Tag Archives: sauces

Ravioli in Truffle Sauce Recipe

Plus what I learned about truffles & are the truffles sold at the Berkeley Bowl any good?

During a very brief stay in Barcelona, my daughter fell in love with a dish of truffle ravioli in a parmesan and truffle oil cream sauce at one of the Sensi tapas restaurants. So when she asked that I include a pasta dish for our Christmas dinner, I immediately thought of that dish – and started researching recipes and truffles.

Truffles, I knew, were very expensive and rare fungi that grows naturally in Italy and France and is only available at exorbitant prices for a few months of the year. What I didn’t know is that it’s extremely hard to preserve them – because it’s their aroma which actually gives dishes the ethereal earthy flavor that we so like. Infusing them in oil doesn’t really work, but food scientists were able to isolate its most prevalent odorant – a compound called 2,4-Dithiapentane – and replicate it. This is what is mixed with olive oil, butters or salt and sold as “truffle” whatever. That is to say, this is what most of us know as truffle flavor. The little pieces of truffle we see in commercial products are apparently there mostly for show.

There seems to be a revolt against truffle oil among some top chefs, who belief its fake flavor confuses diners and stops them from being able to appreciate the subtleties of real truffles. Thinking back to the truffle dishes I’ve had, I think this is likely to be the case. I still dream of Aquerello‘s ridged pasta with foie gras, scented with black truffles, which I believe is topped with real truffle, but most other truffle dishes I recall did seem to be rather one-dimentional. Years ago, my husband gave me expensive botles of black and white truffle oil for Christmas, so I know those flavors quite well. While I didn’t care much for the white truffle oil, the black truffle oil does impart a rather tasty flavor.

I found many recipes online for pasta in a truffle sauce, and at first my decision was on whether to use truffle oil or butter. While researching what was easily available to me, I found that the Berkeley Bowl was actually carrying fresh black truffles for about $160/lb (via instacart). Given that the page offered no information about these truffles, and that French black truffles are currently selling for $95/oz (a regular truffle weighs an ounce or less), I was quite doubtful of these – but I did learn that truffles are also grown in the West Coast – indeed, as close as Napa Valley – so I imagined they were domestic. My daughter suggests, however, that they might just be expired truffles – not fresh enough to retain much of their flavor. She might have been right.

Ultimately, I decided to give them a try – and so far I’ve had mixed results. I first used them the night I got them by shaving them on a dish of plain pasta served with vegan butter. The truffle shavings completely failed to impart any flavor on the dish. It was a total failure.

For my Christmas Eve dish I decided to do something different. I took part of a truffle and chopped it very finely and infused it in good quality melted butter early in the day – so that it was solid by the time I actually made the sauce for this dish. This, by itself, didn’t give the sauce much truffle flavor, but I think it helped it build, so by the time all the ingredients were combined – the truffle ravioli, the sauce and the shaved truffle on top – the results were delicious. The dish had a very earthy flavor, truffly but not as strong as truffle oil.

I was lucky enough that I was able to follow this recipe closely, as I was able to find the called-for taleggio cheese at the Berkeley Bowl as well. The recipe writer suggests that you can substitute this cheese with Fontina, Robiola or Brie, though to me its flavor was closer to camembert. Indeed, I added a couple of ounces of camembert, as I hadn’t gotten as much taleggio as the recipe called for. I’d probably had done better using less cheese, as the sauce was a tad too salty – I’m making this recommended adjustment in the recipe below.

I wanted to make ravioli in the first place, and was happy to find porcini & truffle ravioli from the Pasta Shop at the Berkeley Bowl. These are made with “truffle essence”, that is to say, the artificial aromatic compound. They were tasty by themselves, but they were really elevated by the sauce and the shaved truffle.

To store truffles before using them, dry the surface with a paper towel and then place in a bowl filled with uncooked rice (to help draw moisture away). Store in the fridge or a cool place in your house.

Ravioli in Truffle Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • 12 oz fresh or frozen mushroom ravioli
  • 2-3 Tbsp truffle butter
  • 8 oz taleggio cheese, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 truffle
  • Parmesan cheese to taste

Instructions

Cook the ravioli according to package instructions, drain.

Meanwhile, melt the truffle butter, cheese and cream over medium heat – stirring frequently. Transfer the ravioli to the sauce and coat all over. Transfer to a serving dish or individual plates.

Shave truffle and Parmesan cheese to taste.

Based on Jacqui’s recipe at The Pasta Project.

2020 Christmas Eve Dinner

Marga’s favorite recipesMarga’s Party & Holiday Recipes

Cashew Cream

This is a vegan cashew cream that you can use in place of soft cheeses in traditional recipes. To my mind, this doesn’t taste anything like cheese – but I’m not vegan. My vegan daughter loved it, however.

  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ~2 cups water

Directions

Soak cashews in water for about 4 hours. Drain.

Place the cashews, lemon juice, vinegar, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, salt and 1 cup water in an electric blender and process until smooth. Add more water as needed to achieve the consistency you want.

