Casserole-Style Burritos: Everything.

The primary components of these burritos are: chicken and onions, Spanish rice, cheese, tortillas (using yesterday’s recipe and method), spicy sauce, and cheese sauce (covered in another post).

Burrito Filling (adapted from Don Miguel’s “Black Bean Chicken Burrito Recipe“)
1 T oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
10 oz pulled chicken in bite-sized pieces
1 C diced tomato or canned tomato
salt and pepper to taste
1 C jack cheese, shredded

1.    Lightly saute the onion in the oil until it is translucent and add the garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes. 
2.    Add the chicken and cook until heated through.
3.    Add the tomatoes and season, then heat through again.
4.    Use the chicken and cheese when assembling the burritos.

Spanish Rice (my personal recipe)
2 C white rice
1/2 diced sweet onion
2 T olive oil
1-2 t each dried oregano, dried basil, chili powder, paprika, cumin, optional red pepper flakes
1/2 C canned crushed tomatoes
2 C water

1.    Place the oil and spices in a deep saucepan or rice pot.
2.    Saute the onions in the oil and spices.
3.    Place one cup of rice in the water and add the other cup to the pot.
4.    After the rice has been heated through in the oil, add the rice, water, and tomatoes. Cook until most, but not all, of the water has boiled off, then cover and simmer over very low heat for 10-15 minutes.
5.    Use when assembling the burritos.

Note: this is a lot of rice and you will probably have some left over.

Spicy Sauce (adapted from Cooks.Com “BAKED BURRITOS WITH SPICY SAUCE“)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 C water
1/3 C canned green chilies
2 T chili powder
1 t cumin
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
2 C water

1.    Cook the onion and garlic in the 1/2 C water for about 5 minutes and add the spices.
2.    Add the chilies, tomato, and water, then simmer for about 15 minutes.
3.    Use when assembling the burritos and over top of the burritos before baking.

Final Casserole Assembly
Chicken filling and cheese
Spanish rice
Spicy and/or cheese sauce
8+ tortillas, depending on size

1.    Oil one or two pans big enough to hold all the burritos. You will want separate pans for each sauce.
2.    Place a tortilla on a large plate, then fill with chicken, cheese, rice, and a little sauce.
3.    Roll the burrito and place in a pan, then repeat for all the burritos.


4.    Top the burritos with their respective sauces, adding more cheese to the top, if desired.


5.    Bake the casserole(s) until they are heated through, then serve.

After getting fresh basil from the cafeteria because everything in the greenhouse had been picked, we ran into our first major problem. Since our knife choices were butter, steak, and 10-inch chef’s, cutting the bone out of chicken thighs was very difficult. So, rather than continuing to fight the raw chicken, Alex suggested that we bake the chicken. Baking the chicken reminded me that making the burrito filling works very well with any leftover cooked chicken; you don’t need to cook your chicken specifically for this meal.

For our sauces, we used canned tomato sauce and canned diced tomatoes. I blended the diced tomatoes a little to remove the large lumps of tomatoes and we used them in just about everything. To avoid opening more cans, I improvised some on the spicy sauce. I’m not sure how the sauce would turn out if I used the exact ingredients specified, but I think it would be good. I think both casseroles would have turned out better if they had both had the correct amount of sauce and spare space in the pan. While there was a good amount of cheese sauce, there was too much space in the pan and the spicy casserole was lacking both sauce and space.

Cheesy Sauce

Spicy Sauce

Personally, I prefer plain wrapped burritos to a casserole, but there are reasons to make one instead of the other. In significant support of the casserole is the awkward shapes of the tortillas. Since we weren’t cutting the dough after rolling it, no two tortillas were the same size or shape. Since the burrito only needs to hold together long enough to be put in the pan for a casserole, the tortilla only has to be strong, not carefully shaped. However, the casserole took a long time to bake in comparison to assembling burritos from hot ingredients and serving immediately.

