White Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Grilled Chicken

Dangerous!  This is a word that can accurately describe certain parts of Philadelphia.  More frequently than I care to read or hear in the newspaper or radio are episodes or sprees of crime happening in the City of Brotherly Love.  Where’s the love you may ask?  Apparently not in north or south Philly where, according to my very unscientific media-based observation, a huge portion of our city’s crime takes place.  One of the more recent and prominent episodes involved the “Kensington Strangler,” in which a 22 year-old man assaulted and strangled to death three women over a one month period.  While there should never be any “fame” in crime, Philadelphia does have its fair share of infamous criminals.  Many of these criminals, including “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone, spent time in Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, once the most famous and expensive prison in the world.  According to it’s website, Eastern State Penitentiary is “known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true ‘penitentiary,’ a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts.”  Eastern State Penitentiary is no longer a prison and is now a museum open everyday from 10am to 5pm.  It is an impressive place and is definitely worth checking out, especially around Halloween.

White Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Grilled Chicken (from L.A. Times)

Dangerous is not only a word that describes the past and present criminals of Philadelphia, but also this macaroni and cheese.  It will be known for its “grand architecture” (white truffle olive oil amongst other things) and it’s required self- “strict discipline” to avoid over consuming such a flavor- and calorie-rich dish.  It is possible that enjoying this dish will inspire “penitence” and “true regret” and create a yearning to immediately resume healthy eating and an exercise regime.  There are 2 types of cheese – Boursin Garlic and Herb Gournay cheese (oh so good!) and mozzarella , one quart of heavy cream, crispy pancetta and bread crumbs sauteed in pancetta fat.  I’m not recommending enjoying such a rich dish as a daily ritual, but it is worthwhile making this on a special occasion.  Trust me, it’s dangerously good!

I recommend adding some fresh mozzarella cheese to this prior to serving (not part of the original recipe) and serving it with some sort of fresh vegetable (see next post) and a great wine (perhaps a cabernet or a rioja or a zinfandel).


Linguini With Roasted Beets, Fresh Tarragon and Caraway Seeds
February 21, 2011, 4:01 pm
Filed under: Dinner, Pasta | Tags: , , ,

This past week was Valentine’s Day and apparently, according to CNN Money, Philadelphia knows how to celebrate.  Their ranking is based upon the amount of money spent per transaction on Valentine’s Day.  In Philadelphia, individuals spend $134.93, earning 4th place on the list.  At the top was Phoenix at $160.41 followed by Houston ($149.78) and San Francisco ($149.19) and then Philadelphia.  New York City rounded out the top five at $130.30.  Supposedly, while Phoenix and Co spent the most, NYC is the sexiest based solely on lingerie sales while San Francisco and Boston tied based on the number of marriage proposals.  These are fun statistics, but I hope no one actually bases love/romance on money spent!  In keeping with this theme, there was a great article in the Miami University Student Newspaper about the culture of dating and how technology is changing the way we date.  Today’s post maintains the Valentine’s Day theme although really only through the association of the color red with the holiday, but gesture of preparing a meal, as well as the flavor of the dish, well exceeds the $135 you might spend elsewhere for Valentine’s Day.

Linguini with Roasted Beets, Fresh Tarragon and Caraway Seeds (from Food and Style)

I don’t necessarily find the color of this pasta appetizing, but then again, you should never judge a book by it’s cover.  Beets are a very under-appreciated vegetable.  The flavors of (cooked) beets are sweet.  I’ve primarily only had them pickled and accompanying several other items as an appetizer.  However, caramelized beets in the with of balsamic vinegar and caraway seeds are incredibly more delicious. The combination of the three presents the beets with a “deep, rich and earthy flavor.”  The blog which created this recipe, Food and Style, also suggested pairing it with a wine called “Le Cigare Volant” from Bonny Dune Vineyard.

As for my suggestions, make the beets a day or two ahead of time.  Otherwise, this is a very time consuming recipe.  Lastly, serve the dish with any red wine that you love, although the Le Cigare Volant was pretty good.  Enjoy and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Penne with Arrabiata Sauce
January 31, 2011, 9:11 pm
Filed under: Dinner, Pasta | Tags: , , , , ,


Judging from my lack of posts you might guess that I’ve been busy lately.   I swear the days are getting shorter and my schedule longer.  The longer I live in Philadelphia, the more I’ve become, well, “Philadelphian.”  Although I’m almost positive most cities have a similar characterization, and therefore making my argument moot, people in Philadelphia always seem to be in a huge rush.  Cars, buses, cabs and even pedestrians go zooming passed everyday.  Where are these people going?  Are they running late to their destination?  Super busy? Or, do they have the next great idea and are on their way to develop that idea (after all, Philly was recently named a hub for creative activity)? Who knows, but if you don’t keep up or get out of their way they’re going to let you know about it with honking horns and dirty looks. I, by no means, am a daily exception.  I think we all have our moments.  To combat my “moments” and avoid the daily rush I’ve tapped a very underutilized resource, namely, 5 to 7AM.  I use this time to exercise, usually to swim, bike or run, and to read email as well as the news.  The result is a very invigorating and productive morning, eager and able to tackle the next phases of my day. For those of you who say “no way!” to 5am, then organization and efficiency of the back end of the day is a must.  To help you out, I present this post, “Penne with Arrabiata Sauce” as a quick, easy and delicious dinner that you can fit into your daily rush.

Penne with Arrabiata Sauce (from my Mom)

This sauce has four user-friendly ingredients: tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.  I admit that I’ve never used fresh tomatoes in this recipe, but I’ll defend myself by saying that making this sauce is made on a “I’m-too-tired/busy-to-put-any-effort-into-my-cooking” kind of day and having a can of tomatoes stored away in my cupboard is easier than timing the use of fresh tomatoes.

The recipe: Warm a medium-sized pan over medium heat and add two tablespoons of olive oil.  While the olive oil warms, mince two cloves of garlic.  Add the garlic and let cook for one minute.  Add as much or as little red pepper flakes as you like.  My mom’s recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon, but I typically add 1-2 teaspoons.  Cook until the garlic begins to brown.  Add the 15 ounce can of peeled, whole tomatoes as well as any liquid component that accompanies the tomatoes.  Stir the tomatoes in with the olive oil mixture.  Cut the tomatoes into thirds or quarters.  Add a few fresh basil leaves or a teaspoon of dried basil.  Allow the sauce to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.   As the sauce simmers, the tomatoes will soften and they can be chopped into smaller pieces if desired.  Add 1 pound cooked penne to the sauce, stirring to incorporate the sauce amongst the noodles.  Add fresh mozzarella, serve and enjoy!