Hurry up and wait. That’s what life has been like for me since I began photographing the cookbook. It’s a fabulous opportunity but an arduous task. Between the 60-70 hours a week at the restaurants, there has been another 10-15 hours a week photographing, waiting, photographing, editing and uploading photos. There hasn’t been much time for anything else. The laundry is piling, the leaves need raking and how on earth is the recycling bin so full? Oh yeah, forgot to put it out…
Needless to say, there hasn’t been much cooking at home. But today the clouds parted and both of my shoots canceled. One for a somewhat major kitchen disaster, the other for what I’m guessing was a few too many late night libations. I’m taking this time to get up a post that has been in my head since I began thinking about fall, pumpkin ravioli with brown butter.
The two people I mentioned this post to (yes TJ, you were one) had asked if I was going to include a pasta recipe. There is no pasta recipe, I don’t know of a cookbook that doesn’t have one. If you can’t find one, I’ll send you mine. You can find fresh pasta sheets at Whole Foods or any specialty food store if you aren’t interested in making your own. This post is focused on making the ravioli and making the brown butter.
I may have gone a little overboard with the step by step instructions but this has been in my head for a while and I wanted to do my idea justice.
For the ravioli filling….
2 each pie pumpkins (about 6 cups of cooked pumpkin)
2 Tbs. garlic, minced
2 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1 tsp. white pepper, ground
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
You may substitute 5 cups of canned pumpkin if you would prefer that to fresh. Though it is easier than roasting fresh pumpkins, you won’t get the delicate flavor fresh pumpkins will give you. Leave out the butter and add the garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper to the canned pumpkin and skip to assembling your raviolis.
1. Preheat your oven to 350°.
2. Line a baking sheet with foil.
3. Rub the vegetable oil on the foil to keep the pumpkins from sticking.
4. Remove the stems and halve the pumpkins.
5. Scrape out the seeds, save them if you want to make pepitas later.
6. Place the pumpkins on the baking sheet, cut side down.
7. Cover the pumpkins with foil and bake for 60-70 minutes or until the pumpkins are fork tender.
8. Allow the pumpkins to cool to room temperature.
9. Scrape all the meat from the pumpkin skin into a bowl.
10. Puree the pumpkin in a blender or robot coupe.
11. In a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
12. Add the garlic and sweat gently until it begins to turn white.
13. Add the pumpkin puree, rosemary, salt and pepper.
14. While we’re infusing the pumpkin with the garlic and rosemary flavor, we’re also cooking out some of the liquid in the pumpkin so it’s not too loose when we go to make the raviolis.
15. Continue cooking over low heat while stirring constantly with a spoon so as not to let it burn.
16. Your pumpkin is ready when it is firm enough in the pan to hold the weight of the spoon without letting it sink.
17. Remove from heat and chill.
If you’ve followed this blog at all, you’re aware of my disdain for white pepper. This recipe is one of the rare exceptions I have for white pepper, but you must grind it yourself. Most ground white peppers you can buy have hints of manure in the aroma (not actual manure, mind you) that I find off putting.
