The January pick for Food 'n Flix is the 1987 Danish film Babette's Feast (now included in The Criterion Collection), chosen by Culinary Adventures with Camilla. This is the story of two deeply religious and puritanical sisters who live on the remote coastline of 19th Century Denmark. They give up much in their lives in order to live the way that they were raised and to help the people of the village. Late in their lives, a French refugee comes to stay with them for many years and cooks them a fabulous meal to thank them. The sisters and villagers are afraid to give in to the decadence of the meal, but it ends up healing many of their wounds and rifts. It is a story about the healing power of food and how it can show love and thanks.
The food cooked in the movie is quite extravagant and I didn't think I could take on turtle soup or quail stuffed with foie gras and truffles, so instead I decided to just go French in general. I must have been influenced by all the soup that the Danish villagers ate (and the stew meat in my freezer), because I made a French stew with beef and red wine - cooked low and slow in a crockpot.
Beef is seasoned with salt and pepper and placed into a bowl with onion, garlic, shallot, celery, carrot, thyme, bay leaves, and lemon zest.
This is the fun part - a whole bottle of red wine is poured over the ingredients and then left to marinate (refrigerated) overnight. The wine is the stock for this stew, and the flavor permeates everything. So make sure that you use a good one! I suggest a Cotes du Rhone for this.
Oh my gosh, you guys, I am in kale heaven. Now I already like kale - raw in salads, in a Tuscan white bean soup, baked into crispy chips. But this, THIS, is the single most delicious way to eat kale ever.
Cooked down with garlic and shallots in butter, then finished with sherry, cream, and miso - swoon.
But we don't even stop there, oh no, we add buttery mushrooms with soy on top - oh my gaaaaaaaaaaawd.
I served it as a side with teriyaki salmon, which I'm not even going to talk about because the kale totally stole the show. If you like kale, go make this right now and rejoice. If you don't like kale, go make this right now and become a believer. And then invite me over, so that I can eat some too.
So I got this combination of ingredients into my head and couldn't stop thinking about all the ways I could use them. Pasta, pizza, tarts - the list goes on. I decided to caramelize a big batch of onions, roast a big squash, and use them all week in a few different dishes.
First off, I peeled and cut up a large (4 lb) butternut squash and laid the cubes out on a baking sheet. I drizzled them with olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg. Then I roasted them at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. I used some right away, and stored the rest in an airtight container in the fridge.
For the onions, I bought one of those bags that has about 5 onions in it, sliced them all, and threw them in a large pan with olive oil. After they turned translucent and soft, I turned the heat down from med-hi to med-lo and let them caramelize. This will take anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes. About halfway through, I added a few sprigs of thyme. Once they were really brown, I added a splash of sherry to de-glaze the pan and removed the thyme stems. Again, I used some right away, and stored the rest in an airtight container in the fridge.
Were you guys dying for another homemade pasta post? Based on the popularity of the other ones, I bet you were! So here is one for veggie lovers (but don't worry, there's also plenty of cheese). Sweet and savory, with just a hint of nutmeg - so good!
Carrots, shallots, ricotta, Parmesan, and a little cream, butter, and nutmeg go into this lovely filling. I had a little filling leftover when I finished up, so I tossed it into some brown butter and sage to make a sauce. And that's it!
If I had massive amounts of time, I would love to make a trio of veggie raviolis to serve together - this one, the beet and goat cheese one, and a spinach one (maybe with feta?). Wouldn't that be fun? And with the fresh pasta, you could see the orange, purple, and green fillings and it would be super pretty. *Sigh* One day!
Carrot Ricotta Ravioli
adapted from Food and Wine
serves 2-4, about 36 ravioli
2 cups flour
3 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp olive oil
3 large carrots (3/4 lb), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp minced shallot
1 tbsp heavy cream
5 oz ricotta (1/2 cup firmly packed)
6 tbsp freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 large egg yolk
Pulse the flour in a food processor to evenly distribute and aerate. Add the eggs and olive oil. Process until the dough forms a rough ball, about 30 seconds. (If the dough resembles small pebbles, add water 1/2 tsp at a time; if it sticks to the side of the bowl, add flour 1 tbsp at a time.)
