Archive for October, 2008

More Fall Food!

October 22, 2008
My mom made this apron. Want one?
It has been pointed out to me recently that people are desperately waiting for me to update my blog so that they’ll have something fun to read at work. I’m going to take that as a compliment and take it as a sign that I’ve been doing some major slacking. Sorry!

Part of the reason for the slacking is that I’ve gotten very busy in my personal life lately. There’s a new boyfriend on the scene (!) who’s name is Keith. He’s exactly the person I’ve been looking for, probably for my whole life. We have so much fun doing random things together and are into a lot of the same activities (minus getting angry at the Red Sox on a regular basis…that’s all him). It’s been great.

A few weeks ago, my friend Aaron, who is my only male foodie friend, came to visit for the weekend. He had heard tales of my pasta attachment for the mixer and, through his jealous haze, decided we should make pasta together. We debated for a few weeks about what type of pasta we should make and finally decided on a butternut squash filled ravioli. Adventure time: I’d never made filled pasta before! We just decided to go with it and decide what flavors to use once he arrived. I do love cooking sort of spur of the moment this way, you really can come up with some amazing things flying by the seat of your pants.

Aaron flying by the seat of his pants.

So, the reason that the boyfriend is relevant is because said boyfriend has a gluten intolerance. He doesn’t technically have Celiac’s, but that’s really a semantics thing. The guy cannot eat wheat, barley, oats, rye or malt without basically dying, so I’ve become very careful about what I have around my apartment. Clouds of flour flying through the air were going to be tricky to contain, but after much deliberation, he decided to come and hang out with Aaron and I but to stay out of the kitchen. A wise move, my friend.

Aaron and I cooked and cooked and hung out and it was just awesome. Having someone in your life who gets you, gets food, and gets why you have to spend half your paycheck ON food is really important. Without friends like this, you end up being that weird kid who goes to Whole Foods 4 times a week just to look. People start to talk about you. It’s not a good thing. People like Aaron understand this obsession and actively participate in drooling over lemon zesters and roasting pans. Thank goodness for foodie friends!

So I’m going to try to reproduce our ravioli recipe for you here. It turned out to be a really delicious combo of flavors. Ours was vegetarian, but I happen to think that you couldn’t go wrong with a little pancetta if you wanted to carnivore it up a little.

Basic Pasta Dough Recipe*

1 egg
1 c. flour
1 tbsp. water

*These amounts are usually good for one person, so if you are cooking for 3, just triple each. 3 eggs, 3 c. flour, 3 tbsp. water, etc.

Lightly beat the eggs. Add the flour 1/2 c. at a time (using a stand mixer) and mix gently until fully incorporated. Add the water after each flour addition or whenever it starts to look too crumbly and dry.

I should say here that pasta making is really more of an art than a science. It may just take a few tries before you figure out what it’s supposed to look like/feel like. It’s kind of difficult to explain, but you will basically be able to tell when it’s too dry or too sticky because it won’t feed through your pasta rollers correctly.

Make a batch of dough for however many you’ll be feeding. Knead by hand for a few minutes until the dough forms a smooth ball. Using a sharp unserrated knife, divide into pieces small enough to fit through your machine (I usually do about 4 or 5) and roll it out in to sheets. To make cutting easier, try wetting your knife blade.

We just sort of cut our sheets of dough by eye, but I’m sure measuring would have been a good idea to get a uniform shape/size for our ravioli. Measuring is for quitters.

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Filling

1 butternut squash, roasted
1 carrot, roasted
3 garlic cloves, roasted
1 onion
fresh thyme
fresh nutmeg
soft goat cheese
1 stick very good butter (I used Irish Kerrygold, one of my FAVORITE butters. It’s gorgeous)

Nom Nom Nom.

1) Put all veggies and thyme on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and a little kosher salt.Roast at 375 for about 35-45 minutes until they’re soft.

2) Scoop out your sqaush. combine veggies in a bowl and mash them up a little. Doesn’t have to be a puree or anything, just combined. Let cool.

3) Put a dot of filling on a square of pasta along with a small bit of cheese. Wet the edges of the pasta with a little water. Cover with another square of pasta and press down the edges so they’ll stick. Using a fork, crimp the edges down together so the filling doesn’t leak out.

4) Throw the pasta into a pot of boiling salted water for a few minutes. You’ll be able to tell when they’re done, it doesn’t take long.

5) While the pasta is cooking, melt some very good salted butter in a large saute pan with some fresh sage, grated nutmeg, and a little pepper. Let it simmer but not turn brown. As your pasta finishes cooking, take them out and toss them quickly in the pan with the butter sauce. Serve immediately.

Our herb butter sauce in progress

I really hope you enjoy this. It was a really enjoyable experience for me and one I really hope to repeat soon.

Aaron nomming our nummy ravs. Obvious enjoyment.


Don’t Be A Chicken

October 8, 2008
Bawk bawk baaawk

A couple of weeks ago, the weather started to cool down. I busted out my sweaters, my new teal pea coat that I bought while in Colorado, my tea collection. I was ready for cold weather. It then proceeded to stay in the 70s for approximately 2 more weeks. AH.

I was already in the fall frame of mind though, so I thought I’d do something nice and autumnal for dinner that I’d never tried on my own before: Roasted Chicken.

This is a recipe that my mom makes. At home, we call it “The Good Kind of Chicken.” It just seems to take plain old roasting chickens and make the most of them. The skin gets crispy and seasoned and the meat stays nice and moist…mmm. drool.

The Good Kind of Chicken

1 whole roasting chicken or cut chicken pieces
Olive oil
garlic powder
lemon pepper
seasoned salt

1) Make sure you take out the neck and giblets if you’re using a whole chicken. They’re usually in the center cavity. Trust me…you do NOT want to cook the bird with those bits inside unless you’re really interested in scaring the kids this halloween. ick.

2) Wash and dry your chicken. I don’t know if this is technically supposed to happen, but with all the salmonella and ecoli, I’m damn sure not taking any chances. Plus, chicken goo=gross.

3) Once you have patted the little dude dry, put him breast side up in a roasting pan or a baking pan with high sides and drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil on the skin and distribute it evenly. We’re not going for a puddle here, just enough to make the spices stick.

4) Sprinkle an even amount of the spices over the chicken. Nothin’ fancy.

The magic blend

5) Pop him into a preheated 325 degree oven for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until the juices run clear when you puncture the skin at the joint between the thigh and the body. You can also measure the internal temp with a meat thermometer; it should be 165 degrees at the same joint.

6) Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

I love to make this for dinner parties because EVERYONE is always impressed. Guests often think that I bought the spice mix. I’m tricky that way! Plus, nothing beats carrying out a gorgeous bird and carving it at the table in front of people. Prepare for “ooooo’s” and “aaahhhhh’s.”