Monday, June 27, 2011

Really amazing

Last summer we canned twelve quart jars of plum tomatoes. With extreme self-control, I managed to make them last through the year. I decided to use a jar tonight (why not, it's almost tomato season again!), and I still have two in the cupboard for next time I have a craving.

Though not fresh, these jarred tomatoes are the BEST canned tomatoes I have ever had! The flavor is impeccable. Simmered with some garlic in olive oil, these jarred tomatoes make the best sauce I have ever made, and so simple! I think I will have to do this every year at the end of summer. It is more than worth it.

No hassle summer dinner

1 eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 1/2" strips
a few zucchini, sliced to similar length
1 c tomato sauce
grated parmesan or mozzarella cheese
toasted baguette

Toss eggplant and zucchini in olive oil. Place on baking sheet and broil about 7-10 min, then turn over, and broil another 5 min. Remove from oven, add sauce and top with cheese. Place under broiler again, until cheese has bubbled and browned. Serve with toasted bread. The simplest.


I made these for my brother the other morning. When he asked what I was making, I told him pancakes. Because that is what River Cottage Every Day* author Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall called them! I knew they were what we would call crepes, but if River Cottage Every Day says they are pancakes, then they are pancakes. While I seldom follow recipes, this morning I thought, why not. (Though I halved it, since it was only two of us.) The result, while boring and a lie, according to my brother, who refused their name, and instead insisted that if we were having something that looked like crepes they must be filled with Nutella, was a clean, simple breakfast. A staple to be added to the repertoire.

Here's what I made, adapted from River Cottage Every Day
1 c whole wheat pastry flour, sifted
pinch salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 c 2% milk

Mix sifted flour and salt. Make a well in the center, and add egg and milk. Whisk until smooth. Set aside for at least 30 min. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall says to do this to make the pancakes less "wet" once cooked. When ready to get crackin again, melt butter in a large skillet. Pour 1 ladle full of batter (about 1/3 c) into the hot pan, and tip pan so batter spreads around into a circle. When the whole thing has changed color, about 3 min, flip pancake. (This can be done without a spatula, just go for it!) Cook on this side for another 2 min or so. Set aside and repeat with remaining batter. Makes 8 8" crepe-like pancakes. Serve with sprinkled sugar and lemon juice, or with Nutella.

*I just want to add, that if I ever write a cookbook, I would only hope it could be just as charming as River Cottage Every Day. The illustrations, pictures, and overall writing style is just brilliant, but mostly I admire the style's accessibility, which is something I go for here, on Ripe.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Freak Out!

 Mr. Ripe's mother gave me a pasta maker as a gift maybe six months ago. I made a couple of different kinds of pastas, easy ones, that you just run through the machine and cut with the spaghetti attachment or chop with a knife to make "handkerchiefs". But in April, she also gave me a ravioli crimper! I was so happy with my little tool, but I wasn't sure I had the patience to make ravioli by hand. I also wasn't really inspired at the time to make the ravioli.

Recently, however, I was hit with inspiration. You know, it sort of just comes to you sometimes, and you can't escape it. Anyway, the idea for beet dough ravioli with some sort of cheesy filling popped into my head and, once there, it just wouldn't leave me alone. At first I thought I'd make beet ravioli and fill the things with greens. I bought baby mustard greens (so cute!) but then worried about my actual flavor profiles. I thought I should stay as simple as possible for my first ravioli attempt. Clean flavors that I knew would taste good together (at least the picture I had of them in my head definitely tasted good).

So I ditched the greens, and instead opted for two simple cheese fillings. One would have goat cheese and tarragon, the other would make use of the leftover beet puree and some Danish blue cheese. And, once cooked, I imagined these babies on a plate with lemon poppy butter. You read that right. Heaven.

I planned to make the raviolis the day before I planned to have people over to eat them. The dough was simple to make, and turns out the whole endeavor was a success that my dinner guests gobbled up and wanted more of. The only downside to the whole process was the sore shoulder that appeared just in time for my guests due to three hours spent the day before cranking out sheet after sheet of magenta pasta!
I will definitely make these again, and other kinds of filled pasta.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Greens Risotto

It's incredible I haven't posted in over two weeks. What have I been doing? Well, I've definitely not been not cooking or baking. In fact, I've been cooking and baking a ton! I just didn't feel like writing (maybe it was a break from writing all together, after finals and school came to a slow halt). And now, when I want to write, though I've imagined telling you all about the beet-dough ravioli, arborio rice pudding, or chocolate ice cream I made in the past few weeks, I'm forgoing those really artisan recipes (which are uncharacteristic of my style, to be honest) to bring you a messy recipe (of course, more my speed) - Greens Risotto.
This was kind of like dump-out-your-fridge risotto, except it turned out that I had really amazing things in my fridge, like peas in their pods, fava beans, dino kale, carrots, and broccoli. There weren't any odds and ends I wouldn't have wanted in here. And I had leftover arborio rice from the creamy rice pudding I'd made a couple of weeks ago. And I also had leftover chicken stock from the chicken I'd roasted a while ago, too. (You see? I have been cooking up a storm here!)

