Monday, June 14, 2010

5 kinds of non-dairy ravioli filling

For Kerryn:
  1. Chicken (just shredded coooked chicken breast).  Add egg or pesto for texture, or a little stock for moisture.
  2. Pumpkin or squash.  Mash and add garlic and a pinch of nutmeg.  
  3. Sundried tomato, finely sliced, with pine nuts - add shredded beef for a little extra.
  4. Make a soft stuffing mix with breadcrumbs, lemon zest, pine nuts, chopped herbs and stock or oil.  Make sure it's nice and moist.
  5. Slow-cooked lamb or ox-tail with a bit of veg and LOTS of stock.  Chill it to make the liquid set or gel, so it doesn't make a mess, then wait for it to melt in your mouth once cooked.  I've been dreaming about this one for weeks, and have just about got it right.  Think of good Chinese dumplings, and the way the stock pours out when you pierce them.
And.. because I can't resist a challenge.. here: 


Filling number 2 in spinach pasta.  Next time I'll puree the spinach a little more. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Requests! 2. Beef Wellington

Thank you for keeping me busy this weekend.  Emma, Jason thanks you too - he usually only gets Beef Wellington on his birthday!

I used to order Beef Wellington at a favourite restaurant in Wellington city (which closed years ago).  It intrigued me, and I always though it looked terribly difficult - until I checked, and found out just how easy it is!!


Are you ready?  The following is for two:
  • Two sheets of frozen puff pastry
  • Two small fillet steaks (about 100g each)
  • Paté (any flavour - I'll let you make that decision!)
  • Onion and mushrooms

Preheat your oven to 220C
Lay two sheets of frozen puff pastry on the bench to defrost.  Leave the plastic wrap on, to stop them sticking to the bench.  And cover with a damp teatowel so they don't dry out.
Next, prepare the filling:  finely dice 2-3 large button mushrooms, and half an onion.


Heat in a small frypan with a splash of oil.  Cook until the onion is softened, and just starting to brown.
Set the vegetables aside, and return the pan to the heat.  On a high heat (you'll know it's hot enough when the oil starts smoking), sear the steak on both sides - you don't want to cook it, just seal the outside to lock the juices in, then remove from the heat.

Now, assemble your parcels:
On each sheet of pastry, place a tablespoon of the cooked vegetables.. then a slice of paté
(if you're sure you don't like paté then don't make this at all.  Don't leave it out!  There is a time and place for substitutions and this is not it!).
Top with a steak, and any remaining vegetables.


Now, simply wrap it up (I trim about a third of the pastry first):


I just wrap them like a birthday present (without the ribbon!). Place seam-down on a baking tray, and brush with milk or egg yolk.

Pop into the oven for 15 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.


Serve with vegetables.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Requests! 1. Bircher Muesli

I've been out of town all week for work, so am just catching up on comments, and I've had TWO requests this week (and one challenge, which I'll address separately).  Because I'm all about instant gratification, I'm going to post both requested items this weekend.  I've been sitting here trying to figure out what to cook for dinner tonight, so will make Beef Wellington shortly, and post it as soon as I get a chance to process photos and type it up.  Bircher muesli I can do straight away, if you don't mind going without photos until the weather warms up.

Bircher muesli is summer porridge, so I'm not making it til at least Spring because at this tine of year I like my breakfast warm.  But I'll tell you how to make it in one line so you can make it yourself if it happens to be warmer where you are.

Make porridge mix and then add equal volumes of porridge to liquid.  Refrigerate overnight.

Seriously.  It's the same recipe.  Instead of water/milk, add fruit juice, or a mixture of juice and yoghurt. I make anywhere between 1/4 and 2/3 cup for myself, depending on whether I plan to add a lot of fresh fruit, and how hungry I plan on being in the morning.  The only problem with bircher is that it requires a little planning - you have to remember to make it the night before!  If I was better at this part, I'd eat it a lot more often.

