Pureed Pucks of Roasted Garlic

Garlic Pucks 8

I was at the grocery store recently and I found a huge bag of garlic, 18 heads of it in total, for a whopping $2.49! I quickly nabbed a bag and surreptitiously shoved it through the scanner at the cash in the hopes that it wasn’t a pricing error. So now I had 18 heads of garlic to deal with. I of course roasted them all. If you’ve never done it, check out my instructions here. Now, roasting 18 heads of garlic means that your eyes are watering and you will never get the smell of roasted garlic out of the house, but it’s a worthy sacrifice.

Garlic Pucks 2

I let it cool and then carefully popped each gloriously caramelized clove of sweet roasted garlicky goodness out of the head and into my food processor. I saved one head for a soup I was making, but there are 17 heads in there.

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Then I gave it a whaz. Hello, gorgeous.

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Then I sprayed a mini muffin tin with olive oil and shoved my new garlic paste into the cups. There are only twelve cups in this tin so it’s like concentrated garlic goodness: each one contains almost one and a half heads of roasted garlic.

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Pop that in the freezer overnight, then store the frozen lovely pucks in an airtight bag in the freezer and use as needed in soups and sauces and whatever else you want. When it comes to roasted garlic, the sky is the limit.

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

GF Choco Chip 17

So my washing machine has been broken for about a month now.  My landlord didn’t like the first repair quote we got so we had to get a second opinion and now it turns out that the part we need is pretty much not available anymore.  While we wait, I do some laundry by hand in the bathtub (so not as fun as it sounds) and some I do downstairs in Fussellette’s machine (which is identical to and yet works so much better than ours).  So in recompense for being a pain in her butt while I wash my unmentionables in her house, I made her some cookies yesterday.  These puppies (adapted from this recipe) are soft and chewy and you can’t even tell that they are gluten-free.  I asked the Pie how many cookies he wanted and all he did was extend his arms to their fullest, which I took to mean “this many,” so I doubled my batch, but a single batch here makes 18-24 large cookies.

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Preheat your oven to 375°F and line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

If you can find oat flour for this then you’re gold.  If you can’t, take a heaping cup of rolled oats and plop it in your food processor.  Give that a go for a few minutes until you have fine crumbs.

GF Choco Chip 1

Plop that in a bowl together with 1 cup brown rice flour, 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 teaspoon xanthan gum, 1 teaspoon fine salt, and 1 teaspoon baking soda and stir that up.

GF Choco Chip 2

In the bowl of a mixer, add together 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 3/4 cup brown sugar.  Pour 1 cup melted butter on top and mix it up.

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While that’s on the go, add in 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla.

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Now slowly add in your bowl’s worth of dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.  Looks kind of runny but don’t fret.

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Now slowly mix in 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips.  That looks more like it, eh?

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I used a soup spoon to scoop plops of dough onto the baking sheets.

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Bake for 10-13 minutes, rotating your sheets halfway through, until the edges of the cookie turn a nice brown.  The centre will not look set, but again, don’t fret.  Let the cookies set on the pan for another 2-3 minutes after removing them from the oven.

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Then you can put them on a rack to cool completely.  Or you can eat them right away.  I think the choice is obvious.

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You can see how well my lettuce is doing, too.

Lovers’ Sweet Potato and Mushroom Ravioli

Lovers' Ravioli

We don’t tend to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  We’re totally broke, for one thing, and for another, we’d rather not have to spend a day doing obligatory and clichéed things to tell each other how we feel.  We do that on a daily basis anyway.

States of Gren

I am of course talking about our love for Gren.  Duh.  He’s so smooshy.  In the words of Cait, “I want to smoosh him.  With smooshes.”  We definitely smoosh him regularly.

States of Gren

In any case, because it’s expected of us (and because nobody ever wants to do anything with us on Valentine’s Day), we usually have a nice meal together and talk about how stupid this Hallmark holiday is.

If you are of the same bent, or if you love to do smooshy romantic things for your true love, why not make up some fresh pasta and go from there?

I figured I would give ravioli a try.  Why the heck not?

The ingredients for each component of this are so simple. The only one I really measured for was the pasta dough, because I’m not yet at the eyeballing stage for that.

For the ravioli filling:

Lovers' Ravioli

You will need sweet potatoes, dried shiitake mushrooms (you can use fresh ones but I like the chewy texture of the dried ones), and roasted garlic.

Plop a handful or two dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl of warm water and leave them for 30-60 minutes, or until all tender.  I find that placing a small plate on top ensures they all get evenly exposed to water.

Lovers' Ravioli

While those are percolating, peel and cube a large sweet potato.  This one weighed in at 1 3/4lb.  Plop that in a pot full of water and boil until tender.

Lovers' Ravioli

Drain the sweet potatoes and mash ’em.

Lovers' Ravioli

Take your hydrated mushrooms out of the water, cut off the woody stems, and chop them finely.

Lovers' Ravioli

I found that after chopping, a quick sojourn in the food processor got them to the size I wanted them.

