Fresh corn ravioli with herb cream sauce

Every once in a while, I have a meltdown in the kitchen. I can usually handle it when things don’t go well, but this dish got the best of me. I first tried this recipe on Sunday, and much to my frustration it just wasn’t working out. The filling was too runny. I knew it as soon as I started stuffing the ravioli, but I kept going anyway. A verbal tirade ensued once I went to cut the squares and the runny filling oozed out from all sides. This was a stupid recipe with stupid instructions and stupid ingredients. Everything about it was stupid. Especially the corn. That was the stupidest part of all.

The corn, once pulverized, released quite a bit of water which I believe was the culprit of making the filling too runny. I made a half-ass effort to try and thicken it up by grating some parmesan cheese into it, but to no avail. I didn’t have anything else on hand to help thicken it up so I kept on going.

Look at that stupid filling.

Look at that stupid filling.

For each ravioli that held together, 2 more went into the pile of failures, seeping filling out onto my work area. Terry, bless her heart, trying to be helpful, suggested putting them in the oven and baking them. I wasn’t hearing it. “Just throw them in the oven and bake ‘em up, if they don’t work out, they don’t work out!” No. Thanks and please leave me alone. They were stupid and that was all there was to it.

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Grilled corn and fire-roasted poblano risotto

Today I was inspired by a leftover ingredient from last week’s ancho-honey glazed tofu steaks. I have a whole can of chilies in adobo sauce to use before they go bad, so I based this entire dish on using the leftover sauce.

I thought it might be fun to try a southwestern/Italian fusion dinner. Lots of southwestern dishes use rice as the base, so I chose risotto. Plus, it was a great excuse to grill corn, even if it is a little premature for the season. I lucked out today because the corn I picked up was totally awesome and flavorful. Roasting the peppers over an open fire in the kitchen was pretty fun, too.

At first I was just going to use the adobo sauce as-is, but it packs a lot of heat that I didn’t want to over-power the rest of the flavors. Enter the trusty Greek yogurt. That worked well because risotto dishes are often finished with cream, so this was going to do the trick just fine.

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Cavatapi with squash, chiles and hazelnuts

It feels like forever since I cooked a meal! We were in Las Vegas for a quick vacation earlier this week and I was looking forward to some sun, roulette, and of course, food! Everything we ate was to die for. We revisited Rao’s for their delicious shrimp scampi but the star of the trip was dinner at Mesa Grill, Bobby Flay’s place in Caesar’s Palace. Holy cow was that food good! I had the ancho chile honey glazed salmon and Terry ordered a special vegan chile relleno. Deliciousness all around. You can bet that I will be replicating that salmon dish fairly soon.

Also, since we returned, we received our first delivery from Blue Apron. The package was waiting for us when we got home and I have to say it was like opening gifts on Christmas morning. Every ingredient comes perfectly portioned out, clearly labeled and there are also these adorable ‘goodie bags’ that package up the garnishes and smaller ingredients for each dish. Each recipe also comes with detailed, easy to follow instructions that you can keep in case you want to make the dish again. We’ve had 2 out of the 3 meals so far and both have been really good. I’m not sure how long we’ll keep up with the service, (we got this first delivery as a gift subscription) but for now, it’s fun and exciting to get to play with some new ingredients.

Feeling very inspired by the amazing food we had in Vegas, I was ready to get back into the kitchen. I opted for this pasta dish, which may be a little out of season, but nevertheless, I was dead set that this was going to be our dinner.

The surprise in this dish is the mint. I wasn’t sure how the flavor was going to come through, but after one good bite with all of the elements on it, the mint totally stood out. If you make this, don’t skip the mint! This was so good we practically devoured the entire thing.

My one recommendation would be to shorten the amount of time they say to cook the butternut squash. I would cook it for about 3 minutes instead of 5 because by the time everything was done, the squash was a tad over-cooked.

Delicious!!

cavatapi

Recipe from Bon Appetit
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. fresh orecchiette or other fresh or dried small pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ small butternut squash, peeled, cut into ½” pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, divided
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup blanched hazelnuts
  • 4 Tbsp. torn fresh mint leaves, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°. Spread out hazelnuts on a small rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop; set aside.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente (about 5 minutes for fresh pasta). Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, just until garlic begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Immediately add ½ cup pasta cooking liquid to keep garlic from burning; reduce heat to low and gradually add butter, swirling skillet and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until a thick, glossy sauce forms.

Add pasta to skillet with squash and sauce and toss to coat. Add lemon juice, ¼ cup Parmesan, 2 Tbsp. mint, and remaining ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper.

Serve pasta topped with reserved hazelnuts, more Parmesan, and remaining 2 Tbsp. mint.

DO AHEAD: Hazelnuts can be toasted 5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Tortellini for Terry

It’s Terry’s birthday today and I took the day off work for the sole purpose of fixing her a yummy birthday dinner. It was supposed to be a surprise, but I just can’t seem to keep my mouth shut when I’m trying to pull one over on her, so I told her a few days ahead of time that I’d be home all day cooking for her. I didn’t tell her what I was making, so there was still some surprise to it when she got home.

Since we’re well into Spring, I wanted to take advantage of seasonal ingredients so to start, I made asparagus soup for an appetizer. I found this particular recipe to be just ok – I saw some recipes that had red potatoes and I think next time, I will add them. It would add a little more texture and depth, I think. The flavor was good enough, even without the potatoes. I served it chilled because the flavors popped more than when it was hot. No picture of this one because it honestly wasn’t that visually compelling.

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Restaurant food at home – rigatoni with portabella cream sauce

Tonight, I thought what I was making would be sort of just ok. I decided to combine a recipe I found in People Magazine (of all places) with a dish I order at one of my favorite restaurants in Lincoln Square, La Boca Della Verita. It’s a simple dish, but the flavors are deep and earthy.

I went into this with low expectations that it would only sort of get close to the real flavor of the restaurant. I put everything together, added a few of my own secret ingredients (of which I will not reveal), and served up a great, restaurant worthy dish that I would be willing (and have been willing, in the past) to pay good money for. This turned out to be one of my favorite things I’ve made recently.

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Conquering ravioli

I learned how to make pasta from scratch just about a year ago. Ever since then, I’ve been obsessed with trying to get the perfect ravioli. My biggest challenge was getting the perfect shape, with the beautiful looking pillow top of filling, the perfect scalloped edges and consistently sized, every single time.

I started out going kind of free style like I learned in the class I took at The Chopping Block. (If you haven’t been there, consider checking them out the next time you need something for the kitchen or want to take a cooking class. They know their stuff and I’d rather give them my money than some big box culinary store. Although some of those stores have a place in my heart, too. I digress.) Some of my earlier ravioli turned out flat, too big or too small to fit the amount of filling and some just fell apart once they hit the water. I even tried this tool, which only sent me on a profanity-laden rage when the pasta got stuck to the mold and screwed everything up. The taste was always pretty good, but the final product and presentation was missing what I was aiming for.

Today, I decided to try that mold again. This time, I decided I’d coat it with flour first. I’d show that ravioli maker who was boss. So I went about rolling the dough, filling it with my goat cheese filling, and when I turned it over – YES! It fell right out all in a perfect, beautiful sheet of lovely, pillow-topped ravioli.

ravioli-uncooked

Unfortunately, that’s where the near visual perfection ends. It’s apparent that I have much to learn in the art of ravioli making. Although my uncooked ravioli looked awesome, once cooked, some fell apart. Almost all had been deflated. I think what did them in was too much air inside with the filling and a weak sealing. Bummers. To be fair, this is only my 4th time making ravioli.

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