Review: Hello Fresh’ Sirloin in a Mushroom Sauce + Recipe

Rating: 7/10

Hello Fresh seldom offers steak as part of their regular offerings. Instead, dishes with steak are usually considered “gourmet” and require an additional supplement. These are usually a very poor value, so I never ordered them. I did this time because when I added to my cart, HelloFresh showed that the 65% off discount that I had applied to the supplement as well. Alas, when I checked my account I realized that I was charged the full supplement price, which makes me feel defrauded. Still, it’s a lesson learned and in the future I just won’t order any meals that require paying a supplement.

This meal kit for Sirloin in a Mushroom Sauce with Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Carrots was pretty good, if a little too much work. It basically had 5 components that had to be cooked separately: the steak, the mashed potatoes, the carrots, the onions and the mushroom sauce. I think one (the onions) could have been skipped without losing much beyond cooking time.

But all ingredients were very tasty and, in particular, the mushroom sauce was phenomenal, which helped elevate both the meat and the mashed potatoes. I’ve had similar mushroom sauces before, but I liked how simple and quick this one was (recipe below).

All the ingredients were included and they were mostly fresh (the carrots were a little wobbly) and good quality. The steaks were very, very thick but at least they were around the same thickness.

I paid a little over $20 for this meal kit, including the supplement, or about $10 per person.

Mushroom sauce

I recommend you double the sauce

  • 3 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 4 oz white mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. beef demi-glace
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat in a pan, preferably one you used to cook steak. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until softened – 2 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the demi-glace and the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in the mustard. Simmer until slightly thickened. Stir in the remaining Tbsp. butter.

Review: Marley Spoon’s Glazed Steak with Farro & Bell Pepper Stir-Fry

Rating 7/10

Glazed Steak with Farro & Bell Pepper Stir-Fry

This was my second Marley Spoon’s dish and, most likely, my last one. It was perfectly fine as a dish, and I thought the presentation was quite attractive, but it wasn’t special enough to justify the issues I had with it.

First, the steak. It wasn’t particularly great quality – it was sirloin, after all -, and the two steaks were of significantly different thickness, which means that cooking them both together resulted in one more done than the other. While the tamari sauce (recipe below) added a very good flavor, the steaks were not particularly tender.

The farro/red pepper stir-fry was good – or would have been, had I not added the spinach. Once again, it provided an unappetizing bitter taste to the dish.

The portion was also on the small side – I was left hungry after eating it.

Even more vexing was the fact that the kit didn’t include all the ingredients I needed to make the meal. It asked that I provide my own balsamic vinegar. Fortunately, I had some – but the whole dish would have been a fail if I didn’t. To be fair, Marley Spoon did mention in the instructions online that dark balsamic vinegar was needed, but I shouldn’t have to look carefully at every recipe to see what ingredients I have to provide. They really should send everything you need other than oil, salt and pepper (other kits do).

In all, it was a nice meal but frustrating.

Tamari Glaze

  • 1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together until the sugar dissolves. Use to glaze meat or as a sauce.

Review: Plated’s Steak au Poivre with Crispy Fingerling Potatoes

Rating 8/10

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Sometimes, often times, it’s in the sauce. Indeed, in this recipe of Steak au Poivre with Crispy Fingerling Potatoes, it was all the sauce.

The steak, sirloin, was fine but unexciting. The potatoes were blah – I mean, good, but just potatoes. But the sauce was very good and therefore, so was everything else.

The dish also included creamed kale. I wasn’t going to eat it, so I didn’t bother making it.

But this kit was another winner.

I paid around $16/$8 for this kit/per serving. Again, I thought it was worth it.

Sauce au Poivre

This sauce is to be served with steaks. I’ve doubled the quantities but it will probably still serve 2.

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tsp Dijon mustard

Add olive oil to pan where steaks were cooked and heat over medium heat. Add peppercorns and shallot and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes, until the shallot starts to soften. Add wine and cook for 1-2 minutes, scrapping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the cream and mustard, stir and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

Meal Kit Hacks: HelloFresh Sesame-Crusted Tofu with Spicy Peanut Butter Sauce & Garlic Bok Choy + PB Sauce Recipe

Rating: 7.5/10

HelloFresh does not have many vegan meals, so I was happy to find this recipe for Sesame-Crusted Tofu with Spicy Peanut Butter Sauce & Garlic Bok Choy that I could hack for my vegan daughter.  While it wasn’t a complete dinner – we have yet to find a way to make tofu taste like anything but tofu, outside of deep frying it -, my daughter loved the peanut sauce and enjoyed the coconut rice, I’ll be making both of those again (see recipes below).   She hadn’t had bok choy before, and she won’t again – she found this vegetable utterly tasteless, even with the peanut sauce.  Fortunately, there was extra broccoli from our meal for her to eat.   Most importantly, she totally appreciated that I made her food.  Given that she’s the only vegan in the family, she often is on her own as far as cooking goes, so any time I cook for her it’s a treat.

Making this meal at home was rather cheap, as most of the ingredients are those you are likely to have in your pantry (peanut butter, rice, soy and hot sauce, sesame seeds), and those you don’t are cheap to buy.  In all, I spent under $6.50 in this meal for two people.  HelloFresh charges $20-$24 for the same food.

