RECIPE 41: Artichoke Ravioli with Tomatoes

Artichoke Ravioli with Tomatoes 

                      -= Exported from BigOven =-

                   Artichoke Ravioli with Tomatoes

If you’re going to take the time to make fresh pasta, you want to know the dish is worth your while … and these ravioli definitely fit the bill. They’re even better with the bubbling sauce of cream, fresh plum tomatoes, and parmesan cheese.

Recipe By: Gourmet magazine, January 2007
Serving Size: 4
Main Ingredient:
Categories: Gourmet Magazine, Main Dish

-= Ingredients =-
~~ PASTA ~~
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter ; cut into pieces
1 small onion ; chopped (1/2 cup)
1 (10-oz) box frozen artichoke hearts ; thawed and patted dry
1 ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano ; (1/2 cup)
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 large egg white ; lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons water (for egg wash)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter ; cut into pieces
3 medium plum tomatoes ; trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch dice (3/4 cup)
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano ; (1/2 cup)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

-= Instructions =-
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: pasta machine

To make pasta dough in a food processor:
Blend flour, eggs, salt, and water in processor until mixture just begins to form a ball, adding more water, drop by drop, if dough is too dry (dough should be firm and not sticky). Process dough for 15 seconds more to knead it. Transfer to a floured surface and let stand, covered with an inverted bowl, 1 hour to let the gluten relax and make rolling easier.

To make dough by hand:
Mound flour on a work surface, preferably wooden, and make a well in center. Add eggs, salt, and water to well. With a fork, gently beat eggs and water until combined. Gradually stir in enough flour to form a paste, pulling in flour closest to egg mixture and being careful not to make an opening in outer wall of well. Knead remaining flour into mixture with your hands to form a dough, adding more water, drop by drop, if dough is too dry (dough should be firm and not sticky). Knead dough until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Cover with an inverted bowl and let stand 1 hour (to make rolling easier).

Make filling:
Heat butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté onion, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Add artichoke hearts and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Transfer all but 3/4 cup artichoke mixture to cleaned bowl of processor (reserve remaining artichoke mixture in skillet), then add cheese, parsley, yolk, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and pulse until mixture is coarsely chopped.

Roll pasta and make ravioli:
Cut pasta dough into 4 pieces, then flatten each piece into a rough rectangle and cover rectangles with an inverted large bowl. Set rollers of pasta machine on widest setting.

Lightly dust 1 rectangle with flour and feed through rollers. (Keep remaining rectangles under bowl.) Fold rectangle in half and feed it, folded end first, through rollers 7 or 8 more times, folding it in half each time and feeding folded end through. Dust with flour if necessary to prevent sticking. Turn dial to next (narrower) setting and feed dough through rollers without folding. Continue to feed dough through rollers once at each setting, without folding, until you reach narrowest setting. Dough will be a smooth sheet (about 24 inches long and 4 inches wide).

Put sheet of dough on a floured work surface and drop 6 (1 1/2-teaspoon) mounds of filling 1 1/2 inches apart in a row down center of one half of sheet. Brush egg wash around each mound, then fold other half of sheet over filling. Press down firmly around each mound, forcing out air. (Air pockets increase the chance that ravioli will break during cooking.) Cut pasta (between mounds) with cutter into 3-inch rounds. Line a large shallow baking pan with a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and dust towel with flour, then arrange ravioli in 1 layer in it. Make more ravioli with remaining pasta dough, 1 sheet at a time, and remaining filling, transferring ravioli to lined pan.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter baking dish.

Bring a 6- to 8-quart pot of salted water to a boil. Add ravioli, carefully stirring to separate, and, adjusting heat to keep water at a gentle boil, cook until pasta is just tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a colander.

Assemble and bake dish:
While ravioli boils, reheat reserved artichoke mixture in skillet with butter over moderately high heat, then add tomatoes and water and cook, stirring, until tomatoes are softened, about 5 minutes.

