March 31, 2011

Jeffrey's Coconut Cream Pie: New and Improved!

A couple weeks ago, I reported on my first-ever attempt at making a Coconut Cream Pie.   That had turned out pretty good, but I was pretty sure I could improve on it.   The thing I'd been most disappointed with the first time around was the crust.  It had tasted good, but it had been overly crumbly.   I also wondered if perhaps I could maintain a big, satisfying flavor while cutting down a bit on fat and calories.   Not that the pie would be super-healthy no matter what I did, but every little bit can make a difference.

In regard to the crust, I'd recently made a Lemon Custard Pie featuring a variation on the famous Cook's Illustrated "vodka pie crust" recipe.   That variation - adding some lemon zest to the pie dough - had turned out great, so I thought I'd try something similar here, but since shredded coconut isn't as flavorful in small amounts as is lemon zest, I decided to instead add a bit of coconut extract.   I was concerned this would have a negative effect on the dough - even the base recipe makes for pretty moist dough - but I decided to try it anyhow.

In regard to reducing the calories, while I had that in mind, the way I ended up actually doing it happened by accident.   The recipe I'd used last time, which was closely based on one from Cook's Illustrated, had called for some butter to be stirred in to the coconut cream filling right at the end, once it is taken off the heat but before it is poured into the pie crust.  As sometimes happens in our kitchen, I got busy doing too many things at once, and I forgot to stir the butter until after I'd already poured the filling into the crust.   After considering options, I decided to just roll with it and see how the filling turned out, as I figured anything else I might try at that point was certain to ruin the pie. 

As it turns out, both changes worked out fine and dandy, and together they made for a better pie.   The dough wasn't noticeably more moist than it had been without the bit of extract, and it cooked up into a light, crispy crust with a hint of coconut flavor.    The filling also turned out great, with wonderful texture and flavor; the butter wasn't missed at all, and the pie sure didn't hurt for flavor.  In fact, this pie had better flavor than the first one had, in every way.  I ended up adding an additional bit of coconut flavor by using coconut extract in the whipped topping instead of vanilla.

So, while the first recipe I posted is still an adequate one, this one is better in every way.   This is the one I'm going to be going with in the future, and if you're interested in a delicious and satisfying Coconut Cream Pie, I'd recommend you try it out for yourself.

Jeffrey's New and Improved Coconut Cream Pie

yield = 8 servings

1 1/4       cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6 1/4 ounces)
1             tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2          teaspoon table salt
6             tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch slices
                 and chilled
1/4          solid vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces and chilled
2             tablespoons vodka, chilled
2             tablespoons cold water
1/2          teaspoon coconut extract.

17 1/2          ounces coconut milk (one 13.5 ounce can + 1/2 cup)
1 1/4            cups whole milk
1/4               cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2               cup + 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2               teaspoon table salt
6                  large egg yolks
1/2               cup + 1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2               teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4               teaspoon coconut extract
1/8               teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg

1 1/2            cups heavy cream (cold)
2                  tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2               teaspoon coconut extract
1/4               cup sweetened, shredded coconut, toasted in a
                    small skillet until lightly browned and cooled

Add 3/4 cups flour, sugar and salt together in a food processor until combined.  Add butter and shortening and process until dough starts to collect in uneven clumps (there will be some very small pieces of butter remaining).  Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around the processor blade.  Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until combined.  Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka, water and coconut extract over dough.  Use a rubber spatula in a folding motion to mix, pressing down on the dough until it sticks together (it will still be a bit tacky).   Flatten dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (or up to 2 days). 

Lightly spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray (preferably a variety designed for baking).  Lay out overlapping sheets of waxed paper and generously flour the wax paper.  Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on the waxed paper, making a 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick.  Lift waxed paper and carefully tip it downward so one edge of the dough touches the outer rim of the pie plate, then carefully flip it so the dough settles onto the pie plate with a bit of overhang on all sides.  Ease dough into the pie plate by gently lifting the edge with one hand while carefully pressing the dough into place with the other.  Refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.  Adjust oven rack to lowest position.  Place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack and heat oven to 425 degrees.