Overall, both burrito casseroles were successful. Everyone in our class and other classes who came in to eat some of the burritos appeared to like them. However, in addition to getting the amount of sauce correct, Alex thought the burritos could use more chicken and I thought the burritos could use more rice. When we make more burritos, we can see how we want to do the filling ratios.

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Ravioli: Take Two

Yesterday, we quickly mentioned the pumpkin ravioli. This ravioli is similar to the four cheese in that the dough is the same, but other than that, they are very different. The filling has pumpkin puree, which is the insides of a pumpkin minus the seeds baked at 350˚ with the shell, and then pureed. It also has nutmeg, ricotta, and salt. We made this mixture and left it in the fridge overnight.

Today we are assembling both the four cheese and the pumpkin ravioli, and so far things are turning out as expected! We have already learned the thinner the dough the better. While boiling you will be able to tell if the dough is too thick because the dough will start to separate from itself and form air pockets. Luckily, we learned this from our first trial and we were able to make the pumpkin ravioli a bit thinner, but it was still slightly too thick. The filling was still delicious.

Ravioli Dough

2 c all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 t olive oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 T water

  1. Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl and form a well. Beat the olive oil, eggs, and water in a bowl. Pour half the egg mixture into the well. Begin mixing the egg with the flour with one hand; use your other hand to keep the flour mound steady. Add the remaining egg mixture and knead to form a dough.
  2. Knead the dough until smooth, this will take about 8 to 10 minutes, and add more flour if the dough is too sticky. Form the dough into a ball and wrap tightly with plastic., then refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. After chilled, flatten dough with a rolling pin and make into a large rectangle

Pumpkin Ravioli Filling 

Ingredients

1 c ricotta cheese
1/2 c pumpkin puree
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground nutmeg

Directions

  1. Mix the cheese, pumpkin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the nutmeg. Set filling aside.
  2. Drop 2 level teaspoons filling onto half of the rectangle, about 1 1/2 inches apart in 2 rows of 4 mounds each. Moisten the edges of the dough, and the dough between the rows of pumpkin mixture with water. Fold the other half of the dough up over the pumpkin mixture, pressing the dough down around the pumpkin. Cut between the rows of filling to make ravioli; press the edges together with a fork, or cut with a pastry wheel. Seal edges well. Repeat with the remaining dough and pumpkin filling. Place ravioli on towel. Let stand, turning once, until dry, about 30 minutes.
  3. Cook ravioli in 4 quarts of boiling salted water until tender; drain carefully.

For later in the week, we are going to attempt to contact anyone we know to try to find an attachment to the kitchen aid to make the pasta thinner. This would make the pasta making process much easier and would allow us to make thinner pasta, hopefully improving the overall quality of the dish. For tomorrow, we plan to try making uniform-sized squares and lay them on top of one another and crimp all four edges, instead of a slice that we fold. Hopefully allowing a thinner edge and decreasing the amount of dough to filling ratio. Other changes we hope to make are a smaller ravioli to allow for a shorter cooking time. We also plan to make sure the ravioli is served hot to make sure the cheese filling doesn’t harden in the cool air.

Although today the ravioli cooking process went very smoothly and was much easier than we thought, the final product was very unsatisfactory.  I personally found both the taste and texture of the ravioli utterly disgusting. The thickness of the dough upset my stomach and made the ravioli itself difficult to eat. Although the filling of both had an exceptional flavor, the proportions of the ravioli to filling was all wrong. Pasta is my favorite dish, and today was disappointing. For the rest of the week I want to be more cautious about thickness and distribution, hopefully with the mistakes made today this will be possible.

-Jenna

My expectations of the ravioli were not met in today’s attempts. The raviolis came out looking sad and diseased. This appearance was brought on by the discoloration, appearing almost white, and the air bubbles on the surface. The thickness of the dough was also a problem. The dough turned tough, and thick when cooked, even though we rolled it out thinner than a dime. Tomorrow I hope to remedy these problems by making the ravioli differently, rolling the dough thinner, and serving them hot. The assembly will be different in the way that we are cutting two uniform sheets and laying one atop the other with the filling in between. The other two steps seem self explanatory.