Transfer half of ravioli to baking dish and top with half of artichoke mixture, half of cream, and half of cheese. Repeat with remaining ravioli, artichoke mixture, cream, and cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake, uncovered, until ravioli is heated through and cream is bubbling, about 15 minutes.
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RECIPE 42: Betty's Spaghetti

Betty’s Spaghetti 

                      -= Exported from BigOven =-

                          Betty’s Spaghetti

This is Thomas Keller’s exuberantly updated version of a dish often prepared by his mother, Elizabeth Marie “Betty” Keller, during his childhood.

Recipe By: Saveur magazine, January 2007, page 43
Serving Size: 4
Main Ingredient:
Categories: Saveur magazine, Easy, Main Dish

-= Ingredients =-
1/4 cup flour
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. canola oil
2 large shallots ; 1 cut into 1/8″ rings, 1 finely chopped
8 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
Stems from 2 sprigs parsley
1/2 lb. dried spaghetti
2/3 cup ricotta cheese ; (see Note)
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. Parsley ; finely minced
16 cilantro shoots ; (optional)

-= Instructions =-
1. Put flour into a wide shallow dish. Heat 1 cup canola oil in a small pot over medium heat until it registers 325° on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in 2 batches, toss shallot rings in flour to coat and shake off any excess. Fry shallots, stirring gently, until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fried shallots to a paper towel-lined plate to let drain. Set shallot rings aside.

2. Heat remaining canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped shallots and cook just until beginning to caramelize, 3-4 minutes. Add butter, vinegar, and 1 cup water; cook until reduced by about one-third, 18-20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add parsley stems and cook for 10 seconds. Transfer stems to a colander in the sink and rinse under cold water. Add spaghetti to boiling water and cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes. Drain spaghetti and add to skillet with shallot reduction; toss to combine. Add cooked parsley stems, ricotta, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Divide spaghetti among four warm bowls. Garnish with minced parsley, cilantro shoots, and fried shallot rings. Serve immediately.

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HAPPY MOUTH — October 2007

On Wednesday, October 17, 2007, several of the members of the HAPPY MOUTH SUPPER CLUB met for a delicious, inexpensive dinner at SHANGHAI MAMA’S (scroll down on their site for the menu) in downtown Cincinnati. It was my month to select. Based on the wonderful Crab Cannolis that Tara & Raymond introduced me to late one Saturday night, I decided that SHANGHAI MAMA’S was the place for our monthly outing.

We met and ate lots of SHANGHAI MAMA’S wonderful appetizers (edamame, crab cannolis (4 orders!), fried wontons, wasabi dumplings, and more) before moving on to mains like Shanghai Noodles, Lo Mein, flatbreads, and more. And lots of adult beverages! Though the mains are very good, I think that appetizers are the most interesting part of a meal at SHANGHAI MAMA’S.

We ran into Robert W. and his friend who were coming in for a late dinner. They had intended to go to VINYL (see the writeup of our visit in March 2007 here) but found that it had closed. I am convinced that the spot is cursed! Robert had the singular experience of singing for composer Stephen Schwartz recently during a workshop production of Schwartz’s new show SNAPSHOTS, so we enjoyed hearing about Robert’s experience.

A very good Happy Mouth!

CULINARY: Pigall’s night — Oct. 13 2007

On Saturday, October 13, 2007, only a couple days after returning from a wonderful week of vacation in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera (report coming soon), I worked at Jean-Robert at Pigall’s.

When I arrived, I was greeted warmly and asked immediately if I was there all night. I said I was, and Raymond told me that I’d be running the amuse bouche and cheese stations since the guy that had been running them (“duh-Rob”) was, um, not coming back to the restaurant.