• Clean work surface
• Ravioli press
• Chefs knife
• Egg wash
• Fresh pasta sheets
• Rolling pin
1. Prepare your work surface, this is your mis en place.
2. Lay the first pasta sheet on the ravioli press.
3. Using the second piece of the press, make an indentation in the pasta sheet.
4. You should now have room for the filling.
5. Brush the pasta sheet with the egg wash.
6. Fill each ravioli section with about 1 Tbs. of pumkin filling.
7. Going end to end, lay the second pasta sheet on top of the filling.
8. Slowing work your way up pressing out any air bubbles.
9. Make sure you get as much air out as possible.
10. Small bubbles should be fine, large bubbles will make your raviolis explode in the water.
11. The second piece of pasta should lay snug on the filling.
12. Press the pasta dough with the rolling pin to cut the ravioli.
13. Make sure to roll both north & south and east & west.
14. Press the dough down off the ravioli press to avoiding lifting and tearing a ravioli.
15. Once the pasta has been separated, remove the excess.
16. Flip the ravioli press and gently remove the raviolis.
17. Cut any pasta that may be connecting the raviolis.
19. Sprinkle corn flour on a plate to keep the raviolis from sticking together.
20. Place on the plate and freeze or reserve for cooking.
For the brown butter…
4 Tbs. butter, unsalted
1 tspn kosher salt
1. Plate the butter and salt in a small sauté pan.
2. Melt the butter on medium high heat.
3. Allow the butter to keep cooking until it begins to bubble.
4. Once the bubbling has stopped, the browning will begin.
5. Keep on the heat, swirling gently until the butter attains a medium brown color.
6. Remove from heat and reserve warm.
Bring six quarts of generously salted water to a rapid boil. Cook the ravioli for 3-5 minutes. Remove to a plate and finish with brown butter and Parmesan.
I’ve been doing an inordinate amount of menu writing lately. Summer menus, fall menus, beer dinner menus, wine dinner menus, charity dinner menus, harvest dinner menus…it really does require a great deal of research. Some dishes are variations on past winners, some are variations of meals encountered in other establishments and some are completely original, or at least original to me.
It is definitely a good exercise in challenging your beliefs about what cooking should be. Once you’ve learned that there is nothing in cooking that should be, you are then open to the possibility of what cooking can be. The beauty of cooking is there are no rules. The right way and the wrong way are subject only to opinion. In that way cooking is more like art. There is really very little difference in mixing paints like you might ingredients. The precision that is required in the stroke of a brush also exists in the use of sharp steels and carbons. And the end result of any art form is to evoke emotion.
Up until last weekend, I firmly believed that lettuce was not meant for the grill. Not ever, under any circumstance, was it necessary to char a tender green. Then, I was tasked with creating a few dishes slightly out of the norm. I was stumped to an extent, I gave in, it was time to try something new. While grilled romaine is not out of the norm, it did fit the bill of being a departure from where this particular restaurant had resided for years culinary-wise.
The Caesar dressing I have done for years didn’t fit the flavor profile of the charred lettuce very well, it needed a more acidic profile, also, not quite as creamy.
Grilled Romaine with Caesar Vinaigrette
Makes 1 quart
Caesar Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1 Tbs. garlic, minced fine
¼ cup yellow onion, minced fine
1 oz anchovy, minced
1 lemon, juiced
1 Tbs. course ground Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Tabasco
½ cup mayo
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup pecorino, grated
2 ½ cups canola oil
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1. In a mixing bowl, combine the garlic, onion, anchovy, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, mayo, vinegar and pecorino.
2. Mix well and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
3. Whisk briskly while adding the canola oil in a slow, thin, steady stream.
4. Do the same with the olive oil.
5. Add the fresh black pepper and salt.
6. Can be held up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
3 large heads romaine lettuce
Olive oil for brushing
Grated Pecorino or Parmesan for garnishing
Romaine is a sturdy lettuce so it won’t wilt as quickly as more tender greens might. Still, you want to make sure you’re grill is extremely hot; you only want to flash the lettuce on the grill just long enough to char it a little. Depending on how hot your grill is, this could be as quick as 15 seconds or as long as 45 seconds.
1. Halve the romaine lengthwise, straight through the core and stem.
2. Leave the stem intact while you are grilling, it will make handling the romaine easier. If you want to remove it afterwards, that won’t be a problem.
3. Brush the cut side lightly with olive oil.
4. Place on the hottest part of the grill, cut side down, until the edges begin to char.
5. Remove from heat, brush immediately with Caesar vinaigrette, garnish with grated cheese and serve.
6. Great on its own as a salad or use as a side for beef, chicken, seafood and pork.
Look for a new weekly segment over on the ‘Food Photography‘ page, Pins of the week. I do love the ability that Pinterest provides to create virtual notebook. I spend a good deal of time searching for things to add and want to highlight some of my favorites.
That’s right, another post about ribs. I will admit, these ribs are much better than the Sous Vide Ribs I did last year. Maybe it’s because I’m a traditionalist, but I prefer the tender/chewy/crunchy/caramely goodness that comes with slow roasting. The sous vide ribs were good, but didn’t have the same character that these ribs display. It should also be said, those sous vide ribs are the 2nd most trafficked page on my site, I’m hoping this new ribs recipe will bump them to number 3!
