Monday, January 3, 2011

BellinieBits - Egg Yolk Ravioli

҉  BellinieBits Season Finale  ҉  
Egg Yolk Ravioli

Sometimes I get some pretty clever ideas just by watching cooking shows. This particular one came from a recent episode of Iron Chef America, where the challenger made a dish using egg yolks inside ravioli. Of course, you don’t get recipes while watching the show, so you basically just come away with ideas. I took the idea and tried to create a flavor combination that I like. So, this is what I came up with, and as it was my first attempt, I can tell you now what I’d do differently. Rather than making a cream sauce, I think the soft egg yolk inside creates its own sauce! I’ll give you the recipe for what I did, but honestly, I think it was simply too rich. A light sprinkling of a typical gremolata, along with the crumbled bacon and chopped cherry tomatoes if you like, would do quite nicely! So if you get to feeling adventurous in the kitchen anytime soon, and love eggs as much as I do, TRY THIS!

Homemade Pasta (from episode 15 – Shrimp Ravioli á la Sydney):
3 cups all purpose flour
5 egg yolks
½ tsp salt
½ cup water, give or take a bit…

Mix flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Beat the egg yolks and water in a small bowl separately and then add to the flour mixture. Mix dough with your hands. If the dough is too dry, add more water (1 tablespoon at a time) and if the dough is too wet, add flour (1 tablespoon at a time). Once you have developed a nice firm but sticky dough – continue to knead for about 10 minutes. Then, to let the proteins relax a bit to make rolling easier, let dough sit (covered) for about 20 minutes. 
Divide dough into 5 equal pieces. On a floured board, roll out each piece with a rolling pin, using flour to prevent sticking, and flipping until you have reached a thin enough dough to see your hand through. Lay each sheet on top of parchment paper, and stack as you complete each new sheet. If you are not going to use dough right away, you can refrigerate for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to one month. Roll dough up in parchment paper and cover well in plastic prior to storing. If you plan on using it immediately, cut the dough into squares or circles with a glass or pasty cutout. Fill pieces with your choice of filling and wet edges with a little water before sealing with a fork. Once filled, you can freeze on a cookie sheet until firm before transferring to container, or you can boil right away. Boiling fresh takes about 5-7 minutes, and from frozen can take up to 10 minutes.

1 9oz block of frozen spinach, thawed
6oz cheddar cheese (sharp is best)
Salt to taste
12 egg yolks

Blend spinach, cheese, and salt in food processor until a pesto style paste forms. Pack into piping bag (or zip top plastic bag with a small corner cut off the bottom) and pipe into small circles onto pasta sheets. Leave enough room in the center of each circle to place egg yolk. CAREFULLY place a single egg yolk into the center of each spinach circle. Wet around the circles with water and carefully place top pasta sheet over the filling, leaving enough room to secure edges with a fork.  Slip each ravioli into boiling salted water, and cook for up to 5-7 minutes (mine were a little too runny still after 3 minutes).
Top with sauce, or whatever sounds good to you!

Bacon Cream Sauce:
4 slices bacon, chopped
 - Crisp in medium-high heat sauté pan. Strain out bacon pieces and drain on paper towel, leaving bacon fat in pan to make a roux. Add 2 – 3 TBSP flour to pan and whisk until a soft dough forms. Add milk (or half and half, fat free if you like)…about ¾ - 1 cup total. Let simmer and thicken. Add seasonings like pepper, and salt even though I said not to! It needed it. I ended up adding the bacon and about ½ cup chopped cherry tomatoes to the sauce as well, and that helped make it more flavorful too. Add a spoonful of sauce over cooked ravioli, and then sprinkle with more tomatoes and fresh chopped chives, and hopefully you’ll ENJOY!

Happy cooking from BellinieBits!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pasta á la Christy

My good friend Christy may not love to cook, actually, I think she rather detests the chore! But she has really good taste, something you can tell just by looking at her! Impeccable fashion sense in home décor and clothing, great wine and of course, food! So it didn't really surprise me when she listed off some ingredients she has combined together in her own little pasta creation. She didn't have exact amounts for me to follow, so I was left to my own devices to figure it out. What I came up with was quite tasty, however, without Christy's input on the final product (other than the photo I sent her), I don't know if it is quite up to par with her standards. At any rate, I think you should try it...and of course, make any adjustments to suit your tastes -- but as a guide, here's what I did:

8 oz angel hair pasta, cooked as directed on package
1-2 TBSP olive oil
-- heat in large sauté pan, and then add:
2 chicken breasts, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
-- Sauté over medium heat until chicken is no longer pink, then add:
½ cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
2 TBSP capers
4 cloves garlic, diced
4 TBSP fresh basil leaves, diced (reserve 1 TBSP for garnish)
3 roma tomatoes, diced
-- let simmer together for 5-7 minutes. Pour chicken mixture over cooked angel hair pasta, and toss with several tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese. Top each serving with additional parmesan and reserved fresh chopped basil. Now grab a glass of your favorite white wine (or red, rules can be broken!) and ENJOY!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Beignets (little fried doughnuts)

Beignets (fancy French word for fried don't you feel more virtuous using that word instead???)

I don’t know about you, but I love cooking and baking sweets for the holidays! So, I decided to go out on a limb and try something I have never made before, but see quite often in cooking competitions like “Chopped” on The Food Network….Beignets. It’s a French term for fried doughnuts. Only, not the doughnuts we are used to getting at the bakery here in the U.S., but a slightly less rich and less sweet fried pastry. Now, typically these beignets are simply dredged in plain old powdered sugar after being deep fried, but again, I decided to try something a little different with my toppings. Here’s what I did:

Topping #1 – Sweet Chai (favorite!)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tea bags Vanilla Chai tea, opened
     (I got this idea for the tea from my friend Bre Whitley - from a cookie recipe she sent me last year!)

Topping #2 – Orange Cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp orange zest
½ tsp cinnamon

Topping #3 – Chocolate Mint
1 cup hot chocolate mix
2 peppermint candy canes, ground to a fine powder

So – now that you know how I gave my beignets flavor, this is how you make the dough. This makes an AWFUL lot, so if you can, I would recommend halving the recipe. They are not sweet at all (if you try them plain) so if you prefer sweeter, I’d add a little more sugar (maybe another ½ cup if making the full recipe). Alternately, if you like the orange zest topping, I would even suggest adding the orange zest to the dough (along with the flour) and then just using cinnamon and sugar to coat. At any rate…these are really yummy, and I suggest you try to make them at least ONCE in your life! Especially if you’re a doughnut lover!

Ingredients (recipe taken from The Food Network, via Paula Deen)

• 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1 envelope active dry yeast
• 2 eggs, slightly beaten
• 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
• 1 cup evaporated milk
• 7 cups bread flour
• 1/4 cup shortening
• Nonstick spray
• Oil, for deep-frying
• 3 cups confectioners' sugar


Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, measure out the bread flour. Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the shortening and continue to stir while adding the remaining flour. Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours. (you can also cover in plastic and refrigerate for up to 24 hours if you need to)

Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.

Add the confectioners' sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.
Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares. Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color. After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels, and then toss them into the bag of confectioners' sugar. Hold bag closed and shake to coat evenly.