Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Have a Disease So I Made Ricotta Gnocchi

Hey everyone, back again. So it turns out that I have a disorder, an illness in fact. It’s called Fancyizingosis. Monday night Kyle was at school and I thought ‘I guess I’ll have some KD for dinner’ (For any Americans reading this entry, KD is Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, I’m not sure that it is dubbed ‘Kraft Dinner’ south of the border). Immediately following this decision, I set about planning how to fancy-ize it. Should I make the sauce using crème fraiche, an anchovy and a little cayenne, then cover in aged Gruyère and broil it? Or hydrate the orange powder with white wine, plain yogourt, and pink peppercorns then toss in some baby zucchini, lightly fried in butter and garlic? Or in honour of his 250th birthday, simmer the noodles in a Guinness and then cover it in a blanket of Guinness Cheddar and stud the whole mess with tiny heirloom white currant tomatoes? Then I thought ‘Get over yourself! Can’t you just make a box of KD without messing with it somehow? Are you TOO GOOD for an honest Kraft Macaroni and Cheese?’ Well apparently I am, and not too proud of it either. It’s THE DISEASE! I tried to keep it simple, but the final KD ended up having the aged Gruyère in it and some sharp 3 year old Cheddar too. All of this to say that I took it as a sign that it was time to cook/blog on the C&O again. 7 out of 10 doctors agree that it is the recommended treatment for Fancyizingosis.

SOOOOOOOOO the next night I decided I needed to try to make gnocchi, but I read somewhere on the interwebs that ricotta gnocchi was light and pillowy as opposed to the traditional potato version which can be quite heavy. I don’t know if I agree with this assessment, but they were good. It also gave me the opportunity to use more squash soup, which miraculously refuses to spoil (YAY!). We still have an entire container left and the idea of tossing it down the drain does not appeal to me. If you do not have cauldron of soup left over from a family gathering or something similar, you could use a pre-packaged soup or puree, or blend up a bottle of roasted red peppers and simmer with wine and a little oregano. Or even your favourite tomato sauce.
One last thing to note before we get to the pictures, next week I will be participating in a blog showdown with Caty Marzi of Snack We are focusing on Chicken. However, she’s all about honest, non-pretentious food, so I may be at a disadvantage with my recent bout of Fancyizingosis. Can’t wait though, I’m really excited!

It starts with 2 cups of ricotta cheese (I used low fat, apparently that’s a taboo, but it turned out just fine)

I’m not entirely sure how much parmesan I was supposed to put in, but I didn’t have much left so I threw in the whole thing. It was about 1/3 cup.

Add 2 lightly beaten eggs

And 1 ¼ cups of regular flour, then some salt and pepper (I used white pepper to keep it clean looking)

The final dough will be VERY sticky. And although I don’t recommend it because of the raw eggs, I took a cue from the cats as to how to get any sticky dough off my hands… ANYWAYS, make sure that you flour your work surface and your hands, or the dough itself so that you can actually work with it.

Working in batches, roll it into logs about ¾ inch in diameter and then cut it into ½ inch slices.

You can pat it into little lozenge shapes and then put a fork imprint on it, but at that point my Fancyizingosis had abated and I gave up on the fork imprint fairly quickly.

Boil for 3-4 minutes and drain.

I simmered the squash soup with about 1 cup of red wine until it was dark and reduced to ‘sauce’ consistency. Look how satiny and savoury that looks! Or maybe it’s just me because I know how it tasted…

Then guess what you do with it?

Well that’s it for this time folks, don’t forget the chicken showdown next week. And I will try to include Mlle Olive herself in the next post, you know, since the blog is partially named after her. She’s not a very good writer though. xoxoxo

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What to do with the soup!?

Hello! I’m back from blog blackout, and officially married! That sort of leads me to the dilemma of this post. I made 312 oz. of butternut sage parmesan soup as an appetizer for the wedding. Although I thought that it was going to be just enough for 85 people in 2 ounce shooters, it turns out that there was WAAAAAAYY too much. I am now left with about 200 oz. of butternut soup that I want to use before it goes bad. I put a lot of effort into it and I don’t want to just throw it out. So I’m trying to find innovative ways to use it up. There’s only so much soup two people can eat!
So I’ll start at the beginning. The original recipe starts with 2 butternut squashes (medium), 2 medium yellow onions (diced), 3 cloves of garlic (smashed and minced), about 2 -3 tbsp of fresh sage (chopped), 6 -8 cups chicken or vegetable stock, ¼ cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, and salt & pepper to taste. If you want to make this vegetarian, you don’t have to use the Parmesan, just add more salt. If you’re planning on having this as a cold soup you have to over-salt it. You can even over-salt it when it’s cold and not when you’re making it so that you have a more versatile batch.

