Creamy Bucatini with Crispy Mushrooms

As in my last post, this wonderful dish is also part of Bon Appétit’s Most Popular Recipes of 2019. I made this and several other dishes on the list before it was compiled- apparently I was not alone! 😉

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Andy Baraghani. I added garlic and white wine. Yummy comfort food.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb mixed mushrooms (such as maitake, oyster, crimini, and/or shiitake), torn into bite-size pieces (I used 10oz quartered cremini and 8oz torn shiitake)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 lb spaghetti or 12 oz bucatini
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 oz Parmesan, finely grated (about 1/2 cup), plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium-high. Cook half of mushrooms in a single layer, undisturbed, until edges are brown and starting to crisp, about 3 minutes. Give mushrooms a toss and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until all sides are brown and crisp, about 5 minutes more.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to a plate; season with salt.
  3. Repeat with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and mushrooms and more salt.
  4. Finely chop the shallots and garlic in a mini-food processor, if desired.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and return all of the mushrooms to the pot. Add shallots and garlic; cook, stirring often, until shallots are translucent and softened, about 2 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
  7. Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with mushrooms and add cream, white wine, and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  8. Increase heat to medium, bring to a simmer, and cook, tossing constantly, until pasta is al dente and liquid is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
  9. Remove pot from heat. Add lemon zest and juice, parsley, butter, 1/2 oz Parmesan, and lots of pepper and toss to combine.
  10. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Adjust consistency with additional pasta water, if needed.
  11. Divide pasta among bowls and top with more Parmesan and parsley, as desired.

Pork Chops with Lemon-Caper Sauce

After reading the printed version, I received multiple emails from The New York Times about this dish. Sam Sifton was over the moon about this recipe and the book, Toni Tipton-Martin’s Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African-American Cooking. He described the book as “excellent and invaluable” and noted that this was his favorite recipe in it. I had to try it.

I agreed with Sam Sifton. 🙂 Lemon-caper sauce is incredible! This wonderful dish was prepared very quickly and was packed with flavor. Tipton-Martin learned the sauce technique that elevates these smothered pork chops from restaurateur B. Smith.

I added additional flour to the sauce to make it more of a gravy. We used fresh bread to mop up all of the remaining sauce on our plates. I served the pork chops with sautéed spinach and roasted red and sweet potatoes on the side.

This recipe was adapted from Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African-American Cooking, via The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton. I slightly modified the proportions.

Yield: Serves 4 to 5

  • 4 bone-in pork chops (about 8 ounces each) (I used 5 boneless pork chops)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 very small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 T drained capers
  • 2 T minced fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest, plus 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • hot sauce, optional
  1. Dry the chops with paper towels, and season aggressively with salt, pepper and the thyme.
  2. Swirl the olive oil into a large skillet, and heat over medium until the oil begins to shimmer.
  3. Add chops, and cook until well browned on each side and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chops to a plate, and cover to keep warm.
  4. Drain most of the fat from the skillet, then melt 2 tablespoons of butter in it over medium heat until sizzling.
  5. Add the shallot and garlic, and sauté until the aromatics soften, reducing the heat if necessary, about 1 minute.
  6. Sprinkle in the flour, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  7. Whisk in the wine and chicken stock, raise heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by half, 7 to 10 minutes.
  8. Stir in the capers, parsley, lemon zest and juice and hot sauce to taste (if you’re using it)(I omitted it), and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.
  9. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter until it’s melted and the sauce looks smooth.
  10. Nestle the pork chops into the sauce, and allow them to warm up for a couple of minutes, then serve, pouring sauce over each pork chop to taste.
  11. Garnish with more fresh parsley.

Pasta with Sausage, Basil, & Mustard

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mom’s out there! ❤ I have a moment to share a recipe with you while my husband is making our celebratory pancake breakfast. 🙂

This is another dish from Food and Wine magazine’s 40th Anniversary Special Edition titled “Our 40 Best-Ever Recipes.” I’ve already made it twice because my son is obsessed! 😉

The recipe for this quick, easy and very tasty dish was adapted from British cookbook author Nigel Slater. I used a combination of sweet and hot Italian sausages. Fabulous!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente; drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the sausage meat and brown over moderately high heat, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and simmer, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the cream, mustard and crushed red pepper and simmer for 2 minutes.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat, add the pasta and basil and toss to coat. Serve at once.

Vanilla Poached Pears

This is an elegant and light dessert for a special occasion. Years ago, we were served this dish at a neighbor’s dinner party and my husband and I made it quite often for a few years. We loved it. I made this updated version to serve my family on Thanksgiving Eve this year. I thought that it was a perfect dessert for the evening before a day of indulgence. An added bonus was that the pears could be poached ahead of time and stored in the poaching liquid.

This recipe was adapted from Alton Brown via Food Network.com. I poached the pears cut in half rather than whole, and, as my neighbors did when they served this dish, added freshly whipped cream and crushed amaretti cookies as toppings. Lovely.

Yield: 8 servings
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle white wine, Riesling or Viognier (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 3/4 cup
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 5 firm Bartlett, Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored (preferably using a melon baller)
  • freshly whipped heavy cream, for serving
  • crushed amaretti cookies, for serving
  1. Place the white wine, water, sugar and vanilla bean and pulp into a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. (I used an enameled cast iron pan with a glass lid.)
  2. Peel, halve, and core the pears.
  3. Decrease the heat to medium low and place the pears into the liquid (cut side up), cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Turn the pears cut side down and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until the pears are tender but not falling apart. Maintain a gentle simmer.
  5. Remove the pears to a serving dish and place in the refrigerator.
  6. Remove the vanilla bean from the saucepan, increase the heat to high and reduce the syrup to approximately 1 cup of liquid, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Do not allow the syrup to turn brown.
  7. Place the syrup in a heatproof container and place in the refrigerator until cool, approximately 1 hour.
  8. Remove the pears from the refrigerator, spoon the sauce over the pears. At this point, the pears can be stored overnight.
  9. Place a pear half in a bowl and drizzle with sauce, top with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, and sprinkle with crushed amaretti cookies. Serve.

