One woman's foray into cooking for herself, for her family, and for her friends. It's not always picture-perfect, sometimes a little messy,
but it's always delicious. Join me in exploring new recipes, savoring the "résultats" and learning from the "erreurs".

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rigatoni with Broccoli, Garlic & Breadcrumbs

Whenever I visit New York City with my friends and family, we often visit our favorite Italian restaurant there - Carmine's.  The mid-town Manhattan location is always busy, especially with the many Broadway patrons before and after shows.  I've even had the opportunity to bump into some of Broadway's biggest stars (I once saw Patty Lupone!) 

The food is always wonderful and plentiful, just like most Italian homes, whether it's one of their wonderful salads, hot or cold appetizers, delicious meat dishes, or, of course, the many pasta dishes they offer.  One of my daughter's favorites is their Rigatoni with Broccoli, Garlic & Olive Oil which comes sprinkled with toasted breadcrumbs and grated Parmegiana-Reggiano.  It's a delicious non-meat entree that will satisfy even the dedicated carnivores at your dinner table. 

Rigatoni with Broccoli, Garlic & Breadcrumbs
Serves 4

3/4 to 1 pound broccoli florets
1 pound rigatoni
5 tablespoons olive oil
1⁄3 cup dried breadcrumbs
4 - 6 cloves thinly sliced garlic
1⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1⁄2 cup grated Parmigiana-Reggiano

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.Add the broccoli and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain. Set aside.
Bring the water back to a boil and add the pasta.While the pasta cooks, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over low heat. Add the bread crumbs, stirring, until the crumbs are toasted a golden brown. Remove the breadcrumbs to a small bowl and set aside.
Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining olive oil, garlic, and pepper flakes.Cook until fragrant, then stir in the broccoli. Stir to coat with the oil as the broccoli reheats, and taste for seasoning.  If pasta is not yet done, keep the heat low to avoid burning the broccoli.
Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the broccoli mixture.Cook over high heat for a minute or so to evaporate any water from the pasta, then stir in the bread crumbs and cheese and serve immediately.

Friday, June 10, 2011


My friend, Marysol, at Memories in the Baking, originally shared the recipe for these little tastes of heaven on an internet cooking forum we both occasionally visit.  "Dirt Bombs" are wonderful muffins dipped in melted butter (sounds good already, right?!), then rolled in cinnamon sugar.  Covered in cinnamon sugar.  Glistening with cinnamon sugar. The coating keeps them moist and, well, irresistible.  My son said they were a cross between a doughnut and a muffin, and so re-named them "Duffins".  Fine by me!  Duffins it is!

Sol's Dirt Bombs
Yields: 12 muffins*

3 cups AP flour, minus 3 tablespoons
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk **

Topping ***
3/4 cups unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400º F. Place the rack in the center position. Generously grease a 12-cup standard muffin pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cardamom into a mixing bowl. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl down half way through. Mix in the eggs. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk in two additions, mixing gently by hand to incorporate all the flour. The batter will be on the stiff side, but airy. Don’t over mix or beat the batter as this will make the muffins tough. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, without smoothing the tops. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. As soon as the muffins are cool enough to handle, turn them out onto a wire rack.

Add the melted butter to a bowl. In another bowl, mix the sugar
and cinnamon. Dip the muffins (top, sides and bottom) in the butter, using a pastry brush -if necessary- to cover areas not buttered by dipping. Immediately roll the muffins in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sol's notes:
*I've made this twice, and both times, this recipe has yielded 16 muffins instead of 12.
**I substituted whole buttermilk for whole milk because I always have it on hand and prefer it for baking.
*** The amounts listed for the sugar and cinnamon are not quite enough to coat all the muffins, so I recommend you double it.
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