Home / Essays / 2015 / June

S01E08 The one with the shrimp ravioli

(Steve and Monica leave on the tour and Rachel goes to follow them but Phoebe stops her and drags her into the kitchen.)
Rachel: What's up? Phoebe: (whispers) In the cab, on the way over, Steve blazed up a doobie. Rachel: What?
Phoebe: Smoked a joint? You know, lit a bone? Weed? Hemp? Ganja?
Rachel: OK, OK. I'm with you, Cheech. OK. Do you think it’s going to be cool or…?
Steve: (from the living room) Is it dry in here? (licks his lips)
Rachel: Let me, let me get you some wine!
Monica: Yeah, I think we're ready for our first course. (Steve sits, Monica brings over a tray)
OK, um, these are rock-shrimp ravioli, in a cilantro ponzu sauce... (Steve starts to eat them one by one, quickly)... with just a touch of minced (he finishes)... ginger. 
Steve: Well, smack my ass and call me Judy! These are fantastic! 
Monica: I'm so glad you liked them! 
Steve: Like 'em? I could eat a hundred of them! 
Monica: Oh, well... um, that's all there are of these. But in about eight and a half minutes, we'll be serving some delicious onion tartlets.

This recipe called for rock shrimp, apparently a type of shrimp that tastes lobster-like. I could not find it in my area, so I decided to go loco and replace it with Dublin Bay Prawns. And by loco, I mean local. But, you know, either way. It was almost 12 noon when I arrived in Howth, the place where the fresh fish is. 

Lovely view, sunny day, all seemed well in the world. Little did I know! This day began wonderfully and ended with me in a metaphorical puddle of shit. After buying them crazy prawns, I headed for the store to buy some stuff for the ponzu sauce that I couldn't find at the close-to-home-stores. Here begins a journey that took way longer than expected and that tired the hell out of me. I get home at around 16:00 or something equally ridiculous. I'm hungry, I'm thirsty, I'm peeing my pants! It's late, it's getting cloudy, even though it has been a perfectly sunny day so far. Frustration begins to show its ugly head. I decide to take care of my needs. You know, empty the smallest bladder in the world, drink some water, eat a sandwich. Gather some energy and get this mission on the road! 

I barely get to take a first bite out of that sandwich, when I receive the lovely news that instead of a package from back home, we'll be getting a mother from back home. My boyfriend's mother. At 1 a clock at night. I absolutely adore impromptu, unannounced visits in the middle of the night! Understandably, I was bursting with excitement and anticipation of what the busy, overwhelming week before we leave for Italy will be. I got so absolutely exhausted by the mere thought of this great surprise, I had to lie down for half an hour. You know, so that I could bask in the utter joy! Take it all in baby! The silence, the peace, the freedom. It's all so precious when you're about to lose it. Breathe in, breathe out. Gooosfraaabaaa!

And if not,

L040951

I slowly begin to measure ingredients and try to get my head in the game.

Things and stuff:

Rolling pin, pastry cutter/ pizza cutter/ your teeth (!), a couple of bowls, lil' ol' spoon, a pan, pot, nothing fancy.

It was this big:

450 gr. pasta dough/14 ravioli (fat ones), a big ass bowl of shrimp filling (I still had about 3 tablespoons left), and way too much sauce for this amount of ravioli (half the quantities if you don't want leftover sauce).

It took this long:

Forever. Peeling – half of my life, preparing the shrimp filling – 10 min, making the pasta dough – 20 min (first stage), 30 min in the fridge and then... 40 min. to convince it to be thin (damn society) and shape it, 5 min for the sauce, 7-10 min to boil the ravioli. About 1h and 30-40 min . Depends on how fast you peel them fuckers. Or maybe buy them all done and ready. I did not have that option.

Ingredients and quantities

The Process 

THE PRAWN FILLING

Pre-step: First play with your prawns. Arrange them as if they are racing each other. All the while listen to Townes Van Zandt - Shrimp Song. Trust me. It's just silly enough to work.

Step 1: Release the prawns from their bitchy armour. Peel them. This proved especially long. And hard. Get your mind out of the gutter. At the end of this process my hands were red and my heart was thirsty for revenge. Pain has been inflicted on me and I wanted to inflict it right back. Don't do it, the prawn is stronger then you. Or least more equipped. I looked up the official method to tame these armed bastards. I even made a video for you to witness my suffering.

