Chanterelle Ravioli Filling

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There are perks to not having a job. Like having time to have your name taken off the mailing list of all your junk mail. And to play with dough all day. I’m at it again and trying to make homemade ravioli. I have a new respect for chefs in restaurants crafting hundreds of the pillowy dumplings for a night of service.

Someday I will master this art and write a post about it. Until then, I’m making some pretty wonderful and seasonal fillings. This takes advantage of fall’s bounty, with an emphasis of chanterelle mushrooms.

Towel courtesy of local Seattle company True Fabrications.
Towel courtesy of local Seattle company True Fabrications.

Makes about 3 cups of filling

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups quartered and stemmed cremini mushrooms (4-5 mushrooms)
  • 1 cup quartered chanterelle mushrooms (Include stems)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 egg yolk (Reserve the egg white for sealing ravioli)
  • 1/3 cup salty cheese like Parmesan
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add both kinds of mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Add parsley and garlic. Cook for one minute. Remove from heat and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Pulse parmesan in a food processor until it looks like bread crumbs. Add mushrooms, egg yolk, nutmeg and ricotta. Pulse until combined. Taste for salt and pepper.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Check out my other ravioli here.

Caroline’s Meatloaf

Let's be clear, meatloaf is anything but sexy
Let’s be clear, meatloaf is anything but sexy

On March 26 of every year, I eat meatloaf. For my dad’s birthday, my mom would make him meatloaf with scalloped potatoes and crispy chocolate chip cookies to finish. To his dismay, I couldn’t stand the loaf of minced meat. It was dry ground beef—flavorless, with a crumbly texture and served with ketchup. It remains the childhood dish I can’t escape.

After being assigned a profile piece on a Midwestern dish, I spent a day researching the history of meatloaf. Meatloaf became the quintessential budget meal because home cooks could stretch inexpensive cuts of meat with fillers like breadcrumbs or oatmeal. My Michigander grandmother had a husband and four little “knuckleheads,” as my dad likes to say, to feed every night.

I took a break from browsing the Internet for meatloaf findings and ventured to Molly O’Neill’s living room. I thumbed through a few books sitting out, one of them being Molly Wizenberg’s new book, Delancey. I randomly opened to a page in the center, looked down and saw big and bold: “MEATLOAF.” Following was a recipe for her favorite version of the classic dish. I shut the book.

I found myself in the kitchen with Caroline, a fellow scholar and chef, who has both bouncy hair and personality.

After getting meat from Tim, the local farmer, we began chopping, pulverizing, sautéing and smushing, while Marvin Gaye crooned through the stereo.

“Babe-yy, I’m hot just like an oven. I need some lovin.’”

I grooved while Caroline tenderly wrap the loaves in bacon, to the ultimate cooking song, before I brushed them with maple syrup and popped them into the oven with skepticism.

To my surprise, the meat was anything but mealy. It was pleasantly salty from the fish sauce, rounded with spicy sriracha, fresh herbs and sweet syrup. The bacon encased the loaf adding a smoky chew, which caramelized under the broiler. Best of all, it had so much flavor it didn’t need ketchup. As much as I don’t want to admit liking meatloaf, I’ll be eating it with my dad next year, but this time, I will make Caroline’s.

Makes 2 large loaves//Caroline Ford

  • 2 lbs. ground pork
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 cups fresh bread crumbs (white bread pulsed in a food processor)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery, about 2 stalks
  • ½ cup grated carrot
  • 2 cups grated onion, about two onions
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh chopped thyme
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Worchestershire
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2/3 cup, heaping, salty cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 14 pieces thin cut bacon
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • Salt + Pepper

Heat a large pan over medium heat with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Once the pan is hot, add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Sautee until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt and the thyme. Stir in parsley and cook for about another minute. The vegetables will be translucent. Remove from heat and set aside.

Whisk together eggs, worchestershire, sriracha, fish sauce, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

Put both meats in a large bowl. Pour the egg mixture over the meat. Stir in the cooked vegetables, cheese and breadcrumbs. Pour the milk over the top and stir until just incorporated. Be careful to handle gently, over mixing the meatloaf will make it tough.

Heat the oven to 400ºF with the convection feature turned on.

Place a cooling rack in a rimmed sheet tray. Cover the sheet tray in foil, wrapping the foil around the edges. Poke holes in the foil with a knife. Repeat for the second loaf. Pat half of the meat into a loaf about 10 inches long and 3 inches tall. Repeat with the rest of the meat on the second prepared tray.

