Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Answer: Pizza Places Located at the Entrance of a Trailer Park.

Question: Where you should NOT buy pizza dough? (this is an homage to my Jeopardy love, as well as a shout out to my Father-In-Law)

I strolled into this pizza place called Lilman's. It is on the way home and they were kind enough to give me some ranch dipping sauce one other time when I was mildly unprepared for the dinner plans.

Now to me, Lilman's should be a Hebrew Bagel place, not a pizza joint. But this is Delaware Ohio people, and ethnic consistency flies out the window (mostly because the windows are covered with a garbage bag and duct tape).

At any rate, after the chica behind the bar had to ask the manager in the back, she giggles and brings out some pizza dough. It was only 3 dollars...but it was dry and kinda crappy, and ended up a little brick like. I think with pizza sauce et al it would have been fine...but I just wanted some garlicky cheeseness to accompany the Wedding Soup.

In the future, I'll try my luck with the yeast packets. But the idea that there is something alive in there just wigs me out.

Tonight a more normal plan: Syrian Rice and Lemon Chicken. I'm craving Pine Nuts.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Butternut Squash Ravioli...the night I wanted Cheerios.

*One large phallic shaped Butternut Squash
1 cup ricotta cheese (mascarpone works too)
WonTon Wrappers (I found these near the salad mix in the produce section)
Stick of butter
Sage (fresh), chopped (2 T ish)
chopped nuts if you like them
egg wash
boiling water

Roast el squash-o in a 375 oven for an hour or until soft; I spread butter over it too. Let it cool and then scrape out. Mash it, mash it good. Add ricotta and mix it up. Spoon onto wrapper, brush with egg, place wrapper on top.

chef's note: I think folding the wrapper over, is possibly the better way to go. It seems safer, and my won ton wrappers may have been a wee large.

Drop the little buggers into boiling water. They will float when they want out.

To make the Sage Brown Butter sauce, melt and cook the butter (a whole stick, minus what you spread on the squash for roasting). It will bubble and once it turns brown, drop in the fresh, chopped sage. IT will REALLY bubble and the sage will get crispy. ( Yes, this is the same sauce from the gnocchi. Yes, I am sick of it. TJ lurves it. I lurve him. ) I added nuts here too. They were a nice crunch.

Some crumbled gorgonzola would ROCK this out...but we had none.

They were great. They were rich. After all the time put into it, I wanted cereal instead.

In the future: these will be an appetizer of three raviolis. More than three and I think you get tired of them.

*This squash was HILARIOUS looking! And yes I walked around poking people with it when I purchased it at the Farmer's Market with Lisa, Jim, Barb, Brian, and TJ. I poked people in the rears. I also left it out on the counter for showings of our house, which is for sale. I wanted it to say, "We like fall and we have a sense of humor. Buy our house."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What does 20 inches mean to you? The difference between Men and Women.

Weep blubber sigh.
You've missed the blog. I've missed you too.

A couple food events have occurred. Sunday, I baked. I baked so that our house would smell like apple pie. We are selling the house. I figured happy cooking smells would make people want to buy the house. Or at least give a reason for why there may be some stains on the stove..."holy cow. they actually cook in this kitchen!". After the pies, I made Banana Bread.

Parent teacher conferences were Monday. It is exhausting. But uneventful. TJ wanted to have dinner ready when I got home. We discussed just heating up a pizza from the freezer. I had a voicemail on my cell around the time i was leaving. I thought it was TJ trying to figure out the best way for the reheat. It wasn't. He was actually calling to say he was surprising me. He drove his little, wee, tiny, butt over to Whole Foods and got Portabella Mushroom Ravioli for us. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. So it was Meatless Monday. With an apple pie dessert.