Trim overhanging dough to 1/2 inch beyond the lip of the pie plate.  Fold overhang under dough so the folded edge is flush with the edge of the pie plate.  Press tines of a fork against the dough to flatten it against the rim of the pie plate, or flute it using fingers.  (If the dough has started to get warm or to soften, refrigerate again until firm, about 20 minutes).

Line crust with foil and fill with pie weights.   Bake for 15 minutes.   Remove foil and weights, rotate the pie plate and bake until the crust is golden-brown and crisp (5-10 minutes).  Remove pie plate from oven, transferring it from the baking sheet to a wire rack.

Add the coconut milk, whole milk, shredded coconut, 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar and salt to a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and prevent burning. 

In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks, cornstarch and remaining sugar (1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) until thoroughly combined.  Gradually ladle 1 cup hot milk mixture over the yolk mixture and whisk to combine.  Continuing to whisk constantly, gradually ladle the remaining milk mixture to the yolk mixture. 

Return mixture to saucepan and cook the mixture thickens and reaches a boil, whisking constantly.  (You know it's boiling if you briefly stop whisking and large bubbles quickly burst on surface.  The mixture must boil to thicken properly).  Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and coconut extracts and nutmeg until fully incorporated.  

Pour hot filling into cooled pie crust; smooth surface with a rubber spatula.  Tightly cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap against the surface of the filling, and refrigerate until firm (at least 3 hours).

Chill mixing bowl and whip attachment of stand mixer in freezer for a few minutes.  Beat cream, sugar and coconut extracts until soft peaks form.  Top pie with whipped cream, shaping into peaks, then sprinkle with the browned coconut.  Cut into slices and serve.

March 30, 2011

Braised Lamb Chops with Carrots and Red Wine Sauce

One of the supermarkets we shop at recently had some really wonderful-looking lamb shoulder chops.  When I saw them, I wasn't certain how I was going to prepare them, but they looked too good to pass up and I was confident I'd come up with something good to do with them, so I picked some up. 

Reading up on lamb chops, several sources agreed this particular cut of lamb was best cooked by braising.  From there, it was pretty easy to toss together a recipe that combined various seasonings and other ingredients that tend to go well with lamb and which would handle braising well, most notably red wine and tomatoes.   Since I'd be using a fair bit of liquid, I decided to also toss in some carrots, which would absorb some flavors from the braising liquid.  For best flavor and presentation, I also decided to saute the lamb chops briefly before braising them. 

These turned out really, really good.   I have to admit that the lamb chops were a tiny bit on the chewy side, which means I probably overcooked them by a couple minutes, but they were full of flavor.  The braising liquid thickened into a rich, tasty sauce with which to top the lamb, and the carrots provided a nice touch of sweetness. 

I served the chops up with Red Potatoes with Rosemary Butter, which I've written about previously.  They turned out great, just as they have before.

This isn't the sort of meal I prepare often, but it certainly made for a nice change of pace.

Braised Lamb Chops with Carrots and Red Wine Sauce

yield = 2 servings

2           round bone shoulder lamb chops, trimmed of
              excess fat
             salt and freshly ground black pepper
2           tablespoons olive oil
4           carrots, peeled and quartered
1           small onion, sliced very thin
1           teaspoon minced garlic
1           teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1           teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced fine
1/2        cup red wine (I used a merlot)
1/4        cup low-sodium chicken broth
1           can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes (with liquid)

Dry the lamb chops with paper towels and sprinkle on both sides with pepper and salt.  Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the lamb chops and saute to brown on both sides, 5-6 minutes total. 

While the lamb chops are sauteeing, put the carrots in a medium bowl along with 1/4 cup water.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave 5 minutes.  Drain carrots and set aside.

Remove the lamb chops from the skillet to a plate.   Add 1 tablespoon olive oil (unless there is more than a tablespoon of fat and oil in the skillet; if there is much more than that, drain off extra and do not add olive oil).   Saute the onions until soft, 4 minutes, then add the garlic, rosemary and thyme and sautee 30 seconds.  Add the red wine and simmer until reduced by half, using a spoon to scrape up browned bits on the bottom of the skillet.  Add the chicken broth, canned tomatoes and carrots. 

Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium, return the lamb chops to the skillet until cooked through but tender (about 15 minutes) and the sauce has thickened.   Transfer lamb and carrots to serving platter and sauce to a bowl.   Serve the chops topped with ample portions of the sauce. 

Cooking Tips:
To get a really rich, flavorful sauce, it's worth spending the extra for quality diced tomatoes.  I used Muir Glen Fire Roasted Organic Diced Tomatoes.

To slice the onion into super-thin rings, I used my Oxo V-Blade Mandoline Slicer.  It works like a charm.

March 29, 2011

Scallops with Mandarin Oranges and Watercress

After the last time I prepared scallops went so well, I was eager to make scallops again.   This time around I went with a much different mix of flavors, though I did stick with a citrus element, since fruit flavors - and especially orange - go well with scallops.  

Looking for ideas, I found a recipe for Scallops with Black Bean Sauce and Watercress in the Spring 2011 edition of America's Test Kitchen's 30-Minute Recipes.  There were some elements to that dish that I liked, so I used that as a starting point in designing my own recipe.  Although I kept the watercress - something I've not really done much with in the past - and the black bean and garlic sauce, I ended up changing most of the other seasonings.  I also added some shitake mushrooms to give the dish more of a savory element, and (obviously) the mandarin oranges.

The resulting dish was quite good.   Neither Juli nor I liked it quite as much as we did the Scallops and Asparagus with Orange Sauce, but it was a fairly close second.  Sweetness (the scallops, sugar, ginger and mandarin oranges) was balanced by sour (the Chinese black vinegar) and bitter (watercress) overtones, with the bean sauce providing a bit of salt and, along with the mushrooms and garlic, a savory depth of flavor.  This made for a really satisfying meal.

Scallops with Mandarin Oranges and Watercress

yield = 2 servings

2            tablespoons black bean and garlic sauce
2            teaspoons Chinese black vinegar
1            teaspoon sugar
1            teaspoon cornstarch
6            tablespoons water
8            sea scallops (about 1 1/4 pounds), tendon removed
              salt and pepper to taste
3            tablespoons canola oil
2            ounces fresh shitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced
6            green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
1            tablespoon minced ginger
1            teaspoon fresh, grated ginger
1            teaspoon minced garlic
1/8         teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2            cups watercress leaves
2            cups hot, cooked rice
1            small can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained

Combine black bean and garlic sauce, black vinegar, sugar, corn starch and water in a small bowl.  Stir to mix, then set aside.

Pat scallops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat two tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until starting to smoke.   Add scallops and cook until deep golden brown on one side, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side until there is only the slightest hint of translucence along the edges of the scallops (about 2 more minutes, but go by appearance more than time).  Transfer scallops to a plate and tent with foil.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and heat, then add the mushrooms.  Cook 3 minutes, then add the white parts of the green onions.  Cook another minute, then add minced and grated ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Cook about 1 minute, then add the black bean sauce mixture and watercress and cook until the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in the green parts of the green onions. 

Prepare individual servings by arranging four scallops atop a serving of rice and surrounding with mandarin orange slices, then topping with a helping of the sauce.  Serve and enjoy.

March 28, 2011

Another Look at Pizza Braids

I recently reported on my first time making Pizza Braids, after being inspired by a post on one of our favorite blogs, For the Love of Cooking.  That first post was fairly popular, but at the time I posted it, I noted that the cooked pizza braids had looked and smelled so delicious that I'd neglected to snap any pictures of them sliced up and ready to serve.   As you can see from the photo above, I recently took the opportunity to correct that oversight, and to once again make a meal that has quickly become one of my fast, delicious "go to dinner" choices.

As a quick reminder, pizza braids are made by flattening out some supermarket pizza dough - the kind that comes in a tube - making slices along both sides, covering the middle area with pizza sauce, cheese and toppings, then braiding the sliced pieces of dough over the middle area to enclose the fillings.   After about 1/2 hour in the oven, they're cooked, hot, delicious and ready to serve.

