Fantabulous Summer Pea Ravioli


I like peas, actually, I figure most people do, so I can’t help but get a little giddy & nostalgic when I see the flooding piles of pea pods carefully anchored in the farmer’s crates at market.

They’re crisp, green, a little dusty but ever so perfect.

I always seem to strangely imagine a large shady porch, so perfect for sitting, chatting and watching the clothes blow in the line from the warmest summer breezes.
A big bowl is handy for catching the just cracked and tossed pods with another for rolling the fresh, young peas into.

As I bring my “fantasy” into realization, (sans a shady anything, big bowl or even laundry) I discover that shelling peas loses it’s glint after, say, about the eighth one.

But they are good. Damn, they are good. I don’t want to even cook them, just crack and roll them into my salivating jaws and realize that is a much better than any summer pea fantasy.

I rarely do more than steam peas and blob a knub of butter on them. I’m not a mint or little pearl onion kind of gal. However I got this idea for a recipe to repackage these newly podded peas to, you know, share with friends and I just had to give it a try.

SUMMER PEA RAVIOLI

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Leek, white and very light green parts only, finely chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Cups Green Peas, shelled
1 1/2 Cups Water
1 Tablespoon Dry Vermouth
1 1/2 teaspoons Fresh Thyme, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

SOY RICOTTA
1 Cup Soy Milk
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon Salt

HOMEMADE PASTA
1/2 Cup Unbleached Flour
1/2 Cup Semolina Flour
1/3 Cup Hot Water
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

To make the pasta, combine the flours and salt in the bowl of a food processor.
With the motor running add the the oil, then, in a steady stream, add the hot water.
Continue to process. When the dough comes together, stop adding any water, if any remains. (Otherwise if your dough hasn’t come together once all water has been added, drizzle over more hot water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it does.)
Remove the dough from the food processor and quickly knead together to form a ball. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Quarter and cover the dough and let it rest until ready to use.
To prepare the peas, heat the oil in a large sauté pan.
Add the chopped leek and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, then add the vermouth.
Add to it, the peas, water, herbs, salt and pepper.
Meanwhile combine the soy milk, lemon juice and salt in a non-reactive bowl.
Allow it to sit while you continue with the peas.
Simmer to blanch the peas and reduce the water by about half.
Then, drain the curdled soy milk through a mesh sieve or cheesecloth and leave it to remove as much liquid as possible.
Purée the peas in a food processor on high or through a food mill.
Layer a colander over a mesh sieve which has been placed over a bowl.
Push the mixture through the colander and let what remains in the sieve to remove excess liquid.
Reserve the liquid in the bowl for the sauce.
Prepare the pasta, which has been divided into four, then roll it out into thin sheets.
Combine the pea purée with the soy ricotta.
Dot the pea purée by the teaspoonful along the first sheet of pasta.

With a water and a pastry brush, dampen the edges around the purée.
Lay another pasta sheet on top and with your fingertips, push out any air and seal the edges around each, soon to be ravioli.
With a roller, or ravioli cutter, cut out each piece.
Repeat with the two remaining sheets of pasta and pea purée.

Cook the ravioli in a large pot of rapidly boiling water for about 2-3 minutes or until they all float.
Meanwhile, melt knub of (vegan) butter, about 2 tablespoons and add about 1/2 cup of the reserved, strained pea liquid to heat. Once it’s simmering add 2 tablespoons of vermouth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Continue to simmer until the ravioli is done.
Remove with the ravioli from the water with a slotted spoon.
To plate, evenly spoon the sauce in the center of four plates and top with ravioli.
Garnish with fresh pea shoots and cracked pepper, if desired.

Serves 4.

Little Bit of This; Summer Meal Salad


Something wonderful about summer and forgetting about dinner.
An abundance of fresh food everywhere, leftovers from the weekend BBQ and a handful of herbs can create a quick, satisfying and remarkable dinner.