What is supposed to happen: The shell has 6 individual segments. The objective is to hold 3 segments between each thumb and index finger and then we take the tail and twist it and break the join at each side of the shell. Then turn the langoustine belly up and with the thumb of your right hand push the meat forward, grip the shell, pull the tail out of the shell, trying to leave the vein connected to said shell (must de-vein them because eew). Then we need to remove what's left. It's supposed to just come off easily. Did not work for me.

Notice how methodical and clean the first part of the process is. Notice how I completely lose it by the end and go ham on it. Ouch, you cute pink motherfucker. Ouch.

Step 2: Finely chop them.

Step 3: Mix in a bowl with the ginger, green garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and basil.

Step 4: Shallow fry them. Pan, a bit of olive oil, hot flame, 2 min. Just so that they are not raw, but not completely cooked either. That's done! Set it aside.

PASTA DOUGH

Learn from my mistakes, I certainly try to.

 A. 00 flour is the best for the job. I didn't have it in the house, tried it with normal flour and ended up with a hard disk of non-cooperative lump. Had to go hunting for the last 00 flour at the Italian place and re-do it. That's how bad it was.

B. Patience and endurance. It takes time and muscle to get those sheets thin without a pasta machine. So be ready to pay with sweat and tears. I did.

Step 1: Sift the flour onto a work surface, forming it into a volcano-shaped-mound with a well in the centre. Like so: 

Step 2: Break the eggs into the centre. Add salt.


Step 3: Poke the yolk to release them. Incorporate the eggs into the flour with yo' lovin' hands, gradually drawing the flour into the egg mixture. 

If the mixture is too soft or sticky, add a bit more flour. Before kneading the dough clean you work surface and your hands.

Step 4: Lightly flour the surface and start to knead with the heel of one hand. Work it for 10-15 min until smooth (Jamie Foxx smooth) and elastic (Mr. Fantastic?)

Step 5: Wrap it in cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for 30 min. 

Step 6: Start rolling, babe! Lightly flour you working area (yes, again!) and gently roll out the dough. Roll it till about 3 mm thick (or at least aim for that). 

Step 6: Cut the edges to make them nice and even. 

Step 7: Put heaped teaspoons of the filling near one of the edges. Not too near the edge, just not really in the middle.

Step 8: Now fold it over. Press gently with your fingers all around the filling to seal the ravioli shapes without air bubbles.

Step 9: Cut the pasta into squares. Or aim for that. Cover them with a tea towel while you do the rest, to avoid them getting dry and unmanageable. Like some people. 

Step 10 : Cook the pasta in salted boiling water. If they are the right thickness it shoud take 5 min. Mine were thicker, so it took about 7-8 min.

THE SAUCE

Step 1: Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix. The end. 

Will the original Ponzu sauce please stand up? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponzu. 

Ladies and gentleman, I presesnt to you Shrimp Ravioli with ponzu sauce and a touch of ginger:

Feedback: Making pasta is not as easy as advertised. At least not for a first-timer. I must keep at it, try different recipes and get a sense of what the proper consistency is. So to sum it up, not easy, not fast. Delicious. But not sure it was worth all the blood and tears. The pasta was not thin enough, and I could feel that around the edges of the ravioli. That annoyed me. A constant reminder of the “not-quite-there” thing I have going on. Should celebrate the fact that I made to the end of this recipe. You must know it took two days. Because night ambushed me. Because I had my very first blog-down, which is a melt-down but blog related. Well, and life related. Blog is life! Oh my God, I did it, I exaggerated all the way to the moon and back. Just did it again! Seriously hard to stop.  

This recipe was made in the midst of pressure, frustration, and oh, so many other feelings. I yelled, I cried, I hit things, they fell, hit me again. But hey, I did manage to get through it.

P.S. Don't slap your dough. She's innocent. Also, it hurts. Ouch inside and out. 

RavYOLO!

Let's try and keep it together, people! Until the next one, happy eating!   

S01E07 The one with the salmon mousse

Monica cooks a gourmet meal for a restaurateur who is looking for a new chef, however he arrives at the apartment stoned. Meanwhile, Ross tries to master 'dirty talk'.

Now, if that doesn't sound like a great episode, I don't know what does.

[ Scene: Monica's apartment. Everyone is there but Ross and Chandler. Monica is making food, and having everyone try it.]
MONICA: [to Joey] Ok, try this salmon mousse.
JOEY: [tasting] Mmm. Good.
MONICA: Is it better than the other salmon mousse?
JOEY: It's creamier.
MONICA: Yeah, well, is that better?
JOEY: I don't know. We're talking about whipped fish, Monica. I'm just happy I'm keeping it down, y'know?

