Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pan-Roasted Striped Bass with Artichoke Ravioli and Barigoule Vinaigrette

Ok, so i've talked about the canape, the first course, and the dessert from dinner #4... so I suppose its time to explain the many, many ways I screwed up this dish.  And talk about how dinner #4 is The One with the Ravioli.

But at least none of them involved setting the kitchen on fire.  So this could be seen as an improvement.

I already wrote about the barigoule, aka artichoke butchering, here.  If only the produce section had a butcher like the meat section...  And back to topic.

Artichoke ravioli.  The first step (well, after making artichoke barigoule).  Oh, ravioli.

First, the pasta: mis, make a well, knead, pat yourself on the back for the days arm workout.

After having spectacular success with my first attempt at agnolotti, I was full of confidence about the ravioli.  I've actually made ravioli before, I though, it won't be that hard.  Rolling the sheet of dough: check.  Filling... started to encounter some technical difficulties, when I couldn't remember how to correctly use my ravioli-making-filling-thing-a-ma-bobbers.  In my defense, I hadn't use that thing in years.  So, I did *something* with it, which may or may not have been the correct way to use it.  And then I tried to push the mold thing to cut them.  The ravioli stuck.  Like a bi-atch.  (not coincidentally, I have no pictures of this)

I literally had to pry the dough out of the cutter, destroying it.  And getting ravioli filling everywhere.  So.. those were a no-go.  Naturally, I was out of dough.  After going into hysterics about how I didn't have enough time to make another batch, my (seemingly) brilliant husband suggested going to a store and buying some.  Fresh & Easy and Whole Foods both sell pre-made pizza dough, so it was a reasonable suggestion.  Alas, 10 stores later, no one had pasta dough (and lots of people didn't understand why I wouldn't just come and BUY PASTA at the store.  People, I swear, with their rational behavior - sheesh!)

Ok, so I determined that I was going to make my half-cut, mangled dough work.  I literally shook the artichoke filling away - like I was shaking a rug (my trusty floor-cleaners took care of the clean up for me!. Then I scraped it away, until I eventually had a sopping mass of pasta speckled with artichoke.  I added a shitload of flour to it, kneaded, kneaded, and kneaded... and eventually I had something resembling pasta, albeit with tiny flecks of artichokes throughout.

We decided to call them "artichoke-infused ravioli."

I managed to scrape together enough dough to make 6 ravioli, just enough.  The second go-round with the cutter worked a lot better; probably because I coated the crap out of it with flour and pam.

While screwing around with all of this, I was busy reducing barigoule braising liquid, which naturally took forever but didn't require attention, so it didn't matter that I was futzing around with the ravioli.

So, artichoke ravioli and vinaigrette down, it was time for veg garnish (ps, i've decided to exclusively use 'veg' in place of 'vegetable' because (1) I watch too much Top Chef, and they talk about the 'veg' all the time and (2) i'm too lazy to type the whole word each time.)

This consisted of cutting a bunch of carrots into 'batons,' peeling a bunch of red and white pearl onions, and cooking them EACH IN THEIR OWN PAN even though they ALL END UP TOGETHER AT THE END.  I mean, I get it with the carrots, but why do I need to separate the red and white onions?  Whatever, Keller's boss.  (another aside: this is such a big deal because I only have two little saucepans, one of which was busy doing something else.  After this, I decided to go and buy more little saucepans).

(waiting to be put on a plate)

Ravioli done, veg done, something resembling vinaigrette done (it had two layers - a sort of oily one and a more viscous brown layer - which I don't think is right).

All of those things held pretty well (I mean, the ravioli was in the freezer, but everything else was cool over low heat/in warm places), so all I had to do when we were ready for the main was cook the fish and the ravioli.  This took maybe 10 minutes, which seems like a good amount of time between courses to me, so it worked out nicely.

Like the not-black bass, this fish also had skin on.

Unlike the not-black bass, I did nothing to try and keep it on - very nonchalant about the whole thing (because, well, I knew everyone would forget any screw-ups after having dessert).  ALSO unlike the not-black bass, it kept its skin while I was cooking it!  10 points for me!  I don't think it looked pretty and "pan-roasted," though, so maybe its only 5 points.

Wanna see?

The garnish and veg and everything was rather pretty.  The vinaigrette pooled with the basil oil, probably because it wasn't quiiite right.  The fish looked ok, or at the very least, not mangled.  The ravioli LOOKED ok, but it tasted like ass.  I mean, it would have been fine, except the dough was tough and overworked and just a weird texture.  I don't recommend making 'artichoke-infused' dough to anyone who tries this.  Also, I chose not to put the artichoke strips on at the last second.  Even though I knew they were fine to eat, the browning just made them look unappetizing to me.  Overall, it was decent.  I don't love fish, and the striped bass was a little fishy.  I really liked the veg in the basil oil and vinaigrette.  But that's definitely not enough love to make it a keeper.

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