Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fine Cooking X 2

I recently got an issue of Fine Cooking Magazine and surprisingly, almost every one of the recipes in the April/May 2011 issue looked really fantastic.

These two were exceptional and required no changes.

Bon Appetit!
Asparagus Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce
I got really excited about this dish the minute I took my first bite.
The wonton wrappers were the perfect substitute for the homemade ravioli pasta. In fact, I liked using the wonton wrappers better because they were so light so I didn’t feel full after I ate this dish.
The combination of the rich brown butter sauce, the bright lemon zest, and crunchy almond garnish were a perfect complement.
You can use any other vegetable as a substitute for the asparagus and it will be delicious.
This is also the perfect dish for a meatless Monday meal.
Yields 18 raviolli.

Sea salt
1 lb. thick asparagus, trimmed, spears cut into 1-inch pieces, tips reserved
6 Tbs. mascarpone
1/3 cup whole milk ricotta
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; more for serving
1 tsp. anchovy paste
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
Pinch cayenne
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
36 wonton wrappers
4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup blanched almonds, chopped
Finely grated lemon zest to taste

Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Have ready a medium bowl of ice water. Boil the asparagus tips until tender but still bright green, about 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to the ice water. When cool, transfer with the slotted spoon to a small bowl and set aside. Cook and cool the asparagus spears in the same manner; dry them on paper towels. In a food processor (or by hand), chop 1-1/2 cups of the spears very finely and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the remaining spears to the tips.

Add the mascarpone, ricotta, Parmigiano, anchovy paste, garlic, and cayenne to the chopped asparagus; mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange 18 wonton wrappers on a work surface. Put 1 level Tbs. of the asparagus filling in the center of each wrapper. Using a pastry brush, moisten the edges of each with water. Top each with another wrapper and press the edges firmly to seal, expelling any air bubbles as you seal. If you don’t plan to cook the ravioli immediately, cover them with a damp cloth.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat and add the almonds, shaking the pan. Cook until the butter turns light brown, about 6 minutes, and then immediately transfer to a small bowl.

Add the ravioli to the boiling water. When they rise to the surface, after about 1 minute, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to warm plates or pasta bowls. Spoon the brown butter mixture over the ravioli. Top with the reserved asparagus pieces, a grinding of pepper, a sprinkle of Parmigiano, and a little lemon zest, and serve.

                   I was going to clean up the plate before I took this but the sauce was so good had to savor every bit of it!

Vietnamese-Style Lamb Riblets with Sweet Soy Dipping Sauce
I never had lamb growing up so the first time I ate it about 15 years ago …well, I’ve been making up for lost time ever since.
These lamb riblets make for great finger food and they were more than surprising – they were off the chart amazing.
Great party cuisine because you can roast them ahead of time and then pop them under the broiler at the last minute.
You can do the broiler part of this if you want but I didn’t think they needed the extra carmelization. They were perfect after cooking and basting for almost 2 hours.
Serves 4 to 6 as an hors d’oeuvre or appetizer

1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. fish sauce
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. peanut or vegetable oil
2 Tbs. packed brown sugar (light or dark)
1-1/2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
1 Tbs. whole coriander seed, toasted and coarsely ground
1 tsp. chile sauce, such as sriracha
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 lb. lamb breast riblets (also called Denver-style ribs)

Put all of the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Put the riblets in a gallon-size freezer bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and massage the riblets to evenly distribute the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 8 and up to 24 hours, turning the bag occasionally to redistribute the marinade.

Dipping Sauce:

2 Tbs. fish sauce
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 medium clove garlic, minced

Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

A footnote on the sauce:

I did not particularly love this dipping sauce. I ate the lamb riblets on their own and they were delicious. If I used a sauce, I would go for a Nouc Cham and adjust to your own personal taste.

Nouc Cham:

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup fish sauce (Viet Huong Three Crabs brand or any Squid based sauce)
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 of a lime, juiced
3-4 cloves of garlic , minced
2-3 Thai chili pepper, minced

In a small jar, combine water and sugar and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add fish sauce, vinegar and lime juice and mix. Add garlic and chili pepper. Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Cooking the Riblets:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F. Remove the riblets from the marinade, scraping any excess seasonings back into the bag (reserve the marinade). Arrange the riblets bone side down on a flat roasting rack in a roasting pan or on a heavy-duty baking sheet. Roast, basting with the reserved marinade every 20 minutes for the first hour, until the meat is very tender and can be easily pierced with a knife, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Position an oven rack 5 to 6 inches from the broiling element and heat the broiler on high. Arrange the riblets cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until browned and sizzling on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn with tongs and brown the other side, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a serving platter. Serve with the dipping sauce and plenty of napkins.