Friday, June 24, 2011

ricotta gnocchi with asparagus and peas

If you can remember to drain your ricotta in advance, then this dish is quick and easy to prepare. And you can say that you make your own gnocchi, which is one of those things that impresses people. Or course, you could make your own ricotta to start with and be over-the-top impressive. Or other people (ie one’s husband) can brag about your cooking and you can remain modestly in your kitchen.

The inspiration for this dish came from a 2010 issue of Bon Appetit. On the cover they had a gorgeous picture of fettucine with asparagus and peas. I’d made it last year, following the recipe pretty closely and it was good. But I wanted a tweak and came up with the idea of using the sauce with ricotta gnocchi. And since I had a bunch of chives I put chives in the gnocchi. The original recipe for the ricotta gnocchi comes from eat, make, read from a couple of years ago.

Ricotta Gnocchi (based on a recipe from eat,make,read)
1 tub (15 oz/ 296 mL) ricotta cheese, drained for at least 20 minutes
1 egg
Handful of chopped chives
1 clove garlic, minced
1-1 ¼ c flour

In a bowl, add the ricotta, egg and seasonings and mix well. Add the flour ¼ c at a time and blend well. Keep adding flour until a dough can be formed with the flour and all the flour is incorporated into the dough – I used 1 c. Form the dough into a ball and cut the ball into 4 equal (ish) quarters. Roll each quarter into a log about 1” in diameter and about 12” long. Cut the log into 12 equal (ish) pieces. Press the tines of a fork over the top of each piece to make the “gnocchi” marks for the sauce to stick in.

Boil a pot of salted water and drop the gnocchi in. Cook until the gnocchi float to the surface of the water and drain well.

Asparagus and Pea Sauce (based on a recipe from Bon Appetit)
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
1 c frozen peas
1 shallot, minced
4 rashers of bacon, sliced (optional)
4 garlic scapes, roasted and cut into 1” pieces OR 1 garlic clove minced
handful sliced mushrooms
1/3 c cream
½ c grated parmesan cheese

Roast the asparagus in a hot oven (400 deg F) for about 5 minutes or until slightly browned. Meanwhile sauté the shallot in a bit of olive oil or with the bacon slices if using. Add the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms are cooked and browning a bit, add the peas. Once the asparagus is roasted, cut into 2” pieces and add to the pan. Add the cream and cheese to finish.

Add the drained gnocchi, toss gently to coat and serve.

We've eaten this a couple of times in as many weeks - it's a great recipe (see draining ricotta) for a weekday supper out of the ordinary.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

it worked!

I'm very excited. After reading Deb's account of making ricotta cheese, I was inspired by a commenter to make goat cheese

I picked up some goat's milk, whipped out a saucepan and my candy thermometer (ok - so I had to dig through the miscellaneous kitchen drawer for a bit to find it) and squeezed a lemon and voila - a mild, goat cream cheese! Oh yeah - add in a colander, a bowl, cheese cloth and a wooden spoon as well. I have to say, I'm slightly chuffed with myself and a bit amazed.

Goat Cheese (from Serious Eats)

1 litre goat's milk
1/4 c lemon juice

Heat the milk to 180 deg F over medium heat. This should take about 15 minutes. Once it gets to temperature, take it off the heat and add the lemon juice. The mixture should form small chunks. If it doesn't, add a few more drops of lemon juice. Ladle the mixture into a colander, lined with 3-4 sheets of cheesecloth.

Tie the ends of the cheesecloth together and let drip over a deep bowl for 1-2 hours.

Transfer the cheese into a small container, mix in herbs and salt to taste.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

it smelled like christmas

I made this dessert last week. A mini rhubarb compote pavlova. Meringue nest + rhubarb compote + vanilla whipped cream. My man thought this had ginger in it. It had a lovely, spicy, christmassy smell.

After a couple of attempts at roasting the rhubarb, I ended up using a recipe from the back of the most recent edition of Edible Vancouver. Much of this was inspired by Molly at remedial eating, Tara at seven spoons and Nigella (Lawson). My man thought it was delicious and spooned it up every night I served it - until I ran out of meringues.

Merigue nests (from remedial eating)
3 egg whites
3/4 c sugar

In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites to a soft peak stage. Slowly beat in the sugar until incorporated and keep beating until the egg whites are stiff and glossy. Spoon tablespoon fulls of the mixture onto parchment paper, using the spoon to form a circle with higher sides and a depression in the center - a meringue nest. Bake for about an hour to an hour and a half at 250 deg F. Turn off the oven and leave overnight to dry out.
Keep in an airtight container.

