It feels good to be lounging around my apartment on a Saturday morning again. I’ve been away the past two weekends, first to Maryland to visit my in-laws and then to Philly to meet up with my mom. Both trips were enjoyable, but it’s always nice to be able to sleep in on a Saturday morning in your own bed.
I’ve been thinking a fair amount about what life will be like after one (or both) of my parents die. I’m not someone who dwells on death by any means, so it’s a bit new for me to be spending time pondering this. Maybe it’s because one of my grandmas was recently moved into a nursing home. She isn’t doing so well. My other grandma has been in a nursing home for a few years now. I know it’s a bit of a leap to go from that to, “Oh my gosh, my parents are next,” but I’m in no way prepared to say goodbye to either of my parents. One of the interesting things about living far away from them is that they appear to age so much faster. I typically only see them once a year, and besides the gray hair, etc. that comes with aging, I’ve started to notice a change in the way they carry themselves. They are not the middle-aged parents that I left behind 12 years ago when I moved to NYC.
I am trying to be more present when I spend time with them. I want to take it all in, and just enjoy who they are without wanting to change them. When my husband and I were in Maryland, my mother-in-law agreed to show me how to make a few of her recipes. One of them was Mr. K’s favorite dish, and another was my favorite dish. Of course, being an Indian woman, absolutely nothing was written down, so it was a lot of, “About this much cumin, and about this much rice.” After a few times of asking what the equivalent measurement would be and not getting a straight answer, I finally just started frantically scribbling down everything she showed me in the hopes that I will be able to replicate these recipes with some semblance to the way she makes them. She is an incredible cook, and what’s more, my husband considers her cooking true comfort food.
Last weekend I was in Philly with my mom. She brought along some scrapbook cards that we have been sending back and forth to each other to fill out over the last year or so. One of the questions I had to answer was, What Were You Good At As A Child? I put down that I was a good speller, since I remember winning at least one spelling bee as a kid. But then I answered another card with the same answer apparently, which caused my mom to ask incredulously, “Did you think spelling was the only thing you were good at?” while laughing uncontrollably. We had one of those wonderful and rare moments where she started laughing, which caused me to start laughing, and then neither of us could stop. Supposedly, I was good at other things, like math, but I don’t buy it. She also told me that I was dyslexic and had to see a reading specialist the summer before kindergarten. From what my mom says, I absolutely adored this specialist, but I have no recollection of her whatsoever. Isn’t that strange? Someone who was so helpful to me and brought me so much joy, and yet I have no memory of her. The brain is so mysterious. It was great to have a weekend with my mom. I missed her the minute I hopped on the train back to NYC.
Ricotta-Pea Ravioli with Mushrooms. It screams spring, doesn’t it? Using wonton wrappers makes this recipe very approachable. I love the sweetness of the peas, combined with the creaminess of the ricotta. If you want more umami flavor and saltiness, which I did, feel free to add some (cooked) bacon to the filling. The original recipe called for shaved asparagus to be added at the end, but I left it out. This is yet another recipe that I could not stop eating, and was sad when I had my last serving of it.
Ricotta-Pea Ravioli with Mushrooms
Adapted from Cooking Light
2/3 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (about 2)
5 teaspoons chipped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
16 ounces (2 1/2 cups) mixed mushrooms (such as shiitake, cremini, and oyster)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1. To prepare filling, combine the first 8 ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
2. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet, and put 12 wonton wrappers on baking sheet. Fill small bowl with 1/4 cup room temperature water.
3. Spoon 1 1/2 teaspoons filling mixture on each wonton wrapper. Dip finger in water, and moisten all four edges of wonton wrapper, as you go along. Place another wonton wrapper on top of moistened wrapper, pressing around filling to seal. Repeat procedure with remaining wrappers and filling mixture to form 24 ravioli. Cover with dishcloth (to prevent drying out) and set aside.
4. To prepare sauce, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and next 3 ingredients (through mushrooms) to pan; cook 8 minutes or until mushrooms are browned and tender, stirring occasionally. Add broth and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 4 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Remove from heat; keep warm.
5. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add 4 ravioli to each pan; cook 3-4 minutes or until ravioli float to the surface. Remove ravioli from water with a slotted spoon. Place ravioli on a tray, making sure they do not overlap; cover and keep warm.
6. Place 4 ravioli on each of 6 plates; top each serving with 1/2 cup sauce. Sprinkle each serving with 4 teaspoons cheese.