ricotta and leek ravioli with pesto

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I bought myself a pasta roller almost a month ago now- It’s been sitting on my counter, ready to go, but I was too intimidated to use it. Finally today I just went for it! Ravioli has always been one of my favorite foods so I decided I’d try that first. And because I was making fresh pasta, I thought it would be best to make fresh ricotta as well! It’s definitely a time consuming process overall, but very fun, and very worth it!

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Ingredients

Pasta

2-3 cups of all purpose flour
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
tiny pinch of nutmeg
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Ricotta

3 cups of whole milk
1 cup of heavy cream
pinch of salt
juice of one lemon

Filling

1 cup of ricotta (home made or store bought)
2 caramelized leeks & 1 clove of minced garlic
salt & pepper to taste

Pesto

a few handfuls of basil (remove stems)
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of pine nuts
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
olive oil

Instructions

Ricotta

Add the heavy cream and milk to a large sauce pan or stock pot. Once it begins to boil and foam, add the juice of one lemon and turn off the stove. Give it a few stirs, and then allow to rest for a couple of minutes and form curds. Once the curds have formed, strain them through a cheese cloth and allow to separate from the whey. Refrigerate once everything is separated and to the desired consistency (for this I’d recommend a slightly thicker or stiffer ricotta).

Pasta

Make a little well in your all purpose flour and carefully crack your eggs into the center. Add the salt, nutmeg, and olive oil and slowly mix, starting with a fork, and then moving to your hands. When everything is combined and not too sticky (you may have to add more flour), split into four pieces. Make each piece into a patty, so it’s thin enough to go through the pasta roller. Continue rolling out until you get a pasta sheet of desired thickness. Put pasta sheets in the fridge while you assemble everything else.

Filling

Dice up your leeks and make sure to thoroughly clean. Add leeks, minced garlic, and a few tablespoons of butter to a sautee pan and allow to cook down until they are a nice golden brown. Once these are complete, you can either keep them at a rough dice, or quick throw them into your food processor to make a little bit more of a paste. Mix this with your ricotta.

Pesto

Add all of your ingredients into a food processor and blend, slowly adding olive oil until it reaches desired consistency.

Assemblage

Take one pasta sheet and dollop a teaspoon or so of filling, and make sure there will be enough room to cut into individual ravioli at the end! Take your second pasta sheet and carefully lay over the top, and lightly press down around the filling to form your ravioli. Cut apart and to make sure the pasta sheets are sealed together, stamp with the end of a fork.

Cook ravioli for 2-3 minutes, or until they float. Gently strain them and drizzle with pesto. Top with a bit of parmesan or romano and enjoy!

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oven roasted lamb shank with eggplant parm bake and creamy chard and beans

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Yesterday I was feeling the need for something warm, filling, and different. I saw the recipe for a similar eggplant parmesan au gratin, and I knew I wanted to do something similar. So what goes great with eggplant? Lamb. I had never cooked it on my own before, and I was very nervous for how it would come out. Luckily, everything turned out perfectly, and it was a great addition to this hearty meal! I also had some swiss chard sitting in my fridge, and I remembered this great risotto I made a while back that had greens and small white beans in it, so instead of doing it that way, I ditched the rice and transformed it into a creamy side!

Ingredients

Lamb

lamb shanks (or a cut you feel comfortable with)
rosemary & thyme (fresh)
garlic
olive oil
salt & pepper
wine (normally I would recommend a hearty red wine but all I had when I was making this was a dry white wine and it turned out ok!)

Eggplant Parmesan Bake

one medium sized eggplant
roma or heirloom tomatos (i used a mix of both)
breadcrumbs
olive oil
salt & pepper
fresh grated parmesan (romano will work as well)
fresh mozzarella

Creamy Swiss Chard & Cannellini Beans

one can of cannellini beans, drained
a few sliced of pancetta, chopped (optional)
swiss chard
salt & pepper
rosemary
half a container of creme fraiche

Instructions

Throw all of the ingredient for the lamb in a gallon sized zipper bag and let it marinade for a few hours. When it is finished marinading, pour the contents of the bag into a baking pan, and add some more fresh herbs on top of the shanks. For medium rare, you will want the lamb to be anywhere from 130 degrees to 140 degrees internally. I baked mine at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, with an addition 10 minutes to rest. The size of the shanks will affect the cooking times, so I would check the temperature after 30 minutes to check where the meat is at.

Meanwhile, peel the eggplant and cut in half lengthwise so you can cut half moon shaped slices. Once the eggplant is sliced, place it on a sheet of parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil and put it in the oven with the lamb for a few minutes to start the cooking process. While the eggplant is roasting, slice up your tomatoes and mozzarella. When the eggplant is mostly cooked, take it out of the oven and start layering in an au gratin pan. I layered the eggplant, then the tomatoes, bread crumbs, and parmesan, and repeated. Then I added the mozzarella on top, along with breadcrumbs that I mixed a touch of olive oil and some more parmesan. When there is about 5 minutes of cooking time left on your lamb, put this back in the oven and allow to bake until the lamb is finished resting, for a total of about 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Last but not least are the creamy swiss chard and beans. This takes the least amount of time so do this as the end when the eggplant is about half way finished baking, add your chopped pancetta to a sauce pan and brown. Add the beans, salt, pepper, rosemary, and creme fraiche to the pan and let cook down to a rich a creamy sauce. Add the swiss chard last- it just needs to soften up a bit. This will only take 2 or 3 minutes.

