DDD #126 – Holiday Vegan Torta Rustica with Creamed Spinach and Chicken, Scalloped Potatoes & Sweet Potato-Butternut Squash Puree

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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OK – this one takes a few steps but all are easy & you end up with a GIGANTIC mound of all things savory & Thanksgivingy!  It is a bread course, sweet potato/squash dish, creamed spinach, scalloped potatoes & chicken courses – all rolled into one.  You can sub out the ingredients to suit your tastes.  This is basically an enclosed shepherd’s pie & is as versatile at shepherd’s pie is.

**PLEASE NOTE** – transferring this tart from the cooking sheet onto a serving platter might prove VERY tricky.  It will be very heavy – and the warmer it is when you try to transfer it – the more delicate that procedure will be.  It would SUCK to put all the work in – only to break it when you are ready to serve it.  If you don’t have two very large spatulas – and maybe an assistant – perhaps consider cooking this on something you can also serve it on.  Surrounding it with leafy kale (or other greens) at the base & a few cranberries & it will look festive & spare you the trauma of transferring it to a platter.  SERIOUSLY consider baking & serving from the same piece.  I am devastated just imagining what a failed transfer would do to my life – and I don’t want that for you.

Thanksgiving Vegan Torta Rustica with Creamed Spinach, Chicken, Scalloped Potatoes & Sweet Potato-Butternut Squash Puree

Feeds 8 easily

INGREDIENTS

for the soft tart dough

4 cups flour

1 tsp salt

8 ounces vegan butter

3/4 cup silken tofu – pureed (I just smashed it all up with a fork)

1/3 cup vegan milk

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for the creamed spinach 

1 small onion or large shallot – diced

1 lb fresh spinach

2 (9 oz) packages vegan chicken (I highly recommend Beyond Meat brand.  Best on the market!) – cubed

4 oz vegan cream cheese

1/2 cup vegan milk

4 slices vegan cheese (I used the Chao below)

S&P

Olive oil

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for the scalloped potatoes

2-3 medium potatoes – peeled & cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds

2 TBS vegan butter

2 TBS flour

2 cups vegan milk

7 oz vegan cheese (I used that Daiya)

S&P

for the sweet potato-butternut squash puree

1 butternut squash – peeled & cubed

1 large sweet potato – peeled & cubed

4-6 TBS vegan butter

Pinch of nutmeg

S&P

PARCHMENT PAPER for cooking

Vegan egg wash – small but equal parts agave nectar – soy milk – olive oil

GARNISH – kale (or other leafy greens) and fresh cranberries – to arrange around the tart.

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DIRECTIONS

for the soft tart dough

By food processor: Combine flour, salt & butter in a food processor using a metal blade.  Process with short pulses until the mixture is crumbly.  Add tofu with short pulses.  Add milk, gradually, with short pulses until it begins to clump and – eventually – orbit as a ball inside the food processor.  You might need a little more flour.  When the dough is formed – it will be very soft.   Gather it into a ball & wrap it tightly with plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least an hour but up to 3 days.  When ready to roll it out bring it back to room temperature and flour a work surface to facilitate handling.

By hand: combine flour & salt in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center & add the butter and the smashed silken tofu.  Lightly blend the butter & tofu with fingertips.  With a knife or pastry blade, cut the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until you have a crumbly mixture.  Gradually, add the milk – tossing with a fork until the dough comes together.  The dough will be very soft.  Add more flour if it is too wet.  Gather it into a ball & wrap it tightly with plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least an hour but up to 3 days.  When ready to roll it out bring it back to room temperature and flour a work surface to facilitate handling.

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for the scalloped potatoes

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a stock pot & whisk in the flour & a little S&P.  Heat until it just begins to turn golden then slowly add the milk – letting it thicken before you add more.  When all the milk is incorporated & it is still sorta thick – melt in the cheese.  Season with salt & pepper.  Toss with the sliced potatoes & place in a greased casserole dish.  Cook for 45-60 minutes or until it is bubbling & the potatoes are soft.  Set aside to cool completely.

