The other night I taught a sold-out class at Audrey Claire’s Cook on making fresh pastas from around the world. Some of these component recipes are already up on the blog, but most are not and they are all together here (except for the bulgur filling and chile oil which will be added soon). The menu was: Bulgur wontons with chili oil Pandan glass noodles with turmeric vinaigrette, cashews, and green mango Pappardelle with lentils, fermented escarole and apple Gnocchi with mushroom ragu and pickled mustard seeds.
Cauliflower and olives is not too common of a combination but its a classic Italian pairing, especially around Marche. Cauliflower has a remarkable flavor of its own, but it pairs with strong flavors very well - gojuchang, olives, horseradish, even cocoa if it’s done right. The simple flavors in this dish become more than the sum of their parts and make a startling contrast to the essentially white-on-white presentation.
- 3 large shallots, sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 head cauliflower, broken into small florets
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- ¼ cup white wine
- 2 cups chocciola
- ½ cup oil cured olives, chopped and lightly rinsed
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
- 2 tablespoons toasted almonds
- 2 tablespoons chiffonade parsley
Sweat the shallots, garlic and almonds in ¼ cup of olive oil with a teaspoon of salt over low heat, covered. When that’s soft and flavorful, after about 10 minutes, add the cauliflower. When they’re tender, add the white wine. Reduce until the pan’s almost dry, then add 1 cup water. Simmer for 3 minutes or so until the cauliflower is soft. Blend thoroughly, pass through a chinois and season with salt.
Boil the pasta
Warm the cauliflower cream gently and add in the olives, capers, and almonds. Toss in the pasta. Adjust the thickness of the sauce with water if necessary. Toss in the parsley and serve.
In the colder months, when I want something very fresh tasting, pesto is where it’s at. Since they’re so small, most herbs grow well all year round in greenhouses, and when done right, you don’t need much more than pasta and sauce. It’s always good to have a little something to contrast the fatty, intense flavor of a good pesto - in summer, peak tomatoes do the trick perfectly but in late fall and winter, I really enjoy using baby turnips. A perfectly poached turnip, especially something like a white hakurei, stands up perfectly to pesto. It’s subtle but not bland, moist and crisp. And if you can get them, turnips greens are some of the sweetest, most flavorful greens available - useful raw or braised. Radishes or beets are also good stand-ins, prepared the same way.
This is a more composed dish than I usually do, which is even more reason I should have taken a picture. On the other hand, beyond the cooking time for the potatoes, it’s a pretty quick dish to put together. In that sense, this is sort of in the style of how we put together the gnocchi at Talula’s garden over the course of my year working there. The Spanish do a lot of various mixtures of olives, clementines (or oranges), almonds, sherry vinegar and cinnamon. Then cinnamon and potatoes is actually something I first did with Chinese food, but it fits. More than anything, though, I like the combination of textures on this plate. Creamy almond puree, juicy clementines, crisp dandelion stems, tender gnocchi, crunchy almonds, fatty and bright vinaigrette. Yum.
Today I plan to whisk you away to a magical mountainous trail through Liguria where people seem to subsist on pillowy pasta filled with an abundance of wild greens and foraged herbs. This recipe is surprisingly hearty and full-flavored as a result of mixing the heady aroma of black walnuts with the umami of the braised greens.
I was originally planning on celebrating valentine’s day this upcoming Saturday - at work we’re doing a tasting for the holiday and I usually work Tuesdays anyway. But I got a text a little after midnight on Saturday with a schedule change. After I groggily figured out what day it was (Sunday morning) and which week my boss was referring to (this one) I realized I’d be around for valentine’s with my partner and started thinking up a menu. Beets are Sam’s favorite and since I had one dish pretty down pat (red wine-braised tempeh with apples and bowties), I figured I could go out on a limb and do some beet-filled agnolotti which I had never done before. The look is great for valentines day, but the flavors are immense anyday.
I made this the first time for an anti-thanksgiving party I had for a bunch of friends. For 10 people I made forty of these along with two other mains, a soup, and some sides. Sam made corn bread and dessert. Most things were good, even though at the last minute I overcooked a few things, but the raviolis and the chocolate cake were easily my favorites. I took the basic recipe from the dumpling book, but I tweaked it and then the sauce is a standby of mine, especially in the cooler months. The combination of mushrooms and autumn squash is really refined and comforting at the same time. it’s a bit late for pumpkins, but i like to experiment this time of year with all the different squashes the farmstand carries.
Pasta dough (it’s just a link to an earlier recipe on this very same blog)
1 large Pumpkin
¼ cup dried black lentils
2 Tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted and crushed
2 teaspoons white miso
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
Zest and juice of one lemon
Preheat the oven to 350. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 30 minutes or so, until tender. Put the lentils in a small pot and cover with water by about 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes over low heat until tender. Drain and cool. Toast the almonds in a dry pan over medium heat and when cool, crush them. When the squash is cool, scrape out the flesh into a bowl. Mix all the ingredients with a potato masher.
Roll out your rested pasta dough to the thinnest setting on your machine, or as thin as you can get it with a rolling pin. Cut out circles using a ring mold or round cookie cutter, or even a small glass. Dollop some filling into the center. For a nicer presentation, I like to lightly pinch the edge of the dough halfway around the circle, and then fold the other edge up and over the filling, and then pressing to seal the dumpling. From the pinching you can get a certain pleated look.