Lovers' Ravioli

Save the water from your mushrooms — it makes a great vegetable stock.

Lovers' Ravioli

I made this roasted garlic last week from three heads of garlic.  If you click on the link above you can see how I did it.  I’m going to use all three heads, because the Pie and I have been together for almost eight years, so it’s not going to matter how much garlic we consume.  Do exercise some caution if you’re new to the relationship and you’re still trying to impress … Though I suppose if you both consume the same amount of garlic it really doesn’t matter, does it?

Lovers' Ravioli

Anyway, I plopped that in the food processor as well (with a drop of olive oil) and came out with a lovely aromatic paste.

Lovers' Ravioli

In a bowl, combine your mashed sweet potato, the minced mushrooms, and the garlic paste and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Lovers' Ravioli

Stir that around and set it aside.

Lovers' Ravioli

For the ravioli pasta:

Lovers' Ravioli

For this you need durum semolina flour, salt, and eggs.  Semolina is perfect for making pasta because it has an extremely high gluten content, which means that your pasta will stay cohesive even when immersed in boiling water.  That is kind of important.

So take 3 eggs and whisk them together with a pinch of salt.  I like to add in a few drops of olive oil, as well, for smoothness.

Lovers' Ravioli

Pour 2 cups durum semolina flour on a clean work surface, make a well in the centre, and pour in the eggs.

Lovers' Ravioli

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  I wish I’d thought of it sooner so I could have made a better heart.

Lovers' Ravioli

Using a scraper and/or a fork, gradually incorporate the eggs into the flour until you have a coherent ball.

Lovers' Ravioli

I used some regular all-purpose flour at the end, just to reduce the tackiness of the dough a bit.  You will want to knead it for about 10 minutes, just to get all the gluten working for you.

Lovers' Ravioli

Wrap up your final ball and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

Lovers' Ravioli

Cut your dough into manageable sections.  I cut mine into four.  Flatten out your first section enough so it fits into your pasta machine.  If you are rolling it out by hand, have fun with that.

Lovers' Ravioli

I prefer my pasta maker.

Lovers' Ravioli

I cut my strips in half, so that I could fold the second half over the top half like a mirror image.  Though it does help if your top half is slightly bigger than your bottom half.

Lovers' Ravioli

Put little dollops of your filling on your bottom sheet with enough space in between so you can cut them easily.

Lovers' Ravioli

Carefully line up the top half and lay it over the filling.

Lovers' Ravioli

Working from the inside out, gently stretch and press the top dough over the filling to form little pockets.

Lovers' Ravioli

When each pocket is sealed, use a knife or a ravioli cutter to separate them.

Lovers' Ravioli

For this first round, I went all the way up to the #7 setting on my pasta maker, which made the pasta sheets very thin — a little too thin.  You can see how they have torn and I had to patch them.

Lovers' Ravioli

The next round, I only went up to the #5 setting, which was much more manageable, and I prepared the ravioli on waxed paper, which made peeling them up much easier. I probably could have gone as high as #6, but I’m still new to this.

Lovers' Ravioli

I separated each round of pasta with waxed paper to prevent sticking.

Lovers' Ravioli

I had some leftover filling, which I froze.  I would gladly make this again.

Lovers' Ravioli

Now, set a pot of water to boil with a pinch of salt and a few drops of olive oil, and get started on your sauce.

For the sauce:

Lovers' Ravioli

You will need butter, sage, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese.

Slice 10-12 sage leaves finely to ensure all their lovely aromatic juices get released.

Lovers' Ravioli

To save time and my sanity (I really hate grating cheese), I cubed up about 1/3 cup of my extra-hard parmesan and gave it a go in the food processor.  Totally worth it.

Lovers' Ravioli

So for your mis en place you have your sage, chopped, your cheese, grated, about 1/2 cup lemon juice, and about 4-5 tablespoons butter.

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By now, your pasta water should be boiling, so carefully tip all your ravioli in and cook them for about 8 minutes.

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While that is going on, in a large, wide, deep frying pan on medium-high heat, melt your butter.

Lovers' Ravioli

Continue to cook the butter, scraping the bottom with a spatula to prevent burning, until it starts to foam up and the clear liquid turns a lovely light caramel brown colour.  Add in your sage leaves and remove the butter from the heat.

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See the brownness?

Lovers' Ravioli

Pour in your lemon juice and give that a stir. Oh man does that ever smell good. Like all the best parts of everything.

Lovers' Ravioli

Drain your pasta and plop them in the frying pan with the butter.  Pour in your cheese and toss the lot to coat.

Lovers' Ravioli

Lovers' Ravioli

Serve it up, with plenty of leftovers.

Lovers' Ravioli

Though  none for Gren.  Much to his disappointment.

Lovers' Ravioli

Walnut Cheesecake Squares

These were another creation for a research participant, and I like them because they’re not too sweet.  And because the base is the same as the topping the whole thing is incredibly easy.  This recipe is from Esther Brody’s 250 Best Brownies, Bars & Squares.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Butter a 9×13″ pan and line it with parchment paper — then butter the parchment paper as well.