The recipe is reprinted below.  If you haven't tried these yet, I encourage you to do so.   You won't be sorry.

Pepperoni, Sausage and Mushroom Pizza Braids
yield = 4 -5 servings
1/2         pound sweet Italian sausage
1/4         pound pepperoni
2            tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil + 1/4 cup
1            onion, grated
6            ounces button mushrooms, sliced thin
2            teaspoons minced garlic
1/2         teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2         teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/4         teaspoon table salt
2            tablespoons cornmeal
2            cans refrigerated thin pizza crust
1 1/3      cup canned pizza sauce (we used Dei Fratelli)
8            ounces mozzarella cheese, freshly shredded
2            tablespoons + two teaspoons freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
1            teaspoon dried basil
1            teaspoon dried oregano

Cook sausage in a small skillet, breaking it into small pieces with the side of a wooden spoon.   Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

While the sausage cooks, line a microwave-safe plate with two layers of paper towels.   Spread pepperoni slices over the paper towels, cover with another paper towel and microwave for 60 seconds.  Repeat until all the pepperoni slices are cooked.

Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add onion and mushroom and cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft and the mushrooms have released all their liquid. 

Clear a space in the middle of the pan and add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.  Cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds), then add pepper and salt, stir to mix, and remove from heat.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon corn meal on each baking sheet. 

Spread one pizza crust on a baking sheet in a rectangle.  Spoon 2/3 cup of pizza sauce along the middle third of the dough.  Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut even slits on both sides of the sauce.   Sprinkle 2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese atop the sauce, then top with 1/2 of the onion and mushroom mixture and 1/2 of the pepperoni slices, 1/2 of the cooked sausage.  Spread another 2 ounces of mozzarella atop these toppings, then sprinkle with one tablespoon grated romano cheese. 

Starting at one end, fold alternating strips from the sides of the dough over the filling at an angle, continuing until all the side strips have been folded over the fillings.

Brush the top of the pizza braid with olive oil, then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and one teaspoon romano cheese.   Bake until nicely browned, about 30-35 minutes, then remove from the oven to a cutting board and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Slice and serve.  Repeat with the other prepared baking sheet and the remainder of the ingredients.

Duck with Apple-Cranberry Sauce

We don't eat duck very often.  Truth be told, Juli isn't very fond of it.  I rather like duck, but it's awful expensive.   Still, I enjoy cooking different sorts of things, so I decided to buy some duck breasts and cook them up.

I used a recipe from the current 30-Minute Suppers publication (Spring 2011) from America's Test Kitchen as a starting point.   That recipe is Pan-Seared Duck with Rhubarb-Cherry Sauce.   I wanted to make a different sort of sauce, though.

The technique is pretty simple, really.   First you score the duck skin a few times (being careful to not cut into the breast meat) to render the fat, then you sear them in a skillet, skin side down, until the skin is browned and crispy.  Then you transfer the duck to the oven to finish cooking while making the sauce.  It was fast and easy to make, and the results were tasty.   Juli still wasn't particularly impressed with the duck, but she had to admit the sauce was pretty good, while I liked the duck and the sauce.

The cranberries I used for the sauce came from the supply I put in the freezer back in November.   I like to stock up on cranberries and freeze them when you can get them fresh in season. 

I served this dish up along with some mashed sweet potatoes, taken from a sidebar recipe in the same issue of 30-Minute Suppers.  Sweet potatoes boiled tender, then mashed with some orange juice, a bit of molasses and some butter and seasoned with salt and pepper.... a darn good side I'm likely to revisit in the future.

Duck with Apple-Cranberry Sauce

yield = 4 servings

4            boneless duck breast halves, skin scored 3 times on diagonal
              salt and pepper to taste
1            large shallot, minced
1            tablespoon fresh, grated ginger
1            cup whole cranberries
1            Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and minced
2            teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/3         cup apple brandy
1/3         cup chicken broth
1/4         cup sugar

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.    Pat duck breasts dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.   Place breasts skin side down in a large skillet, then turn heat to medium-low and cook until the skin turns crisp and golden (abotu 8 minutes).  Transfer breasts, skin side up, to a foil-lined baking sheet and transfer to oven.  Roast until the duck is cooked through, about 12 minutes.  Traansfer to carving board and cover with foil.

