Monday, September 20, 2010

Buttermilk Dipped Fried Ravioli Appetizers with Marinara Dipping Sauce

Crunchy, light pillows of ricotta cheese filling dipped in a delicious Marinara Sauce.  How does that sound to you?  When my Co-Worker, Kelly, described this delicious appetizer her eyes were rolling in the back of her head. "It's the buttermilk that gives that nice tang", she said.  Kelly is my kind of woman.  Sometimes, the two of us describe what we're craving, or what we made and it's a language that nobody else we work with can fully understand.  We foodies are a strange breed, aren't we?  Am I the only one whose pulse rate goes up, when I describe flavors and the other person understands? This is  the language of food love. Kelly speaks it.  I get it.

So, I had to make these. I bought a package of fresh cheese ravioli.  I made my own marinara sauce, which doesn't take that long.  Sometimes I stock Trader Joe's Tuscan Marinara Sauce for a quick meal.  I'll still love you if you don't make your own-- but try it sometime! It's not that hard!  What else? I have basil growing in the backyard.  Buttermilk is a staple in my fridge.  I was psyched.  Plus, Craig and I were having a vegetarian as a dinner guest.   I decided to GOOGLE "Fried Ravioli" and there was Giada's recipe.   Giada uses buttermilk, but I had to make a couple of changes.   I'm like that, at times. I swim against the current.  So, here we go:

Instead of using Italian breadcrumbs, I decided to try using Panko Crumbs. .  Welcome to the world of golden crunch, folks.  I love panko crumbs, and I stock up on them whenever they are at Trader Joe's.  They're actually easy to find in the international section of your grocery store.

I seasoned the Panko crumbs with my own blend of Italian seasoning.  It's so much cheaper to make my own, since I already have dried herbs on hand.  If you don't have panko crumbs, use regular breadcrumbs. Again, I make my own breadcrumbs with a food processor. It's a great way to use stale bread.

This is 1% Buttermilk. I figure I can cut a fat gram or two, since I'm will be deep frying in oil! Ha!  Speaking of oil, Giada uses olive oil.  Well, that's a bit pricey for me.  I use peanut oil, which I buy in bulk.  You can use vegetable oil, too.  Start heating the oil until it reaches 325 degrees.  Use a thermometer.  Keep an eye on it, and if you have kids-- keep them at a safe distance.

Soak the ravioli in the buttermilk, for less than a minute. I figured four per person...



I refrigerated these until my guest was ready to arrive. Then, I got the oil heated and preheated the oven to WARM.  Prepare a plate with some paper towels...

I love this tool for deep frying, or even fishing out cooked pasta. Have some Parmesan cheese waiting...

Very carefully, slip the ravioli into the oil...

Cook them in batches so that they don't crowd. Turn them over when they are golden on one side-- about 3-4 minutes.

Pin It

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sausage & Kale Lentil Soup and Parmesan Skillet Rolls--My first Soup & Homemade Rolls for Fall

It's a very strange weather pattern we're experiencing in Monterey, California.  Yesterday, it was overcast and muggy.  Today, the skies were gloomy and I had a craving for soup.  I was also craving fresh bread to go with the soup.  I love lentil soup, and I especially love it when it's paired with sausage.  So, I grabbed my soup "Holy Trinity" of one onion, carrots and celery and speed chopped them with my food processor.  I have plenty of homemade chicken stock in the freezer and then I just started grabbing what I could find in my pantry. What I didn't  grab was my camera.  I figured that there are plenty of lentil soup recipes on blogs and so I just started creating a soup.  As a result, this time, there aren't my usual step-by-step photos on how to make this soup.  I decided to make our favorite Buttered Rosemary Rolls because they are easy to make and don't take a lot of time.  At the last minute, I decided to use Parmesan Cheese, instead. 

These smelled so good, that I decided to grab my camera after all, so I could share it with you.

I'm so glad that I adapted the Buttered Rosemary Rolls with Parmesan Cheese. They were wonderful!  My son was happy, because he doesn't care for Rosemary.  By garnishing the lentil soup with a little Parmesan, my family had a hearty and comforting meal that was perfect for Fall weather.

Heaven help me, these are good!

From what I hear, we are supposed to have a heat wave next week.  Sigh.  That means my Weber will be back in action.  I surprised myself, at how delicious my concoctions turned out!  So here ya go...the printable recipes cards are below.  That is, if you'd like to make either (or both) of these recipes.  If you would like a step-by-step on making the rolls, click here.