So all those odds and ends, plus my ever present supply of Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses in the fridge compelled me to tinker with the idea of Risotto, without a recipe. I do have a recipe for you, however:

Greens Risotto (Risotto from mostly green things)
2 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 head broccoli, stalks trimmed and cut into small dice, florets separated
2 carrots, diced
1 c arborio rice
1/2 c fresh shelled peas
1/3 c shelled favas
1/2 bunch kale, chopped
4 c chicken or vegetable stock
1/3 c shredded cheddar cheese, loosely packed
1/3 c parmesan cheese, grated
1 T soy sauce
1 t mustard powder

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Add broccoli and carrots, stir. Add rice and stir occasionally, just to toast a bit. Add 1 c stock and bring to a simmer. When the stock begins to be absorbed, add another cup of stock. When this liquid begins to be absorbed, add the third cup of stock. Stir, reduce heat, add the rest of the vegetables. Again, when the liquid is almost all absorbed, add the last cup of stock. Simmer until absorbed. Remove from heat, and stir in cheese, soy, and mustard powder. Serve.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Seitan is not the devil

Something happened the first time I ate seitan. And the second time. And I'm pretty sure there wasn't a third time because I had decided it tasted like dog food (considering the first tries were in an OSCA dining room, it's entirely possible that it did...). I swore the stuff off and turned my nose up at it when I read it on menus or about it in articles. I would have avoided it for the rest of my life but a couple of weeks ago my brother bought some seitan at the coop, left it in the fridge, and waiting for the expiration date to pass. And that's when I made my move. I got... a little curious. I wanted to see what this "wheat meat" was like cooked outside of a college coop, and by someone who was very hungry.

So I made seitan vegetable coconut curry. And guess what? Not only was it not bad, I even liked it! I know, can you believe that?

Here's the recipe I threw together last night at dinner.

1 can coconut milk
2 T green curry paste
1 c seitan, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, sliced
1 carrot, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 russet potato, diced
1 yellow beet, peeled and diced
1 T soy sauce
2 T peanut butter
1/2 c veggie stock

In a medium-large pot, heat 1/3 can coconut milk to simmer. Turn off heat once it begins to boil, and let cool a few minutes. Whisk in curry paste. Saute seitan and onion in curry liquid. Add the rest of the ingredients and the rest of the coconut milk. Bring to boil, and simmer 30 min. Serve over brown basmati rice and/or garlicky greens.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Need. Vegetables.

This past weekend I was in Oberlin for my college reunion. It was a really beautiful experience - got to reconnect with old friends, Oberlin (such a special place!), and myself. The experience was like a cleanse. An emotional reboot. It made me feel confident, happy, independent, and self-assured in ways I hadn't noticed that I hadn't felt in years.

On Day 1 of the visit, we went straight to the Feve, Oberlin's only bar. For the last couple of hours of the car ride from New York to Oberlin, nobody could stop gabbing about how much they wanted to eat a Buffalo Shishtawouk, the Feve's signature sandwich. We got to the bar, ordered our food (with tots, of course), and hung out. On Day 2, we had brunch at Joe Waltzer's Black River Cafe (where the eggs taste like eggs!), which we had been looking forward to and referencing since, oh, the day we graduated, perhaps. We had dinner at the Feve, again. On Day 3, I had a bagel from Black River and dinner at a very unusual and comical college event that my friend Ali described as a "potato cocktail". Very strange. But filling for the time. On Day 4, it was back to Black River, before we left for New York, filled with strong emotions of bittersweet sadness about leaving a place that meant so much to us as very young adults, and still does, today.

Between food on the road and the constant eating out at Oberlin, when I got home, all I wanted was VEGETABLES. I went to the coop and just loaded the cart with lots of vegetables, of all different shapes and colors. Last night, I made a spring-style ratatouille of sorts, served over baked garnet sweet potato. And today for lunch, I thought it may taste better at a cooler, lukewarm temperature, topped with chopped kalamata olives and feta cheese. And it did. mmm...

Spring Veg Lunch

Garnet (or any variety) sweet potato(es), wrapped in foil and baked in a 350 degree oven for about 30 min.

1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 eggplant, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 red peppers, chopped
1 T diced seeded jalapeno peppers
1 bunch asparagus, chopped
3 plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 T dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
chopped kalamata olives for garnish
1 oz per serving feta cheese for garnish

In a large french saute pan or any large stovetop dish, heat olive oil on medium. Add garlic and cook until fragrant but not brown. Add eggplant, peppers, asparagus, and cook until eggplant starts to shrink and look like it's heating through, about 10 min. Add tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook for another 10 min, stirring occasionally. Serve atop half a baked sweet potato and garnish with olives and feta. This dish is also very tasty at room temperature.