Monday, January 28, 2013

Presenting: Chocolate Chicken Marsala Ravioli with Alfredo Sauce

Chocolate Chicken Marsala Ravioli with Alfredo Sauce

After my struggles earlier this month with the crab ravioli, I wanted to revisit a ravioli dish. Mrs. Stuntman would call me makulit, which loosely translates to 'stubborn' in Tagalog, however I needed to properly use the ravioli press (i.e. confirm the damn thing wasn't a waste of money) and needed to regain my confidence with fresh pasta.

I return this time with a slightly more involved preparation for the filling and a colored pasta made from with baking chocolate.

The Challenge

Sucessfully execute a ravioli dish.

The Sources

I used the same page I used for the herb speckled ravioli; a Tyler Florence recipe on for the filling and an alfredo sauce from


For the filling:
8 ounces chicken breast, cut in strips
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup Marsala wine or chicken broth
4 thin slices prosciutto, sliced
4 bay leaves
Fresh thyme and parsley leaves
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated, divided
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
1/4 cup heavy cream

For the pasta:
3 1/3 cups flour
3 ounces (80 grams) powdered baking chocolate
4 eggs
1 pinch kosher salt

For the sauce:
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped


1. Make the filling: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until brown. Add shallots and garlic. Deglaze with the Marsala. Take pan away from heat source and flambé. Return pan to stove. (The flame will extinguish on it's own in about 1 minute.) Add prosciutto and herbs. Sprinkle in bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon of olive oil to keep moist. Discard bay leaves. Pulse together all ingredients in a food processor. Add egg, cream, remaining Parmesan and olive oil. Pulse again. Chill while making the pasta dough.

2. Make the pasta dough: Omit the parsley, but add the cocoa with the salt. Otherwise, the instructions remain the same as the crab ravioli dish. (The link is above.)

3. Roll the dough: See the link above.

4. Make the ravioli: See the link above.

5. Make the sauce and finish the dish: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add in the ravioli and cook until the ravioli float to the top. Using a slotted spoon, remove the ravioli to a drain on a paper towel lined plate. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add cream and simmer for 5 minutes, then add garlic and cheese and whisk quickly, heating through. Stir in parsley. To plate, arrange ravioli in pasta bowls, spoon the alfredo over the ravioli and garnish with a parsley sprig.


I was able to more effectively utilize the ravioli press, but still not to it's fullest potential. I realized that my pasta sheets weren't wide enough to accomodate all 12 ravioli spaces, so I only used one side, as demonstrated below.

I also spent less time completing the dish than my last attempt but it was still a marathon project. Also, you might have expected this pasta to be sweet due to the addition of the chocolate, but baking chocolate is unsweetened, so it was surprisingly savory. Ultimately, it was a little too rich but well worth the effort.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mustard-Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon with Lemon Rice Pilaf and Paying It Forward

Mustard-Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon with Lemon Rice Pilaf

This dish will separate itself from the others I've posted here because I'm trying to save my sanity, not display my dementia. Mrs. Stuntman grew up in the Philippines eating steamed white rice at every meal. Don't get me wrong. I like rice, but the rice she normally prepares is very bland.

Come to think of it, I could have probably used this dish this past Sunday during the retro recipe examples because whenever I went out to restaurants as a kid, I always ordered rice pilaf as a side dish, if given the choice.

The Challenge

Add flavor to a side dish

The Source

The salmon was adapted from page 278 of America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Third Edition: Cookware Rating Edition. For the rice, I used a Chef Ming Tsai recipe I found on


For the rice:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 cups long-grain white rice
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped

For the salmon:
4 6-ounce salmon fillets, 1 1/4-inch thick
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons coarse-grain mustard
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced


1. Preheat the oven to 500° Fahrenheit. Prepare the glaze by whisking together the brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, garlic and oil. Season the glaze with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

2. Prepare the rice: Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion, ginger, and lemon zest and sweat until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring until the rice is opaque, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with wine and reduce by 80 percent. Add the chicken stock, cover and simmer over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes.

3. While the rice simmers, cook the salmon: Remove any pin bones from the salmon. Pat the fillets dry with a paper towel and season them with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the fillets about 1-inch apart on a lightly-oiled aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Baste the glaze over the tops and sides of the salmon. Return to the oven and bake until the fish turns from translucent to opaque, about 5 minutes. Brush the glaze again and serve on a bed of the rice and garnish with parsley.


I recommend seasoning the rice with salt and pepper to taste before plating, but the rice is definitely more flavorful. The salmon was well-balanced in flavor.

In other news, one of my food blogger friends, Jenni of Pastry Chef Online is hosting a linky party this month spotlighting other blogs we enjoy. I do have a blogroll, but I haven't updated it in a while so I wanted to add to it.