Pin It

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Burger Sliders (or Mini Man Burgers) with Special sauce and homemade pickles

Last week, Whole Foods had grass-fed ground beef on sale for $3.99 a pound. How could I possibly resist that price for such quality beef? I spotted a bag of potato rolls and I had an idea that Beef Sliders would be fun to make.  I've never made sliders, myself, but I see them all over Blogosphere.  How hard is it to shape mini patties, for Pete's Sake?!  Still, I like to Google and see if anything interesting pops up. Sure enough, Alton Brown's "Mini Man Burgers" recipe popped up.  As I read his directions, I said a silent thank you to Mr. Good Eats.   Here you go, Alton-- here is your version, with my own garnishes:

I grabbed a jelly roll pan and some parchment paper.  I cut a piece of plastic wrap, and a rolling pin.
Roll one direction...

...and another direction. The idea is to roll the ground meat very thin.  Now, it's time to season the meat.  Alton uses onion powder and garlic powder, salt & pepper.  That's fine.  But, I'm enchanted with the Susie-Q Santa Maria seasoning that I've blogged about a couple of times, this month.   I use it on veggies and as my "go to" quick seasoning. No MSG, too.

Sorry, the shot is a little out of focus. But, I wanted to show you the label of the product. If you can find this at your local supermarket, this will become a pantry staple.  Otherwise, go with Alton's seasonings. Or, have fun experimenting. You could season this with a South of the Border Flair-- taco seasoning.  Use Greek seasoning. The sky is the limit.

Now fold each side in, using the parchment paper is helpful. Whatever method you use, don't forget to wash your hands thoroughly when you are finished. The raw meat police is watching.  I realized, later, that cheese could be easily layered as well.  Imagine those possibilities, would you? Feta... Parmesan... Smoked Gouda. But, this time I skipped the cheese.  Grab a pizza cutter, or your favorite cutting tool. I love my metal bench scraper.

One pound of beef makes 8 burgers.  You could easily substitute ground chicken, turkey or even lamb.

Grill each mini burger for 2-3 minutes, per side.

These kind of resemble White Castle Burgers. Only, I think these taste better.  I made a mayonnaise by adding red chili sauce and some sweet pickle relish. For a garnish, I cut a garden tomato and I had the perfect excuse to test drive my homemade Bread & Butter Pickles.

For a side dish, Garlic Oven-Fries  are perfect.

I'll be making these for Super Bowl. But, first, there are a few Friday Happy Hour's until January.  Simple. Easy. Delicious! 

From my kitchen to yours,

Pin It

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bread and Butter Pickles, Made Easy

"Learn how to make pickles" has been on my recipe Bucket List for a long time.  It's somewhere between "Learn how to make sourdough bread" and "Learn if there is such a thing as non-fat Puff Pastry".  Me thinks I'll never find the answer to the last thing on my list, but one can only hope.   While shopping at my local farm stand, I asked "Sarah" if I still had more time for their organic fresh-picked strawberries.  I have learned how to make my own jam, and I want to be sure my cupboards are stocked with Olallieberry Jam, Strawberry Jam, Apricot-Pineapple jam and-- my personal favorite-- Raspberry Jam.   Sarah didn't hear me say "strawberries" so she blurted out that if I wanted pickling cucumbers that I'd better get them now!

So the moment had arrived.  It was time to kick the bucket... the list, that is! So, I grabbed some cucumbers, hoping that I had enough.  When I arrived home, I went to my most trusted source of  recipe sources...Food Blogs!  There are a lot of ways to make Bread & Butter Pickles, but I wanted something easy.  Smitten Kitten provided the perfect recipe for me! So, here are the six ingredients I needed, most of which I had on hand. Well, one onion could count for seven, but I count that as a vegetable.

These are a pound of picking cucumbers...

I have a cute little crinkle cutter,  so I decided to put it to good use. These are about 1/4" thickness.  You could use a mandoline, or a sharp knife. I used a mandoline to slice the onion very thin...

Well, now my math is off!  You need salt, so that makes eight ingredients!  I used kosher salt. I've heard of picking salt, but I didn't want to invest in too many ingredients, in case my first attempt at pickle making was a flop.

Give this all a nice "mix" and...
...cover with ice and relax for two hours. 

Now, drain the the cucumbers and, then, put them in a pot. Grab a smaller pot and turn the stove to medium-high heat...

