Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mac and Two Cheeses with Caramelized Shallots

I'm new to Bon Appetit magazine. I saw one of those deals that I couldn't resist, so I'm giving it a whirl. What lured me in, besides the ridiculously low price, was the fact that two of my favorite food writers are regular contributors - Dorie Greenspan (a la Tuesdays with Dorie) and Molly Wizenberg (who's blog is one of the most sublime reads ever. How does she put all those words together so beautifully? And when she wrote about her wedding last year.....well.....I needed a hanky.)

I mentioned this recipe in another post, but thought I'd give it a solo entry. It was the first recipe out of the magazine I tried. I'm incredibly busy at my job, so comfort food was really attractive. To say the results were yummy would be an understatement. It was beyond yummy. And frankly, with the ingredients listed, how could it be anything but yummy. I must caution you, however, that if you truly want to enjoy it, DO NOT read the nutritional information at the bottom of the online recipe. Seriously! Just make it, enjoy it, savor it. Perhaps small helpings so as not to overload your arteries all at once. Oh and perhaps run a marathon after you're done. Then you'd be a-okay.

With that warning, here's all you need for serious comfort and yum!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

TWD: What's Black and White.....

....and runny all over? Well, that was the buzz on the TWD blog with this week's recipe Arborio Rice Pudding, White, Black (or both). I really love rice pudding. It's among my favorite "comfort" type desserts. And I had the rice on hand, since I like making risotto, so I was looking forward to giving this a try, especially after last week's cake.

Luckily I do these recipes after many others have posted about how it worked for them, so I can learn from their experiences. And this week Dorie herself posted that the recipe had a fatal flaw in that the time for it to simmer on the stove was off by 20 minutes (explaining why so many people had rice soup).

Knowing that in advance I settled in for a long night of simmering, and "entertained" myself by simultaneously making the Mac and Cheese recipe in this month's Bon Appetite Magazine (FYI - way yummy!). I didn't time how long the rice simmered, but the milk looked 80-90% absorbed to me, so I took it off the stove and divided it in two to do both the vanilla and the chocolate versions.

For some time now, I've known I'm not so good with the math (many moons ago, when I worked banquets, the powers that be finally stopped sending me out to determine how many people were at my 4 tables of 10 because I could never come back with the correct answer. I know! Sad! But somehow I can balance my checkbook to the penny. But I digress). My point is, I apparently don't know what 80-90% milk absorption looks like, as this morning I find I have rice soup. At least it is tasty rice soup, and I have plenty of company as many other TWDers got the same result.

This is a recipe I might try again at some point, but probably not anytime in the near future. The servings were VERY small, and it seemed like a lot of time for little return. If I were to make it again I would probably add a bit more rice (this time I increased the amount stated by a small amount, and decreased the milk 1/4 cup, hoping to avoid the soup result). I've only tried the chocolate, and although tasty, there was something about the consistency I didn't like. Perhaps I needed to chop my chocolate into smaller pieces. Perhaps the rice wasn't hot enough by the time the chocolate got mixed in to adequately melt all of it. Perhaps I need to go to chocolate school?

I was hoping to bring in a serving or two for my boss' boss, who had a birthday a week ago and I missed it. Alas, I don't think this will be the "presentation" I was hoping for, so he will have to wait for another week.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

TWD: Kugelhopf

I know -- easy for you to say!

I just officially joined Tuesdays with Dorie, and this is my first official attempt at the weekly recipe. I have to say that when I read it over, and realized how much time this was going to take, that I reconsidered my membership! It is a daunting first recipe due to the time it takes to make it.

Kugelhopf is a bread-like cake from the Alsace. The recipe includes a lot of rising and "slapping down" of the dough, plus a overnight in the refridgerator (which due to my busy scheduled turned into two nights). Many of my fellow TWDers had some of the same problems I had.

My first sign of trouble was when the dough did not rise up onto the doughook of my mixer. Happily (well, in a "misery loves company" sort of way) others had the same problem. I was also not alone with the cake not rising completely on the second round.

The result -- not bad. I followed the recipe pretty much exactly -- used golden raisins left over from the pumpkin muffins, and tossed in a few chocolate chips just for good measure. And the sugar on top is Turbinado from Trader Joes. Otherwise, no variations.
Worth the time - probably not. However, I'm rather looking forward to it for breakfast!
(ed to add photos)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pumpkin Ravioli with Gorgonzola Sauce

Trying this recipe came about for three reasons. One -- I've been collecting recipes out of magazines for a very longtime, but they have just sat in big piles, unorganized and untested. It was making me crazy so I finally sorted through them. I tossed duplicates (a girl can only have so many recipes for potato salad or lasagna) and organized by type. Two - while sorting through the piles, I found this recipe, and knew I had some left over canned pumpkin for trying a TWD recipe (Pumpkin Muffins - didn't much like them. I think I over cooked them . Sadness...) And Three -- I have a mini-herb garden off the back step, and I'm always looking to use up the sage that is growing so happily out there. Three birds, one stone!

This recipe isn't particularly difficult, though it does take a little bit of time to put together the ravioli. I'm still working on my time management skills in the kitchen, so the end felt a little rushed. The recipe said to add more to each won ton wrapper than I thought would work, but even though I didn't use as much per round, I ended up not having as many ravioli at the end as planned. The recipe says it makes 30, and I probably got 25 ravioli when I was done.

And the result -- well it was okay. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either (how's that for an endorsement!). I liked the creaminess of the pumpkin and how it played with the creaminess of the sauce. I also liked the bite the sage gave the filling, and how it played with the bite from the Gorgonzola. It seemed okay overall, and I was content to put away the extras for lunches later.

The next day I took one said lunch serving out, heated it up for two minutes, and really liked it much better than the night before. Maybe it's one of those things that needs to sit to really make the flavors sing. I'm still not sure I will be making this again, but I do know I'm happy to have two more servings waiting for me in the fridge!

I substituted pecans for hazelnuts (I had a few pecans that needed to be used), otherwise, I followed the recipe as below.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Gorgonzola Sauce
Cooking Light Magazine, Nov. 2007

1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin

2 Tablespoons dry breadcrumbs

2 Tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh sage

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

30 round wonton wrappers

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

Cooking spray

1 cup fat-free milk

1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 1/2 Tablespoons butter

1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

3 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts, toasted

1. Spoon pumpkin onto several layers of heavy-duty paper towels, and spread to 1/2-inch thickness. Cover with additional paper towels; let stand 5 minutes. Scrape into a medium bowl using a rubber spatula. Stir in breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, minced sage, pepper, and nutmeg.

2. Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel to keep from drying), spoon 2 teaspoons pumpkin mixture into the center of wrapper. Brush edges of wrapper with water and fold in half, pressing edges firmly with fingers to form a half-moon. Place on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch. Repeat procedure with remaining wonton wrappers and pumpkin mixture.

3. Fill a large Dutch oven with water; bring to a simmer. Add half of ravioli to pan (cover remaining ravioli with a damp towel to keep from drying). Cook 4 minutes or until done (do not boil), stirring gently. remove ravioli with a slotted spoon; lightly coat with cooking spray, and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining ravioli.

4. Combine milk and flour in a saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil, cook for 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter, stirring until butter melts. Gently stir in Gorgonzola.

5. Place 5 ravioli in each of 6 shallow bowls, and drizzle each serving with 3 Tablespoons Gorgonzola mixture. Sprinkle each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons hazelnuts. Serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings