Super Big Roasted Portabella Mushroom Ravioli

These ravioli are ravioli for grownups.  They are huge and one, maybe two, per plate are all that are needed for a grownup-sized serving.  The wonton wrappers make it actually a pretty easy process and the end result is super elegant.  We had them for a weeknight meal and felt like royalty.  I’d serve these to guests any time.

Roasted Portabella Mushroom Ravioli Recipe by Annie Mahle

Roasted Portabella Mushroom Ravioli Recipe by Annie Mahle

Roasted Portabella Mushroom Ravioli Recipe by Annie Mahle

Roasted Portabella Mushroom Ravioli Recipe by Annie Mahle

Super Big Roasted Portabella Mushroom Ravioli with Spinach Tomato and Brandy Cream Sauce
4 portabella mushrooms
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch scallions, ends removed
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
4 ounces cheddar, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic; about 1 clove
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Zest from one lemon
2 eggs
1 to 2 tablespoons flour, just enough to dust the counter
1 package egg roll wrappers; at least 20 wrappers
Extra virgin olive oil if needed

1 1/2 cups diced onion; about 1 medium onion
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brandy
2 dashes Worcestershire
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
4 cups lightly packed spinach, de-stemmed, washed and drained

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Rub the portabella mushrooms with the olive oil on a large baking sheet and roast for 30 to 40 minutes until the mushrooms are dark and the edges are really brown.

Combine all ingredients except the flour, wrappers and water in a food processor and pulse until fully combined.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Meanwhile, very lightly dust a work surface with flour and lay out 4 wrappers.  With a large spoon or number 12 scoop, place mushroom mixture in the center of the wrapper.  With a pastry brush, wipe water all around the mushroom mound.  Lay a second wrapper over top of the first and line the top edges and corners up.  With your palm and the edge of your hand, press the two sheets together around the mushroom mix, pushing any air bubbles out passed the edges.  Dust a baking sheet with a little flour and transfer to the baking sheet.  Repeat.

When the water is boiling gently transfer all raviolis to the pot.  If the pot looks like it will become crowded, work in two batches.  Cook the ravioli for 3 to 4 minutes or until they are floating on the surface and the pasta is a uniform color.

Remove to a platter with a slotted spoon or basket strainer.  Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and repeat if needed.  Serve immediately with the sauce.

Makes 10, serves 5 to 10

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Melt the butter and add the onions.  Sauté until the onions begin to brown and caramelize, about 15 minutes.  Add the brandy and reduce by half.  Add the chicken stock and cream and reduce again.  Remove from heat and add the tomatoes and spinach.  Turn with tongs until the spinach is wilted, but still bright green.

Makes 3 cups

Lovin’ my pasta

Breads – To Knead or Not to Knead

Spinach, Sun-dried Tomato & Artichoke No Knead Bread 5

I’m a fan of them all, kneaded and no-knead breads.  They are all my children and I love them, different though they be.  This week’s column is on ways to use sourdough starter in breads for flavor rather than as a leavener.  I know, I know, sourdough IS a leavener, but not for someone who has limited space and time, say someone who cooks out of a boat galley.  Therefore, because sourdough isn’t a fail proof method for me on the boat, I’ve developed my own ways of using it that don’t require so much tending.

There are also a number of other sourdough breads that I’ve posted in the past should you get super excited and find yourself on a bread roll….  Ha!

Still ‘Ha!’

Red Rice and Asparagus Salad

Easter weekend for us is always comprised of orphaned families, including ours, converging on our house for a large meal.  By ‘orphaned families’ I mean those families who don’t live near extended family and can’t always celebrate every holiday together.   Most of us don’t travel for this holiday, but instead, gather every year to create our own traditions here in Maine.   Some years we spend it outside on the deck and on blankets basking in the warmth of the sun.  Other years, we enjoy the chilly spring weather from indoors looking out over the still dormant garden.  Such was the case this year.

As always, the table groans from the abundance of delicious.  One of my favorites was a boneless lamb leg  stuffed and  rolled with a parsley walnut pesto combined with the following red rice salad.


