graham cracker bundt cake with key lime cheesecake swirl #bundtbakers

I’m sorry, but I really hate the phrase, “made it by the skin of my teeth”

graham cracker bundt cake with key lime cheesecake swirl | Brooklyn Homemaker

A) Seriously, how gross is that?
B) What the heck does that even mean? Teeth don’t have skin.
Unless we’re talking about gums here, in which case, that’s even weirder/grosser/more nonsensical.

Anyway, even though I don’t like or understand that saying, in this case it’s true. I made it. Just in the nick of time.

graham cracker bundt cake with key lime cheesecake swirl | Brooklyn Homemaker

If you’ve been paying attention, you already know that my oven has been broken (along with my heart). My landlord, in tandem with Brooklyn’s slowest appliance repair company, have been taking their sweeeeeeet time fixing it.

As difficult as going oven-less has been for me, my biggest concern through this whole agonizing experience has been that I might not be able to bake along with the bundt bakers this month. It may have been painful to have cookies taken off the menu and chicken taken out of the oven and put on the back burner (literally), but DO NOT mess with my bundts. I’ve baked a bundt cake each and every month since I found this rag-tag (though truly well organized) team of bakers, and having to bow out because of an ancient apartment oven and a foot-dragging repairman was seriously bumming me out.

graham cracker bundt cake with key lime cheesecake swirl | Brooklyn Homemaker

Luckily the repair man pulled through at the eleventh hour. On Monday he came through with the backordered fuse in hand and within an hour my baby was back in working order. I was at work at the time, but Russell was filling me in from home and once the oven was purring again we were sending jubilant texts back and forth for the rest of the day. I was like a giddy school girl. 16 days with no oven can do that to a guy.

DSC_0187

With no time to spare, I assembled the ingredients for my cake and set to work. The lovely Anshie of Spice Roots is our group’s host this month, and she chose “Hidden Surprise” as our theme (which is appropriate, because my ability to even make this cake was a total surprise!).
The idea was to bake a cake with a filling or ingredient inside that isn’t visible until it’s sliced. From the outside it looks like any ordinary cake, but once sliced a whole universe of delicious is revealed.

graham cracker bundt cake with key lime cheesecake swirl | Brooklyn Homemaker

At first I was having a really difficult time deciding what to do with this theme. My mind immediately went toward berries and chocolate, but in my experience berries always want to sink through the batter and settle into what, once un-molded, is the top of the cake. That wouldn’t really be much of a surprise would it? I pawed at a few other ideas in my head but nothing really seemed to take.

That all changed about two weeks ago when I caught a nasty bug and couldn’t get off the couch for a few days.

When I was growing up, my grandmother always prescribed the same “medicine” whenever I was sick. The patient always needed canned chicken noodle soup, plain vanilla ice cream, warm ginger ale, and graham crackers. Now that I’m older the chicken soup seems to make sense, but the vanilla ice cream just seems like a bad idea. I don’t really get the warm part of the ginger ale, but I guess the lack of ice was supposed to be easier on the stomach, and I suppose graham crackers are easy on an upset tummy too.
To this day, whenever I get sick, I always crave these things. Once I was well enough to actually eat, I went through an entire box of graham crackers in like two days. All that was left was a small trail of graham cracker crumbs.

graham cracker bundt cake with key lime cheesecake swirl | Brooklyn Homemaker

That’s when it hit me, what if I made a cake using crushed graham cracker crumbs in place of some of the flour?
And what better flavor to pair with graham cracker crumbs than key lime pie?
Better yet, key lime CHEESECAKE!!!

Surprise!

graham cracker bundt cake with key lime cheesecake swirl | Brooklyn Homemaker

I can’t accurately describe how amazing this cake is. Words like moist, tender, flavorful, warm, & homey come to mind to describe the graham cracker cake, but really don’t do it justice. This cake is out of this world. Why hasn’t this been done before? If it has, why haven’t I been informed? Graham cracker cake, filling or not, is something I’d like to be buried with. Hillary should choose graham cracker cake as her running mate. Seriously. Clinton/ Graham Cracker Cake/ 2016.