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours
Make the filling. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a baking dish, toss the carrots with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. Let cool slightly.
In a small skillet, melt the butter . Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes.
In a food processor, combine the carrots, shallot, and cream and puree until smooth. Transfer the puree to a bowl. Stir in the ricotta, Parmigiano, and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the egg yolk (taste for seasoning before you do this).
Roll out the pasta dough using a pasta roller. Set the thin sheet of dough over a ravioli press. Drop small balls of filling into the pockets. Lay a second rectangle of pasta over the filling layer. Seal the edges by pressing a rolling pin over the top. Flip over, release from the mold (flouring the mold/pasta helps), and cut into squares with whatever cutter you have available.
Boil the ravioli, about a dozen at a time, for 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ravioli from the pot to plates. Top with sauce of choice (I recommend brown butter, or white wine cream) and a sprinkle of extra Parmesan.
Merry Christmas, y'all! We went on a bit of a crazy roadtrip (which I will tell you about later, because there are restaurants involved) and didn't get back til late on the 22nd, which left us in a bit of a scramble to get ready for Christmas. We managed to get some outdoor decorations up (check out the wreath I made!), but no tree or anything indoors.
We also spent all our holiday money on travel, so no presents this year. But we did have a nice Christmas dinner (I mean, come on - how could I not, right?). Honey Baked Ham (going store bought on the main let me focus on sides); Spinach and Gruyere Strata; Sweet Potato Gratin with Caramelized Onions; and Bacon Popovers.
And a Cranberry Raisin Tart with orange zest and spices for dessert.
Oh yeah, and breakfast! Can't forget Christmas morning sweets! I made these Cranberry Orange Rolls by Smitten Kitchen - yum!
I've been doing this thing lately where I pretend that making a pasta sauce out of vegetables makes up for the fact that I am eating pasta. Leave me to my delusions, I'm not ready to face the truth. I have three such recipes for you today, and the first is this gorgeous roasted beet sauce that will make your pasta intensely fuschia. Simply roast some beets, allow to cool slightly, peel, and puree with some starchy pasta water. Toss with cooked pasta, season, and serve. I topped mine with ricotta and fresh oregano.
Next up is a broccoli sauce - what could be more healthy than broccoli? I am not really used to broccoli because my father is allergic and we never really had it growing up. My poor husband loves broccoli (shocking since he is NOT a veggie eater), so I am trying to familiarize myself.
Did you know that you should peel broccoli? I didn't. Apparently the outside part is tough and bitter. Anyway, peel and chop the broccoli, steam, and then saute with butter, onion, and garlic. Add some cream, puree, and toss with pasta and a bit of that magical pasta water. Top with a gratuitous amount of Parmesan. And before you start yelling at me - know that many vegetables need to be eaten with fat in order to allow the body to fully absorb the nutrients - FACT.
Lastly we have a roasted red pepper alfredo. I think this one might be my favorite - super creamy and cheesy with a ton of roasted pepper flavor. I topped it with grilled chicken that I marinated in olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, rosemary, and oregano.
They sell roasted peppers in jars at the grocery store, but it turns out that it is super easy (and cheaper) to do at home - just pop them in a 500 degree oven for 30 minutes, allow to cool, then remove the stem, seeds, and core. Toss the roasted peppers into a mixture of onion, garlic, half and half, herbed goat cheese, and Parmesan; puree and enjoy.
Everybody knows that peaches and cream go well together, so it makes sense to think that peaches would also pair perfectly with creme fraiche. I recently discovered that you can make creme friache at home with just heavy cream and buttermilk - which is way cheaper than buying it! I used the thick, creamy, and tart product in not one, not two, not three, but FOUR peach recipes. So let's dig in!