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Place 7 pieces of bacon across each loaf, tucking the ends under. Brush the bacon with maple syrup.

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Bake for 1 hour, or until the temperature of the meatloaf reaches about 155ºF. If the bacon still looks fatty and pink, turn the oven on broil until it crisps. Watch it closely; this happens quickly.

Remove from oven. Let sit for 10 minutes on counter before slicing.

 

 

Butter Crust

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Being in Rensselaerville, far from a grocery store, I crave ripened peaches. Many mornings we eat plain yogurt, fluffy like whipped cream and sprinkled with a few spoonfuls of homemade granola, adorned with nuts, coconut and raisins. It needs a sliced peach.

While driving to Hudson on a night off, one of the other scholars yelled, “Farm stand! Peaches!” Ellen, our trusting driver, skidded to a halt. With nothing guarding the stand but a note that said, “Peaches: $4. Please place your money in the box,” we threw $5 in accordingly and dashed back to the car, fruit in hand.

When Ellen the baker and I found out we’d have some time Monday, we made eye contact from across the table, and I mouthed, “peach pie.”

We spent Monday morning squishing our hands into pie dough. To learn about the taste of different fats, we made one batch with solely butter and one with a butter-shortening combination. With years of professional experience, Ellen had tricks up her sleeve. She advised me to mix the fat and flour in a mixer or food processor but then fold in the water by hand so the dough wouldn’t get tough.

Ellen removed the chilled from the fridge, rolled it into a neat circle and nestled it into the pie plate before returning it to the fridge. I asked her why she chills it a second time. Ellen did a dance with her shoulders and said, “I like it to get cozy.”

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We filled the crusts to the brim with abundant peaches and blueberries, stirred with lemon zest, sugar, cornstarch and warm spices. We wove the lattice top together, brushed it carefully with egg wash and sprinkled it with sugar.

In two weeks of baking with Ellen, I’ve watched her eyebrows crinkle together, concerned with bake ware or fretting about the absence of a crucial flavor like ginger. But after time in the oven, sweetness permeates Molly O’Neill’s kitchen sending ease throughout. The pie is retrieved, left to snooze, and sliced after dinner. With a final scrape of the plate, coating my silver fork in syrupy peach juice, my craving is quenched.

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 Makes a double crust//Ellen the Baker

 Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup sugar + 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
  • 6 ounces butter
  • ¼ cups ice water
  • 1 egg + 1 tablespoon cream

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Cube the cold butter and plop it into the flour mixture. Put in freezer, if time allows, for at least 15 minutes.

Move the mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the butter is the size of large peas. Pour the mixture back into the medium bowl. With your hands or a rubber spatula, slowly incorporate the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, into the flour. Depending on the day and the environment, you may need to add one less or one more tablespoon of water. Scrape the sides of the bowl, bringing the dough together into a ball.

Cut the ball in half and pat each piece into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

After removing the chilled disks, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for five minutes. Lightly flour your surface. Using a rolling pin, begin to roll the dough into a 12-inch circle, using more flour if the dough is sticking. The dough should come out to be about 1/8-inch thick. Nestle it into your pie plate. Trim the edges or fold them under to create a rim. Return the pie plate to the fridge.

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In the same way, roll out your second disk into a 12-inch circle, using flour as needed. If you want a lattice top, cut it into ¾-inch strips, using a pizza or pastry wheel. In a pinch, a knife works fine too. Put the strips on a parchment lined baking sheet, and return it to the fridge.

Remove the lattice pieces from the fridge. Weave the pastry.

Whisk the egg and cream with a fork. Brush it over the top of the crust. Sprinkle the top with 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Follow your pie recipe for baking times and temperatures as they vary.

 

 

 

Ravioli with Ricotta and Carrot Filling

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This month has been a busy one. Turned 22. Watched my little brother graduate from high school. Graduated from college. Ate the most perfect piece of white chocolate cake speckled with ripe strawberry slices. Made my last homemade pasta in my apartment. Moved all of my belongings into my dad’s garage without the slightest clue where I will move next. For now, I’m sharing a room with my best friend and eating all of her cereal.

The last pasta I made was a homemade ravioli stuffed with carrots and ricotta. I was looking for a recipe that would use up all of my leftover homemade ricotta and came across this one, which had raving reviews. I didn’t feel like making sauce, so I simply tossed the cooked ravioli in melted butter and sprinkled them with good Parmigiano.

