I’ve heard that what you do on the first day of a new year will set the tone for the rest of the year. I’ve been told that in some Latin American cultures you eat grapes to bring prosperity, and wear red underwear to promote love and romance. Traditions fascinate me. I always wear something new, or at least a new combination of clothes on January 1. I’m not sure what exactly that is supposed to symbolize, but a fresh start after a rather long and difficult year sounds good to me.
So who am I, and what do I have to say? Well, let’s just say I wear many hats. I am a paralegal by day, and a rampant foodie by night. My heart is with my family, and my passion is exploring the world through the lens of the arts and sciences, particularly cooking and writing.
I am the daughter of a scientist, and an artist, and even though they seem so different from each other, their goals are one and the same. They are both explorers of the world around them; the only difference was the way they do it. The methodology, the language, and how they interpret their findings are different, but the unifying factor is that they are both discoverers.
I’ve always been torn between art and science, and only recently realized how very similar they are. I always thought if I could somehow reconcile the two, I would discover my one true passion (if you believe in that sort of thing). I even considered a career in neon sign making because the process used to create a sign involved science, but just as quickly grew bored with the idea. How much artist freedom is there really with [OPEN]?
Cooking embodies the ultimate blend, a frappé if you will, of art and science. A recipe offers structure, but is still very open to interpretation. Cooking is what I do when I need to create something new, to meditate, nourish my family, and entertain my friends. My mom gave me my first cookbook for Christmas when I was 8 years old, and I’ve been cooking and baking independently ever since.
In short, I am here to share my discoveries, to seek out a creative community, and to push myself to see what else is out there. In other words, I have a very strong need to create, but I am also a practiced procrastinator, and work much better with deadlines.
So it makes sense to start a blog with a new year. I began this January morning building my blog, and cuddling with my 2 ½ year old. Out of the blue, she asked me to take a picture of her binkies. How could I refuse?
My plans for the rest of the day did not go exactly according to plan. I visited my friend and her new baby girl at the hospital, and I had a lovely time visiting with my brother and his family. Lovely, that is, until my youngest smashed her finger in a door. There is nothing worse than seeing your baby in pain and knowing you can’t take it away for them.
My brother and his wife were very sweet, and offered everything they had to soothe a little one; a cutesy flower shaped ice pack, milk in a sippy cup, a frozen yogurt pop, and Toy Story. We took her back to my mom’s house. She fell asleep in the car on the five-minute drive.
After tucking her into a comfy bed on the floor with a pink baby blanket from when I was a baby, I asked if she wanted me to stay with her, or go and let her sleep. She said, “I want you to stay. I don’t want you to go.” I told her I will stay. I’m not going anywhere. That’s all we really need isn’t it? Just to know that your family will be there when you need them.
My other semi-foiled plan of the day was to make butternut squash ravioli with sage cream sauce to bring to my cousin tomorrow in Santa Clara. She was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer at the beginning of November. The good news is, she has kept her sense of humor. She’s one of the few people I know who can have the doctors laughing as they are wheeling her off to surgery. She will use three lol’s in one sentence in a text or e-mail, and it makes perfect sense because that’s exactly who she is.
I had made the ravioli once before a long time ago, and apparently typed up the recipe and sent it to her. She loved it, and has asked me to make it for her again. The problem is, I can’t find the recipe I had made and typed up before, so I had to recreate it. I’m hoping this new version lives up to her memories. The sage cream sauce is a new addition. I had only done a basic brown butter sauce the first time. So it’s New and Improved.
Hopefully this will live up to your expectations as well. Here’s to a New Year!
Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Cream Sauce
1 ½ cups butternut squash puree
1 cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup loosely packed shredded Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1 package wonton wrappers
2 cups heavy cream
2-3 sprigs fresh sage
1/3 cup loosely packed, shredded Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
dash of fresh ground black pepper
1) In a medium bowl or stand mixer, combine butternut squash puree, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt, and nutmeg. (Filling can be made a day ahead)
2) Put a big pot of water on to boil.
3) Lay individual wrappers on a dry surface, and put a small spoonful of filling in each center. Dip your finger in a bowl of water and wet the wrapper edges, making sure there’s no filling near the edges that will cause leakage. Fold wrapper in half and press edges tightly together.
4) For the sauce: Put heavy cream and whole sprigs of sage into a medium saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Simmer, still stirring often, for about 10 minutes until sauce thickens. Remove sage, strain if necessary. Then add Parmesan, salt, nutmeg, and pepper. heat for another 5 minutes or so until the cheese has melted. Remove from heat.
5) When you are ready to cook the ravioli turn the heat down to a simmer, and add half a tablespoon salt.
6) Cook in small batches, 4-5 ravioli at a time, for 2-3 minutes until they float. Remove gently to a strainer and then plate. Spoon sauce over the ravioli and serve with fresh cracked black pepper and more Parmesan.
Roast your own butternut squash! Use instead of canned pumpkin, and you’ll never go back. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds with a melon baller or spoon. Rub cut side with a little olive oil and bake flat side down on a foil covered cookie sheet for 40-60 minutes (depending on size) at 400 degrees until a fork pierces it very easily, like cutting through melted butter(nut). Puree and then measure 1½ cup portions into freezer bags. Freezes very well for several months.