Friday, October 15, 2010

FFWD: Vietnamese Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup

What a wonderful soup. This was a great combination between the Thai coconut soup Tom Kha Gai and pho. I really enjoyed this soup and it will definitely become a staple.  The broth is made with chicken broth, cilantro stems, anise, coriander, white peppercorns, chili and coconut milk. I was surprised how delicate the coconut flavor was and how everything blended together seamlessly.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Casunziei (Beet Ravioli with Brown Butter, Sage and Poppy Seeds)

Finally. Finally I made this dish! This is my favorite dish at Al Di La.  I usually make a point of eating at Al Di La when I am visiting friends back in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  This Italian trattoria famously does not take reservations, but it's worth the wait (or the ridiculously early dinner). While I no longer live close enough to get my casunziei fix, I have doctored up a version very close to the one at Al Di La. This dish is perfect for fall.

I didn't follow a particular recipe for this dish -- you can just wing it. Below are the ingredients and proportions I used for the filling and the sauce. You can use any fresh pasta dough recipe for the raviolis. Pasta dough recipes vary in the amount of eggs, flour and oil -- but I am partial to the one by Mario Batali in Food and Wine. I cannot emphasize enough how important very farm fresh eggs are for a great pasta dough. I made a half recipe of the pasta dough recipe and ended up with about 30 small raviolis.


  • 2 large beets
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 sage leaves
  • poppy seeds

How To:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place whole beets in a baking dish with 2 TB of water, cover with foil, cut a slit on top and bake for 45 minutes.  Once beets are cooled, use a pairing knife to peel and segment the beets.
  3. Place beets into food processor and pulse until the beets form a smooth puree - there will be some texture left.
  4. In a large bowl, add the beet puree and ricotta cheese. Salt and pepper filling to taste, and then mix in one egg. Refrigerate the filling until ready to use.
  5. Make the pasta dough according to your favorite recipe. Roll dough thin for raviolis (I used #6 on the pasta maker). Cut the shape of your ravioli and fill with the beet mixture. Seal the edges with egg white. I used a 3 inch biscuit cutter, which made fairly small ravioli when folded over into semi-circles. If the dough was rolled a bit thicker (#5) it could handle a larger size and more filling.
  6. For the sauce, in a frying pan place the butter and whole sage leaves on low heat until the butter is fully melted and slightly browned.
  7. Gently drop the raviolis into a large pot of salted boiling water. Remove the raviolis when they float to the top -- should only take 2-3 minutes.
  8. Drizzle the butter sauce over the raviolis and then add a healthy amount of poppy seeds.

Note: If you're feeling ambitious and make extra, you can make the raviolis and freeze them on a large baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Once frozen through, you can remove them from the sheet and into a plastic freezer bag.

Friday, October 8, 2010

FFWD: Mustard Tart

I joined the online cooking club, French Fridays with Dorie (FFWD). We are cooking our way through Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan. I am really excited about the book and the club - I love cooking homework and I am a bit of a Francophile. This week is week 2 of FFWD and we made the mustard tart.  (Week one was gruyere gougerers - which were phenomenal, but I did not have time to take pictures). I won't be posting FFWD recipes here, but I encourage everyone to buy or borrow a copy of this book -- its gorgeous.

The mustard tart is a bit like a quiche, but does not have any cheese. The custard is egg and creme fraiche based, with both dijon and stone ground mustard mixed in, along with steamed carrots and leeks. It was very tasty! Although I think a little cheese or perhaps more mustard would have given it the extra tang I was looking for.

As my husband said "mmmm mustardy, this needs a bratwurst."