Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Homemade Three Cheese Ravioli with Marinara Sauce

I'll admit it, making your own ravioli is time consuming and tedious. It takes a long time and a bit of upper arm strength, and is a bit tricky at first. But once you get the hang of it, it is totally worth it. not only does your ravioli taste 1000 times better than anything I have ever bought, but it is much less costly than buying gourmet ravioli, and a typical recipe makes enough to freeze for several meals, so it's actually good at saving time in the long run. Here's my second foray at ravioli making which may have been even better than the first. The first time though, I was fortunate enough to use ramps, but now that it's summer, ramps are out of season, so I used scallions instead. The dough recipe is from my pasta class that I took at the Brooklyn Kitchen, but uses less salt. 

Sasha's Three Cheese Ravioli
1 15oz containers of skim milk ricotta cheese
8 oz goat cheese, crumbled1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 eggbunch of scallions, diced
zest of one lemon4 cups flour
4 large eggs
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt

about 3 T of water

First, prepare the dough by mixing the four eggs, salt and olive oil in your mixer. Add the flour all at once and mix until it has a sandy texture. Add about 2-4 T of water to bring into a dough in the mixer (and with your hands to help bring it together, as it may not fully come together until you squeeze it together with your hands). Divide into four balls, wrap with plastic wrap and chill for an hour before using. 

Roll out to the dough to the Number 7 setting on your pasta machine and press into the ravioli molds. Mix the cheeses, egg, scallions, red pepper flake and lemon zest and fill for the filling. Dry the ravioli on a drying rack so they dry uniformly and do not become sticky (note - this was a mistake I made the first time). Prepare by placing in boiling water for about five minutes, freezing the extra. This recipe makes about six dozen ravioli.

For the pasta sauce
1 can san marzano tomatoes, squeezed and crushed by hand
1 onion diced
4 cloves of diced garlic
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 T balsamic vinegar

Saute the onions and garlic until lightly browned. Then add to the tomatoes and mix in the spices. Bring to a boil and then simmer. Add more oregano and thyme as needed, and season with some pepper. Just before serving, stir in the balsamic vinegar.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Cherry Chocolate Chip Blondies

My husband has a professed hatred for cherries. He won't eat anything with them, as long as he knows they are there. In other words, cherry pie, or the cherry galette I've been wanting to make are both off the table. But, I managed to use some delicious local sweet cherries in these blondies without him realizing that they were cherries that added the lovely tangy sweetness the blondies. In other words, he was fooled and loved this new dessert. Blondies are so fun - like brownies but you can mix them up with almost any flavor. These were a huge success, using delicious seasonal cherries, and I can't wait to try out a new blondie flavor soon. Chopping up these sweet red cherries may make it look like there was a vampire attack in your kitchen, but never fear, it just looks like blood!

Sasha's Cherry Chocolate Chip Blondies
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cups canola oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chopped (pitted) red cherries
1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

To prepare the blondies, beat together the eggs,and brown sugar. Beat in the dry ingredients and the canola oil until smooth and mix in the chopped cherries and chocolate chips. Pour in a brownie pan lined with parchment paper and bake in an oven preheated to 350 for thirty minutes. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before lifting from the parchment paper and slicing.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Blueberry Peach Cobbler

As a member of ShopRite's Potluck Blog Panel, I received a gift card earlier in the month to head down to my local ShopRite here in Brooklyn to purchase some fresh local New Jersey fruits. Now, I am a big fan of using fruit in baking during the summer months (read: pie, cobbler, crisp, more pie, repeat) so I couldn't resist picking up some fresh New Jersey blueberries and peaches for use in my next baking experiment. I came up with this terrific recipe for a blueberry-peach cobbler which is just loaded with fresh summer fruits. The recipe doesn't overload on sugar, so it really showcases how good the fruit you use is - in my case, the very best peaches I've had yet this summer!

Sasha's Blueberry Peach Cobbler
Fruit filling
6 ripe peaches
2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 T cornstarch

Cobbler Top
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
5 T butter (chopped into small pieces)
1 egg
1/4 cup heavy cream

Combine the ingredients for the fruit topping in a bowl and toss. Place into a 9x6 inch or similar casserole dish and spread evenly. To prepare the top of the cobbler, combine the dry ingredients and mix in the butter (after chopping into small piece) using our hands to combine. Mix in the egg and heavy cream to make a nice moist dough.

unbaked cobbler!

Spoon the dough on top of the fruit in lumps, or cobblestones, as I like to think of it. Bake for about 50 minutes until golden brown and until the cobblestones come out clean when a toothpick is inserted.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Lamb Chops with Mustard-Herb Crust and Purple Potatoes

I came across this great lamb recipe recently for simple, flavorful lamb chops. I served this with some creamed mashed potatoes that I made using mini purple potatoes, which resulted in - you guessed it - purple mashed potatoes - because everything is better in purple! I used lamb shoulder chops to make this dish, because they are less expensive than rib chops - but you can use either, depending on what you can afford and have in your freezer. The result was quite delicious and an enjoyable friday night dinner.

Lamb Chops with Mustard-Herb Crust (based on this recipe from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food)
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1 T minced garlic
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 T grated parmesan
1 T minced fresh rosemary
1 tsp minced thyme
1 tsp minced oregano
8 lamb chops

Combine the mustard and garlic in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the panko, herbs and cheese. Pat the lamb chops dry and season with salt and pepper. Then cover with the mustard-garlic mixture, and follow by coating in the panko breadcrumb mixture. Heat a couple tablespoons of canola oil in a nonstick saucepan and cook the lamb chops over medium high heat until browned on both sides and cooked as desired internally (I prefer medium well). Let rest for five minutes before serving. I served the chops with a bit of parmesan, balsamic and parsley. 

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