Pour off most of the fat from the skillet (leave about 1 tablespoon).  Add shallot and ginger and cook for 2 minutes, then add the apples, cranberries and rosemary.  Cook until the apples start to brown a bit, then stir in the apple brandy and cook until it is reduced by half (about 1 minute).  Add chicken broth and sugar and cook until the cranberries have mostly burst and the sauce has thickened.   Serve each duck breast topped with some of the sauce, with more sauce on the side. 

March 27, 2011

Tropical Pancakes with Pineapple Sauce

Last weekend, it was warm  here.  It looked like spring had finally arrived, and I'd thought I might be spending a fair chunk of the weekend cleaning up weeds and getting our garden ready to plant.    Then it snowed on Thursday and Friday, with more expected for Saturday.  Bleh!

Maybe it was those dashed hopes for warmth and sunshine, or maybe something else, but in any case, an idea came to me... if it wasn't going to be sunny and warm this weekend, maybe I could evoke some sense of warmth and sunshine in my cooking.  And that thought led into my latest culinary creation:  Tropical Pancakes.

The idea I had was pretty simple at the core:  Basic pancakes, but loaded up with crushed pineapple and shredded coconut, and served up with a warm pineapple sauce.  As I fine-tuned the recipe, I decided to add some crushed-up macadamia nuts as an additional tropical touch.  From there, it was just a matter of experimenting a bit with how much extra liquid I'd need to add to balance out the fruit.

The result was, quite simply, wonderful.    Fluffy pancakes packed with fruit and nut and coconut flavor, covered with a thick, warm pineapple sauce.   They were like home-cooked sunshine.  Juli said they were maybe the best pancakes she's ever had, and I'd say they certainly rival the best I've ever had, at very least.

It might not be as warm outside this weekend as I'd hoped, but these pancakes sure warmed us up on the inside.

Saturday's Breakfast:  Tropical Pancakes with Pineapple
Sauce, along with sausage and orange juice.

Tropical Pancakes with Pineapple Sauce

yield = 5-6 servings

1              can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple
2              cups all-purpose flour
2              tablespoons sugar
2              teaspoons baking powder
1/2           teaspoon baking soda
3/8           teaspoon table salt
1              large egg
3              tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4           teaspoon coconut extract
2 1/4        cups buttermilk
1/4           cup shredded sweetened coconut
2              tablespoons macadamia nuts, crushed
1              tablespoon vegetable oil or shortening
1/2           teaspoon corn starch
2              teaspoons cold water

Drain pineapple in a strainer set over a large liquid measuring cup.  Press pineapple with a rubber spatula to squeeze out excess liquid.   Set aside, retaining both the drained pineapple and the juice.

Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a large bowl and whisk together.  In a medium bowl, whisk egg, unsalted butter and coconut extract together, then whisk in the buttermilk.    Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until the mixture is just incorporated, with some lumps remaining.  Do not over-mix the batter.   Add 1/2 cup of the drained pineapple to the bowl along with the coconut and macadamia nuts.  Stir the fruit and nuts gently into the batter, again being careful to not over-mix.

Add the liquid from the canned pineapple to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and cook it until it has cooked down about halfway.   Meanwhile, heat the oil or shortening in a large skillet or electric skillet over medium-high heat.   Cook batches of pancakes by pouring about 1/3 cup of batter per pancake, making sure to leave room between the batches of batter.   Cook until large bubbles begin to appear on top of the batter (about 2 minutes), then flip the pancakes and cook another 2 minutes.  They should be lightly browned on both sides.  Transfer cooked pancakes to a plate and cover with foil and continue until all the batter is used up. 

Stir the remainder of the pineapple into the saucepan with the thickened juice and bring to a boil.  Dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water, stir it into the saucepan with the pineapple and cook until thickened (an additional 30 seconds or so), then transfer to a serving bowl.