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for the creamed spinach & chicken

Heat a TBS of olive oil in a saute pan & cook the onions until soft.  Add the spinach & let it wilt – then add the cream cheese & milk.  Heat until the cheese melts & you have a thick & creamy spinach.  Season with S&P & toss the chicken in & stir.  Set aside to cool.

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for the sweet potato-butternut puree

Boil the sweet potato & butternut chunks until soft.  I then drained them & mashed them with the butter, nutmeg and S&P.  Set aside to cool.

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to assemble the tart

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Line a medium bowl with plastic wrap.  A moderately deep & wide one is best.  If the bowl is too deep – your tart will be too tall & be more likely to collapse.  Also – be sure your bowl opening (at the top) is no wider than the cooking sheet you will be using to bake the tart.

Roll out 2/3 of the dough big enough that it not only lines your bowl but has overhang.

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DO NOT OVERFILL!  Only fill it to below the depth of the bowl.  The stuffing ingredients should be to warmer than room temperature.

Place a thin layer of puree in the bottom & then a thick layer of scalloped potatoes & then the rest of the puree.  Put the four slices of cheese on top of that then all of the spinach & chicken.

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Roll out the remaining dough so that it fits the top of your bowl & then fold the edges of the bottom crust over it & use a knife or fork to pinch it sealed.  Line a cooking sheet with parchment paper & invert it on top of your tart – and VERY CAREFULLY – flip it over so your tart is sealed-side down.  Be sure to put the cooking sheet with the parchment ON TOP OF your bowl & flip.  Do not try to just flip the bowl onto the cooking sheet.   This sucker likely weighs more than a turkey & the soft dough will not withstand that much pressure.  Remove the bowl & the plastic wrap.

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I sprayed it with cooking oil but found that did not give me a golden glaze so – mix up a little vegan egg wash (small but equal parts agave nectar – soy milk – olive oil) and occasionally brush the tart as it bakes.  Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until it looks nice & browned.

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Look how HUGE that thing is!  See the pastry brush?  That has to be 12 inches long.

OK – here comes a tricky part.  Let it cool a while before fussing with it.  Once anything that seeped out of it has pretty much cooled – run a knife under it to loosen the tart from the escapes bits.  I used an ENORMOUS spatula & the parchment paper to very delicately shift the tart to a serving plate.  It is a heavy & unwieldy thing – so be very delicate when handling this tart – get assistance, if possible.  If the transfer is too risky for you – consider just putting some leafy greens & cranberries around the base on the pan itself & serve this bad boy directly from the cooking sheet.  Better to go low brow than having this guy fall apart.

This should be served warm but is delicious at room temperature, too.

Happy vegan Thanksgiving!

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DDD #99 – Vegan Beyond Sausage & Lentil Stew

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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2 images above courtesy of Beyond Meat.


Click the image above to watch the video.

Vegan Beyond Sausage & Lentil stew

Serves 4 very well

INGREDIENTS

6-12 Beyond Sausages or your favorite vegan sausage

1 lb cooked lentils

1 medium onion – diced

1-8 garlic cloves (to taste) – minced

4 carrots – sliced

4 celery stalks – chopped

1 parsnip – chopped

1 sweet potato – cubed

1-2 jalapenos – diced

1 lemon

1 (14 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

1 cup salsa (optional)

4 cups stock

1 TBS mild harissa (optional)

1-2 TBS olive oil

2 tsp ground cumin

1 TBS sweet paprika

1 TBS cayenne (or less if you are intolerant of spicy foods)

S&P to taste

DIRECTIONS

Cook the lentils & set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot & saute the onions & celery until soft.

Add the garlic & saute one minute.  Add the can of tomatoes.  Combine.

Add the salsa, harissa, cumin, paprika, cayenne & the juice of the lemon & combine.

Add the carrots, parsnip, sweet potato & jalapeno & 4 cups of stock.