The kitchen gang had already done most of the preparation for the station (how they find time to finish their own extensive preparation lists — any one of which is more complicated than my little station — AND another station as well, I’ll never know!). I still had some preparation work to do to get ready for service — preparing duck purses (the amuse bouche is currently a duck purse, egg & fish ring, and chilled soup) and finishing a few other things before setting up my stations. I am convinced that if I had a prep sheet I would be able to execute it — do all my own prep — for the amuse bouche & cheese stations and be ready for service on time. They’ve hired a new guy to replace “duh-Rob”, so I may not get the chance to test that theory for a while.

During service, the tickets written by the servers are handed to Chef, who is working to my left side at the pass. He “splits” the tickets — re-writing it onto separate slips for kitchen stations — then gives the server’s original ticket to me, which constitutes a “pickup” order from my station.

I prepare duck purses, baking them for a few minutes in the convection oven until they’re crispy and warm. I draw a line of grainy mustard diagonally across a small square plate. The duck purse goes on one side of the line with a piece of toast, and the fish & egg ring goes on the other side, atop a smear of lemon cream. The fish & egg ring is topped with a lightly-dressed frisee salad. A demitasse cup is filled with the chilled soup (fennel, this evening) and topped with a quenelle of chantilly cream and some chopped chives. When vegetarians or people with food allergies come in, we make special accommodations for them throughout all the stations. The amuse is moved to the pass (I only have to turn around to be at the pass) and given to servers who whisk it away to the guests. I mark the ticket and move it to the ticket hanger. Repeat 100 times.

When a cheese order comes in, I take a long rectangular plate and put 4 pieces of different cheeses on it in ascending order of flavor, bleu cheese is at the far right end. I then take a small silver serving spoon and top it with wonderfully runny Epoisses cheese and add that to the rectangular plate. The plate is dressed with mustarda, a quenelle of fruit compote, and a line of port wine reduction. A nice bowl of three kinds of toast goes out with it.

I found the evening’s pace to be brisk but was able to manage it easily. Any time I asked Raymond for anything — like to replenish my soup or to fire more duck purses — he jokingly (and loudly) announced to the kitchen, “Vogel is weeded!”. There was a clear “half time” as I got to the top of my orders. It was quiet at my station, and after restocking and cleaning up, I was able to track the progress of particular tables as their tickets moved around the kitchen.

Because of my proximity to Chef, I had the chance to observe him at work and have a good conversation with him. Earlier in the day, he took me over to the location of his next project — a lounge called TWIST.

It was a fun evening (if your definition of fun is, like mine, working your ass off in a hot, dark, crowded space!) and I really enjoyed working the station. After cleaning up my station, I hung around for a glass of wine with Chef before heading home.

Falcon Theater's Anne Frank Delivers the Truth

The excitement continues to build for Falcon’s latest production!

City Beat review:


Don’t miss Falcon’s production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, based on the writings of Anne Frank.


“I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are really good at heart.”

Forced to hide from the Nazi occupation of her home country, a young Jewish girl eloquently documents her family’s struggle for survival.  The Diary of Anne Frank is an emotionally powerful story of the resiliency of the human spirit in the face of unspeakable atrocity.

Directed by Ted Weil and Tracy Schoster and produced by Ron Cropper, the cast includes: Jay D. Benson, Melinda Etter, Lisa Reymann, Jim Bussey, Thomas Langlois, Heidi Anderson, Terry Gosdin, Julie Niesen, Bob Buchtman and Charity Farrell as Anne Frank. 

All performances are at the Monmouth Theatre at 636 Monmouth Street (just 4 blocks south of the Levee) Newport, Kentucky.  Performance dates are October 12, 13, 19, 20٭, 26 and 27 at 8:00 p.m.  Tickets are $15.00 for Adults and $12.00 for Students and Seniors. 

٭Holocaust survivor, Conrad Weiner, will speak to the audience immediately following this performance. 

Everyone purchasing a ticket to the show will automatically be entered into a drawing to receive a free copy of Instant Karma: the Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur.  One CD will be given away at each performance. 

