October 30th, 2012 § § permalink
My shelves are heavy from jars. It’s the kind of heaviness that makes me feel a little warm inside, even though there’s no winter storm to weather or long hungry months of nothing but pantry feasts and smoky hearths. I have been putting the slow cooker to use making butter from fruits and pumpkin harvests usually found in pies: peach, apple, pear, and pumpkin. I’ve also been sending them on long cross-country journeys in neatly packed boxes – I have taken photos to share with you when the time is right. For now, I’d rather just talk about fried raviolis.
Not too long ago - I hesitate to date anything anymore because that number seems less trivial – I scoffed at the idea of fried raviolis, but I think the timing wasn’t right. Age does a lot of things to a palate, and it also opens more doors because one end of life seems shorter than the other. Not that I am near death, but I was pretty ecstatic to find my first gray hair the other evening. It was an exciting moment. I’m going to the graying woman who dies her all her hair gray. I think it’s beautiful.
Anyways, I thought the fried raviolis would be a good accompaniment to the fourth game of the World Series. Boy, was I wrong. The game lasted for an eternity and wreaked havoc on my sensitive stomach whose ability to stand stressful extra innings was pushed beyond its limits. These raviolis I ingested within moments before the game started as soon as the photos were snapped. In hindsight, I should have made a blue cheese sauce, so I’d suggest these with something more wet. I needed finger foods so the cheese were cubed and sat beside their deliciously spiced nuts. Baseball, pumpkin, and pecans just makes a beautiful team on a plate.
I didn’t bother making my own pasta and resorted to using some store bought won-tons but I think that too was a mistake, because they reminded me of won-tons. I know I know… I’m quite silly and I know a lot of other people do use them but I don’t like them fried like this so if you are particular and have the time, do insist on regular pasta.
Deep Fried Pumpkin Butter Raviolis with Spiced Pecans and Gorgonzola
1 part pumpkin butter (if you are using pumpkin puree, spice it up with the usual pumpkin spices)
1 part fresh ricotta cheese
Won-ton wrappers or fresh ravioli pasta
Serve with: spiced pecans, blue cheese (or this blue cheese dip)
+ Fill raviolis with filling of 1 part pumpkin butter and 1 part fresh ricotta. You can also make this vegan by using a less dense pumpkin puree and typical combinations of a home mix of pumpkin spice.
+ Allow to sit on the stove on a cookie sheet while you warm up the oven for the spiced pecans – this helps the raviolis dry up properly.
+ Deep fry until golden (under a minute depending on your oil temperature. Serve immediately.
October 22nd, 2012 § § permalink
UPDATE: SF GIANTS just swept the world series so I’m gonna post my ravioli post tomorrow night instead!!! GO Gigantes!!!
It’s probably true that living in cities make you psychotic. Not that I am admitting to that sort of statistic, they make me feel a little too normal.
But I do feel a little normal today of all days, when I made apple pie and watched the Giants be victorious in America’s favorite pastime – baseball. I watched a lot of ATL Braves baseball growing up and spent a lot of heartbroken autumns feeling deprived of national titles. I passionately hated the Yankees.
The foggy photo above is of a building on my street – it’s always been painted with those happy words – I smile each time I see them and imagined they were painted by loyal fans stooping over from the rooftop, approximating their inverted shapes. From the street their size is deceiving, but I am sure they are nearly as tall as I am. It’s my favorite ‘graffiti’. This evening, as the 6th playoff game entered its final innings, I had dinner at a local Philippino operated sushi restaurant where sushi eaters of every imaginable ethnicity cheered on our home team. Sushi and baseball is just as good as apple pie and baseball – at least in this strange and delicious melting pot of San Francisco I call home.
October 17th, 2012 § § permalink
Rare fruits create their own occasion, the kind that warrants a splurge at Sur la Table following days of thought experiments, a whirlwind of mixing, rolling, and the attendant short lived joy of tart consumption. I’ve spent the past month in such delights but hardly had the time to commit such felicity to an audience… until I bit into my first kiwi berry. They are quite expensive – at three dollars for half a pint they rival the costliest of berries but are worth each penny. That’s why I sent my boyfriend back to the store to fetch me three containers of the fruit the very next day. Did I mention they look like miniature kiwis and taste like flowers?
Kiwi berries are actually not the same specie as the larger, more familiar fruit, but their flavor dwarfs their larger cousin. The berries typically grow in siberian climates but have a tropical overtone. It’s stunningly floral.
I’m so in love with these, I’ve considered buying my own vines. You need both a male and female vine to fruit and they cost about $20 each…
Thinking about the shape of things keeps my mind occupied. This habit is especially true when I am in the kitchen.
That’s why I purchased a rectangular tart pan. The architect in me likes its geometry, an elongated rectangle, like a prairie house sitting in the desert or nestling in the slopes of gentle, grassy hills. I have a thing for long and thin.
While I am not oft to think of my food forms as architectural elements, I do like to vary them because it makes serving the same types of dish more amusing: round tarts are usually cut into wedges and rectangular ones into smaller rectangles. Perhaps the difference is negigible, but pastries live such short lives.
Pate Sablee recipe adapted from Tartine
This is a more traditional crust for sweet tarts and are crumbly in texture, unlike the usual flakey crust.
1c. unsalted butter @room temperature
1/4 ts salt
2 large eggs @room temperature
3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 Rosewater Custard Recipe (use only 1 ts. of rosewater!!!)
1 c. of kiwi berries, halved
+ In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, and salt until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until smooth. Add flour and mix until well-combined, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed.
+ Divide dough into four equal portions. Flatten each dough ball into a disk and allow to chill for at least two hours.
+ Remove one dough portion from the fridge, and on a floured surface, roll dough out into 1/8” thickness. Transfer the dough into the tart pan and press the dough onto the sides. Cut the excess dough with your rolling pin. Cover your tart pan and refrigerate until firm.
+ Preheat the oven to 325 °F.
+ Line your tart dough with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights – such as beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the shell(s) from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing pie weights.
+ Fill each shell about halfway with custard and bake until set. I place my kiwis into the custard about halfway through to get them to sit fully in the custard but in hindsight this was unnecessary – doing so made the kiwis soft.
+ Remove the custard from the oven and allow to cool. Top the tart with kiwi berries or other fruits.
+ If you want a glaze on raw kiwis, heat a few table spoons of apricot jam and brush it onto the berries.
October 15th, 2012 § § permalink
I’ve been hiding behind the business of living, but not without some attempts at documentation. I take photos, but they too have been resting in the comforts of slack. I feel little guilt because I think hours are needed between the thinking, making, and sharing that comprise this blog. But… I am back, and I’ve got so many stories and images to share, it’s going to take weeks just to sort through the details…
I wanted to share these lovely photos because we are in the middle of Cheese Month, and I have been visiting Mission Cheese in celebration. It’s a tiny corner of our city, but a precious corner made of small tables and nice people. My lovely friend Nathan ordered a Vermont Flight and we indulged in a small sampling of cheese from that Eastern state. Going to Mission Cheese is always an Event, and there are few places like that in this city – or even country, where you can have exquisite artisanal cheeses from various terroirs.
What’s special about Cheese Month is that you can buy a passport for only $10 and get 25% off of the daily cheese at Mission Cheese. Awesome right? I should be at Mission Cheese right now! (They also have lovely sandwiches and drinks… )
I don’t know of any other retailers in SF that is participating so let me know if there are …
Come back on Wednesday for a nice little rosewater tart filled with cute kiwi berries!
October 3rd, 2012 § § permalink
There’s delight in finding something familiar where you’d least expect it – which is exactly what happened when I bit into these ‘Chinese dates’ called jujubes. I had eaten them before when I lived in Vietnam but had forgotten they existed until I saw them on nearly every farm stand carrying Asian veggies (it is prime jujube season in San Francisco). Jujubes look like a nut of sorts but they are actually more apple in flavor and texture than typical dates. Since apples originated from China… I think these must be a close relative.
