Saturday, October 30, 2010

Homemade Ravioli with Tofu Ricotta

Oh how I've longed to eat ravioli but only had the choice of paying $18 at one of my favorite vegan restaurants called Fatty's Cafe. I heard of people using wonton wrappers to make ravioli but all the one's I've found contained egg, so that was not an option. I knew another choice was to make my own pasta noodles but one of my aunts freaked me out earlier this year, telling me that one of the hardest things to make was pasta noodles. So because of this I never attempted to make it, in fear that it would be a disaster.

Well last week I was reading a post from one of my favorite bloggers over at The Witchy Kitchen and I saw that she made ravioli. Something sparked in me after reading her post and I knew I just had to concur this fear I had with pasta noodle making.

Let me just say that it is not hard at all! If you can make a pie crust, you can do this! Why did it take me so long to finally make ravioli..I was missing out this whole time. You can play around with this recipe and add different fillings or even change the sauce to an Alfredo. The possibilities are endless! I really do hope you guys all try this recipe. There's just so much satisfaction knowing that you made it yourself : ]

P.S. I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween tomorrow. If you own a black cat, I urge you to keep him indoors for the night. I've heard that people like to kidnap black cats on Halloween, so please make sure your kitty is safe.

Makes about 24 raviolis, Serves 4

* 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
* 1 1/2 cups semolina flour
* 3/4 cup of water
* 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
* 3 to 4 cups of your favorite marinara sauce

1. Mix all ingredients together, either in a bread making or a large bowl. If doing by hand, knead the dough for about 8 minutes, adding more flour if sticky or more water if the dough won't hold together well.

2. Once you have kneaded it into a smooth ball, cover with plastic wrap in a slightly greased bowl and let rest for 30 minutes.

Start preparing your filling while you wait ( See Below )

3. Once your dough has rested, divide it in half or in quarters, for easier rolling and begin to roll each piece on a well floured surface. Continue rolling until it is about 1/8 inch thick.

Once all the dough is rolled out, its time to start assembling them. You can go about this several different ways.

The first way would be to lay out one sheet of pasta and place about 1/2 tsp of filling, two inches apart. Then place another sheet of pasta on top and press down around the outside edges of the dough, to seal. Cut out each ravioli using a ravioli cutter or a pastry wheel.

The second way would be to cheat and use a ravioli maker (I use this one).You basically do the same as above but using one of these helps to get each ravioli to the exact same size.

4. Place one piece of dough and fill each ravioli with ricotta.

5. Place the top layer over the bottom layer.

6. Press and seal the outside edges of the dough, using your fingers. Roll across the top dough to cut out.

Make sure to keep each ravioli separate from the others because if they touch they will stick like crazy.

7. Once done, place in a pot of boiling water and cook until al dente, 7-10 minutes. Remove and drain well.

To Serve - Place in a large bowl and add the marinara sauce. Divide the raviolis among four plates.

Tofu Ricotta Cheese
Makes 3 cups
* 7 ounces water, packed firm tofu, drained ( about half of a carton )
* 1/4 cup yellow miso
* 2/3 cup water
* 1/4 cup tahini
* 1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 2 large cloves garlic
* 1 tsp dried basil
* 1 tsp dried oregano

1. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. The cheese will keep for 2 days, covered and refrigerated.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

French Onion Soup with Homemade Baguette

Okay, I am officially addicted to making my own bread. Making it yourself really doesn't take that much work or many ingredients. The only thing you really need is time.

For anyone who hasn't had onion soup, you might think that this soup would taste really strong of onions. But because the onions are all caramelized, the flavor of onion isn't overpowering at all. I mixed half "beef" broth and half "chicken" stock for the base. When you throw in the bread and the melted cheese, this soup is very comforting and filling. This surprised me because there really isn't much in the soup but it is heavy. I served mine with a side of salad to complete the meal.

Anyone else love French Onion Soup or are there any that aren't a fan?

