Friday, September 30, 2011

Dinosaur Cake

I was on a hunt the other day for a deep dish pie pan. It is just about apple pie season. But instead I came across a mold for a dinosaur cake! I love dinosaurs. Maybe its because when I tell people I study archaeology they think that means I study dinosaurs. Well I don't. But it could also be because I think dinosaurs are just awesome. So I was very happy to have found this cake mold.

I wasn't having a great day yesterday and I knew what would make it better. Having my friend come over and bake a cake. I made my usual chocolate cake only I made a green frosting to go on top and used chocolate chips and craisins for the eyes and white chocolate chips for the teeth. I don't think he looks as intimidating as a dinosaur should, but hey, this was my first time making it. And it did the job and cheered me up!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Butternut Squash Raviolis

I was at the small campus farmer's market the other day looking for some yummy fresh produce to cook with when I stumbled upon a basket of butternut squash. I had never before made butternut squash anything before, but I had on numerous occasions enjoyed them filled in raviolis. I had some misgivings about preparing butternut squash raviolis after last year's failed attempt at Halloween making pumpkin raviolis. I'm going to blame it on the pre-made wonton wrappers not sticking together.

I had made some fresh pasta the week before, and luckily had decided to make some ravioli wrappers to freeze, just in case. Well, they came in handy. So Sunday morning I woke up, had some coffee, and got started on preparing the raviolis.

They turned out amazing! The filling was smooth and had sweet flavor from roasting in the oven. We served them with browned butter and sage sauce. Nest time I think we'll make a creamier sauce. 

Adapted from Tortellini de Zucca (tortellini with pumpkin) recipe in Trattoria Grappolo (my favorite restaurant's cookbook)

1 butternut squash roasted (I peeled and cut them into cubes, I think it must be easier to roast them whole)
Olive oil
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Dash of fresh ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

For the wrappers use either pre-made wonton wrappers, or your own recipe for pasta (mine is from a previous post on pasta making)

1) Preheat oven to 400 F
2) Cut squash into cubes and coat in olive oil and salt and pepper; roast for 45 minutes or until soft

3) Cool slightly then add to food processor and blend until smooth

4) Add cheeses, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and blend until combined
5) Refrigerate until ready to use
6) Place ravioli wrappers on surface and begin stuffing them with a small amount of filling (enough but not too much that they ooze out of the sides when pressed together)

7) Wet edges of wrappers and seal the edges tightly
8) Refrigerate until ready to use

9) Boil water in a large pot and cook raviolis for about 3-5 minutes until cooked
10) Serve with sauce of your choice

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pork Paprikash

I was flipping through some of my cookbooks looking for something to cook for dinner. I turned to one of the pages I had bookmarked in my Food and Wine Quick From Scratch One-Dish Meals and it was a recipe for Pork Paprikash. I had never heard of this dish before but I'm a sucker for anything you can put over egg noodles. There is something so comforting about them that reminds me of my mom's cooking.

This was a really simple recipe to prepare and has a lot of flavor. I cooked the pork in the sauce for a little longer than the recipe called for and it turned out to be very tender. I also added fresh parsley from my herb garden to the noodles to give the dish some green freshness. I think next time I will also include peas in the sauce.

Pork Paprikash
Adapted from Food and Wine Quick From Scratch One-Dish Meals
  1. 3 tablespoons cooking oil or bacon fat
  2. 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  3. 1 tablespoon flour
  4. 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  5. 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  6. 1 onion, cut into thin slices
  7. 2 large green bell peppers, cut into thin strips
  8. 4 teaspoons paprika
  9. 1 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  10. 3/4 cup sour cream
  11. 3/4 pound egg noodles
  1. In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat. Toss the pork with the flour, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Add about half the pork to the pot and brown for about 3 minutes. Remove. Repeat with the remaining pork and an additional tablespoon oil. Remove.
  2. Reduce the heat to moderately low and add the remaining tablespoon oil to the pan. Add the onion and bell peppers. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and the paprika. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the pork with any accumulated juices and the broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered, until the pork is just done, 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to very low and whisk in the sour cream.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the egg noodles until just done, about 7 minutes. Drain. Remove 1/2 cup of the sauce from the stew and toss with the noodles. Serve the stew over the noodles. 


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Edna Lewis' Sweet Potato Pie

This semester I am taking a course on Soul Food, in text, as text. So far the class has been an interesting exploration of soul food and African American cooking in the United States. For a class assignment I decided to make a Sweet Potato Pie using the recipe from Edna Lewis' The Taste of Country Cooking. I had never before had a Sweet Potato Pie, probably because I was raised in California, so of course I have never baked one. It was a great experience through which I learned a lot about the process of making this pie as well as the history behind Sweet Potato Pie as well as the recipe from Edna Lewis.

When I tasted the finished pie I couldn't believe how tasty it was. The filling was light and fluffy. I was afraid the filling would have been too sweet but the nutmeg and the cinnamon shone through brilliantly. I'm excited to make this pie again and share it with friends and family.

Note: I only used the pie filling from this cookbook. The pie crust is adapted from Smitten Kitchen because butter is better.

Sweet Potato Pie Filling
2 cups mashed and sieved sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 small or medium eggs separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup butter melted over hot water
1-2/3 cups milk at room tempature

This makes enough filling for two 10" or three 7" pies

In a mixing bowl, combine sieved sweet potatoes, sugar, spices, salt, beaten yolks, vanilla and melted butter. Mix thoroughly. Add the milk and stir well. Beat the whites of the eggs to the frothy stage and stir them into the batter. Pour the batter into pastry lined pie pans. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.

All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough
From Smitten Kitchen

Makes enough dough for one double-, or two single-crust pies.
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 16 tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold