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Archive for November, 2012

Golden Tree

Leek Soup has been quiet as of late and I promise a delicious food post for your tomorrow. For now, I thought I’d share a gorgeously vibrant tree in our neighborhood. One of the few that still has leaves on it. See you tomorrow!

Cheers!

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This is a bit of a spontaneous post. I had something else all ready to go for you guys but then the good people at Local Plate connected me with this cauliflower, and I mean, look at it! If you haven’t been confronted with a Romanesco cauliflower it will impress you. It so firm and succulent-like that I strongly considered placing in a bowl of water on the kitchen table to gaze at it like a gardenia-ala Uncle Monty in Withnail and I. Those of you who have seen the film (One of my favorites of all time. Adam giggles whenever we watch it, by the way, because I know the whole damn thing line for line) know exactly what I speak of.

This recipe was going to be all about the cauliflower, and it was, until I didn’t screw up the ravioli. You see, I have a tormented and somewhat mercurial relationship with fresh pasta. We received a beautiful hand-crank pasta machine as a wedding present and I spent all summer screwing up pasta. So badly that I ignored the little beast for a few months. Eventually, I started watching YouTube videos on making pasta because I just couldn’t understand how I could mess up something so simple as fresh pasta. I mean really. Italian grandmothers were rolling in their graves and making the sign of the cross. FINALLY, and I can’t remember exactly who it was except he is the son of a famous Italian cook, the issue was revealed. The son-of-the-famous-Italian-cook said, “Pasta hates cold”. Not one book ever revealed that to me. Not a single fresh recipe said those words. You see, I keep my flour in the fridge because I don’t go through it fast enough to not worry about it going rancid. Pasta hates cold. So I chewed on that for about two months until this lovely little cauliflower was placed in my hands and I felt inspired to make ravioli. OK, Adam urged me to make ravioli from scratch. I was gonna buy it.

LONG story short, I didn’t eff up my pasta. I left the eggs and flours out on the counter over night and lo and behold it worked! I didn’t screw it up. No flour all over the kitchen, no tears, no tight fists of frustration, nada. I actually smiled while I rolled that pasta dough.

Pasta. Hates. Cold.

Cheers!

Roasted Romanesco Cauliflower & Homemade Whole Wheat Ravioli with Harissa Sauce

I do have a tiny confession to make: I mixed the pasta dough in my food processor.
Please don’t tell any Italian grandmothers, OK?

Harissa Sauce recipe adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

Pasta dough recipe from Food and Wine

Ingredients:

For the Ravioli:

3/4 cup whole wheat flour, room temperature

3/4 cup all-purpose flour, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3 egg yolks, room temperature

1/3 cup water

1 teaspoons olive oil

For the Ravioli Filling:

About 1/2 cup, more or less, ricotta

2 teaspoons olive oil

A generous shake of dried tarragon, or herb of your choice

Salt and pepper

For the Cauliflower:

One head cauliflower broken into small florets

Generous drizzle of olive oil

Large pinch of salt

Several grinds of fresh black pepper

For the Harissa Sauce:

One head Romanesco cauliflower, or regular cauliflower or broccoli

1 clove garlic, smashed in a mortar and pestle

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Juice from half a lemon

2 tablespoons Harissa, store bought or homemade

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup pepitas

Sheep’s milk feta, crumbled, to taste

8 black oil cured olives

~

Cauliflower:

Heat your oven to 425 and toss the cauliflower with the olive oil, salt and pepper on a baking sheet.

Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Ravioli:

Pulse the flours and salt in your food processor.

Whisk the egg yolks, oil and water in a separate bowl.

With the processor running, pour the egg mixture into the flours and process until it forms into a ball.

You may need to add a hair more water to get it to a form into a ball. Add just a little at a time.

Place the dough on a work surface and knead until it’s smooth. Just a few seconds.

Cover in plastic and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

Cut the dough into 3-4 pieces. Cover the chunks you’re not working with with plastic so they don’t dry out.

Set your pasta machine to the widest setting.

Flatten your first chunk of dough just a bit and begin rolling it through your pasta machine until you reach the thinnest setting.

You may have to cut the sheet in half to make it easier to work with.

Continue the process with the rest of your dough.

Place the sheets of pasta on a cutting board and cover with a kitchen cloth until you’re ready to make the ravioli.

If you have a ravioli cutter then definitely use it, I used a star shaped cookie cutter and it worked fine.

Mix the ricotta ingredients in a small bowl.

Cut out your shapes and add a small dollop, about a teaspoon of the ricotta mixture.

Fold or layer your ricotta and press the edges firmly together. Some of the ricotta may creep out, but it’s not a big deal.

As you’re working, place the ravioli under a kitchen towel so they don’t dry out.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and place the ravioli gently in the water.

Let cook for 1-2 minutes until the ravioli are floating.

Drain and place the ravioli in a a large mixing bowl and stir in the cauliflower.

Harissa Sauce:

Place the garlic in a mortar and pestle.

Add the salt and smash into a paste.

Add the lemon juice, harissa and olive oil and smash until combined.

