Mar

29

2010

Dinner At Your Door

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Chicken Penne with Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes, Mini Chocolate Cakes

Poultry & Pork • Tags: , , ,

One of the reasons most of us enjoy cooking for others is because it’s something that makes other people feel good. That’s one of the main reasons we like to cook for our friends and family. It is something that we can offer other people, and they appreciate it. If our only purpose in life was to do nice things for people that they would enjoy and appreciate, we would all be happy campers. Not too long ago, a friend of ours had an all-around bad day that seemed to pair nicely with a not so great week. From beginning to end, it was a mess. Bad days happen to everyone, and sometimes there isn’t much you can do to change the situation. As a friend, all you can do is lend an ear or a helping hand. Food never hurts either. How can you continue with a bad day when an evening’s meal shows up at your doorstep?


There are prime foods that we all associate with comfort–pasta and chocolate are two of them. Creamy pasta with cheese and deep, dark chocolate with liquor are even better. The pasta includes a couple of tablespoons of this earthy, smokey, spicy, crunchy Chile Crunch from Chile Colonial. We received the sample from our friends at Foodzie. The artisan maker resides in San Francisco, but the product is inspired by her time spent in Mexico. It’s dried chilies and crispy garlic and onion in canola oil. The flavor is intense, and the scent is one of the most intoxicating you’ll ever encounter. It smells like the kind of thing you want to eat all the time. To date, it has been a featured ingredient in eggs, quiche, stir fry, fried rice, seafood linguine, marinara sauce and so on. Anything that needs a big, spicy flavor has been hit with the Chile Crunch in the last few weeks!

These dishes were delivered at our friend’s doorstep by the end of the night. The dessert is based on Mark Bittman’s recipe for molten chocolate cake. These were baked at a lower temperature for a longer amount of time in flatter dishes, so they were soft and fluffy in the middle–not quite molten. You can follow his recipe should you want oozy chocolate with every bite. Never forget the whipped cream with any warm, chocolate cake!  Just take a little heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until soft and thick.  The whipped cream below has drops of vanilla and brandy inside to highlight the flavors of the chocolate.

Chicken Penne with Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes – Serves 8
1 pound penne, parboiled
3 pounds chicken breast, cut into 1″ pieces
1 tablespoons ground sage
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 pound asparagus, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 pint white mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons Chile Colonial Chile Crunch (or red pepper flakes, to taste)
1/2 cup pasta water
3/4 cup heavy cream
30 ounces pasta sauce
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
8 ounces goat cheese
Olive oil
Kosher salt

1. Season the chicken liberally with sage and kosher salt. Set aside. Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a very deep, wide pan over medium high heat and, when hot, add the chicken. Cook until chicken is white on the outside but still a bit pink inside, approximately 3-5 minutes.

2. Add garlic, tomatoes, asparagus and mushrooms. Mix well to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the Chile Crunch, pasta water, pasta sauce and cream until smooth, then pour over the veggies. Fold in the pasta. Salt to taste.

3. Spoon the pasta mixture into a 9″x13″x3″ baking dish, sprinkle with basil and cover with bits of the goat cheese. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Mini Chocolate Cakes – Serves 4 (tweaked from Bitten Blog)
4 1/2 ounces 72% dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for the ramekins
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, plus more for the ramekins
Zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon brandy
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon flour
Cocoa

Whipped Cream
Heavy cream
Vanilla
Brandy
Powdered sugar

1. Mix a bit of cocoa and sugar together in a small bowl. Grease four 4 ounce ramekins with butter, then dust with cocoa mixture. Cover all sides well, then tap out the excess. Set aside.

2. Place the butter and chocolate into a heat-resistant bowl over a pot of lightly simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir every once in a while to incorporate both ingredients and ensure they do not burn. Once melted, set aside to cool slightly.

3. While chocolate cools, place eggs, egg yolks, brandy, orange zest, salt and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until thick and ribbony, approximately 3-5 minutes. Turn off the mixer speed and use a flat spoon to fold in the warm chocolate, followed by the flour and cinnamon.

4. Pour into the prepared ramekins and bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for approximately 15 minutes or until cake bounces back once touched in the middle.

