MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

June 11, 2013

Indulge, but eschew gluttony

By Melony Carey
Food by the Book

— Harvard professor Robert Langdon is back in Dan Brown’s latest suspense novel, “Inferno.” Based on Dante Alighieri’s iconic medieval poem, “The Divine Comedy,” Brown’s thriller takes readers on a race through Florence and Venice to uncover the symbolism in Vasari’s paintings, Brunelleschi’s Duomo cathedral, and Dante’s “Inferno,” all clues to a convoluted and lethal plot.

Waking up in Rome with amnesia, Professor Langdon is soon on the run from unknown assassins. Aiding him is the beautiful emergency room doctor, Sienna Brooks, who helps him escape. At her apartment Langdon begins to decode the clues to an impending bio-terror attack master-minded by brilliant-but-mad geneticist, Bertrand Zobrist. Embattled with the World Health Organization over the ethics of population control, Zobrist hatched the diabolical Inferno scheme believing it would save mankind.

In a race against time, Langdon must unlock the whereabouts of the place where the world will be “changed forever.” 

This is the fourth in the Robert Langdon series. While I could hardly pick up the third novel, “The Lost Symbol,” I could hardly put down “Inferno.” Brown has crafted an engaging thriller around the big questions of world population and the future of the human race. “Inferno” is a wonderfully didactic romp through Italy’s greatest art, architecture and literature

One of the Circles of Hell mentioned in Dante’s “Inferno” is reserved for “gola” or gluttony. This image is deeply ingrained in the Florentine psyche. In their thinking, they have the right to enjoy food coupled with the moral obligation to eat responsibly. Americans are trying harder to adopt this healthy attitude toward eating. Cook up the following delicious recipes and please eat them responsibly.



Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons shallots, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon honey

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 medium beets, cooked and quartered

6 cups fresh arugula

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries

1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed

3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled


Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Whisk the vinegar, shallots, and honey in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper. Toss the beets in a small bowl with enough dressing to coat. Place the beets on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the beets are slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Set aside and cool.

Toss the arugula, walnuts, and cranberries in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the salad atop 4 plates. Arrange the beets around the salad. Top with the avocado and goat cheese, and serve.



Chicken

Carbonara   

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 1/2 cups whipping cream

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

8 large egg yolks

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Salt

1 pound spaghetti

4 cups coarsely shredded chicken (from 1 roasted chicken)

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel


Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and garlic and saute until it is brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, cheese, yolks, basil, and parsley to blend.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and cook until it is just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Add the chicken to the pan with the pancetta and stir to combine. Next, add the spaghetti and the cream mixture and toss over medium-low heat until the chicken is heated through and the sauce coats the spaghetti thickly, about 4 minutes (do not boil or you might end up scrambling the eggs). Season the pasta, to taste, with pepper and salt if needed.  Transfer the pasta to a large wide serving bowl. Sprinkle the walnuts and lemon zest over, and serve. (This makes a lot and is hard to reheat due to the creamy egg-based sauce. You could turn it into a frittata or a casserole, if you have lots of leftovers.)

Chocolate Pizza

1 pound purchased pizza dough

2 teaspoons butter, melted

1/4 cup Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons milk chocolate chips

2 tablespoons white chocolate chips

2 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts, toasted

Position the oven rack on the bottom of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the dough to a 9-inch-diameter round. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet. Using your fingers, make indentations all over the dough. Brush the dough with butter, then bake until the crust is crisp and pale golden brown, about 20 minutes. Immediately spread the chocolate-hazelnut spread over the pizza then sprinkle all the chocolate chips over. Bake just until the chocolate begins to melt, about 1 minute. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the pizza. Cut into wedges and serve.

Source for all recipes: Giada De Laurentis, www.foodnetwork.com.