I could have paired this cake with any number of fillings and knocked it out of the park. Chocolate and marshmallow “S’mores” cake would have been amazing, but KEY LIME CHEESECAKE was a real stroke of genius. Seriously, out of this world. I want to use words like tangy, rich, creamy, silky, & decadent; but like I said, words cannot describe the otherworldly levels of deliciousness happening inside this cake.

Go make this. Now.
(you can thank me later)

graham cracker bundt cake with key lime cheesecake swirl | Brooklyn Homemaker

Graham Cracker Bundt Cake with Key Lime Cheesecake Swirl

  • Servings: 12 to 16-ish
  • Print
Filling:
1/4 cup sugar
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
pinch of salt
1 large egg
4 tablespoons key lime juice
finely grated zest of 1 lime

Cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for pan)
1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs (plus more for topping)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks, plus more for pan)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup buttermilk

Glaze:
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons key lime juice
pinch of salt
1 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 and move the rack to the center position.  Generously butter and flour a 10 to 12 cup bundt pan. Tap out extra flour and refrigerate.

To make the filling; cream sugar, softened cream cheese, and salt together in a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer) on high speed. Beat until fluffy and completely free of lumps, about 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add egg, and mix to combine. Add lime juice and zest and mix to combine. Scrape filling out into a small bowl and set aside. Wash bowl or at least scrape it out well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking soda, baking powder, & salt. Set aside. In the same bowl as before, cream the butter with sugars on high speed until pale, light, & fluffy; about 4 to 5 minutes. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating on low to combine after each addition. On low speed, alternate three additions of flour and two additions buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, scraping the bowl between additions. Do not over-mix. Scrape batter out into prepared pan and use your spatula to push the thick batter up the walls of the pan to create a well in the center.
Pour the filling into the center of the well, and use a small icing spatula or butter knife to swirl the filling into the cake batter. Try to avoid scraping the bottom or sides of the pan.
Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before turning out of the pan onto the rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, beat the softened cream cheese until smooth and lump free. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add lime juice and salt. Beat again until smooth and lump free. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. (I used all 3 tablespoons)

Pour or drizzle glaze evenly over the top of the cake and sprinkle a few tablespoons of graham cracker crumbs over the top.
Cake should keep, tightly covered at room temperature, for about 3 days. If you refrigerate it bring it back up to room temperature before serving.

graham cracker bundt cake with key lime cheesecake swirl | Brooklyn Homemaker

Are your taste buds ready for a few more delicious surprises? There are a whole lot of tasty secrets hidden within these recipes y’all. Check it out.

.

BundtBakers

.
Interested in learning more about us? #BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the BundtBaker home page here.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com. If you are just a lover of Bundt baking, you can find all of our recipe links by clicking our badge above or on our group Pinterest board.

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille

Last Saturday when I got home from work I started making dinner.

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

I cut up some broccoli, crisped up some bacon, made a béchamel, boiled some noodles, and grated a heaping pile of aged Irish cheddar. After mixing all the ingredients for my homemade macaroni & cheese together I turned the oven on to preheat while I melted a little butter for my bread crumb topping.

With the weighty casserole ready to go into the oven to bubble and crisp, I reached down to open the oven door. That’s when I noticed it wasn’t hot.
Panic.

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

Though you wouldn’t know if from the number of baked goods I turn out of my kitchen, I have been having trouble with my oven for over a year. I won’t get into all the specifics, but it basically starts to preheat but will turn off before coming to temperature. After months of dealing with it I finally figured out that if I switched on the range it would trick the oven to turning back on and I’d be in business.
That is, until the night that I had a big dish of macaroni and cheese waiting to bake. No amount of trickery or tinkering could induce my ancient apartment oven to turn on.