I've noted Willow of Will Cook for Friends a number of times here and admire her ambition for learning about food, but had not added her to my list of favorites so I wanted to correct that oversight.

I met Stefanie of Sarcastic Cooking via foodbuzz when it was still around after she was featured with some degree of regularity. She prepares delicious food and I also lover her photography.

Sarah of Crispy Bits & Burnt Ends actually found me, but I have since come to appreciate her writing style.

Mijune of Follow Me Foodie is a food writer out of Vancouver, British Columbia. I enjoy her wit and humor.

Joanne of Fifteen Spatulas and I share the same philosophy on food: homemade, from scratch and with step-by-step pictures. I've also met her in person and can say that she is very easy to work with.

Check out the other Pay It Forward participants in addition to Jenni's list, which can be viewed on her website, here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

#SundaySupper Cocktail: Moscow Mule

Moscow Mule

Something new for 2013...

Isabel of Family Foodie started the Sunday Supper Movement about a year ago. It's mission is to bring the families together around the table for a Sunday Supper each week, and to do so, she's assembled dozens of fellow food bloggers to create dishes that families can prepare around a common theme. Past themes have been Holiday Party Appetizers, Thanksgiving Leftovers and Foodie Bucket List dishes. Recently I joined the movement and this is my first recipe for it.

This week's theme is Retro Recipes. For it, I wanted to demonstrate the types of things I do. Namely: challenging food preparation and/or uncommon cooking methods for the home cook, and food that can easily be bought at the local supermarket made at home. In order to do this, I've updated a classic cocktail using the homemade ginger ale I published this past Friday, however the traditional recipe uses ginger beer, not ginger ale.

The Source

There are multiple sources for the same recipe, however I used the version found on epicurious.


1/2 lime
2 ounces vodka
4 to 6 ounces ginger ale
2 or 3 ice cubes


1. Squeeze the lime into a Collins glass, then drop it in. Add 2 or 3 large ice cubes, then pour in the vodka and fill with cold ginger beer. Serve with a stirring rod.

Other Sunday Supper Participants

Please check out this week's other Sunday Supper participants.

Sunday Supper Retro Appetizers:
Sunday Supper Retro Salads:
Sunday Supper Retro Breads and Sandwiches:
SundaySupper Main Dishes:
Sunday Supper Retro Sides and Veggies:
Sunday Supper Retro Desserts and Cocktails:

Friday, January 18, 2013

Ginger Ale from Scratch

Ginger Ale from Scratch

Recently, I met Tony of Simple Awesome Cooking through Food Bloggers Network. Normally not a noteworthy event, but he stood out because our blogs' are polar opposites. While he focuses on simple preparation, I love a challenging food. I'm not knocking food that isn't complex and/or time consuming, I just don't publish it here.

After trading emails, he noted in the next few weeks he would be publishing a homemade ginger ale recipe. As my readers know, I love making food from scratch that can easily be bought at supermarkets so I wanted in on the action. We agreed to publish the same dish on the same day using our own styles. This isn't meant to be competitive, but a comparison between two means to the same end. Before you continue forward, please stop and read about Tony's ginger ale recipe here.

The Challenge

Make food easily found at a supermarket at home.

The Source

As I reviewed recipes for homemade ginger ale, I noticed many used club soda or sparkling water to achieve carbonation in their beverage but I liked this one by Alton Brown I found on Food Network's website because it generated carbonation without that crutch.


5 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated finely
3/4 cup sugar
7 1/2 cups filtered water
1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed


1. Place the ginger, sugar, and 1/2 cup of the water into a 2-quart saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to steep for 1 hour.

2. Pour the syrup through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl, pressing down to get all of the juice out of the mixture. Chill quickly by placing over and ice bath and stirring or set in the refrigerator, uncovered, until at least room temperature, 68° to 72° Fahrenheit.

3. Using a funnel, pour the syrup into a clean 2-liter plastic bottle and add the yeast, lemon juice and remaining 7 cups of water. Place the cap on the bottle, gently shake to combine and leave the bottle at room temperature for 48 hours. Open and check for desired amount of carbonation. It is important that once you achieve your desired amount of carbonation that you refrigerate the ginger ale. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, opening the bottle at least once a day to let out excess carbonation.


When I went to open the beverage, it almost exploded (think of a cola can shaken up), so I proceeded slowly. It's interesting that my experience with the beverage was different than many of the reviews: The carbonation did not fizz out and the ginger flavor was strong. Ultimately, a success.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Pea Purée and Prosciutto Bits

Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Pea Purée and Prosciutto Bits

If you've ever watched an episode of Hell's Kitchen, you've probably seen Chef Ramsay scream at a contestant for improperly cooked scallops. I shyed away from cooking them for a long time because I heard they were easily overcooked.