Tuesday night was now TJ cooking night. I wanted to try to make gnocchis. I had never made them before. I found a Sweet Potato version, which I KNEW TJ would love. He wanted to try to make them too. So it was a joint venture. The recipe is next:

2 1-pound red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), rinsed, patted dry, pierced all over with fork
1 12-ounce container fresh ricotta cheese, drained in sieve 2 hours
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
2 teaspoons plus
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 3/4 cups (about) all purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
6 tablespoons chopped fresh sage plus whole leaves for garnish

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sweet potatoes on plate; microwave on high until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Cut in half and cool. Scrape sweet potato flesh into medium bowl and mash; transfer 3 cups to large bowl. Add ricotta cheese; blend well. Add Parmesan cheese, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and nutmeg; mash to blend. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto floured surface; divide into 6 equal pieces. Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into 20-inch-long rope (about 1 inch in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky. Cut each rope into 20 pieces. Roll each piece over tines of fork to indent. Transfer to baking sheet.

Bring large pot of water to boil; add 2 tablespoons salt and return to boil. Working in batches, boil gnocchi until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to clean rimmed baking sheet. Cool completely. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until butter solids are brown and have toasty aroma, swirling pan occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add chopped sage (mixture will bubble up). Turn off heat. Season sage butter generously with salt and pepper. Transfer half of sage butter to large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add half of gnocchi. Saute until gnocchi are heated through, about 6 minutes. Empty skillet onto rimmed baking sheet; place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining sage butter and gnocchi. Divide gnocchi and sauce among shallow bowls. Garnish with sage leaves. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Stop drooling on your keyboard.

The making of the recipe was completely uneventful. I did the fork tong imprints, while TJ cut them. When we were rolling the dough into "20 inches", it was quite humorous to see the difference in our interpretation of 20inches. I was optimistic, thinking 20 inches was much longer than TJ's pessimistic version. Come to realize, he was right. My size assumptions have been sadly wrong. Is it based on my height? Do I want 61 whopping inches to be taller than it is? Or does a guy want "20 Inches" to be shorter? Hmm. Deep thoughts. Possibly toward the dirty.

We had tons of gnocchi. We froze a couple more meals worth. And it seems like a cheap dinner. And did you KNOW Sage is furry and kinda smells like PINE? I was worried, but when cooked it tastes different. Thank GOD!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mark it down. Monday, October 2nd, TJ took a step into the kitchen and made dinner. It started when he called, from the grocery store, and said, "I was thinking I'd cook dinner tonight."

Sweet! So I asked him, "Where are you?"

"Giant Eagle"

"Okay, they have Salmon on sale, if you want to get that." And then the conversation ended with the customary pleasantries.

Phone rings

"I'm not at Giant Eagle. I am at Walmart."

I say, of course, "Well don't get salmon THERE!" The horror of walmart fish! Something just seems bizarre about buying stereos, fertilizer, and salmon all in the same place.

He says, "I already did. It looks fine."

p ause.

"uh, okay" Again with the pleasantries. (mmm, pastries)

Phone rings

"I need you to come pick me up. My car won't start. "

GAH! Why does he try and do something so sweet and wonderful and get punished? Why Buddha why?

But the calmness came through. We handled this as we usually do, fairly calmly. $65 later for a tow, we are home and he actually still wanted to cook dinner!

I wish I could go moment by moment and giggle at his little trials as he cooked. Truth be told, he did one funny thing and there was only one loud bang, followed by the vacuum sucking up whatever was then on the floor.
The funny thing: for bread crumbs, he toasted an English Muffin and then started scraping it. I then got the food processor out and he did it that way.
Loud Bang: cookie sheet that was in the oven already. He said immediately, "It's all good!"

And as with any cook, he was more critical of his concoction than I. He thought it lacked flavor and was troubleshooting for next time as he ate. I thoroughly appreciate that, and often do the same thing. It was, however, very good! I mean, he never cooks, and a salmon with an ALMOND CRUST, people, is a LOFTY goal for a first timer, and he did great!!

The most beautiful thing said during this excursion: "I want to cook once a week." Yes!!