Friday, March 13, 2009

Eating Down the Fridge, Day 4: Feta-hazelnut ravioli with brown butter alfredo and sage

EDtF, Day 4.

Fatigue has officially set in, and I am embarrassed. At a glance, this week is little different from any other week. I feed myself, occasionally others, from my acquired grocery bounty. The only difference is that I did not go grocery shopping this week. And was forced to confront old, possibly freezer burnt, neglected, lost ingredient souls.

While not exactly depressing, it has weighed on my mind. Coupled with an inordinately stressful week, at this point I'm nearly ready to fall to my knees and beg for a dinner out.

(Which will happen on Saturday. Scheduled pre-EDtF. Nona Mia here I come.)

The selection for Thursday evening was Feta-Hazelnut Ravioli (with butternut squash) from Rising Moon Organics. It had been in my freezer since 2007. At least. There was also some Wild Chanterelle Mushroom ravioli, but that I knew that a late 2008 purchase. Perhaps next week.

Not content to serve ravioli with a marinara sauce as I usually do, I decided to make an alfredo sauce. No, a brown butter sauce! With sage. Yes. Excellent. And I had some spring mix for a simple salad.

I assemble my ingredients and, while I have a working knowledge of brown butter and alfredo, I consult Bittman. The section on brown butter is incredibly unhelpful, but it is a straightforward method: melt butter on medium heat, scraping down the sides with a spatula until the foam subsides and the butter darkens to nut brown. Season to taste.

Easy, right?

It was a friggin disaster. I ended up with excessively browned butter, speckled with black flecks and an acrid smell in my kitchen. And I burnt myself. Twice. I think it had something to do with the pan.

By this time the ravioli is cooked.

I start to make an alfredo sauce. No cream. 1/2 a cup of whole milk will have to do. 2 eggs. 1 cup of Parmesan. Again, Bittman. Had I not been looking at the book, I would have done the following:

Warm cream milk in saucepan.
Beat eggs and add to cream milk.
Add parm a little at a time until melted.
Continue to heat until thickened.

Instead I read what he wrote, which was essentially: Mix everything together in a warm bowl off the heat.

What?

Interjection: Twitter amuses me beyond belief AND is somewhat useful. As I tweeted that I was attempting an alfredo sauce without cream, this came back at me: whatever you do, don't make alfredo with soy milk! very bad eating experience! Noted.

4 bowls, 3 saucepans, 2 sticks of wasted butter, a burned hand and the rest of a block of parmesan later, I had a serviceable alfredo. My kitchen was a mess, parsley was everywhere...

Verdict: Not my finest moment. But there were learnings for which I was grateful. Like don't attempt anything more complex than boiling water when you've had less than 6 hours of sleep per night all week.

TGIF.

See Monday's entry for the updated list of food being used up from my fridge.

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