...and add the coriander seeds, mustard seeds, tumeric, and celery seed. Bring to a boil, and pour over the cucumbers.  Bring the pickles and juice back, just to a boil, and remove from heat. 

NOTE: When I first tasted the pickles, I thought that I misunderstood, and should have rinsed the salt. They were salty!  I later realized there was no need to panic. These didn't taste like what I had hoped until a few hours later.

 I decided to boil some water, and do the water bath method for canning.  I could hear the lids "ping" as the cooling of the jars sealed the pickles.  I left one jar, unopened, because I made "Sliders" and I thought the pickles would be a perfect test drive with these:

VERDICT: So, how were the pickles?  Craig loved them.  I have to admit that I'm not a fan of dill pickles. If pickles are mistakenly put on my burgers, I confess that I will quickly remove the offending condiment.  But these pickles are very different.  My son, who has inherited my dislike of dill pickles refused to try one. I gave him those "Mama Guilty-Puppy Eyes".  He ate one. Then another.  These are sweet, but not overly sweet. Many recipes I saw use a lot more sugar. Increase or decrease, according to your taste. Just keep two things in mind-- the saltiness mellowed by the next day. The sweetness increased by the next day.  There's a nice bonus to eating these pickles-- I love it when I bite into a coriander seed. Mmmmm!

This weekend, I hope that Sarah still has some cucumbers for me. I'm making more.  If you're on my Christmas list, please pretend you didn't see this post.  It might be in your gift basket.

The printable recipe is at the bottom of this post.  So, what's on your Recipe Bucket List?



Easy Bread & Butter Pickles

        <p>I&#8217;ve never picked a thing before I made these sweet &#38; sour pickles.  You don&#8217;t have to use the water bath system of canning to preserve these, because they&#8217;ll probably disappear pretty fast.  Either way, you only need five ...    

        See Easy Bread & Butter Pickles on Key Ingredient.    


Pin It

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Swiss Chard & Ricotta Crostata-- don't forget the Leeks!

I have heard that if someone is having an Open House, hoping to sell their home, that baking cookies is a way of leaving a warm and homey scent for prospective buyers. I can tell you, that if you make this recipe, that you will return home to find the Realtor, and anyone who has viewed your home, waiting for a slice of this!

I have been a huge fan chef of Anne Burrell, ever since I watched her as Mario Batali's Sous Chef on Food Network's Iron Chef. I record her show, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef,  and she never fails to inspire me to try her recipes. Sure, she's a bit zany with how she talks to her food (hello my lovelies...) and how she gr-r-r-r-owls her words when she describes things. Her wild spiked blonde hair is fodder for people to make fun of, but I don't care. The woman is a chef and she can cook!  If I could have private cooking lessons from any Food Network Chef (other than Tyler Florence, whom I got to meet and chat with-- and he's totally approachable and talented), I would pick Anne.  I love her spunk!  On the day that I watched Chef Anne making this savory crostata, my husband had just asked when I was going to cook the Swiss Chard that I pleaded with him to plant. My husband is the green thumb of the family. (I tend to "forget" to water plants. He doesn't.)  I was delighted to find a recipe that would be a perfect for one of my favorite leafy greens!

 Before I show you how to make this, there are a few key ingredients that you will need.  Mascarpone Cheese is a must!  It's Italian cream cheese, and it's a little pricey (I paid $4.99 for a tub), but it's creamy and silky...and it's really what makes this crust so tender and flavorful.  You need Parmesan Cheese, too. Not that cheap stuff in the green can in the supermarket, please!  You can finely grate the cheese in the food processor, or buy it already grated. But, please buy the Parmesan from the deli case. Thank you.

Last night, I made the crust dough, which took all of 15 minutes.  That's what I love about my food processor. If you don't own one, roll up your sleeves and use some elbow grease and a pastry cutter.

To unbleached flour, I add grated Parmesan cheese, marscarpone, cayenne pepper (don't skip this, it's perfect) and ice cold butter, cut into small pieces.  Don't worry about the recipe. You will find a printable card at the bottom of this post.  Pulse, pulse, pulse, until the dough looks crumbly-- like Parmesan cheese. Now add two cold eggs.
NOTE: We want cold products so that the butter stays in chunks in the dough. This expands, while baking, creating tender and flaky dough.

Pulse a little more, just until it reaches the "ball" stage. Stop!  Remove the dough, and form into a ball, and then gently pat into a disk.

