Mmm… Food


Whole Wheat Pumpkin Ravioli
November 24, 2008, 12:38 pm
Filed under: Cooking, Random Facts

Lazy Sunday afternoons. Top Chef on T.V. Cooking adventures in my own kitchen. Yesterday evening after watching Top Chef and thinking about seasonal foods, I decided to use the savory pumpkin April cooked down last week to make some homemade pumpkin ravioli in a sage brown butter sauce.

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Pasta Dough: I checked our freezer and sure enough I had some leftover whole wheat pasta dough left back from when I made the two squash lasagnas. While the pasta dough is best freshly freshly made, I’ve found that it’s still pretty damn tasty if you freeze half the batch and thaw it out to use again at a later date. While I spend a lot of time cooking, there are still plenty of short cuts I like to take advantage of.   I rolled the dough out to a 6 setting on the Atlas pasta maker.  This is one less than the thinnest setting capable of my machine, so pretty thin, but not the maximum.

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Filling: I mixed about 1 1/2 cups of cooked pumpkin (April cooked a couple of pumpkins down 2 or 3 weeks ago) with 1 cup of ricotta cheese. Flavored it with 1/2 t nutmeg, 1/4 t ground cloves, 1 tsp salt and a couple turns of black peppercorns.   Place about 1T of filling on the rolled pasta.  Wet the edges around each dollop with water and place a second rolled sheet on top.

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Press around each dollop expelling as much air around each ravioli filling piece before sealing.  You want to keep as much air as possible out.  Once they are sealed cut them with a pastry wheel to give them that scalloped edge.

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Cook. One of the best things about fresh pasta is that it takes mere minutes to cook, sometimes not even a full one!  Put the ravioli into boiling water, they’ll coem to float when they are done.

Eat!

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Delicata Squash Salad with Pomegranate Dressing
November 20, 2008, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Cooking

I finally got around to cooking with the delicata squash that we received in the food share about a month ago.  Yowza!!  I guess the great testament to all of this, is how long squash lasts without going bad!!  And not only did they not go bad… they were delicious.  Even after our scorcher oven worked its magic once again and we had to cut off some charred bits, the squash was sweet and tender in a delicate mix of sweet and savory that well is unlike any other squash i’ve tasted.

  One of the most interesting things I learned about delicata squash that I don’t know to be true of any other (yet) is that you the skin is edible.  While it is slightly glossy and has an appearance like many other squashes, the delicata peel is thin and does not need to be removed before eating.  The salad recipe is not Martha Stewart.  I know you’re finding it hard to believe.  But no, the recipe is from Bon Appetit, Dandelion Salad with Pomegranate Seeds, Pine Nuts, and Roasted Delicata Squash, and I found it at the www.epicurious.com website which houses recipes from a variety of magazines including Bon Appetit, Gourmet and Epicurious(Is this an actual magazine didn’t know this was a magazine, I’m still learning) But yes, the recipe is from there, and there may be more non-Martha recipes popping up as we become the recipients of Bon Appetit, along side Martha Stewartdelicatasalad1 Living and Cooks Illustrated. I haven’t included anything from there yet either! Shame on me!! Perhaps we will try the pumpkin pie this weekend as I think we decided to re-make the apple for Thanksgiving 🙂

The other thing I loved about this salad was the pomegranate seeds.  I bought my first pomegranate and pre-checked youtube and cooking sites to see the best approach to getting the seeds out.  The tip seems to be doing it in a bowl of water.   Pomegranate juice stains!!  And the many little seeds sometimes explode as they are being picked out of the fruit shell.  So if you open it and split it under water you can contain the little explosions and prevent ruining what you have on.  In addition the seeds are more dense than the water and sink to the bottom, while the material that they were encased in floats to the top, so after all is said and done you can skim the top to remove all the extra material and drain the seeds through a strainer.  INGENIOUS!!  I love little tips like this. 

Now what I need to do is find a source for delicata squash other than the food share.  While the uncertainty of what might show up in the food share each week is fun, sometimes you have a craving and want what you want!!  Know of a place to find them?  Seen them at your local market?  Let me know!!



Fruit and Veggie Sleeve Tattoo
November 20, 2008, 4:03 pm
Filed under: Random Facts

Just cruising around the internet I found this cool link to 10 Food Tattoos, which featured this Fruit and Veggie Sleeve tattoo inked by Russ Abbott.

