Tuesday, June 23, 2009

California BLTs, Cheese Danish, and Green-Chile Ravioli

There is a huge lapse in food blogging over the last month or so. And no, I haven't just given up cooking. I've just been dealing with a crazy preschooler who doesn't have school again until September (whose bright idea was it for preschool to end at the end of May?!) and a toddler who can't be trusted anymore (as in, will climb the furniture and start scribbling on whatever is available with whatever is available). So I'm taking a moment while the kiddos are watching Blue's Clues to update.

I made two tasty Ina Garten creations and one Cooking Light creation for Father's Day. For lunch, we had my in-laws over and had California BLTs and cheese danish (Jonathan's favorite). Then, for dinner, we had a very interesting and tasty concoction called Green-Chile Ravioli. It was from a Cooking Light Pasta cookbook that my mother-in-law had but didn't think she'd use. I feel like I won the lottery with this one. Not only do I love pasta dishes, but Cooking Light has recently become one of my favorite resources for recipes.

We had had the California BLTs before, so they were a known entity, but the cheese danish was a new recipe. But since it was called "Easy Cheese Danish", I figured I couldn't really go wrong. And I was right. It was simple and delicious! Jonathan was very pleased.

I was very pleased with dinner. I figured it couldn't be bad, given the ingredients, but I had never tried using won ton wrappers before, so I was a little nervous. But it came out great! And the flavors were not only great but nice and light too. Oh, and it makes much more than the recipe says it does. Which meant that I used one pan for sautéing and another for finishing the cooking in the chicken broth. A bit labor-intensive and a bit more dishes than my preferred one-pot meals, but really worth it.

Overall, I think Father's Day was a success. I wish a happy one to the best daddy out there -- my husband.

California BLTs
A variation on this recipe by Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa)

6 thick-cut slices smoked bacon
4 slices good bread
4 tablespoons good mayonnaise
4 to 8 tender green lettuce leaves, washed and spun very dry
1 ripe Hass avocado
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 large ripe tomato, sliced 1/2-inch thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Place a baking wire rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon on the rack in a single layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Place 2 slices of bread on a cutting board. Spread each slice with about 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise. Cover the slices with a layer of lettuce. Peel the avocado and slice it 1/2-inch thick. Toss the avocado slices gently with the lemon juice, and arrange on top of the lettuce leaves. Place 3 slices of bacon on top of each sandwich and then add a layer of tomato slices on top of the bacon. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Spread each of the remaining 2 slices of bread with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise and place, mayonnaise side down, on the sandwiches. Cut in half and serve.


Easy Cheese Danish
A variation on this recipe by Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa)

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream them together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don't whip!

Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it's a 10 by 10-inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters with a sharp knife. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold 2 opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.

Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.


Green-Chile Ravioli
Courtesy of Cooking Light

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Mexican blend cheese
1/4 cup minced green onions
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, undrained
1 large egg white
1 package won ton wrappers
Cooking spray
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

To prepare ravioli, combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Working with 1 won ton wrapper at a time (cover the remaining wrappers with a damp towel to keep from drying), spoon about 1 tablespoon green chile mixture into the center of each wrapper. Brush edges of wrapper with water, and bring 2 opposite corners together. Press the edges together firmly with fingers, forming a triangle. Place the ravioli on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add ravioli, and cook for 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Add broth; cook, covered, 1 minute. Remove ravioli with a slotted spoon. Keep warm.

To prepare the sauce, combine cilantro, vinegar, tomatoes, and black beans in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Spoon sauce over ravioli.