Wrapped With Love

May 25, 2008

I am one of those people that tends to obsess about things. I am a worrier, but in this case I’m talking about stuff I enjoy. If I have a show that I really like I will buy every season and look things up online. If I have an author that I like (especially if it is a series of books) I will not only get all the books (thank you ebay) but will carefully, eagerly watch their newsletters and alerts for the publication date of their new books (I cannot tell you how much I hate it when those dates get pushed back!)

But books and tv are not the only things I obsess about. When I first started thinking about getting a pasta machine, I looked up every tip and recipe I could find and made many plans for the things I wanted to make. Well finally those plans are back on track and I can make one of my favorite types of pasta.

These aren’t quite as good as ravioli (not as much cheese hehe) but I have always found these cheese filled and beautifully folded bits of dough kinda enchanting. This would definitely go under the title of possibly-too-much-work-to-be-worth-it but I knew this was something I had to try at least once.

I’ve looked at many different instructions, and even found a video with a real Italian grandmother making these things so I’ve taken step by step pictures, just in case one of you find yourself with a few hours to blow and decide to give it a try 🙂

Homemade Tortellini

Pasta Dough
Cheese Blend
Egg Wash

Unfortunately I used the cheese left over from the pizza, and added ricotta, garlic and a few other things so I don’t have exact amounts for you, but you can use the same recipe I used for the ravioli.

Roll out the dough just a little thinner than you would roll it for pasta. Let the dough rest for approximately 30 minutes, then cut the dough into approximately 3×3 inch squares.

Cover all but one square and place it at an angle(like a diamond). Lightly brush the egg wash over the square, leaving one small corner dry.

Take about a quarter teaspoon of the cheese filling, place it at the corner opposite the dry one and begin rolling upwards, stopping at the dry spot.

Flatten it out carefully, making sure to get all the air out.

Pick up the tortellini and holding the cheese-filled part, roll one corner towards the middle and brush with the egg wash.

Roll the other corner in and smooth it carefully to make a good seal.

To cool, boil for a few minutes until they begin to float. Make sure to taste one for doneness before draining. Enjoy

Though this is a lot of work, it’s hard to beat homemade. Just look at the difference with homemade and store-bought.

This is so tasty and cheesy, it’s well worth the effort.


The Hands-On Approach

May 4, 2008

So a while ago I mentioned that my pasta machine broke. It’s very sad. I missed making pasta enough that I got to the point that I even opened the damn thing up and tried to fix it myself. I thought I got it but of course when I tried to use it again it refused to play nice. *sigh* No problem, once I get that stimulous money I will be buying myself another. 🙂

In the meantime, I still miss making pasta, and friday night it hit me that there were types of pasta that didn’t need to be rolled out! I could make some of that easily! So yesterday I did just that. I made Cavatelli!

It’s an easy enough process, but takes a while so make sure you have the time before you start. It is well worth it though. It’s always so soothing to work with dough.

Source: Eating Cleveland

16 oz. Ricotta Cheese
2 Eggs
1 Pinch of Salt
3 Cups (1 pound) All Purpose Flour

Pour about 2 1/2 cups of the flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle.  Add the eggs and cheese and stiring in circles, mix everything up well. Add more flour it needed.

Dump the dough out onto your work surface and knead it well, working in more flour as needed until you have a soft but not sticky dough. Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes or more.

Divide the dough into at least eight balls (the smaller the balls, the easier it is to work with so you might even want to make it 16) cover all but one ball of dough. Take the ball you’re working with and roll it between your palms above your work surface, working it into a long thin tube. Once it gets harder to work with like that, place on the work surface and roll out with your palms until you have a long thin tube about 1/4 inch diameter.

Cover and work out the other balls the same way then cut each tube into pieces 1/2 to 1 inch long. 

With a pastry cutter or the flat edge of a butter knife, angle the blade at approximately 45 degrees, then starting at the far edge and pulling the dough towards you, drag the blade across the dough. It should roll up around the edge of the blade. Drop your cavatelli into a well floured pan and continue working till you’ve done all of the dough.

To cook, drop by handfuls into well salted boiling water and cook until it begins to float. Test one before taking them off the heat but fresh cavatelli should only need a few minutes to cook. Enjoy 🙂

Say Cheeeeeeese

February 24, 2008

Cheeeeeeese. I just love that word don’t you? And of course that’s the appropriate way to say it. Like the very word itself is melting like good mozzarella. Cheeeeeeese.

I know there are plenty of people out there that don’t really like cheese, or can’t have it for whatever reason but I am most definitely not one of them. Whenever I have a hunk of cheese in front of me I have to cut off the very first bit to eat fresh, even if I am supposed to be grating the entire thing for whatever I am cooking. If you like cheese nearly as much as I do, just wait until I share my mac and cheese or alfredo lasagna recipes because they are to die for. (Literally. The amounts of cheese in these things could kill you. hehe)

These little pockets of heaven have always been one of my favorite foods. And the best part about making them at home (besides nibbling the fresh cheese as I grate it and dreaming up plans for the leftover filling mixture) is that I get to control the amounts and types of cheese in it. That is just awesome 🙂

homemade ravioli

For this first try I used this ravioli thing I got off amazon. It makes it so much easier. I promise to do them without this toy one of these days and I’ll post the instructions here, but for this first time around I’ll direct you with the same thing I used.