Makes 40 ravioli/Food and Wine Magazine

Ingredients

  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (3/4 pound)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 5 ounces sheep’s milk ricotta or well-drained fresh cow’s milk ricotta (1/2 cup packed)
  • 6 tablespoons tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 large egg yolk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a baking dish, toss the carrots with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, or until tender.

In a small skillet, melt the butter. Add the shallot and cook over medium heat until soft, about 3 minutes.

In a food processor, blend the carrots, shallot and cream until smooth. Transfer this puree to a bowl and mix with ricotta, Parmigiano and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the egg yolk.

(Follow instructions for filling ravioli with the wrapper recipe you are using. Food and wine has a corresponding fresh pasta recipe here.)

 

Homemade Ricotta

 

Separated into curd and whey
Separated into curd and whey

In a single weekend I’ve eaten copious amounts of dill as well as brie rind–two things I previously disliked. The dill flecked the smoked salmon dip with bright green, so I knew what was coming. Shockingly, I didn’t mind the flavor. Normally I’m haunted with memories of my Grandmother Bunny’s peas sprinkled with dill and can’t even smell it without making a face.

Brie, on the other hand, is one of my favorite cheeses when it’s top quality; however, I’ve never cared for the rind, finding it offensive in flavor. Once while at a family beach house on Lake Erie, my aunt scolded me for eating the soft center and leaving the rind behind during a potluck. I was seven.

This week I bought a round of goat brie, which had the creamiest middle encased in a subtle outer shell. The co-op cashier told me she also loves this brie, and we shared a moment when I told her I liked it for its unoffensive rind. She agreed. So I ate the rind, with pleasure.

I feel like overcoming these food aversions is like a right of passage into the adult world, as if eating both the center and the rind is my coming of age symbol. This is fitting considering my 22nd birthday is tomorrow. Similarly, this will be the first year I don’t want birthday cake. Instead, I want cookies and ice cream, which is mildly horrifying because that’s my dad’s birthday dessert of choice.

In the spirit of new things, here is a recipe for homemade ricotta, a cooking task I’ve fallen in love with.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups/Adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Set a large sieve or mesh strainer over a large bowl and line it with a damp cheesecloth.

Pour the milk and cream into a stainless steel or enamel pot. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for a couple minutes, allowing the mixture to curdle. It will separate into the curds and the whey (the liquid).

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow the mixture to drain at room temperature for 15-25 minutes depending on how thick you like your ricotta. I like it a little less thick so it’s spreadable. Once drained, move the curds into a separate bowl, cover and refrigerate for up to four days.

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*Whey: When I make ricotta I end up with about a quart of leftover whey. I don’t like wasting it, so I marinate meat with it. The enzymes in the whey tenderize meat. You could also add it to a smoothie instead of milk. Whey is rich in protein.

 

Lighter Spaghetti Carbonara

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I remember eating carbonara for the first time with my host family in Italy. Spaghetti noodles were tossed with a creamy, eggy sauce and speckled with pork pieces. I tried to convey my love for it to my host mom, but really all I could come up with was “mi piache, mi piache…” (I like, I like). We had it again several times in those two weeks.

Later, back in Bellingham, David, who was also in Italy and looks exactly like the Statue of David in Florence, charmed us with his take on carbonara. I think he asked our host mom to show him how to make it…or maybe it was his girlfriend’s Italian mother who showed him. It was one of those. If you knew David, you’d take one look at his floppy blonde hair, worn Birkenstocks and single pair of pants (brown corduroys) and say, no way can he pull off this finicky dish. On the contrary, I like his best. Last year on my birthday I had one request: that he make us a heaping pile of my favorite pasta. With a toss of cheese, whipping of eggs and dose of bacon fat, it was a hit. Another thing that’s important to know about David is that he loves bacon fat. He always keeps a necessary mason jar of it next to the stove to throw into whatever he is making (I try not to think about this when I am eating his french toast).

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David’s most recent birthday

Finally, I made my own carbonara, adapting a “lighter” recipe from Cooks Illustrated. The long editorial introduction explained that this recipe is lighter because it doesn’t have heavy cream in it. I didn’t realize any carbonara had heavy cream in it; it’s unnecessary. The recipe came together nicely with my homemade spaghetti noodles and local, thick cut pepper bacon. I personally would have liked it a tiny bit saucier, but do as the Italians do and appreciate the simplicity of great pasta lightly coated in sauce.