-Ryan

I was not expecting the taste and texture of the ravioli at all. We made the pasta as thin as a dime, but the ravioli was still very thick. It made the cook time of the ravioli much longer than usual. , and when I ate just a few, my stomach felt very queasy. The filling was very good and helped drown of the taste of the pasta.  In the pumpkin ravioli, the nutmeg was much stronger than all of the other tastes. I almost couldn’t taste the pumpkin it was so strong.  I think that a pasta maker could help make the pasta thinner, which would lessen my stomach ache. Also, making squares the same size could minimize the amount of extra pasta on the sides of the ravioli.

-Zeb

Looking Towards a Week of Mexican Food (Now with tortillas)

Today, we will be investigating the Mexican tradition of burritos, using homemade tortillas, homemade sauce, and our very own homemade spiced chicken. Our group will focus on this for the entire week. We will be sticking with the same meat, the same tortilla, and the same rice recipes, but changing between sauces to see which fits best. This process begins today. Along with this, we are making authentic Mexican rice, using a family recipe from Thomas.

Tortillas (adapted from Hillbilly Housewife’s “Flour Tortilla“)
4 C flour
1 t salt
2 t baking powder
5 T lard, shortening, butter, or vegetable oil
1 1/2 C water

1.    Mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder, then cut or mix the fat into the flour.
2.    Mix all the water into the flour and fat in stages until the dough comes together.
3.    Split the dough into 8-16 pieces, depending on the size and thickness of tortilla desired. Some experimentation may be necessary.
4.    Lightly flour a counter and roll out the dough. The goal is to make the tortillas as thin as possible without tearing or folding the tortilla.
5.    Cook the tortillas on a hot griddle or pan without any grease. If you can roll the tortillas fast enough, you can cook and roll tortillas simultaneously. If not, you can roll a set of tortillas and layer them between pieces of waxed paper.
6.    For hard tortillas, serve immediately. To make tortillas soft for burritos or soft tacos, place the tortillas in a large sealable plastic bag and leave them there until you are ready to prepare the next dish.

It took quite a few tries to get these tortillas to turn out. Notably, you do not want to use any grease on the cooking surface because the tortillas will cook and not stick. Depending on the desired size of the tortilla, a pan might be large enough, but for burrito wrapper sized tortillas, you will need to use a very large cooking surface. Also, depending on how long the dough sits out, it may be necessary to wet the each ball before rolling it.

Figure out how step six in the above instructions worked was quite an interesting procedure. After some “quick fix” attempts using wet paper towels and a microwave or making slightly wetter dough didn’t work. Since we aren’t planning on serving the tortillas immediately (they will be burrito wrappers), the plastic bag method seems to be the most effective and useful way to soften the tortillas.

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Ravioli: Take One

This week we are focusing on one dish and evolving it throughout the week. The dish we are focusing on is ravioli. The plan for the week is to start by using a simple cheese recipe, and after we have practiced the basics we will use more complicated recipies including pumpkin and bacon. Seeing as we don’t have a lot of practice making ravioli, we know this will be an adventure. We have budgeted for mistakes, but hope to not make any. Our goal for today is to have another smooth cooking day and make another delious meal.

Four Cheese Ravioli

Ingredients

Ravioli Dough:

2 c all-purpose flour

1 pinch salt

1 t olive oil

2 eggs

1 1/2 T water

Ravioli Filling:

1 (8 oz) container ricotta cheese

1 (4 oz) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 c provolone cheese, shredded

