Lamb Ravioli with Roasted Yellow Pepper Sauce

Kitchen Monkey had his wisdom teeth out this past Friday, so it's all about soft foods for the next few days. No one likes getting a bit of tortilla chip stuck in their socket.

I recently came by some Virginia-raised halal ground lamb, and figured it was time to make ravioli again. The filling can be changed up if you like, with different herbs, or different cheese. The sauce matches really well with the lamb though. Neither are too overbearing. There are plenty of places online to find homemade pasta recipes and ravioli instructions, and as usual, I'm feeling lazy, so here's the basics:

Lamb Ravioli with Roasted Yellow Pepper Sauce

Ravioli Filling

2 lbs. of ground lamb
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped (get rid of the stems, of course)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 egg
1/2 lb. finely grated parmesan
Salt and pepper

Sautee the garlic at low heat in the olive oil, remove from heat after five minutes or so, before the garlic begins to brown. Strain the olive oil into a separate container, set the olive oil aside, and combine the garlic with the remaining ingredients and mix well. This is your filling. Make your ravioli, then set aside in the fridge. We usually like to make too many and freeze half for another day. The above amount will make approximately 40 to 50 ravioli, depending on the size you make.

Roasted Yellow Pepper Sauce

3 yellow peppers
3 large or 6 medium shallots, peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
6 medium fresh tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
olive oil reserved from the garlic for the ravioli
salt and pepper

(1) Cut the yellow peppers into quarters from top to bottom, removing the seeds and stems. Lay flat on a cookie sheet and put on the top rack of the oven, and set on broil. Watch after about 5 minutes, and remove when the skins are completely black. Allow them to cool or run under cold water, and the skins will peel off easily. Discard.
(2) place the halved tomatoes in a casserole, skin side up, and set in a 450 degree oven, for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, and once cool remove the skins, which should come right off. Discard the liquid in the casserole.
(3) Sautee the shallots in olive oil until translucent, do not allow to brown.
(4) Place the shallots in a food processor and puree. Place all the remaining ingredients, including the olive oil reserved from the garlic above, in a food processor and puree.
(5) Once smooth, pour the sauce in a saucepan over medium-low heat for 15 - 20 minutes.

Boil the ravioli in generously salted water, for about 7 minutes. Cut one in half to make sure the lamb is cooked. Serve with the sauce and a generous sprinkling of grated parmesan.


An Ode to Uni

Oh uni, divider of papillae, personification of the phrase "de gustibus non disputandum," how I adore thee. To this humble epicurean and others like me, thou art a transcendent experience. A mysterious ochre orb of delight, imparting notes of hazelnut, the sea, and the tears cried by unicorns when they are filled with joy.

To the unfortunate souls who do not understand thee, thou art an irksome sight, a noxious-tasting and mucus-textured thing. It is good that many do not understand thee, for thou art at risk of being over-fished by the Japanese.

To the biologist, thou art merely the roe of the sea urchin. To me, that spiny globular echinoidea has given thou to us as a gift beyond comparison, though admittedly against its will. Thou art expensive, often $4 to $7 a piece at sushi restaurants, but thou art worth it. How delighted was I to find an entire tray of you at the local Asian market, for a paucity--only $14! For sixteen pieces! Oh frabjous day! How quickly I raced home, not even bothering to form nigiri, but merely scooping you up with a bit of sushi rice and savoring your briny alchemy. How secretly pleased I was that the missus felt ambivalence toward thou, for this meant more for me.

So are you to my thoughts a food of life,
Or as sweet-season'd showers are to the ground;
And for a piece of you I hold such strife
As 'twixt a miser and his wealth is found.

(apologies for Shakespeare for modifying his 75th sonnet).


New Years Eve in the Emergency Room

This New Years Eve was the second time I've spent a major holiday in an emergency room. The first time was nine or ten years ago, when I split my head open playing ping pong (yes, ping pong) on Christmas Day and spent four hours in the ER getting ten stitches above my right eyebrow. This time? We were up in Pennsylvania visiting my sister, and I was cooking a nice big meal for family and friends. I had at least four different pots going, including a large saute pan with pommes savonettes (carefully peeled and bevelled potatoes cooked in water and butter) that had spent a good twenty minutes in a 400 degree oven before being placed on the stove top.

In the rush of preparing the coq au vin, I reached for the wrong pot, and put my hand firmly on the metal handle of the still piping hot saute pan. Sweet baby Moses did it hurt but good. I immediately applied ice and with the help of family and friends was still able to finish dinner. And it was very delicious, even though I had to eat left-handed while the right hand clutched firmly a dishtowel filled with constantly replenished ice. Every so often I would remove the towel, and it would feel like somebody was holding my hand inside a fire. I felt like Paul Atreides being tested by the freaky bald woman in Dune (that's for all the dorks out there).

Anyway, deciding it better to be safe than sorry, I had the missus drive me to the nearest hospital. I rang in the new year on a gurney, waiting for the percocet to kick in, talking to a ten year old girl who had split her chin open. The diagnosis: second degree burns. But they've been healing quickly, thanks for asking. Not nearly as bad as I expected. Wasn't it just last post that I mentioned my nascent food show, "Cooking While Stupid"? And already I have another episode in the can.

Anyhow, I'm too lazy to post the coq au vin recipe right now, and anyway, although it was quite good, it wasn't the best I've made. And Kitchen Monkey only posts the best. I'll make it again sometime this year, and if I get it right I'll take the trouble to post the recipe then.

I will, however, post this picture of swans I carved out of apples. I saw this in a Jacques Pepin cookbook, and yes, I'm aware that it's ridiculous.

Finally, the missus made an extremely delicious Baci Tart, seen below. Those are hazelnuts, in case you're wondering. Perhaps she'd care to post the recipe in the comment section?