Click HERE for the printable recipes.

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  1. Food has healing powers, for the soul and the physical. It was a very kind gesture of you to bring those intentions and care to your friend. This looks like a great dinner. Chocolate cakes are always good.

    Reply

  2. Aw, you guys are such good friends. What a lovely thing to do! :)

    I think I’m going to need some of that Chile Crunch, it sounds awesome! And that cake … yum!

    Reply

  3. Pretty sure all my calorie-counting resolve has gone out the window after looking at this delish post! Oh, and all the photos look lovely- can’t even tell which one was replaced. Going to drool now:)

    Reply

  4. You guys are some great friends to have!

    I love the pasta, it sounds comforting for sure.

    Reply

  5. Totally with Christine that food is the healing power, the connection and love!

    Reply

  6. So true. I love cooking for my friends and family. It feels like I’m giving straight from my heart, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love to receive the gift of food!

    Reply

  7. Seems everyone is doing baked pasta right about now — and it’s no wonder. Winter hasn’t quite given out to the promise of spring, no matter how we might wish it would! This looks like the perfect way to bring a bright spot to a friend — comforting and full of all the good stuff. Way to go!

    Reply

  8. I love to cook for friends and it’s sometimes the best solution of making them feel better. Wish we were closer. The pasta and chocolate cake look likefantastic treats.

    Reply

  9. Oh those mini chocolate cakes have my name written all over it.

    I’m the same way, too. I love to cook for friends and family. I wish I could do it more often.

    Reply

  10. This just reminds me of your generosity. Nice job. GREG

    Reply

  11. good food gives comfort during bad days… those mini-chocolate cake will do it for me..

    Reply

  12. Having been on the receiving end of a lot of friends’ delicious generosity when we brought our new baby home a few months ago I can definitely concur – food is such a wonderful way to show you care about someone. And baked pasta is a pretty fantastic way to do it!

    Reply

  13. What a great and rewarding idea – food to cheer a friend or family member up. Very nice. That Chile Crunch sounds really interesting!

    Reply

  14. So, um…I get home around 7:30/8. Can you bring me dinner tomorrow? Lol. It was great seeing you Saturday!!!

    Reply

  15. If only this dinner would show up at MY door!

    Reply

  16. Pasta is definitely a good comfort food-like a big carb hug! :D

    Reply

  17. What a wonderfully thoughtful idea! Food and loved ones always go well together. Thank you for a heart-warming story!

    Reply

  18. Beautiful dish and great idea to cheer up a friend! :)
    I was just thinking of making some Easter cupcakes for my friend that going through some hard times… she had to move out from house and now staying in some temporary accommodation from the council with her husband and daughter…

    Reply

  19. What great friends you are. I would love this meal delivered to my door!

    Reply

  20. What a marvelous gesture, y’all and your blog are just delightful.

    Reply

  21. It was really kind of you to bring these to your friend! They look delicious and I’m sure comforted him.

    Reply

  22. What a good friend you are! Nothing shows others how much you really care like a home cooked meal! This menu sounds wonderful!!

    Reply

  23. With friends like you, there would never be such things as bad days! You’re the ones who put the ‘comfort’ in comfort food. 8-)

    Now, I need to get my hands on that Chile Crunch . . .!

    Reply

  24. mmm I wish I lived closer to you so we could have each other over!!

    Reply

  25. This looks like my kind of pasta..full all the good stuff..Looks yummy.

    Reply

  26. wow what a wonderful meal love the molten choc cakes

    Reply

  27. My favorite meals are the ones that I cook for others. It is something that I can impart to someone else, that they maybe can’t give to themselves. This pasta dish looks fantastic as does that chocolate cake!

    Reply

  28. A wonderful meal to share with a friend!

    Reply

  29. Oh, wow. I wouldn’t mind either of those dishes showing up at my door :) Any chance you deliver to Boston?? Pleaseee :)

    Reply

  30. you guys are such great friends! they are lucky to have you. and those dishes are so comforting to eat, too!

    Reply

  31. I would be soo thrilled if a friend showed up on my doorstep with that. Delicious! And it’s such an awesome feeling to brighten someone’s day up a little bit.

    Reply

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