Monday, September 28, 2009

It's-a Gouda Food (a)

Ever get the urge to just do something different, to shake up the usual and take a chance? I did in a big way this weekend. I'd been reading a Scottish magazine I'd brought home from a recent trip, and in it was a restaurant review complete with a recipe for smoked salmon ravioli. Okay, so I've never been a fan of salmon, even when I was eating meat, and certainly not now. But I thought about the smoked part. Smoked. Hmmm. Then I got out the bowls, the ingredients, and got to work.

My pasta dough was laughably thick - how can any Italian women be heavy? You need muscles and stamina to roll that dough wafer thin. So I rolled out what I could muster of the dough I'd concocted (I won't even bore you with it as I wasn't impressed with the results) and went for an easy stand-by: wonton wrappers. Oh, if I'd started with them, I'd have made dozens of raviolis!

Here's what I did to fill them:

Smoked Gouda and Spinach Ravioli

1 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
6 ounces fresh spinach, chopped and steamed
1 tsp. fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp. fresh tarragon, chopped
1 tsp. fresh chives, snipped
zest from 1/2 lemon
Wonton wrappers (large square ones)

Cut wonton wrappers into fourths. Place on a floured cutting board to keep them from sticking to everything in sight.

In a bowl, add all ingredients, adding steamed spinach last as it'll make everything stick together if it's hot. Place a smidgen of this (I used about 1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp.) mixture onto one wonton square. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush an empty wonton square, then place it wet-side-down onto the filling one. Carefully press all sides together well. If you have a crimping tool, this could be your chance to use it!

Cook for about 4 minutes in boiling water. Remove and serve with the following sauce:

Corn and Citrus Sauces
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 cup vegetable broth
1 Tbl. chopped leek
1 Tbl. whisky (I used Jack Daniels)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup skim milk

1/4 cup passion fruit juice (I used Goya)
1 Tbl. ground cardamom
1/4 cup frozen corn

Add corn, broth, leek to saucepan and boil until it reduces to half. Blend in a blender (or use an immersable blender - safer). Press through sieve and remove corn bits. Return to pot. Add whisky and bring to boil. Add cream, again bringing to a boil, stirring constantly until it thickens a little (it may still be quite liquid - that's okay). Add skim milk and remove from stove.

In another pan, add passion fruit juice and cardamom. I also added a little more corn (about 1/4 cup) to maintain a consistent flavor between the sauces. Heat until the cardamom has melded with the corn and passion fruit. If you want, sieve this. If you prefer keeping the corn, by all means.

Place ravioli on your plate. Froth up your cream mixture using a milk frother (I use a little whisk). Pour about 2 Tbls. on your ravioli, and add the citrus sauce (about 1 Tbl.) on top of that. I don't mix them as I like to control how much citrus "bite" I get out of the sauce. My husband, however, mixed them together and loved every minute of it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lentil Love

Maybe it's because they cook up so quickly, but I'm a lentil fan. The French lentils are my favorite - nice texture, super taste, and again, easy cooking.

So I was opening cabinets and trying to land on a dinner idea the other day - voila! Full jar of lentils. Hmmm. And it was a clear, warmish day. Lentil loaf!

I bastardized one I'd found in 1,001 Low-fat Vegetarian Recipes. If you've not bought this cookbook yet, you're missing tons of great recipes!

Anyway, my version goes something like this:

Low-fat Lentil Loaf
2 c. cooked lentils
1/2 cup cooked bulghur
3 carrots, shredded
1/4 cup diced onion
3 sticks celery, diced
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar (I used that Mexican blend of cheddar and monterey jack)
2 eggs
salt and pepper

Coat skillet with cooking spray. Fry veggies and seeds for about 5 minutes until the veggies are soft.

In a bowl, mix together lentils, bulghur, veggies, cheese, and nuts. Mix in eggs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve with your favorite sauce on top. I use this one:

Tomato Raisin Sauce
1 can tomato sauce (small can)
2 Tbls. fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. paprika
dash of cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves
1/4 cup raisins
salt and pepper

Heat all over med-low heat until hot. Let stand for 30 minutes. Serve on top of loaf.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rolling On

Sometimes the stuff in your fridge just happens to be the stuff you need to pull together a delicious miracle. If you're like me, it's more often the case that the one item you need is still at the store.

So last night I pulled out the leftover phyllo dough (you should always have this stuff around - it's so versatile!), the pepper with the waning shelf life, the onion, the aging broccoli, the Swiss cheese, and the butternut squash. What resulted was a tasty, low-fat strudel that had us wanting more.

Vegetable Strudel
1 cup chopped broccoli, steamed
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 bell pepper (any color), chopped small
1 cup butternut squash, chopped small
1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
phyllo dough (5 or 6 sheets for each roll - this can make a few rolls and lots of leftovers)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp. thyme
1 Tbl. corn starch

Preheat oven to 375. Steam the broccoli. Next, make your sauce as you'll need to add it to your other ingredients later.

Saute onion and pepper together for about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and squash and cook through for about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add 1/2 cup sauce, the Swiss cheese, and the salt and pepper.

On a flat surface, lay one sheet of phyllo dough on a towel. Spray with cooking spray and layer the remaining sheets the same way, spraying each layer. Spread about 1/2 cup of the veggie mixture onto the dough. Tuck in the short sides, then use the towel to help roll the dough up. Carefully place the roll on a baking sheet (no spraying needed). Spray top and bake for 15-20 minutes or until it's golden brown on top.

Cut into slices and serve with the remaining sauce.