Bring to a boil.  Lower heat & simmer for about 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.  Stir in the cooked lentils & season to taste with S&P.

Cook the sausages & serve either sliced or whole.  You can stir the sausage into the stew or serve it on the side to add as garnish to the stew.

Enjoy!

 

DDD #74 – Ayurveda Kitchari – Vegan Mung Bean Stew to Detox & Cleanse (Instant Pot, Slow Cooker or Stove Top)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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My friend, Katie, turned me on to kitchari.  Apparently, you can eat it – JUST IT – for 1-7 days straight & it calms your digestive tract & detoxes you system but with the added benefit of feeling like decadent comfort food.  Also – mung beans are dirt cheap. (Articles on the subject are linked at the bottom of this post).  This recipe makes about 7 quarts which is a fuckton so – unless you are feeding a lot of people or want to freeze some – consider reducing the recipe.

I used an Instant Pot to make mine but this can be done in a slow cooker or stove top.  I really recommend Instant Pots, though, because they steam, pressure cook, slow cook, cook rice, cook cakes, saute, cook eggs & clean windows.  I got my huge one HERE for just over $100 & I am VERY happy with it.  I can now get rid of several other appliances.

***NOTE – I soaked my beans on the counter overnight & in the fridge a second night but this is not necessary.  If you want to move more quickly – boil some water, add your beans & let them soak for an hour.

Ayurveda Kitchari – Vegan Mung Bean Stew

Caters a party so be ready for a lot

INGREDIENTS

3 cups mung beans (I used half whole green & half split green – as seen above) – soaked (see ***NOTE above)

1-2 TBS coconut oil or olive oil

1 onion – chopped

6 garlic cloves – chopped

1 TBS turmeric

1 TBS ground cumin

1 TBS (or more – to taste) salt (I used pink Himalayan)

1 TBS ground mustard

1 TBS ground coriander

1 TBS ground pepper

1 TBS ground fenugreek (optional)

1/4 tsp asafoetida

1 (15 oz) can coconut milk (I used lite)

6 TBS minced ginger

1 cup cilantro

Vegetables are optional.  Use any you prefer but I added:

5 small turnips – diced

5 small golden beets – diced

1 large sweet potato – diced

5 oz baby kale

1 tomato – diced

6 cups water

2 cups basmati (or other long grain white rice)

(If you are making your rice separate from the stew, as I did, it is nice to add a tsp cumin SEEDS & 6 green cardamom pods to it as it cooks but that is not necessary.)

GARNISH – coconut butter, cilantro, crushed red pepper

DIRECTIONS

Quick soak your beans (see note above) if you did not soak them overnight or for 2 days, as I did.)

Traditionally, the rice is cooked in the same pot with everything else.  My Instant Pot was not large enough so I cooked it separately.  This is your call – or maybe your pot size will determine your choice but it does not matter much either way.

Rinse the rice.  Set aside.

Heat the oil in a very large pot (or your Instant Pot – my pot is 8 Quarts) and soften.  Add the garlic & spices & stir to combine.

If you are using a slow cooker, transfer the onions & spices to it.  Everything else is the same no matter whether you are slow cooking, Instant Pot cooking or going stove top.  Only the cooking time will vary.

Now, add everything else to the pot.  If your pot is easily deep enough to hold the rice, too, add that.  If you are cooking the rice in the same pot – add 4 additional cups of water to the 6 cups used if you are cooking the rice separately (assuming your rice directions ask for 2 cups water per 1 cup rice.  Adjust accordingly if your rice has different directions).  Or – just cook the rice separately as the package directs.  If you are making your rice separate from the stew, as I did, it is nice to add 1 tsp cumin SEEDS & 6 green cardamom pods to it as it cooks but that is not necessary.

Slow cooker – cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

Stove top – bring to a boil uncovered for 5 minutes.  Reduced heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or more or until everything is tender.

Instant Pot – seal & cook manually for 10 minutes.

