“Ravioli” with Cavolo Nero & Goat’s Cheese

This recipe caught my eye because it simply looked good in a recent edition of my delicious magazine. It also falls into a category — vaguely healthy-sounding pasta dish — that usually appeals to me. This one was unusual because it uses fresh lasagne sheets as the pasta — the “ravioli” aren’t really ravioli.

The sauce is made in a food processor with a combination of cavolo nero (boiled for a minute to make it soft, then water squeezed out), olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. The accompanying paste is soft goat’s cheese, walnuts (I used toasted almonds), sage, lemon juice, and oil, again made in a food processor. To assemble, you cook the lasagne sheets, and then “layer” the three components, beginning with sauce, then noodles, then goat’s cheese paste. Repeat. Top with Parmesan or Pecorino.

This unfortunately did not pack enough of a punch taste-waste for me. The sauce was a bit bland and watery. The recipe says to squeeze out as much water from the cavolo nero as possible, which I did, but I still found it lacking. I also found the noodles too thick. It was an experimental meal I guess — not a bad one, but one I won’t be making again.

lasagne ravioli

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Kale, Sweet Potato, & Goat Cheese Salad

This is the ideal salad for January: kale and sweet potatoes are both in season, and it’s bulky enough to feel like a real meal that fills you up, while still being relatively light. This is my own recipe, and in this version I added in leftover roast chicken as it had to be used up.

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Cut up and roast sweet potatoes. Note: to get sweet potatoes crispy in the oven, I used the cornstarch (aka “cornflour” in the UK) method outlined here.
  2. Meanwhile, assemble the other parts of the salad: rinse and chop the kale, and add the cheese. For this salad, I used cavolo nero (black kale), but other types would work too.
  3. Make the dressing: I made a basic vinaigrette using fig balsamic vinegar (yum!), but you could adapt this to what you’d prefer. See some ideas from Martha here. Or, since kale is a sturdy leaf, it can stand up to a much heavier, creamier dressing (one with tahini is coming to mind).
  4. Let the sweet potatoes cool for a few minutes, if you can, and then add them to the salad along with the dressing. If you’re patient enough/have the time, let it sit for a few minutes so that everything soaks in. Otherwise, eat and enjoy.

kale salad

Crostini (Garden) Party — my 300th post!

Hello again. 🙂 H. and I have been in Canada for nearly 3 weeks now (hard to believe!) and are having the best time. We spent 8 days in Newfoundland (a few pics to come) and since then have been relaxing in our summer paradise, Sandy Cove! 🙂

I have been cooking quite a bit and have several posts saved to drafts, but not posted anything because I’m trying to limit computer time here. I’m also trying to be a bit more laissez faire about my posts, i.e. not “force” anything and let them come more naturally.

So, without further ado, inspired by this link, I made crostini for a weekly garden party here in Sandy Cove.

I tried to cater for as many dietary requirements as I could, but of course they are not gluten free: tomato-y bruschetta; tomatoes and pesto; blue cheese and prosciutto; a couple of just pesto; goat cheese and pesto; kale and prosciutto; and goat cheese and zucchini.

This was really fun — easy to prepare and would be great as a make-your-own as well. There are lots of ideas at the link above or of course you can get creative and make your own! (Notes: I’d recommend lightly toasting the bread, and making them as close to eating time as possible).

crostini party

‘Zesty’ Glazed Pork Medallions with Red Rice Salad

One of my favourite Christmas gifts this year was this new cookbook I received from my parents. I have long been a fan of Lucy Waverman whose hummus recipe was the very first proper recipe I ever made. The book is organized in what I think is a really unique approach with 11 chapters that each focus on one particular ‘flavour’ – smoky, sweet, nutty, creamy, etc. Plus, the co-author, G&M drinks columnist Beppi Crosariol, provides drink recommendations for each meal.

The was the first meal I made out of the book — from the tart section –and I was really pleased with the result, even though I overcooked the pork.

To make the dish, you first prepare the medallions by seasoning on both sides and then rubbing them in a mixture of ground cinnamon and coriander. Although very tasty, I found the texture of the rub a bit off even when the pork was cooked – sort of a powdery, dry feeling. To cook the pork, it’s simply seared and then roasted for 5-8 minutes on either side (note: this is where I lost track of time and they ended up staying in too long). As this is happening, you make the glaze by combining 1/2 cup wine, 1/4 cup sherry vinegar (I used red wine vinegar), 1 tsp honey, & 1 cup chicken stock, and boiling it off.

The red rice salad is composed of cucumber, pine nuts, green onions, dill, and parsley (also olives, which I left out), topped with a bit of goats cheese and a simple dressing of oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.

I thought this meal was perfect other than aforementioned overcooked meat. I can’t stand overdone pork and so was unhappy with myself, but even with that error this meal was still really enjoyable. A successful first attempt from what I am sure is going to become one of my favourite cookbooks.

