Uova in Brodetto (Pasta with Eggs Poached in Red Sauce)

The other night I pulled this dish out of my memory bank for a quick and easy meal. It is inspired by a dish called Uova in Brodetto: Eggs in Tomato Sauce by Mario Batali. I got this recipe from watching one of his old cooking shows. This is a bit of a variation on that original recipe since I just prepare it from memory. Either way the credit here goes to Mario, not me. For the dish you need:

Pasta of your choice– I think a wider pasta like papardelle works best because it catches the sauce better than thinner pasta.

Tomato sauce– Use your homemade recipe or a good store-bought sauce. I’ve done both but most recently used Trader Joe’s organic marinara.

Four eggs

Good-quality parmesan

Boil pasta to your desired tooth. While the pasta is cooking, bring the sauce to a simmer in a high-sided pan. Crack the eggs into the sauce. Do this gently in order to maintain the shape of the eggs. You want to keep the eggs evenly separated from each other with at least a couple inches between them. Cover and check often. As the eggs begin to become cooked, you can spoon some sauce over them. Keep cooking with the lid on. You want the eggs to cook to the point where the whites are solid but you have a liquid yoke.

To serve, put pasta in a dish and spoon one to two eggs on the bed of pasta. Add as much sauce as desired. Serve with rustic or garlic bread.

As you eat, the yolk will break into the sauce, creating a creamy and flavorful treat.

This is vegetarian (if you eat eggs, of course) and easily made gluten free by using GF pasta.

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Korean Noodle House: Low-Budget Joy in Philadelphia’s Koreatown

Lean in, my children, and listen closely. I’m going to tell you the secret to being a working-class foodie.

See, a lot of people assume that being a ‘foodie’ means you’ve got to go to all the best restaurants. You should be able to rave about the zillion-course omakase tasting at Masa or your $400 dinner at Per Se. You should be able to voice your own opinion on every restaurant your local critic has given four stars. You should be able to taste the difference between two bottles of Beaujolais from different vineyards, etc. And indeed, a lot of foodies are that way, or at least that’s what the New York Times’ food section tells me.

Those foodies are rich.

We here at the Potato are not rich. We are very much not rich. (Ask our student loan agents.) But we like to eat well, and we want you to eat well too.

Here is the secret: Read the rest of this entry »

Patou: Bad Food in a Big, Empty Room.


[where: 312 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19106]

Call it foreshadowing. I had a bad feeling from the start.

The minute we walked into Patou and asked about getting some tapas, the hostess looked at us like we were from Mars.

“We don’t do tapas anymore.”

But, we pointed out, they’re described in detail on your website. “They are?”

She asked us if we’d like to stay for dinner, in a tone that suggested she really wouldn’t mind if we left. And yet we stayed.

We had a gift certificate, you see. Joe got some fabulous-looking deal at Restaurants.com— $4 for a $25 gift certificate (with the purchase of two dinner entrées). It was too good to be true! And it was.

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Cappellini and Chicken in Fresh Pesto

Sarah was feeling a bit Crohn’s-y last night so I put together this light dish. It is a very simple preparation. Fresh ingredients are key here, however.


1/2 pound cappellini

4 quarts of water

Two chicken breasts (in this case, organic from Trader Joe’s)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the Pesto:

1/4 cup of pine nuts

1 clove of garlic

1 bunch of basil

Extra virgin olive oil


First, prepare the pesto. In a food processor (or a mortar and pestle if you feel like a workout and getting all artisanal) process the pine nuts until they are a fine grain. Add the basil, garlic, some olive oil and some salt. Process until all the basil is very fine and pasty. At this point you can add more olive oil to get it to the consistency that you desire. I like it to be kind of thick but it is personal preference.

Bring four quarts of water to a boil. Using a lot of water is important for thin pasta like capellini, which has a tendency to stick together and gum up.

While the water is coming to a boil, heat olive oil on medium heat for a few minutes. Add the chicken breasts. You want a nice brown crust while not drying out the chicken. Doing it on medium heat helps achieve this. Remove from the heat and let rest.

Right before the chicken is done add the cappellini to the water. Keep a close eye on the pasta. It can go from al dente to mushy very quickly. After 3-4 minutes taste the pasta and cook until the desired texture. Drain. Add back to pot with heat off and throw in 3/4 of the pesto that you made. Toss and put desired amount of pasta in bowls or plates.

Cut the chicken breasts on the bias into two inch strips. Toss in the remaining pesto until the strips are well coated. Lay 3-4 strips across the pasta. I garnished this with some amazing fresh tomatoes from Weaver’s Way and a basil leaf.  This is a dairy-free dish, and you can make it gluten-free simply by using GF pasta.

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Pappardelle with Fresh Vegetables and Chicken

Just a quick light dish that I whipped up last night. Sarah and I had both eaten late lunches  and weren’t particularly hungry. The base of the dish was some really good sprouted wheat pappardelle pasta from Trader Joe’s. I used an 8 oz. bag.

While this was boiling, I sauteed ripe Roma tomatoes (from the Headhouse Market) cut into quarters, some diced onion, two cloves of garlic, one diced small zucchini and salt and pepper. I threw in some diced chicken breast that I had browned earlier. To this I added extra virgin olive oil and some good balsamic vinegar. You don’t want to cook this for very long. If you do the tomatoes will get soft. Just heat the veggies and the chicken through and toss in the pasta. I use an old-fashioned technique here: instead of draining the pasta first, I just pick it up with tongs and add it directly to the saute pan. This allows a little pasta water (in all of its starchy goodness) to become part of the sauce. To the pasta, I added some fresh chopped basil and some grated Parmesan.