*Note: Don’t ignore the simple, seemingly frivolous suggestions like using 2 quarts of water exactly. It really does make a difference by making the pasta water more starchy to thicken the sauce. Also, read the instructions through because you should work quickly when it comes time to put the pasta water into the egg mixture and the egg mixture over the noodles. The hot noodles and water cook the raw egg.

Makes 4-6 servings/Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients 

  • 8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used pepper bacon)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons shallot, minced
  • 2 1/2 ounces Pecorino Romano, grated (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti (I may use a little less next time)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a dutch oven. Set a colander in a large bowl (to catch the pasta water) and set aside.

Bring bacon and water to simmer in a 10-inch nonstick pan over medium heat. (Cooks Illustrated said this results in chewier, rather than crunchy, bacon.) Cook until the water evaporates and the bacon begins to sizzle, about 10 minutes. Continue to cook until the fat renders and begins to brown, another 5-8 minutes. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds.

Strain bacon through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, measure out 1 tablespoon of fat and place in a medium bowl. To the fat, whisk in the eggs and yolk, pepper and cheese.

Meanwhile, add the spaghetti and salt to the pot of boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain spaghetti into colander. Measure out 1 cup of pasta water and discard the rest. Then, put the spaghetti back into the bowl that was just heated by the pasta water.

Slowly whisk 1/2 cup of the pasta water into the egg and cheese mixture. Don’t put it all in at once or the eggs may scramble. Then pour this mixture over the spaghetti and toss to coat. Add the bacon mixture and toss again. Add more of the remaining pasta water if needed. Also check for seasoning. Depending on your tastes, the salty bite of the cheese may be enough. For me, it wasn’t.

 

 

 

Shrimp and Pork Gyoza

 

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Growing up, my mom would find a food that my little brother and I liked for dinner and then make it over and over. She did this with mashed potatoes, chicken pot pie and mostly, frozen potstickers. She would grab a bag out of the freezer and pop them into a hot steamer, simply serving them with soy sauce. The pork and vegetable ones were always a hit until we finally burned out.

About two years ago, I took a dumpling making class at the Pantry at Delancey, a beautiful kitchen space home to various cooking classes. My dad and I took on the daunting task of learning how to construct two different kinds of dough and 4 different kinds of dumplings.

I recently reverted back to the recipe we used for pork and shrimp gyoza. It had been so long that the directions (which weren’t comprehensive) no longer made sense. The gyoza turned out marvelously regardless, but I’m not sure I’m enough of an expert to try and explain how I managed to make the wrappers myself. Instead, here is the recipe for the filling and use store-bought wonton wrappers or your own dough recipe.

The amount of ingredients may be alarming. If you want to make this more simply, skip the additional sauce and dip them in soy sauce instead.

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Makes about 25 dumplings/Adapted from the Pantry at Delancey

For the filling

  • 2 cups lightly packed, finely chopped Napa cabbage, leaves only and stems removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • 6 ounces ground pork with fat
  • 1/3 pound medium shrimp, shelled, deveined and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sake
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil

For the dipping sauce

  • 2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons bonito flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, or more to taste

To make the filling

Combine the cabbage and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a bowl for about 15 minutes. This process is necessary to draw all the moisture from the cabbage. Drain in a mesh strainer and then rinse with water. Transfer the cabbage to a cheese cloth (or fine dishtowel) and wring out the moisture over the sink.

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, shrimp, chives, garlic and ginger. Mix well with a fork or pair of chopsticks.

Next, make the seasoning. In a mixing bowl, combine and stir the salt, pepper, soy sauce, sake and sesame oil.

Pour the seasoning over the pork and cabbage, then stir the ingredients together until well incorporated. Set aside in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

If you are using round wonton wrappers, simply fill them with about 1 tablespoon of the filling. Dab the top edge with a tiny bit of water. Then, fold the bottom onto the top and crimp the edges. If there are air pockets, get them out. It’s harder to explain how to do this than to actually do it.

To cook them, heat up the oil in a skillet or stir fry pan over medium heat. Arrange the gyoza and cover with a lid. Pan fry the gyoza until the bottoms are golden brown and become crispy.

Add about 1/4 inch of water into the skillet and cover with a lid immediately. The water should evaporate after a few minutes. Continue to cook the gyoza a couple more minutes to recrisp the bottoms. Cut into one to make sure the filling has cooked through.

An alternate way to cook them is to steam them.

For the sauce

Combine the mirin, vinegar, soy sauce and bonito flakes in a saucepan over and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, strain out the bonito flakes over a bowl, and add the lime juice.