13 June 2011

raving about ravioli!

I think ravioli is something most people really enjoy - pasta is a crowd-pleaser anyway, and add to the equation tasty fillings and you're on to a winner.  A couple of weekends ago KB and I had a wicked meal with family at Rain Bar at Papamoa Beach.  We both had terakihi on ravioli, with dill butter drizzled over the top.  It was fanbloodytastic.  One of those meals where you are completely silent for the whole meal, 'cause you've been so sucked in by the flavour that you haven't the brain capacity left to engage in conversation.  One of those meals. 
Anyhoo, it got us to thinking - why haven't we been making ravioli at home?  We have a garden full of herbs, we both love trying new combinations of flavours - surely these little parcels of taste would be the perfect foodject?  Yep, they were.  
Saturday evening we hit the kitchen, armed with flour, eggs, filling potentials and red wine (for us, not the ravs).  I got onto the pasta, while KB prepared two very moreish fillings.  I'll start with the fillings, 'cause you really want them to be sorted and ready to go either before you start the pasta, or be doing them at the same time, 'cause once the pasta's ready to go, you don't want it to dry out, you want to get the filling in and press the edges down while it's still malleable. 
Filling #1...
  1. Finely (really fine) chop an onion, a knob of ginger, a cup of mushrooms - saute in some butter.  Throw in some fresh coriander and mint (shredded) and combine.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and stir through sour cream - enough to get a consistency which will be stay together, but not be too runny.  Don't forget to add a couple of good grinds of salt and pepper too. 
Filling #2...
  1. Finely chop pak choi (or bok choi) leaves.  Combine in a bowl with some capers and sweet thai chilli sauce (to get the mixture to stick together a bit).  Chop pieces of blue cheese - about 1 cm, they need to fit in the ravioli.  Salt and pepper. 
Pasta etc...
  1. Put 2 cups flour onto a clean, dry surface (I use a large marble chopping board, 'cause it doesn't stick, but benchtop will be fine too, and probably easier for rolling - just make sure you've extra flour, in case you need to add a little more to the surface later on).  Make a deep well in the centre. 
  2. Separate two eggs.  Keep the yolks, do what you like with the whites (maybe save them to add into an omelette the next day?).  Get another two eggs and beat them lightly with the two yolks (so, all in all, you have 2 eggs + 2 extra yolks). 
  3. Pour the eggs into the well of the flour.  Pour slowly, you may have to pull some flour in to prevent the egg running everywhere, and then start pouring again.  Once all the egg is on the flour, pull the flour in from the sides, combining and kneading to form a nice smooth, elasticcy lump. 
  4. Roll the pasta out as thin as you possibly can.  We got ours pretty thin, cut the circles out for the raviolis, then re-rolled and re-cut, to get them paper thin.  That's what you want, paper thin.  It takes time, and some serious arm power - I'd recommend doing this as a duo, so you've got some arm power-backup. 
  5. Cut the sheets with circular cutters (we used a cookie cutter, about 10 cm diameter).  Reserve the scraps, to roll out again. 
  6. Place teaspoons of filling in centre of half the circles and brush the edges with water.  Top with another circle and press the edges down with a fork, to prevent escapee-filling.  Place on a flour-dusted plate and set aside (make sure you dust the tops of the raviolis with flour, if you're going to double-layer them on the plate, 'cause otherwise they'll stick). 
  7. Repeat process until you have used all your scraps and filling - we got about 20 raviolis, and they were pretty large ones. 
  8. Boil a pot of water - not boiling too fast though, the agitation of the water might cause your ravs to break open.  I set it over a medium hob.  Put the pasta in the water and cook for about 3 minutes.  Take a bite of an edge, to check they're cooked enough for you. 
Nb:  If you're going to use meat in the filling, it is important to cook it first, 'cause the ravioli cook so quick that they're not in the water long enough to cook the fillings too. 

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