Don’t put off ’til tomorrow what you SHOULD do today!

Tofu Ricotta Manicotti

I do not like manicotti, I really don’t like tomato sauce (except my own), and I don’t like cheese with the exception of smoked Gruyere. So to say that I was not looking forward to the Tofu Ricotta Manicotti assignment is an understatement. But after several days of putting it off, I realized that there have been times in my life where I had to cook things I didn’t like and there will be more…so suck it up. More…

I do not like manicotti, I really don’t like tomato sauce (except my own), and I don’t like cheese with the exception of smoked Gruyere. So to say that I was not looking forward to the Tofu Ricotta Manicotti assignment is an understatement. But after several days of putting it off, I realized that there have been times in my life where I had to cook things I didn’t like and there will be more…so suck it up.

Once I got past my own mental block, I realized that it was not all bad; I was getting to practice my pasta-making skills, got to try a tomato sauce recipe, and use up some cashew bechemel sauce I had left over–and who knows, maybe I will like this vegan version. But because I waited so long, I am getting stressed as there is still so much to do before the class ends. So without further ado, I chose to make single-serve manicotti dishes and grated some veg cheese over the top once out of the oven. I also exchanged the spinach for peas; and it turned out to be a fresh pop and nice textural contrast to the tofu ricotta.

Tofu Ricotta Manicotti

This dish was not one of my favorites, but that is no big surprise, it tastes like the original. So for some, that is great. And while I will not be making this recipe anytime in the near future, I at least know that I have a vegan comfort food dish in my back pocket should I need it. And I am finally done with the pasta unit. Not a moment too soon!

Pasta: Part Deux

udonI have to admit that this turned out to be the most difficult assignment thus far. I actually had to throw out my first attempt at the udon noodles. They just would not come together. I tried adding more water, but didn’t want to end up with a sticky mess either. I thought that if I let it rest it would come together, but after 10 minutes of kneading and 30 minutes of rest, I finally gave up and started over. In the end, I had to add 1/4 of a cup more of water than the instructions called for in my second attempt. The kneading was exhausting, but in the end, the noodles came out and the final dish was really tasty. More…
I chose to skip the second graded assignment in Unit 16 in favor of trying my luck and udon noodles. They taste great and have a certain relaxed look about them.

I have to admit that this turned out to be the most difficult assignment thus far. I actually had to throw out my first attempt at the udon noodles. They just would not come together. I tried adding more water, but didn’t want to end up with a sticky mess either. I thought that if I let it rest it would come together, but after 10 minutes of kneading and 30 minutes of rest, I finally gave up and started over. In the end, I had to add 1/4 of a cup more of water than the instructions called for in my second attempt. The kneading was exhausting, but in the end, the noodles came out and the final dish was really tasty.

udon in process

If I were to make udon noodles again, I might roll them out thinner as I had chosen to go on the thicker side; but everyone else thought they were a nice thickness and the texture was a really nice change from other pastas.

I am almost out of excuses on making the manicotti. Almost!

Yaki Udon

“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”

pasta

Unit 16: Pasta should have been one of my easiest units. I love pasta, I love cooking pasta, and I love making homemade pasta. But like much in life, to guess the future is a fool’s game. This unit is becoming my nemesis in more ways than one! But more on that in future posts. The unit started out well enough with a graded assignment in which I was to choose from a few options of pasta dishes. I chose wild mushroom and truffle oil pasta. More…

Smart man, that Federico Fellini.

Unit 16: Pasta should have been one of my easiest units. I love pasta, I love cooking pasta, and I love making homemade pasta. But like much in life, to guess the future is a fool’s game. This unit is becoming my nemesis in more ways than one! But more on that in future posts.

The unit started out well enough with a graded assignment in which I was to choose from a few options of pasta dishes. I chose wild mushroom and truffle oil pasta.

To cook the dish, I heated a large sauté pan over medium heat. Once to temp, I added the oil, followed by the mushrooms, and seasoned with salt and pepper. I cooked the mushrooms until they released their moisture and started to caramelize. I then added the shallots and cooked for another minute before adding the garlic and sautéing for another 30 seconds or so. My pasta water finally came to a rolling boil at this point and I added the salt and pasta. I then deglazed the pan of mushrooms with the wine and let reduce by about half. Next, I added the stock and let reduce by about a third. I then turned off the heat to the pan while waiting for the pasta to finish cooking. Once the pasta was al dente, I reserved a ladle of the cooking liquid and drained.

#1: Waiting patiently for water to come to a rollling boil #2: Adding pasta to water #3: Pasta cooking #4: Reserving some pasta water

#1: Waiting patiently for water to come to a rollling boil
#2: Adding pasta to water
#3: Pasta cooking
#4: Reserving some pasta water

To finish, I drizzled a bit of truffle oil along with the chives over the mushrooms, tested for seasoning and liked the flavor so no need for additional salt, etc. I then added the drained pasta to the mushroom pan, gently tossed, poured some of the reserved pasta water, tossed again, and served.

pasta

The completed dish was full of flavor. The mushrooms and truffle oil added an amazing earthiness without being over the top. The pasta was perfectly cooked with just enough texture. When cutting the mushrooms, I chose to cut them all in different shapes depending on the variety; this turned out to be a great choice as it allowed each type to have a distinct texture, and surprisingly, flavor.

I will end this post with on the positive of this dish and assignment.