I do an insane quantity of ribs at the restaurant. But then I have this fabulously expensive piece of equipment that makes doing that many ribs easy. My Alto-Shaam uses extremely precise temperature and time controls to deliver perfect ribs every time. Although you don’t have this type of equipment at home, you can still get the same results out of your oven, as long as you have a little patience.
The first thing you’ll need to do is make sure your oven is able to get to these lower temperatures. We’ll be cooking the ribs at 250° and then dropping the temperature to 160-170°. If you have an electric oven, this is usually the ‘warm’ setting. Gas ovens might be a little more challenged to hold a temp that low safely. If you don’t have an oven thermometer, grab one, they are only a few dollars and will help you figure out if your oven is properly calibrated or not.
Once you’re comfortable with your oven it’s time to start the ribs!
2 each 2 ½ lb St. Louis Ribs
Chinese 5 spice powder
1. Preheat your oven to 250°.
2. Line a sheet pan or cookie pan with aluminum foil.
3. Trim the ribs of any excess fat or sinew.
4. Drag your knife(score) across the underside of the ribs 1-2 times from one end to the other.
5. Gently rub a little 5 spice powder on both sides of the ribs.
6. Lay the ribs on the sheet pan and cover with more foil.
7. Place sheet tray in the center of the oven for 4 hours.
8. After 4 hours, reduce the temperature to 160-170° for 3 hours.
9. If you choose, you can serve the ribs immediately. Just brush with sauce and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes.
10. You can also brush with sauce, cool and reserve for serving later.
11. Ribs can easily be reheated in the oven or on the grill to serve.
If you’re interested, here is the Chinese 5 Spice recipe I use, you can also buy a premade 5 spice if you prefer.
• 1 part star anise, ground
• 1 part cinnamon, ground
• 1 ½ parts ginger, ground
• ½ part clove, ground
• ½ part fennel seed, ground
Mix well and reserve, can be used to season a great variety of fish, meat and poultry.
Hoisin BBQ Sauce
• 1 cup Basic BBQ Sauce
• 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
• 2 oz ginger, minced
• 2 oz garlic, minced
• 1 oz green onion, minced
• 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
• 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
• 3 1/2 oz honey
• 1 1/2 tsp distilled vinegar
• 2 oz sugar
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil
1. Sweat the ginger, garlic and green onions over medium heat in the oil.
2. Add the remaining ingredients.
3. Bring to a boil.
4. Reduce to a light simmer for 1 hour.
5. Strain through a China cap and cool.
Summer is vacation time for many, especially those in the restaurant industry. Restaurants are generally slower this time of year as people get out of town or spend more time entertaining at home. It’s a good time for restaurants to retool, re-staff, retrain and prepare for the busier fall when kids are back in school, the weather cools and people are more apt to go out than sit at home.
This is exactly what we’re doing at the restaurants I’m involved with, so it’s a very busy time for me. I’m currently working on menus for 4 restaurants and beginning to lay groundwork for one, possibly two more. Vacation isn’t in the plans for a while. At least not till the beginning of December when we are expecting our 3rd little girl, my dad was hoping for a boy, sorry dad, not this time either.
I like working; I’ve averaged 60 hour work weeks for as long as I can remember. It’s tougher now with kids and I’m hoping to get to a place where the work week normalizes a bit, if only to be able to spend more time with the family. Now with a 3rd, it would definitely a challenge on the Mrs.
Since there is no vacation time on the horizon, I steal moments and immerse myself in those things synonymous with the vacation experience. One such pleasure is a (fruitier than I normally drink) cocktail. I’m a tequila and beer man, always have been, I imagine I always will be. But over the last 6 months, the cocktail programs that I’ve been exposed to at my restaurants have given me a little taste of the exotic. The provide Interesting combinations and preparations like barrel-aging, marrying flavors and creating something with depth and originality. These are things that I, as a chef, truly treasure.