Red Rice and Asparagus Salad
1 bunch asparagus, stem ends removed and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 cups red Bhutanese rice
3 cups water
1 cup minced scallions
2 blood oranges
1 tablespoon Fiore’s blood orange olive oil (or unflavored extra virgin olive oil)
Pinch of salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
2 tablespoons lemon juice

In a medium-sized stock pot bring salted water to a boil and add the asparagus.  Blanch for 2 to 3 minutes and remove with a strainer.  Cool immediately with very cold water.  Add the red rice to the pot of boiling water.  Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 to 50 minutes (depending on the brand of rice used).  If the rice is tender, but water still remains in the bottom of the pan, drain in a strainer.

Zest the oranges and set the zest aside in a small bowl.  Remove the now white peel from the orange flesh with a sharp knife.  With the same sharp knife, remove the membrane from between the orange sections.  Squeeze any juice from the remaining membrane into the small bowl containing the zest.  Add the olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice and combine.

When the rice is cooked, transfer to a strainer to cool slightly.  In a large bowl, combine all ingredients including the zest mixture. Taste for salt and pepper and serve immediately or chill.

Serves 6 to 8

No-Knead Bread 101 – Artisinal Roasted Garlic and Black Olive Bread

Bread is not easy.  Anytime we deal with a living organism, there is unpredictability.  Live things just don’t always do what we wish, or it takes longer, or it happens faster.  In any event, it’s not always on our exacting timetable.  But it doesn’t have to be so maddening.

Roasted Garlic & Olive No Knead Bread Recipe by Annie Mahle

A number of people have said to me recently that they’ve tried and failed to make their own bread.  We’re going to work on that, because once you get it, there is nothing more satisfying in the cooking world than pulling a beautiful loaf of bread out of your own oven.  Even after 25 years of cooking and making bread on a daily basis on the boat, I still love it.

We’ll begin with a step by step of the guideline/recipe in Sugar and Salt:  Book One and move on to adding grains and different ingredients.  I’ll be posting once a month or so and then take a break over the summer.  We’ll come back to it in the fall, just in time for the first chilly snap of frost that makes us think of heating the house and warming our bellies.

This recipe requires a Dutch oven.  This covered pot creates a convective space for moist air, which allows the bread to rise beautifully, and then, once the moisture has dissipated, creates a terrific crust.  I use this method at home frequently.  However, on the Riggin I need to make 4 loaves at a time – but I don’t have the space for 4 Dutch ovens.  So I choose the other, more traditional method that is in Sugar & Salt:  Book One.

Basic No-Knead Recipe
5 cups flour (or flours) of your choice
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1 to 2 cups water

Roasted Garlic and Black Olive Bread
to the basic recipe add:
1 cup pitted black olives
1/3 cup peeled roasted garlic cloves; about 1 head roasted garlic

Combine all ingredients except water in a large bowl.   Add water and mix with one hand, adding water until the dough just barely forms a ball and there are no little dry bits hanging out in the bowl. Depending on how moist the olives and garlic are, the amount of water can vary from 1 cup to 2 cups.   This dough should feel too wet to knead and like biscuit dough in moisture content.

Cover the bowl with a layer of plastic wrap; and let the dough rise at room temperature overnight, until the surface of the dough has risen and is flat, not rounded.  For those who have worked with traditional kneaded dough, this will look like a disaster.  Just wait, it will be fine.

Place a Dutch oven (an oven proof pan with a lid) into the oven.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Shape the dough into a round boule by tucking the dough loosely under itself; place the loaf in a bowl lined with parchment paper.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise again until doubled, another 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Slash the tops of the loaf with a sharp knife and transfer the parchment paper and dough to the hot Dutch oven and cover with the hot lid.

Bake until the exterior is golden brown and the bottom is firm; about 50 to 70 minutes (no peeking for at least the first half hour).  Remove from both the oven and the Dutch oven and let cool before slicing.

