Category Archives: Recipes

Pesto chicken pizza

Be still, my heart...

Pesto—ground-up basil leaves, pine nuts, grated cheese, and olive oil—is a standby summer favorite that passes well into fall. The slightly tart, satisfying spread easily dresses up everything from pasta to vegetables to salad in a way that will please even the pickiest eaters in your household. It freezes fabulously, so stock up this fall and enjoy it year-round! And when you inevitably find yourself up to your overalls in plenteous greens by the end of the summer, it’s a great way to use up all of that extra basil.

While it’s simple to make and freeze your own pesto (add marble mortar and wooden pestle to ingredients listed above), this recipe uses ready-made. Look for it at your local farmers market.

Prep time: 1 hour

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Ingredients

PIZZA DOUGH

– 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

– 1 cup warm water

– 1 ½ teaspoons sugar

– 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

– 1 teaspoon salt

– 1 envelope active dry yeast

– Polenta (for dusting)

– Butter (for coating)

CHICKEN

– 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

– A small bowl of flour, for coating

– Pepper, salt, and garlic powder for coating

– Extra virgin olive oil for sautéing

TOPPING

– A 5.5 oz ball of mozzarella cheese, grated

– 1 ½ cups pesto

– 1 egg yolk

– Garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Start with the pizza dough. Put the warm water in a small bowl and stir in the yeast and sugar. Let stand for about 5 minutes, or until it begins to bubble.
  2. Combine 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour in a large bowl with oil. Stir in the yeast mixture (Step 1) until the dough becomes stiff. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until you have an elastic, smooth ball.
  3. Coat the inside of another large bowl with butter, and run the ball of dough inside the bowl until its entire surfaced has been buttered. Leave the dough in the bowl, cover with a dishtowel, and let sit in a warm place for 30 minutes. (Dough should double in bulk.) Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425º Farenheit.
  4. While the dough is sitting, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Combine a dash each of salt, pepper, and garlic powder (or more to taste) with a small bowl of flour. When the oil is hot, roll each bite-size piece of chicken in the flour mixture until it’s coated, and sauté in the olive oil until the chicken is golden brown.
  5. After the dough has doubled, punch it down on a floured surface and shape it to fit a pizza pan or cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with polenta. Use a rolling pin if you’d like, and then roll the edges inward about an inch and a half to create a manageable crust.

    I can't do this yet, but a girl can dream.

  6. Spread the pesto evenly on the dough, sprinkle with grated mozzarella cheese, and top with chicken.
  7. In a small bowl, combine one egg yolk with a dash of garlic powder, and brush this mixture on the remaining crust.
  8. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes at 425º Farenheit.

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Cornbread Muffins

In exchange for her opera tickets and six-use Swiss Army knife, my partner wanted to cook my family a traditional Southern dinner (Kristie is from Virginia).

While my girl is currently slaving over her family recipe for white gravy (quite a feat, if you didn’t know,) I thought I’d post our recipe for cornbread muffins, a staple in any Southern dinner. This recipe yields 12 muffins, so we added an extra half of all the ingredients (it’s Kristie’s first time cooking for seven).

You need:

1 cup of cornmeal

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1/3 cup of white sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup of canola oil

1 cup of milk

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Grease a muffin pan, or use paper muffin tins to keep the batter from sticking.

3. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl (cornmeal, flour, salt, sugar, baking powder).

4. Add the egg, canola oil, and milk, and mix gently.

5. Spoon the mix into the muffin pan, filling the papers about half way (they’ll rise in the oven).

6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean!

Enjoy with butter, or white gravy (which has now been championed.)

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‘Araby’

My friend Steve and I met while working at Tower Theaters in South Hadley, MA, about four years ago, when I was still at Mount Holyoke. Although he was my manager, the two of us quickly became the fastest of friends, and he’s one of the people closest to me in the world, even though he’s currently in New York City and I in Boston. Steve is a  fabulously talented musician and equally an adroit writer. We share a number of “traditions” to keep in touch, including a yearly pilgrimage to see the Nutcracker with our respective girlfriends. The four of us more often end up doing something centered around food; whether it’s lunch at Fitzwilly’s in Northampton, or cooking for each other. This is my favorite recipe of Steve’s. Called “Araby” after the short story by James Joyce, published in Dubliners, this cheesy tortellini-and-chicken dish is filling, and will warm you to the core! In Steve’s own words:

You need: 1 pound of boneless chicken breast

3 tbsp of flour

1 cup of Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

Garlic powder

A whole bulb of garlic

Butter

Olive oil

1/2 pint of heavy cream (there’s a big one, a small one, and one in the middle…you want the middle-sized one)

