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  • Writer's pictureCarlos Sarmiento

Mustard-cognac chicken & pasta with goat cheese & hazelnuts. Ricotta-lemon-lavender olive oil cake.

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Uniting the best of French and Italian cuisines into one completely vibrant gastronomic experience.

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

I have been blessed to have lived in several countries throughout my youth and in those key formative years, I was able to experience plenty of travel, particularly throughout Europe, leaving beautifully searing memories.

These memories have constantly inspired me to go back, culinarily-speaking to two countries that have shaped my palate to what it is today...France and Italy.

Dare I say, my top two favorite cuisines!

(Photo: Sven Wilhelm)

Menu: Appetizer: Toasted crusty sliced baguette with Sicilian Castelvetrano olive salad with extra virgin olive oil.

Main entree: Seared chicken with mustard-cognac cream sauce & Sicilian Busiate pasta with goat cheese, spinach and hazelnuts.

Dessert: Ricotta, lemon-lavender olive oil cake.

Wine: 2018 Louis Jadot - Pouilly-Fuissé - Chardonnay (France)

This menu serves 4

Let’s get cooking!

Special ingredients provided by Asaro- Partanna Olive Oil

(Video: Cibeles Chirino)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

Produced by the Asaro Brothers Company in Partanna, Sicily, this oil is a first cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil, but it is also an early harvest (October), single-olive varietal (Nocellara del Belice), unfiltered oil.

When the tins are first opened, the oil is cloudy with a green hue, herbaceous aroma and pizzicante flavor. Pizzicante is an Italian phrase that describes the strong flavor that grips the back of your throat and is characteristic of most Tuscan olive oils.

Wikipedia identifies Busiate (or busiati) as a type of long macaroni type of pasta, originally from the Trapani province, and typical from Calabria and Sicily. They take their name from busa, the Sicilian word for the stem of a local grass, which is used in preparing them and giving them their helical shape.

Instagram: partannaoliveoil

(Photo: Riccardo Bernucci)




  • 4 boneless chicken breasts

  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter

  • Sea salt & cracked pepper to taste

  • 4 teaspoons of mustard seed

  • 4 tablespoons of Dijon mustard

  • 1/4 cup of cognac

  • 1/3 cup chicken broth

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream



  • 1 ½ cups of ricotta

  • 2/3 cup of olive oil

  • 1 ½ cups of sugar

  • zest of 2 lemons

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup of almond meal/flour

  • 1 tbl baking powder

  • 1/3 tsp soda

  • ¾ salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon or two droplets of lavender oil

Cake decoration:

  • 1/3 cup of powder sugar (enough to cover the top of the cake)

  • 1 small lemon cut in thin half or quarter round slices

  • 1 small bunch of fresh small mint leaves



  • Since the imported olive salad came in a small jar the only preparation needed is to lightly toast thinly sliced crust French baguette bread.


  • Place the chicken between 2 sheets of waxed paper. Using a meat pounder or the flat bottom of a heavy pan, lightly pound the chicken until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Season generously with salt and pepper.

  • In a large pan or cast iron skillet, over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add 4 chicken breasts and cook, turning once, until golden/seared on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a plate and let cool. If the pan is too small, cook in two batches and set chicken aside.

  • Return the pan to medium-high heat and stir the mustard seeds into the pan drippings. Cook, stirring, for about 15 seconds. Add the cognac and broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until slightly reduced, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the cream and mustard and cook for 1 minute to blend the flavors.

  • Return the chicken breasts and any accumulated juices to the pan, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.


  • Cook pasta for approximately 12-14 minutes. If Busiate pasta is not available other shapes pastas such as: orecchiette, farfalle or even penne will work fine.

  • On a large bowl, mix goat cheese, lemon zest, parsley, spinach, hazelnuts and olive oil until a smooth, paste-like consistency is formed.

  • Once pasta is cooked, drain but safe cooked pasta water. Gently toss the pasta with the goat cheese mix, stir and slowly add water to loosen the sauce and continue to mix (add more water if necessary until you find your preferred consistency). The pasta and sauce should not be runny.


  • Preheat oven to 350° F.

  • In a large mixing bowl whisk the ricotta, olive oil, sugar, and zest until completely combined.

  • Next, add in one egg at a time until they are completely mixed in.

  • In a separate large bowl whisk together the flour, almond meal baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined. Whisk well to ensure and clumps are removed.

  • Transfer the dry ingredients into your wet ingredients and whisk together just until everything is combined. Add lavender oil. Mix well.

  • Pour the batter into a 9" spring form pan and bake for 60-70 minutes or until browned on top and firm in the center.

  • Place the cake onto a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature (could take up to two hours) before decorating and serving.

Cake decoration:

  • Once cake has cooled off, dust generously with powder sugar.

  • On one side of the top of the cake, arrange lemon halves or quarters, layering them up and inserting fresh mint leaves in between.

Serve it up!

Appetizer: On a shallow bowl or dish, add a generous amount of olive salad and include a small spoon for serving. Place olive salad plate in the center of a large serving tray, cutting board or plate with the toasted bread all around it. Serve.

Main entree: On each individual dish, scoop a generous amount of pasta one side of the dish. Place one chicken breast next to the pasta and spoon extra mustard cream sauce on top of the chicken. Serve.

Dessert: Slice cake for individual servings. Cake decorations are only for garnishing.

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

Wine pairing...a special pairing by Louis Jadot USA Wines & Kobrand Wines & Spirits

(Video: Cibeles Chirino) About this wine....


Produced in the Mâconnais region of Burgundy, this famous wine is partially barrel fermented with 6 months of ageing in French oak casks. The judicious, subtle use of oak allows Louis Jadot’s Pouilly-Fuissé to retain its complexity and structure. Grapes: 100% Chardonnay

(Photo: Manuel Venturini)

Taste: This wine has aromas of fresh red apples, honey and white flowers with elegant and rich flavors of toasted nuts and citrus. One of the purest expressions of this typical Burgundian grape.

This wine is available online and at fine grocery and liquor stores ($15-34).

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

A tavola tutti! Buon apettito. Mangia!

A table tout le monde! Bon appetit. Manger!

To the table everyone! Enjoy! Eat!

Salute! A votre santé ! (Cheers)

(Photo: Tim Mossholder)

208 views4 comments


Lidia Nessi
Lidia Nessi
Oct 21, 2020

Excellent recomendations!!!


Flor Gomez
Flor Gomez
Oct 11, 2020



Oct 01, 2020

This sounds so wonderful. The cake seems divine. Going to have fun re-creating these exactly as you recommend. :-)

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