Royal Foodie Joust: Sweet Potato, Orange and Garlic~

31 10 2010

The past 2 months combined, the Royal Foodie Joust ingredients have been sweet potatoes, garlic and orange.  Wow…what a combination!  Although I waited until the last minute…I knew what I was doing from the very start…ravioli!  I just had to have the right day to be able to roast my sweet potatoes and make pasta! LOL!  Ok..what else are you going to do on Halloween Day when you have neither children nor trick or treaters??

First, I roasted sweet potatoes as though I were making filling for Marcella Hazan’s Cappellacci.  We made this recipe from Marcella Hazan’s Essential Italian Cookbook in Cooking Italy in October of last year.  I loved the recipe then, but my pasta came out so tough I canned the whole thing.  So this year…when sweet potatoes came up…my mind went here immediately!  I adapted her recipe so I didn’t have an enormous quantity of the filling… I used 1 cup of roasted sweet potato, the rind of 1 large orange and 1 large garlic clove, sauteed slowly in butter until it caramelized.  I mixed the ingredients together with about 1/3 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons of panko bread crumbs seasoned with a few drops of almond extract and a teaspoon of Grand Marnier, and 1 egg yolk.

Save the egg white to brush on the pasta to seal the ravioli better.  Add a touch of salt and pepper to taste, and set aside while making her “yellow” pasta to her specifications.  I rest my pasta between rolling it out so it becomes very smooth and elastic.   Spoon little morsels of filling along a pasta sheet, paint the intervals with egg white and divide with a ravioli stamp or a rolling cutter.  Just make sure you do your best to squeeze all the air out of the filling so it doesn’t try to explode during cooking.   We found half the recipe of pasta was plenty for the two of us.

I served the ravioli with Marcella’s Butter and Cream sauce from the same book.  It called for butter, cream and parmesan cheese…and it went very nicely with this ravioli.

Tasting Notes~
This is a true pasta you’d anticipate having a main entree follow…and you’d appreciate it, and want it.  This filling is mystifying.  It’s the essence of flavors you expect to be sweet, but that really aren’t, that leave your tongue slightly puzzled about the flavors while it’s purring over the silky smooth texture.  The cream sauce is silky, the filling is as soft as eiderdown, and the pasta is as light as a feather, barely containing the filling.  I knew the orange and sweet potato would work well…but went out on a limb a bit by adding the garlic in the ravioli filling.  Once it caramelized, even slightly, it became another layer of flavor that kept the ravioli filling savory, but just barely.  Although a lot of work…this is considered a keeper, and a definite “show off” dish.  It’s also a great way to use up extra baked sweet potatoes!

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FFwD: Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake~

31 10 2010

As I was watching my fellow group members post about this cake, I kept waiting for someone, anyone, to say there was something, some one little thing they didn’t care about in this cake.  Admittedly, I haven’t read each and every person’s post…yet.  That actually sounds like a nice challenge.  The point being, this recipe was getting incredibly high raves.  Yes, Dorie gets a lot of high raves, but there are high raves and there are ø¤º°¨ HIGH RAVES ¨°º¤ ! This is one of the latter.  There are loads of exquisite apple chunks held together by a custardy batter…kind of like clafoutis.  This is utterly heavenly, and worth the price of the book!

L to R, Back to Front: Back- Honey Crisp, Gala, Fuji; Front- McIntosh, Gravenstein.

The recipe calls for a diversity of apples.  The 5 that I selected were Honey Spice (also known as Honeycrisp)- which was sweet and not at all acidic by comparison; Gala-which is a nice eating apple (I like them for caramel apples); Fuji- a more tart fresh or pie apple; McIntosh- a pie apple, rather tart with a spicy apple flavor; and Gravenstein- a spicy sweet apple with a touch of acid that makes them fabulous for applesauce.  The idea is to have a variety of flavors and textures throughout the cake, while the base is always apple.

While the recipe calls for using a spring-form pan…please don’t deny yourself the pleasure of this cake just because you don’t have a spring-from pan.  Lightly grease the sides  and bottom of an 8 inch cake pan, cut a parchment circle for the inside bottom of the pan, and strips for the sides that are 2 inches high.  Press them into place, and butter the insides where the batter will be well.  When the baking has concluded,  let the cake cool at least 5 minutes, then invert (face-down) onto a plate, and gently peel away the parchment paper, taking care not to tear the pastry.  Place a serving plate over the bottom of the cake and invert, remove the plate from the face of the cake, and gently remove the parchment from the sides of the cake.  Take care not to pull any apples from the inside of the cake.  Then, put on a pot of fresh coffee, and call me.  Well…it does need to cool down a little!  *Ü*

Tasting Notes~
I’m serious…worth the price of the book.  This one is addicting.  This could be an ice-breaker with a new neighbor…an apology…a get-well gift…a hostess gift…This one is simply that easy and that good.  I’m having an incredibly difficult time staying out of it.  That’s kind of scary, because I don’t get that way about a lot of sweet things.  I’ve got a whole plate of maple scones in there that I’m not even having a yen for by comparison!  I’ll be happy to make another when this one is gone…I did buy enough apples!