Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Porcini Ravioli with Brown Butter

We have a friend who grew up in a large extended Italian family in Vermont. One of her memories from childhood is going out into the woods and helping to forage for porcini mushrooms. “Everyone would talk back and forth while searching for the porcini. When someone got really quiet, you knew they had found something. We would bring all of the mushrooms back and spread them out on the kitchen table. Half would be dried and the rest would be made into porcini ravioli.”
Since my cooking assistant is home, newly graduated from college, I thought we would make ravioli together.
I flavored the pasta dough with porcini powder made by grinding dried porcini in a spice grinder (actually it’s a coffee grinder from a second-hand store) but you don’t have to. I had to add some olive oil to the dough since the porcini powder made the dough a little drier. If you omit the porcini powder, omit the olive oil. You could skip making the pasta and use Asian dumpling wrappers, a form of pasta. However if you do use dumpling wrappers, work with them and cook them carefully because they can be more delicate than regular pasta dough.
You could also make this with crimini mushrooms.
This recipe made 26 two-inch wide ravioli. We served five ravioli as a serving.

Porcini Mushroom Filling
Makes enough filling for 26- 2” ravioli

½ pound fresh porcini mushrooms
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil, for cooking
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Make the ravioli dough (recipe below) and refrigerate.
1. Wipe the porcini clean. Trim the bottom end of the mushrooms and slice them lengthwise. Set aside.
2. Place a non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Swirl in the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and
sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Lower the heat, add the garlic and season the mushrooms with salt and black pepper. Cook the mushrooms for an additional 2 to 3 minutes until soft and browned. Set aside to cool completely.
3. When the mushrooms are cool, place them into a bowl of a food processor and pulse them until chopped. (This can also be done by hand). Transfer the chopped mushrooms to a bowl. Add the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, season with salt and black pepper and mix until all the ingredients are combined. Cover and store in the refrigerator.
4. Assembling the ravioli: Roll out the pasta sheets; We rolled our sheets out to the thickness of the number 6 setting on the pasta machine. Use flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Set the pasta sheets aside. You can either cover the ravioli filling with a second sheet of dough or place the filling halfway down the pasta sheet and fold the other half of the pasta sheet over to cover the filling. 
Spread a pasta sheet on a lightly floured surface and place a tablespoon of the filling evenly spaced on the pasta sheet. Brush the bottom pasta sheet with some beaten egg.

Cover the filling, pressing the dough down around the filling, pressing out any air. 

Cut the ravioli into individual pieces. 

Place the completed ravioli on to a tray lined with parchment paper. 

Repeat until all the filling is used. Place the ravioli into the freezer. When the ravioli are frozen, remove the ravioli from the tray and into a sealable plastic bag. Freeze the ravioli until needed.
5. Cooking the ravioli: We used 5 ravioli per person when we made them. Place a pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, drop the ravioli into the water and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. While the ravioli is cooking, place a large non-stick sauté pan over medium heat. Add one tablespoon unsalted butter per serving to the pan. Melt the butter; cooking the butter until it begins to brown. Season the butter with salt and set aside. When the ravioli have finished cooking drain the ravioli into a colander. Place the pan with the brown butter back over medium-high heat. Add the ravioli and toss the ravioli in the brown butter. Season the ravioli with freshly ground pepper. Remove the pan from heat. Portion the ravioli into bowls and serve.

Pasta Dough
This makes enough dough for 26 - 2” ravioli. You may have to take some of the pasta scraps and roll them again.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
4 Eggs
Option: 1Tablespoon porcini powder plus 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin olive oil

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the flour, salt and porcini powder.  Add the eggs, olive oil and mix with the paddle attachments until a ball of dough forms. Remove the dough and knead the dough for a minute or two on a lightly floured surface. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling out the dough. The dough can also be mixed by hand.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Spring = Strawberries

                                                           “Let me take you down….”

We’re in the heart of the local strawberry season. It arrived late this year due to tentative weather but there are plenty to be had. Enjoy them now. Don’t be terrorized by huge, flavorless strawberries from California!

Strawberry Muffins

This is a good all-purpose muffin recipe. When blueberries are in season you could substitute them for the strawberries. You could substitute the 1 cup of  cake flour for 1 cup of corn meal for corn muffins.

For one dozen muffins:

2 Grade A large eggs
½ cup sugar
1 cup milk
6 Tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup plain cake flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 cup (loosely packed) fresh strawberries, halved or quartered depending on their size

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray or fill each space with a cupcake paper. Set aside.
2. Sift the flours and the baking powder together and set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs with the sugar and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the milk and butter until blended. Whisk in the salt and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and combine; it’s fine if there are lumps in the batter. Fold in strawberries. Divide the batter, filling each muffin cup 2/3’s full. Place the muffins in the oven and bake for 12 minutes; turn the muffin pan and continue baking for an additional 13 to 15 minutes until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of one comes out clean. Remove from the oven, let cool, and enjoy.

Strawberry- Rhubarb Crisp

A crisp is a quick alternative to a crumb pie when you don’t have the time but it is just as rewarding. Plus you don’t have to worry if you can serve it without it falling apart.
This makes four individual-sized servings or you could bake it in a 4 cup capacity baking dish

2 cups strawberries, halved or quartered depending on their size
½ pound rhubarb stalks, sliced into ½ “ pieces (2 cups)
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 to 3 Tablespoons apple cider, orange juice or water
2 Tablespoons corn starch

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the strawberries and the rhubarb into a mixing bowl.  Add the sugar and the juice/water and stir to combine. Set aside for 20 minutes to let the juices come out. In the meantime, make the crisp topping.
2. Before baking, add the cornstarch to the fruit and mix until dissolved. Spray the baking dishes with non-stick spray. Divide the strawberry-rhubarb mixture between the serving bowls. Top each portion with some of the crumb mixture. Place the dishes on a baking tray and place them into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes and rotate the tray and continue baking for an additional 15 to 2o minutes until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream, or not.

Crisp Topping
This will make more than you will need. Freeze the leftovers in a sealable storage bag for use at a later time.
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup light or dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1. Place the flour, sugars and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, lightly mix together. Add the butter and mix until small crumbs begin to form. Set aside until needed. (Alternately, this can be mixed together by hand, cutting the butter into the flour/sugars with a fork or pastry blender.)