Homemade Granola – Great Last Minute Gift

cinnamon pecan granola

The aroma of bread baking is just about as evocative as it gets of home, mom and comfort however, I would contend that the smell of toasting granola is just as tantalizing and poignant a sensory experience.  When we are on the bay sailing in and among the other vessels of the fleet, I always know when another boat is baking granola.  And I can always tell when another boat is burning a batch of granola.  Of course the billow of dark smoke escaping the galley is one small hint, but it’s also the burnt sugar and toast smell that is the woeful giveaway.  While a fairly easy task in a home kitchen, getting granola just right in the high heat of a wood stove is a bigger challenge (or so I’ve been told, ha!).  last minute homemade giftBecause in an oven cranked up to do the production of an entire day’s food it’s a matter of seconds from perfectly toasted to dang-that’s-too-dark!, I’ve taken to baking granola either at the end of the day or while we are at lobster bake. In both cases, the stove can be shut way down and the granola left unattended to toast slowly and evenly.

granola for sale

At home, however, the quick work of several batches of both Cinnamon Pecan Granola and Maine Blueberry, Cranberry Granola made me almost forget what trial and error has gone before me in summer’s past.

For a basic recipe that you can tweak, here’s a previous cook the book granola post.  I’ll be making granola all winter long, so feel free to order a fix for yourself or as a gift.  Annie’s Granola.

With a good smellin’ home

Ginger Thyme Granola

Good morning to my cupboard barren of cereal.  Good morning to my refrigerator bereft of milk.  I have things that I can make without going to the grocery store.  I can go one or two more days without spending money.  Today I will have Cheddar Cheese Polenta (Or maybe its grits if you are having it for breakfast. Hmmm…  Will someone from the south please tell me?) with salsa and scrambled eggs.  Even better, I will plan ahead with a little baking and tomorrow I will have Ginger and Thyme Granola on my yogurt.  Day 28 without going to the grocery store.

Ginger Thyme Granola

Ginger Thyme Granola
If you haven’t yet tried Fiore olive oils, they are delicious and healthy and heaven!

4 cups whole rolled oats
1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger
1 cup whole flake coconut
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves; about 1 sprig
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Fiore vanilla balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and transfer to a parchment-lined 9×13 pan.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

Makes 5 cups

Keeping a promise to myself

What’s in your freezer?

Day 26 without going to the grocery store.  The hot mess (or should I say ‘cold mess’) that I found in my freezer the other day resulted in a last minute change of dinner plans and a whole lot of things that need to be used up pronto.

Hmm… not the prettiest, but still a workable mess

Defrosted raspberries went into breakfast yogurt with honey and Ginger Thyme Granola

Lamb, of course, became Lamb and Red Potato Stew with Sage and Rosemary

Ham, Peas and Cheese became Three-Cheese Ham and Peas with Gemelli – see below

Lentils became Indian Potatoes and Peas over Lentils

Feta cheese became Tomato, Olive and Feta Pizza

Miso became Miso and Root Vegetable Soup

Three-Cheese Ham and Peas with Gemelli
ham sliced into 1/2-inch slices
frozen peas
salt and pepper
grated Parmesan and Fontina cheese
cream cheese

Bring a salted pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions.  When the pasta is almost done, add the peas for 1 minutes or so to the simmering pasta water.  Just before draining the pasta and the peas, add the ham to the water just to heat.  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the pot into a strainer.  Return the ham, peas and pasta to the pot and add a large pat of butter, a little salt, pepper and the cheeses.  Stir and add some or all of the reserved pasta water to loosen and melt the cheese.  Serve immediately.

Eat, eat, eat!

Waiting to Shop

Now that the freezer has had its figurative meltdown, our refrigerator is full to bursting with condiments and raw ingredients such as jams, chutneys, cocktail sauce and large bunches of kale, several squash, whole beets and chicken livers marinating in port.  Not exactly what anyone wants to bring in their lunch to school, something I’ve been hearing for more than a few days now.

Not really wanting to cook, but knowing that I’ve promised myself that I would not go to the grocery store until one, some of the food we have has left the building so to speak and two, we actually have the space to receive more food.  That means that milk and cereal are not in our future for at least a few more days.  We can do it, family!

A couple of nights ago, when the Patriots beat the Rams by a whole lot (tee, hee), I made both Delicata Squash and Kale Pot Pie and Roasted Delicata Squash and Onion with Bresaola and Goat Cheese over Brown Rice for The Maine Ingredient, using up both the kale and some squash.

