Since I am a cook, and we are open for Thanksgiving, I work. After, I go to my mom’s for dinner. We have a pretty basic Thanksgiving dinner. Of course I am also on a gluten-free diet, which complicates things a bit. Amy’s family has Thanksgiving dinner while I am at work, and she comes to our dinner late. It works out well enough. I don’t get to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner of my own, but I try to cook something that feels nice and fall-like. This year I decided to take a shot at gluten-free butternut squash ravioli, and a sage beurre blanc. This was the second time I have made pasta, and the first time gluten-free.
The first thing I did was start with the filling for my ravioli.
1 small butternut squash cut into cubes, and seeded
2 thin slices of guanciale(I used less than a slice of bacon. Use pancetta if you don’t have guanciale.) finely diced (optional)
1/2 small onion, finely dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 TBSP herbes de provence
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup shredded asiago cheese
Start with the squash. Cut off the top and the bottom, then cut the neck off. Cut the neck into one inch cubes, and quarter the bottom, seed it, and cut into one inch cubes. Toss with a little oil, and salt and pepper, and roast it until it is softened and brown. Let it cool for a few minutes, and pull the skins off. This will be easy.Next I heated a skillet, and added a little oil, and then the guanciale to render it. Once it had started to brown a bit I added the garlic and onion. Once the onion had become a bit transparent I added the squash, and herbes de provence, and a little bit of salt. Next I transfered everything to my food processor, and pureed it in batches. I added part of the asiago with each batch. Once I was done I put this in the fridge to cool before I filled the ravioli. If you want to make this vegetarian the only change you would have to make is skip the guanciale, and just saute the onions and garlic in a little oil.
Pasta is a fairly simple thing. With wheat flour it can be as simple as flour, eggs and salt. The time I made lasagna noodles by hand that is what I did. With gluten-free flours it is a bit more involved, but only because you need xanthan gum! I used the four flour bean mix from the Gluten-Free Gourmet by Bette Hagman, but I would imagine any good flour blend would work well. This is a variation of her bean pasta recipe. It worked well. In the case of gluten-free pasta we have an advantage. We don’t have to spend a long time kneading to develop gluten, and the dough doesn’t have to rest before it can be worked, and we also don’t have to worry about overworking the gluten.
1 cup flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 TBSP oil
2 large eggs
That is all it takes. Combine the dry ingredients, whisk the eggs and oil together, and combine, and mix until a ball forms. I had to add a little water to make it all come together, but it was maybe a tablespoon. Kneed for a few minutes on a counter dusted with cornstarch, or you can do what I did. I worked on a piece of parchment, and then rolled it out between a second piece. This allowed me to cut down on the mess in my small kitchen! If you have a pasta maker you could use that, a rolling pin would work well, and if all else fails, improvise! An empty wine bottle would work just fine. I rolled my dough out as thin as I thought I needed it. (I was a little off! Oops, next time I do this they will be a bit thinner!)Add a small amount of filling to the center of the ravioli. In the picture above I have the right amount of filling. When you are ready to top the ravioli with the top dough a small amount of watter along the edge will help them stick together. Pinch the edges together, and set aside. Make sure you have a pot of boiling, salted water ready.
Now, we need to make the sauce. Beurre blanc is literally white butter. It is a simple sauce, but brings a lot of flavor! Start with white wine, and cider vinegar, in equal amounts. I started with 1/2 cup total, and a tablespoon of finely diced onion (shallots would be more traditional, but this worked fine.) and a little fresh ground pepper. Reduce the liquid au sec, add a half dozen torn up leaves of fresh sage, and then whisk in room temperature butter. I used a bit less butter than would traditionally be used. I used a quarter pound of butter, to make a lighter sauce rather than the half pound that should have been used in a traditional beurre blanc. It was still a nice sauce, and tasted great. While you are working on the sauce, boil your pasta for about 7 minutes, and serve hot, topped with the sage beurre blanc! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Pizza is one of the things that I have been on a quest for for a while. I have tried various local pizza places, and several of them are doing a pretty good job with gluten-free pizza. It’s not the super thin crust that I grew up on in St Louis, but it is still pretty tasty. The downside for me is the cost. The amount of money you have to spend to get what is a small pizza is pretty outrageous. Sometimes, it is nice to be able to go out for pizza, but other times it is just not feasible. I used to eat frozen pizza as a quick meal when I didn’t feel like cooking anything. There are a few frozen gluten-free pizzas out there, but I really haven’t tried any of them. They are just too expensive for a frozen pizza.
I have tried a couple of pre-made pizza shells, and have found that they give me the speed, and convenience of a frozen pizza, but also give me a lot more flexibility, and are less expensive than the ready to cook frozen pizzas. So far the ones that I found that I like best are made by Udi’s Gluten Free Foods. I try to keep a couple of the shells in the freezer. At the end of a long day I can make myself a pizza, and enjoy. I obviously keep some cheese, and tomato sauce on hand for these occasions! Normally I just make a cheese pizza, and am pretty happy with that. My preference when I order a pizza was and still is italian sausage. The fennel seeds really work for me. I just don’t have that on hand most of the time.
At the moment what I do have is guanciale, which is a Roman jowl bacon. It is cured with red pepper flakes, brown sugar, black pepper, and rosemary(it is not smoked). It was made by a place called Salume Beddu. (I also picked up a piece of lardo there as well.) Since it is cured you can actually eat it without cooking it. I’ve been looking at it for a little while, and tonight I decided that I would make a pizza and the guanciale would be on it.
I pre-heated the oven to 400 degrees, and left it alone for a while. I have a pizza stone, and that needs to be hot. The extra time it takes is worth it. The stone gets good and hot, and make the crust nice and crispy! I got the shell out of the freezer, added sauce and cheese, and thinly sliced the guanciale, and then cut it into strips. Then added that to the pizza as well. I put the pizzas on foil so I can easily slide them in and out of the oven. After ten minutes, the pizza was done! I have to say the guanciale was well worth the extra few seconds! It tasted similar to bacon, but with a slight twist! I’m would guess that the big difference from bacon is the lack of smoke and the rosemary.
From what I understand, guanciale is hard to find. If you can’t find any, your best bet is probably pancetta. Try it some time! I have more to do with the guanciale, so keep an eye out for bucatini all’amatricianna. Except I won’t use the right pasta. I’ll sub something that will be appropriate though.