After grilling corn and attempting a sweet chili lime glaze recipe to serve up, I had one cob left over and a recipe that still needs a bit of tweaking for my tastes. I trimmed the cob of the kernels and, since it was already a little seasoned, I had a salad in mind. Dinner also left over a roasted red pepper, which was easy enough to dice, toss in a little handful of the bolting cilantro and I had a flavour direction for something.

For our next days lunch, I still needed a bit of protein and a bit of everything in between, so I grabbed for the quinoa. It’s quick cooking, so it gave me just the right amount of time I needed to toss together a dressing. Tossed together with a couple of handfuls of my favourite baby spinach and this salad was ultra quick, summery and so tasty.

SUMMER CORN & QUINOA SALAD

1 Cob of Corn, preferably grilled, shucked
1 Sweet Red Bell Pepper, roasted with the skin removed
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, packed, finely chopped
1 Cup Quinoa
2 Handfuls Baby Spinach Leaves, about 2 cups

DRESSING

Juice of One Lime
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Ground Coriander Seeds
1/8 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Whisper of Cayenne Pepper (less than a pinch)

Rinse the quinoa well and leave it to soak in a mesh colander for about 3 minutes.
Combine the drained quinoa with 2 cups of boiling water in a medium saucepan.
Cover and reduce to a simmer for about 7 minutes.
Lift the lid and check in on the quinoa. The water should be mostly absorbed and appear fluffy. If not, cover again and continue to cook for a couple of minutes more.
Once the water has been absorbed, fluff with a fork and leave it to cool while you prepare the remainder of the salad.
Skin, seed and dice the red pepper, added it to the shucked corn, in a large bowl.
Rinse, dry and finely chop the cilantro, adding it to the corn and peppers.
In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the lime juice, and oil. Add the cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and cayenne. Mix well.
Measure out 2 cups of the cooked quinoa and add it along with the baby spinach to the corn mixture, stirring to combine.
Pour over the dressing. Toss to coat, but be gentle not to overly bruise the spinach leaves.
Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if necessary.*
Turn out to a platter to serve.

*If going vegetarian, about 1/3 cup of crumbled feta will make the salad sing.

A Sucker for Babies.


Spring means babies and like the title states, I’m the sucker. I see, little, fresh veggies and new and I have to cook them up – in magnitude…

I couldn’t resist, when last time at the market I spotted these miniature marvels.
Love ’em or not, these adorable eggplants were destined for my grocery bag.

I’m sure that eggplants are much more popular in other areas other than my own dining room, but I serve them up anyway, eggplant caviar, parmigiana, grilled or stuffed like these, they are relatively simple to prepare and dazzling on a plate on their own or shrunken to side dish.

STUFFED BABY EGGPLANT

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, plus more for drizzling over eggplants
1 Leek, white & light green parts, finely chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 28 oz can Puréed Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Arborio Rice
1/4 Cup Red Wine
1 – 1 1/2 Cups Vegetable Stock, amount will depend on cooking temp and absorption
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
5-6 Fresh Basil Leave, finely chopped
6 Baby Eggplants, halved

Heat the oven to 350ºF.
Half the eggplants lengthwise and score into cubes, without puncturing the skins.
Lightly drizzle with olive oil and roast for about 15 minutes or until tender-firm so the skins are intact but the flesh may be removed, flip the eggplants over cut side down half way through.
Meanwhile, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a deep sauté pan. Add the finely chopped leek and sauté until it’s translucent.
Add the minced garlic and the rice; stirring well.
Add the wine and cook until it has reduced by 1/3.
Add half of the tomato purée and 1 cup of stock, bringing everything to a simmer and stir frequently.
Carefully scoop the flesh from the roasted eggplants, trying not to puncture the skin, to create a cavity. (It’s o.k if you don’t get every last bit.)
Reserve the skins on a baking sheet for stuffing.
When the liquid has reduced by half, add the remaining tomato purée .
Roughly chop the removed eggplant and add to the rice.
Once the rice is tender, add the salt and pepper to taste.
Finely chop the basil and add, reserving a small amount for garnish.
Stir well, taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary then spoon the filling into the skins.
If you choose, top with a soy mozzarella or if you can use it a nice smoky gouda.
Return the eggplants to the oven and roast for an additional 10 minutes to heat through and melt the cheese.