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Russ owns a tattoo shop in Decatur, Georgia and does some pretty amazing tattoos. He’s a featured artist on Jim Bean sponsored www.thestuffinside.com, . With lots of sleeve work his tattoos always seem to tell a big story, and I like this one about food. On his personal website he notes that the owner of this tattoo “Ben was our front counter guy when I worked over at 13 Roses. I tattooed this fruits and veggies sleeve on him during that time. He is vegan but I think he eats more french fries than veggies” HA! I wonder if they are from McDonald’s. The controversy there has been going on for a while. First the vegetarians find out that McDonald’s confirmed their french fries were made with beef extract. Then in 2006 the vegans have found out they use milk in their french fries. The fact that McDonald’s uses animal products in foods like french fries that one might at first assume were vegetarian or vegan is not what upsets me. What upsets me is that if you go to McDonald’s website for nutritional value for all their menu items and read the fine print at the bottom you’ll find the following statement “None of our products are certified as vegetarian.” While I can understand this disclaimers presence is likely a legal formality resulting from the troubles their previous claims regarding vegetarian food options has caused them, this kind of statement seems very far fetched when you look at familiar items like the Hot Fudge Sundae and Baked Hot Apple Pie. Surely a lot of these foods may contain eggs or milk, but the statement isn’t referring to Vegan products, but vegetarian?? I refuse to believe that the “natural beef flavor” that makes the french fries a non-vegetarian item is really included of any of the ice-cream sundaes or shakes. Seriously!!!

Anywhoozle, I got totally sidetracked there. Tattoos. I was talking about tattoos. The fruit and veggie sleeve is awesome!! It makes me want one 🙂



Ba Le : some of the best cheap Vietnamese sandwiches in Uptown
November 18, 2008, 10:48 am
Filed under: Restaurants

Ba Le is a Vietnamese sandwich shop located at the corner of Broadway and Argyle (5018 N. Broadway).  It serves up some of the tastiest cheapest sandwiches you can find in Uptown, or dare I venture Chicago at large?  All the sandwiches start with a baguette and are stuffed with a variety of eats and vegetables.  There are 11 different sandwiches to choose from, including my favourite Banh Mi Thit Nuong or B.B.Q. Pork which comes with sliced pork, carrot, radish, jalapeno, onion and cilantro, and they range in cost from 2.95 to 3.25.   This price makes me giggle when they then offer the deal of Buy 5 Get 1 Free, but require a fine print note that reads “free on lowest price sandwich.”

The combination of fresh bread and spicy pork (but do watch out for the jalapenos, we got an extra heavy dose last time which can be a little intense) just melds so perfectly in this quick and easy food stop. I picked up some sandwiches and a few egg roll appetizers before heading out on Friday to the Reeling Film Fest at Film Row Cinema located at Columbia College. And you should pick some up before you head out to your next event! I highly recommend it!



Penne with Goat Cheese and Kale (no Olives or Turkey)
November 18, 2008, 10:21 am
Filed under: Cooking, Random Facts

With a quick stop by Trader Joe’s on the way home, I amassed the needed items to try out Martha’s Penne with goat cheese, kale, olives, and turkey (minus the olives and turkey) last Thursday for dinner.  The recipe was included in a section that aims to give you recipes on how to use extra leftover thanksgiving turkey.  But seeing how thanksgiving has not happened yet and we are trying to eat less meat anyway, I decided to just leave it out and make a version of the dish anyway.  I know adventures away from the recipe.  And to my disbelief there is not a link to the recipe on Martha’s site.  You may only be able to find it currently in the November issue of Martha Stewart Living. 

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The motivation for a lot of meals have come from “Hey, what did we get in the food share this week?”  This was one of those.  We received a bunch of Kale of the curly type , that is the standard kind of Kale you might find at a Jewel or a Dominick’s.  There are always more variety of a particular vegetable than I have usually thought of and kale proves to be no different.  Without much experience I was more surprised that this kale was curly where as the red russian kale  I had used earlier this summer to make ravioli was of a flat leaf variety.  Something to note about cooking the kale. The curly variety does not cook down like spinach or chard.  I was expecting the kale to wilt and reduce dramatically in size when cooked.  While it does shrink some, I suspect the curl of the curly kale (which has a lot more surface area than flat) is partially what makes this true.