Once everything is finished, you can plate and enjoy!

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too hot to cook- an easy summertime dinner

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so i do have to mention a couple of things regarding this tomato salad- you should also add in  some fresh basil, salt, and pepper. and for types of tomato i usually use roma tomatoes but any type will work! i used some heirloom tomatoes this round. another thing with the tomatoes, you do not have to peel them, i personally just don’t like the texture of tomato skin! also, the sausage will vary in time to cook- i usually check it about fifteen minutes into the baking process and they’ll be done when the inside is no longer pink! i love this tomato salad because it’s so refreshing and with the added avocado it really is quite filling!

pesto crusted salmon on a bed of quinoa and spinach, with a side of roasted potatoes and mushrooms

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this week i decided to be adventurous and try something new- salmon. although i’ve eaten it before, i had never cooked it by myself and thought, ‘it’s time…’. I browsed through a ton of recipes regarding salmon and they all seemed too complicated and over powering so i did some inventing of my own. this is what i came up with!

Ingredients:
-Pesto (basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, parsley- optional)
-Salmon (filets of steaks will work for this!)
-A bag of small rainbow potatoes
-Sliced mushrooms
-Fresh Spinach
-Quinoa or Mixed Grains

Step One:
Mix up your pesto- for this you don’t need a ton, so grab a few good handfulls of basil, two or three clove of garlic, a few tablespoons of olive oil, a handful of pine nuts, salt and pepper, and if you have any, a bit of fresh parsley. Blend this up so everything is mixed into a paste like consistency. 

Step Two:
Prepare your potatoes and mushrooms- make sure they are rinsed! The potatoes can be roasted whole or cut in half. I coated the potatoes and mushrooms in a couple spoonfuls of the pesto and a bit more olive oil. Throw this in the oven at about 400 degrees.

Step Three:
Prepare your grain- quinoa takes about twenty minutes so you’ll want to get it up to a simmer and cooking while the potatoes are cooking.

Step Four:
The salmon- I coated this in the pesto and a few slices of lemon and grapefruit. I made a little foil pouch/packet to cook it in for the oven and threw it in with the roasting potatoes. Salmon cooking time varies so i checked mine after about eight minutes and then let it cook for another five to eight minutes until it was light pink and flaky all the way through. 

Step Five:
While everything else is cooking, you’re going to want to sauté your spinach. this goes pretty quick so thats why i saved it for last! once all the leaves were wilted down i put some garlic salt and pepper on it for flavor.

i was lucky and managed to time everything just about right so it was done at about the same  time. i served the salmon on the bed of spinach and quinoa, with the potatoes and mushrooms on the side. i also topped the salmon with some avocado slices!

green garden soup and savory scones

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i first saw the recipe for a garden soup on le pirate and knew right away that i wanted to try it. it was simple enough to make and it turned out better than i imagined! i tweaked the recipe a little, but was pretty true to form.

Six or seven large (very large) zucchini, chopped
One big head of broccoli, chopped
One leek, white parts only, chopped
Four cloves of garlic, minced
One onion, diced
500ml of chicken consomme
Sea salt and cracked pepper
A big handful of basil
A big handful of mint
A handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

“In a large pot, saute the garlic and onion and the leek in a little olive oil until transparent. Add the zucchini and the broccoli and stir about for two to three minutes. Then add the stock. Put a lid on the saucepan and let it come to the boil. Simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes, until the vegetables are very soft. Then add in your big handful of basil leaves. And your Parmesan. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Then, use a hand blender, or a food processor, to blend it all until smooth. This isn’t a thirty second job, persevere for at least five or ten minutes in order to attain the most glorious and velvety consistency that you ever did imagine. Divide between bowls, reheating first back in the pot if necessary.”

i added a few handfuls of spinach as well, and while blending i added a few scoops of ricotta cheese and a little bit of cream cheese to add to the creamy texture! i topped with some crispy bacon bits, another scoop of ricotta, and a spring of fresh mint!

i also needed something to go on the side of course, so i tried my hand at making a savory scone. most scone recipes are pretty basic, and then you just throw in whatever you want. i followed this basic recipe:

4 cups of flour

3/4 cup of buttermilk

a few tablespoons of sugar

4 tablespoons of baking powder

1-2 teaspoons of salt

2 eggs

1 stick of butter

to this, i added some crumbled italian sausage, caramelized onion, rosmary, fennel seeds, sage, and lots of fresh cracked pepper. i just eyeballed most of these measurements so dont worry about being super specific. to mix the batter, add together dry ingredients and cut in the butter. then mix in the wet ingredients, and whatever else you want to put in the scones. once all mixed i just plop the batter onto a cookie sheet, and back for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

i really enjoyed this meal and i hope you will too!