Stir in about half the harissa sauce and pepitas into the ravioli cauliflower mix.

~

Spoon the ravioli mix onto a serving platter and drizzle with the rest of the harissa and pepitas.

Top with the crumbled feta and olives.

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Hi folks! Recipe following soon, but just a quick informal birthday cupcake post for ya! Nope, these are not Red Velvet proper as I don’t do artificial food coloring (yes, I know I’m a food snob and no I’ve never had red velvet cake as a result), instead these are vibrantly colored by roasted beets! That’s right, BEETS!

Anyways, happy Sunday to you all and more soon!

Cheers!

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OK. Maybe I should use the word “rustic”? I don’t know why, but pie crusts are my handicap. Perhaps I’m impatient or perhaps I simple need to do more push-ups. I don’t know, but I really need to trouble shoot why my pie crusts always are an uphill battle. The dough resist coming together, it sticks to my rolling pin, it cracks and breaks, it’s as if it hates me. The funny thing is that I actually love making pies. Rolling out dough, despite (or because of?) the struggle, is a fairly meditative process for me and I find myself in a place of zen where it’s just me and the dough. All of my energy is focused in one place and I am very present and very much in the moment.

This apple galette is the bees knees. Ignoring the above issues, it is so incredibly simple to make. I found this recipe on the Food and Wine website where they borrowed it from the great Jacques Pépin. I did tweak it a tiny bit  and mixed whole wheat flour with the all-purpose. Perhaps that was my downfall. Who knows? Regardless, if you have an abundance of apples this season, you will love this galette.

As long as your dough doesn’t put up a fight.

Cheers!

Apple Galette

Adapted from Food and Wine/ Jacques Pépin

Ingredients:

For the dough:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick plus two tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small chunks
1/3 cup ice water

For the filling:

3-4 apples such as Golden Delicious
2 tablespoons rapadura, or cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon raw honey, warmed slightly
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small chunks

~

In a food processor, add all of the dough ingredients except the ice water and process for about 5 seconds.

Sprinkle with ice water and process for about 10 seconds, until the pastry starts to come together.

Scrape the pastry onto a work suface and press it together into a disk.

Place dough on a plate, wrap with plastic and refrigerate until chilled.

Core your apples and slice into 1/4 inch slices.

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Remove dough from fridge and place on a lightly dusted work surface.

Roll out the dough until it’s about 12 inches in diameter and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.

Spread a layer of apples on the dough leaving an inch or so around the sides.

Drizzle with slightly warmed honey.

Place the rest of the apples on the dough and dust with sugar and cinnamon. Dot with butter.

Fold edges up over the apples creating a border.

Bake in the oven for one hour rotating half way through.

Place pan on a cooling rack and serve galette warm or at room temperature.

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All images © Dina Avila

It’s sort of cold out there (60?!?) and in my ever continuing quest to fill my and Adam’s bellies with yummy soup and stews this fall I came across this little gem in the November issue of Martha Stewart Living. A riff on your everyday chili, loaded with Indian spices and hot peppers, this chili will stick your gut and perhaps cause you to sweat a bit. Pick up some pita chips or crackers to go with this stew. I also think home made cornbread would be a perfect side. I offer you the suggestion of a dollop of yogurt as Martha does but it is optional. We ate this chili with said yogurt last night and it didn’t totally jive with me. Maybe it’s because I’m not a fan of cream based soups. Sans yogurt this chili rocks my world and it’s even better the next day when the flavors have time to meld. Warning: it will be spicier the next day so keep a hanky nearby to wipe your brow.

Cheers!

Spicy Indian Chili

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

I added stew meat to the chili to make an extra filling meal.
Feel free to omit the meat and keep it vegetarian. It’ll still stick to your gut :)

Use whatever beans you have on hand. Martha suggested kidney or pinto. I used
fava, black and white northern. 

Ingredients:

1 pound stew meat, optional
1/4 cup flour
Pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons clarified butter or olive oil
1 28 oz can plum tomatoes, juices saved and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cup shallots, minced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, grated on a fine microplane
2 Serrano peppers, chopped
1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin
1 heaping teaspoon ground coriander
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric
4-5 cups cooked beans plus 2-3 cups of the cooking water
Coarse sea salt
Sprigs of cilantro
Yogurt, optional
Ground sumac, optional

Toss the stew meat with the flour and salt.

Warm clarified butter or olive oil in a saucepan.

Add stew meat and cook, turning until browned on all sides.

Add the tomatoes and their juice. Cover and let simmer for about an hour until meat is tender.

In the meantime, warm olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat and add the shallots and garlic.

Cook stirring often until softened and golden. About 10 minutes.

Add the ginger, chilies and spices. Stir occasionally until it becomes fragrant. 1-2 minutes.

Add the beans and their liquid.

Mash a bit of the beans with a potato masher or large fork.

Add the meat and tomato mixture and stir to combine.

Add coarse sea salt to taste.

Top with cilantro, yogurt and a light dusting of sumac and coarse sea salt, if needed.

Serve with crackers, pita chips or cornbread.

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