A broken oven. My worst nightmare.
I wanted to cry.

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

I wrapped the macaroni and cheese up and put it into the refrigerator, crossing my fingers that it would miraculously work again the next day. Nope.

Of course my landlord is dragging feet his feet about getting it fixed too. Doesn’t he know who I am?

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

A few days later we finally got a repair man in to take a look. After less than five minutes of tinkering he blithely says, “Oh it’s just a blown fuse.”
I had just enough time to breath a sigh of relief before he continued, “Of course I don’t have one with me, and it’s out of stock. We’ll have to order it. We’ll call you in a few days.”
Way to toy with my fragile emotions Mr. Evil Repair Man. After he left I microwaved a bowl of never-baked macaroni and cheese and cried into it.

Another day passed before I heard back from them, and just my luck, this tiny stupid fuse is backordered from the manufacturer and they don’t know when it’ll be back in stock. What are the chances?
When it’s my oven we’re talking about? 100%.

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

I could use this as an opportunity to make no-bake recipes and experiment with any number of savory stove top recipes. But, of course in the absence of my oven, all I want to do is bake. I even want to bake things I would normally do on the stove top! I’m suddenly overwhelmed by cravings for baked eggs, roasted chicken, twice baked potatoes, roasted cauliflower. My urge to bake cookies, usually strong enough already, is suddenly all consuming. I’m overcome with worry that I won’t be able to participate in this month’s #bundtbakers, which is fast approaching.

Wallowing rather than overcoming, I can’t think of a single thing that I could share here that wouldn’t require a functional oven. Forget the fact that at least half or more of the recipes I’ve posted up until now haven’t.

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

Then, one morning I wake up and suddenly I NEED to make jambalaya. I consult my favorite recipe to make a few tweaks. I consult other recipes to see what else could be improved on. Oddly enough, I discover a few recipes that call for the jambalaya to be assembled on the stovetop and finished in the oven! WHAT?!?! WHY!?!!?! Okay, forget that. Back to the original stovetop recipe I was looking at.

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

My recipe hunt turned up so many different variations on jambalaya that I decided to turn to Wikipedia for some clarification. As it turns out, there are actually three distinct varieties of jambalaya, depending on the regions they come from and the ingredients used.

The style I made is called a red Creole jambalaya, or a city Creole jambalaya. This is the most common style, and the main difference between this and other varieties is the use of tomatoes. The less common rural Creole jambalaya is almost identical but uses no tomatoes in the recipe. The third, and even less common variety is the Cajun or “white” jambalaya, in which the rice is cooked in broth separately from the meat and vegetables and combined just before serving.

Most people believe Creole red jambalaya was created as a way to make Spanish Paella without using saffron which was very hard to come by at the time. Tomatoes were added in place of the saffron for flavor, but eventually the other two styles came about without the tomatoes.

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

The house smells completely heavenly while this bubbles away on the stovetop (and not in the oven), and the flavor could not be more amazing. Tender rice, perfectly cooked shrimp, soft cooked vegetables, and andouille with a nice bit of bite. The fresh herbs, crushed tomatoes, and spices combine to make one of the most flavorful dishes I’ve had in a good long time. Using smoked paprika really makes a difference to impart a nice smoky depth to the dish and the cayenne adds a welcome bit of heat.

Depending on how spicy you like things, the heat level can definitely be adjusted to your taste. I like mine quite spicy so I used the full teaspoon of cayenne. One teaspoon might not sound like much, but a little goes a long way and gave this big pot of jambalaya some serious heat. Feel free to scale it back to 1/2 or even 1/4 teaspoon if you can’t take the heat, but I beg you not to skip it altogether or you’re not doing it right!

