Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chestnut Flour Ravioli with Chèvre + Artichoke in Parmesan Pea Broth {gluten-free}

Gluten-free chestnut flour makes the most outrageously earthy-sweet egg noodles. We filled these ravioli with sauteed baby artichoke hearts and chèvre and bathed them in an herbaceous parmesan pea broth flecked with fresh herbs. And we made a video!

Last month I had the pleasure of attending a pop-up meal hosted by two of the most talented cooks I know, Sarah of Snixy Kitchen and Phi of Princess Tofu. Through Feastly, the two ladies created a spectacular meal based on alternative grains and flours blended with Japanese cuisine. 

The meal began with cups of popcorn coated in miso butter, a bit of Ichimi Togarashi chile powder for kick, and strips of smoked nori. We moved on to a pomelo-mizuna salad dressed in sesame-miso vinaigrette and served on large wild rice crackers with tiny quail eggs, then bowls laden with hand-cut chestnut flour pasta bathed in dashi broth and topped with a deep-fried wedge of celery root, sous vide egg, and crispy enoki mushrooms. There was the most delicious miso soup I've ever had, tiny bites of adzuki bean tofu topped with sesame and scallions, and 7 or 8 different varieties of pickles which I wanted to hoard all to myself. 

Just when we were sure we couldn't take any more, dessert was served. Luckily, I have a separate dessert stomach, and the silky pine nut pudding served with chewy mochi and a crunchy kinako-puffed millet crumble went down easy. To wash it all down, we drank gen mai cha green tea flavored with toasted rice and these matcha pepita cookies. As a bonus, I got to hang out with one of my favorite bloggers, Jessica of Thread and Bones. She and her sweetie recently founded the wedding photography duo Ritual Photo Work where they take fabulously unique and intimate captures. (Also, they have an orange cat.)

I've included a slideshow of the meal at the end of this post. Many thanks to Phi, Sarah and Feastly for the amazing meal – it was an evening to remember. 

Sarah and I were especially enamored of the chestnut pasta, which had a surprisingly soft texture and sweet taste. We wanted more! So we got out the pasta roller, broke some eggs, and spent the day kneading, rolling, and filling. I had the bright idea to pair the pasta with artichokes, which is not only Sarah's favorite vegetable, logo, and name of her orange tabby, but has an assertive flavor that we reckoned would play well with the sweet chestnut flour pasta.

We managed to score some baby chokes at the acclaimed Monterey Market. It had been several years since I had prepped a baby artichoke, and I learned the hard way the reason for cutting off the spiky ends before peeling away the leaves. A spike lodged itself in my thumb and remained there for hours before I made Sarah help me dig it out with a needle. Don't make the same mistake I did! Cut off your artichoke ends first. (Or, you know, start with frozen artichoke hearts and skip the drama altogether. I mean, you're making freaking pasta from scratch; you deserve it.)

Anyway, after the pesky little artichokes were dealt with and my career as a creepy hand model forsaken, we sauteed the little buggers up with green garlic, olive oil and white wine which we mixed with goat cheese, parmesan and tarragon to make the filling. When the ravioli were filled and cooked, we doused them in a quick parmesan broth made from the vegetable trimmings and studded with freshly shelled peas. We topped the bowls with chopped chives, tarragon and chervil, and gave them a crown of enoki mushrooms crisped in olive oil in the oven.

I loved watching Sarah expertly fill and cut the ravioli. That gal is a pro! After a day of shopping, cooking, and shooting, we gratefully sat down to bowls of steamy pasta. Food never tasted better.

The earthy pasta and cheesy filling offset with fresh spring produce makes a nourishing dish for this winter-to-spring transition. But this is definitely a project for when you want to spend some time fussing in the kitchen. However, there are many ways to cheat if you're short on time. You can use pre-made fresh pasta sheets, frozen artichoke hearts and/or peas, and you could add parmesan rinds to a good vegetable stock instead of making your own. Either way, having a buddy to help (and the rest of that bottle of wine) makes the process fly by. 


All images were taken in collaboration with Sarah of Snixy Kitchen. See her post for the pasta recipe and her account of our day. Check out our video above and let us know what you think! You can watch our first video collaboration, How to Sushi, here. 

Also! Here's a slideshow of Sarah and Phi's amazing feast:


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Pasta primer:

Chestnut Flour Ravioli with Chèvre + Artichoke in Parmesan Pea Broth {gluten-free}

Allow yourself a good few hours to make this dish. You'll need to make pasta, prep artichokes, shell peas, make a quick stock from the vegetable trimmings, and fill the pasta. Pour yourself a glass of wine, put on some good tunes, and go to town. If you can't find baby artichokes, you can use jarred or frozen artichoke hearts; you'll need 1 3/4 cups diced. See Sarah's post for the pasta recipe and ravioli filling and cooking instructions. 