Serves 4 to 6
* 4-5 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced into thin crescents
* 1/4 tsp vegan cane sugar
* 1 Tb extra virgin olive oil
* 2 Tb all purpose flour
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 8 cups of vegetarian "beef" stock ( try Better than Bouillon ) or vegetarian "chicken" stock or vegetable stock ( Do all 8 cups of the same broth or mix different broths together )
* 1 bay leaf
* pinch of dry thyme
* salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
* French bread, either store bought or home made ( Recipe Below )
* 1 1/2 cups of vegan mozzarella cheese ( try Daiya's Italian cheese )

1. Add olive oil in a large stock pot and heat over medium high heat. Add onions and saute 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sugar and saute until browned, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Browning all the onions will take anywhere from 20 to 50 minutes. If you stir too much the onions will never brown and if you still too little, they will burn. So one good stir every 5 minutes or so will be good.

2. Sprinkle flour over onions and garlic and stir until everything is well blended.

3. Add stock, bay leaf and thyme. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

4. Remove bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve
5. Ladle soup into 6 to 8 oven proof bowls. Place one slice of toasted French bread over the soup in each bowl and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

French Bread
Makes 1 baguette

* 3 cups of all purpose flour or bread flour
* 1 ( 0.25 ounce ) package of dry active yeast
* 1 cups of warm water
* 1/2 tsp salt

1. Combine the warm water with the dry active yeast, mix well and let stand for about 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl combine the flour and salt. Stir in the warm water mixture and mix in using a wooden spoon.

3. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Shape into a ball and place dough in a lightly floured bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.

4. Once again, place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a large rectangular shape.

5. Roll up, starting on one of the long sides and seal edge using a little water. Shape ends to make sure everything is smooth.

6. Grease a large baking sheet and place loaf, seam side down. Brush a little water on the top of the loaf. Cover, once more, and let rise until double is size, about 40 minutes.

7. Using a knife, make 4 diagonal cuts across the top, about 1/4 inch deep. Bake in a preheated oven over 375 F for 20 minutes. Brush a little more water on top and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chocolate Spider Cupcakes

Aren't these the cutest? Never thought I'd be saying that about spiders : ]

These cupcakes are so simple to make and taste so rich and moist. I assembled these with my boyfriend's nieces and they absolutely loved it. The hardest part was putting the licorice strings in. I suggest poking a hole first with a skewer and then placing the string in each hole.

This recipe is also very versatile. If you can't find vegan chocolate sprinkles, try using another color. I also substituted cherry Twizzlers for the legs on some of the cupcakes ( since most people think black licorice is yucky ). Play around with this recipe, they're so fun to assembly with family and even more to eat!

Makes 8 - 12 spiders

For the cupcakes
* 1 cup soymilk
* 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
* 3/4 cup vegan sugar
* 1/3 cup canola oil
* 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
* 1 cup all purpose flour
* 1/3 cocoa powder
* 3/4 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 1/4 tsp salt

For the spiders
* Black shoe string licorice, for the legs
* Chocolate sprinkles ( check ingredients to make sure it is vegan )
* Any type of small red candy ( such as red hots, cherry heads, etc )

* 1 ( 8 oz ) package of vegan cream cheese ( such as Tofutti )
* 1 1/2 cups of organic powdered sugar
* 1/2 cup vegan margarine ( such as Earth Balance )
* 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

* 12 paper or foil liners

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line a muffin pan with paper or foil wrappers.

2. Mix together the soy milk and vinegar in a small bowl or cup and set aside to curdle, about 10 minutes.

3. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract and soy milk/apple vinegar mixture to a large bowl. Stir well.

4. In a separate bowl, sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

5. Add to wet ingredients and whisk until they are no lumps.

6. Pour into liners, filling 3/4 of the way. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

7. To make the frosting, add all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix well until smooth, either by using an electric mixer or a fork.