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken, Shrimp, & Andouille

  • Servings: about 8 to 10
  • Print
adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon for the Fix

1 tablespoon olive oil (or bacon grease, if you have it, will add a bit of welcome smokiness)
12 to 16 oz. Andouille sausage, thinly sliced
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into small bite sized cubes
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 to 3 ribs of celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups of corn kernels (fresh is best but frozen is fine)
2 cups long grain rice
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon thyme, minced
2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (to your taste)
2 teaspoons cumin
1 (15 oz) can, crushed tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock
1 lb. shrimp, cleaned peeled and deveined

garnish:
fresh thyme, parsley, or green onion

Preheat 1 tablespoon of oil or grease in a heavy stockpot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown andouille for about 5 minutes, remove from oven, leaving grease, and set aside.
Add chicken thighs, season with salt and pepper, and cook about 5 minutes. They don’t need to be cooked through, just have a bit of color on them. Remove and set aside with sausage
Add onions, bell peppers, and celery and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes or until onions barely begin to look translucent.  Season with salt and pepper. Stir in garlic and corn and continue to sauté for 2 minutes more.
Add rice, herbs and spices and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.
Stir in crushed tomatoes, stock, chicken thighs, and sausage. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cover. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked about 2/3 of the way, then add shrimp by gently pressing shrimp slightly into the mixture. DO NOT STIR while rice is cooking.
Cover again and continue to simmer for 7 to 10 minutes or until rice is cooked through and the liquid has evaporated.
Gently toss jambalaya together to incorporate shrimp and fluff the rice. Top with chopped parsley or sliced green onion, and serve.

bourbon glazed toasted oatmeal cookies

Russell is very close with his grandmother. Their relationship couldn’t be more adorable.

bourbon glazed toasted oatmeal cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

He’s much better at keeping in touch with his family than I am. I usually only call my grandparents on holidays and special occasions, but he calls his grandma almost every week. Even my mother and older sister don’t hear from me nearly as often as that.

I wish I were better at being on top of that kind of thing, but try as I might, I’m just not that kind of person.

bourbon glazed toasted oatmeal cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

In my teens and early twenties I think I spent half my life chatting on the telephone, but the older I get the less I feel like gabbing. Even when it comes to family, I’m pretty hard to get on the phone. These days last thing I want to do when I get home from work is chit chat.

bourbon glazed toasted oatmeal cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

Recently Russell was missing his grandmother and asked his cousin, who lives close to her and visits often, to pick up a bouquet of flowers to show that she was in his thoughts. It didn’t need to be anything fancy, just a simple bunch from Trader Joe’s. The gesture and the thought were all it took to brightens someone’s day.

His cousin, instead of accepting money for the flowers, requested a shipment of “Tux cookies” as a Thank You for a good deed well done.

bourbon glazed toasted oatmeal cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

I make cookies frequently enough (as evidenced herehere, and here) but for some reason it took me some weeks to fill her sweet request. I just really wanted them to be special.

Cookies that are shipping across the country have to be robust enough to arrive in tact. Beyond being sturdy, these would also need to be delicious enough to serve as a payment for such a kind gesture.
Gratitude cookies.

bourbon glazed toasted oatmeal cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

After thinking about it for a couple of weeks, I remembered a recipe I tried (and loved) a few years ago. The recipe first came from a multigrain cookbook, but I found it on Smitten Kitchen. Originally made with oatmeal and several types of whole grain flour, her version called for a mix of AP and whole wheat flours.

Because I don’t know how to leave well enough alone, I decided to make a few changes of my own as well.
Beyond using a touch more wheat flour and adjusting the icing a bit, the biggest change I made was to the cookie’s texture. Grinding the oatmeal into a coarse flour gives these distinctive cookies a fine lacey texture, and in the original recipe the cookies were encouraged to spread thin and crisp on buttered pans to emphasize this lacey-ness. I found though that my second batch, after sitting out while the first batch baked, was thicker and chewier while still retaining some of their delicate lace. I preferred the chewier version so I adjusted the recipe to intentionally let the dough rest a bit before baking.

bourbon glazed toasted oatmeal cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

Another slight change I made was to toast the oats before grinding them. Toasting the oatmeal adds a bit of nuttiness that makes these cookies seem even more warm and rich and homey. A healthy dose of cinnamon and nutmeg doesn’t hurt either.