Makes 4 servings

8 cups water
2 cups English pea pods, chopped
2 cups green garlic leaves, chopped
4 parmesan rinds (about 2x4" each)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shelled English peas (from 1 generous pound English peas in their pods)
1 tablespoon olive oil

12 baby artichokes (3-4" long)
1 lemon, halved and juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped green garlic (white and light green parts only, from 2 medium stalks)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) dry white wine
1/2 cup (120 ml) parmesan broth (above)
1 1/3 cups (6 ounces / 170 grams) crumbled soft fresh chèvre
3/4 cup (3 ounces / 85 grams) grated parmesan
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves

For finishing:
finely grated parmesan
2 tablespoons each chopped tarragon, chervil, and chives
1 batch crispy enoki mushrooms

Make the broth:
In a large pot, combine the water, pea pods, green leaves from the green garlic, and parmesan rinds. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Stir in the salt, then strain the stock into a large bowl, leaving behind any sand that may be hanging out on the bottom of the pan and pressing on the solids to get out all the good stuff. Return the stock to the (rinsed, if sandy) pot. When ready to serve, return the stock to a simmer. Add the peas and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, 1-2 minutes.

Make the filling:
Fill a medium-sized bowl with cool water and add the lemon juice and spent lemon halves. Prepare the artichokes by cutting off the top inch of leaves. Snap off the dark green leaves until you get to the tender, yellow center leaves in the center. Trim away the green parts of the stem and body. Cut the artichoke in half and use a small spoon to remove any fuzzy choke and/or spiky leaves from the center. As you work, drop the artichoke halves into the bowl of lemon water to prevent them from oxidizing. When all of the artichokes are prepared, remove them from the water and chop into a half-inch dice. You should have about 1 3/4 cups of chopped artichoke.

Heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add the green garlic and artichokes and sauté until slightly caramelized, stirring frequently, 5 minutes. Add the wine and continue cooking until the liquid has reduced. Add the stock and cook, stirring, until the pan is dry and the artichoke is tender, 10-15 more minutes, adding more stock if the vegetables start to stick. Stir in the salt. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

When the artichoke mixture is cool, place it in a medium-sized bowl and stir in the chèvre, grated parmesan, and tarragon. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt or tarragon if you feel it needs it.

Fill and cook the ravioli. 

Finish the ravioli:
Divide the ravioli among 4 shallow bowls. Ladle the broth and peas over the ravioli. Top with a generous grating of fresh parmesan, a good sprinkling of herbs, and a bunch of crispy enoki mushrooms. Enjoy immediately.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Matcha Mint Chip Ice Cream

Matcha green tea and fresh mint marry bittersweet chocolate in this homemade ice cream recipe.

*Many thanks to my fabulous friends at Vermeulen & Co. for sponsoring the site this month! These gals make the most exquisite vintage-inspired clothing from eco-friendly fabrics in Oakland, California. Show them some love and peruse their delicious pieces here.*

When people complain about having lovely herbs like mint and lemon balm overtaking their gardens, I want to hit them. With no outdoor space save a 1-foot-square fire escape, and no gardening talent to speak of, I often dream of tending a lush garden filled with edibles that actually grow rather than getting savaged by aphids and dying. It's a bit like that pesky friend who complains that she "just can't seem to gain weight" and wolfs down a plate of nachos and a large pizza in front of you while you pick at a salad and stare angrily at her CGI-like waistline. But unlike the effortlessly thin, green-thumbed friends can actually serve a purpose other than to simply annoy the crap out of you. 

Case in point, my buddy Calvaleigh, creator of the best cocktail in existence, sent us home with a giant bag of Moroccan mint that is currently taking over her enviable vegetable garden. We've been using the sprigs to garnish Mumbai Mules, to steep into Matcha Mint Juleps, and to blend into this, our new favorite ice cream.

I'm a long time fan of matcha ice cream, with its silky texture and bright green notes with a hint of bitterness, and mint chip is an all-time favorite of both mine and Jay's. Inspired by a couple of scoops enjoyed from Bi-Rite, I decided to combine the two. Enzo kindly sent me half a pound (!!) of the green stuff, so I churned some up into this ice cream. (And gave a bunch to Sarah who is a matcha maven!)

To incorporate the mint, I use a technique I learned during my pastry chef days wherein the mint is blanched, shocked, squeezed, and blended into the base. This delivers maximum color and flavor. Scribbling the chocolate into layers of ice cream results in pleasantly uneven chips that shatter and crunch before melting into chocolatey bliss. I have David Lebovitz to thank for this method. 