First up is a pie that I have blogged about before, but am bringing up again because it is just so freaking good. Peaches, creme fraiche, and streusel - layered into tender, flaky pie crust. Definitely one of my favorite pies ever.
Next up we have muffins made moist with the help of creme fraiche, packed with chunks of juicy peach, and with a little kick from both fresh and candied ginger. My husband LOVED these - we went through all 24 muffins in 2 weeks!
What is better in the summer than a lovely bowl of ice cream? This peach sherbet gets it's tart creaminess from (you guessed it!) homemade creme fraiche.
It's pretty easy to make, too, as far as ice cream goes. You do have to cook the peaches first, and then chill them. But after that it is just blend and freeze!
Last, but not least, is a white peach and lemon thyme galette served with sweetened creme fraiche. I, foolishly, did not notice that my peaches weren't ripe before I peeled them and had to get a bit creative, poaching them in honey, lemon thyme, and white wine in order to soften them before baking.
There are many recipes to choose from here, all of them delicious. Enjoy those peaches while they last!
We are coming to the end of asparagus season, but you may be able to get one more use in - and I recommend this one. An asparagus flavored custard with goat cheese and Gruyere, tucked inside a flaky puff pastry shell? Yes, please!
This Martha Stewart recipe uses the stalks and tips separately. The stalks get pureed into the custard, and the tips decorate the top of the tart.
The custard is made with asparagus, eggs, cream, and flour (I altered the recipe based on comments - adding more flour to help it set up).
The custard goes into a pre-baked shell, then the cheeses are sprinkled on top, followed by the asparagus tips.
The texture is gorgeous and the asparagus is definitely the star of the show. Yum, yum, yum - get out there and grab the last of the asparagus!
I have been wanting to learn to make my own pasta for years, so I was super jealous when my friend Melissa (you know her by now) got a pasta roller for Christmas. I had been thinking about getting the Kitchen Aid attachment (versus the hand crank kind) but it is very expensive and I had read reviews about them breaking and being hard to clean. Melissa said that her manual roller was very easy to use, and invited me over to try it out / teach me how to use it.
Our first experiment was Spinach Ravioli with a Creamy Tomato and Veggie Sauce - yum!
The first step is to make the filling. Saute diced onion in butter, then add in frozen spinach (thawed and drained) to cook out any liquid.
Add in ricotta, Parmesan, and an egg yolk.
Happy Easter, everybody! I am actually doing a holiday post in a timely manner, who woulda thunk it? Last Easter I focused on eggs, this time I wanted to go on the theme of ham and peas.
Ham and peas, it is! Unlike at Christmas, when I accidentally made a pork roast instead of a ham, I got it right this time and did a Dr Pepper glazed ham. Yes, I said a Dr Pepper glazed ham - awesome.
Take a fully cooked smoked ham (I went with an 8 lb, spiral sliced, partial bone) and place it cut side down on the rack of a roasting pan (or on a cookie rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet). Pour 2 cups of Dr Pepper (not diet) and 2 cups of water into the bottom of the pan. Cover with foil and cook for 15 minutes per pound at 325 degrees - 2 hours, in my case.
About half an hour before the cooking time is up, start to make your glaze. Boil some pitted prunes in Dr Pepper until they are plump. Set the prunes aside and whisk in mustard, brown sugar, and cider vinegar. Remove the ham from the oven and raise the oven temp to 425 degrees. Remove the foil, and drizzle the glaze over the ham, then return it to the oven for about half an hour to cook the glaze.
It will be so gorgeous when it comes out! Let it rest, loosely covered on a cutting board (this photo is before I turned it on its side for slicing). Meanwhile, pour all the pan drippings into the saucepan you cooked the glaze in. Bring to a boil, skimming off the fat, and add in the prunes and a cornstarch slurry to thicken. Serve the prune sauce with the ham.