Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Gimped Ravioli Sauce

After trying the ravioli last night I turned to my husband and declared, "This ravioli needs a sauce!" He, being the sauce expert in the house, was all over the problem. We didn't have canned tomatoes, or even tomato paste. What we did have, however, was tomato soup. Here is what we managed to scrounge to make sauce:

Here we have the aformentioned tomato soup. We had two cans (Livin' large now!) And from the left to the right, garlic, morton nature's seasoning, parsley flakes, italian seasoning grinder, and Mrs. Dahs (I love that stuff, no salt, I put it in everything)

To the tomato soup we added about 3/4 of a cup of water. The soup directions say to add a can of water per can of soup, but we're not making soup, we're making sauce.

Hooray for spices! Here's my husband throwing in what he thinks looks good. (He's usually right, being the sauce expert and all)

This, is our secret ingredient... brown sugar. We snagged it out of the cupboard after I had taken the shot of the assembled spices. If we'd had any, we would have put a dash of coffee grounds in too. It sounds gross, but trust me on this, just a dash and it's wonderful.

At this point he tried the sauce and decided there was way too much garlic. In an effort to tone it down he added more parsley flakes. Normally this would have worked, but the garlic had fairly leapt from it's bottle into the sauce. If this happens to you there's one last-ditch thing you can do, add a little salt. It's a bit extreme, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and the sauce must go on!

And here is our sauce draped rather tantalyzingly over the ravioli. Doesn't it look scrumptious?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Home-made Ravioli

Note: This recipe uses the dough from this recipe.
Home-Made Ravioli

ground meat or ricotta cheese
lots of different spices
1-2 eggs

I made the dough on Saturday for Gnocchi. I didn't use it all so I froze it. After letting it sit out and defrost this is what I found.

It was quite gross looking, there was a hard crust covering it and the nice firm, elastic dough I had put into the freezer was now a horrible mush. See what happened when I pulled it apart?

Well, I had another bag of potatoes, but I was determined to see if I could salvage this dough. Before I tackled that, however, I decided to rummage around and see what we had in the house to use for filling.

Well there's not much in there, more potatoes for pasta if I completely botch this, that's a comfort at least.

Nothing much in here either. Hrmm, I don't feel like stuffing ravioli with ketchup and hot sauce so it's time to get creative!

Ok, here's what I've managed to scrounge.

I had my husband run over to his mom's and grind up what was left of our christmas turkey, there's half an onion, some celery (both left over from Christmas) I also have some poultry seasoning, sage, some parmesean cheese our roomate was foolish enough to leave behind, and some nasty cheap cheese.

Back to the dough, I've worked with it just a tiny little bit. In my last recipe I mentioned potato chunklets in the dough and how much of a pain they are. This is what they look like.

An odd thing happened. It seems that the dough's stint in the freezer broke down the spare potato chunks so they're very soft. I'll remember that next time making gnocchi, throw the dough in the freezer!

Ok, then, flour it and start kneading! We've got to get that crust worked back into the dough and more flour added because it's WAY too squishy.

And here's what the finished kneaded dough should look like. It's springy and firm but not as elasticly smooth as bread dough. If it's not dusted with flour it's sticky.

Then take your half of an onion and chop it up. Take 2-3 stalks of celery from the center, chop off the very bottoms, pull off the leaves and chop off the very top of the stalk. Chop up what's left.

Then take the onion and celery and sautee them in a little oil on the stove.

It's done when the onions turn clear. In this picture it's not done, but I got impatient and added the ground turkey to the mix and cooked it a while anyway. This made for a filling with crispy onions, it wasn't bad, but in retrospect I think I'll sautee them a bit longer next time.

Then, once your meat mixture is added to the veggies put it in a bowl and add 1-2 eggs and whatever other igredients, like spices, you want. I needed 2 eggs for everything to stick together. Here's a picture of the mix with the egg and another where I've formed it into a ball just to show I can.

Now it's time for the dough. Get the dough you made earlier and pull off a pice about the size of a fist and a half. Flour your working surface and make sure to keep the dough floured as you roll it out.

Once you have your dough rolled out cut it in half. Then take a spoon or a melon baller if you have one (I used the small side) and scoop your filling onto one side in a grid.

After that take water and brush it between the balls of filling. My husband walked in at this point and suggested that I should have just brushed the entire surface with water before I put the filling on. After this one that's exactly what I did.

