Fettuccine with Gorgonzola Sauce and Scallops

I went a little fancy last night, but still without breaking the bank.  I made some fettuccine while making other pasta, and Trader Joe's continues to be a good source for Gorgonzola at $5.79/lb.  The local supermarket had sea scallops for $8/lb, which is a special treat for me, and asparagus for $2/lb.  I won't pay for heavy cream, and I turned all my milk into yogurt, so I used yogurt in the sauce and it worked just fine.

Whole Wheat Fettuccine:
1 cup flour, 1 egg, 2 Tbsp milk
$0.50, 500 calories

Gorgonzola Sauce:
1/3 lb Gorgonzola cheese - $2 - 500 calories
2 Tbsp butter - $0.19 - 200 calories
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp flour - $0.02 - 50 calories
1 cup plain yogurt - $0.37 (organic, homemade) - 80 calories
splash of lemon juice
splash of sake (or whatever white wine is lying around, optional)

8 sea scallops, 1/2 lb - $4 - 200 calories
1 Tbsp butter - $0.10 - 100 calories (not all consumed)

1/2 lb asparagus - $1 - 30 calories
1 Tbsp olive oil - $0.05 - 100 calories (not all consumed)

Read all this first.  You'll be juggling around the stove.  Start cooking the pasta, frying the asparagus in oil with pepper in a skillet, and frying the garlic in butter in a small pot.  When the garlic is browned, whisk in the flour to make a garlicky roux.  When the roux is foamy, whisk in the yogurt (cream, milk, whatever) and bring to a simmer.

Remember to drain the noodles when they're done, and set aside.  Also set aside the asparagus when it is done.  Toss a tablespoon of butter on the skillet when the asparagus is off, turn up the heat, and sear the scallops for about 2 minutes on each side.  Crumble up the Gorgonzola and whisk it into the sauce until it melts.  The scallops will have slightly crisp golden ends, and be so tender in the middle.  I used Alton Brown's method, but I may go for longer time at a lower heat in the future.  Do not use a non-stick skillet.

The pasta and sauce alone run under $3.50 and about 1400 calories.  This whole decadent meal ran $8.50 and 1800 calories, or $4.50 and 900 calories per stuffed person.  Even after breakfast, a hearty PB&J, and an apple in the afternoon, we come in comfortably at the average daily budget for someone receiving supplementary nutritional assistance.


Ricotta: Ravioli and Pumpkin Pie

Ricotta was on sale, so I bought some and decided to make it into a ravioli and a pie.  After learning from my mistakes while making pasta, I have settled on a method that has been working pretty well for me:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 egg
2 Tbsp milk

This ingredient set doubles well, also.  Most pasta recipes that I have found use less fluid, but they also tend to use AP flour or special pasta flour that I don't see at my supermarket.  Whole wheat flour seems to be thirstier, and if I use any less liquid, I end up with a crumbly dough that falls to pieces.  Mix up those ingredients (I just use a fork and my hands on a cutting board) until you get an evenly-moist wad, roll it into a ball, cover and let rest for half an hour (I put a big mug upside-down over it).

For each cup of flour that you used, tear your dough ball into three pieces, if you are using a pasta machine instead of a rolling pin.  Pound down a piece and roll it out.  On my machine, I rolled the sheets down to a size 2, except for one piece that I rolled to a size 1 as an experiment.  A ravioli that I made with size 1 dough broke in the boiling water, so I recommend using size 2.  You may have to experiment, too, since I don't know how to communicate that thickness.

I used a drinking glass to cut out circles from the dough sheets, and kept rolling the scraps together until all the dough was used.  I took a circle, brushed it with a mixture of egg and water (1 egg was more than enough to brush all the ravioli).  Then I put a heaping tablespoon of ricotta in the middle of the circle, covered it with another circle, and crimped the edges together all around with my fingers.  As an experiment, some I just pushed down, others I dug in with my fingernails, and others I folded over the edges to make a stronger seal.  None of the raviolis opened around a seam, so it didn't seem to matter how each was sealed, except aesthetically.

I made some spaghetti, too, and draped it over a dowel rod to dry.

The ravioli sat out for a while before it was time for dinner, and I don't know how that affected their cooking.  I carefully dropped them into boiling water until they were all floating, about six minutes.  I took out the ravioli with a skimmer.  I used an 8 oz can of tomato sauce that I heated in a pot with minced garlic and spices, and I dusted everything with some Parmesan (just Kraft).

They were pretty good.  Whole wheat pasta is an acquired taste, and ricotta cheese has very little flavor.  I am sure that they would be better with different kind of cheese inside, or some spices.  This was a very basic experiment, and I think it worked out well enough.  All the ravioli together cost about $1, and had about 700 calories.  Quite a bargain for dinner for two.  Add some green veggies.

The pie cost about $5 to make:

2 eggs - $0.20 - 140 calories
1 cup ricotta - ~$0.60 - 320 calories
3/4 cup brown sugar - $0.30 - 540 calories
1/2 tsp salt
16 oz canned pumpkin - $? - 175 calories
Pre-made graham cracker crust, store brand - $1 - 880 calories
4 oz Pecans - ~$1.25 ($5/lb) - 800 calories

Beat the eggs in a bowl.  Beat in the ricotta.  Stir in the pumpkin, brown sugar, salt and spices.  Pour into the pie crust (yes, I am so lame for using a pre-made crust).  Put pecans on top.  Bake at 375 F for 45 minutes.

Very easy to make.  Each slice (1/8th of the pie) costs about $0.60 and has about 360 calories.

House Cleaning Soup

Sometimes you find yourself with a fridge, freezer, or pantry full of small amounts of things or old things that you have any particular idea for, and that might head to the compost heap if not used soon.  Those are the times for House Cleaning Soup.  Chuck it all in a pot, spice it up, and simmer for a few hours.  I just made about a gallon of delicious soup, and I think it ran me about $5.  Here's what I had lying around:

Cauliflower, half a head on its way out chopped
a quart of chicken jelly
a little bit of leftover rice
3 carrots, finely chopped
3 celery ribs, finely chopped
spinach, a few ounces frozen in a brick at the back of the freezer
some button mushrooms
some scallions
a big can of diced tomatoes
a cup of water
7 ripped up dried arbol chili peppers
minced garlic
a little S&P
2 frozen cod fillets, chopped (added towards the end of cooking)

You could use anything, though.  Just about any vegetables or meats can get thrown in a soup.  It's better than wasting food.  My co-eater did not like the spinach, though.