 

HelloFresh Ingredients My Ingredients Cost
1 block tofu 1 lb tofu $2
2 baby bok choy 2 baby bok choy $2.60
1 Tbsp sesame seeds 1 Tbsp sesame seeds pantry
2 Tbsp peanut butter 2 Tbsp peanut butter pantry
1 can Lite Coconut Milk 1 can Lite Coconut Milk $1.25
1 cup basmati rice 1 1/2 cups Jasmine rice pantry
2 cloves garlic 2 cloves garlic pantry
1 lime 1 lime $0.50
1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs 1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs $1 (for 8-cup ox)
1 tsp hot sauce 1 dash siracha pantry
2 Tbsp soy sauce 2 Tbsp soy sauce pantry

If you’d like to subscribe to HelloFresh use this link to save $40 off your first box, and I’ll get a $30 credit – which I probably won’t use as I’ll be unsubscribing form HelloFresh shortly to try a different company.

Coconut Jasmine Rice

  • 1 1/2 cups Jasmine rice
  • 1 1/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • dash of salt

Rinse rice.  Put coconut milk, water and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add rice, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Fluff with a fork before serving.

Peanut Butter Sauce

  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • a dash of hot sauce

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.

Meal Kit Review: HelloFresh Sweet ‘N’ Smoky Pork Chops with Apple Carrot Slaw, Mashed Potatoes, and Cherry Sauce Review

Sweet 'N' Smoky Pork Chops

Photo borrowed from Hello Fresh

Rating: 8/10

We are not pork eaters, both because commercial farming of pigs – fairly intelligent animals – is just brutal and because we don’t find pork particularly flavorful meat, but there weren’t many exciting menu choices in the week I chose to try Hello Fresh,  so we went for this meal kit.  We were pleasantly surprised.  While I was a bit disappointed on how small the boneless pork chops were – specially after I cut off the strip of fat on one side -, the cinnamon-paprika spice mix gave them a very nice flavor, in particular when topped with the cherry sauce.  I don’t like cherry, but loved this sauce and would think it’d go well with turkey as well.    The mashed potatoes could have been better – the kit included small potatoes that couldn’t really be peeled, and I prefer peeled potatoes in my mash.  The slaw was pretty good, but not earth shattering.

The meal was also fairly easy to make, the carrots come pre-shredded, which saves a lot of time.  The apple was fresh and delicious.  All the ingredients seemed to be high quality and the recipe was easy to make.

In all, this was a good dish.

I’m more likely to pay $12 for it than for the tacos I had before.

If you’d like to try Hello Fresh, you can use this link for $40 off your first box (it will also give me $30 towards a future delivery).

Cherry Sauce Recipe

enough for 2 chops

  • 1/8 tsp hot paprika
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp. cherry jam
  • 1/2 tsp water
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. butter
  • salt & pepper to taste

Combine in a microwave safe bowl the paprika, cinnamon, jam, water and vinegar.  Microwave on high for 45 seconds.  Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper.

Madeira Sauce Recipe – for roasts

Sometimes the best things are the simplest things, and this super quick and easy Madeira sauce just proves it.  I made it to serve with a ribeye roast, but it could go just as well with roasted lamb, pork or venison.  It has a wonderful nutty buttery flavor that really complemented the beef.  It’s great to soak with bread too.  Make the sauce in advance, and add the pan juices and heat right before serving.

  • 1/2 cup Madeira wine
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves (or a sprinkle of dry)
  • up to 1/4 cup pan juices
Combine the Madeira with the beef broth and the rosemary in a very small pot and bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat and reserve.  After your roast is done, add up to 1/4 cup of the pan juices.  Mix well while reheating and serve.
Based on B. Smith’s recipe at the Food Network.

Harissa Sauce

Harissa is an ubiquitous spice mix/sauce used by Berbers and Arabs alike throughout the Maghreb. It can be used as a condiment and a grilling sauce, and it’s often an ingredient in other dishes. There are many variations to this recipe, but this is a fairly typical one. If you don’t have caraway seeds around, many recipes omit it. The recipe below produces a very spicy sauce, for a less spicy one use milder or fewer chilies.

Ingredients

12 dried hot red chili peppers
1 large garlic clove (or 2-3 small ones)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions

Remove the seeds from the chili peppers. Soak the peppers in water for ½ hour. Put all the ingredients in a blender or mini chopper and blend until smooth.

Pasta with meat sauce

This meat sauce is really easy to make, as it relies on store-bought sauce, but it’s absolutely delicious. I always get great raves from everyone when I make it.
For an even more delicious dish, sprinkle shredded cheese (mozarella, jack, provolone or a mixture of cheeses) over the hot pasta before serving the meat sauce.

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine

Sauté the chopped onion in the olive oil over medium-high heat in a deep skillet. When soft, add the garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the ground meat and brown. Add the spices and stir. Add the pasta sauce and the red wine, stir and cook until the meat is well cooked. Serve over any type of pasta.

Marga’s Best Recipes