indian-spiced lamb burgers with mango chutney and caramelized onions

My favorite pub in Cambridge for a pint and a bite to eat in a snug setting was The Castle Inn, which was also conveniently close to where I lived. They made a solid fish and chips and would occasionally offer a delectable sticky toffee pudding on their specials board, but my favorite thing to get there was their Indian burger: a burger made with spiced lamb mince (as they would call it), topped with mango chutney, caramelized onions, a slice of tomato and cucumber, and served with chips (i.e. fries) that were crisp on the outside but perfectly soft and creamy on the inside. I had strong cravings for that burger that would rear their heads every once in a while and result in a trip to the pub not long after.  Read the rest of this entry »


chicken with cherry tomato pan sauce

Several foodblogs that I follow posted this recipe a few weeks ago, and it looked so delicious that I decided I needed to make it myself. It’s a pretty simple dinner to prepare, especially if you have a handsome sous-chef around to help you chop all the fresh herbs that go into this. You saute butterflied chicken breasts in a flavored butter, then sear the tomatoes in the pan until they burst and char (yum), then add some fresh herbs and a few others things, and it’s ready to go.

The recipe I used also included a tasty-sounding polenta recipe with parmesan, basil, and fresh corn. I’d never made or eaten polenta before, and I’m not sure my first attempt was quite worth posting about. This is probably because the polenta I bought wasn’t the best kind. I made sure not to buy the bags labeled “instant,” which left me with just one choice; only when I got home I saw that the bag assured its buyers that while it was indeed not instant, it just so happened to cook in one minute anyway. Marcella Hazan, my trusted advisor on all things Italian, would not have approved. In any event, you can find the polenta recipe if you go to the original link; it sounds like it ought to be good if it were made properly! Otherwise you could serve this with rice, roasted potatoes, or even with pasta (if you doubled the sauce, perhaps). And though we sadly didn’t have any wine with this, I think you should.  Read the rest of this entry »

pasta puttanesca

Pasta puttanesca means literally something like “the whore’s pasta.” The story goes two ways: either this sauce was whipped up by Italian prostitutes in hopes that its smell would seduce passersby in off the streets (in case the normal attractions of a brothel weren’t enough, I guess), or they made it for themselves for a quick and easy bite to eat when they had a bit of down time.

Who knows if either of these legends is actually true. What is true about this sauce is that it is packed full of flavor: garlic, anchovies, olives, and capers simmer (briefly) with tomatoes to produce a loud, complexly flavored sauce. A healthy dose of red pepper flakes contributes a spicy kick. This is definitely racier stuff than your average tomato sauce. I recommend having some crusty bread to mop up the leftovers, plus a nice glass of red wine (or two).  Read the rest of this entry »