There will be some filling left over. This recipe will easily accommodate a large eggplant in lieu of the babies, just extend the roasting time of the larger eggplant.

Favourite Things Dinner


Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday. It’s become a bit of a tradition and now her birthday dinner consists of her year’s list of favourite things. Apps, entrée, sides, beverage, heck, even the dinner music is chosen by said truly. Amazing thing is that the family lines up for it, listens to Raffi or Death Cab for Cutie and holds out their plates with a smile.

What was on the menu this year? We’ll pretty much the standard of the previous ones; Carrot sticks, chocolate soy milk, “Ringalos” (which were new for this year), strawberry shortcake and her BFF (bestest favourite forever): Mac and Cheese.

Since there are usually guest and family members for her birthday, this is of course the vegan version. I’ve seen dozens of version some which include cashews or tofu but I’d decided on a version that about as close to the real thing as you can get… just without the shredded cheese… or cream.

CHEESELESS MACARONI N’ CHEESE

250g Elbow Macaroni, about 1/2 Lb
1 Tablespoon Margarine, or butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1 3/4 Cups Plain Soy Milk
2 bay leaves
2 Cloves Garlic, peeled and broken with the side of a chef’s knife
Scant 1/2 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon Tumeric Powder
Pinch Cayenne Pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast Flakes

Cook the pasta as to package directions to el dente.
Drain, rinse and set aside.
Warm the milk over a low heat and add the bay leaves and garlic.
In a medium saucepan, melt the margarine then sprinkle over the flour mixing well to combine and smooth to make a roux.
Strain the milk and whisk into the flour mixture.
Add the spices and salt, continuing to whisk occasionally to remove any chance of lumps until saucy thick and smooth.
Pour over drained pasta, stirring to coat.

Roasted Garlic Paperadelle


1/2 Cup Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Semolina Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Head Roasted Garlic*, squeezed to remove the skins
1/3 Cup HOT Water

* To roast garlic, preheat the oven to 350ºF and cut off the top of the bulb to reveal the attached cloves.
Placed in aluminum foil, drizzle the top of the garlic with olive oil to cover but not saturate.
Wrap the foil tightly and place into the oven.
Roast the garlic for about 30 minutes or until soft, caramelized and fragrant.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the flours and salt; mix to combine.
With the motor running at a medium to low speed, add the olive oil then the roasted garlic through the feeder tube.
Drizzle 1/4 Cup of the water to begin. As the dough begins to form and appear crumbly, slowly add small amounts of the remaining water, as you may not need it all.
When the dough comes together in a full ball, turn off the food processor and remove the dough to a slightly floured board to knead.
Knead the dough until it is stretchy but not sticky, about 2 minutes.
Wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or while you prepare your sauce.
Cut the dough into 3 – 4 workable pieces, which ever size you are most comfortable handling, and set all but one aside in a covered bowl.
Either using a pasta maker or by hand, with a rolling pin, roll the dough to about a 1/8″ thickness, then cut into 1 1/2″ wide strips.
Lightly dust with semolina to separate and loosen the noodles, if necessary, as you finish rolling and cutting the remainder of the dough.Fresh pasta takes only a fraction of the time dried pasta needs. Drop the freshly cut pasta into a large pot of rapidly boiling water and cook for 3 – 4 minutes for al denté.

Super Bowl of Chili


As I sat, thinking what the ultimate food for Sunday would be, it actually took me a bit to come to the chili conclusion.
Crazy, yes, I am aware of this.

Coming from an advertising background, I have to honestly admit that the majority of my Superbowl viewing experience takes place during half time.

Perfect for cooking for a crowd, the chili is a dash of this and a can of that – and then you leave it.
So quick and easy, you won’t even miss the commercials.

Continue reading Super Bowl of Chili