If it is to thick, thin it with extra water.  If it is too thin, let is simmer, uncovered, for a while longer.

Serve with rice (if you cooked it separately) and garnish with coconut butter (burns fat & lowers cholesterol) and lots of cilantro & maybe some crushed red pepper.

Here are some articles for more info on kitchari & using it to detox:

What is kitchari? – https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/blog-the-banyan-insight/details/what-is-kitchari-why-we-eat-it-for-cleansing

3-Day Cleanse – https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/cleansing/a-very-simple-three-day-cleanse/

How to do a kitchari cleanse – http://www.krissyruddy.com/how-to-do-a-kitchari-cleanse/

One Pot Spicy Vegan Orange Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This really is about as easy as a soup can be.  It comes together in about 20-30 minutes total & is powerfully flavorful.  There is no dairy of any kind so it is as guiltless as it is delicious.  A really wonderful, winter warmer!

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One Pot Spicy Vegan Orange Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup

INGREDIENTS

2 large sweet potatoes – peeled & cubed

1 onion (I used a red one) – chopped

4 garlic cloves – chopped

Olive oil

Juice of 2 oranges

1-3 chipotle peppers (or to taste) in their adobo sauce – chopped

6 cups stock

1 tsp ground coriander

S&P to taste

Garnish ideas: avocado, arugula, black and/or white sesame seeds

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DIRECTIONS

Heat about 1 TBS olive oil in a deep stock pot.  eat the onions & garlic over medium heat until just tender, trying not to brown them.  Add the stock, orange juice, chipotle peppers, coriander & sweet potatoes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat & simmer for about 15 minutes or so – or until the sweet potatoes are very soft.

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I used an immersion blender to puree the soup but, if you do not have one, puree the soup in a blender.  Season with S&P.

Garnish as you like & commence indulging yourself!

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Chipotle Sweet Potato & Caramelized Onion Quesadilla with Goat Cheese on Homemade Flour Tortillas

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012


Well – now that I know how easy it is to make homemade tortillas – I’ve kinda gotten lazy & have been living on an all-quesadilla-all-the-time diet.  Once you invest in the 5 lb bag of cheese from Smart & Final and the 10 lb bag of flour – all you really need is a bunch of creative details, other ingredients – most of which can be overlapped from one quesadilla adventure to the next.

I will post two more random choices from my quesadilla marathon: a sweet potato & onion one & a simple mozzarella & green chile version.  They are both delicious!  The sweet potato one is stuffed pretty thick & is rather substantial.  Here is the sweet potato one but made with spinach tortillas (which were beginning to stale & get too crumbly):

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PRINT THIS TORTILLA RECIPE

 

FLOUR TORTILLAS

INGREDIENTS

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1-2 tsp salt

5 TBS olive oil

1 – 1 1/2 cups water

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DIRECTIONS

In your food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder & salt until blended.  Add the olive oil & pulse until it is incorporated.  Add water in a slow stream & pulse until it is completely incorporated and the dough has formed a tacky ball & is traveling around the bowl.  You might not need all the water – you might need a bit extra.  If it is too sticky – just add a bit more flour & pulse it around.

Put the dough on a lightly floured surface & roll it around to eliminate any tackiness that remains.  Dived the dough into four balls & then divide each of those four balls into three more balls.  Each ball should be about the size of a golf ball.  Let the dough rest 10 minutes or so.

Roll out each ball as flat & thin as you can – or until they are about 8 inches across.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Do not use any oil or cooking spray.   Leave the pan dry.  Cook each tortilla on each side about 20 seconds or until brown spots begin to appear.  Over cooking will make them crispy so err on the side of under-cooking.

Store under a clean kitchen towel as you cook all 12 tortillas.

Wrap the ones you do not use in a zip-lock bag or tightly in plastic wrap & store on your counter for up as long as they last (3 days or so) before getting stale.