Salmon and cream cheese and dill, oh my! That's right, no fancy introduction this time. Well, no introduction at all. If you're thinking there's something fishy going on, you're on to something.

CHANDLER: Can you believe it? I mean, don't I look like someone who should be doing something really cool? You know, I just always pictured myself doing... something.
RACHEL: Oh, Chandler, I know, I know... oh,hey! You can see your nipples through this shirt!
MONICA: [brings a plate of tiny appetizers over] Hey, maybe this'll cheer you up. 
CHANDLER: Ooh, you know, I had a grape about five hours ago, so I'd better split this with you.
MONICA: It's supposed to be that small. It's a pre-appetizer. The French call it an amouse-bouche.
CHANDLER: [tastes it] Well, it is amous-ing...

In case you are now as confused as a headless chicken, I will attempt to clarify the situation. Today's recipe is salmon mousse fancy appetizers. I am here to prove that even if fancy is not your thing, this is totally doable. Take it from the person who forgot she didn't have a pipping bag, and tried to manufacture one last-minute. The great adventure of Chuck - the almost pipping bag. His majestic body was made out of a sandwich bag and his nozzle - the top of a tuna can, bent and battered into submission. This is the stuff great legends are made of. Or mediocre tales. Also, by “I tried to manufacture one” I mean I made my boyfriend do it. Why? Because I am a helpless little duckling or a demanding little bitch. Pick your favourite and let's move on.

Things and stuff

A food processor (to process the shit out of that salmon mousse) or some sturdy man muscles, a pipping bag (if you want them to be real purty), baking tray & parchment paper, and your usual bowl, spoon, knife combo.

It was this big

One medium sized bowl, 500 gr. of mousse, aprox. 100 amouse-bouches (that's a lot!, I only made one batch, the rest awaits in my fridge)

It took this long

5 min. to mousse, 10 min. to bread and 10 min. to assemble ( this for one batch-25). So 30 minutes if you take your time.

Ingredients and quantities


The Process

Step 1: Finely chop your salmon / Put your salmon in a food processor and mix until finely chopped. Waaaay easier with the magical tool that plugs in. It's noisy but fast and efficient. I mean, it gets the job done (wink wink).

Step 2: Combine chopped salmon, cream cheese, sour cream and dill. You can thoroughly stir this by hand (if you want a chunkier texture) or process that baby 'till desired mousiness level. I initially went for the “by hand” approach but changed my mind. I want it moussier. 

Tip: don't add salt! The smoked salmon was salty enough. It was actually a tad too much. Next time, I will consider keeping the salmon in water before using it, to get some of the saltiness out. It looked somethin' like this:

Step 3: Now that your mousse is ready, get the bread ready for party. The journey from bread to crostinni is short and safe. Thinly slice your baguette. Tray, parchment paper, place slices.

Step 4: Lightly brush yo' slices with olive oil. You don't have to do this. I just like olive oil on bread. And cheese. Ok, on everything!

Step 5: Put those bad boys in the oven at gas mark 4, aprox. 180 degrees, basically moderate heat. For 5 to 8 minutes. They will be lovely golden brown and crispy as a motherfucker.

Step 6: Yay, assembly time! Get your mousse on the crostinni. If you don't have a pipping bag, to do this “properly”, or if you have a home-made pipping bag, that becomes a hazard after 3 pretty successful crostinnis, go rustique. Use a butter knife or a lil' spoon. 

Step 7: It goes like this: crostinni, mousse, a lil' dollop of sour cream, chopped salmon, chives and or capers.

Even if you think they don't look as fancy “as they should” or whatever amouse-bouche prejudice you have in that head of yours, forget about it. It's fun, it's easy, it's yummy and it can have any personality you want it to have. I wanted mine to be super fancy, very meticulous, very proper, a testimony of patience and precision. I failed. They reflected my true self. And that's a good thing. Food should reflect your true nature. That's what makes it interesting and personal.

Feedback: Slightly too salty. Easy to make. Fun to put together. You can add a lot of things to this. From mustard to horseradish, hard boiled egg yolks, replace the cream cheese with mascarpone or ricotta, top it with dill, capers, finely diced peppers or cucumbers. You can replace the bread with philo pastry, or puffpastry, or crackers, or tiny salad leaves! A lot of wiggle room. This being my first salmon mousse, I chose a basic one. I wanted to feel the intense salmon-ness of it all before I start playing with other flavors. 

There you go, my little mousse-amouse-bouches:

Me gusta la moussolina, dame mas moussolina! 