For ticket information and

RECIPE 43: Spinach Arancini

                      -= Exported from BigOven =-

                           Spinach Arancini

Recipe By: Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello. Episode #MO1B03
Serving Size: 7
Cuisine: Italian
Main Ingredient:
Categories: Appetizers

-= Ingredients =-
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 ea Onion ; Finely Minced
3 cloves Garlic ; Finely Minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
1 cup White Wine
to taste Sea Salt
to taste Freshly-Ground Black Pepper
4 cups Chicken Broth ; or Vegetable Broth Heated
2 cups Fresh Spinach ; Chopped
2 tablespoon Butter
1 1/2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese ; Grated
1 cup Mozzarella ; Cut Into Small Cubes
2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 ea Eggs ; Lightly Beaten
2 cups Seasoned Breadcrumbs
for frying Vegetable Oil

-= Instructions =-
In large, deep saucepan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Add the onions and saute for about 1 minute. Add the garlic. Stir. After another 5 minutes, add the rice and white wine and a pinch of salt stir and allow to cook down for about 5 to 10 minutes. Add 2 (8-ounce) ladles of broth. Allow to absorb into rice for about 10 minutes, stirring, then add another 2 (8-ounce ladles) of broth and allow that to absorb for about 10 minutes.

Season with freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Add spinach to broth and rice and stir in with sweet butter. Add 1 cup of the Parmigiano. When all ingredients are hot and mixed, pour and spread onto a parchment lined cookie sheet to cool. Once cool, cover with a layer of plastic wrap to avoid skin forming and refrigerate until completely cooled and firm. Refrigerate overnight if necessary.

When completely cooled, cover rice and spinach with remaining 1/2 cup Parmigiano. With hands, roll into 1 1/2-inch balls. With fingers, make a small hole in the rice ball’s center and insert 1 small cube of mozzarella, and cover with more rice.

Place flour, beaten eggs, and seasoned bread crumbs in separate bowls. Coat each ball with flour, then with whisked egg, then with seasoned breadcrumbs. Repeat with all rice balls and lay the coated balls on a cookie tray and refrigerate until ready to fry.

In a heavy large pan, heat vegetable oil to 350 degrees F.

Fry the balls, in batches, until golden brown. Remove each ball with a slotted spoon and place on parchment paper or paper towel lined cookie sheet to dry. Serve hot.
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RECIPE 44: Shrimp and Boursin Fettuccini

-= Exported from BigOven =-

Shrimp and Boursin Fettuccini

Recipe By: Drew Vogel,
Serving Size: 4
Cuisine: American
Main Ingredient: Pasta
Categories: Easy, Main Dish

-= Ingredients =-
1 pound Spinach Fettuccini
1 tablespoon Olive Oil ; More As Needed
1 medium Onion ; Diced see Note
2 clove Garlic ; Peeled Minced
1 large Tomato ; Ripe Diced
1 cup Flour
1 tablespoon Corn Starch
to taste Emeril’s Essence
1 pound Shrimp ; Fresh Peeled De-Veined Rinsed
2 ea 5.2 ounce Boursin Cheese ; Room Temperature. See note.
to taste Salt & Pepper

-= Instructions =-
Whisk together flour, corn starch, and Emeril’s Essence. Put shrimp into flour mixture to coat. Shake off excess flour mixture.

Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large skillet. Add onions and garlic and sauté over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to burn. Add the shrimp to the skillet mixture (in batches if necessary) and cook over medium-high heat until the shrimp are opaque and fully-cooked. Remove the cooked shrimp to a plate to keep warm.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccini and cook until al dente. Drain. Add the Boursin cheese to the drained fettuccini, stirring to evenly coat fettuccini. Add chopped tomatoes. Gently stir to coat pasta & tomatoes with the cheese. Adjust seasoning.

Portion the pasta on warmed plates, topping with the cooked shrimp. Garnish and serve at once.
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