1 egg

1 1/2 t dried parsley

Directions

  1. Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl and form a well. Beat the olive oil, eggs, and water in a bowl. Pour half the egg mixture into the well. Begin mixing the egg with the flour with one hand; use your other hand to keep the flour mound steady. Add the remaining egg mixture and knead to form a dough.
  2. Knead the dough until smooth, this will take about 8 to 10 minutes, and add more flour if the dough is too sticky. Form the dough into a ball and wrap tightly with plastic., then refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. While the dough is resting, prepare the ravioli filling. Mix the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese, egg, and parsley and set the filling aside.
  4. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Beat the egg with the tablespoon of water to make the egg wash.
  5. Roll out the pasta dough into thin sheets and assemble the ravioli. Brush the egg wash over a sheet of pasta and drop the filling mixture on the dough by teaspoonfuls about one inch apart. Cover the filling with the top sheet of pasta, pressing out the air from around each portion of filling. Press firmly around the filling to seal. Cut into individual ravioli with a knife or pizza cutter and seal the edges.
  6. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in the ravioli, and return to a boil. Cook uncovered until the ravioli float to the top and the filling is hot, this should take about 4 to 8 minutes.
  7. Drain the ravioli

Today we were a bit short on time. This morning we were working on an informational video, and so we only had two hours in the afternoon to make our four cheese ravioli. Since the ravioli has to sit in the fridge for an hour, we decided not to actually finish one ravioli project, but to make the filling and the dough for the pumpkin and four cheese ravioli’s. We ran into a bit of trouble with the dough. First, we managed to spill egg all over the floor when we added to the flour and salt well, because we made the well on a cutting board and it slid out of the well when we tried to mix it. We ended up having to add a lot of water, and some olive oil to make the dough. At least we didn’t have to start over, and the dough is sitting overnight tonight, so that it will be ready to be shaped first thing in the morning. The filling went without error, and is also sitting in the fridge overnight, ready to be glopped in the middle.

Chicken and Dumpling Soup

Basic Chicken Soup
2 T oil
1 onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
4 stalks of celery, diced
2 quarts chicken stalk
2 C diced chicken
1 T poultry seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

1.    Saute the onions in the oil until they are translucent.
2.    Add the remaining vegetables and saute for anther 2-3 minutes. Add the poultry seasoning and about a teaspoon of salt to the vegetables.
3.    Add the chicken stock and bring the soup to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for half an hour.
4.    Add the chicken to the soup and stir well. Let the soup continue to simmer for ten minutes.
5.    Add the dumplings from the following recipe and cook accordingly.

Dumplings

(adapted from “Mom’s Simple Dumplings“)

1 1/2 C flour
2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
3 T shortening
3/4 C milk

1.    Whisk together the dry ingredients and cut in the shortening
2.    Slowly add the milk into the mixture. Be sure not to overmix the dough.
3.    Drop lumps of dough into boiling soup or stew. The dumplings should remain on top of the soup. Cook covered for ten minutes.

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A Tale of Two Chickens

Group 1:   Today, we are cooking two different chickens with completely different origins. One, short-legged, fat , and slightly square, comes from an unknown factory in America. The other, long-legged and lean, comes from the backyard of our instructor, Ms.Baker. These chickens have nothing in common except for the fact the they are chickens.  The differences between a homegrown chicken and the industrialized one are great.

Local, Free Range Chicken (Left) vs. Industrial Chicken (Right)

The home-bred one has been allowed to roam in a large area, and has been fed healthily with grass and chicken-feed, and also corn on cold winter nights. This makes the chicken leaner and long-legged.

The factory chicken had only eaten corn for two months before it was slaughtered for its tender meat. It has rarely been allowed to move to maximize the amount of meat on the bird. The lack of movement gives the chicken a larger breast and shorter legs.

There is a large difference between the taste and texture of the two chickens. The home-bred chicken, though leaner, was much less stringy and had a lot more taste to it. That is probably because of the healthy diet it ate with grass and a few different types of grain. The home-bred chicken also had some juices still in it. The store-bought chicken was much more stringy, and was pretty bland and tasteless, but there was also more of it.

This would bring up the question of what type of chicken should a person buy if they wanted chicken. Well, if you wanted more chicken to feed a larger group, you might want to buy one, maybe even two, store-bought chickens. But if you are a party of two or three, a home-bred chicken would do you just fine, and you would also get the delicious flavor. All in all, I liked both chickens, though I did like the home-bred chicken a little more.