PRINT THIS TORTILLA RECIPE

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PRINT THIS QUESADILLA RECIPE

 

Chipotle Sweet Potato & Caramelized Onion Quesadilla with Goat Cheese on Homemade Flour Tortillas

INGREDIENTS

1 baked sweet potato (pierced with a fork & baked for 45 min at 400 degrees)

2 TBS Adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers (or to taste)

1 inch cube of goat cheese (or to taste)

1 small onion – sliced thick & sauted on olive oil til soft & browning

Grated cheese (cheddar, jack, pepper jack or mozzarella – or a blend)

sliced fresh jalapeno (optional)

1 small can green chiles (optional)

Fresh cilantro

Tortillas

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DIRECTIONS

Mash the baked sweet potato into a creamy texture.  Add adobo sauce to taste.

Saute your onions til they begin to caramelize.  Remove from heat.

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Heat a tortilla in a dry pan over med-high heat.  Layer with sweet potato, goat cheese, grated cheese, sauted onions and jalapeno and/or green chiles (if using) – and maybe some chopped cilantro.  Fold over & place a soup pot or other heavy, heat tolerant item on top your quesadilla.  OR – you can just top the flat tortilla with a second tortilla & continue.  After a minute or so, flip it, put the pan on top of it & cook until your cheese is sufficiently melty.

Cut into slices.  Sprinkle with fresh cilantro.  Serve!

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PRINT THIS QUESADILLA RECIPE

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And just because I have the photos – here is a lighter, easier one.

Cheese Quesadilla with Green Chiles & Cilantro

INGREDIENTS

Tortillas

Cheese

Green Chiles

Cilantro

DIRECTIONS

I think pictures get it all across:

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Serve with pico de gallo!  YUM!

Fresh Beet Pasta & Sweet Potato Ravioli with Sage, Brown Butter & Blue Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

OK – I am not gonna lie.  This beet pasta almost broke my spirit.  I tried a while back to make a beet-based gnocchi and all I got was about 4 pounds of magenta spackling paste that got on EVERYTHING & stuck to everything like a horny terrier & dyed everything it touched pink.  I added so much flour to un-stickify it that I knew the gnocchi would come out as light & fluffy as pool balls.  It was very disheartening & I threw the dough away without even getting to the gnocchi stage.   Actually – that is not true.  I did make a small batch & served it to two friends.  It didn’t taste bad but they were very heavy & even worse – looked like chunks of raw meat on the plate or some kind of dog treat – like THESE –  that I had dressed up with a nice sauce.  It was pretty nasty.

Still – I’ve had such success with the spinach & my magical kale pasta – I thought I could pull this off with the same ease.

I could not.

I looked over a few beet pasta recipes online & made some mental notes & then decided to basically wing it – based on my vast pasta making experience.  In general – folks seemed to recommend a 1-2 cups pureed beets to 3-4 cups flour ratio with three eggs thrown in for good measure.  I started with a solid two cups of puree, only added two eggs & used a bit more than four cups of flour to get this result:

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I was very excited!  It seemed to come together so easily.  And it was such a vibrant magenta, too!!  But it was during the rolling out process that everything went to Hell.  It was VERY, VERY wet inside that innocent looking ball & it looked like raw meat getting pressed through the pasta-maker gears.  Gross.  And – I am guesstimating – but I think I must have added at least 3 more cups of flour to the dough in the various stages of getting it from that ball there to this:

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Doesn’t it look like giant slabs of bacon?  And it made a FUCKLOAD!  That had to be 8-10 servings of pasta, conservatively.  At any rate – I only used about 1/4 of this recipe to make ravioli.  I made the other 3/4 into fettuccine.

It took FOREVER to manipulate the flour & moisture levels to the point that the pasta could be pressed this thin.  I kept thinking as I made it – nobody who hasn’t succeeded in making regular or spinach pasta a few times (at least) should ever attempt this.  And I couldn’t help but fear that all that flour – that seemed to be twice the level others used – was going to result in a starchy, thick pasta that destroyed any hint of beet – both in color and taste.