My version produces large thick buttery cookies that are somehow chewy and lacey at the same time. The icing adds a playful sweetness to a cookie with an otherwise reserved sugariness. In the name of adding another layer of warmth, a touch of bourbon in the icing adds a caramely richness, without making the cookies taste at all “boozey”. If you’re not comfortable using the bourbon, or don’t have it, you could easily leave it out and replace it with an equal amount of milk.

In the end these cookies reached California in one piece, just to be devoured to crumbs once the lid came off the tin.

Perfect.

bourbon glazed toasted oatmeal cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

Bourbon Glazed Toasted Oatmeal Cookies

  • Servings: about 20 to 30, depending on size
  • Print
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Cookies:
2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs

Icing:
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons good bourbon whiskey
2 to 3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

Spread oats in an even layer on a baking sheet and toast until lightly golden, about ten or twelve minutes. Let cool slightly. In a food processor, grind 3/4 cup of the oats to a fine powder, then add remaining oats and pulse them all together until it resembles coarse meal, with only a few large flakes remaining.

Whisk all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. You may need to break up the brown sugar with your fingers if it doesn’t incorporate easily. In a small bowl, whisk melted butter and eggs until combined. Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Let dough rest for about 15 minutes before scooping.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop 2 to 3 tablespoon sized scoops of dough onto sheets about 3 inches apart.  (I used a 3 tablespoon #24 cookie scoop giving me 20 cookies, but smaller scoops will yield more) Bake cookies for 16 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. When tops are evenly brown, take them out and transfer them to a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining cookie dough. Let cookies cool completely before icing.

In a bowl, whisk glaze ingredients together until smooth. It should have a honey-like consistency. Drizzle the icing over the cookies and let set for at least an hour or more before eating. Do not stack or store cookies until icing is completely set, which could take several hours. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe

So according to the name up at the top of the page, I do most of my cooking, baking, home improvement projects, and general homemaking in a little known town called Brooklyn.

You’ve heard of it maybe?

orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m not sure how familiar most of you are with the different neighborhoods in Brooklyn, but the area where I live is called Bushwick. Bushwick is pretty much as far north as you can get before accidentally crossing over into Queens, and by subway it’s only a few stops away from it’s bigger, wealthier, more popular sister neighborhood Williamsburg.

orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I first moved to Brooklyn in 2007, Williamsburg was still a growing artist community and Bushwick was an industrial no mans land that hadn’t yet been invaded by more than a handful of hipsters. In those days Williamsburg was still (almost) affordable, and was still home to art galleries, dive bars and record stores, but a good friend of mine had a place in Bushwick and let me crash until I got on my feet, so I landed in Bushwick and never left.

orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe | Brooklyn Homemaker

In the years since, Williamsburg has become a playland for the rich and famous and one of New York’s biggest tourist destinations. Thanks to rising rents forcing young people further out, Bushwick was recently named one of the hippest neighborhoods in the world by Vogue Magazine. In 2007 Bushwick was a very different place. It was one of the most affordable neighborhoods in Brooklyn, which I why I stuck around, but it was also dirty and dangerous and filled with just as many junkies as it was rats.
We’ve gone from dead rats and pepper spray to baby strollers and art galleries. Abandoned buildings and needle exchanges to luxury condos and organic food co-ops.

If I hadn’t found a rent stabilized apartment a few years back I probably couldn’t even afford to live here anymore.

orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe | Brooklyn Homemaker

Bushwick has always been a neighborhood in transition, since the very beginning. Originally a farming community, in the 1800s Bushwick grew into a beer brewing hub filled with German immigrants, their breweries, and their huge mansions lining Bushwick Avenue. Prohibition eventually shuddered most of the breweries though, and by the 1950s Bushwick had become one of New York’s largest Italian neighborhoods.
Big changes came again as post war white families flocked to the suburbs and were replaced largely by Puerto Ricans immigrants and African Americans. According to US Census records, in just one decade Bushwick’s caucasian population dropped from over 90% in 1960 to less than 40% in 1970.