Group 2:  There were many differences between the two chickens set before us on the counter. Firstly, one was free-range, and the other was an industrial chicken. You would almost have thought that they were two different species of birds. What people don’t know is that they practically are. The ways that industrial chickens are processed before they are put into stores seem disgusting. Firstly, chickens are bred and fed to grow so fat and weak that they no longer will be able to walk and barely move. By the time they are taken to the slaughter houses, the chickens would not be able to last much longer if they were left to live.

     The visual differences included the fact that the free-range chickens had longer, more muscular legs, versus the industrial chicken, which had perfectly poised stubby legs that folded right into the breast of the bird. The color of the two different birds were also very different; the industrial chicken had almost a yellow tint to it while the free-ranged chicken was white. The holes in the skin are still left on the free-range chicken where the feathers had previously been, but on the the other chicken, the skin is very smooth and appears to not have had any feathers whatsoever.
     The industrial chick had much different proportions: the breast was much fatter and full, by far surpassing the size of the free-range chick breast, though the actual sizes of the bird revealed that the free-range was larger as a whole. The free-range chicken was much more shapely: it had more angles and more points, and was more proportional in terms of the breast and legs.
     The free-range chicken had been slaughtered and had been left with the internal organs still inside and the neck, which is used for stock, still attached. Since the industrial bird had all of these parts in a small little bag, included in the chicken package, we also assumed that it had been drained of blood before being wrapped up and sent out. The difference between the amount of blood produced by the two birds was surprising, yet most Americans think nothing of the processing that their chicken must go through before it hits their table.
Group 3:
 

The previous question regarding chickens was related to which came first, the chicken or the egg. Technological advances have allowed the human race to directly manipulate the chicken to increase yield drastically. When juxtaposing a factory chicken with a homegrown chicken, the differences are drastic. The size and shape of the differing birds is the most obvious. The homegrown bird appears skinny, with long, well developed legs. It also has small breasts and wings, the more meat around the legs. The factory chicken is almost boxed shaped, with a large amount of meat everywhere. The bird is obese, only able to be living for two months before the overfed and caged birds become so large that their legs break under the weight of their own bodies. when comparing and contrasting the two birds, one begins to wonder if the new, more important question regarding the chicken is centered around the treatment of the birds, and which is healthier for human consumption.

“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Stock made from each chicken.

The First Day of Class: Safety Lessons & Homemade Pizza

Today, we began J-Term with a great introduction to kitchen safety by our own Chef Jeff.  Students learned about food safety and how to protect themselves in the kitchen.

Chef Jeff Addressing the Students

We also did our first bit of cooking: homemade pizza.  We started with a very basic flour, water, salt and yeast crust, topping it with a simple homemade sauce and a variety of toppings (including basil from our very own greenhouse).  Below, you can find our recipe, which we doubled (with plenty of leftovers for later cooking experiments).

Kathryn, Amory and Anna Experimenting with Pizza Toppings

Basic Tomato Sauce

Time Commitment: 2 Hours

2 T Olive Oil

Fresh Sauce, Bubbling Away

1 T Salt
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 28 oz. Cans Crushed Tomatoes
1/8 c. Basil, Shredded

  1. Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a stock pot.
  2. Add salt and garlic and saute until fragrant.
  3. Add crushed tomatoes and basil.
  4. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer until thick (about 2 hours).

Homemade Pizza

Pizza, Ready for the Oven!

After shaping the crust into rounds, we blind baked them on a pizza stone at 500 degrees for three minutes to set the bottom and prevent sticking.  We then covered them with a thick layer of sauce and topped them with a mixture of mozzarella cheese, basil, vegetables, ham and sausage.  After baking them for ten minutes, the students couldn’t wait to slice them and dig in!

One of Many Successful Pizzas!

While our pizzas were cooking, students began to plan what they are going to make for the rest of the week.

Ryan, Jenna and Zeb Brainstorm Ideas

Come back tomorrow for adventures in eggs and our first student posts!