The GOOD news is – it made the most beautiful ravioli ever.  I can’t say there was a beet flavor to the pasta but there isn’t really a spinach taste in the spinach pasta.  It really all seems to be about color.  The ravioli held their color pretty well.  The fettucine did not – in that it faded to this color when boiled:

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That might even be a tad more vibrant than it really was.

I started with these beets:

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I roasted three in the oven at 400 degrees to set aside to add to the pasta later.  I boiled the rest for an hour & pureed them for the noodles.  I think the roasted ones – when chopped & added to the pink pasta – will bleed out into that pasta & restore the heavy magenta color it originally had.  We will see.  But this blog is about the ravioli.

Know this – I made two kinds.  One with the beet pasta that was nearly the death of me & one with leftover wonton skins I had in the fridge.  If you want the EASIEST ravioli recipe on the planet – just make the sweet potato puree & saged brown butter – and you will be blown away by how easy & delicious – AND LIGHT – these are.  If you are more adventurous – the beet pasta makes phenomenally beautiful ravioli.  I did not effectively capture their beauty here.  I was still feeling a bit beaten up by the pasta-making process & wanted to get on with EATING this shit.  And I can report – they really were pretty awesomely delicious.  But – no reason to slave over beet pasta.  Just make regular pasta – or use the dang wontons.  You are not trying to run a food blog.  Give yourself a break, for Chrissakes!  🙂

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Fresh Beet Pasta & Sweet Potato Ravioli with Sage, Brown Butter & Blue Cheese

INGREDIENTS

2 cups beet puree (4 medium beets?) PLUS 3 more for roasting (optional)

2 eggs

flour – and lots of it – potentially 8 cups

1 tsp sea salt

Sweet Potato Puree

1.5 – 2 lbs sweet potatoes (or yams)

2 small onions – diced

1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

wonton wrappers (6 per serving) – if NOT doing the beet pasta

Sauce

Lots of butter (12 or more TBS)

3 TBS chopped fresh sage

olive oil

1-2 whisked egg whites (optional) – to seal the ravioli.  Water works, too.

Pepper to taste

Blue Cheese (or feta or even shaved Parmesan if blue overwhelms you) as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Roast your yams (having pierced them with a fork several times) in a 400 degree oven.  If using – you can also roast three beets at the same time by covering them with a small amount of olive oil & wrapping them in foil.  Sweet potatoes AND beets should be fork tender in a bout an hour.  You can open the foil around the beets for the last twenty minutes to get a more roasted appearance – if it suits you.  Be sure the sweet potatoes are soft in the center.  Remove from oven & COOL.  When cool – peel the yams & slip the skin & tops off of the roasted beets.  Set aside.

The puree beets – cut the greens off ABOVE the meat of the beet.  Leave the beet in tact & boil like that to retain as much color as possible.  Boil for about an hour or until fork tender.  Drain & cool.

Heat some olive oil in a pan & saute the onions until they begin to brown.  5 minutes or so.  Set aside.

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Mash the sweet potatoes with the cinnamon, nutmeg, grated Parmesan & salt to taste.  Do this in a food processor if you have one & get these guys REALLY smooth.  Once creamy – add sauteed onions & set aside.

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Peel the boiled beets in the sink – again basically by squeezing them.  The outer skin slips right off.  Press the base of the greens off, too.  Put these beets in a food processor & puree.  The rest of the instructions are the same as for regular noodles – with the exception that you put the beet puree in the flour well with the eggs.  I’d start with a well made of 6 cups of flour.

Copy & paste this link

https://delightfuldeliciousdelovelyblog.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/homemade-pasta-fettucini-noodles-23/

to view the guide to making plain pasta noodles – or got to http://www.delightfuldeliciousdelovely.com & search for “homemade noodles.”  Again – please note: plain or spinach noodles are WAY easier than this beet version so, if you are trying the beet version, BE PATIENT.  This dough WILL come together but the wet to dry ingredient ratio is trickier.

