Herbed cheese ravioli with butternut squash truffle sauce

ravioli-butternut-squash-sauceIf you’re looking for a project, I’ve got a good one for you here. Had it not been for the awful showing of the Bears at New England today, I might still be in the kitchen putting this together. I got irritated and shut the game off at half time and went to work on dinner. It was too nice out to be sitting around watching TV anyway.

Squash rule the autumn dinner plate and rather than make a soup or stuff it with something, I wanted to make this sauce.

When done all at once, this will probably take you about 3-4 hours. Ravioli is a pretty labor intensive pasta to make, and I always question myself why I continue to make it. Oh, yeah, that’s right – it’s totally awesome. The good news with this is that you can spread out the tasks and even do some the day before. Especially the pasta. That’s probably the most labor intensive part of this dish – rolling out the dough, filling it, cutting it just right. You can’t rush that part, it just takes what it takes to get it done. If you make the pasta the night before, cover and store it in the refrigerator. You could also just use store-bought pasta and use this sauce to fancy it up.

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Fundamentals of cooking, Weeks 2 and 3

Pan seared duck breast

Pan seared duck breast

In week 2 we finally got to cooking something that we could take home. We practiced julienne cuts and were introduced to tomato concassé (con-ka-SAY). We also got into stock making and made a vegetable stock.

The leek was our victim for practicing the julienne cut. We used the cut leeks to make a gratin that was oh so simple and delicious! It will likely become a staple comfort food for me this winter.

With the tomato concassé, we made a Portuguese sauce. Concassé means peeled and seeded, so that’s exactly what this sauce is mostly comprised of – peeled, seeded tomatoes. It also has a bit of onion, garlic, basil and parsley. It is super light and really flavorful. Toss it over a bed of small pasta like ditalini, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good meal.

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Fundamentals of cooking, Week 1

tourneClass is back in session and this quarter, it’s all about the basics. The next 10 weeks will cover many of the fundamentals every chef needs to know in order to build their skill set. My first impression is that I’m really glad I got the baking and pastry class first – I had something delicious to take home on the very first night. By contrast, on the first night of this quarter, our time in the kitchen was only enough to chop 1 onion, 1 carrot (small dice, to be exact) and mince a full bulb of garlic. Not very sexy, but very necessary – getting these fundamental things down pat will lay the groundwork for more advanced techniques.

Our lecture periods so far have been a bit longer too. There is much to learn about the history of cooking and the kitchen, but I think we’ll start to see more kitchen time the further we get into the quarter.

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Seafood Fra Diavolo

diabolo2Tomato sauces are not something I usually go for. Something about them just doesn’t do it for me. I think it’s probably because I totally over did it on spaghetti in college. It was an easy, cheap thing to make so I made it all the time because I could also get a few meals out of one batch.

It’s a rare occasion that I want anything tomato sauce based, but I had a bunch of ingredients to use up this weekend and the best thing to pull together was this spicy tomato sauce. “Fra Diavolo” by the way, means “Brother Devil” – an appropriate name for this given the level of spice in this sauce.

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Warm sweet potato salad

sweet-potato-salad4It’s the time of year that beckons comfort food; hearty pastas, squash of all types, casseroles and creamy soups. With that comes a load of calories as well – and if you’re like me, you’re not at all active in the winter, so chowing on all that yummy food tends to add up and leave you feeling a bit sluggish come spring.

Pace yourself through the season with this salad – it has the best of both worlds. The sweet potato is the star giving substance and when paired with the crunch of pistachios two ways, the tang of goat cheese and the snap of pomegranate, this is a salad that eats like a meal without making you feel like you over indulged.

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