The bond between dams and their does warms our hearts! Long after they have been weaned, they continue to find unconditional comfort with each other.
Dams and Daughters
Giving Thanks: A Food Essay
The apple pie was a triumph for us! We have never made an apple pie before and haven't had a lot of experience working with pastry dough. So we were a little nervous about the crust. But we are so thankful for Heartland Table chef, Amy Thielen for her fantastic dough recipe that came out wonderfully light and flaky!
Pre-Thanksgiving: Going Native
It is a celebration in our house whenever we have the opportunity to fuel our meals with homegrown or local food. For our "Thanksgiving Eve" dinner, we made a luscious Butternut Sage soup topped with a fig, white peach sauce which tasted like autumn with every spoonful!
This extraordinarily simple dish was inspired by the delicious homemade Fig and White Peach Jam that was gifted to us by the sweet Amanda Clary. A million Thanks!
There is no "official" recipe for this dish, but I will try to accurately recall.
2 Butternut Squash, roasted
2 Red Delicious apples
2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
1 Cup Chicken Broth
1 Pint Heavy Cream
Handful of fresh Sage, chopped
1/4 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop seeds, and lightly rub with olive oil. Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until fork tender (About an hour). In a large sauce pan, add all ingredients (except sage) and saute for about 5 minutes, add sage and finish until apples are softening. Place all ingredients in food processor or blender and puree. Add additional whole milk to processor to desired consistency. I would actually add more milk next time to thin out the soup a bit.
1 Cup Fruit Jam
1 Cup Pine Nuts
Salt and Pepper to taste.
In sauce pan, toast Pine Nuts in butter. Add fruit jam and olive oil to desired consistency. Saute until thick and warm.
Pour into bowls, top with sauce and grated Parmesan cheese.
Weak in the Knees!
Upon regaining consciousness, we unanimously agreed...BEST COOKIE EVER!
First things first - I owe Giada de Laurentiis an apology for calling her cooking "antiseptic Italian" in the previous blog post. This recipe came from her cooking show and it is OUTSTANDING! She began the segment by claiming anytime she makes these for a party, the guests devour them - I believe her!
My ears perked-up when Giada mentioned using orange zest (I adore citrus!) and I was curious about the cornmeal. The cornmeal gives the cookie a fantastic crunchy texture which perfectly compliments the luxuriously smooth orange creme filling.
Anything more I could say will fall short of how scrumptious these beauties are.
So, without further adieu....Presenting the greatest cookie recipe ever....
THE ITALIAN CHOCOLATE SANDWICH COOKIE !!!
A couple of suggestions that aren't included in the recipe:
- Roll out dough between plastic wrap.
- Roll out dough in small amounts at a time.
- Dough MUST remain cold to work with effectively.
- Slide a fork under cut-out cookie to lift from dough.
- Don't be tempted to use a larger cookie cutter than 1 3/4".
- I used a Sil-Pat on top of air-bake baking sheet.
- Recipe calls for baking time to be 15 minutes. I pulled cookies out at 12 minutes. Just keep an eye on this.
- Fill cookies when they are cool.
- The "Filling" recipe portion is not enough to accommodate the whole cookie recipe. I baked half the dough and almost used all the filling.
They do require a little effort, but they're worth it!
An early-childhood memory I have carried throughout my life has been my noni's Christmas handmade tortellini. However, when I was five-years old, my noni passed away and I was left only with the seemingly unobtainable mystique of mastering handmade pasta. Every time we ate any pasta dish, I was constantly reminded of the masterpiece and tremendous accomplishment that was Noni's pasta, and I never imagined I could ever accomplish this for myself. So I never tried. The fear of pasta-making was shelved alongside my fear of made-from-scratch bread-baking - incidentally, a skill I now weild with ease and perfection!
Times have changed and Food TV has offered all the chance to cook well...or at the very least, try. My family and I are hooked on the Cooking Channel's show, Extra Virgin. The always-charming couple, Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcus, have proven to me I can cook like a true Italian...just like my noni ! Unlike the antiseptic Italian cooking of Giada de Laurentiis, Gabriele Corcus holds no claims to "Chefdom," but instead is an Italian who loves to share his passion for Italian food with his family and friends using the purest and most basic of ingredients. I get this.
I have one of those monstrous Kitchen Aid stand mixers that could double as an aircraft engine if need be! But the pasta attachment is ghastly expensive - upwards of $150 or more. Spending $150 to make spaghetti is just ridiculous. So I ventured off to Bed & Bath with coupons in hand and bought a hand-crank, counter-top pasta-maker for $27.00.
I brought the shiny little contraption home, sat it on the counter, and we all stood around and stared at it for a moment. David broke the silence, "That makes pasta?"
I took a deep breath, "That's what it says."
Impatient with our contemplation, Katie jumped in with an enthusiastic, "Let's do it!"
And boy, did we!
As with bread making, I don't bother myself with measuring these days - flour, yeast, salt, water, olive oil, and whatever else I am in the mood to add - and mix and knead until it feels like it should. I assumed pasta would be the same - flour, eggs, salt, olive oil.
My Basic Pasta Recipe
3 to 4 cups flour
3 to 4 eggs with possibly adding one extra yolk
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Scoop flour on to work surface and open up an approximate eight inch diameter well in the center.
Add eggs, olive oil and salt to the well.
With a fork, mix eggs, olive oil and salt together and then slowly incorporate the sides of the flour into the liquid until all is incorporated enough to begin forming dough and working it with your hands.
Knead until you have a nice smooth ball of dough - five minutes or so. It is not as light as bread dough. So be prepared to work your arms.
Throughout the mixing and kneading process add water by the tablespoon until the dough feels moist but not overly sticky. If you add too much water, just add more flour.
When your dough is a smooth ball, wrap in saran wrap and let rest for 45 minutes before use. If you are not using it that day, store in the refrigerator. Pull the dough out of the refrigerator at least an hour before you will work with it.
Carrot Ravioli filled with Grilled Eggplant, Gruyere and Goat Milk Ricotta
I had made chicken broth the day before and saved the carrots used in making the broth. I mashed about a quarter to a half cup of carrot to add to the pasta dough recipe. I only used 3 eggs and 1 yolk in the basic dough recipe.
1 Cup Goat Milk Ricotta Cheese (You can substitute with any store bought ricotta)
1 Cup Grilled Eggplant, diced
1/4 Cup Gruyere Cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper to taste
I'm guessing on these measurements, so use your best judgment to find the consistency you prefer.
Cut rolled pasta dough into 3 inch widths. Add little spoonful of filling. Wet half the edges of the dough with fingertip. Fold and press edges together to be sure there are no leaks.
Place into salted, boiling water. I also had added an additional drizzle of olive oil to the boiling water to prevent the pasta from sticking to each other. Watch carefully as fresh pasta cooks very quickly three to four minutes. Pull out of boiling water with slotted spoon and directly add to sauce pan with prepared sauce. Toss to coat and cook on medium heat for a minute or so.
Basic Butter Sauce
These measurements are "approximate" but your sauce will be best when you taste as you go.
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 Cup White Wine
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 Shallot, thinly sliced
3 - 4 Cloves Garlic, chopped
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
On medium heat, warm butter and olive oil. Add shallot and lemon juice, salt, pepper and red pepper. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add white wine and cook until alcohol has disappeared. Add garlic. Stir for a minute or so and taste. Adjust accordingly.
Place ravioli on serving dish. Garnish with Gruyere or Parmesan cheese and fresh, roughly chopped Italian Parsley.
Salt dish to taste - I find that grinding Himalayan Salt over the top gives the ravioli an excellent crunch!