November 24, 2008

Despite having plans to cook up a storm, and despite having already knocked out two varieties of cranberry sauce, last Sunday I found myself a couple hours post-cranberry clean-up making ravioli from scratch. The initial urge was to use up stuff in the freezer in order to give the turkey a little more room. Why this culminated in me with flour up to my eyeballs and a waterfall of raw egg cascading over the counter I can only explain by saying that an idea born of sanity does not always end with a sane result. Luckily in this case the result was at least pretty tasty and the required skills can be filed under "useful kitchen knowledge."

Corn-Shallot Ravioli
makes about 24 ravioli + a little extra dough for some linguini

Note: I followed Mario Batali's recipe for pasta dough, though I was eyeing Lidia Bastianich's while I was doing it. Lidia's doesn't call for as much egg, and uses this thing called the food processor, which has real walls, not walls made out of flour...I think next time I'll use Lidia's. Or maybe I'll go with Mario again but use a food processor because flour makes a very weak retaining wall and egg is no fun to clean up and if you have a recurrent and mysterious wrist ailment you might not want to engage in aggravating activities such as kneading. In any case, the dough turned out quite well and I added a ton of black pepper to the basic recipe to positive effect.

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
5 eggs
1 - 2 Tbl pepper (If you don't like pepper, just leave it out or add a preferred spice.)
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 package frozen sweet corn
generous amount grated pecorino romano (~ 1 cup)
3 Tbl Major Gray's mango chutney
salt and pepper to taste
To make dough:

Dump the flour onto a wood surface (be it counter or cutting board) and make a mound with a well in the middle of it.

Whisk eggs together and pour into the well. Note: you might want to do this gradually to avoid a disaster. On my first attempt I overestimated the depth of the well and the strength of the "walls" and ended up with raw egg everywhere. I ended up pouring in a little bit of the egg, mixing it with the flour, pouring in a little more, mixing, pouring, mixing, etc until the egg was fully incorporated into the flour. At this point there was still a fair amount of loose flour but just keep packing it together and evenually you'll be able to form a uniform ball.

Knead for 10 to 15 minutes (the dough should be stretchy). Wrap dough ball in wax paper and let it sit for about 30 minutes while you make the filling.

To make filling:

Sautée shallots in olive oil until translucent.

If you're me, add the frozen corn to shallots (after rinsing the particularly icy chunks) and nudge it around with a spatula until it seems cooked. If you think ahead, follow the cooking instructions on the corn and THEN add it to the shallots.

Add chutney (Use as much or as little as you like and be aware of adding too much sweetness to the already sweet corn. I like Major Grey's green label because it's got more a spicy kick to it but can imagine that adding a sweeter chutney would end in an unappealing saccharine glop.)

Remove mixture from heat and add grated pecorino romano to taste. Season with salt and pepper.

Pulse mixture in food processor until uniform in texture. Put in fridge until read to assemble ravioli.

Assemble the ravioli:

Cut off a quarter of the round of dough and run it through the pasta maker. I got down to the second to last degree of thickness and might even try to go for the thinnest setting next time because the ravioli were still a bit thick.

Lay pasta sheet on cutting board and arrange dollops of filling evenly along one of the edges, keeping in mind to leave enough room in between for the seams. Brush water along outer edge and in between the filling and fold the empty half of the pasta sheet over the filling. Press along the seems to create a bond between the pieces of dough (I realized while doing this that a lot of air gets trapped in with the filling if you don't firmly expel it from the cavity. This doesn't make a lot of difference in the resultant ravioli aside from making them less unwieldy than they are if puffed up tighter than a drill sergeant's chest.). Cut the ravioli along the seams and stack between layers of wax paper in fridge until ready to use. Continue to use 1/4 chunks of your original dough ball until you've used up all the filling, at which point use the remainder of the dough to make whatever shape pasta you deem fit.

Bring water to a boil and cook ~ 10 minutes or until pasta tastes done.

The Merits of Carrots

November 22, 2008

Let Thursday stand as evidence that I am not trying to eradicate dairy from my diet. Between the two kinds of stuffing, sweet potato pie, butter-soaked onions etc I'll be well set in that department but as is my wont I shall now let you in on yet another "why does this cookie recipe look like a stew recipe?" recipe.

I had squirreled away four cans of tomatoes and a hefty supply of carrots and shallots with the intention of making a double-batch of Batali sauce but as the days went by I was faced with dwindling ambitions and carrots on the verge of wilting. Not one to simply eat the carrots, I went in search of a carrot cookie recipe. Alright if you must know, I looked for a carrot-ginger cookie, obvs. The search proved much more difficult than I anticipated, mainly because that combination of ingredients tends to get you a bunch of results for carrot cake, or carrot cake cookies. I was not interested in carrot cake. Finally I found three recipes and after combining and veganizing them I hit on success. I have not forsaken bananas, but carrots made an argument for careful consideration in the "mushy items you can put in baked goods" competition.

Vegan Oatmeal Carrot Ginger Cookies
Like most of my vegan cookies, these did not retain their crispness once they had been stored. My theory is that my use of primarily liquid dairy substitutes makes for a cookie that ultimately succumbs to its own moisture. This does not affect the taste but I was a little embarassed to offer them to people at work. Their crumb-mumbled declarations of "delicious!" made me feel better, but I really wish I could keep the out-of-the-oven crisp shell from fading.

Another note: these would also be good with some raisins added. I did not have rasisins.
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
6 Tbl unsweetened apple sauce
2 Tbl apple butter
2 Tbl vegetable oil
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/8 cup agave syrup
3/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup 0% Fage (or any egg subsitute equivalent to 1 egg)
1 cup oats, old fashioned or quick (not instant)
3/4 cup shredded or grated carrots
1/2 - 1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans and just a few walnuts)
1/4 - 1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger (confession: I did not really measure how much ginger I put in. That goes for the nuts too.)
Preheat oven to 375.

Mix together all dry ingredients save nuts and ginger.

In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until thoroughly mixed.

Gradually add flour mixture and mix until evenly distributed, then add in nuts and ginger.

Line baking sheet with parchment and evenly distribute dough balls roughly 1-2 Tbl in size.

Bake for 10-13 minutes or until browned and crisp. Be patient and don't worry too much about them burning. These are very forgiving and very moist cookies.

Makes about 24 cookies unless you don't eat ANY of the dough, in which case you might squeeze out a couple more.