Thanks to the energy crisis of the 1970s and the closures of most of Bushwick’s industry, the neighborhood was quickly overrun with crime, drugs, abandoned buildings, and urban decay. Bushwick was one of the neighborhoods hardest hit by riots and looting during the New York blackout of 1977, forcing even more businesses out of the area. Things didn’t improve any during the 1980s and 90s, but by the late 2000s things finally started to turn around as Williamsburg artists flocked in to take advantage of the neighborhood’s low rents and large loft spaces. I’ve been here for about 8 years and I’ve seen things change so quickly and completely it makes my head spin. I can’t even begin to imagine what this neighborhood will look like in another 10 years.

orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe | Brooklyn Homemaker

One of the easiest places to visualize all this transition first hand is Graham Avenue. Cultures literally clash as streets signs on Graham Ave declare “Avenue of Puerto Rico” south of Metropolitan Ave, but suddenly change to “Via Vespucci” north on up to the BQE. Avenue of Puerto Rico is populated with cheap clothing stores, Iglesias, and Puerto Rican beauty supply shops; but cross Metropolitan Ave and it feels like a whole different neighborhood dotted with Italian restaurants, pizzerias, and wine shops.

orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe | Brooklyn Homemaker

Russell recently heard about an old Italian butcher shop on the Via Vespucci side of Graham Ave called, appropriately enough, The Pork Store. He paid them a visit on his day off and brought home some of the best Italian sausage I’ve ever tasted, along with a gorgeous bag of imported Orecchiette. I knew I wanted to make something amazing to put his Bushwick bounty to good use, but knew I had to keep it simple enough to let these superior ingredients shine.

orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe | Brooklyn Homemaker

All I needed was a big bunch of broccoli rabe, sometimes called rapini, and a bit of nice dry white wine. Broccoli rabe has a grassy bitterness that stands up really well to the unctuous richness of sausage and cream. White wine adds just a touch of sweetness to counteract the bitterness of the rapini, and al dente Orecchiette is nice and thick and adds great texture and happens to be the perfect bite size. A bit of cream gives the reduced white wine a bit of saucy body, and a handful of salty grated parmesan cheese brings everything together.

If you don’t have access to a local Italian butcher shop, just get the freshest and best Italian sausage you can find. If you can’t find orecchiette, any bite sized thick cut pasta, something like penne or bow ties, will do just fine.

This dish is simple, delicious, and perfectly satisfying. The best part though, is how quickly and easily it comes together if you start cooking at the same time you bring the pasta water to a boil. Everything else should be done just in time to drain the pasta and all you have to do is toss it all together and dig in!

orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe | Brooklyn Homemaker

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb mild italian sausage, casings removed
1 lb broccoli rabe
1 lb orecchiette pasta
1 cup white wine
1 /2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste, if needed

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on one burner while you prepare the rest of the meal on another.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté onion until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add sausage and break up with a spatula or spoon as it cooks. Once the sausage is fully cooked, add half of the white wine and reduce until almost completely dry. Once reduced add the remaining wine and reduce until almost dry again.

Remove thick woody stems from broccoli rabe and discard. Roughly chop or tear the leaves and heads into large bite sized pieces.

Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Meanwhile, add heavy cream and broccoli rabe to the sausage and onion mixture and cook until dark green and wilted through, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add about a half cup ladle of pasta water and reduce for about 5 minutes more. Taste and see if seasoning needs to be adjusted. (I didn’t need to add any salt because my sausage was salty enough for the whole dish.) Drain cooked orecchiette and combine with sausage and broccoli rabe mixture. Add grated parmesan and toss toss toss until well combined.

Serve with an additional shaving of parmesan if desired.