Rhubarb Compote (from Edible Vancouver - Choices ad)
6 c rhubarb, roughly chopped
3/4 c honey
1 strip lemon zest
1 whole vanilla bean
1/4 tsp cinnamon and nutmeg
water to cover

Put all the ingredients in a medium sauce pan, then pour in enough water to cover. Cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes.

Vanilla Whipped Cream - whip cream, vanilla and a smidge of sugar into soft peaks.

For each nest, place one merigue nest in a bowl. Cover the nest with rhubarb compote and top with a generous dollop of vanilla whipped cream.  Eat. Make more. Eat more. (If you are me, take out pants as hips will have expanded...sigh).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

from sad to delicious

While rummaging through the fridge the other day, I came across a bag of wilted arugula I'd bought at the market. Fortunately I'd read Melissa Clark's suggestion on how to revive wilted greens. So I dunked the arugula in cold water and left it in the fridge overnight and yesterday it had bounced back. I made arugula pesto mixture with it and layered it onto sauted portobello mushrooms, added some goat cheese, added some thin buns spread with a thin coat of mayonaise and mustard and voila, Saturday night mushroom burgers.

Arugula pesto (inspired by a recipe from the Rebar Modern Cookbook)

1 c arugula leaves
1/4 c pine nuts
1/4 c parmeggiano regiano cheese, crumbled
1 garlic clove
pinch of kosher salt

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a paste is formed.

Arugula Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Spread the arugula mix over grilled or sauted whole portobello mushrooms. Add a layer of goat cheese over the top and cook until the cheese is slightly softened. Lay the mushrooms between heated sliced bun halves, lightly spread with mayonaise and dijon mustard.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

not everyone's favorite

The market is back! Our local market is back and the boy and I have been visiting with our favorite vendors weekly. This past weekend, the sun shone and more people came out to support the people growing gorgeous things for us to grow and eat. And for this month's cooking competition I submit our new favorite cake - a rhubarb coffee cake. It came in a distant second of the two entries. But those who liked it, really liked it. And we really like it.

It comes from Bonnie Stern via the National Post. I've made it several times since the recipe appeared in the Weekend Post section in the Saturday Post.

Rhubarb Coffe Cake (adapted from Bonnie Sterns' recipe from here)
2½ c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1⁄4 tsp kosher salt
 ¾ c butter
1 c packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
1 c sour cream
2 c diced fresh rhubarb

Filling and topping:
¾ c packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp butter, melted

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, with a mixer, beat the butter with the sugar until blended and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and mix until blended. Stir in about 1⁄3 of the flour mixture, add ½ of the sour cream, another third of the flour, the remaining sour cream and then the remaining flour. Stir only until combined. Fold in the rhubarb.

In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon and melted butter until mixed. Spread half of the cake batter into the bottom of a 9 or 10 inch greased springform pan. Sprinkle about half of the topping/filling mixture evenly over the batter. Spread the remaining batter over the top and sprinkle all the remaining topping mixture evenly over the top.

Bake in a preheated 350 deg F oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the centre.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

little things

Little things make you happy. Like a new book from a favorite author, or even better, two new books from favorite authors. And while I'm there, my apologies to the woman at the Starbucks the weekend before last who must have thought I was extremely rude as I unabashedly listened in on her conversation with a friend about this book, because I didn't know there was a new Susanna Kearsley out. I bought my copy the next day. And while I was in the bookstore, I found this book, by another favorite, Jennifer Weiner. So I had a lovely week of reading.

And one night we had a very green dinner. I've talked about spinach gunge, and I had a huge bag of pea greens in my vegetable drawer waiting to be made into supper so I made a gunge out of them, without the cheese and smeared it on portobello mushrooms that had been brushed with olive oil and roasted for 15 minutes.

I sprinkled parmesan cheese on top of the gunge mushrooms

 and baked for about 10 more minutes until everything was hot and the cheese was melted. Served alongside a big salad of market spicy greens and arugula, it made for a very healthy and tasty supper.

Pea Greens Gunge (adapted from Bon Appetit, Fergus Henderson)

1 knob of butter
1 1lb bag of pea greens
1 tsp mustard
1/4 c cream

Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once melted, add the greens and heat until wilted. Add the mustard and cream and puree until smooth in a food processor. Add salt to taste.