A bag of microwaveable peas [They don’t have to be microwaveable, but it’s easier. Look for flash-frozen organic peas. – Hannah]

2 bags of cheese tortellini

Cook the chicken first in a large pan. Start by cutting up the chicken into bite sized pieces. Place the chicken into a large tupperware container with a lid (don’t put the lid on yet). Add 1 cup of flour, pepper, and salt to taste, and garlic powder to taste (more is usually better!) Put the lid on the tupperware and shake it like a Polaroid picture. You may have to remove the cover and mix the chicken and the flour by hand until all the chicken is coated in the mix.

Next, and this will take a long time, separate all the cloves of garlic from the bulb, strip them, and mince them. Yes, all of them. [It won’t take so very long if you use this. I swear by it. – Hannah]

Over medium heat, heat the pan and then add the olive oil. Once or twice around the pan is usually good. Add the garlic first, careful not to burn it. After about a minute or two, add the chicken. Cook the chicken until it is lightly golden on all sides and is cooked all the way through. Remove from heat and set aside. Maybe cover with a lid or tin foil so it stays hot, and remember, meat keeps cooking even after you remove it from heat.

Next, boil a large pot of water. Since the pasta takes about 5 minutes, you can wait to do this and the peas at the last minute.

While the water is boiling take another large pot…I mean, big…the bigger the surface area the better. Heat up the pot and add the heavy cream. With a whisk, stir the cream. You want to keep it from bubbling up too much. After a long long time of stirring the cream will start to appear translucent in places — you’ll see little holes, almost.  Remove from heat.

If you haven’t already, microwave your peas and add your pasta. In the interim, add the cup of cheese to the cream slowly and whisk in. Add more pepper and garlic powder to taste.

When the pasta is done, strain it, open the bag of peas and mix everything together.

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Phoebe’s Favorite (Phavorite?): Asparagus Medley with Cashews

Over the summer when I was staying with my family in Connecticut, my sister and I would always get hungry at the same time every afternoon. The women in my family share uncanny similarities in cravings and body type: for example, each one from my grandmother to my sister (myself included) craves ice-cold water first thing in the morning. Strange how certain things can be passed down.

Anyway, I’d been interested in cooking with asparagus, and decided to try it one July afternoon. Because it wasn’t asparagus season anymore, we added red peppers to counteract the bitterness of the asparagus. The best asparagus is harvested around April. It’s a good idea to stock up on locally grown, pesticide-free asparagus in April and freeze it right away. It will keep, and if you use frozen asparagus, you can snap the spears into pieces and throw them right into the pan; you don’t have to worry about letting them thaw!

May is a great time of year for this dish because it welcomes summer in a great way as a before-dinner snack or a meal’s side dish (try pairing it with chicken or another light meat, and remember, meat should be treated as a side dish rather than the main course.) Of course, during this time of year, there’s no better way to greet an Indian summer!

Recipe after the jump…

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Reconciliation Chocolate Cake

This is the chocolate cake that will fix/solidify/start your relationship (if chocolate has any sway whatsoever over you or your ladyfriend, which is more often than not the case with people who possess a palate and taste buds.) In my experience, the magnitude of the taste and the presumed investment of time in the preparation are enough to bring together two women in love, even if they’ve parted before. When combined with the careful application of tealight candles and the Amelie soundtrack, this is just the right recipe to wow your ex all the way back into your bed.

And (trust me) make-up sex after chocolate this divine is…great.

The school of thought regarding Molten Chocolate Cakes is contentious, at best. A New York City chef claimed to have invented the recipe by accident in 1987 when he removed a chocolate cake from the oven before it had cooked completely and decided to serve it anyway, having found that the center was moist and gooey. A group of French chefs quickly contested, claiming that their country’s culinary elite had invented the recipe years before. Regardless, it’s delicious. And surprisingly easy!

This particular recipe is adapted from one I found on Food & Wine’s website (one of my favorites.)

Also, I recommend using Corningware’s ramekins, which come with an attachable lid. You can bake, store, and reheat while only dirtying one dish! I found mine at a local hardware store, believe it or not.

Buy these:

– 1 stick of unsalted butter (plus a little extra for the ramekins)

– 1/2 tablespoon cake or pastry flour

– 1/4 pound bittersweet chocolate chips (I have to recommend Ghiradelli here–it’s worth the extra pennies!)

– 1/4 cup vegan cane sugar (regular sugar will work as well)

– 2 large whole eggs (look for lovely ones at your local farmer’s market! I found mine in Copley Square on Fridays)

– 2 large egg yolks

– cocoa powder/confectioner’s sugar (optional; for dusting)

Do this:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 16-ounce ramekins.

2. Melt the butter with the chocolate chips (if you happen to have a gas stove like mine, this will happen alarmingly fast. I recommend setting out the other ingredients carefully before this step.)

3. Once melted, whisk the butter and chocolate with a wire whisk or with a fork. Add the sugar, whole eggs, egg yolks, and flour and continue to whisk until well-blended, with only a few small lumps.

4. Pour the mixture into the ramekins and bake (uncovered) for ten to fifteen minutes, or until the edges of the cakes have solidified and become crusty, but the center is still quite near-gelatinous. It must have some sort of stiffness though, or else you run the risk of food-borne illness from the eggs.

5. Allow to cool for at least one minute. This dessert is wonderful to make ahead, refrigerate, and then put back into the oven (at 100 degrees) approximately ten minutes before serving. The cakes can be served in the ramekins, or upside-down with confectioner’s sugar or unsweetened cocoa sprinkled on top (knowing my ex the way I did, I served the cakes with Ben & Jerry’s “sprinkled on top.” And yes, it worked.)

I think it was my grandmother, or another matronly older woman, who told me during my formative years that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. While I don’t know much about the male heart (or stomach for that matter), I do know that chocolate can heal certain things. This isn’t a lesbian relationship cure-all, but it will certainly put you on the path — or at least wow the pants off of your lady.

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Ryan’s Stuffed Peppers

I was in western Mass. this past weekend visiting my ex-girlfriend and a couple very good friends from college. On Friday night, Kristie and I got invited to a small dinner party thrown by my friends Ryan and Caroline at their home. It was a cool evening, so we ate inside. Ryan and Carlo created an amazing spread of spicy Swedish meatballs, homemade tomato sauce, and insalata caprese (complemented by basil from the Mount Holyoke College student garden), to name just a few. Oh yes, and plenty Merlot!

Ryan is one of the most cooking-fluent women I know, and we exchanged our best Julia Child impressions over her now-famous stuffed peppers. I remember asking her where she got the recipe, and she made a reference to some index card or other. I spotted it later in her kitchen while her boyfriend and I were doing dishes (as well as singing a rousing rendition of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ which did not go over very well to those in the living room reading Leonard Cohen poetry aloud)—a stained, damp, wrinkled piece of paper covered in notes and exclamation points (“Cook rice—DO THIS FIRST!!!”), the way I imagine all good recipes start.

This is my version of Ryan’s stuffed peppers. The modifications for this dish are endless. Add white rice, tomato sauce, and chili peppers, and you have a Mexican meal perfect for a summer night. Sub squash and carrots for an early autumn plate. It’s also a great alternative to a stir-fry when you have a ton of random vegetables…anything works, really.

A quick note about heirloom tomatoes (this recipe calls for a Hungarian Oval). Heirlooms have been classically bred and passed down (usually via the family garden) for decades to preserve their rich taste rather than their abilities to withstand harsh pesticides or conform to what we think a tomato “should” look like. Many variations get lost in the folds of time. Become a part of the revival! Ask for them at your grocery store, and keep an eye out for them at your local farmers market. Also, check out the Heirloom Tomato Cookbook for some great ideas. (Recipe after the jump).

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Midnight Alfredo with Broccoli

Okay, okay, it wasn’t midnight. It was around nine, but it felt like midnight.

This recipe produces a very rich alfredo sauce that might be a little more watery than what you’re used to. The flavor is light, but powerful. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the ingredients; trust your nose! Cooking is an organic process and recipes are designed to change—and I’d love to hear about any modifications you do for this one!

Speaking of organic processes, I have to recommend that you try to find the freshest ingredients possible. The closer to your home that they’re grown, the better. And—it’s true—organic isn’t a bad idea either.

I know cost is a concern for many people (it is for me, too). But don’t worry! By buying smart and cooking more of your food at home, you can end up saving money.

Not only that, but 80 cents out of every dollar spent on produce from local farmers markets or produce stands goes directly to the farmer. Only 20 cents ends up in their hands when you purchase your produce at chain grocery stores, including Whole Foods.

Whole Foods’ redeeming quality is that they do feature a lot of locally grown produce (look for the orange or yellow signs). If you can’t find local produce at your grocer, ask. It does make a difference.

Enough about that. Let’s cook. (Recipe after the jump.)

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