Matcha pairs well with both mint and chocolate, and this dessert strikes a nice balance of the three.  A touch of peppermint extract sharpens the mint notes bringing it up to the same level as the matcha. I like the freshness that mint adds to rich ice cream, and matcha's slight bitterness blends beautifully, all offset by earthy bittersweet chocolate. We can't keep our spoons out of the ice cream jar when this stuff is around.

Ice cream takes a bit of planning ahead, but once you get going, it's actually one of the more simple desserts to prepare. Homemade ice cream is always tastier than the store-bought stuff – denser and less sweet – and the sky's the limit in terms of flavor options. I can't imagine life without an ice cream maker. If you're on the hunt, I really like my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer attachment.

I love how the interwebs get overtaken by green and boozy treats for the holiday tomorrow, so here are some favorites from the archives appropriate for St. Patrick's Day. Cheers!

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Screaming for:
Black Sesame + Dark Milk Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Smoked Cardamom Ice Cream + Salty Honey Caramel Swirl
Chocolate Mint Chip Ice Cream

One year ago:
Miso-Roasted Asparagus and Pickled Carrot Sushi Bowls
Five years ago:

Matcha Mint Chip Ice Cream

Ice cream is simple to make, but do allow yourself several hours for chilling various stages of this recipe; most of the time is hands-off. Matcha comes in different grades, and the less expensive stuff intended for cooking and baking works fine here. Peppermint extracts can vary in strength so you may wish to add it drop by drop to taste if using a different brand. To churn the ice cream, I'm fond of my Kitchen Aid stand mixer ice cream making attachment, available here

Makes about 1 quart

1 1/2 cups (350 ml) heavy cream
4 teaspoons matcha (green tea powder)
1 cup (235 ml) whole milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces / 50 grams) organic blonde cane sugar
pinch salt
leaves from 1 large bunch mint (1 cup packed)
1/4 teaspoon natural peppermint flavor (such as Frontier)
4 ounces (115 grams) bittersweet chocolate (60-70% cacao mass), chopped

In a large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and matcha until combined (it's ok if it's lumpy – we'll smooth it out later). 

Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk in the sugar and salt until combined. Heat the milk in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan until hot and steamy, swirling occasionally. Whisking constantly, slowly add the hot milk to the egg mixture. Return the pot to the stove and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a flexible heat-proof spatula, until the custard begins to "stick" to (form a film on) the bottom of the pot and/or registers 170ºF on an instant read thermometer. Immediately pour the custard into the cold matcha-y cream to stop the cooking. Cover and chill until cold, 2-4 hours or overnight. 

When the custard is cold, bring a small kettle of water to a boil. Fill a medium bowl partway with ice and cool water and place the mint leaves in a strainer. When the water comes to a boil, pour the water over the mint to wilt it, and immediately plunge the wilted leaves into the ice bath. Drain the mint and squeeze dry. 

Place the wilted and dried mint leaves in a blender and add half of the ice cream base. Blend until very smooth, gradually adding the rest of the base. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing on the solids to extract all the good stuff. Chill the mixture again until very cold, 1-2 hours and up to overnight. 

Place a loaf pan or other vessel in the freezer to chill. When the ice cream base is cold, churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. While the ice cream churns, place the chocolate in a small, heatproof bowl set over a small pot of steaming (not simmering) water. Stir until just melted and let cool slightly. The chocolate should be cool but drizzleable by the time the ice cream is done churning. 

Remove the loaf pan from the freezer and drizzle some of the melted chocolate over the bottom and sides. Spread 1/3 of the ice cream over the chocolate, and drizzle with more chocolate. Repeat until you've used up all the ice cream and chocolate, then freeze until, well, frozen, a few hours. When firm, scoop and serve! 

Store the ice cream tightly covered and with parchment paper pressed directly onto the surface to discourage ice crystals from forming. Enjoy within a month or so. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Multi-Grain Nut + Seed Bread (gluten-free + vegan)

This gluten-free, vegan bread recipe uses no leavening, and it bakes up into a dense, toothsome loaf that makes killer toast. Easy peasy and über-healthy, what's not to love?

My holistic chiropractor, Ann Brinkley, is always on at me to eat more protein. "What did you have for breakfast today?" she'll ask as she digs her thumbs viciously into my IT band. I'd always answer, "a smoothie" or "fruit with yogurt and granola" or "cake", knowing she'd never be satisfied with my answer.

Then I made Josey Baker's Adventure Bread. In fact, I made it six times. I ate it every morning. Knowing that it was waiting to be sliced, toasted, and topped with cream cheese, avocado and sprouts was what got me out of bed some mornings. This time, I was ready when Ann asked after my breakfast. 

