Monday, December 15, 2008

Raffetto's Pumpkin Ravioli with Homemade Tomato Sauce

I don't know about you, but I am tired of Manhattan being overrun by chains. How many many banks, drug stores and frozen yogurt places does one borough need?

That is why I love Raffetto's on West Houston Street. In business since 1906, Raffetto's makes fresh pasta and ravioli right on the premises. While pasta and ravioli are their specialty, Raffetto's also sells homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and other Italian products. Given the neighborhood, and the fact that it is Manhattan, you would think fresh pasta and ravioli would be expensive. But its not. Raffetto's is completely reasonable.

The other day I stopped by and picked up some of their pumpkin ravioli. The combination of pumpkin with a hint of nutmeg and other spices, topped with made-myself tomato sauce was delicious.

Homemade tomato sauce

Olive oil, one turn of the pan
1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic
2 28 oz cans of whole, plum tomatoes
Italian seasoning, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Open cans of tomatoes and separate tomatoes from the juice. Reserve the juice. Crush each tomato by gently squeezing them with your hand, breaking them into pieces. If you like a chunkier sauce, then keep the tomato pieces bigger. Put the tomatoes to the side.

Heat oil over medium high heat in a large saucepan. Add garlic and onion. Cook until onions are soft. Add tomato juice and cook for two minutes. Then add the tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper. Simmer for half-an-hour, and then serve. Freeze any left over sauce in the freezer for future use.

144 W Houston St
New York, NY 10012-2546
(212) 777-1261

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cranberries, oh my

I know I am little late with the cranberries, as Thanksgiving as come and gone. But bear with me, because it has been crazy at work, and by the time I get home at night, all I want to do is fall into bed.

This Thanksgiving was the first Thanksgiving at my apartment, and while I didn't make the turkey (a broken oven, which has now been replaced by a brand spanking new one), I did make some sides. And the one I absolutely insisted on making was cranberry sauce. Let me tell you why.

I HATE canned jellied cranberry sauce. Each Thanksgiving, its slid out of its metal container, placed in a bowl and then sliced up like a roll of Pillsbury cookie dough. It just looks so manufactured. And who wants to eat essentially cranberry jello on their turkey? Not me. So this year I made real cranberry sauce, and the canned kind was banned from setting its little jelly foot in my apartment.

And it is was ridiculously easy. Embarrassingly easy. And I made it the night before. So the question remains: why do people eat canned cranberry sauce then?

Basic Cranberry Sauce
(from Everyday Food)
Yield: 2 cups

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 bag (12 oz.) cranberries, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp. grated lemon zest and 1 cup water. Bring mixture to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer, and cook until the cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer the cranberries to a bowl and let them cool to room temperature. To store, refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 week.