Or as I originally wanted to title this post, The Annual Pumpkin Ravioli Cock-up. It seems like we get worse at this every year.
The first thing that went wrong was the pumpkin. As usual we cut in in half, scooped it out, rubbed it with oil and stuck it in the oven. Instead of getting soft and caramelized, however, it dried out and got stiff. It was too hard to mash by hand, so Jon ran it through the Cuisinart. A little balsamic vinegar and grated Parmesan and it seemed fine, but it was much more work than usual.
Then the pasta. I made one egg’s worth, using all-purpose flour and semolina, and it felt fine. But it dried out very quickly, and once again the #5 setting on our Atlas pasta maker seemed to rip the sheets to shreds (I wonder if the calibration is off?) When we tried laying a sheet in our ravioli mold and added the squash filling, the pasta cracked and tore under the weight. We dumped the broken ravioli into the compost and cut up the rest of the pasta into ribbons. I cooked the pasta ribbons and served them with a scoop of pumpkin puree on top, with a hot Italian sausage on the side and a spinach salad. It was delicious. But it was assuredly not ravioli.
When a farmer hands you a beautiful fresh summer squash and tells you, “this is only the fifth zucchini I’ve picked so far this year,” you really want to do something nice with it. I made fritters.
Zucchini fritters are something I used to make a lot, but it’s been a while and I can’t find my original recipe, which was from a low-carb book by Fran McCullough and seems to be lost in the mists of time. I made something up, based loosely on my memories and on a recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and a bowl of egg yolks in the fridge left over from my grandfather’s birthday cake. Next time I think I’ll actually follow a recipe, but this was still pretty yummy.
My original plan for Halloween dinner was to try a recipe for sweet potato gnocchi from the penultimate issue of Gourmet (sigh), but the little sugar pie pumpkin that I bought at Gordon’s was looking at me reproachfully. Right. I put off the gnocchi in favor of a sort-of repeat of last year’s pumpkin ravioli. Why did I think it would be less painful this time?
Last week I went out and got us a carving pumpkin (not yet carved) and our annual sugar pie pumpkin at Gordon’s. I have a plan for Halloween dinner, but we’ll see if I change my mind before I get there.
And coming soon: NaBloPoMo!
For some reason last week turned out to be a major seafood fest: oysters, fried calamari, fish chowder, rockfish and halibut. Not bad – usually we settle for shrimp curries and the occasional piece of salmon. The halibut was the only oceanic item I actually cooked myself, and it turned out very nice if I do say so.
In the spirit of using up stuff from the fridge before it went all slimy, I dug out a bag of slightly wizened serrano chiles and the remainder of a huge bunch of parsley. I seeded the chiles and tossed them into the little food processor with the parsley, a couple cloves of garlic, half a lemon’s worth of juice and a little olive oil. I zizzed it smooth, then added salt. It was very sharp and green with a definite chile buzz.
“Maybe I should have started with linguine instead of ravioli.” I was trying to remember how to make pasta, and beginning to wonder if, instead of pumpkin ravioli, our Halloween dinner was going to consist of pasta shreds with mashed pumpkin on top. Fortunately for us, and for those of you looking at the photos of our final product, it did finally come out.
I used to make ravioli and other filled pastas, back when I was young and unemployed and had more time in the kitchen, but it had definitely been a while. And I never did get the hang of squash-filled pastas – it seemed like I always overfilled them or the filling was too watery, and the pastas always self-destructed in the pot. I’m happy to report, though, that this recipe (from Mario Batali’s Babbo Cookbook) worked beautifully. I only had to wad up the pasta scraps and reroll them once! And the pumpkin didn’t cook evenly, so we ran it through the cuisinart to get rid of the hard chunks. But the result was very, very delicious. I did skip the amaretti cookies on top, though, because that just sounded disgusting.
Here’s the main ingredient in tonight’s dinner – a cute little pumpkin from Blue Heron Farm. This year we’re doing something a bit different than our usual soup – stay tuned and I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Happy Hallowe’en, Samhain, and Dia de los Muertos to all!
We did our first volunteering of the season this week at Gretchen’s Cooking School. The chef was Don Shank of the Rhododendron Cafe, a nice place out on Chuckanut Drive in Bow. The Rhody has a gimmick, of sorts: each month they feature a different theme or ethnicity, so the menu is constantly changing. They also close every winter so the owners can travel and keep their sanity – the secret to the restaurant’s longevity. Not a bad idea, really.
The focus of this class was seasonal food, especially local, so it featured cabbage, squash, apples and cheese. The weather’s gotten really chilly this week, so it was great to have all the warm, sweet flavors. Don brought lots of extra squash and some branches of Chinese lanterns for decor. Continue reading
It’s been a rainy, blustery week so far. It’s starting to snow in the mountains already, and the markets are piling their endcaps high with winter squash. Definitely time to bring out the autumnal recipes again. We marked the occasion with some baked chicken, delicata squash and our favorite wild rice with mushrooms.
Sometimes I go all out with this dish, adding chopped pecans and dried cranberries for a festive look and flavor, and sometimes greens as well. This time we had a lovely bagful of chanterelles that Jon picked up at the farmer’s market, and I didn’t want anything to compete with them. Continue reading
I’ve been waiting all fall for the Brussels sprouts at the store to get good looking and cheap. I finally decided it was time, so I bought a big bag of sprouts and a fresh pork tenderloin and dug out the delicata squash from the fruit bowl. This is a notable dinner because it consists of two different vegetables I absolutely loathed when I was young.
J was in charge of the pork. He seasoned it with salt, pepper and thyme, seared it whole in a cast iron pan and put it in the oven for 20 minutes or so. Then he made an absolutely fabulous pan sauce with chicken stock and some reduced apple cider. Mmmmm. It had a wonderful intense, savory apple flavor. Continue reading