Pasta Project – Part I

If you want to be a foodblogger (I do! I do!) and if you consider yourself a true foodie (really, really want to be), there are a few things you should probably do (if you don’t already):

  • Check Tastespotting religiously
  • Look at food-porn (I swear, it’s totally innocent.)
  • Collect cookbooks with lots pictures
  • Rely on grams and kilos rather than silly teaspoons and cups
  • Bake your own bread
  • Make and prefer your own homemade muesli, pesto, salad dressing, pasta sauce, cheese, jams, etc.

And…

  • Make your own pasta—plain and filled

Besides DIY pasta, that list is me to a tee.

Tastespotting is my source for learning about amazing blogs, up-and-coming bloggers and the latest foodblogger events (like Daring Bakers—maybe one day I’ll muster the courage to participate), not to mention it is also the ultimate source for outstanding food photography (i.e. food-porn).

As for cookbooks—they are one of my greatest joys, especially really fat ones with bright, colorful pictures that accompany every recipe (Jamie Oliver and Donna Hays’ are my current favorites).

And as for the final three:

  • I don’t trust the tsp-tbsp-cup system
  • If it weren’t for all the scary carbs which turn into sugar then fat, I’d always bake my own bread
  • And I get way too much pleasure out of making my own anything, especially jams and cheese (I once considered visiting a dairy, in order to get some free bacteria (i.e. rennet) to make my own mozzarella with. Actually, I still think about it…)

The final item on the list is pasta-making. I tried to make it once before. Disaster. I ended up with a big, watery mess of leaky ravioli that rotted within a few days.

This time around, I had Jamie Oliver’s help. His recipes, though not always the most authentic (every other recipe is some ‘bastardized’ version of something—his term, not mine), are easy to follow and result-wise, very dependable. Also, since my goal was to make pasta—and not gyoza—I felt pretty safe about relying on Mr. Naked Chef. (Actually, I’d say his Italian stuff is pretty spot on.)

So the recipe: starting with ingredients, Jesus, there are a lot of eggs in here—eight yolks and three whole eggs to be exact. This was fine by me; I really like the eggy-taste of fresh pasta—it’s what makes it taste, well, fresh….drr. I only made one change since I had no semolina; I used all strong flour instead (which Jamie said is fine).

As for prep, no issues to discuss, actually. I enjoyed the kneading bit the best; it always make me feel less gross and hungover after a night out (Fun & sangria this Sat. with L. in the Mission!!). Also, when Jamie says to let the dough rest, do it. I let mine rest for about an hour before taking it out of the fridge, quartering and letting it rest for another 10 minutes in saran-wrap and underneath a damp cloth. Another thing is be sure to keep the dough moist (i.e. don’t take too long rolling out; cover once rolled out); it dries out quickly.

For the filling, I went pretty traditional: whole-milk ricotta, two handfuls asiago, an egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

I am no Italian nonna, but my pasta turned out so pretty (^_^”) !! I ended up with about 40 good-sized ravioli (I used a cookie-mold to seal and cut), which I then portioned out into 10 single-servings (4 per sandwich baggy) and froze. I stuffed the remaining odd-pasta-bits into their own baggy and then also froze. One thought to add here: flour each ravioli well before refrigerating or freezing, in order to prevent sticking and sogginess.

This was the best Sunday project ever! And it’s only Part I. I can’t wait for Part II!!

AND—I have another BBQ to attend this Saturday. I wonder what I should bring? Not brownies—probably something that requires exactly nine egg whites \(^o^)/

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Ricotta-Asiago Ravioli (from Jamie Oliver’s The Return of the Naked Chef)

serves 4

INGREDIENTS

Dough:

250g/9oz strong flour

250g/9oz semolina flour (if unavailable, strong flour is fine)

3 large free-range eggs

8 egg yolks

Filling:

400g/14oz whole-milk ricotta

1 egg yolk

2 handfuls grated asiago or parmesan cheese

1/4 nutmeg, grated

salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place both flours on a clean surface. Make a well in the center, and add the eggs and yolks. With a fork, break up the eggs as you bring in the flour. Stir with the fork until you have a dough, which you can work with your hands.
  2. Knead the dough until you have a smooth, silky and elastic dough and a clean surface. Wrap the dough in clingflim and rest it in the fridge for a while.
  3. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and keep covered. Work with one section at a time. Then, flatten the section of dough with your hand and run it through the thickest setting on your machine. Fold in half and repeat this process several times, to give you perfect, textured pasta. Dust the sheet of pasta on both sides with flour before running it through the settings (ca. 4-5 times), dusting and moving the setting in each time until you have the desired thickness (ca. 1-2mm thick, depending on pasta type) and width (10cm/4in for ravioli). You can do this with a rolling pin, too. (I did; no problems.)
  4. Prepare the filling: With a fork, beat the ricotta, egg yolk and grated cheese together until light and creamy. Set aside.
  5. Fill and form the ravioli: (Work with one sheet a time; cover the rest with a damp cloth.) Lay your pasta sheet on a generously flour-dusted surface with a good heaped teaspoon of filling in the middle of the sheet at one end. Repeat this all the way along the pasta at 5cm/2in intervals.
  6. Using a clean pastry brush dipped in water, lightly, evenly and thoroughly brush the pasta around the piles of filling. This will stick the pasta together. Then, place a second, similar-sized sheet of pasta on top of the first.
  7. Working from one end of the pasta to the other, push the sheets together and around each mound of filling. Do this gently with the base of your palm, cupping and enclosing each filling in the pasta, making sure to extract all the air.
  8. Cut the ravioli to shape with a knife, crinkly-cutter or cookie-mold.
  9. Cook right away, refrigerate on a flour-dusted tray, or freeze.

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Comments

  • Tnelson  On September 30, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    There’s good info here. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog. Keep up the good work mate!

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