Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Absurdly Long Recipe Alert! Two Cheese Ravioli And Sauce

Get Your Rolling Pin
Make some ravioli
Serve it with sauce
Or plain with butter
Look, no filling leaked out in the pot! That's some good ravioli sealing
Get your mother-in-law to give you her fancy, Italian pasta maker.

A while back, my mother-in-law brought me her old pasta maker as a gift. I promptly put it in a cabinet and forgot about it. I'd always rolled pasta with a pin, and it never really dawned on me that the machine would be easier-I thought the results would be purely cosmetic.

The disk in my neck was killing me today, so I dragged out the box and decided to try it. Somewhat amusingly, there was a note from TSA in the box saying they had inspected it (I guess it probably did seem like a big heavy metal object to be carrying in checked luggage) and found everything in order. Curiously there was also a sheet of paper with a recipe for pasta on it that was not in my mother's hand. I'm wondering if the inspector was a jokester. "Franco's Pasta" does not sound like my mother-in-law's sort of thing. Anyway, I cleaned it up and tried it out for these ravioli and well, what do you know-it is easier! Thanks, Anne!

I didn't have a recipe (except of course for the mysterious Franco's) so I improvised one based on my regular egg noodles exchanging semolina and adding a tablespoon of olive oil. It worked well, though I would use just slightly less salt were I to make it again. Mr. Eat The Blog thought it was just right, so perhaps that is a matter of taste.

The filling was equally improvised based on what was in my fridge. That ended up being cottage cheese, some Pepato cheese and chopped parsley. This was perfect to serve with a red sauce.

I suppose it is now dangerous that I have discovered how easy making ravioli is with the help of a pasta maker-I see some salmon/tarragon ravioli in the immediate future.

You Will Need:

For The Pasta:

3 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg (I used Extra large) Reserve egg whites for brushing the ravioli closed
3 tablespoons ice water
1 teaspoon salt (less if you like)
1 tablespoon olive oil
(about) 3 cups semolina flour

For The Filling:

4 cups 4% cottage cheese (any size curd will do-I had large) drained through cheesecloth in a strainer and then squeezed dry of most liquid. If you plan ahead, it can drain in the fridge overnight.
1 cup (This is quite a bit, I know) finely grated Pepato cheese (sheep's milk with peppercorns) or any hard cheese you prefer.
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

Mash it all together until it is well blended-can be made a day ahead.

For The Sauce:

I don't think I've ever made the same spaghetti sauce twice, but this one was particularly good-and meatless.

2 tins of 28 ounce whole Italian tomatoes
4 tins of 15 ounce tomato sauce
1 tiny tin of tomato paste
Olive oil-about 4 tablespoons to start-may need more
1 cup chopped olives (I used Kalamata and Sicilian)
1-2 large yellow onions, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
8 carrots, peeled, and chopped small
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
a handful of fresh, chopped parsley
A generous grinding of fresh black pepper

Sauce Instructions:

In a large, heavy pot (not aluminum) heat the oil. Add the onion, carrots, garlic, pepper, bay leaves, spices and pepper. Cook over medium heat until softened. Add the tomatoes (and juice), sauce and paste. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a very slow simmer. Cover and cook several hours. I let mine go about five. Give it a stir once in a while. Taste, adjust seasonings if needed and add more olive oil if you prefer a richer sauce.

I try to cool my sauce quickly in numerous shallow containers to avoid food borne illness. What you don't want to do is put a massive amount of sauce in a large container in the fridge-that's how bacteria breed. You can combine the containers after they cool, but give them twenty minutes on the counter in shallow dishes (pyrex works great) and then chill in the fridge.

This sauce also freezes quite well.

With an electric mixer, beat the eggs until very light. Beat in the water and salt. Slowly add the semolina by hand until you have a stiff dough. You may not need all of it, or you may need more, so go slowly-you can always add more if it feels sticky as you knead. The dough should feel very stiff. Knead it for a few minutes then wrap it in clingfilm and let it rest for twenty minutes. This will make it easier to handle, so really, don't skip this step.

You'll still need to roll the dough a bit in pieces before fitting it through the pasta maker, so get your biggest, heaviest rolling pin. Mine is a monster from France I call, Rabelais. Hey look, do I tell you what to name your rolling pin? Yeah, I didn't think so.

So once you do a couple initial passes through the machine keep tightening the gears until it is quite thin. You'll be folding the pasta over so it really shouldn't be too thick. When you have a nice long sheet, lay it out on a good work surface. Place small amounts of filling in the middle of the ribbon of pasta about two inches apart. Brush all around the mounds and edges with the beaten egg whites and then carefully fold the dough over. At this point, you need to get the excess air out by pressing along the edges of the filling. Use a knife to cut and trim them and then set them on a parchment lined baking sheet as you work. Repeat with remaining pasta. Cover tray lightly with clingfilm and chill until ready to cook. If freezing, place them on a plate in the freezer for a few minutes until firm and then transfer to freezer bags.

Cook in boiling water until tender (mine took about 9 minutes).

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