Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ancho Pumpkin Lasagna with Cotija Cheese and Caramelized Onions

Well I think I just made up a successful recipe. The company potluck involved a contest so I invented a pumpkin lasagna, and have already had a couple requests for the recipe. It didn't taste strongly of pumpkin, which may be a bad mark or good depending on your taste. I didn't get to take a photo before it was demolished, but here's the recipe:

2 cans pumpkin
1 jar or can of tomato sauce (I used garlic/onion flavor)
1-2 blocks cotija cheese (I also used a little mozzarella to make it stringy)
1 box frozen spinach
small tub ricotta cheese
dried ancho chile peppers*
sage and cumin spices
2 onions
2 cloves garlic
2 boxes lasagna noodles

First: I prepared the fillings for the separate layers before anything else. *Anchos have to be soaked in a little boiling water to soften up. You can do it an hour before or days before and keep in fridge.
I sliced and cooked down the onions, throwing in some old red wine to give them flavor and getting them very brown (all alcohol burns off). I add salt and sugar to get them caramelized.
In another bowl I mixed the spinach (defrosted and drained), crushed garlic cloves, ricotta (~1cup) and 2 eggs, plus some salt.
Then in another bowl I mixed the 2 cans pumpkin, the softened anchos (chopped or pureed), a teaspoon of sage and cumin each, and enough salt till I could taste it (~2 tsp).

Then in a big pan I put the following layers:
1. Thin layer of tomato sauce topped with some cheese
2. layer of noodles
3. Layer of pumpkin spread
3. Layer of noodles
4. Layer of cheese topped with spinach spread
5. Layer of noodles
6. Layer of pumpkin spread
7. Layer of tomato sauce and lotsa cheese.

You could switch up or thicken up any layer you want!
I know it sounds crazy not to cook the noodles, but I used to work in a restaurant and we never did. As long as the ingredients have some water (pumpkin/veggies/tomato sauce) AND you seal the pan tightly with aluminum foil, the noodles will cook.I baked at 400 for 1hr, checked it, and cooked it for 15 more min, but your oven might be better than my old one. For most ovens I’d cook it slower at 375—like maybe 1.5 to 2 hrs.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Give a Dog a Blog

Nothing tonight but hoardes of rampaging puppies. Or rather, canines of varying ages.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Finished product

Taste tester comments were : "Meh."

It needed more stuffing per ravioli.

First Post Evah

Alright, first posting. I thought to be nervous about it but then remembered the measley piddling unimportance of my blogspace existence, and knew such anxiety would be a pretty arrogant concern.

Last night I made homemade ravioli stuffed with crab and tarragon, topped with a lemon goat cheese cream sauce and smoked salmon.

It wasn't that great. No matter how thin you make your fresh ravioli, unless they're stuffed to the brim, it seems all you taste is the puffy pasta. Semolina flour is the key to good fresh pasta, but the truth is that fresh pasta is impossible to make al dente.

However, there is one redeeming quality of fresh ravioli and that is fried and toasted ravioli. It's great with a pumpkin stuffing and a nutty-flavored drizzle for a great appetizer.

Fresh Pasta:
3 eggs
2 cups white semolina flour (1/2 whole wheat works too but let it rest longer to strengthen the gluten, which makes the pasta dough stretchy instead of likely to rip)

Mix in food processor then knead for ~5min till smooth and elastic. Form into ball, cover with a towel and let rest 15 minutes.
With charp knife, cut off a 1/4 of the ball and roll on lightly floured surface till 1/8" thin, or use pasta roller to smoosh into desired thinness.
My pasta roller flattens dough into long 5-6" strips, which I lay on the counter and space filling about 1.5" apart along half of the strip. Then I fold the other half over and use a cookie cutter to make ravioli. This usually avoids the need for water to seal the edges of your ravioli.
Boil for 3-4 min and toss with a sauce.
My sauce was as follows:
garlic and butter, sauteed until garlic smells great then stop it from burning with a generous dash of white wine. Cook wine till alcohol burns off. This should be a light sauce, not thick with cream.
Add 1-2 cups of heavy cream (depending on your number of guests)
Add juice of 1/2 a lemon, or more if you're serving 3+ people.
Salt and pepper.
Add 1-2 tbsp chevre (goat milk cheese).
At the last minute, add a handful of shreds of smoked salmon. Do not let them cook till light pink--they're already cooked and have more flavor in their darker pink state.

Pour sauce over ravioli, toss, and serve.