Sheet Pan Orzo with Roasted Tomatoes, Lemon, & Mozzarella

I realize that many people avoid using the oven in warm weather, but I have a couple of quick sheet pan meals that make using the oven completely worth the extra summer heat.

In this dish, the pasta even cooks in the oven! It was super creamy as a result. The roasted lemon added incredible brightness. This recipe is from Meatless Sheet Pan Suppers: 100 Surprising Vegetarian Meals Straight from the Oven by Raquel Pelzel. The cheese can be omitted for a vegan version. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 pound grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium-size lemon, thinly sliced into rounds, seeds removed
  • 3 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 16 oz orzo pasta
  • 3 3/4 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, stacked, rolled, and thinly sliced crosswise into ribbons
  • 6 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, roughly torn by hand
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, place a sheet pan on the rack, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Place the tomatoes, lemon, garlic, 1 tsp salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and the olive oil in a medium-size bowl and toss to combine.
  3. Carefully turn the tomato mixture out onto the heated sheet pan, spread it in an even layer, and roast for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and stir the vermouth into the tomato mixture.
  5. Using a spatula, press down on the tomatoes and lemon slices to extract their juices.
  6. Stir in the orzo.
  7. Pull the oven rack partway out of the oven and place the sheet pan on it. Carefully pour the boiling water into the orzo, stirring to combine and distribute evenly.
  8. Wearing oven mitts, cover the sheet pan with aluminum foil (you may need 2 sheets), crimping it tightly around the edges to seal. Bake the pasta for 15 minutes.
  9. Uncover the pan, add the remaining 1 tsp salt, stir, and cook, uncovered, to allow the juices to thicken and any partially cooked pasta from the top layer to absorb more liquid, about 5 minutes more.
  10. Preheat the broiler to high.
  11. Stir most of the basil into the pasta, then scatter the mozzarella cheese over the top. Sprinkle the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese over the mozzarella and broil until the cheese is melted and golden, 3 to 5 minutes more. Watch carefully!
  12. Remove from the oven and let stand for a few minutes.
  13. Sprinkle the remaining basil over the top just before serving.

One-Skillet Chicken Thighs with Buttery Orzo

I had saved this recipe a couple of months ago just waiting for my CSA box fennel to arrive. As soon as I saw it on my list of veggies to expect, I knew exactly what I was going to make. 🙂 I love how the orzo is cooked like risotto in this dish- the results were amazing.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in. I also increased the amount of fennel and used a sweet onion instead of a leek. We ate it with sautéed collard greens as well as sautéed yellow summer squash, also from my CSA box, of course. Easy, fresh, and delicious.

Yield: 4 to 5 servings
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, patted dry
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped, plus fronds, chopped (I used 1 1/2 bulbs)
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion or 1 leek, white and pale green parts only, chopped
  • 8 ounces orzo
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 2½ cups chicken stock, divided
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  1. Preheat oven to 400°, preferably on convection.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. Heat 2 T butter in a medium cast-iron skillet (I used a 10-inch skillet) over medium-high.
  4. Nestle chicken, skin side down, in skillet in a single layer with no gaps (if you can’t quite fit them all, wait until chicken shrinks slightly, then puzzle in the remaining pieces). Cook until meat is opaque around the edges, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Turn chicken browned side up and transfer skillet to oven; bake, uncovered, until chicken is cooked through, about 4 additional minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  6. Set same skillet over medium; combine chopped fennel bulb and leek/onion in skillet and sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until leek is looking golden around the edges, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add orzo and cook until pasta is darkened (it will take on a brown hue) to a nice nutty brown in spots and toasty smelling, about 3 minutes.
  8. Pour in wine and cook, stirring, until liquid is evaporated, about 1 minute.
  9. Add broth ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting broth absorb before adding more, until orzo is tender and broth is mostly absorbed but pan is not dry, 10–15 minutes.
  10. Remove skillet from heat, taste and adjust seasoning. Mix in lemon juice and remaining 1 T butter, then chopped fennel fronds.
  11. Nestle and pile chicken on top and finish with lemon zest.
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Watermelon Sangria

IMG_9395

This is a sweet and festive summer punch- fun for a crowd. I loved the presentation with the skewered watermelon too. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Andrew Zimmerman of Del Toro Café in Chicago. Chef Zimmerman created a summer version of this traditional Spanish punch with vodka instead of brandy. Cheers to summer & Happy Fiesta Friday #24 at The Novice Gardener! 🙂

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 drinks

  • 2 pounds seedless watermelon, peeled and cubed, plus 1/2 pound watermelon cut into balls with a melon baller and skewered on picks
  • 1 bottle dry white wine
  • 6 ounces citrus vodka
  • 4 ounces Cointreau or triple sec
  • 4 ounces Citrus Syrup, recipe below
  • Ice
  1. Make the Citrus Syrup: Combine 3/4 cup water, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 1-inch strips lemon zest, and 2 1-inch strips orange zest in a small saucepan. Cook until sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a blender, puree the watermelon cubes. Pour through a fine strainer into a pitcher. (Makes approximately 4 cups.)
  3. Add the white wine, vodka, Cointreau and cooled Citrus Syrup. Stir and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Stir again, then pour the sangria into ice-filled white wine glasses and garnish with the skewered watermelon balls.

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