Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Recipe simplifies squash ravioli


The Saucy Cook

By Mary Jo Spiegel
Enquirer contributor

I'm watching a cooking show where the chef answers a viewer's question: "How do I baste a turkey?"

The chef points out you don't really need to baste. But he doesn't stop there. Oh, no, that would be too easy.

Instead, he suggests making an elaborate paste of mushrooms and foie gras to gently pipe (preferably in some sort of a design) under the turkey's skin.

Well, yeah. Because if you're asking about basting, chances are using the pastry bag is second nature. And cooking should be made as complicated as possible, right?

Now, Diane Hahn is looking to make squash ravioli like Palomino's used to serve. Everyone from Emeril to Martha has a recipe posted. So, go ahead, make pasta from scratch.

But if time is one ingredient you're short on, try this appetizer or side-dish version from the Last Supper Club Restaurant in San Francisco. Feel free to substitute pumpkin, and if you're really short on time but want the ravioli flavor, skip the wontons, cook and cube the squash, then toss in a skillet with the other ingredients until heated through and serve over pasta with some cookies and Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

1 medium butternut squash (about 3 pounds)

1/4 cup crumbled amaretti cookies (or amaretto biscotti in the natural food section)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

48 wonton wrappers (look in refrigerator case)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 stick butter

20 fresh sage leaves

Split squash lengthwise, remove seeds. Place squash skin side up in baking dish, bake at 400 degrees 45 minutes, or until squash is fork tender. Let cool, then scoop out 3 cups squash and place in food processor with cookies, Parmesan and salt. Pulse until combined and smooth. Place 1 tablespoon squash mixture in center of wonton wrapper. Moisten wrapper edges with water using fingers or pastry brush. Place another wrapper on top to cover filling, press edges to seal. Repeat with remaining wrappers. Trim edges if necessary.

Cook ravioli by heating olive oil and butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Add ravioli and sage leaves. (There should be just one layer of ravioli in pan.) Ravioli will puff as they cook. When edges brown, turn and brown other side. Transfer ravioli to bowl, sprinkle with Parmesan before serving. Makes 24 ravioli.

• Jodi Treadon in Wyoming wants a spinach artichoke dip like Glendale Gaslight Cafe's, and Marlene Mohr in Anderson Township offers chef Steve Schlimm's version as served at Longworth's.

Longworth's Spinach Artichoke Dip

1/2 to 3/4 pound fresh spinach, stemmed, washed and dried

1 small onion, peeled and quartered

2 to 3 cans artichoke hearts, drained (about 15 hearts)

1/2 pound shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 pound shredded Monterey jack cheese

1 cup sour cream

1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tablespoon Tabasco sauce

Dash garlic powder, salt and pepper

Place spinach, onion and artichoke hearts in food processor and pulse until roughly pureed. Pour into slow-cooker bowl, then fold in remaining ingredients. Warm in slow cooker until cheese melts and serve with crackers, bread or pita chips. Makes about 10 servings.

• Here's a tip from Lillian Cooper in Bethel: When taking bread out of the freezer to thaw, pop a paper towel in the bag to prevent the bread from turning soggy.

Send food questions, tips, recipe requests and recipes to Saucy Cook, the Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202. E-mail: maryjo@saucycook.com. Include name, neighborhood, e-mail and phone number.




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