Yes…it’s true. The past two weeks have been two of the busiest weeks so far this year. School is really throwing down and it seems like just when I have it all under control, my classes knock me down again. Oh, and I should mention our furnace died earlier this week and it’s winter in the midwest. Stressed! Fear not, though, as a new furnace is being installed at this very moment!
My sincere apologies to all of you dear and devoted readers. You are out there, right?
I have only made a few things worth sharing in the last two weeks – ramen and some lovely snacks I brought to an Oscar party.
Now, this dish was no easy feat. Just ask David Chang, as it was his recipe I followed. I’m absolutely loving my Momofuku Cookbook and I’ve been trying to make at least one thing from it every week. The ramen broth was quite an ordeal. I had to order five pounds of pork bones from the butcher and then wait. And wait. After about five days, I got the call that they were ready. I had all the other necessary ingredients: kombu, dried shiitake mushrooms, scallions, chicken legs, smoky bacon, onion, and carrots. I couldn’t wait. Into the oven went the pork bones!
Just let me tell you, after all was said and done, after all the roasting, simmering, and waiting – the flavor of the broth was divine. I wish I could hug David Chang and thank him for bringing something so amazing into my life.
Last summer, Scott and I used to pick up these great little whole-wheat pizza crusts from a shop called Le Quartier Baking Company. At the time, they were only based in Lincoln, but to our delight, had informed us that soon they would set up shop in Omaha.
Don’t get me wrong, I love making pizza dough from scratch, but these par-baked pizza crusts are the perfect size for the two of us and we don’t have to wait around for the dough to rise!
I love that we get to create whatever combinations we want, top the lovely crusts, and in 10 minutes, voilà! Pizza! And by the way, they were all delicious!
Red and yellow onions at the beginning of the caramelizing process. Yum!
Onions after 40 minutes. Sweet and lovely.
From L to R: Organic pepperoni, organic pizza sauce, fresh mozzarella; organic pizza sauce, prosciutto, caramelized onions, mozzarella, and feta cheese; caramelized onions, fresh goat cheese (and topped with arugula after baking).
Prosciutto pizza and goat cheese/arugula pizza right after baking.
Organic pepperoni pizza.
So, the other day, Scott and I stood in the kitchen and discussed how many foods have a “night” of their own during the week? Meaning, par exemple, when say, Thursday rolls around, is it Taco Night or Chicken Night or Chili Night in your house? When I was growing up, we most definitely had “nights” devoted to certain foods or dishes. I can recall Taco Night, for sure. It usually consisted of ground beef with a taco seasoning packet mixed in, along with several bowls filled with various accompaniments (shredded iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, onions, shredded cheese, and of course, salsa. I loved Taco Night. I got to eat with my hands and customize my own dining experience! What’s not to love?
One night that most families have (I’m sure) is some form of Pasta Night. For my family, it was Spaghetti Night, but for others, perhaps you’re looking at Lasagna or Alfredo Night. Who knows? The point is, from time to time it’s good to have nights devoted to certain dishes. Not only does it make menu planning a breeze, it also drastically simplifies grocery shopping. Besides, it’s fun to look forward to your favorite “night,” isn’t it?
As you may or may not know, for my birthday Scott gifted me a pasta-making attachment for my KitchenAid Stand Mixer. It is divine. I adore it, and it is why I look forward to Pasta Night at our house. More specifically, Ravioli Night. Oh yes, and I think I have found the most perfect pasta dough recipe! It is made with a mixture of both all-purpose flour AND cake flour. That’s right, cake flour! I was skeptical as well, but you know me, I’m always willing to try something new in the kitchen! The cake flour supplied the lightness pasta needs and contributed to its delicate mouthfeel. This is definitely my go-to dough recipe from now on!
Don’t get me wrong, nothing beats homemade ravioli, but getting there is labor-intensive. You have to want it. You will not be sorry, though. Just start early, and allow yourself some time to make the mistakes you will inevitably make. Take deep breaths and I promise you, all will work out. Add this recipe to your weekly dinner rotation. Give it its own night. You won’t regret it.
Arugula and Goat Cheese Ravioli
adapted from Gourmet, 2007
2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 pound baby arugula, chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup (4.5-5oz) soft goat cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 stick (1/4 cup or 4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/3 cup pine nuts (1.5 oz)
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped arugula
To make pasta:
***Note: I use a food processor to make my pasta dough. I know, I know, I should probably be making it by hand on my marble board. But you know what? This is simpler, cleaner, and the dough turns out just as lovely.
Blend together all the dough ingredients in the food processor just until it starts to form a ball. Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. You can add just enough flour to keep it from sticking. Wrap the dough in cling film and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour.
***Note: If, for any reason, you’re going to be leaving the house, or you’re starting this dough early in the day, place it in the fridge to chill, but make sure to let it come to room temp before you start working with it. It’ll make rolling easier.
Make filling while dough stands:
Heat butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then add garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic begins to turn golden, about 1-2 minutes. Don’t let the garlic burn! Add the arugula and zest and cook, turning with tongs, until arugula is wilted, about 2-4 minutes. Transfer arugula mixture to a colander or fine-mesh strainer and press with the back of a wooden spoon to squeeze out any extra liquid.
***Note: Yes, you can do this with a rolling pin, it’ll just take a lot longer. But, if you have a pasta maker or a tabletop pasta roller, use it.
Cut dough into 8 equal pieces. Cover 7 pieces with cling film and gently pat out remaining piece into a flat rectangle. Dust generously with flour.
Set rollers of pasta maker on widest setting. Feed rectangle, short side first, through rollers. Fold rectangle in thirds, like a letter, and feed it, a short side first, through rollers. Repeat 6 or 7 more times, folding dough in thirds and feeding it through rollers, a short side first each time, dusting with flour to prevent sticking. Turn dial to next (narrower) setting and feed dough through rollers without folding, a short side first. Continue to feed dough through without folding, making space between rollers narrower each time, until the second to narrowest setting is used. When we made this, we stopped on number 5 – we found this was just thin enough not to tear when filled.
Put sheet of dough on a lightly floured kitchen towel with a long side nearest you. Drop 3 or 4 rounded teaspoon size mounds of filling 1.5-inches apart in a row down the center of the right half of sheet, then lift left half of sheet and drape it over the mounds. Press down firmly but gently around each mound, forcing out air. Cut pasta between mounds with a knife (for square) or round cutter. Line a large baking sheet with another kitchen towel, then arrange the ravioli in 1 layer. If your round cutter doesn’t already have a crimper built in, then just run the tines of a fork around the outer edge of each ravioli. Continue with the remaining dough and filling.
Heat butter in a cleaned 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook pine nuts, stirring frequently, until pale golden, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and oil, swirling skillet to combine, and remove from heat (leave sauce in skillet).
Bring a 6- to 8-quart pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a gentle boil. While water is heating, reheat sauce over low heat if necessary.
Add half of ravioli (we only boiled half of what we originally made – we froze the rest) to gently boiling water, carefully stirring to separate, and cook, adjusting heat to keep at a gentle boil, until pasta is just tender 2-4 minutes. Lift cooked ravioli with a slotted spoon, draining well over pot, then transfer to skillet with sauce and gently swirl skillet to coat pasta. Transfer ravioli carefully to serving plates (or bowls). Spoon a little sauce over the ravioli and sprinkle with chopped fresh arugula.