Friday, January 10, 2014

A Cooking Challenge: Ravioli from scratch

The challenge: what to cook for our 94 year old neighbour who has probably eaten everything imaginable? Hmmm. 

Given that we're vegetarians it tends limit the type of food we make when we have guests over, simply because not everyone is into tofu or lentils, etc. so we inevitably end up making a quiche or some italian pasta dish. Jeremy suggested we try our hand at making ravioli from scratch as this was something we've thought about trying for ages but have never gotten around to. I did have dreams at one time (before children) of making fresh pasta instead of buying dried pasta from the store. We even went as far as to buy a pasta machine (well it was actually a free gift with purchase because we (Jeremy) would never actually buy something that wasn't frequently used). The problem with the pasta machine was that it took me about six months to finally get around to using it. I went to the store and bought the italian 'oo' flour, fresh free range eggs, beautiful cheese, fresh basil and came home excited at the prospect of finally trying out my pasta machine only to find that I couldn't find it. Turns out Jeremy had sold it a few months prior as I hadn't used it yet! So at Jeremy's recent suggestion that we make fresh ravioli I was super excited to finally try out making our own pasta, but this venture was going to have to be powered by our amazingly strong arm muscles since we no longer have a pasta machine. 

The menu we decided on was simple enough: fresh butternut pumpkin and sage ravioli, homemade kalamata olive and rosemarie bread, mixed green salad and Nutella cheesecake mousse for dessert. What I thought sounded simple actually took the better part of the day to prepare and make. Everything was delicious but if I was going to do it over again, I would have only made one of the menu items from scratch. Live you learn? For the most part we altered other recipes and made them our own. So if any of you would like to try your hand at making fresh ravioli without a pasta machine, then below is the recipe we used along with the other recipes for the bread and the dessert. 

Bon Appétit!

Butternut Pumpkin and Sage Ravioli with Burnt Butter Sage Sauce

1 butternut pumpkin chopped and cooked
1 bunch of fresh sage leaves coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pasta Dough
2 heaping cups Italian 'oo' flour
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt 

50 grams salted butter
10 fresh sage leaves

Start by making the filling so it's ready to use once your pasta dough is made. Heat a frying pan to medium heat with 2 tablespoons of butter. Once melted add the butternut pumpkin and sage leaves. Cook until the pumpkin is dark golden and slightly caramelised. Transfer to a bowl and blend with a stick blender until smooth. Set aside.

To make the dough start by placing the oo flour on a clean surface in a mound. Make a well in the centre of the flour and place the eggs, olive oil and salt in the well. Mix the ingredients thoroughly and begin to knead the dough. 

If the dough is dry and won't come together, add a tablespoon of water. 

It will take around 10 minutes to knead the dough. It should have a smooth elastic texture.

Once you've kneaded the dough let it rest for around 15-20 minutes with a slightly damp tea towel covering it.
Dust your countertop with flour to insure the dough doesn't stick when you roll it out. Cut the ball of dough in half and re-cover one half with the tea towel. Roll out the other half of the dough with your rolling pin. Jeremy was in charge of all things dough since pasta dough is quite elastic so requires some muscle power to roll it out thin enough. Keep rolling until your sheet of pasta is as thin as you can get it without it breaking. Make sure that the dough is not sticking to your counter top while you roll it.Try to roll it out into a long rectangle shape. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Once you have rolled out both pieces of dough, get your filling and spoon about a tablespoon per ravioli of filling onto one of the rectangle stripes of pasta. I used the mouth of a tea cup as a pasta cutter and before I placed the filling on my pasta, I lightly pressed the tea cup mouth on the dough so I could see where to place the filling. You should be able to fit roughly 16 tablespoons on the pasta sheet in three rows.
With a pastry brush, brush a bit of water around the lightly indented circles you made using your tea cup, this is so your sheets of pasta will stick together. Lay the second sheet of pasta on top, and press down between each ravioli to seal the sheets together. Try to make sure there are no air pockets between the layers of pasta. 

Now your fresh ravioli is ready to cook, just drop them into boiling salted water and cook for around 5 minutes depending on how you like your pasta. You can refrigerate the uncooked ravioli for up to one week if you have left overs or you can freeze them in a single layer for a couple months. 

To make the sauce, simply melt butter in a sauce pan and add the fresh sage leaves and cook on a medium to low heat swirling the pan often, for 4-5 minutes or until sage leaves are crisp and butter has turned a deep nut-brown colour. Pour over the ravioli and sprinkle with freshly shaved parmesan

Kalamata and Rosemarie Bread

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
3-5 sprigs of fresh rosemarie
360ml water
2 teaspoons salt
620g white flour
2 teaspoons yeast

Chop the olives and remove the rosemarie leaves from the stem. Set aside the olives and rosemarie.

We used a bread machine to mix the dough and set it to the pizza dough setting, which basically kneads the dough for 15 minutes and then lets it rest and rise for 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you don't have a bread machine you can mix the ingredients by hand, the water, salt, flour and lastly add the yeast and knead the dough for 15 minutes, then place it somewhere warm with a damp tea towel draped over it. Once the bread machine is finished or you've let the bread rise for a bit over an hour somewhere warm, dust your counter top with flour and slowly and gently knead the olives and rosemarie into the dough. Once incorporated, cut the dough into three equal pieces. Stretch and roll each piece in your hands until long enough to braid. Braid the dough and place it into a greased large glass oven safe dish (this means the dough won't spread and become too flat when baking). Cover the dough with a damp tea towel and place in a warm spot and leave it to rise for at least 30 minutes. Once risen, brush the bread with an egg wash and place it in a preheated fan forced oven at 180 degrees Celsius.  

Bake for around 40 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before slicing and serving with butter. Delicious!

Nutella Cheesecake Mousse
slightly altered from Cooking Classy

12 Oreos, finely crushed
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 1/3 cups thickened cream
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened coca powder
250g cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons Nutella (or similar chocolate hazelnut spread)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup thickened cream
1 chocolate Flake, crushed (optional)
6 fresh raspberries (optional)

  • For the crust:
  • Blend the Oreos into fine crumbs in the food processor then pour in the butter and blend. Divide crust mixture among 6 glass cups or dessert cups. Gently press into an even layer. Set aside in refrigerator while preparing mousse.
  • For the mousse:
  • In a mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, whip 1 1/3 cups thickened cream until soft peaks form. Add in 3 Tbsp granulated sugar and 1 Tbsp cocoa powder and whip until stiff peaks form, do not over mix. In a separate mixing bowl, using electric hand mixer, whip cream cheese and 1 Tbsp sugar until very smooth and fluffy. Add in Nutella and vanilla and whip until well blended and fluffy. Fold half of the whipped cream mixture into cream cheese mixture and fold until slightly combined, then add remaining half and fold just until no streaks remain. Transfer mixture to a large piping bag (you can also just spoon it into cups or use a Ziploc bag and the cut corner to use as a piping bag). Remove cups from the refrigerator and pipe mousse over crust in each cup, then transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 1 hour.
  • For the topping:
  • In a mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, whip 2/3 cup thickened cream until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe over tops of mousse. Serve garnished with crushed chocolate Flake or similar and a single raspberry. 
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  1. I love homemade ravioli! Let me know if you want to try anymore recipes.

  2. Yeah it was delicious but with the two kiddies, sadly I don't think it was the best use of our time. Maybe when they're older and can help making it we'll make it more and invest in a pasta machine.