Simple Pleasures for Simple People: Balsamic Glazed Chicken With Grilled Radicchio & A Farm Wife’s Fresh Pear Tart

The title of this post is deceitful. Roasting a chicken is indeed a simple pleasure, but making a balsamic glazed chicken is slightly more complicated. Not much more complicated–it may still qualify as simple–but this simple guy had an issue. See the beautiful chicken with the crisped skin, browning in the oven?

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I wish I could tell you this was the end–this was the chicken ready to be served. But it was not: it was only half done cooking and the skin was beginning to turn black. What could a simple person do? What did this simple person do? You must await the answer because I want to show you the simple cake that came later. Look at this simple cake!

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When I tell you how simple this was, you won’t believe me. It’s the least effort I’ve ever expended for a fully baked dessert and the rewards were plentiful.

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A Pasta Invention

Those keeping track of my career as a creator of recipes will remember my apple butter buttermilk ice cream which I created last week. This week I present a somewhat loopy, somewhat inspired pasta dish based on a dish Lauren had when we went to Craftbar. That dish was pecorino fondue with honey and hazelnuts. Since I had pecorino in my fridge, honey and hazelnuts on hand I decided to morph that fondue into a pasta dish. And thusly I present to you my Penne with Pecorino, Honey and Hazelnuts.

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The process by which I made this was quite simple. I boiled pasta. I grated a cup of pecorino into a bowl. In a saute pan I melted approximately 3 Tbs of butter and a tiny drop (a few tsps) of honey. To this I added about half a cup of pasta water–it sizzles, beware!–and to that I added the pasta. Tossed it all around and added the cup of pecorino. Tossed it all around, added more pecorino to make it cheesier. And then, once poured into a bowl, I added some chopped toasted hazelnuts. Is it respectable to add chopped toasted nuts to a pasta? I’m not sure. But I liked it. This whole dish was a nice twist on my standard pasta with butter, nutmeg and Parmesan. Give it a chance and credit me with the recipe. Well me and Craftbar. But mostly me.

A Post in Which Our Hero, Adam “Amateur Gourmet,” Makes Heidi “101 Cookbooks”‘s Apple Butter And Then, Somewhat Astonishingly, Creates His Own Ice Cream USING That Apple Butter. You will be astonished.

Lame “stay at home” Friday nights are some of my favorite Friday nights. A night out drinking and painting the town can’t compare to a night of watching Netflix movies by yourself and making caramel corn or chocolate chip cookies or, in the case of this post, apple butter. I have no shame in telling you that this past Friday night, instead of socializing with my peers and dancing on the proverbial ceiling, I stayed at home and (gulp) watched “Funny Girl” (it was my first time! It’s a rite of passage) on Tivo while making the recipe for apple butter I found on Heidi Swanson’s brilliant, beautiful site. I’d never cooked a recipe from Heidi’s site before and this was going to be the night. I’d march my band out and beat her drum, so to speak.

As you can see from her site, Heidi jarred her apple butter in vintage jars, but I used the only jars I had and they still look nifty:

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As Heidi says on her site, “The cool thing about apple butter is that it is very straightforward to make.” All you really need are apples, cider, lemon and then the spices you have laying around for making apple cobbler and apple pie. I’ll let you go to Heidi’s site for the recipe and click ahead to see pictures of my endeavor. And then, of course, reveal my brilliant ice cream concoction…

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If I Had A Sunday Supper Club, It Might Look Like This [Featuring: Fried Zucchini, Kalamata Olive Dip and Fancy French Laundry Lasagna]

Kiss kiss, darling, let me take your coat. It is dreadful outside, isn’t it? Did you have trouble finding the place? Did Carl give you trouble downstairs? Really, good help is so hard to find these days.

Welcome to my black-and-white dream world, a world of drink and jazz and good old-fashioned New York glamour. In this black-and-white dream world, I am a Count–Count Backwardsfromten–and each and every Sunday night I throw a fabulous dinner party, a party for which everyone fights for an invitation. “Were you invited to the Count’s? Oh you weren’t? How terrible, darling.”

That is my dream world. And this is my reality:

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So much for the jazz age. But who needs glamour when you have lasagna? And who needs fancy friends when you have friends in funny t-shirts, friends who bravely knock on neighbors doors to ask for an extra chair as there are only six chairs for seven guests? And who needs masterfully sewn tablecloths when you have multi-colored water glasses, like the ones I bought at MOMA? I may not be a Count, but you can count on me to throw a fun dinner party. Well…fun except for the few glitches…

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Sopranos Saucery: Rigatoni with Sausage & Tomato Sauce

I don’t work for HBO but I wish I did. They produce some of the best television out there–better, in fact, than most of the movies that get released these days. I think “The Sopranos” is the best show in the history of television, and I’ve been watching TV a long time. Not only is it a terrific show, it has its own cookbook. Kirk bought it for me for my birthday (and I, actually, bought one for my brother–a big Sopranos fan–a few years ago when it came out. Does he cook from it? Fuhgetaboutit.) I was wary of whether the recipes would come out but now I feel like a jamook: look how well this rigatoni with sausage and tomato sauce came out.

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[If you want to know what a “jamook” is, check out The Sopranos mobspeak dictionary.]

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The Oscar Post: Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic, Saveur Magazine’s Apple Cobbler (with vanilla ice cream, of course) and Dazzling New YouTube Technology

The day after the Oscars the questions were pretty standard: “What did you think of Jon Stewart?” “Were you disappointed Brokeback didn’t win?” “What did you think of Charlize’s dress?” Sadly, no one asked the one question I wanted to answer: “What did you have for dinner?”

The dinner, you see, was the best part of the whole night! Observe:

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

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Apple Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream

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You’ve got nothing on me, Wolfgang Puck! Well: you have a restaurant fortune and a QVC Empire, but do you have my joie de vivre? Just count my exclamation marks and I’ll put you to shame!!!

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Babe, I’m on Fire: Braised Short Ribs with Horseradish Gremolata and Pumpkin Orzo

Damn, I’m good. Well: either I’m good or I choose very doable, readable recipes. Or I have really good cooking equipment. Or maybe not: maybe I’m just smokin’, I’m so hot. Check it out:

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I made this. This is not something I got from a restaurant, I got this from me: from my cutting, braising, stirring and slicing. Ok, there was a little help from Diana (she came over Saturday to eat this and to watch “Crash”) but by the time she got here, the short ribs were already in the oven.

At the risk of being too humble, let me say it like this: if you have a Dutch Oven or a heavy-bottomed skillet you can make this too. It’s so easy. And it’s NOT expensive. Two beef short ribs from Whole Foods cost me $8. The rest of the ingredients were all cheap vegetables with the exception of the bottle of red wine which, hopefully, you have laying around somewhere. The recipe comes from the Babbo cookbook and the results are as good as anything I’ve eaten at Babbo which is saying a lot because I consider Babbo the best restaurant I’ve ever been to ever so do not take that statement with a grain of salt. Take it with a box of Kosher Salt and dump it on your head. It’s really good for the roots.

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