On Giants' Shoulders

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Domestically or Geometrically Challenged

My online friend Karen is frequently calling herself domestically challenged. Yesterday I demonstrated that she isn't the only one. I decided to make a recipe that Kitchen Madonna posted sometime back (white bean ravioli). You see, years ago I bought a pasta machine at a garage sale, but I've never used it. The instructions were in Italian, and I'll admit I've been a bit intimidated by it. However, the recipe sounded so good I have been wanting to attempt it. A couple of weeks ago I bought semolina flour at the co-op, although KM's recipe didn't call for it my other pasta recipes did.

Anyway yesterday was the day. I mixed up the dough using the recipe from my Ciao Italia cookbook (sorry KM, but this one included the semolina). My son set the pasta machine up for me (using the pictures accompanying the Italian instructions) and I was off and rolling (dough that is). Everything went fine until I started actually making the individual ravioli's. I tried making the triangles KM called for with the amount of the bean mixture she called for. It didn't work, the filling went everywhere the dough got goopy, and by the time I finally got the ravioli made it looked like something a kindergartner would do (although I suspect Karen's Ramona would do better than this!). 40 some odd ravioli later, and after trying a number of different shapes I finally discovered that it worked better to simply put the filling (and a much smaller amount of it) between two pieces of the pasta. My last few ravioli actually looked like ravioli. Of course it could be partly that I am geometrically challenged and cutting long rectangles into appropriately sized squares to turn into triangles is not easy for me.

So after all of this I had to cook the ravioli. The recipe said three minutes, but I must not have gone quite thin enough with the dough, because 3 minutes left them somewhat more al dente than I like. However, the family said they were good. I didn't do KM's sauce because I was out of balsamic vinegar after making the filling. So I sauced them with sage butter (sage directly out of my herb garden) and that was quite yummy. I ended up with a lot more filling than I needed, although I made more pieces than the recipe called for, so I'm a little confused about what I did wrong there. I think next time I'll roll the dough thinner, but I'm not even going to attempt triangles since my final method worked so well. I also think I'm going to see if I can find one of those lovely little things that you place the rolled dough on and press into to fill the ravioli's. I've seen Marianne Esposito use them, I know they exist, and I think it would be a whole lot less messy a procedure.

I also discovered that my pasta machine makes noodles and linguine as well. Now that I know how easy that part of the procedure is, I just have to find a way to dry the noodles. However, I already can see myself making lasagna noodles for our very favorite Marianne Esposito lasagna recipe (it has a spinach and pine nuts sauce). The really best part about that is that you simply make the long sheets of pasta (got that down pat). There's no messing around with triangles or slippery filling that insists on sliding out the edge before you get it sealed.

So while I may be domestically challenged, I am also determined (or some people might insist too stubborn to give up and admit defeat). I am not, however, going into the fresh pasta making business. The whole rolling and filling process took over 2 hours. Making ravioli by hand is obviously not for the faint of heart (at least not until they get a whole lot better at the filling end of it than I am).


At 5:31 PM, Blogger Victoria said...

Jamie Oliver, in his first book The Naked Chef goes into great detail about how to make pasta. If you get a longish dowel rod and suspend it between two chairs and drape the pasta over the dowel rod it will dry nicely.


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