Thursday, October 31, 2013

Goat Cheese Ravioli with Puttanesca Sauce

I set out to make Ottolenghi's lemon and goat cheese ravioli, and veered off in a whole other direction, substituting wonton wrappers for pasta dough, and serving the ravioli with a puttanesca sauce (with a twist: fennel), instead of the tarragon/lemon/oil topping in his recipe. Maybe it's a sign that his hold on me is loosening, ever so slightly. At any rate, my straying paid off; there were honest-to-god moans of delight over this one. And it was a big, big problem that there wasn't enough for seconds.

Goat Cheese Ravioli with Puttanesca Sauce
Serves 3 (but leaves them all wanting more)

8 ounces soft goat cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
Hot red pepper flakes
Black pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
24 wonton wrappers
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced thinly
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
4 teaspoons capers, drained
4 anchovy fillets, chopped finely
Parsley, minced

For the ravioli:

Mash together goat cheese, lemon juice, big pinch each of hot red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, and 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Lay one wonton wrapper on a cutting board, brush around the perimeter with water, and add a heaped tablespoon of the goat cheese mixture in the center.

Top with another wonton wrapper and press firmly around the edge to seal.

Repeat until you've used up all the filling. I ended up with 12 ravioli. Put ravioli on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet while you prepare the puttanesca sauce.

For the sauce:

Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the fennel and cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, olives, capers, and anchovies. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

To finish:

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet and cook ravioli, maybe 4 at a time, until browned and slightly puffed. It only takes about 2 minutes on each side.

Serve topped with puttanesca and parsley.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hardly Getting Over Ottolenghi: Caramelized Garlic Tart

Chef Ottolenghi had me at Shakshuka, but this garlic tart is what finally sealed my undying devotion. I am afraid to write any description of it, lest I further condemn myself to that special level of hell reserved for adjective over-users. I'll let the man himself sum it up:

I followed his recipe closely, except I didn't have fresh herbs and substituted dried, and I used phyllo dough instead of puff pastry because they were out of puff pastry at the store. The flakey phyllo was delicious - I think any kind of crust would work well. The recipe says it serves eight. Ha ha. Four of us devoured this easily.

Caramlized Garlic Tart
adapted with minor changes from Plenty by Ottolenghi
Serves 8 (not really)

3 whole heads of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
3/4 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
8 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
Olive oil or cooking spray for phyllo crust
4-5 ounces soft, creamy goat's cheese
4-5 ounces hard, mature goat's cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup créme fraiche
Salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 325

To caramelize garlic:

Separate and peel all the cloves, put them in a small pan, cover with water, bring to a simmer, and blanch for three minutes. Drain.

Warm olive oil over high heat, add garlic, and fry for 2 minutes. Add vinegar and water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add sugar, herbs, a pinch of salt, and continue to simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and the cloves are coated in a dark syrup. This is the hardest moment of making this recipe. You will want to eat all of these incredibly tasty garlic cloves. Show some restraint. But no need to be a saint - eat ONE, go ahead. Set the rest aside.

Prepare the phyllo crust:

Lightly oil a tart pan or pie plate and layer the phyllo sheets, brushing each layer with olive oil (or spray with cooking spray - easier but not quite as yummy). There will be substantial overhang, which you should trim with scissors down to about an inch. Roll this overhang in to form a rim. It doesn't need to be perfect.

Break the cheeses into big bite-sized pieces and scatter into the phyllo crust. Add the garlic and every bit of its syrupy coating.

Whisk together the eggs, creams, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and generous pinch of pepper.  Pour over everything.

Bake 45-55 minutes, until the filling has set and the top is nice and brown.

Let the tart cool a little before serving. But rest assured your adoration of Ottolenghi will not be cooling. Not at all. I'll be making his lemon and goat cheese ravioli next, so please stay tuned.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ratatouille (Vegan)

The honeymoon's not over for me and Ottolenghi. I am cooking my way through select recipes from his cookbook Plenty, and every, every single thing I make turns out to make people sigh and swoon. Seriously. He is a genius.

Last week I insisted that my oldest son Jonah come home for dinner, the first time since he moved into his dorm in Chicago's South Loop. I thought for days about what to cook. I wanted it to be something with an absurd amount of vegetables - surely he wasn't eating enough fresh veggies on his meal plan. To be honest, I kind of haven't been eating enough veggies on my meal plan. Part of our living in-residence deal is that my family and I can eat in the dining hall, and on many weeknights we take advantage of this perk. The food is reasonably good, and we're eating vegetables, of course, but it's not like the homemade/made with love/ usually-organic fare that I put on the table on my best nights. 

So I wanted dinner with Jonah to be this - the best of the best. We have always loved ratatouille, and when I read Ottolenghi's take on the classic- with parsnips! hot pepper! butternut squash! green beans! - I knew it would be something special and exactly what I was looking for.

The amount of chopping was daunting. I put Henry to work on garlic and onions, Jake peeling potatoes and prepping beans. I think prep work should be a family affair; sharing the chopping makes cooking more fun and less laborious. Give your children knives, people! With the three of us on task we had a massive pile of vegetables ready to cook in minimal time, and then I started the process of frying, simmering, and finally roasting this thing into deliciousness. 

It was great to see Jonah. He devoured two enormous servings of ratatouille, and thus satisfied that I'd given him about a week's worth of vegetables and a month's worth of motherly love, I hugged my son and off he went, well nourished.

adapted from a recipe in Ottolengi's Plenty
Serves 6-8
*note: dice all vegetables into similarly-sized (approximately 1-inch) pieces

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
4 red and/or yellow peppers, diced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
1 lb. green beans, trimmed
2 zucchini, diced
1 large eggplant, peeled and diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 28-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
Big pinch sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and pepper
Chopped parsley or cilantro to garnish

Warm 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and a tiny pinch of salt and cook 5-10 minutes. Add garlic, jalapeño, and peppers, and cook 5 more minutes. Add squash and parsnip and cook 5 more minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to scoop vegetables out and into a bowl (leave as much oil in the pot as possible). Add remaining 4 tablespoons of oil and cook green beans, zucchini, and eggplant for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Return the other vegetables to the pot, add potatoes, tomatoes and their juices, sugar, tomato paste, and lots of salt and pepper to taste. Add water to half-cover everything, stir well, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt or pepper if necessary.

Heat oven to 400. Scoop vegetables out of pot and into a roasting pan. Pour in the cooking liquid, and bake 30 minutes, until liquid cooks off. Vegetables should be very, very soft. As Ottolenghi writes, "overcooking the vegetables is the whole point here."

Serve with plain white rice. Garnish with parsley or cilantro. 

May cause swooning in you and others.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Feeding Freshman

warm cookies on move-in night

candy apples for the first day of classes

hot mulled cider, every sunday night

donuts - to go with the cider