Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Quick and Easy Ravioli

Property of Chef Madeleine Dee
Roasted Eggplant Ravioli with Crispy Bacon, Wine Sauce,  and Sauteed Asparagus, Mushrooms, & Corn
By Madeleine Dee
Isn't that dish up there pretty? 
What if I told you that it was quick and easy?
What if I also said that it's made with wonton wrappers?

Awesome, right?

Now, in a perfect world, you'd have time to prepare and roll out beautiful, 
handmade sheets of pasta for your ravioli, yeah? 
Well, let's just say that I lured you in with the words 'quick' and 'easy', 
and that you DON'T have that much time.

Below is a step-by-step recipe for roasted eggplant ravioli.
You can use whatever vegetable you want instead (zucchini, butternut squash, sweet potato, bell peppers, broccoli, etc...), but if you like eggplant (or if you think you don't), I encourage you to try this version.

Also, you can make the filling in advance, put it in a pastry bag, and save it for another day. 
It will be ready to go when you are!

Here's what to do:

1. Gently wash and dry 2 medium-sized eggplants. 
Trim off and discard the ends, then slice into even coins.

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2. Toss to coat quickly and evenly with olive oil, salt, pepper, and the zest of 1 lemon. 

Roast on a foil-lined baking sheet at 375*F or 400*F until golden and soft, about 30-40 minutes. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

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3. Puree your eggplant in a blender or food processor with some cream cheese, fresh herbs (oregano, basil, rosemary...), and roasted garlic (or garlic powder). 
Add salt and pepper as needed. 

You can add whatever seasonings you want here. Check to see if it tastes good. 
Once it does, stop adding junk and move on to step 4. :)

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4. Mix your eggplant puree with some ricotta cheese (about 4 cups) and some Parmesan. 
You can add a little puree at a time while you mix to prevent adding too much - you may not need it all.

Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

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5. To thicken your mixture, whisk in 1-2 cups of all-purpose flour.  Stir well to incorporate. The mixture will stay a bit lumpy because of the ricotta. Just mix it as well as possible.

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6. You may not need a full 2 cups of flour, so just mix a little in until a scoop of the mixture will stand up on the counter like it does in the photograph below.

Once the mixture will stand, adjust the seasoning (salt, pepper, herbs) until it tastes delicious. The flavor will not change from this point.

*If you want to save this mixture for another time, simply cover it tightly and refrigerate it today for fresh ravioli tomorrow!*

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7. Put a large pot of nice, salty water on to boil while you assemble the ravioli.

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8. Scoop your filling into a plastic pastry bag fitted with a tip. 
Set aside while you prepare your wonton wrappers.

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9. Whip up a little egg wash in a small bowl. Use 1 large egg and some water until you have a pale yellow liquid that is thin and watery.

This is pretty much egg super glue - it will bind your wonton wrappers together and keep your filling inside while you boil your ravioli.

Property of Chef Madeleine Dee

10. Lay out some wonton wrappers on a clean work space next to your egg wash. 
Make sure you have enough wrappers for bottoms and tops. 
(If you have 40 bottoms, make sure you also have 40 tops!)

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11. Use a pastry or grill brush to lightly coat the wrappers with the egg wash. Make sure every bit is coated, but make sure you don't get them too soaked!

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12. Grab your beautiful pastry bag of filling and pipe 1 tsp. into the center of a wrapper. Make sure not to add any more or any less than 1 teaspoon.

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13. Repeat. 

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14. Very gently lay a wonton wrapper over the top of each filled wrapper and lightly press your fingers around the little mound in the center. This pushes the air inside away from the filling.

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15. Continue to gently press around the filling until you have a lovely little dome in the center.

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16. Gently begin to smooth the rest of the wrapper, beginning at the edges of the filling and smoothing away to the edges of the ravioli. Thoroughly (but gently!) smooth away any air bubbles or creases.

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17. Lather, rinse, repeat. :)

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18. Once all the ravioli are smoothed, brush the tops lightly yet thoroughly with the egg wash.

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19. One by one, gently slide the ravioli into your salty BOILING water and boil until they float. Stir lightly every once in a while to prevent sticking.