One day at the supermarket, I finally got the courage to purchase them after I saw they were at a reasonable price. Also, I had recently ate scallops at a local restaurant but was a little disappointed and I wondered if I could prepare them better.

The Challenge

Properly prepare a scallops dish at home using a fine dining presentation.

The Source

I took inspiration from a recipe I found from an Australian cooking show, My Kitchen Rules, but with a few substitutions. First, I substituted the prosciutto crumbs for a simpler prosciutto bits recipe which can be found on page 25 of Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking by Michael Chiarello with Janet Fletcher, using a portion of the prosciutto my friends brought me the afternoon I served my crab ravioli dish. In addition, I substituted a pea purée for the parsnip purée. The recipe is courtesy of Chef Robert Dasalla, executive chef and co-owner of Little Chef Counter in the San Pedro Market Square of San Jose, California.


For the proscuitto:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces prosciutto, preferably from the shank, finely minced or ground on medium

For the pea purée:
2 cups English peas (frozen or fresh)
1 stick butter
1 sprig tarragon
2 tablspoons water if using fresh peas
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the scallops:
1 pound sea scallops
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Make the prosciutto bits: Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the prosciutto and cook, stirring. The proscuitto should emit steam, as it's releasing it's moisture. Once the proscuitto starts to sizzle, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally until the prosciutto are crisp, up to thirty minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with several layers of paper towels.

2. While the prosciutto is crisping, prepare the pea purée. In a saucepan combine the peas, butter and tarragon and cook covered and set on high. Check every 5 minutes until the peas tender.

Once tender remove the tarragon sprig but leaving any loose leaves. Strain and save the liquid.

Add peas to a blender and begin to purée and gradually add the saved liquid until smooth. Discard any remaining liquid or if more liquid is needed add olive oil. Add olive oil to the purée to give it a shine. Taste and season if needed. Pass the purée through a Chinois or a fine mesh strainer for a more refined appearance.

3. Cook the scallops: Pat the scallops dry and season them on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat butter and oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops and cook for 1 minute on each side. To plate, spoon the purée across the plate, top with the scallops, then garnish with the prosciutto.


In all honesty, I was happier with the prosciutto and the peas than I was with the scallops, as I added the butter to hot oil (instead of melting the butter in the oil), so the scallops didn't sear the way I would have preferred. A contributing factor in this was I used frozen scallops. Mrs. Stuntman was very pleased with this dish and, in fact, has requested I prepare it again.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Light Stunt: Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

One of my goals in 2013 will be to start a monthly series where I publish a dish suitable for weeknight dinners: quick but flavorful. (Think Rachael Ray, only not as easy on the eyes but better food) I'll call it Light Stunts.

To kick off this series, my original plan for this dish was to film me preparing it during halftime of the NFC Divisional playoff game this upcoming Saturday, which is a span of 12 minutes. I was going to start halftime with my salted pasta water at a rolling boil and a completed mise en place, with the challenge to serve the dish by the start of the third quarter. This was going to be a dry run, so I didn't take pictures along the way.

I saw this dish in Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking, and again in America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Third Edition. So when I was thumbing through Lidia's Favorite Recipes by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianicn Manuali, it finally sunk in that this dish is a staple in Italy, but why hadn't this dish become more familiar to Americans?

The Challenge

Successfully complete a dish from start to finish during halftime of an NFL game.

The Source

Adapted from page 52 of Lidia's Favorite Recipes by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali.


Kosher salt, to taste
1 pound spaghetti
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
10 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring frequently until the pasta is tender but still very firm, about 6 minutes.

2. While the pasta is boiling, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until pale golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the red pepper flakes. Add about 1 1/2 cups boiling pasta water into the sauce, then the parsley, remaining olive oil and salt to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil.

3. When the pasta has cooked, drain. Then add to the sauce in the skillet, bringing to a simmer and tossing to coat the pasta with the sauce, cooking for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and toss the pasta with the grated cheese. Taste and add salt and/or red pepper to taste, if necessary. Serve immediately in warmed bowls.


As I plated the dish, I noticed my stopwatch. I had started once I dropped my pasta in the water and started to heat my olive oil in my skillet which reported approximately 19 minutes. From this standpoint, I was not successful. However, my mise en place took ten minutes to complete so it would be perfect for a weeknight because it can be easily prepared within an hour.

As I sautéed my garlic, Mrs. Stuntman came into the kitchen asking what smelled so good. We were pleasantly surprised because the simple preparation of the dish yielded incredible flavor. This leads me back to my original question: Why aren't American's more familiar with this dish?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Herbed Speckled Crab Ravioli with a Lemon Butter Drizzle

Herb Speckled Crab Ravioli with a Lemon Butter Drizzle

Happy New Year!

