Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Asian-Style Scallion Cilantro Pancakes

My mom recently sent me a wonderful new cookbook, but a women whose gardening books she had read, Sarah Raven, called Fresh From the Garden. The book focuses on fresh uses of seasonal, garden fresh ingredients and their uses in delicious seasonal recipes. So far, I have read the recipes for spring and winter and there's so many I want to try. The scallion/cilantro pancakes and rhubarb cardamom chutney were both delicious, and my husband and mom (cooking together for me) also tried a summer vegetable risotto that was a loose variation on the recipe in her book. Each of these three recipes were spectacular. This might just be my favorite new cookbook that I have tried in a long time! Don't skip out on Sarah's dipping sauce either - its the perfect match as I love sesame oil!

Scallion Cilantro Pancakes (from Sarah Raven)
makes 12 five inch pancakes or six eight inch pancakes - I doubled the recipe below for more because they were so good!

1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 small red chile, thinly sliced (i used 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes instead)
pinch of ground black pepper
4 drops of sesame oil
canola oil for frying
5-6 scallions diced (green parts only)
small bunch of cilantro, freshly chopped

Dipping sauce
3 T soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 T freshly chopped fresh cilantro

Put the flours, salt, egg and egg yolk and 1/4 cup of water, red pepper flakes, and sesame oil in a bowl and whisk together.  Allow to stand for thirty minutes at room temperature. Chop the scallions and cilantro and set aside.

combine the soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil for the sauce and stir in the sesame seeds. Also add the reserved white parts of the scallions left over from the pancake recipe.

Heat a teaspoon of canola oil in an eight inch nonstick pan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Spoon in 1/2 T of the batter, tilting the pan to spread it over the bottom. Scatter the scallions and cilantro over the top, gently pressing them with a spatula. Fry until the underside is pale golden, about two minutes. Turn over and cook another minute or so. Transfer to a piece of parchment paper while you prepare the other pancakes. Serve right away with dipping sauce.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Strawberry-Blueberry Popsicles

Popsicles are the perfect summer treat. I had never made my own before, but really why not? It's easy enough to do if you have the right molds, and nothing could be a more refreshing summer treat than making your own with fresh local fruits and berries. I came across some basic recipes in Bon Appetit  and decided to give it a try using some popsicle molds that I bought at the Brooklyn Kitchen in Williamsburg. The molds are from a company called Tovolo than makes great freezer pop and ice cream sandwich molds. The key to making good popsicles from fresh fruit is balancing the fruit with a bit of citrus. I can't wait to use the molds again to make these banana pudding and chocolate sea salt pops next time!

Strawberry-Blueberry Popsicles (from Bon Appetit)
strawberry portion
1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

blueberry portion
12 oz fresh blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp fresh lime juice

Puree the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a food processor with 1/4 cup of water until smooth. Strain using a wire mesh strainer, pressing on solids to extract the puree. Set aside. Puree the blueberries, sugar and lime juice with 3 T of water in a food processor, and once again, strain.

Pour some of the strawberry puree into the popsicle molds and freeze until just firm, about 30 minutes. Then, pour some of the blueberry puree on top and freeze for 30 minutes, alternating layers as you choose to. I just made bi-color strawberry-blueberry ice pops. One done, add caps and freeze until firm. To eat, dip bottoms of molds in hot water for 20-30 seconds to loosen the pops.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Homemade Ravioli with Ramps in Sage Butter Sauce

Ramps (also know as wild leeks) are one of my favorite vegetables of the spring. They're gone now, sadly, as the season has passed, but before they were, I tried them out in some delicious ravioli. I learned how to make ravioli and pasta at a wonderful pasta making class that I took at the Brooklyn Kitchen in Williamsburg, which is a wonderful place to take cooking classes. After the class, I bought a pasta machine and a ravioli press, very reasonably, both of which are needed to make ravioli. This was the first recipe I tried, which was a winner. The recipe made plenty, so I froze half of the raviolis rather than cooking them all.

Sasha's Homemade Ravioli with Ramps in Sage Butter Sauce 
pasta dough (see below)
2 15oz containers of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes
bunch of ramps, diced
4 T butter
4 T olive oil
7-8 sage leaves

Pasta Dough (recipe from the Brooklyn Kitchen class i took)
4 cups flour
4 large eggs
4 T extra virgin olive oil
4 tsp Kosher salt

To prepare the dough, beat the eggs, extra virgin olive oil and salt in your mixer until smooth. Then add all of the flour, and beat until it forms a dough. You may need to add some additional water (I added about 3 T) to bring it all together. Take the dough out of the stand mixer once it is coming together, and form int four balls. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling with the two cheeses, red pepper flakes and ramps.

Then roll the first ball of dough in your pasta machine, starting at the widest setting, following the manufacturers instructions.  Flour the machine before using it and roll several times at the first setting to form a nice, even sheet. Then roll two times at each setting, getting progressively thinner. I stopped after setting number 7. Cut the sheets into sheets the length of the ravioli press and press one into the ravioli press, using the top to mold it into form. Fill each with a teaspoon of the filling. Lay a second pasta sheet neatly on top and roll over both as hard as possible with a rolling pin to press the ravioli and cut it into shape. Remove the ravioli carefully from the press and separate. The  dry for about 20-30 minutes on a drying rack before cooking. Continue with the rest of the dough - the recipe makes about four dozen ravioli. It's like magic, isn't it? To cook, place in salted water brought to a boil and cook for about five minutes.

Serve in a butter/sage sauce. I browned the butter in the pan, then added the sage and olive oil and cooked for a few minutes, before mixing in the cooked ravioli. Serve with a bit of grated cheese.

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