Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Holy Ravioli!

(How to make a lovely meal in fifty-'leventy easy steps!)

Oh, the things I do for entertainment! 

I haven't done a food post in a while, so fasten your seat belts.  It's sure to be quite a ride!  ;)

First, we'll start with some simple meatless sauce.

Grab a large stock pot or a heavy soup pot and have it ready to do some work.

I like to start with two carrots, two stalks of celery, one medium onion and half a bell pepper of any color all julienned and then cut across again.  Not quite fine, but pretty small.  Next crush a couple of decent sized cloves of garlic, more or less according to preference(I always use more!)  Add a couple of good pinches of sea salt and a tablespoon of red chili flakes.  In a heavy pot, heat three tablespoons of nice extra virgin olive oil and saute these ingredients together until the onion is a bit caramelized.

While this is happening, time to prepare an herb pouch.  In a small muslin bag, place two to three sprigs each of fresh thyme, oregano, and rosemary.  At this point, add three or four bay leaves and any other herbs you may like for a nice sauce to serve up.  I had a few little leaves on two of my basil plants that actually looked somewhat worthy, so I slipped them on in as well.  Tie the little sack tight, you'll be needing it soon.

Here's where I add two cans of crushed tomatoes; 28 oz. each.  Stir them into the mixture well to de-glaze the pot and get all that good flavour that's stuck to the pan.  The acid in the tomatoes will take care of that!  Smash the bits of tomato to encourage break down and add a sprinkle of turbinado sugar and two tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley or one teaspoon of dried parsley.

Go ahead; add some butter.  You know you want to!  ;)
. Remember that herb pouch?  It's time to tuck it into the sauce!  Just slip it under the surface and push it down with a spoon.  Reduce the flame to simmer and keep an eye on it.
Stir occasionally; blah,blah, blah!

Now we make the filling for the ravioli.  You can use just about anything you think sounds good.  I happened to have some grilled chicken breasts, and some beautiful fresh spinach.  I thought these would work great for this, so that's what I used this time.  The farmer's markets are in full swing and my measly little garden is as well, so having some wonderfully fresh ingredients is such a treat.  Winter months here make it a challenge to keep the veggie ratio in our meals. 
I'm not a fan of canned vegetables.  Thank goodness for frozen!

Slice the chicken breast against the grain, tilting the blade at a 45 degree angle,  creating strips about 1/8 inch wide.  Cut these cross-wise at about 1/8 inch intervals, then just chop them a bit.  You want the pieces to be small, but not shredded to add some body to the filling.  Make sure when cooking your chicken breast for this not to over-cook it so as not to dry it out.
Next chop the spinach.  This is without a doubt the easiest part of this project!  :)

Don't forget to stir the sauce!
In a medium sized bowl combine the chicken, approximately 1 cup whole milk ricotta, 3/4 cup grated whole milk mozzarella,and 1/2 cup grated parmagino reggiano.

In a small bowl crack a large egg.  I do this separately so you don't ruin the rest of the mixture with a bloodied egg.  Beat the egg and add to the other ingredients.  Fold together and set aside.

Finally, we come to the ravioli part!  Whew!

Now, I could tell you how well this recipe worked out for me.  In reality, it was way too much for what you get. However, just to prove I'm nuts, here's some photographic evidence to confirm this well-known fact.
Instead, I recommend that you try this recipe.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup very hot water

Combine all this in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, take some time to add some good pinot noir to the sauce.  Of course, you first need to taste-test the wine to determine whether it's sauce-worthy. 

( Hey, Mom-Mom!  Thanks for being my mentor, and the best grandmother ever!)
(Hey, Jackie!)
Go on--after all this effort, you deserve it!

Now we are ready for the dough!
Cut the dough into equal pieces.  Work it slightly, adding a little extra flour as necessary, as well as handling the dough minimally.  You don't want to make it too rubbery.

Shape the dough in preparation for rolling.  I used an automated pasta machine.  A roller pin works just as well, just roll it as thin as you can, approximately 1/16th of an inch thick.

At this point you'll want to ready the pasta water.  In a large stock pot, combine 12 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of salt.  I know it sounds like a lot, but since it's home made pasta, you'll want to flavor it well.

Place rolled out sections onto a board covered with wax paper that's been lightly dusted with flour.

Grab the bowl of filling and scoop about a heaping tablespoon amount onto the rolled out dough at 2 1/2 inch intervals. 

Cover the dough and the filling with another layer and work out any air bubbles between the two...

like so.

Load a spider with the ravioli and lower gently into briskly boiling water until the little pillows float for about 2-3 minutes.

They should look like this.
Scoop them out and drain well.

Dab off any excess water with a paper towel, then serve up the marinara.  Sprinkle with a bit of the parmagiano reggiano.

                                                            (This one's for you, Amanda and Michele!)


Monday, August 1, 2011

Ode to Gib

 My little fella.  February 18th, 2010 to June 22nd, 2011.  RIP.

I've been a bit absent from my blog for a while. Partly because I've been somewhat lazy; partly due to the fact that I'm just plain numb.

On June 22nd we took Gibson in to the vet's office. He was ready. He couldn't breathe without resting his head on a chair or our bed.  It was time.  He had shown marked signs of slowing down and definite symptoms of congestive heart failure.  We thought we had prepared ourselves from his first check up, now at the ripe old age of sixteen months his life was at it's conclusion.

It was sad.  It was hard.  It just seemed so unfair, to lose such a great dog who through no fault of his own had a defective aortic valve.  The staff at the clinic was so understanding.  They knew it was coming, and it was so obvious that it was necessary.  It didn't take but a few seconds, and we held him.

I think he was actually relived in that brief threshold between here and there.

I'm still not sure where to shelve this grief.  I knew all along that it was coming, but I kept shoving that aside.  Now his death is reality, and I'm having a hard time letting out this sadness that I've kept at bay.  Do I deserve the luxury of tears?  This finality was always on the table, yet I kept hoping...

I know many people would say that he was just a dog.  He was a part of my family, and I wanted him to be around forever.  I'm not even over losing Joey, and now this?


I hope you're swimming and chasing birds and fetching big sticks, and chewing on shoes, and stealing remotes.  Most of all, I hope that you finally can run and play, a lot!

 I miss you Gibson.
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