Stir-Fried Sesame Asparagus
November 13, 2008, 10:50 am
Filed under: Cooking, Random Facts

We all know that eating more vegetables would be good for us.  We may even like vegetables and not be upset that are eating them, but we all still need to have some variety in their preparation.  Bon-Appetit’s recipe for Stir-Fried Sesame Asparagus is a simple way to zest up your vegetables and make them more enjoyable to eat, without much extra effort.food-019

These asparagus were so successful that I already convinced a friend to try it when she and her boyfriend made dinner together this week! Rock out!!! That’s what I like to hear. Enjoy food!!

Trying to figure out if asparagus is a traditional Thanksgiving food, or if it’s something my mother just always made. Is it in season now? I’ll have to do some research and find out. And since you can’t tell time lapse while I’m still writing this, I have concluded that Asparagus (while available in the grocery now) comes into season in April and stays in season for not quite 2 months. So if you’re eating it now, it was either grown in a green house, or it wasn’t grown locally. Frack! It was still very tasty, so I’m guessing it was imported from a place where the growing season is more like ours during April.

I love wikipedia, and I hope that if you’ve every perused it you can appreciate that there is a section in the Asparagus entry titled “Asparagus and Urine“. A key indicator that Wikipedia is controlled by the masses. I love it!!! Also check this article by Discovery about “Asparagus Pee”



Mmm… Apple Pie
November 10, 2008, 7:04 pm
Filed under: Cooking

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Damn if we didn’t make the tastiest Apple Pie this weekend.  After 20 minutes of debating on what we should do with our evening…  Go out to eat?  Stay at home and make something?  If we stay what will we make?  If we go out where would we go?  Would we see a movie?  Would we go somewhere else? What if we need ingredients to cook at home and have to go out?  We landed on staying in, using food we already had, and then with initial intentions on cooking down some of the last pumpkins that we have to make pie, we decided instead to make apple pie with all the organic apples we had left from the food share.  I was skeptical at first at how we would pull this off.  I’ve never made an apple pie, but according to April it was just “apples and butter in a pie shell.  My grandmother used to make them that way”  So we set out with a mish mash of recipe ideas.  Some coming from April’s head,  some from the sweets issue of Time Out Chicago and some from Martha Stewart.  It was definitely a mish mash of recipes.  We ended up using Martha Stewart Flaky Pie Crust, which was scrumptiously delicious, and perfect with the apple pie.  It was indeed very flaky and a different kind of crust than I am used to.  Perhaps it the addition of sugar to the crust which creates the flakiness, as I haven’t added sugar to any of the other crusts I’ve made before.  food-026

For the filling we went out on our own to create a filling by cutting up 7 apples (of varying sizes and flavours) into small chunks, adding 1 cup of sugar, 2t lemon juice, and 1t Five Spice Powder.  The apples were a big mix of all the apples we had left from our organic food share.  Some of them were crab apples, very tart and hard to eat on their own, perfect to add to a pie that will be sweetened with sugar.  The others were an odd mix and match variety of which I cannot name.  Maybe this is where our good fortune took over.  Whatever they were, they worked out perfectly. 

We rolled the crust out, added the filling, dotted it with 2TB of butter, and added the top crust and cut some vents.  Then we chilled it for a bit in the refrigerator before baking.  Just before popping it in the oven we brushed it with a beaten egg to give it that glossy appeal when it was baked.  With our mix and match recipes we weren’t totally sure on timing, but things came to perfection by initially blasting it for ten minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Then we turn the oven down to 350 and continued to bake for another 25 minutes until the crust was browned.  At this point the crust is done, but the insides still need longer, so you can tent foil around the pie to prevent the crust from burning while the inside of the pie continues to come up to temperature and cook.  We cooked it for another 30 minutes at 350 until the juices were bubbling up from the vents.  It cooled overnite (as we started too late at nite to eat it right away) and had it for dessert with dinner on Sunday. 

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We brought it with us to have dinner with Jennifer and Rene, and after we had a piece, I declared that while we love our friends dearly, we would not be leaving the whole half pie left with them, we would need to take two pieces back with us, as I had never tasted apple pie that was just this tasty!!!  Seriously I’m still a little in shock at how well it turned out.  I am usually such a recipe follower, and it makes me very nervous to deviate from those directions, but this paid off and then some and is encouraging me to be a little more adventurous in the kitchen.   Who knows what else I might whip out this week. 🙂