This past Sunday afternoon I hosted lunch for some friends I hadn't seen in a while as an early New Year's celebration. I would call them foodies, knowing they've eaten at some of the best restaurants here in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I knew I had to bring my A-Game.

I had been planning this dish for more than a year when I was doing some research for my prior 'fresh pasta from scratch' dish which appeared on my last website. I wanted to get the basics down before I started to experiment, however I wanted to visit pasta from scratch again eventually. I needed a way to elevate my skill set from my last attempt. I hope you agree that I have found one.

The Challenge

Successfully prepare a more complex fresh pasta dish.

The Source

I've put together this dish from several sources. I took the pasta ingredients from, but the pasta dough instructions were borrowed heavily from Chef Tomm Johnson of The International Culinary Center. His YouTube demonstration can be seen here. I adopted the crab filling from Tasty Adventures in addition to the sauce from Martha Stewart.


For the pasta dough:
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, finely minced
5 eggs
1 pinch kosher salt

For the filling:
1 cup fresh crab meat
1 shallot, finely minced
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped

For the drizzle:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade
freshly grated Parmesan


1. Prepare the filling: Combine all the filling ingredients in a medium bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Make the pasta dough: On a clean, flat work surface (I find a deep cookie sheet works well), place the flour in a mound and make a well in the center so the flour resembles a volcano. Add the salt in the well. In a separate bowl, combine 4 eggs and parsley and add to the well.

Stir the wet ingredients into the flour gradually. Once combined, knead the dough until both the inside and outside of the dough is tacky but not sticky, using more flour when necessary, about 8 to 15 minutes. Once finished, wrap in cellophane and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Roll the dough: After the dough has rested, remove from refrigerator and cut the dough into 4 equal size portions. Cover three of the four portions and flatten the remaining portion to 1/2 inch thick. Pass the portion through the widest setting of a pasta roller. Then fold the dough into thirds and pass it through the pasta roller again at it's widest setting with the folds perpendicular to the roller. Repeat this once more for a total of three passes through the widest setting. Then pass the dough through the roller once at increasingly smaller settings. (I have an Atlas pasta machine with six settings and went to the fifth one.) Repeat the process with the remaining three dough portions.

4. Make the ravioli: I purchased a ravioli press to construct my ravioli in this manner. If one isn't available, lay a sheet of pasta onto a flat surface and spoon out one-half teaspoon full of the ravioli filling one inch apart and one inch from the edge of the pasta sheet, two-by-two if possible. Whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl brush the egg in between each mound of filling. Lay a second pasta sheet over the first one and press down in between the filling, being careful not to puncture holes in the pasta sheet but pushing out as much air as possible. If not using immediately, make a bed of flour on a sheet pan and freeze the ravioli on the flour. Once frozen, transfer the ravioli to a resealable bag.

5. Finish the dish: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ravioli and cook until they float to the top. Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet until the butter foams but before it browns. Add in the cooked ravioli and 2 tablespoons of pasta water, lemon juice and lemon zest. Swirl to combine and transfer the ravioli to a bowl. Drizzle with the sauce, garnish with basil, and shower with some freshly grated parmesan. Serve immediately.


Just barely. I finally met my match with this dish because of the problems I had throughout. My pasta dough kept tearing when I fed it through the roller at the widest setting. Once I got that issue resolved, I tried to use my ravioli press but kept puncturing holes in the pasta sheets once I layed the first sheet of pasta over the press. Ultimately, what I ended up doing was a hybrid of the two methods in step 4 above: cutting out individual raviolo and shaping each one individually in the press for a uniform size.

I made the dough Friday night and allocated about two hours to roll out the dough and make the ravioli Saturday afternoon. As I was into my sixth hour on Saturday evening with Mrs. Stuntman seeing my frustration growing, I suggested she start looking at take-out menus for dinner. My laborious efforts yielded less than twenty ravioli, however I only used half of the ravioli dough. I was too tired to continue. Because of this, I halved the ingredients in the drizzle which resulted in a muted lemon flavor.

In the end, the effort was well worth it. My friends appreciated the pasta from scratch (not fully knowing my struggles with it) and Mrs. Stuntman said it was her favorite tasting dish I've prepared to date, especially since crab is one of her favorite seafoods. Crab also makes the filling seasonal.

I'm actually thankful for my troubles with this dish because it is what I set out to do when I started this website: make food that is challenging for the home cook. Look for more challenging dishes in 2013. In fact, I already have ideas for my next pasta from scratch dish, elevating my game once again.