While barrel-aging cocktails is not something I would begin to do at home (although it could be done quite easily), I do like to play with what is in season and came up with this little gem after wondering what to do with all my cherries. I’ve always been a fan of cherry-limeade so I thought this cherry mojito would be a natural combination, I don’t think I have to tell you how right I was.
For the cherry juice, if you have a masticating juicer, that’s your best bet to extract as much flavor from the cherries as possible. If not, do what I did and go with the blender method. Pit the cherries, puree in a blender and strain through chinois or cheese cloth. If this is still too much effort, just go buy some juice, although you won’t get as much cherry flavor out of your cocktail.
6 fresh mint leaves
1 Tbs. sugar
1 ½ oz. lime Juice
1 ½ oz. cherry juice/puree
1 ½ oz. white rum
4 oz. club soda
Mint and lime wedges for garnish
1. In a 12-14 oz. Collins glass, muddle the mint leaves and sugar.
2. Add the lime juice and cherry juice.
3. Fill the glass with ice.
4. Pour the rum over the ice.
5. Add the club soda.
6. Stir, garnish and serve.
It’s been hot here in Colorado, like Hades hot. It’s been that way for a while. So much so that the local Colorado produce is getting to market earlier. Unfortunately that means it will also be ending earlier and will most likely be an abnormally long time between seasons if next years weather is back to normal. That being said, as I sit here in front of my computer, it has rained for 2 days and the weather has gotten much cooler.
When it gets as hot as it was last week, it’s hard to think about cooking. So this week I did something a little out of character, I made myself a salad. Entree salads at the restaurant are extremely popular this time of year, but I’ve never been much of a salad eater. I like salads, but when confronted with the choice of a salad or, say, a slab of perfectly seared foie gras, I’m going foie every time.
This isn’t so much a recipe as a list of ingredients I threw together to make this salad. I had beets in the fridge. My two options were oven roasting or stove top. Stovetop sounded cooler and quicker so that was the direction I went. Trim the tops off of three to four beets (reserve a few of the beet greens for the salad), about the size of a plum, cover in cold water with a couple tablespoons of white vinegar. The vinegar doesn’t really add any flavor but helps to keep the beets from bleeding. Bring those to a boil and reduce to a simmer. They should be tender in roughly an hour. Remove the pot from the stove and place in the sink. Run cold water over the beets until they are cool enough to handle but not cold.
Using a paper towel or a clean rag, gently rub the skin off the beets. The stem at the top should also rub off quite easily. Set aside and prepare the items for the salad.
- 2 radishes, sliced thinly
- 1 orange, cut into supremes, juice reserved
- 1 head frisee lettuce, outer greens leaves removed and stem removed, held in cold water
- 1 head Belgian endive, cored and julienned
- 1/2 cup red onion, julienned
- 1/2 cup of the beets greens, rinsed and chiffonade
- Salt, fresh cracked black pepper and a good olive oil
For the goat cheese crostini, I used sourdough and gently grilled it, you can toast or serve as is, it’s really up to you. I mixed about a half cup of goat cheese with a Tbs. of chopped basil, a little of the orange juice and salt. Smear a piece of your crostini with a nice amount and your good to go.
Slice the beets on a Benriner, this is also what I used for the radishes, you can see how thin I got them. A Benriner is a super sharp, mandolin style slicer that does amazing things with vegetables. If you don’t have one in your kitchen, you should definitely get one. You will most likely begin to create dishes just so you can use your new Benriner. I don’t know a chef who doesn’t have a couple of them, but be careful, they are extremely sharp, make sure to use the protective cover or you may not end up loving your Benriner as much as I said you would.
Lay the beets on your plate in an attractive fashion, or just toss them on there, it’s up to you. I was taking a photo so…
Toss together the orange, radish, frisee, endive, red onion and beet greens. Moisten with the orange juice and drizzle with a little olive oil. Lay your salad on the plate, finish with salt, black pepper and your goat cheese crostini. This would be a great starter to a meal or make a larger portion for an entree salad. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t hesitate to serve this with a small piece of white fish such as halibut or cobia.
Now that the weather has cooled down a little here, I’m thinking about turning the oven back on, let’s see what I’ll cook for next week.