Sunday, April 3, 2011

Toasted Ravioli, Eggplant Rollatini,and (finally) Hamantaschen! - 4/3/11

Toasted Lobster Ravioli with a Sherry Garlic Alfredo Sauce

2 tablespoons whole milk
1 egg
1 cup seasoned (Italian) bread crumbs
garlic salt
herbes de provence or Italian seasoning
grated parmesan
1-8 oz. package lobster ravioli, from refrigerated section
canola, corn, or vegetable oil for frying

1 cup prepared garlic alfredo sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons sherry
2-4 tablespoons grated parmesan
granulated garlic, kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper

Combine the milk and egg in a small bowl.  Place the bread crumbs, garlic salt, herbes de provence, and grated parmesan to taste in a shallow bowl.  Set out a baking sheet with a piece of waxed paper.

Dip each ravioli in the milk mixture and let the excess drip off, then coat lightly with breadcrumbs.  Place the coated ravioli on the waxed paper.  When they are all coated, let sit for about 15 minutes before frying.

Heat about an inch of oil in a heavy pot.  Fry the ravioli, a few at a time, about a minute on each side, until golden.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a cooling rack.  Heat the alfredo sauce in a small pot, then add the sherry, parmesan, and seasonings.  Serve with the toasted ravioli.

You can prepare any kind of ravioli, like four cheese or portobello mushroom or sausage, in exactly the same manner, and then serve with heated marinara sauce.

The Eggplant Rollatini recipe can be found on the Food Network site at this link.  I was able to find nice-sized eggplants at Publix, although you do not want to know what I paid for them.  And while the recipe calls for 2 large eggplant, these were small to medium, so I bought three of them.

Eggplant Rollatini - adapted from Food Network

2-15 oz. containers whole milk ricotta
3 medium eggplants (I would recommend you buy up to 5 medium eggplants, or save part of the filling for another dish, like lasagna)
6 eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
1-10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed as dry as possible 
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I used a microplane grater)
1/2 cup grated Romano
1/2 cup six cheese Italian blend
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch of ground nutmeg
sprinkle of dried Italian seasoning
1- 24 to 26 oz. jar of basil tomato sauce 
1/2 pound shredded mozzarella

Spoon the ricotta into a fine strainer placed over a bowl in the refrigerator for several hours. Discard the excess liquid. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with a silpat. Wash the eggplants and cut the tips off. Put the flat end down onto the cutting board. Slice the eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices, to make about 15 slices. Beat 4 of the eggs. Add salt and pepper to season eggs. Coat each eggplant slice with flour, then dip into the beaten eggs, drain any excess egg mixture, and lay flat on baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, then turn each slice and bake 5 minutes more. If you can't cook all of the eggplant at once, bake them in batches. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. Note: You can make the eggplant ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator.

The first batch is on the left.  The second "silpat" batch is on the right.  Much better.

Combine spinach, ricotta, remaining eggs, garlic, and 1/2 cup of the grated Romano or Parmesan in a bowl. Mix well. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Spoon 1 cup of tomato sauce onto the bottom of a small baking dish. Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling onto the wide end of each piece of eggplant. Then, roll up each piece and place into the baking dish.

Top with remaining tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, and remaining grated Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, until the tomato sauce is bubbling and the filling is hot. Let them rest for 15 minutes before serving.

I have prepared the first batch of eggplant slices following Mario's recipe exactly, and am disappointed with the results. The eggplant stuck to the baking sheet in spots, and the egg coating was sort of tasteless.  For the second batch, I added salt, pepper, and granulated garlic to the flour, and opted to use a silpat instead of oiling the pan.  Stay tuned ...

The silpat worked like a dream.  I prepared the cheese filling the way I like, and so the recipe I am giving you is going to be my adaptation.  I have to admit I had too much filling, so I made a small lasagna in a loaf pan, using some no-cook noodles I had in my pantry.  Next time, I will make less filling or prepare more eggplant slices.

I have continued to look at other recipes to see how the eggplant is prepared.  Giada deLaurentiis uses an indoor grill pan to cook her eggplant slices.  A contributer at AllRecipes dips her slices in egg, then bread crumb, and then fries her slices.  Epicurious has a recipe that Bon Appetit magazine printed in 2002 in which the eggplant is dipped in egg, then bread crumbs, and then placed on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick olive oil spray and baked for 15 minutes on each side.  I am guessed you could also brush each side with olive oil and then grill on an outdoor grill.

And finally, hamentaschen ...


This is very easy to prepare in the food processor, and you can see that the dough has formed a ball, which is how you know it is completely mixed and ready to go into the refrigerator for a few hours.

Urban Baker Hamantaschen (adapted from Joan Nathan)

2/3 cup (5.35 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder
a pinch of sea salt
Filling choices:  lekvar (prune) and apricot are the fillings I grew up with.  Poppy seed is very traditional, and raspberry has become very popular (and delicious).  Solo brand puts out all of these fillings, which are much better to use than preserves or jams which do not hold up well during the baking process and will leak from the seams of the cookie.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of your food processor fitted with the metal blade, cream butter and sugar together.  Add egg and vanilla.  Slowly add dry ingredients.  Mix thoroughly until the dough forms a ball.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Roll out dough on a floured work surface to 1/8″ thickness (I cut the dough into quarters, and rolled out each piece between sheets of wax paper.  Worked like a charm.)  Cut circles of your dough.  I'm going to be using a 3 inch round cookie cutter. In the center of each circle put a small amouth (scant 1 teaspoon) of filling.  Resist the impulse to overfill the cookie.  Dip your finger in some water and run your finger around the outer edge of the dough. Fold into a three cornered shape, allowing some of the filling to show. Line your baking sheet with a silpat pad, or parchment paper, place the hamantaschen about 2 inches apart, and bake for 14-16 minutes or until the outer edge is golden brown.

First batch is on the silpat, ready for the oven.  I decided to use the poppy seed (mohn) filling, which is very old-fashioned.  I think I rolled the dough a little too thin this first time, but it was still relatively easy to work with.

And here they are, baked.  These only took 12 minutes to bake, so you will need to watch them carefully.  I have already broken off a piece of the cookie to taste and it really is wonderful, even better than the dough I've used over the years, and pretty darn close to the taste and texture of a bakery hamantaschen, but a little lighter, which I like.  I'll be baking the rest tomorrow.  I'll also be preparing the whipped rutabaga tomorrow or the day after.  There was just too much for this poor old body to take, so I sat down and watched the Magic make fools of themselves in Toronto.

Cook like there's nobody watching, and eat like it's heaven on earth.

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