Homemade Cheese Ravioli

500 g bread flour
4 eggs
corn starch for dusting

9 oz Ricotta
2 oz parmesan
2 oz romano
2 oz asiago
2 oz mozzarella
4 tsp. minced garlic
2 tbl. bread crumbs

Egg Wash:
1 egg
1 tbl. water

Prepare filling first. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl then cover and refrigerate until ready

Prepare egg wash, blending egg and water until mixed well. Cover and refrigerate until needed

Dump flour for pasta onto your work surface. Prepare a well in the center and add eggs. Mix with a fork until it forms a soft dough.

Allow dough to rest for 30 minutes before feeding through pasta machine. For more detailed instructions on making the pasta, read my blog here.

Roll the dough out to rectangles an inch or so larger than the metal frame. You’ll need to have an even number of strips, so you have tops and bottoms. Make sure you keep whatever dough you are not working on covered so it doesn’t dry out.

Place the metal frame on a table or counter and lightly dust the frame with corn starch to keep the dough from sticking. Lay one strip of the dough across the frame, then using the plastic piece gently make indentations in the dough.

Remove the plastic part and spoon in the chilled filling (approximately 1 tbl) then gently brush the egg wash around the edges.

Place the second strip of dough on top, remove as much air from the ravioli as possible then proceed to roll the rolling pin over the dough repeatedly until you can see the metal edges and the ravioli is sealed. Be sure not to get the corn starch between the two strips or they won’t stay sealed.

Turn the metal base on it’s side carefully and allow the ravioli to fall free. Cover them with saran wrap or put in a tupperware to keep them from drying out then continue with the next two strips until you run out of dough or filling. Keep the edge pieces that are cut off cause they can be re used if you keep them covered. Once you have finished, uncover whatever ravioli you plan to use and let dry for approximately 15 minutes before cooking.

homemade pasta

Prepare a pot of generously salted water. Bring water to a boil then drop handfuls of the ravioli in at a time. You don’t have to cook them all at once. When the ravioli float to the surface allow them to boil for a few minutes more, then carefully fish out one with a spoon, cut off a small corner to test doneness.

When they are done add sauce of your choice and enjoy 🙂 

I can’t wait to experiment more with filling. Colby, Jack, Cheddar (lol would make it like a reverse mac and cheese), Gruyere, Fontinella….the combinations are endless 🙂

homemade cheese ravioli

Strega Nona

February 9, 2008

I don’t know if anyone else remembers the children’s book, Strega Nona, about the witch with the magic pasta pot. Her assistant plays with the pot while she is away and ends up flooding the town with pasta! YUM!

strands of pasta

This was always one of my favorite stories as a kid. I never wanted a pony, but I really wanted that magic pasta pot. Hot fresh pasta anytime I wanted it. Hell, I wouldn’t have minded helping “Big Anthony” clean up the town.

My favorite new toy isn’t a magic pasta pot, but it is the next best thing.

pasta machine

I finally got to use my shiny new pasta machine this weekend. Now, I must confess, this is not the first time I have made homemade pasta. I tried before a couple years ago but just could not roll it out flat enough by hand. It tasted okay, but it wasn’t great. The results this time were very different.

I knew the recipe I had was gonna make a lot of pasta but this was just awesome, and so much fun. After mixing the dough I let it rest a few minutes, turned on some good music and … got rollin’ 😉

It took me about four hours start to finish but oh man was it worth the effort. Beautiful, silky, very tasty pasta. And the fact that I made it from scratch just makes it that much better.


Homemade Pasta

500g Bread Flour (you can substitute all-purpose flour, but bread flour works better)
4 eggs
Corn starch for dusting

Make a mound with the flour on your work surface and scoop out a well in the middle. Pour the eggs into the hole and work the eggs and the flour together with a fork till you have a smooth dough, adding just a little water if necessary.

Knead the dough for ten to fifteen minutes, until it is smooth, firm, and elastic. Cover with saran wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes. 

Separate the dough into four pieces and cover up three with a damp paper towel while you work with the other. Sprinkle the corn starch on your work surface and smush the ball of dough to make it just a little flat, then feed into the pasta machine at the largest setting. Fold the dough in thirds and feed it through again. Repeat 6-8 times to knead the dough. Cover and allow the dough to rest for 10-15 minutes.

If the dough starts to get the least bit sticky while rolling, dust both sides of the dough and the pasta machine with the corn starch.

Turn the pasta machine to the next smallest setting then feed it through again. Flip the dough over so the top is facing down and feed it through again. Turn the machine to the next smallest setting and repeat. Continue till you reach the desired thickness, then cover with saran wrap and repeat with the other balls of dough. Remember to dust the dough with corn starch if it gets sticky.

The dough will get really long as you work with it, so if you need to, cut it to keep it to a workable length.

Once all of the dough has been flattened, allow it to rest covered for 10-15 minutes then feed it through the cutter attachment of your choice and hang your fresh pasta to dry.

Prepare a pot of salted water. Once it has begun boiling, drop the pasta by handfuls, stirring occasionally. Homemade pasta will cook fast, so test it as soon as the water starts boiling again.

Serve and enjoy

I have new sauce recipes I want to try, but I really wanted to get the taste of the pasta itself, so this time I had it with just some browned butter, garlic and parmesan 🙂

A few notes:

1. The first few times you feed your dough through the machine it will probably look a little rough and weird. Just keep folding and feeding it through till it looks good, then do it a couple more times before adjusting the settings.

2. You probably won’t need the smallest, or even the next to smallest setting to get it thin enough. Keep an eye on it and keep in mind that the thinner it is, the faster it will dry, and cook.

3 Keep flouring the dough if you need to. It’s gonna get hard to work with if it gets sticky and the extra flour won’t hurt anything.