I love filled pasta dishes–whether plated in a restaurant, store-bought, or completely homemade they always make my mouth water. However the do-it-yourself variety is definitely a 'sometimes' endeavor–making dough, rolling out pasta sheets, mixing a filling, and assembling the finished shape can never be a quick and easy job. Although I've never tried it personally, buying and using wanton wrappers can reduce some of the prep-time. It's worth it if it's the only way you can try this filling: bright, green, and savory, its asparagus and lemon combination is perfect for spring.
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2 lb. thick asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups ricotta
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
2 tsp. anchovy paste
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne peper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3/4 cup olive oil
1 cup blanched almonds, chopped
Finely grated lemon zest to taste
Fresh pasta sheets or pre-made wonton wrappers
1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil; have a bowl of ice water set aside. Boil the asparagus tips until tender but still bright green, about 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to ice water. When cool, transfer with slotted spoon to a small bowl and set aside. Cook and cool asparagus spears in the same way; dry on paper towels.
2. In a food processor, chop 3 cups of the spears and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the remaining spears to the tips and set aside.
3. Add the ricotta, Parmigiano, anchovy paste, garlic, and cayenne to the chopped asparagus; mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Arrange pasta dough on a well-floured work surface. Put 1 Tbs. of the asparagus filling in the center of the dough. Moisten edges with water. Top each with dough, pressing edges firmly to seal and expelling any air bubbles.
5. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the ravioli; when they rise to the surface after about 2 minutes, use a slotted spoon to transfer to serving bowls.
6. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the almonds, shaking the pan. Cook until the nuts brown and immediately transfer to a small bowl. Spoon mixture over ravioli. Top with reserved asparagus pieces, a grinding of pepper, a sprinkle of Parmigiano, and some lemon zest. Serve immediately.
I try not to get easily intimidated by recipes–but it is important to at least get a sense of what's involved before you tackle making a meal from scratch. Paella is definitely a dish that's known to be somewhat complicated. I found it to be more time-consuming than difficult–think a slow layering of flavors that requires patience. While I always associated the meal with Spain, apparently Spaniards themselves see it as strictly regional and belonging to the Valencian community in the country. There is some variety to its ingredients: here I used chicken, sausage and shrimp, but lots of other meats can get tossed in with the yellow-seasoned rice.
1/4 cup finely chopped oregano
1/4 cup finely chopped thyme
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
3/4 cup olive oil
8 tablespoons dry red wine
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
8 pieces of chicken (breasts or legs)
1 1/2 pound Spanish chorizo or linguiça sausage, casings removed
1 1/2 pound Spanish chorizo or linguiça sausage, cut in pieces on the diagonal
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, de-veined, tails intact
4 large onions, chopped
1/2 pound tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
2 cups short-grain rice
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon saffron or turmeric
2 bay leaves
1. Combine oregano, thyme and parsley in small bowl. Transfer half herb mixture to a food processor. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon red wine, pepper, coriander, 3 garlic cloves, cayenne, salt and vinegar. Blend until coarse paste forms. Rub all but 2 tablespoons of paste mixture over chicken. Chill until ready to use.
2. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add uncased chorizo, onions, tomatoes, remaining chopped herbs and remaining 5 minced garlic cloves. Cook until onions are soft, crumbling sausage with fork and stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. Drain of excess grease. Transfer mixture to large bowl.
3. Heat remaining 1/4 cup olive oil. Add chicken and whole sausages and cook until brown, turning frequently, about 15 minutes for chicken. Transfer to plate. Return chorizo mixture Dutch oven.
4. Meanwhile, bring stock to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Add saffron or turmeric and mix well. Cook rice over high heat in Dutch oven until opaque, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add remaining herb paste and 7 tablespoons wine. Bring to simmer, scraping up any bits. Stir in heated stock.
5. Add shrimp and bay leaves. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is very tender, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes
10. Add chicken, sausage, and peas to Dutch ovens. Cover, remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes. Serve with lime and lemon wedges.