Jan14 624

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I have always wanted to try my hand at making gnocchi. When I saw this posted at one of my new favourite blogs, Half Baked Harvest, I thought it looked like a delicious recipe and a good opportunity to try it out.

Making gnocchi is quite a labourious task and should be set aside for an evening when you know you have some extra time. In most cases the first step will be boiling or roasting the potatoes (unless you happen to have extra mashed potatoes lying around). I roasted mine for about 35 minutes. The next step is preparing the mixture of sweet potatoes, Parmesan, eggs, burrata or ricotta (my local shop had neither, so I used ‘fresh cheese’ which isn’t as good as German Frischkäse unfortunately), salt, then adding the flour and mixing and shaping the gnocchi. This was definitely the most time-consuming part. Mine definitely did not look very uniform and I also made them too big.

I served them with the caramelized mushrooms and goat cheese as in the recipe I linked to, as well as a side salad. H. loved this meal and in particular the gnocchi but I thought they were just okay — a little bland (you are your own worst critic!). I am glad I tried this, but I don’t think I will be making gnocchi again anytime soon: it is simply too time-consuming!

A little flour-y?
Dough before it is cut up into small gnocchi: a little flour-y?
Finished product: sweet potato gnocchi with mushrooms and goat cheese.
Finished product: sweet potato gnocchi with mushrooms and goat cheese.

My 250th Post! Baked Figs with Goat Cheese & Honey

As you can see in the title, this is post #250! 🙂 I have to thank all of my readers for sticking with me over the past two and a half years!

I am rather behind with my updates. Life is getting in the way. I told myself I’d never apologize for not posting or posting late, so I’m not going to. I was in Belgium all of this past week for two (related) academic conferences. It was a very stimulating but exhausting week, and has left me in a strange post-conference mix of fatigued inspiration combined with panic because I am of course now behind on my regular work.

Onto the subject of this post, which starts with a confession: I am an extremely new convert to fresh figs. Even a couple of months ago I would have probably shied away from them. However, I now think they’re great!

I was inspired to create this simple dessert after having a similar one made with cream cheese while visiting family earlier this fall in Derbyshire. Here’s what to do:

  1. Gently cut a X pattern into the top of the figs. Place them on a tray and roast for 10-12 minutes at roughly 200 degrees.
  2. Meanwhile prepare the yogurt/cheese mixture. Since there were just 2 of us (4 figs), I used about 1.5 tbsp Greek yogurt, 1 tbsp goat cheese, and a drop of honey. These measurements can of course be adjusted to personal preference.
  3. Once the figs are juicy, take them out of the oven and spoon the yogurt mixtures onto each one. Enjoy!

No photo this time, sorry!

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Goat Cheese & Raspberry Swirl

If that sounds like a mouthful, it is! My lovely boyfriend recently celebrated his 29th birthday and I made these for him. 🙂 I found the recipe in the Guardian’s weekly Cook section which I am beginning to like more with each passing week.

No, the berries are not local/in season, but I made an exception and also managed to find them at my local fruiterers (such a British word!) so at least I did not give my money to a chain.

As I read through the ingredient list right before making them, I realized I’d forgotten to get cream cheese. Based on this I decided to modify the topping: I halved the ingredients, added a bit of plain Greek yogurt, and tried to spread it only on half of the brownies in case it failed (as you can see from the picture, that didn’t really work). I was a bit nervous, but surprisingly everything turned out well.

The brownies were definitely a hit — even for me, and I do not have a sweet tooth! They’re not too difficult to make, look impressive, and are a rich, luxurious occasional treat, perfect for a birthday.

 

YUM
YUM

Goat Cheese Twists

This summer we have been spending as much time as possible in Sandy Cove. One of the traditions there during the summer months is weekly Saturday afternoon garden parties. They’re very relaxed affairs, BYOB and snacks.

While looking online for something easy to make for the garden party this past weekend, I came across this recipe on the House and Home website. They have a great recipe finder that allows you to search for something specific, and they also have great grouped recipes. What I like about cooking from this site is that the choice is somewhat paired down: when you search for ‘shrimp recipes’ for example, you get about 15 delicious, manageable-sounding dishes, not 300 hits that you have to sift through.

I figured you can’t really go wrong with goat cheese and pastry and I was right. Initially, however, these were a bit awkward to make. I didn’t take the puff pastry out of the freezer in time (recipe calls for ‘slightly thawed but still firm’), so I had to microwave it a bit to be able to roll it out, and it was a bit messy. However, that was the most difficult part. Assembling the filling and then twisting them together was actually far easier than I imagined. I prepared the twists mid-morning and then baked them in two batches just before the party, and they turned out well – slightly overdone on the bottom, but still very good.

These were delicious and very popular — gobbled up in minutes at the party. They were however quite buttery, and not exactly the world’s healthiest snack by any means, but perfect for a treat. Now that I’ve made these once, I’d definitely make them again as I know they’d take me half the time the next time around.

Half of the twists.