Mix together in a bowl 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2/3 cup packed brown sugar, and 1 cup finely chopped walnuts

You’re looking for crumbs here, so if you have walnut pieces, pop them in the food processor (slightly more than the cup measure as it will settle) for a spell.

Using a pastry blender:

Or two knives:

Cut in 2/3 cup cold cubed butter until the mixture is entirely coarse crumbs.

This may take a while, so be patient.  Too large pieces of butter will result in holes in your base.

Pour half the mixture into your prepared pan and press it to the bottom.  Set the other half aside.  

Bake the mixture in the pan for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool slightly.

In another bowl, beat 1lb (500g) softened cream cheese and 1/2 cup granulated sugar until smooth.

Beat in 2 eggs and 1/4 cup milk, then add in 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Pour the cream cheese mixture evenly over that nice warm base.

Sprinkle the reserved base stuff evenly over the top.

Bake the whole shebang for 20-25 minutes more, or until everything is just set, and then remove the pan to a rack and let it cool completely.

Use the parchment paper to lift the cooled squares out of the pan and cut them into squares.

If you have any left, store them covered in your refrigerator.

Raspberry Ice Cream

I’m taking advantage of the berries on sale at the grocery store to make raspberry ice cream out of season.  Obviously, local raspberries would make this frozen treat even better, but we do what we can with what’s available.

Take two cups of fresh raspberries (frozen will also do, just use a little bit less), and wash them and do all that good stuff (though perhaps not if they’re frozen).

Take a cup of granulated sugar.  Y’know, like, a cup.

Pour both the raspberries and the sugar into a food processor.

Blend for about 45 seconds until you have a lovely thick pulp.  Pour the pulp into a strainer suspended over a bowl.

Try not to spill too much.

Use a rubber spatula to force the pulp through the strainer until only seeds remain.  Compost them there seeds.

Now you have a lovely red and now seedless pulp.Add to your lovely red and now seedless pulp a teaspoon of lemon juice, 2 cups whipping cream, and between 1 and 3 tablespoons of a fruit-based liqueur, such as kirsch.  You add the alcohol to make the ice cream softer — David Lebovitz says so.  Swirl that stuff around.Here is where I became an idiot.  My parents’ Austrian neighbour came back from a trip abroad and gave us two little bottles, one of nut schnapps and another of what I thought was kirsch.

Because that’s what it says.  You can see it right there.

But I dumped the whole thing in the mixture before I actually read the rest of the label and discovered it was in actual fact CHERRY BALSAMIC VINEGAR.

Ooops.

But you know, once I mixed everything together, it didn’t taste that bad.  Honest.  I added some of the schnapps as a corrective, as well.  It tasted a little more tart than usual, but nothing out of the ordinary.  I was worried it would be a floor pizza situation, but I figured I would roll with it and see what came of it.

Of course, whether that will affect the quality of the frozen product remains to be seen.  Wrap up your bowl of mix and chuck it in the fridge overnight.

This is also a good time to freeze the parts of your ice cream maker that need to be frozen, if they do.  I have one of these Donvier non-electric turning ones, where you freeze the liner.

The next day, just plop your mix into your maker and follow the instructions for your machine.

With mine the process from thick goo …

… to frozen goo …

Takes about twenty minutes.

Pour out into a freezable container and chuck it in the freezer to harden up.

Serve when you’re ready. 

This version tastes a wee bit like balsamic vinegar but it ain’t bad.  Next time, though, I think I would leave out the vinegar part. 

Presto Pesto

Pesto is a thoroughly un-intimidating and yet awesomely elegant and enjoyable addition to most cooking.

And it’s ridiculously easy to make, believe it or not.

Now that I have my own little basil farm, I no longer have to worry about spending $7 for a box of wilted basil stems at the grocery store, and I no longer have to hoard them jealously in my freezer against spoilage.

My basil is just about to flower, so there is plenty to harvest.  I only hope my basil plants survive the stripping.

So I’m going to go to excesses here and make some simple pesto for freezing.

When cutting basil leaves, make sure you cut them close to a node so the smaller leaves on either side will branch out and grow.

Dump some fresh or frozen basil leaves in a small food processor (or in our case, the food processor attachment of our Braun immersion blender).

Add extra virgin olive oil until it looks like an oil spill hit.  Not too much oil that you could swim in it, but enough that everything is covered.

Tap in a little bit of grated parmesan cheese as well, for flavour.

Maybe some salt and pepper if that suits you.  Normally I don’t bother.  I dislike pine nuts, so they are omitted, as well.  Jerks.

Blend the crap out of that.

Line a greased baking tray or one lined with waxed paper with dobbles of the pesto goo, or fill up ice cube trays with the same and freeze for a few hours before popping them into a resealable freezer bag.

Add defrosted pesto to bread recipes, or use it to cobble together classy antipasti.  Pop frozen basil cubes into soups and sauces.

Hey, presto!  Pesto.