Wrap this in plastic wrap. (See the cayenne pepper flakes? These are going to add to the flavor of this crust.) Put it in the fridge, for at least 45 minutes. I like to do this a day or two before. Less cleanup, less fuss...

Swiss Chard is in season, where I live. it's easy to grow.  I bought two large leafs from my local farm stand; I wasn't sure if I had enough growing in our container.  You need two leeks.  I love leeks. They're a staple in my fridge. Cut it lengthwise and wash it, prying each layer open to wash out any sand. I guarantee, you will find sand! Cut the leeks into thin "half moons". 

Cut off the stems of the chard-- this feels like celery, when cutting. Look how much brighter the freshly cut chard stems are! Gorgeous color! Set those aside. Chop the chard leaves and set them aside.  Grab two cloves of fresh garlic and some red pepper flakes. It's showtime!  With the flat of your knife, smash the clove of garlic.  Remove the paper skin, and set them into a pan with olive oil, on medium heat.  Add a pinch of cayenne (about 1/2 teaspoon).

Let the garlic cook until a golden brown. Remove the garlic cloves-- as Anne Burrell says, "it has fulfilled it's destiny", so toss it. We now have garlic infused oil, which smells fantastic!

Now, we add the leeks and swiss chard stems and 2-3 Tablespoons of water.  Cook, until tender (2-3 minutes) and season with kosher salt (2-3 teaspoons). Please, do not use table salt!  You'll write that this tasted like a salt lick. Kosher salt only! Sorry, but I'm passionate about my salt. If you insist on table salt, use less than half of what I do, okay? The water should have evaporated by now. Add the Swiss Chard greens.

Taste the Swiss Chard, and add a little more salt (only if necessary). Let the chard wilt for a couple more minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.  Now, for the filling:

This step wasn't in the directions, but I decided to measure 2 cups of fresh ricotta cheese into a fine strainer. I set it over a bowl, covered, overnight in the fridge. I didn't want to risk any liquid to cause my filling to run.

I add one cup more of grated Parmesan and two eggs...

Give this a nice stir... what's next?

Ah, the crust! Do not be afraid! Crostatas are so forgiving.  They are "rustic", so they can look a bit ragged around the edges.  Preheat the oven to 375F. You need a baking sheet. If you have parchment paper, I'm going to show you an easy trick. Flour a clean, smooth surface with some flour-- or, flour the parchment paper, that's on top of the clean surface.

From the center of the dough disk, roll away from you. Make a 1/4 turn. No, not you!  Turn the dough! (I couldn't resist.) Roll. Repeat. Roll...and so on. There!  If you rolled this on parchment paper, just lift the whole thing onto your baking sheet.  I love my French rolling pin!

 Don't worry about overhang...

You'll see why in a moment...
 Now, add the cooled vegetables and give this a gentle stir. I see no reason why this step can't be done ahead of time. So, now let's put the whole thing together...

 Spread the filling in the middle of the crust; leave a 3-4" border. This is very important!

This looks good...

Now, fold the edges over. Like this...

An egg wash (whole egg with some water, whisked) will make the crostata shiny and golden. I can hardly wait!
 I popped this into the oven for 50 minutes.  I wish I could bottle the scent of this crostata, as it bakes! It drove me wild, it smelled so good!

 Hello, Lover! Just 15 more minutes for it to cool.  I've whipped up a salad for the side...

Fresh strawberries, kiwis and butterleaf lettuce with a honey poppy seed dressing. Delicious!

I am crossing my fingers that this savory crostata is flaky and tastes as heavenly as it smells...

I anxiously cut into this crostata...
Here goes...

VERDICT: If you watch Anne Burrell's show, you know that her arms fly up when she tastes her food.  It's a victory dance she does. Well move over. I did a victory dance and moaned and shrieked with delight.
OMG!! The pastry has the perfect balance of nutty and salty Parmesan.  The red pepper flakes are perfect. The crust is tender and moist-- this is going in my Hall of Fame Recipe File.  As for the filling-- perfection.  There was one ingredient missing, to round off this dish. I'll show you...

Ahhhhhhhhh. That's the ticket! A glass of cold white wine rounds out this lunch/brunch meal just right.  Life is good. This recipe is better than good. I cannot wait to invite our vegetarian friend over for dinner. I'm definitely making this again.   I hope you try this crostata. It's not that hard to make, and you will cook like the pros.  Anne Burrell rocks!


Pin It