HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I used to cook. I did. My friends and family will attest to it--I cooked Beef Wellington and Potatoes Anna, and lemon soufflés and Julia Child's Vichyssoise and Boeuf Bourguignon. I offer my tattered and splatted cookbook pages as proof.
But these days…ever since my life was kidnapped by the mystery world--my cooking has sacrificed glamour for, well, speed and convenience. We eat a lot of grilled salmon from Whole Foods, photos of which I will spare you.
But there are some meals, we found, that are quick and delicious but feel--luxurious.
Two special favorites are Mark Bittman’s Chicken Parmesan (a la River Street, our address) and cauliflower faux-tatoes . (Because they taste like mashed potatoes.) Put these together with a green vegetable--and you’d think you'd created a gourmet masterpiece. And the whole thing takes about twenty minutes.
For the chicken. One or two boneless skinless half per person. (Jonathan and I each have one and a half.)
Preheat the oven to broil.
Preheat the other oven to 350. (If you don’t have two ovens, read through this, and you can work it out.)
But the breasts on a broiler pan--line the top with foil so it’s easier to wash, and easier to turn the chicken.
Liberally sprinkle the chicken with high-quality grated parmesan.
Put the chicken under the broiler for five minutes.
MEANWHILE: Put cauliflower florets (enough for however many people you’re serving) in a microwave dish with a touch of water, and zap for two and a half minutes of so, until just tender.
Mash the cauliflower with a masher thing, then add ground black pepper, and low fat sour cream, and cream cheese, and grated cheddar cheese. However much you want. You can’t go wrong, and mix til it’s chunky but voluptuous.
Ooops. Five minutes is up. Turn the chicken to the other side, coat the uncooked side with more parmesan, put under the broiler for five more minutes.
Meanwhile! in the glass bowl of cauliflower goop, cover the top with thin slices of cheddar cheese (optional—we didn’t do it in this version), and then a sprinkling of parmesan. (Avery, are you listening? This is a very “cheesy” dinner.)
Put this in the 350 oven. And cook til bubbly. It'll be at least 15 minutes.
Time to do the chicken again. Now, your chicken is broiled on two sides to for a total of ten minutes. (I like chicken well done, so you might prefer four minutes a side.) Put ANOTHER layer of parmesan on the chicken, then close the over door and turn the temperature to 350.
Cook for ten-15 more minutes. (It may get smoky, sorry, open a window.)
Your cauliflower is almost done! Turn that over to broil, and place the cauliflower dish under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is brown.
Your chicken is done! It will be glistening and crispy and smell fabulous, juicy on the inside, and crispy-cheesy on the outside.
Your cauliflower is done! It will be mashed-potatoe-y on the inside, and gorgeously cheesey on top.
Oh, we should have made peas. Peas are great with this. Green beans, also wonderful.
Serve, and love. A crisp white wine, and you are set! I’m a red kind of girl, and what author could resist this label?
Agatha, Anthony and Macavity award-winning Hank Phillippi Ryan is the on-the-air investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate.
Her newest thriller, THE OTHER WOMAN, comes out in hardcover September 4 from Forge. A starred review from Library Journal says “a dizzying labyrinth of twists, turns, and surprises. Readers who crave mystery and political intrigue will be mesmerized by this first installment of her new series.”
You can read more at her website, or friend her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.
And two more bits of breaking news--Hank's fabulous interview/book trailer can be seen here.
And she will be giving away a copy of THE OTHER WOMAN to one lucky commenter! thanks Hank!