Spoon some of the pineapple sauce atop individual servings of pancakes and serve.

March 26, 2011

Sesame Noodle Salad with Shredded Chicken

Once a month my office has a potluck.  The most recent one was this past Wednesday.   I was actually off work for a couple days due to feeling under the weather, so I unfortunately missed the potluck, but since I'd made my addition to the festivities a couple days ahead of time, Juli was able to drop it off at my workplace.  Juli and I only got to enjoy a few bites of this one, but when I returned to work several people had good things to say about the potluck in general, and my dish more specifically.

The theme for this latest potluck was "salads and healthy foods."   My entry was a Sesame Noodle Salad with Shredded Chicken.    I made this using a recipe from The New Best Recipe, which (along with the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook) has become one of my go-to cookbooks when I'm looking for solid recipes, as well as one of the first books I consult when I design recipes of my own.  I made this one as written, save that I used pre-cooked Chinese egg noodles (bought frozen at an Asian grocery and thawed for use with this recipe) in place of fresh and used chili paste in place of hot pepper sauce.  I also garnished the finished salad with some sliced almonds.

It's a pretty basic recipe, really.  Noodles, shredded carrots, scallions, toasted sesame seeds and shredded bits of broiled chicken breast are tossed with a tasty dressing made of soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, chili pepper paste, brown sugar and peanut butter and served cold.    Put simply, this salad is delicious.   The sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds and peanut butter give the whole dish a rich, nut flavor and fragrance, enhanced with a bit of sweetness (courtesy the sugar and carrots) and heat (due to the pepper paste and garlic). 

I wasn't happy to have to miss the potluck, but I am pleased I was able to provide something that was a big hit.   I'm probably going to make another batch in the near future, but this time I'll make it just for me and Juli.  It saves well for a few days, making for tasty leftovers.

Pasta With Arugula, Chorizo and Pine Nuts

A couple times a year America's Test Kitchen releases a collection of 30-Minute Suppers.  The newest edition (Spring 2011) featured a recipe that inspired me to come up with one of my own.

The recipe in question is one for Penne with Arugula, Chorizo and Romano.   I liked their recipe well enough, but there were some things I thought would make it more to our tastes.   The first change was to a different sort of pasta.   Penne would have been fine, as there would be lots of bits of flavorful shallots, garlic and bits of Romano cheese to end up inside the pieces of penne, but I we prefer the slightly lighter texture of rotini, and its curves would do just as good a job of catching and holding the tasty bits.   I also thought the dish could use another texture, and that it might benefit from a bit of nutty flavor.   After considering and rejecting some other nut options, I decided to go with pine nuts.

I thought the resulting dish was okay, but nothing spectacular.   The flavors did blend nicely, and it came together really quickly - well under 30 minutes - but neither of us was fond enough of this one that I'm likely to make it again.  You might feel differently, though, particularly if you're a fan of pasta with simple sauces, or of chorizo.   If that's the case, you might want to try out either this recipe or the one in the ATK book.

Pasta with Arugula, Chorizo and Pine Nuts

yield = 4-5 servings

1             tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8             ounces chorizo, sliced into thin discs
3             large shallots, chopped fine
1/4          cup pine nuts
4             teaspoons minced garlic
1/2          cup dry white wine
1             cup low-sodium chicken broth
1             tablespoon table salt
1             pound pasta of choice (I used rotini)
1             cup grated Romano cheese
5             ounces arugula

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.   Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add chorizo and cook until browned, 2-3 minutes per side.  Transfer cooked chorizo to a plate lined with paper towels.

Add shallots to skillet.  Cook 3 minutes, then add pine nuts and cook until the shallots are softened (about 2 more minutes), then add garlic and cook 30 seconds.  Add wine and cook to reduce by half, then add chicken broth and cook until the sauce thickens (3-5 minutes).

Add salt and pasta to boiling water and cook pasta to desired doneness.  Drain pasta and transfer it to a serving bowl.  Add sauce, chorizo, cheese and arugula and toss thoroughly until the arugula is slightly wilted (about 1 minute).  Serve.