper.  That’s pretty romantic. Follow with the gorgeous ruby beets below and get an early start.  Champagne, anyone?

9 ounces fresh or dried pasta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon white truffle oil
1-1/2 ounce piece Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions (depending on the shape and size of the pasta or whether it is fresh or dried). Cut butter into small pieces and place in a large bowl with truffle oil.  When just tender (al dente), drain pasta very well, shaking dry.  Add to the bowl.  Toss until butter melts; add salt and pepper to taste.  Grate cheese with microplane; scatter on top, then top with thyme leaves.  Serves 4

Ruby Beets with Balsamic Syrup, Mint & Walnuts

This recipe, adapted from Radically Simple can be successfully made with small canned beets or beets you roast yourself.  There were some large gorgeous specimens in the farmers market this weekend.  The radical idea here is my balsamic syrup, which adds a level of elegance to the earthy root.  Vibrant bits of mint, preferably spearmint, tie all the flavors together.  This can be served slightly warm, room temperature or chilled.

1 cup walnut halves
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 medium garlic cloves
2 (14-ounce) cans small beets, drained well
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup coarsely chopped mint
4 ounces firm goat cheese, coarsely crumbled

Lightly toast the walnuts in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Put the vinegar in the skillet; add 1 clove garlic pushed through a press.  Bring to a boil; boil until reduced to 3 tablespoons.  Cut the beets in half; put in a large bowl.  Add the reduced vinegar and walnuts.  Put the oil in a small bowl; add the remaining garlic clove pushed through a press.  Toss the garlic oil with the beets.  Add salt and pepper.  Transfer to a small platter and top with the mint and goat cheese.  Serves 4

Dr. Bee

31 Jan

Ms. Dale Bellisfield

Honey is the food of bees.  This coming Sunday, at the revered, sustainable eco-food complex Stone Barns (where chef Dan Barber is king), there will be a wonderful talk about bees and an equally wonderful honey tasting.  Led by urbane, urban beekeeper Dale Bellisfield, RN, CH (a noted clinical herbalist and medical practitioner), we (I will be there!) will learn about the medical uses of honey and be guided in the tasting of multiple varieties in a program called Bee M.D.  Honey, in all its glory, from bits of real honeycomb, to the connoisseurship of more than 300 varieties (and perhaps as many as 650 distinct types), is on the hit parade of trends this year. The exploitation of its flavor profiles is slowly becoming part of the new menu language and will soon rival chocolate, or wine, in esoteric discussions of provenance and pedigree.  I, for one, am crazy about wild thyme honey from Sicily, leatherwood honey from Australia, buckwheat honey (in very small doses), and the linden honey I once sampled from Ms. Bellisfield’s own hives.  I use it sparingly in my cooking but love its primal uses:  drizzled over pungent blue cheese, stirred into homemade labneh, tossed with blackberries and mint, or dissolved into a bourbon sour.

Honey is an entirely natural food, made up of natural sugars, pollen, protein, minerals and amino acids and, it has a long history.  Cave paintings in Spain depict the practice of beekeeping more than 7000 years ago, and many sources, both cultural and folkloric, demonstrate its use in medicinal and religious practices.  This “food of the Gods” is made by bees using nectar from flowers — whose flavor, aroma and color can differ dramatically depending on the flowers that the nectar was collected from.  Ergo, there are as many flavors of honey in the world as exists combinations of blossoms in bloom at the same time.  There is major interest right now in single varieties — such as lavender, acacia, or pine — and there is much attention given to “fair trade honey.”  Much to learn.   See you at Stone Barns.  To sign up go to

In the meantime, here is a favorite recipe of  mine using honey in an unexpected way.  Adapted from Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease.

Cappellini with Spicy Fish Sauce Marinara
Lemon, fresh ginger, Thai fish sauce, and honey, coalesce into an exceptional marriage of flavors in this quick pasta sauce.  It can double as a fabulous adornment for grilled fish and steak — just swirl 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter into the finished sauce.

28-ounce can whole tomatoes in puree
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon aromatic honey
2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce
3 large garlic cloves
1 lemon slice, about 1/4-inch thick
2 nickel-size pieces peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
12 ounces fresh cappellini

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Combine the tomatoes and puree, oil, honey, fish sauce, garlic, lemon, ginger, and pepper flakes in a food processor.  Process until very smooth.  Transfer to a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook until thick, 8 minutes.  Cook the pasta 1 to 2 minutes until tender. Drain well and shake dry.  Transfer to bowls and spoon the sauce on top.  Grated parmigiano-reggiano, optional.  Serves 4


29 Jan

As promised, here is another recipe for macaroni and cheese.  This is an unusual version and healthier than most.  It is also prettier.  This mac-and-cheese is studded with surprise nuggets of cauliflower and its gorgeous bright orange sauce is made from cooked red bell peppers and garlic that get pureed together until silky.  My daughter and her friends like making it because is looks like it’s oozing with cheese, but it has much less fat and is more nutritious than the more familiar stuff.  The secret is to use a very sharp yellow cheddar, artisanal if possible.  For dinner, you might partner it with a garlic-and-smoked paprika-rubbed rib-eye steak and open a bottle of shiraz.  Or if you feel like keeping-it-healthy, simply serve with a salad for a radically wonderful weekend lunch.

Mac-and-Cheese with Cauliflower and Creamy Red Pepper Sauce
5 ounces very sharp yellow cheddar cheese
2 medium red bell peppers, about 12 ounces
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
8 ounces ziti or penne rigate or elbow macaroni
5 cups small cauliflower florets
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Shred the cheese on the large holes of a box grater and set aside.  Cut the peppers in half and remove seeds.  Cut into 1-inch pieces and put in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water.  Cut the garlic in half, lengthwise and add to saucepan.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the peppers are very soft.  Transfer the contents of the saucepan, including the water, to a food processor or blender.  Add the butter, honey, chili powder, and salt to taste and process until very smooth.  Return to the saucepan.   Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cauliflower and cook 12 minutes or until tender.  Drain well and shake until completely dry.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Heat the sauce and pour it over the pasta.  Add the cheese and stir well.  Add salt to taste and sprinkle with chives.  Serves 6

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