Mmm... amous-ing ;) Until the next one, bon apetite

  

S01E06 The one with the chocolate mousse

Imdb describes “The one with the candy hearts” as it follows:

As Valentine's Day approaches; Ross and his date end up at the same restaurant as Carol and Susan, Joey inadvertently sets Chandler up on a blind date with Janice, and the girls burn mementos of their old boyfriends.

Come on, you remember this one! I dare you not to read this in her voice!

You totally read this in her voice! Oh, and remember this particular conversation?

JOEY: She said she wants to slather my body with stuff and then lick it off. I'm not even sure what slathering is, but I definitely want to be a part of it.

CHANDLER: Ok, you can not do this to me.

JOEY: You're right, I'm sorry. You're right.

LORRAINE: [to waiter] Uh, can we have three chocolate mousses to go please?

JOEY: I'm outta here. Here's my credit card. Dinner's on me. I'm sorry, Chandler.

CHANDLER: I hope she throws up on you.

Ka-ching! We have a winner! Chocolate mousse detected!

The day was Friday. The weather was more Irish than ever. During the one hour it took me to make the mousse and set everything up, we experienced sun, hail, rain, sun, more rain, hail, sun, different kind of rain. You get the drift. The temperature: around 10 degrees. The mood: jazzy. In the background, old documentary about Dean Martin, Marylin Monroe, vintage Hollywood. And so it begins.

As far as utensils go, you will need: a medium size pot, 2 big heatproof bowls ( I like big bowls and I cannot lie), a whisk/hand mixer, a large spatula (for gentle folding).

1. Ingredients and quantities

2. The process

  • The chocolate. The darker, the better, get one that has a minimum of 70% cocoa solids. Roughly cut up le chocolat. Place it in the bowl over a pan of simmering water. This means low heat, no hurry here.

! The water must not touch the bottom of the bowl, otherwise it will overheat it and your chocolate will become grainy.

  • While the chocolate is melting away, separate the egg whites from the yolks and place them in your other clean, dry bowl.

 ! When separating the whites, be careful not to get any traces of egg yolk in there. The fat in the yolk will prevent the rising of the egg whites. 

  • Now whisk the egg whites with the lemon juice from the lemon wedge, on medium speed until they start to foam (2).
  •  Then switch to high speed and gradually add the sugar. Whisk until you get firm, cloud-like peaks (3). By the time you're done with this, your chocolate should be melted and glossy (4).
  •  The next step is a crucial one. Take a third of the egg whites and whisk them fast and whisk them good. I did it with a spatula, cause my judgement was clouded. Do as I say, not as I did. It worked, but it was more difficult than it should have been.

 ! Because you are adding a cold mass (the eggs) to a hot and sexy one (the chocolate) there is the possibility/risk of the cocoa butter inside the chocolate solidifying, leading to a lumpy mousse. So whisk it "Fast and Furious" style. Show her who's boss.

  •  When she's loosened up (5) add half of the remaining egg whites (6), replace the whisk with the spatula and gently start folding. Move the bowl as you move the spatula in a slow, therapeutic fashion. This is where you apologize for being so rough before, so go nice and gentle. Use the love. 
  •  When you've incorporated that (7), add the last of the whites (8) and repeat the careful procedure.

 ! The reason for this is that over-mixing will ruin the air bubbles in the egg whites that you've worked so hard to create and the result of that will be a heavier mousse and less volume. When it's smooth and the whites have been integrated (9), pour your mousse into glasses, jars, ramekins, or bowls and leave it to set for at least 2 hours. 6 is best. After 12 hours it will become heavy and lose its innate moussiness. 

Then you'll find yourself saying things like: "You're not the same as you were before. You were much more moussier. You've lost your moussiness."  You get the reference, right? (insert chirping sounds here)

Before setting in the fridge and adding delicious and pretty toppings:

After setting in the fridge and adding delicious and pretty toppings:

Girl, look at that body! That's some seriously moussy business we got up in this biatch! Uhm, I mean, look at the lovely texture:

Feedback:  Oh my! How did I not make this before? It's easy, it does't take much time and it's one of the best ways to eat chocolate! Plus, it has sooo little sugar in it! It's all about that chocolate, baby! Oh, and I love the raspberry combo! The intense chocolate flavor, in that airy, fluffy textured form loves the slightly sour freshness that the raspberries bring to the table. Will definitely repeat the experience!  I ate some of it after two hours of chilling in the fridge, then after a day, aaaand after two days. I prefer the first one. The more it sets, the heavier it gets. Something that applies to life too! I've imparted enough "wisdom", I'll go away now.

Until the next time, happy eating!