Monday, February 28, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli with a Sage Brown Butter Sauce

This is the dish that made me want to make homemade ravioli. I used the pasta dough recipe I published earlier this month to create roasted butternut squash ravioli (recipe by Emeril Lagasse).

One butternut squash was enough for a double batch of the ravioli filling, so you can make a huge batch and freeze the leftover. The ravioli are delicious without any sauce, but the browned butter sage sauce give the meal a sweet touch. Now that I've made browned butter once (and have discovered how easy it is to do), I want to add this to more dishes!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Calzone Night 2007

This is a true blast from the past: a homemade calzone night in 2007 with some pals in their bachelor pad. There wasn't anything sophisticated about this meal, we used Jiffy mix for the dough with mozzarella and ricotta cheese + toppings on the inside. The secret? Garlic butter brushed over the top of the calzones really made them delicious.

One Jiffy pizza dough mix was enough for two calzones.

We cut vents into the top of the calzone to let the steam out.

The calzones are in the oven!

Yum! Way more cost effective (and a bit faster) than ordering from the pizzeria down the street.

I have made a lot of homemade pizzas since then (I make my own dough now), but I have not made a calzone for a long time. Calzones are one of Keith's favorite foods, so I am going to have to do this again soon!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Creamy Vodka Sauce

To continue with this month's Italian theme, I wanted to share with you my first (non marinara) pasta sauce attempt.

Leftover pasta from my first homemade ravioli attempt.

I had pasta leftover from my ravioli experiments, so I wanted to have a spectacular sauce to serve it with. Lucky for me I also had a bunch of fresh tomatoes, heavy cream and some vodka that needed to be used up... So I decided to try to make an Easy Vodka Sauce.

The onions cooking in butter and vodka.

This was also the first time I had ever made my own crushed tomatoes. Do you know how it works? Cut the tomatoes in half, and while holding the skin grate it against a cheese grater. You will end up with an empty skin in your hand some fantastic fresh tomato pulp!

Everything but the cream.

When it was simmering, I kept fearing that it was going to burn, but it did fine. It did splatter a bit, but the mess wiped up quickly.

The cream was added (left) and after the completed mixture finished simmering for 30 min (right)

I followed the recipe exactly, but I think that the 10 minutes with vodka in the beginning cooked all of the vodka off, little of the flavor from it remained! (But it was still a good creamy tomato sauce.)

Yum! Too bad this is not healthy...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

This heart shaped cake wasn't made for Valentine's day... and it also wasn't made by me! For my last two birthdays, Keith has made me a beautiful three tiered heart shaped cake. (So maybe the only layer cake pans we have are in the shape of hearts... but it does make for a fun birthday!) I wanted to share some love and bring this photo to you today.

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I would love to invite you to check out my recipe for Chocolate Covered Strawberries.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Caprese Salad

When I was in Italy, when you ordered a Caprese Salad, you got almost a whole ball of mozzarella! For a dinner with friends, I decided to follow the same approach.

This delicious salad is amazingly simple. This photo was from the fall, so I was able to layer the fresh mozzarella with different varieties of heirloom tomatoes. I sprinkled the dish with chopped fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil (I used special olive oil that I picked up in Croatia - Chiavalon.)

The final touch was a drizzle of a balsamic vinegar reduction. I made this reduction by slowly simmering balsamic vinegar with constant stirring. (Watch out for splatters!)

The resulting salad was so beautiful, and I can say that it was an absolute hit at my dinner party!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Homemade Ravioli

I spent 2 weeks in Italy during the summer of 2010, and I have never had such good pasta in my life. The trip inspired me to try to make my own fresh pasta, and I started this lesson with making Ravioli.

Note: At the time I write this post I have made ravioli on three different occasions, and I have achieved what I think is a good dough proportion. This is not necessarily the recipe that I used in my first attempt!

  • 3 C Flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • NOTE: This does not scale up very well. If you want to do a double batch, then I recommend making the dough in two separate batches, especially if you are mixing by hand!

Instructions for creating the dough

  1. Put flour in a bowl, and crack the eggs into the center. Add oil, and mix slowly until you get a consistent dough. (If you need more liquid, use some of the egg whites remaining from the yolks.)
  2. Kneed the dough
  3. Cover the dough in plastic wrap, and let it rest for about 20 minutes.
  4. Roll the dough out as thin as possible, and cut for fettuccine or ravioli.

My dough is "resting"

My desire to make homemade ravioli was so great that I started making the dough without giving thought to the fillings! So I searched through my refrigerator, and cut up some precooked turkey kielbasa and mixed it with caramelized onions. (I don't have a recipe for this, but if you want to try it maybe you can replicate the proportions by looking at the image below.)

The filling for my first homemade ravioli.

I rolled out the pasta dough as thin as I could... by hand. I do not recommend trying to roll this dough out by hand as it is really hard to make it thin. The resulting pasta still tastes good, you just have to cook it longer. (My shoulders hurt the next day from the effort of rolling the dough thin enough. I put a cutting board on the floor so I could use my full body weight in the rolling.)

Using a drinking glass as a template, I cut circles out of the dough, then put a little bit of filling in the center of each one. I rubbed some egg yolks mixed with water around the edge of the circle to help "glue" the ravioli together. Note: You want to use a little bit of egg so the dough becomes sticky, this is less than you may think. If you use too much egg, the dough becomes slippery and then it won't stick.

Finally, I put the folded ravioli on a floured pan. When the cookie sheet was full, I placed it in the freezer so the ravioli would not stick to each other.

It took about 8 minutes for these ravioli to cook. If the dough is thinner, it would take a lot less time!

What did I do with the remaining dough (the scraps from the circles)? I rolled it out, cut it into strips of a fettuccine? Linguine? I'm not good with my pasta shapes! After cutting the dough, I twisted it and stretched it a bit to make the noodles thinner.

Welcome to ChemEats!

Welcome to ChemEats, the blog where a scientist knitting blogger tries to write about food and cooking. One of my New Year's resolutions was to challenge myself in the kitchen, and I plan to share those adventures with you here.

How do I plan to challenge myself? Well I am aware that there are some cooking challenges that other bloggers participate in, but I don't think I'm quite ready for that. In the past getting organic produce deliveries challenged me to create food with the ingredients on hand, so I may need to start buying random things when I am at the grocery store.

Stay tuned for the first real topical post that will be coming out later today!

As this blog post is published on Monday February 7, 2011 at 2PM, I am starting to give my dissertation defense seminar. Hopefully at the next post you'll be able to call me Dr.!