See, you don't need a new photo, it's just like this except more wet.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


It's cold, and it's raining, and there's only one thing I'll consider having for breakfast.  It's winter.  I need porridge.  End of story.

I like wholegrain porridge, with lots of texture.  Vogels used to make a great one, but stopped as soon as soon as I got addicted to it.  So I improvise, and make my own..


This is my porridge jar.  To it I add the following:
6 parts rolled oats
4 parts rolled barley
2 parts each buckwheat, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, and raisins
1 handful of linseed (flax seeds)
Isn't it pretty?  Look:

Be sure to leave a bit of space at the top, so you can shake it all up.

To make porridge, I use 1/2 cup of dry porridge mix to 1 1/2 cups of liquid.  I find a mix of milk and water gives the right balance (not too thick or watery).  Heat in a saucepan from cold, stirring until bubbly, steamy, and thick.

Serve with a little cold milk or cream, brown sugar, and fruit.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ravioli (ricotta and spinach)

I typed this earlier this week, and then cringed when Michael Ruhlman posted a ravioli recipe the next day.  Then I realised two important things: 1) His recipe is completely different to mine, and quite specific (I have to try this) and 2) I am in no way competing with Michael Ruhlman. I have three readers.  (And 51 robots.)

I'm on a bit of a pasta kick this week: after figuring out how to make ravioli, I remembered how easy and delicious pasta is, and made fettucine two nights in a row.  If you haven't made your own pasta yet, you should apply yourself more.  It really is a lot easier than it looks.  I've made it twice this week on work nights.  Seriously.
Ravioli, though is a weekend job.  It needs a little more time and patience than I have most weeknights, but is totally worth it.

First, a warning: I purchased a ravioli pan because it looked like fun, and it seemed to be the kind of thing that would make this a lot easier.  This was not the case.  Even the tiniest quantity of filling squished into the next hole, and the pasta didn't seal well.  The edges weren't sharp enough to cut through the pasta, and basically the whole thing was a mess.  If you don't believe me, please keep an eye on Trade Me.  I'll be listing my new, barely used ravioli pan for sale soon.
The reality is, you don't need extra attachments or toys.  You can make ravioli with basic pasta sheets from your pasta machine, a teaspoon, and a sharp knife.  And it's easier than you think.

The following quantities are for 4 hungry people.

For the filling:
200g fresh ricotta
200g frozen spinach, defrosted, water squeezed out, and finely chopped (I threw mine in a food processor for a few seconds)
100g grated parmesan
1 egg
1/2 tsp crushed garlic

Mix the filling in a bowl with a spoon. Cover and refrigerate.

Make pasta sheets, using the basic pasta recipe here, with 200g flour and 2 eggs.  Don't cut the sheets.  Obviously.
Lay a rolled pasta sheet on a floured benchtop, and brush the top side with milk.

Then, starting at the half-way mark (for reasons which will become obvious), dot filling at even intervals.

Keep going til you reach the end.  Make 'em as big or as small as you like - you're in charge.  When you reach the end, pick up the non-spinach end, and fold over the spinach half.

Fold carefully: you don't want to squish the filling, because you need pasta on pasta to get a good seal around the edges.  If spinach gets squished in the gaps, the ravioli can open when you boil them, and you just wasted a bunch of time making filling.
Gently press between the squares, and try to remove any excess air as you go.
Use a small rolling pin (this is a cute miniature one, about 25cm long) to form a better seal in between:

Then, simply cut into individual pieces.  You could use a knife, a ravioli wheel, or a small biscuit cutter like me:

Resist the urge to stack these: they stick even with flour or baking paper in between, and your efforts are wasted.

Throw into lots of salted, boiling water for 5 minutes.  Serve with a simple sauce: melted butter with sage and a pinch of nutmeg seems to be the agreed standard online, and it certainly won me over.  Good pasta doesn't need big, heavy sauces.

I served with seared salmon fillet.  And it was pretty darned awesome if I do say so myself.