Once you have noodles pressed flat (or once you have your wonton package open) – use a cooking cutter or large glass to cut the pasta into circles (bigger – like 2 inches across or more – are easier to work with).  No need to cut wontons into circles but you certainly can.  Get a small bowl of water (or some whisked egg white) & a pastry brush (I just used my fingers).  Place a circle of dough (or a store-bought easy-peasy wonton) on the work space.  Put about a tablespoon of sweet potato mix in there.  Wet the rim with a brush or your fingers with either water or egg white then top with a second round (or wet & fold your wonton) & seal.  You will get better at guessing how much filling these ravioli can take as you get the hang of it.  You can seal with your hands or the tines of a fork.  I found the pasta & wontons too thin to really seal with a fork.

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Melt the butter in a pan over high flame.  Once hot – add chopped sage.  Saute about 1-2 minutes or JUST until the butter begins to brown.  Add a little S&P.  Remove from heat.

Boil water.  Once boiling (but not rapidly.  We don’t want to beat up the fragile ravioli) – drop the ravioli in.  They will cook quickly – likely less than two minutes.  They begin to float up when they are ready.  Remove with a slotted spoon & put some on each plate.  Spoon some brown sage butter over the ravioli.  Top with some chopped roasted beets (if you are using) and a small quantity of blue cheese (go LIGHT) or feta or Parmesan.  Crack some pepper atop that & serve!

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Sweet Potato (Yam) & Jalapeno Macaroni and Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

OK – this recipe made enough for 30+ people probably.  It filled a Martha Stewart 7 quart casserole pan to the brim.  Those suckers are made of cast iron & weigh a shit-ton empty.  With this dense recipe inside – I could barely lift the pot & bend over to get it in the stove.

A quick aside about these awesome Martha Stewart pots – that I once suggested folks buy cheap on Ebay – there has, it seems, been a recall.  Look at these guys, though:

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I got each of mine for probably close to $50 because they had minor chips in the enamel.  Not INSIDE the pots – but on the cosmetic exteriors.  I don’t care about the exteriors – and I love these pots.  But today, while researching the size mine are for this blog – I found a year old recall notice.  It read:

Hazard: The enamel coating on the cast iron casseroles can crack or break during use. This can cause the enamel to crack and fly off as a projectile, posing a risk of laceration or burn hazard to the user or bystanders.

Incidents/Injuries: Macy’s has received two reports of the enamel cracking and flying off of the casseroles during use. No injuries have been reported.

A Macy’s number was provided for more info.  I called it.  They said Macy’s will give you all your money with a receipt  or the “average price paid” for the item if you do not have a receipt.  I researched what folks had been given for their receipt-less returns & they seemed to average between $42-$99, depending on which pot, which Macy’s & which department manager you dealt with.  These guys originally retailed for $170 – so people are pissed.  And – FTW – I am just gonna risk shrapnel & burns because I cannot replace these two guys – even if I get $200 in credit.  They are already pretty scuffed on the outside.  Maybe that has released the pressure and I will be safe.  I don’t know.  I mainly cook with these INSIDE the oven rather than stove top – so – I’m not lugging 40 pounds of iron into the mall only to be handed an $82 store credit.  Harumph!

Moving on.

This recipe is not a science.  There is MUCH wiggle room & you can adjust the quantity of ingredients to suit your tastes.  Some people like dry mac & cheese – some like it wetter.  I belong to the latter category but will pretty much eat any mac & cheese I find myself in front of – assuming it is meatless.  Do not be freaked out by the quantity of garlic & of jalapenos.  I couldn’t really taste the impact of either – despite my mother’s bugged eyes as she witness me chop 14 jalapeno peppers and 20 cloves of garlic.  They seemed to blend in quite nicely.  Also – I used random cheeses I already had – like extra burrata & fresh mozzarella.  Any similar quantity of other mild cheeses would suffice.