A quick note on the basil. This is some of the best basil that I have ever had. We bought it from our new friend Jennie at Weaver’s Way.  Unlike mega-mart basil, this has little bits and holes where insects and worms have taken small bites– in fact, an inchworm fell out of this bunch when I was washing it. My mother always used to say she didn’t trust produce that didn’t have some evidence of insect life. I didn’t understand that as a kid, but I do now. A healthy ecosystem includes insects and worms. Mass production uses pesticides that eliminate this insect life so you have prettier produce. But you also sacrifice some of the nutrients that provide healthfulness and flavor to the produce. We’ve bought this basil twice now and it has wowed us both times.

As for the pasta, it made for a quick and tasty meal.

This dish could be made gluten-free by just using some GF pasta. There are some very good ones out there right now. A dairy-free option here would just be eliminating the cheese. If you use good, flavorful veggies, it wouldn’t be necessary. A vegetarian option would be to substitute the chicken with some wild mushrooms. Shiitakes or Criminis would work well.


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Asiago, Mascarpone Cheese and Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Seared Sea Scallops

This is a simple, light yet elegant meal I put together the other night. The ravioli is from Trader Joe’s. Despite the name they were not very cheese flavored, so I would suggest using some grated cheese of your choosing.

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Pan-Fried Noodles with Chicken (Gai See Chau Mien)

Stir Fry

This weekend I took my new Chinese cookbook, The Chinese Kitchen by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, for a test drive.  So far, so good.

When Joe and I were first dating back in Pittsburgh, he was a vegetarian.  (I’m a bad influence on vegetarians, what can I say?)  Back then stir-fries were a cheap, quick staple.  We hadn’t made one in ages, although we’ve lugged our Circulon wok from Pittsburgh to New York to Philly.  So we were excited to break it out for the real thing.

I did some grocery shopping before we started this dish– I got really produce-happy at the Reading Terminal Market, and then I went to Chung Kee Asian Supermarket in Chinatown to stock some staples of the Chinese pantry: cooking wine, white rice vinegar, oyster sauce, chili oil, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and of course, Pocky.  (Which is Japanese, but… Pocky!)  We picked up some pork buns, lugged everything home, and got started on a light, healthy meal.

This dish is popular in Shanghai and Hong Kong, according to Lo.  I find that a lot of my favorite dishes are Hong Kong-ese, which makes sense when you remember that Hong Kong, like New York, Beirut and Mumbai, is one of the world’s great cultural crossroads.  Throw lots of people from many different cultures and foodways together in one place, and amazing new innovations are pretty much guaranteed to happen in the kitchen.

This particular dish has two components: a bird’s nest of crunchy pan-fried noodles, and a topping of stir-fried julienned vegetables, chicken and brown sauce.  I picked up some fresh noodles at the Asian supermarket.  The main prep work for this dish involves the noodles: you have to boil them very quickly, then let them drain for about two hours until they’re totally dried out.  You also have to marinate the chicken for about half an hour, in a mixture of sugar, salt, pepper, cornstarch, sesame oil, rice vinegar, cooking wine, and soy sauce.  While that’s happening, you can julienne your water chestnuts, fresh snow pea pods, and bamboo shoots (although you can also buy those pre-julienned).  

All of the cooking happens in about five minutes, and it’s really fast, so your mise en place is important here.  Everything has to be ready to go.  Your garlic and ginger had better be minced, your veggies better be julienned, your sauce better be mixed and ready to go.  I did mine right in the measuring cup– 1 cup of chicken stock plus shots of oyster sauce, cooking wine, vinegar, sugar, salt, cornstarch, sesame oil, pepper, and my new favorite condiment, dark mushroom-flavored soy sauce.  I bought Pearl River Bridge brand for about $1.75, and it’s amazing– dark and thick, more like balsamic vinegar than any soy sauce we’re used to in the US.  It actually coats the back of a spoon.  And the flavor is dark and intense– oh, this is definitely going to be a staple. 

Now here’s the tricky part: the noodles and the wok need to be going at pretty much the same time.  We used teamwork: Joe did the noodles and I was on the wok.  The noodles are easy enough: heat oil in the cast iron pan (the recipe calls for peanut, but we used safflower, which has a similar smoke point) until it starts to smoke, then put the big nest of noodles in and fry for about two minutes on each side, moving the pan around so it browns evenly.   In the wok, heat oil until smoking.  Then add ginger, then garlic, then the chicken.  Give that a couple of minutes, then add the veggies.  When they soften, pour in your sauce and toss the whole thing around for a while until the sauce thickens up. 

Put the noodles on a serving plate, and pour the entire chicken-veggie mixture over it so that the sauce seeps down into the noodles.  Slice the whole thing like a pie and eat with chopsticks.  We served it with a cold Hedonism Red Ale from Legacy Brewing Co.

We were really happy with this dish.  It’s light and flavorful, and it’s got a few different textures going on: crunchy noodles on the outside, softer noodles inside, crunchy veggies, juicy chicken.  The fresh snow peas really make the dish.  This wasn’t very difficult, and it would be easy enough to make the noodles and chop the veggies a night ahead of time.  I’m pretty psyched about having rocked my first Chinese dish!

Next up: Siu mai (pork and shrimp basket dumplings)!

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