Here I've already brushed the other side of the dough with water and laid it over the side with the filling on it. I smushed the little packets and pressed along the sides to get out air bubbles and seal the filling inside. After that take a knife and cut your pieces into squares.


After I made about half of the raviolis the above way I thought of an easier way. Everything is the same up until you cover over the filling. To make pockets take a shot glass and press it lightly down around the filling. Then, when that is done cut the ravioli out with a cookie cutter, or in my case a wine glass which is all I had.

If you want to add a little extra pizazz to your raviolis, say if you're making them to impress a guest, you can crimp the edges with the tines of a fork like so.

Next you need to bring a pot of water to a boil. Toss in a dash of salt then start dropping your raviolis in one-by-one.

They will sink at first but as they cook they will float. Once they are floating start poking them around with your spoon. They are done when the pasta is firm, not squishy or floppy. Feel free to taste-test one to make sure!
Here is what the round crimped style looks like. They are VERY filling. I only made half of what I could have made and it fed both my husband and I.

Basic Pasta

Hello there! Tonight I will be making ravioli from scratch for dinner.
This morning I'm going to tell you how I made the dough.

Gnocchi Pasta
Yellow (yukon gold) Potatoes
Flour (wheat or white)
1 egg
Water for boiling

Boil the potatoes until soft. I usually make as many as will fit into my largest pan and still be FULLY submerged. Fully submerging the potatoes is important, I had one poking out once and I had to discard half the potato. You'll know they're done when you can stab them with a fork and it goes all the way through with little resistance. If they disintegrate though, you've cooked them too long. This usually takes oh... about 45 minutes or so.

Drain the potatoes and run them under cold water for a bit to cool them off. While they're still warm peel off the skins. The skin should come off very easily, I never need a potato peeler.

OPTIONAL: You can peel the potatoes first then boil them, however I think this might saturate the potatoes too much for good pasta. I always do it with the skin on.

Once your potatoes are peeled (or as you are peeling them in my case) rope your husband, wife, children, roomate, random person off the street, to mash them up. For the longest time we didn't have a potato masher and my husband and I did this by hand, smushing all the little pieces, it was a real pain. This weekend we finally got a potato masher and he, in his eagerness to try out our new 'toy' mashed my potatoes for me. Unfortunately there were still tiny chunklets, which for gnocchi is a problem, but not the end of the world. I always end up with chunkets and the gnocchi turns out just fine.

Sprinkle the mashed potatoes generously with flour, make a well in the center, and add the egg. With a fork slowly mix the egg in with the ingredients around it. Go slow, making sure it's mixed thoroughly. Sprinkle flour as you go until you get a firm enough dough that you can turn out and knead.

Wheat vs. White: I've made this with white flour and recently with wheat flour. There ARE some differences other than the obvious health benefits. Wheat will make the mixture more crumbly. When using wheat make sure you add enough flour and knead it THOROUGHLY. You want to get a stretchy-like dough. For my wheat batch I ended up kneading a little extra flour into each small piece before I rolled out the noodles. White flour is easier to work with.

Knead the dough until it gets firm and stretchy, adding in flour, but make sure not to work it so hard it becomes a rock hard ball. The dough will be sticky, I keep my flour canister open and keep dunking my hands in. Keep your kneading surface floured too. The dough will absorb the flour you knead with, this is what it means to knead in flour.

While you're doing this bring a pot of water to boil and call your helper back. Roll out a piece of dough into a snake, then chop it up and drop the pieces into the boiling water.

Tip: Before you cut up the snakes, roll them in flour to coat. Then, when you cut them up you can pile them together without danger of them sticking. (did I mention the dough is sticky?)

The noodles (really more like square-ish blobs) will cook quickly. In addition to floating to the top they should also 'puff'. When using white flour they should be ready when they bob to the top. Skim them out with a slotted spoon and try one. It should be firm and not mushy. If it's extremely mushy you should probably go back to the dough and add more flour. If it's slightly mushy leave the next ones in a little longer and see if that firms them up.
-When using wheat flour they will take a little longer to cook. They will bob to the top but they aren't done until they have 'puffed' (about doubled in size). Once again, always try a piece for done-ness.

Toss the noodles in a little oil so they don't stick then either eat as-is (very good) or garnish with your favorite sauce (also very good).