Remember – this recipe is for 7 quarts of mac & cheese – enough for a very large group of people.  Also – while I am calling it a SWEET POTATO recipe – I used YAMS because of their brighter color.

However – you might want to read this bit I found explaining that these guys I am calling yams – are REALLY sweet potatoes.   Who knew?

In the United States, most tubers sold as yams are actually members of the sweet potato family. Your Garnets, your Jewels, the “yams” with the rich orange flesh and reddish-brown exterior, are, botanically, sweet potatoes. In fact, it’s quite likely that the vast majority of my readers – even the active ones including more carbohydrate in their diets – have never tasted a true yam. The reason for this discrepancy is simple marketing: back in the mid-20th century, when orange-fleshed sweet potatoes were introduced into the United States, they were labeled “yams” to avoid confusion with the common white-fleshed sweet potato Americans were already enjoying. “Yam” was derived either from the Spanish “name” or Portuguese “inhame,” both of which come from the Wolof word “nyam,” which means “to sample” or “to taste.” Another African language uses “yamyam” for “to chew,” which should give you some idea of the starchy tuber’s importance in local diets – as well as the level of mastication required for its consumption.

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Sweet Potato & Jalapeno Macaroni and Cheese

PRE-HEAT OVEN TO 350 DEGREES

INGREDIENTS

26 cloves garlic

3 large Yams (or sweet potatoes) peeled & cut into 1/4 inch disks

6 TBS olive oil

1.5 lbs pasta (I used half corkscrew & half some kinda tubey pasta)

10 TBS butter

12 TBS flour

8 cups whole milk

6 cups shredded cheese (use a blend of mozzarella and/or cheddar and/or Italian or Mexican blend cheeses)

6 TBS chopped fresh rosemary

14 jalapenos – seeded & diced (food processor is handy here) – chop even more than 14 if you want to garnish the finished mac & cheese with fresh, uncooked peppers.

S&P to taste

BREAD CRUMB MIXTURE – optional

1 cup bread crumbs

1 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

4 TBS olive oil

DIRECTIONS

PRE-HEAT OVEN TO 350 DEGREES

In a large pot – boil the sliced yams & 20 (reserving 6) garlic cloves until the yams have softened.  Maybe 5 minutes.  Remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon & re-use the hot water to boil your pasta (according to package directions).  Cook the pasta maybe one minute less than the package says to assure it is al dente.  Drain & set aside.

Once cool enough to handle (put the yams & garlic under cold running water to cool) – put the 20 cloves of garlic through a garlic press (or chop or mash another way) & set aside.

Dice the boiled yams.  Heat the olive oil in a large pan & saute the diced yams until they begin to caramelize.  This could take up to ten minutes.

Melt the butter – over low heat – in a large sauce pan & then add the flour.  Whisk until it is incorporated.  Up the flame to medium & gradually whisk in 6 cups of the milk (reserving 2 cups for later).   Stir constantly until all the milk is incorporated & it begins to thicken a bit.  It should be like unset pudding.  Thicker than that & mixing in the cheese will get difficult.

Mince the remaining 6 cloves of garlic.  Add both forms of garlic, most of the jalapeno (reserving a good handful for a topping later), the yams, rosemary, cheeses (reserving a fat handful for topping later) and pasta.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Stir to combine.

Grease either a very large 7 quart casserole – or several smaller ones – and carefully transfer HALF the mixture into the cooking pans.   Pour one cup of the reserved milk over the mac & cheese in the pan(s) & then top with the remainder of the mac & cheese.  Pour the rest of the milk on top of this.  Top with the remaining cheese & jalapenos (reserving some – if you chose to – to add raw at the end as a garnish).

This can be topped with a bread crumb mixture – though I opted not to.  To make the bread crumb mixture – just whisk the crumbs, olive oil & cheese together & sprinkle on top of the macaroni.

Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes – or until bubbly (golden – if using bread crumbs).  Let this sit a good ten minutes before serving.

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