2 medium shallots, peeled and sliced
2 t coriander seeds
1 cup blanched almonds
1 T White wine vinegar
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a sautee pan. Add the coriander and cook for 20 seconds, rolling the pan around so the seeds don’t burn. Add the shallots and cook, stirring over high heat until they’re browned pretty thoroughly, but not burnt. Remove from the pan.
Cover the almonds with water in a sauce pot and boil for 5 minutes, then drain.
In a blender, combine the almonds, vinegar, and onions and turn it on, adding water as needed and scraping down the sides to get it all pureed. You want a relatively thin sauce so don’t be too careful with the water. Adjust the seasoning with vinegar and salt. When it is thoroughly pureed gently pass it through a fine mesh strainer.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Heat a sautee pan with olive oil. Add your mushrooms and sautee until they’re really aromatic and browned a good bit, about 4 minutes and then reduce the heat to medium. Drop your ravioli into the pot. Add your sauce to the pan with the mushrooms and cook it relatively gently, just to heat up and reduce a bit. When your raviolis are ready, after about a minute (2 minutes if frozen), take them from the water and add to your pan with the sauce. Toss gently and cook for 30 seconds longer, then plate.
Corn is a grass. There are thousands of varieties of corn. No one knows how ancient people living in what is now Mexico transformed a particular inedible, small, unremarkable species of grass into the basis for the great civilizations that thrived there. Corn is a weapon of U.S. imperialism. Corn’s unique chemical structure enables a lot of cool textures in foods. Corn is a weapon against people in food deserts, as well as people who choose to buy into industrial food. Many kinds of corn have to be treated with slake lime in order to become edible. Corn is a lot of things. Between 1500 and 1700 corn, along with potatoes, transformed European agriculture, especially in places where it was difficult to grow wheat, like in some parts of north/central Italy. And polenta was born. Here is a basic polenta agnolotti that can be served with lots of things, including tomato sauce. Here it goes with a simple mix of fruit, vegetables, and mushrooms.
1 ball pasta dough (link below)
7 cups water
1 cup polenta
1 tablespoon of salt (and more to taste)
½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and crushed
¼ cup olive and argan oil, olive oil, or any flavorful oil.
2 medium shallots
1 head frisee (or other bitter green)
2 Tablespoons of diced quince (or apple or firm pear)
1 fresh porcini mushroom or ¼ cup dried porcini.
½ a cup dry white wine, (or tablespoon of wine vinegar)
2 sprigs of thyme, picked
Marc Vetri(aka the dark lord) says this is the only way he knows how to make polenta:
Bring 6 cups of water to a simmer, whisk in 1 cup of polenta so as to avoid lumps. Simmer this over the lowest flame possible for an hour to an hour and a half, stirring almost constantly. I use a non-stick pan which helps, but you still have to stir a lot. Most good polentas are unique, so you may have to add in some more water as it cooks in order to fully hydrate it, like I did with the “heirloom polenta” from Fair Food. At the end of cooking, it should be smooth so that as you stir in the ¼ cup of oil it becomes creamy. While this is cooking, you can prepare everything else:
Make this semolina dough, but add a flavorful nut oil like walnut or argan instead of olive oil, if you so desire. Now you can mince your shallots, dice your quince (or apple or pear), slice your fresh porcini (if using), and trim your frisee (or kale or radicchio). When the polenta is done, fold in your crushed hazelnuts. Here is a quick video of the basic process of folding agnolotti (the relevant section starts around 1:07).It’s pretty straightforward: After the dough is rested, roll it out as thin as possible into large sheets at least 3 inches wide. Either using a pastry bag or just a spoon or whatnot, make a line of polenta down the dough long-ways, about 1 inch away from the edge. Moisten the edge of the pasta and fold it over the polenta, pinching it closed, trying to get all the air out. Then, using your hand, press on the encased line of polenta every inch or so, pushing the polenta out from under your hand and sealing the agnolotti. Use a pizza wheel or a sharp knife to cut them into individual pieces.
Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. In a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the fresh or dry mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. When they’ve started to gain color, add the shallots and fruit. Cook, stirring, until the shallots lose their raw smell. At that time add the thyme and the wine or vinegar and cook until the pan is almost dry, or “sec.” Add ½ cup of water and cook until the quince and/or the dried mushrooms are tender. When they are tender, drop your agnolotti in the boiling salted water. Add the greens to the mushroom pan, season them and stir them in. Cook everything for about a minute longer and then, using a slotted spoon, drop the agnolotti in to the vegetables. Stir to combine and then plate.
Chutneys are great. They’re intensely flavorful as well as balanced. They’re a wonderful from of preservation. And you can make them with almost any vegetable or fruit matter using a simple formula:
1 part onion or shallot
1 part vinegar
1 part sweetener
4 parts fruit or vegetable
You can adjust the flavors by choosing your vinegar and sweetener, choosing the kind of onion or shallot, and then you can add any spices or other flavorings you want. For the corzetti that I posted last week I used some of an apple chutney that I make almost every year for Rosh Hashanah. I use this recipe:
15 tart apples - peeled, cored, and medium diced
1 yellow onion, small diced
1 cup white wine vinegar
½ cup barley malt syrup
½ cup sucanat
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ Tablespoon celery seed
The instructions are simple: mix everything in a pot and cook until everything is soft and the flavor is melded, usually about 15 minutes.
Another example, although you’ll probably have to wait to next year for this:
Apricot chanterelle chutney
½ cup onion
¼ cup champagne vinegar
¼ cup brown rice vinegar
½ cup date sugar (don’t ever try to use this stuff in cakes)
1 lb apricots
1 T chanterelle powder