Delicata Squash and Kale Pot Pie

At some point I’ll need to go to the grocery store for milk in our coffee, but I will endeavor to put that off as long as possible!  At least until there’s space in the fridge to put the milk.  Day 23 without going to the grocery store.

I’m a frugal girl

Catering for 20 – Ahhh, Now We’re Talking

Sometimes it’s such a relief to cook for the same number I cook for all summer long.  It must sound funny, but it’s actually LESS thinking for me.  I don’t have to hold back on amounts like I do when cooking for the family or testing recipes and even then half the time I end up with twice as much as I need!  This job came a while ago, but no matter, it has some of my favorites, one of which is oft requested on the Riggin, Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Dip.  When I take these platters of bubbly, crusty, cheesy flavor out of my wood stove on the boat and bring them on deck to a crowd of hungry sailors, they NEVER come back empty.  I’ve taken to setting some aside for the crew so that they get a bite as well.

food for a crowd

Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

dip for crudite

Could the color of these veggies be any prettier?  That’s White Bean and Roasted Garlic Dip for the vegans.

dip for crudites

More dip, cause we all gotta have our veggies!

easy appetizers for a crowd

Roasted Mushroom Pate en Croute – another one that never comes back empty.  For me, this is one that I have to say to myself, “Step awaaay from the food.  Awaaaay.”

appetizers for a crowd

This one is my favorite because it’s so pretty.  Sesame Soy Udon noodles are wrapped around forks and served on a bed of shaved bright purple cabbage.  Guests just take one or two forks for their plates.

appetizers for a crowd

Delicata Squash and Goat Cheese Tartlets – kinda pop in your mouth goodness.

Playing in my winter kitchen

Mom making Mom’s Spaghetti and Meatballs

People say that the memory of smell is one of our strongest and when I smell my mom’s Spaghetti and Meatballs I am transported.  Suddenly, I’m looking up at my elders, hanging onto pant legs, bickering with my brothers, and feeling unbelievably wrapped in home and love.

My mom and dad are here for a visit and now our girls are asking for Grandma’s Spaghetti and Meatballs.  For me, this interlinking and weaving of memories and recipes is utterly soul-satisfying.  I can remember as a child anticipating this meal at a friend’s house, mouth watering and barely able to contain my impatience, and then having the reality fall absolutely flat.  It’s a wonderful phenomena when nothing can compare to what your mom makes.

Now that I have a mom and AM a mom, there are times when I think that it’s just so unfair.  I’m the mama and no one can take my place.  Most of the time this fits me just perfectly.  But what makes parenthood so tough and simultaneously so rewarding is that you don’t get to choose your days, take a day or a night off, or go on vacation.  At three in the morning, night after night of broken sleep, I’m the one who has to nurse the babies, no one else can do it for me.  After a long day of work and irritation that I am unable to slough off, I’m the one who gets the best and the worst of my children’s days, no one else can do it for me.

The same is true of comfort food – no one else can do it for you.  It matters that you make it with your hands, that you chose to spend a portion of your day thinking about and creating nourishment for those who will come together around your table.

For tips on making meatballs, Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs and Meatball Subs here’s the column link.

Mom’s Spaghetti with Meat Balls
This is the meal that as kids we would ask for more than any other.  It was our favorite birthday dinner for many years.

1 28-ounce can of pureed tomatoes
1 28-ounce can of crushed or diced tomatoes
1 12-ounce can tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4  teaspoon dried oregano
1/4  teaspoon dried basil
1/4  teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
Meat Balls:
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cloves minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1 large egg

Add everything to a stockpot, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  While the sauce is simmering make the meatballs.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Mix together the meatball ingredients.  Form them into 11/2-inch balls.  Place the meatballs in a single layer in a baking pan.  Bake until cooked through (around 1/2 hour).  Drain off the fat and place the meatballs into the sauce and simmer for another 30 minutes.  Serve with your favorite spaghetti or linguini.

Serves 6 to 8

Thanks, Mom.  For all of it.