The first time I tasted this dessert I was on vacation, so it's no wonder that it evokes memories of things warm and sunny for me. With its pudding-like texture, mango pie is a cross between a custard tart and a cheesecake. It's hard to recreate the magic of a tropical trip back at home, but this recipe comes pretty close. Not unsurprisingly, the key to the whole thing is the quality of the fruit: use only the sweetest, most ripe mangos you can find–even if that means sneaking a taste first.
1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
5 TB canola oil
2 cups of mango pulp (from peeled and seeded ripe mangos)
2 packages unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1. Mix graham cracker crumbs and oil until well-blended . Press mixture into an 8 or 9 inch pie plate. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8 minutes. Cool.
2. Soften the gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes. Place in the microwave for 40 seconds, stirring once completely dissolved. Set aside.
3. Place the mango and condensed milk in a blender. Puree until smooth. Add gelatin mixture. Beat until creamy, about 30 seconds.
4. Immediately pour mixture into pie crust. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. Garnish with fresh mangos slices, lime zest, and/or whipped cream to serve.
[pretty pale tulips (one of my favorite flowers)]
[tibetan jewelry for sale at a flea market]
[yummy bread service during a sunny lunch]
[a spectacular organic lemon]
[macrons from my favorite bakery]
While I'm all about warmer temperatures, longer days, and (somewhat) freer schedules, one of my favorite things about the spring and summer is the change in the quality of light. Like magical clockwork, around this time of year everything begins to look sharper and brighter around the edges. Colors–of food, clothes, flowers–become more vibrant too. The subtle transformation inspires me to be more creative, start new projects, and spend more time outdoors–things I hope I can begin this weekend.
I love margaritas, and not the frozen, artificially-colored, intensely sweet kinds. I'm talking about freshly-mixed drinks, where every flavor of each high-quality ingredient stands out–starting, of course, with the tequila. So when the ultra-premium brand Dobel Tequila asked if I'd like to use a bottle of their double-distilled Hungarian White Oak barrel-matured alcohol to make one of their signature cocktail recipes, I of course jumped at the chance. This has been my favorite so far: a Mexican-inspired take on the Salty Dog (a drink usually made with grapefruit juice, vodka and salt), here instead the slight bitterness of the grapefruit marries well with the intense flavor of the tequila. It's an incredibly smooth and refreshing drink, perfect for a balmy day.
p.s. Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for the Mickey Lynn necklace. We'll be announcing the winner soon! x
5 oz fresh grapefruit juice
3 oz Tequila (Dobel, recommended)
Coarse salt, for rimming glass
Grapefruit slice, for garnish
1. Wet the rim of a glass with cut grapefruit half (discard) and coat with coarse salt. Fill glass with ice.
2. Add grapefruit juice and tequila in a shaker, and shake with ice for 15 seconds.
2. Strain into a glass and enjoy.
Artichokes are strange little–okay not so little–vegetables (which stems from the fact that they're not veggies at all but rather immature thistles). Half of their leaves and center are completely inedible, which makes for some focused–but not difficult–prep work. The other half is pretty delicious when properly cooked. It's fun to spend some time scraping the soft leaves clean with your teeth when they're fresh from the oven. I'm a firm believer in the fact that cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, and olive oil can make anything taste phenomenal and this recipe has enough of those ingredients to do just that.
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4 large, full-size artichokes
1 lemon, halved
1 3⁄4 cups dried bread crumbs
1 cup grated pecorino cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1⁄3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves (or 1 tablespoon dried)
1 tsp. sea salt salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
extra-virgin olive oil
1. Using a serrated knife, cut off artichoke stems to create a flat bottom. Cut top thirds off artichokes, pull off tough outermost leaves, and trim tips of leaves with shears. Scoop out choke. Open artichoke leaves with your thumbs to make room for stuffing. Rub cut parts with lemon halves and set aside.