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20. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain off extra water. To prevent sticking, you can toss them with a little olive oil.

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21. Add whatever sauces and/or garnishes you like! 
I have a recipe for Arugula Pesto on my blog that would be great with these. 
You could also use a jar of spaghetti sauce. 
I'm not here to judge. ;)

To mine, I added crispy bacon and white wine sauce 
with sauteed asparagus, mushrooms, and sweet corn.

Property of Chef Madeleine Dee

This is a fabulous way to get your family together and make a fun meal that everyone will love! Kids will especially enjoy helping make the ravioli and scooping them up from the pot when they float to the surface.

Get creative and enjoy. :)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

(No More) Runaway Eggs!

A round, perfectly even egg!
By Madeleine Dee

Have you ever made eggs and sadly watched them spread out too far as they cooked, creating thin, rubbery, over-done edges before the rest is done?

Well, I have a simple tip for cooking more uniform eggs:
A round cutter/ring!

It can be a biscuit cutter, a cookie cutter, or a presentation ring. The important thing is that it should be made out of a material that is not going to melt, like stainless steel or metal.

Here's what to do:

1. Heat your non-stick skillet over low heat, then grease your ring with cooking spray 
and lay it in the center. 

If you have several rings and you'd like to make multiple eggs at once, go for it! 
Your eggs won't run together, and your eaters will be super impressed. :)

2. Crack your room temperature egg into the ring 
and season lightly with salt and black pepper.

3. Once set, remove the ring and enjoy your egg!

If you keep your yolk whole, once the white is set, simply turn off the heat (or remove the skillet from the burner) and cover the ring with a small plate or lid. The heat trapped inside will set the yolk and keep the egg warm until you're ready to serve!

If you use a 3-4 inch ring, the cooked egg will be the perfect size for a toasted bagel!

Here, I cooked 5 quail eggs in a ring and enjoyed them on a toasted sesame bagel. Yum!

You can use any size ring or any type of egg.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Compound Butter - Quick, easy flavor!

Pan-Seared Strip Steaks with Blue Cheese Compound Butter, Mushrooms, Bacon, and Creamed Spinach
Cooled and ready for my client to heat up! ;)
By Madeleine Dee

Looking for an easy and quick way to add serious flavor to your dishes? Look no further!

Using a compound butter is a very classic way to elevate the taste of a meal. It can contain just about any combination of flavorings, and it is so very easy.

Here's what you'll need:

1 stick of butter, softened
Salt and pepper
Flavorings - Fresh herbs, citrus zest, sauteed shallots, garlic, spices, dried herbs...

That's it!
You can use whatever flavorings go well with your dish,
and there's lots of room for creativity.

Here's what to do:
1. Let your butter soften at room temperature for at least a couple of hours.

When softened, mix with herbs, spices, etc., then add a sprinkle of black pepper and a few pinches of salt.

I used salt, pepper, the zest of 1 lemon, and about 1/2 cup of blue cheese.

Mix well.

2. Form your butter mixture into an oblong shape and lay on some plastic wrap.

3. Fold the plastic wrap over, leaving a couple of extra inches between the end of the wrap and the butter.

4. Use your hands to smooth and shape the butter into a long log.

5. When done shaping, roll the covered butter forward to wrap.

6. Roll a few times to make sure it's good and covered.

7. Cut the plastic wrap and roll tightly.

8. Twist both ends like a piece of candy. :)

9. Chill your butter until firm. You can (and should) refrigerate it for a few hours, but freezing is ok if you need to use it sooner!

10. When firm, slice into thin coins.

11. Keep your compound butter in the fridge to slice and use whenever you need it!

Next time you have a piping hot steak, you'll have a delicious 
punch of buttery flavor to melt onto the top.

If you have a bit of time one day, make several compound butters and keep them on hand in the fridge or the freezer so you'll always have a quick way to jazz up your meals!

A garam masala butter would be delicious! Or a lime zest, cumin, and paprika compound butter for Tex-Mex dishes? :)

Have any favorite combinations? Let me know below!

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Executive Chef and Owner of No Place Like Home in Louisville, KY. Writer, actress, chef, professional cook and professional eater.