Ravioli!

October 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

My husband has turned out to be the pasta making master of the family. He was inspired to try out a few ravioli recipes tonight from the Il Viaggio Di Vetri cookbook. One was a butternut squash with goat cheese and walnuts in a brown butter sauce. Another was an eggplant ravioli with goat cheese and tomato fondue and the last was a mushroom and sausage ravioli. They were all amazing.

I served as the pasta roller which I am getting pretty good at.

Not bad, huh?
I think the longest time went into making all the fillings. The ravioli themselves came together pretty quickly.
¬†I don’t know if it was beginners luck or what, but they all turned out great. I was partial to the butternut squash since it’s like a little pillow of autumn.

Pappardelle!

October 16, 2011 § 1 Comment

Pappardelle is one of my favorite types of pasta. There was a place I used to go to in LA all the time that had an amazing pappardelle dish with smoked duck and porcini. Last night my husband made a delicious pork ragu. It definitely made up for my first attempt; not bad but needs some work.

This was my first time making pasta dough with egg. My well of flour didn’t quite hold up but it didn’t run all over the place at least.

After kneading the dough for about 5 minutes I let it rest for a half hour. Then it was time to break out the new pasta roller, the Marcato Atlas 150 for about $70. This was the tricky part for me. It’s hard to know what size and shape of dough to put in. You then fold it in thirds and add flour passing it through multiple times. It’s hard to manage the shape of it. I think this just takes some practice. By the end I had slightly more uniform sheets.

My dad pitched in on the cranking after awhile. It seems like when you’re making pasta everyone either wants to watch or do some small task. It’s definitely a good group activity.

My sheets all came out in different sizes, so my husband cut each one individually. He also did a test run boiling them. Some thought they were a little too thick while others thought they were pretty close to the right thickness. I was just glad they were not only edible, but pretty delicious. I think when it comes to making and eating pasta everyone has their own preferences on things like that. For my first time I was pretty happy but I need a lot of practice.

Tonight we take on ravioli.

Inspired by Frasca Food & Wine

October 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

Earlier in the year I spent a week with the Frasca learning about how to be a Sommelier. This week Bobby Stuckey was gracious enough to let me come back and watch them in their pasta making glory. I spent a few hours with Sean who showed me how to cut pappardelle, how to make ravioli dough and how to make gnocchi (one of my favorites). He made it all look effortless but also confided he’s been doing it awhile so he has it down to a science, or I should say, an art.

Pappardelle is one of my favorite pastas. We’ll actually be trying to make it tonight. It was great to see how Sean handled it & cut it. Getting started with pasta, it can be hard to figure out how to handle it & how dry/wet it should be. He was pretty generous with dusting it with semolina to keep it from sticking. He said it’s important to keep its “toothiness”. The pasta was a beautiful golden color. In a matter of minutes he had cut a gorgeous tray full of pappardelle.
After showing me how to make their ravioli pasta, Sean moved onto the gnocchi. I’ve always heard it can be hard to make and touchy because of the consistency of the potatoes. Sean said his first few attempts weren’t his best but now it’s second hand. One thing about pasta is that it does come from the simplest of ingredients. With gnocchi you start with a good old baked potato. They bake them in a bed of sea salt to help with moisture.

With gnocchi Sean said it’s important to get the right consistency with the potatoes so he uses a food mill to make the potato uniform in size.
He couldn’t share their recipe secrets, but one he did share they include is rosemary infused butter and cream which makes the gnocchi have a rich texture and wonderful fragrance. It smelled amazing.

After adding the remaining ingredients he gently mixed the dough on a well floured board. He didn’t fuss with it too much.

Then the mesmerizing gnocchi production began. He piped out 5 long rolls of gnocchi across a huge cutting board surface which made me contemplate a kitchen remodel. Again it was well floured. I’m glad I got to see this because I would probably have been much more worried about how much flour I was using. Sean then masterfully cut them into perfectly uniform little pillows which would later be hand formed one by one.
 Sean then sifted out a bit of the flour and voila! I was pretty hungry at that point since it was lunchtime and I love gnocchi. The raw dough smelled amazing.

Luckily my parents were in town this weekend so we paid Frasca a visit on Friday night to enjoy their tasting menu. As a surprise they brought us an extra course of their gnocchi which were incredible.

I still have a few pastas to try before I feel brave enough to make gnocchi but I was definitely inspired by watching Sean make some of the best gnocchi I’ve ever had.

Spaghetti!

October 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

Last night was a fun night of pasta making with friends. We had a little Monday night football and spaghetti production. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make my own pasta and it was surprisingly easy to make (spaghetti at least). It was just two simple ingredients to make the pasta dough: semolina and water.

You take 2 1/2 cups of semolina and add 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup lukewarm water. All purpose flour is good to have on hand for dusting. You start by mixing the dough and water until it is crumbly and then transfer to an un-floured surface to knead the dough for about 9 minutes until is is smooth and elastic. The dough then sits in a dusted glass container for 30 min covered. Now the past fun begins.

Somehow we found ourselves pushed out of the way by our husbands in terms of the spaghetti production. I guess it had the right amount of gadgetry to it. We were using my friend Jess’s KitchenAid attachment which makes it pretty easy. You just take small segments of dough, drop them in and the machine does the rest. You just cut it off when it gets long enough and set it aside on a dusted surface to dry a bit.

It just took about 4 minutes in boiling water with a little oil & salt and it was done. What better accompaniment to homemade spaghetti than homemade meatballs & sauce? Jess made her mom, Deborah’s favorite meatball recipe along with her San Marzano tomato sauce. Between the pasta and the meatballs it was an amazing meal. Homemade pasta really does taste so much fresher.

Making pasta was a lot of fun. I would say the men were even more interested in pasta making than football there for a little while. Some were having more fun than others:

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