To assemble the cupcakes
8. Once cupcakes have cooled, spread a thin layer of frosting over each cupcake. Place two cinnamon candies in place of the eyes. Sprinkle enough chocolate sprinkles to cover the frosting, making sure to go around the eyes. Press in 6 licorice strings, 3 on each side, for the legs.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Creole Sauteed Mushrooms and Kidney Beans

Creole comes from Louisana and is said to be a blend of French, Portuguese, Spanish, Native American and African influences. It is usually made with seafood but in this recipe, oyster mushrooms are used to help bring a seafood flavor.

This recipe calls for cayenne pepper since almost all Southern dishes are very spicy. The amount of pepper that is added is totally up to you. I used about 2 teaspoons total because my boyfriend cannot handle anything really spicy but I think it would taste amazing if that amount was doubled.

I served mine over some brown rice and with a slice of corn bread to complete the meal.

Serves 6

Creole Sauce
* 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
* 1/4 cup all purpose flour
* 2 cups, finely diced celery
* 2 cups, finely diced carrots
* 1 red onion, finely diced
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
* 2 bay leaves
* 2 tsp Spanish paprika
* 1/3 tsp cayenne pepper, plus more as needed
* 1 tsp dried oregano
* 2 tsp nutritional yeast
* 2 cups dry red wine or vegetable stock
* 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
* 1/4 cup tomato paste
* 3 cups mushroom stock ( try Better than Bouillon )
* 1 Tb balsamic vinegar
* 1 Tb tamari
* salt

Braised Kale
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 2 bunches Red Russian kale, washed, stemmed, and cut into 1 inch wide strips
* 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
* 1 yellow onion, halved crosswise and then sliced into thin crescents
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 tsp umeboshi vinegar, also known as Ume Plum vinegar

Creole Sauteed Mushrooms
* 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved
* 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and halved
* 8 ounces oyster mushrooms
* 1/4 tsp salt, plus more as needed
* 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans
* Cayenne pepper, to taste

To make the sauce
1. Begin with a roux. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small saute pan over low heat. Whisk in the flour. Simmer for about 20 minutes, whisking almost constantly, to make a deep nut-brown roux. Remove from the heat. Let cool to close to room temperature before using.

2. Heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, onion and garlic, and saute for 10 to 15 minutes, until soft and starting to brown.

3. Add the thyme, bay leaves, paprika, cayenne pepper, and oregano. Saute, stirring often, for 2 minutes to toast the spices.

4. Add the yeast, and then add the wine and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

5. Add the black pepper, tomato paste, stock, vinegar, and tamari. Decrease the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until reduced by one-third.

6. Slowly whisk in the roux, decrease the heat to low, and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Add salt, black pepper,and cayenne pepper to taste.

To make the kale
1. Bring 1 gallon ( 16 cups ) water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add the salt. Place the kale in the boiling water and blanch for 3 to 7 minutes, depending on the variety, until just tender. Drain the kale in a colander. If not using immediately, rinse with cold water.

2. Heat a large saute pan over high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic and saute for 2 minutes, or until just softened.

3. Add the drained kale and the vinegar and saute for 2 minutes, or until heated through. Remove from the heat.

To make the mushrooms
1. Place a large saucepan over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute, or until just starting to brown. Add the cremini, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms and the salt. Saute for 4 minutes, or until the mushrooms are just softened.

2. Add the kidney beans and the Creole sauce and heat through. Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

Nutritional Information

Per Serving Mushrooms : 372 calories, 11 g protein, 50 g carbohydrates, 13 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 158 mg sodium, 9.5 g fiber

Per Serving Rice : 190 calories, 3.4 g protein, 27.8 g carbohydrates, 7.7 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 161 mg sodium, 1.6 g fiber

Per Serving Kale : 58 calories, 2.4 g protein, 9.3 g carbohydrates, 2 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 533 mg sodium, 1 g fiber