Sunday, November 18, 2012

Decadent Dishes for Dreary Days

Oh my, has it really been eight months since my last post? Yikes! I don't know where the time went. Other things just sort of took over my life lo' these past few months. I've been trying to keep up with all the blogs, and I apologize if I haven't been as consistent at that as I would have liked.  To top it all off, my camera broke! So, I don't have any pics of recent eats to post. These were the last shots I took before my camera died, back in September.

These were taken on a particular weekend when we got our first rain in quite some time. As a good Pacific Northwest native, I was really looking forward to a cozy, rainy weekend after a long stretch of dry weather. It put me in the mood for staying in, lighting candles, drinking a bit of wine, and most of! I decided to make some butternut squash ravioli. Sometimes, you just need ravioli. It's in the same class as lasagne: an imperative of nature that just has to be satisfied.

For the dough, I used my standby pasta recipe from Vegan Dad. It's a great recipe: easy to make, easy to roll out, no bother. I don't have a pasta machine, so I roll the dough out by hand. If you let the dough relax for about 30 - 40 minutes after you combine it, the dough becomes very workable. A granite pastry board or similar is very handy  too, in order to keep the dough from sticking when you roll it out. I also have one of these ravioli molds, which turns ravioli-making into a breeze. If you're inclined to make ravioli, I highly recommend getting one of these:

Here's how it works: 

For the filling, I roasted a butternut squash, peeled it, and then mashed it with sauteed shallot, a bit of vegan margarine, and salt and pepper. It was a simple mixture, but I wanted it that way to highlight the flavor of the roasted squash, which is simply delicious on its own.

What's your favorite winter squash? I'm torn between butternut and delicata, although I like each one for different things.

For the sauce, I sauteed  garlic and diced yellow pepper in olive oil and tossed in some roasted garlic. Then to serve, I topped it with pine nuts, fresh parsley, and a drizzle of cold-pressed olive oil. We also had wilted kale and big green salad...yummy food for a rainy September evening.

I'm not big on desserts, but on this particular weekend, I decided to go all out and bake a pie. I really like to bake; I spent many years working in bakeries while I was in college and afterwards, but these days, I very rarely bake anything. Making a batch of something just seems like too much for two people to eat.

This was a blueberry pie with coconut crumble topping. The dough is your basic 2:1 pastry; two parts flour (by weight) to one part vegan shortening, a pinch of salt and a few tablespoons of cold water to bring it together. After sifting the flour, I like to rub the shortening in with my fingers. This however, warms up the shortening and is not strictly desirable. So, after I've rubbed the shortening into the flour, I put the mixture in the fridge for a while, so it can become nice and cool again before I add the cold water to combine...just my own quirky way of doing things.  Making sure the shortening is cold when you add the water helps produce a tender, flaky crust. Or, at least that's what I've always heard.

The filling was blueberries that I had frozen from the summer, about 1/4 cup sugar, and some corn starch. Then for the topping, I combined coconut spread, rolled oats, unsweetened shredded coconut, and some brown sugar. It had a mild coco-nutty taste from the coconut butter and the dessicated was ok, but I wanted it to turn out crunchier somehow.

Before and after shots:

I thought it would take us a week to polish it off, but we were a bit greedy; it lasted two days. No magical, everlasting desserts around here, I'm afraid.

And finally, meet our newest family member, Barnaby the Bunny:

He's from the animal shelter, and he's been with us for about three months. He's only about nine months old, he's neutered and he's quite a tidy bunny with good litter box habits. He free roams in the kitchen and living room when we're home, and lives in the kitchen at night and when we're not home.

He's very clever, and has learned to come when I call for him.  I got him used to it by giving him a bit of carrot, apple, or strawberry whenever he came into the kitchen. So now, all I have to do is call out "kitchen bunny" and he comes running.

Barney's really a little darling and sits with us on the futon at night when we're watching a video and soaks up pets and gives us bunny kisses. The kitties were afraid of him at first, but now, they've gotten used to him. They still get a little spooked if he comes hopping up to them too quickly, but I'm sure eventually, they'll all snuggle together.

Whenever I open the fridge or bring in the groceries, he runs over to raid the veggies.

Rabbits are the third most surrendered animal at shelters after cats and dogs. Our municipal shelter is full of rabbits right now.  If you're in the Seattle area, and think a rabbit might be a good new addition to your family, head down to the Seattle Animal Shelter and check it out!  And, if you're interested, there's lots of good info about living with house rabbits at the House Rabbit Society.

Sorry, this turned into sort of a long post!

I hope to start posting again soon, whenever I can get my camera situation sorted out, until then...

Ciao for now
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