Unlike the chewy candy of the same name, these fruits have a mild sweetness and a nearly spongy texture. I only had the Western candy once and I know they have nothing to do with these fruits. If you’ve ever eaten Vietnamese longans, dried jujubes are the dried, red date-like fruit. Otherwise, you can try finding jujube teas of dried jujubes. There’s a dried, candied box of jujubes I found on Amazon that I’ve seen in many asian stores.
There’s lots of information about the medicinal benefits of these fruits, but I think they should just be eaten for their wonderfully refreshing crunch. Just buy the larger varieties if you intend to eat fresh jujubes and save the smaller varieties to dry for tea and desserts.
* Store these in the fridge or they will dry out. They turn brown when ripe, but also start to color like this if you sit them outside… mine started to dry almost immediately.
October 1st, 2012 § § permalink
I can only imagine how many terrible childhood okra stories are out there… slimy, mushy, overcooked dramas that line the plates of discontent. That’s why I like to throw okra around my kitchen and see who runs away first. Honestly though, while most people carry these dreadful vegetable experiences around for a lifetime, I prefer to hang with adventuresome eaters who climb the mountain of plant phobias by eating their way through food fears.
That said, my experience tells me the best way to make amends with strange vegetables tend to be when they change their guises and make an appearance in something familiar like a cute tartelette. Anyone who runs away from a tart doesn’t deserve to eat animals because these tarts are mostly harmless – however, I put serrano peppers in them, so they might kick you a bit when you bite into them. There’s also a lot of corn in this recipe – it’s corny in all the ways you’d want it to be really – a corn crust you don’t have to pre-bake and fresh corn kernals!
Earlier this summer I had a great time grilling okras, but I also eat them raw as often as I can find them. Chilled, raw, and tender! Young, uncooked okras are less slimy this way and their crunchy greenness is refreshing compared to typical gumbos and fried okras. Additionally, my favorite sushi restaurant in this city, Ryoko, serves the best okra tempura. It’s so perfect, I don’t bother trying to make my own.
This recipe was inspired by Maria Speck’s Artichoke-Rosemary Tart and uses the same crust.
1 1/2 c. vegetable broth
1 1/4 c. water
1/2 ts. salt
1 1/4 c. polenta or coarse grits
1/2 c. shredded parmesan ~ 2.5 oz
1 large egg, @ room temperature
1/4 ts. freshly ground pepper
1 c. yogurt
2 oz. goat cheese
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
1/4 ts. salt
1/4 ts. freshly ground pepper
2 TB cilantro
1 corn on the cob, removed from cob and steamed
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 serrano, thinly sliced
1 c. tender young okras shorter than 4″, sliced @1/4″
+ Make the crust by bringing the water and broth to a boil. Add salt and dissolve. Slowly pour in the polenta in a thin stream while whisking for 30 additional seconds. Turn the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring at least every two minutes to prevent sticking.
+ Turn off heat completely and cover polenta for 10 minutes. Stir in cheese, egg, and pepper.
+ Grease your mini tart pans with olive oil or give it a liberal spray of non-stick spray. Dip your wooden spoons in water and distribute evenly between 7* mini tart pans (I just did two batches using 4 pans) – this is about 2.5 TB of polenta per tartelette. Press the polenta evenly onto the bottom of the tart pans.
+ After 15 minutes, fill a bowl with a bit of water to wet your fingers and press the polenta into the sides and bottoms creating an even crust. This part is messy, tedious, and rather fun.
+ Create the custard by mixing together yogurt, cheeses, egs, salt, pepper, corn and cilantro. Pour the blended custard into the tart pans, leaving a 1/2″ gap from the crust’s top. Distribute three slices of serrano peppers per tart and fill in the remainder the raw okras and slices of scallions.
+ Preheat oven to 325 °F and bake tartelettes for about 10 minutes, or until the custard is firm.