First, peel and cube the squash into about ¾ inch cubes (removing the seeds). Then, fry the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until translucent, and add about 2/3 of the sage, sauté for a little bit longer. Add the squash and stir for about 5 minutes until you get the sense that the squash is starting to cook and the vegetables are generating steam. Add the stock (veg or bird) and stir vigorously so that if you have any caramelization, then you’re lifting it into the soup. Let the liquid come to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the squash looks like it will collapse under your sternest gaze. Then you can either blend it in batches in a conventional blender, or in the pot with an immersion blender. Add the remaining sage and parmesan at the end of the blending. Blend a wee bit more until the sage is broken up and the cheese is incorporated, then season with salt and pepper according to your liking. You probably won’t need much salt, but if you’re not using the cheese then you will.

That was the original recipe. It’s actually my first here on C & O that can be vegetarian. And if you want to translate it into the risotto that I made without meat, just skip the lamb and pancetta, you can easily braise shallots until they caramelize and turn into lovely sweet wisps.

Before I get to solution #1 for all that soup, just one or two or three gratuitous wedding related photos…Please excuse the beefyness of my arm in the 2nd picture, it’s clearly something someone did to the image in photoshop, I don’t really look that way… yeah, photoshop…

This is our awesome food that we had catered by Zee Company, (product placement). Their food is tremendous and Michael and his crew / family are super!

This is us. Hot stuff, no?

This is our awesome cake with the Han and Leia Topper. It was made for us by Marlyn at Montreal Confections. (Who is also awesome!) Thankfully for us, some people left before the cake was cut so that means we have leftovers. HEH HEH HEH... suckers, they don't know what a sweet treat they missed!

Ok, down to the real issue at hand... This is how much soup we have. Those 2 giant containers and the substantially less full one to the right. No human can eat that much before it spoils.

In order to incorporate it into other foods so that we can eat it without getting bored, I made a butternut risotto with braised lamb shoulder (lamb was also braised in squash soup). To start the braise, I cubed a 1 cm thick slab of pancetta. (But as I mentioned before, if you want to go meatless, skip this part and just brown the shallots in olive oil and deglaze with the vermouth. Then throw it in the oven and it will add a sweet and savory umami flavour without the addition of meat.

The afore-mentioned shallots. I sliced them in half after this when ready to add to pan.

LAMB LAMB LAMB LAMB. If you buy it with a bone, keep the bone in the pan to extract extra flavour and texture.

Oooh pancetta in a pan. Sizzle.

Lamb is added to brown.

This 1.5L bottle of Vermouth is also a casualty of the wedding. I bought it thinking that people (meaning me) would want martinis. No one had even one. So I'm using it in cooking now... and maybe a little for drinking too...

This is a post-deglaze photo. Also the shallots were added.

And then I added a hearty scoop o'soup. Please disregard the gob I dropped on the stovetop.

Meex meex meex (Translation: mix mix mix). Throw it in a 375° - 350°F oven, covered, for about half and hour. Until the meat is ridiculously tender and the vermouth / squash brew has reduced.

Then we start the risotto. Coat the rice in some hot olive oil and stir it around for about 30 seconds on med/high.

Then I added the soup, I also diluted it with some water because once it starts getting absorbd by the rice, it WILL stick. Add the liquid, whether it is the one illustrated here, or your own brew, ladle by ladle. If you were to add the entire content of liquid at once, it would simply boil and not have a chance to release all of its starches to form a proper risotto.

Here is a closeup of the finished risotto, it takes about 30 minutes and LOTS of stirring.

The lamb emerges from the oven the onions are all melty and there's a super savoury reduced brown ring around the pan.

Here is the final product. In retrospect, I probably should have used a different coloured bowl.
Everything got mixed together and then topped with a little parmesan.
It was SO SUPER GOOD. I can't even remember if poor Kyle got to try any. (I ate the rest of it the next day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner... )

My next project for the soup is a roast vegetable lasagna using the soup (mixed with tomatoes) as the sauce. I don't know if I will blog it though, it's a multi-day project and I don't know if I want to put you through that. : )
Well anyways, enjoy the pictures, and be sure to check out the links for Zee Company and Montreal Confections. Also, if anyone wants any squash soup... we have lots.
More posts to come soon! I promise!!!!