2. Heat oven to 425°. In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, 3⁄4 cup pecorino cheese, parsley, salt, pepper, and garlic. Working with one artichoke at a time over bowl, sprinkle one-quarter of bread crumb mixture over the artichoke and work it in between leaves. Transfer stuffed artichoke to a shallow baking dish. Drizzle each artichoke with oil until saturated.
3. Pour boiling water to a depth of 1" in baking dish. Rub 1 tbsp. olive oil on a sheet of aluminum foil, cover artichokes with foil (oiled side down), and secure foil tightly around dish with kitchen twine. Bake until a knife easily slides into the base of an artichoke, about 45 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle tops with remaining cheese, and switch oven to broil. Broil until tops of artichokes are golden brown, about 3 minutes.
I'm going to be completely honest: I found the idea of making a Hummingbird Cake daunting. To start, it has an alarmingly long list of ingredients, most of which are moist–I was convinced there was no way a thick, wet batter would firm up and be tasty. But I was wrong: the recipe was actually pretty foolproof. Of course there's also the intimidating back-story factor–any baked good that's got a history to it always seems a bit foreboding. This cake's a deep South classic, apparently originating from a mid-nineteenth century recipe that was first published in a 1978 edition of Southern Living magazine (and soon after winning lots of awards). Why the unique name? Apparently there are two theories: it's tastiness makes people hum with delight (definitely true) or its sweetness could attract the nectar-sucking birds (also highly probable).
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted
2 cups chopped bananas (no not mash) from about 2 large
18 ounces cream cheese (whipped if available), at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1. Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs and oil, stirring until moistened (do not beat.) Stir in vanilla, pineapple, nuts, and bananas.
2. Pour batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
3. For frosting: combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat at low speed until sugar is incorporated. Increase speed and beat until frosting is light and whipped, about 5 minutes.
4. Spread frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; sprinkle with an additional 1/2 cup chopped nuts to decorate. Store in refrigerator.
I love desserts–I mean I really, really love them. But I really, really hate it when something tasty leaves you feeling yucky. You know that general sense of heaviness/greasiness you can get after a regretful indulgence? It's never (ever) worth it for me. Muffins can be one of those tricky treats that seem harmless but actual pack a buttery, sugary punch. That's why I reach to this recipe whenever I'm looking to make a quick, light, and portable chocolaty snack. They're easy to assemble and–warning–even easier to eat for breakfast, dessert, and any time in between.
P.S. I'm so excited by everyone's response the Skinny Jeans giveaway. There are still a few more days to enter, so be sure to do so by clicking here!
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup semisweet chocolate-chips, divided
1. Preheat oven to 400°. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture.
2. Combine 1 cup water and next 4 ingredients (through egg) in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add oil mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Stir in 3/4 cup chips.
3. Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups, and coat liners with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup chips evenly over batter. Bake for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack.
I still can't believe it's Easter weekend already–though winter drags, time sure does fly. I like to think of anything involving coconut (food, drinks, suntan lotion) as super spring/summery, so I thought these light and fluffy cupcakes that have the shredded white stuff inside and out would be a perfect holiday treat. They're vegan (though I'm not), which means no eggs, milk or butter are involved in their creation. To make them even more festive I enacted a decoration I first spotted on Pinterest: using this set of rabbit silhouettes, I traced outlines on plain white paper, affixed the cut-out forms to toothpicks with tape, and centered them on each one from the batch. Welcome spring–we've been expecting you.
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoon coconut milk (or water)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin tin with paper liners, set aside.
2. Sift together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients.
3. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and whisk until just combined, being careful not to over-mix. Fold in 1 cup of unsweetened coconut.
4. Fill each muffin tin about two-thirds full. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from the muffin tin and place on a cooling rack.
5. Mix all icing ingredients until smooth and spreadable. Frost when the cupcakes have completely cooled, sprinkling additional unsweetened coconut on top.