"I've been making this bread that's all nuts and seeds. It's really healthy. So I had a slice of that with cream cheese and avocado." She gave a noncommittal grunt, and I could imagine her picturing conventional "whole wheat" bread with a smattering of seeds in a matrix of refined white flour, and subsequently praying for my blood sugar level. I considered trying to convince her, but thought better of arguing with a woman who was about to crack my neck. 

So I just went about my adventure bread baking quietly. Sometimes I'd use olive oil, sometimes coconut. Honey in place of maple syrup. Or I'd add some pumpkin puree or play with the seed combo. But my favorite addition was a smattering of buckwheat groats and millet seeds. The millet adds crunch, and some bites leave you with buckwheat's deep flavor to which I'm kind of addicted. I think it's fair to say that I'm addicted to this bread as well. It's got a lovely, nubby texture that you can really sink your teeth into, and toasting it yields a crunchy crust. The flavor is mild enough to go with whatever sweet or savory toppings you like. 

This bread has quite the pedigree. Josey Baker is the founder of The Mill, home to the infamous thick slabs of toast made from house-milled grains. He adapted his adventure bread from Sarah Britton's Life-Changing Loaf of Bread which, I must say, quite lives up to its name. I've seen this type of bread popping up at various places around town, such as at a tasting of Seed + Salt that I went to with Phi and Sarah, and served with smoked onions, sauerkraut and goat cheese at Verbena. Once you try it,  I wager you'll be hooked, too. (I'm looking forward to trying the crackers of the same name, too!)

A month or two later, Ann told me she was on a cleanse that forbade gluten, dairy and eggs. I again sang the praises of Adventure Bread and this time, she was all ears. The following week she enthused, "I LOVE that adventure bread. I've made it six times!"

After the initial trip to the co-op to stock up on psyllium husks, nuts, seeds, and grains, this loaf comes together in no time. Letting it hang out in the pan prior to baking helps to hydrate the grains and nuts, making for a more cohesive loaf, but the time is completely hands-off.

I hope this bread is as lovely an addition to your routine as it has been to ours. If you give it a go, I'd love to hear about it!

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Bread Heads:
Thin + Crisp Gluten-Free Pizza Dough

One year ago:
Rye Flour Pains au Chocolat
Two years ago:
Three years ago:
Four years ago:
Five years ago:

Multi-Grain Nut + Seed Bread (gluten-free + vegan)

Be sure to source certified gluten-free ingredients (especially oats) if you or your bread-eaters are highly sensitive. Feel free to trade the maple syrup for honey, the coconut oil for olive or sunflower. Sarah answers a lot of substitution questions in her post, so check it out if you have some! I like this bread best toasted and slathered with cream cheese, avocado, red onion, sprouts, and lox if I'm feeling festive, but go wild with your favorite toast toppings. I've got my eye on this kimchi grilled cheese from Karen at Honestly Yum (and the corresponding cocktail [!] by Todd).

Makes 1 (8x4" or 9x5" loaf)

1 cup (5 ounces / 145 grams) sunflower seeds
1 cup (3.5 ounces / 100 grams) sliced almonds
1/3 cup (2 ounces / 60 grams) buckwheat groats
1/3 cup (2 ounces / 60 grams) millet seed
2 1/4 cups (6.75 ounces / 195 grams) GF old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup (3 ounces / 85 grams) flax seed
1/3 cup (1 ounce / 30 grams) psyllium husk
1/4 cup (1.25 ounces / 35 grams) chia seed
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 tablespoons (1.25 ounces by weight / 40 grams) maple syrup
1/4 cup (1.5 ounces by weight / 45 grams) coconut oil, melted (or olive oil)
2 3/4 cups water

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325ºF.

Spread the sunflower seeds, almonds, buckwheat groats, and millet seed on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven until golden and fragrant, 8-12 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the oats, flax seed, psyllium husk, chia seed, and salt. When the sunflower seed mixture has toasted, add it to the bowl and stir to combine. Add the maple syrup, melted coconut oil, and water, and stir to combine well, using your hands if need be. 

Line a loaf pan (8x4 or 9x5") on all sides with parchment paper. Scrape the dough into the pan and use damp fingers to smooth the top, creating a slight dome. Cover the dough and let sit at room temperature at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours. 

When ready to bake, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400ºF. Uncover the bread and bake until deeply bronzed, about 1 1/2 hours (but check it at 1 1/4 hours). Remove the bread from the oven and let cool completely, at least 2 hours, then remove from the pan and discard the parchment. 

The bread keeps well, refrigerated airtight, for up to a week or even two. Slice and toast for best results.