Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sasha's Kitchen: Swiss Chard Ravioli with Mascarpone & Ramps in Rose Sauce

Ah, my latest and greatest ravioli creation!  I just love coming up with new recipes for homemade ravioli that use seasonal ingredients.  This one was also a great success.  I wanted to incorporate swiss chard into the dough of the ravioli, rather than using spinach to make the ravioli green.  For the filling - I went all out into spring using ramps, mascarpone cheese and some lemon zest.  As usual, this made about six dozen ravioli so there were plenty for freezing for upcoming meals.  I served the ravioli with a bit of rose vodka sauce, which was the perfect match.

Sasha's Swiss Chard Ravioli with Mascarpone & Ramps
Ravioli dough
6 oz swiss chard leaves
3 1/2 cups of flour
5 large eggs

1 bunch of ramps, diced
1 500 gram container of mascarpone cheese
zest of one lemon

Rose Vodka Sauce
3 shallots, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup vodka
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 24 oz can whole tomatoes, pureed
2 tsp thyme leaves

Prepare the ravioli dough in a stand mixer.  First, blanch the swiss chard leaves in boiling water.  Then squeeze every last drop of moisture from the leaves.  Blend the leaves with the eggs in the basin of your mixer.  Add the flour all at once and mix until you can form four balls of dough with your hands.  Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest for about 30-45 minutes before rolling out into sheets to form the ravioli.  Mix the ingredients together for the filling.  Once pressed in a ravioli press, allow the ravioli to dry for an hour before freezing it in bags, or cooking it in boiling water.

To make the sauce, saute the shallots until soft and saute the garlic for an additional two minutes.  Add the vodka and allow the alcohol to burn off, which takes about two minutes on high.  Add the cream and tomatoes, and stir to form a sauce.  Season with salt, pepper and fresh thyme leaves and allow the sauce to thicken.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sasha's Kitchen: Corned Beef and Cabbage

I was inspired to make Irish corned beef and cabbage, after our friend Keisha made delicious braised corned beef and cabbage for a St. Patrick's Day gathering.  I bought a corned beef brisket from Fresh Direct, which is pretty much the only place to find such things other than around St. Patrick's day.  The meat was excellent quality, as I have come to expect from just about everything at Fresh Direct.  It even came with a seasoning packet which I added to the brine (looks like it contained peppercorns, bay leaves, mustard seeds and possibly juniper).  The recipe is quite simple and the corned beef brisket has an excellent flavor.  The key to this recipe, other than getting a good cut of meat, is cooking it slowly, so that the meat falls apart. I don't use a show cooker, but I found that simmering for four hours was perfect.  I looked up some recipes online before adapting to come up with this one.

Sasha's Corned Beef & Cabbage
1 corned beef brisket of 3-4 lbs
1 cabbage, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups baby carrots
2 onions, peeled and quartered
3 sprigs of thyme
small bunch of parsley
1 tsp mustard powder
add 15-20 peppercorns and 1 bay leaf if not using the Fresh Direct seasoning packet

Add all of the ingredients above except for the cabbage to a large stockpot or slow cooker.  Cover the brisket and vegetables by an inch or so of water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for two hours.  Add the cabbage and simmer for another two hours, before straining most of the broth.  Remove the onions, thyme and parsley before serving on challah rolls, or if you can find it, irish soda bread.

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