Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Glazed Carrots

How was everyone's Memorial Day weekend?

We ended up having a pretty decent cookout - the forecast called for rain, but it stayed away and we enjoyed sunshine and great grilled food!  It was a nice way to kick off our grilling season.

I hardly ever put up any side dishes here on the blog so I thought I'd throw an easy one out there.  I know a lot of you may be growing carrots in your gardens this year, so this is a great side to use those babies up!


1 bunch of carrots, sliced on the bias (about 2 cups)
1 cup veal or chicken stock
1-2 tablespoons sugar or honey
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 tablespoons chopped chives

In a medium saute pan, melt the butter under medium high heat.  Add the carrots, stock (I used veal because we were serving these carrots with some grilled steak), and sugar/honey. 

Cook under medium heat until the stock is reduced and syrupy, stirring occasionally.  You basically just want a "glaze" of stock to be left.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with chopped chives or other fresh herbs.

And voila, a side dish that takes longer to prep than cook! 

What's your favorite way to prepare carrots?
Hope you guys have a great rest of the week!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Spinach Ravioli Stuffed w/ Crab & Ricotta

So I've been a little sparse in the posting lately.  Life has caught up with me and I just haven't had the time to sit down and blog. 

House hunting has become somewhat of a bust - between finding the right home and dealing with the bank... it just doesn't look like it'll be a possibility until the end of the year.  It bums out Andy more than it does me, but it's still a kick in the butt when we had our hopes so high up.

I hesitated to start the garden up this year because we thought we'd have bought a home by now, but it looks like I'll have time to plant one here after all.  I'm doing something different this year, too.  I'm trying the whole "urban gardening" method - growing everything in big planters on our back deck.  I've got one big pot for potatoes, and several medium-sized for bell peppers, tomatoes, and an array of herbs.  I'll keep you guys updated on how that all goes!

I had a bunch of spare time yesterday so I decided to take the time to roll out some fresh pasta.  Ravioli is one of the easiest things and the possibilities for stuffing are endless.  I had a ton left over and ended up freezing them - definitely will make for quick and easy meals later on!


Spinach Pasta Dough:

3 eggs
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz. bread flour, plus more, if needed (you can use a combination or substitution of semolina, but I find it makes the dough harder to work with afterwards, and most people are more apt to have bread flour in their pantry than semolina)
4 oz. blanched spinach, pureed

Crab Filling:

4 oz. lump or claw crab meat
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
8 oz. ricotta
1 egg
salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan Cream Sauce:

5-6 sprigs thyme
3-4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
salt and pepper, to taste

In the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs, olive oil, salt, and pureed spinach.  Add about a third of the flour and mix until combined.  Switch to the dough hook attachment and continue adding flour until the dough is dry and cannot absorb any more flour (you may need more than the recipe says - I did).

Remove the dough from the bowl and wrap in plastic wrap.  Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, you can make your filling.  In a food processor, combine the crab meat, parsley, ricotta, and egg.  Mix until combined and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Keep in the refrigerator until needed.

After the dough has rested, unwrap and cut into fourths.  Using one section at a time (make sure to cover the other sections so they don't dry out), roll out with a pasta machine or rolling pin (I keep it old school and do this).  You'll want the dough to be as thin as possible, but still pliable enough to work with.  Make sure to have some extra flour handy for dusting so the pasta doesn't stick to your machine or cutting board.

Using a round biscuit cutter (I used a 2" diameter round) or ravioli press, cut out an even amount of ravioli shapes. 

Pair up the rounds, one round will have filling (the bottom), one will be the topper.  Place about a tablespoon or so of filling on each bottom round (this will vary depending on the size of your ravioli) - you'll want a decent amount of space around the filling. 

Using a pastry brush, brush some warm water around the edges of the bottom round.  Place the top round on top of the filling, and sealing the edges.  Make sure to press around the filling so there are no air pockets.

Continue until all of the dough is used up.

Place ravioli on a baking sheet dusted with flour and place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
You can also freeze the raviolis at this point for use later.

When you're ready to cook these guys, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the raviolis and cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until the pasta is just cooked.  Fresh pasta most always takes less time to cook than dried.  Drain and add into the sauce, or reserve and pour sauce over top.

To make the sauce, just add the olive oil to a medium saute pan under medium high heat.  Add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about a minute or so.  Add the cream to the pan and reduce until thickened.  Stir in the parmesan cheese until melted.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  You can add the raviolis to the sauce at this point or pour the sauce over top of the raviolis - whichever you prefer!

And voila - homemade pasta at it's finest.  Definitely easy and worth the little bit of extra effort!

Hope you guys have a great rest of the week!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Mussels w/ Spinach & White Wine Broth

Happy Derby weekend, folks!

Oh, don't live in Kentucky?  It doesn't matter!  If you're not all about the Derby this weekend, then you don't know what's up!  Tons of people from all over flock to Louisville, KY just for this weekend to celebrate horse racing, bourbon, and great eats! 

Being in the restaurant industry, this is probably the biggest week/weekend of the year for Louisville, KY.  I've already seen Top Chef stars like Stephanie Izard, Marcus Samuelson, and Michelle Bernstein dine at the restaurant.  Even the mayor of Los Angeles was in to eat last night!  However, I'm most excited to meet the editor in chief of Bon Appetit magazine, who is scheduled to dine this weekend! Lots of pressure, right?

Anyway, with little time to do much of anything this week, I had to make quick and fresh meals.  I was really in the mood for a big bowl of mussels - which always seems to fill me up, especially when served with a fresh, crusty baguette.  I always have the problem of buying a big bag of spinach and never finishing it in time, so I thought I'd wilt some spinach with the mussels, too.  So it definitely made for a filling and tasty meal.


2 lbs. mussels, cleaned and debearded
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, small diced
1 lb. spinach
1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup white wine
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

Melt the butter in a medium stockpot under medium high heat.  Add the garlic and onion and cook until the onion is starting to soften, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the spinach and cook until just wilted.

Add the chicken stock, white wine, and dijon to the pot.  Bring to a boil and add the mussels.  Cover and cook until the mussels open up, discarding any that don't open.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Ladle the mussels into a large bowl and serve with a nice French baguette.

This was a great meal to sit outside on the patio and enjoy.  Definitely a quick and easy meal for any day of the week!

Good luck to all the betting folks out there!  Be sure to watch the most exciting 2 minutes of sports this Saturday!